Ramses The Great (Black Version) Sixth-Scale Figure by Phicen/TBLeague

Some of you may know that I have been hooked on TBLeague’s series of Egyptian themed sixth-scale figures. It felt like this line began as a few isolated one-off releases, but it’s grown to include a series of beautiful ladies, as well as both mythological and historical figures. And as much as I love this series, I was planning on just sticking to the ladies. If I’m being honest, that’s always been what has drawn me to TBL’s figures in general. But, an online retailer put Ramses up for sale at 50% off, and I couldn’t resist giving him a go! This figure was offered in three different armor variants. This one is the Black version, while the other options were Blue or Gold. And to be fair, even if all three were on sale, I think this is the one I would have gone for anyway.

As usual, the figure comes in a shoebox style package with a trifold lid that secures to each side with magnets. The box is made of heavy stock and the figure comes laid out in black foam that smells like lemony ice tea. Seriously! TBL usually adorns the front of these black boxes with a symbolic rendering that’s related to the character, but in this case we get a really lame cartoony portrait of Ramses, and I don’t like it at all. I mean, what the hell were they going for here, I just don’t know. Fortunately, the back panel has a great picture of the figure itself. As with most TBLeague figures, there’s a little bit of set up involved, so let me get that out of the way and we’ll have an audience with Ramses The Great!

And great he is, indeed! But before getting to the aesthetics… the first thing I noticed about this figure was the extreme heft. It’s my first male example of the Phicen seamless body, and it is one meaty slab of silicone! Ramses sports an impressive physique and looks absolutely smashing in his regal armor. The cuirass is cast in black plastic and adorned with crisscrossing gold bird wings front and back, along with a plastic belt and sash, all over a delicate black cloth tunic. And boy is that tunic a magnet for cat hair, as you can probably see in some of the pictures! The leather segmented shoulder armor is comprised of one piece that goes over his neck and secures via straps under each arm and around his biceps. Attaching these straps is the most challenging part of the set up, as those clips are tiny and it’s tough to get the loop through them. On top of the leather shoulders sits a plastic gorget with intricate sculpted patterns, all beautifully painted. The grieves and arm bracers are slightly pliable plastic sleeves, which slide on, and he has decorative bicep cuffs on each arm as well. Finally, there’s a thin leather belt that fastens around his waist with loops to hold his weapons. I’ll circle back to those in a bit.

I think the costume looks outstanding, with my only gripe being the jumble of lacing that holds the cuirass on and gathers below his left armpit. It is, however, easily fixed, as a lot of this extra sting can be trimmed and the knot tightened up. The sword belt is a great addition, as a few of my fantasy figures from TBL have come with swords in scabbards but no way to secure them to the figure, so that is much appreciated. Ramses doesn’t show as much skin as most of the ladies, but his exposed elbows and knees do showcase the seamless body quite nicely, while the grieves and arm bracers do their part to obscure the jointing in the wrists and ankles. The skirt does a bit to inhibit the hip articulation, but otherwise the excellent articulation of the figure’s steel skeleton can be taken advantage of to the fullest!

TBL did a wonderful job with this portrait, and I think in terms of realism it exceeds many of TBL’s female portraits. Not that those aren’t impressive, but they do tend to still have something of a doll like quality about them, which isn’t the case here. Ramses sports a prominent brow and nose and an intensive gaze worthy of a Pharaoh. The skin tone is smooth and even, with a bit of flush to his cheeks. This is a fantastic head sculpt with the paint to back it up! The paint and texturing on the lips is impressive, and while the eyes don’t quite have that spark of life we get with Hot Toys figures, they’re still pretty good.

The headpiece is patterned with a sea of concentric circles and a cobra protruding from the front. There’s a bit of a blue and gold gradiant to the helmet, with some gold trim. It’s cast in a slightly pliable plastic and is removable.

In terms of weaponry, Ramses comes with both a dagger and a sword. The dagger hangs off his right hip in an ornate plastic sheath. The hilt looks a bit more Roman to me than Egyptian, but either way it’s beautifully sculpted and features a leaf-shaped blade with a dark iron finish to the plastic blade. Yeah… TBL sometimes uses diecast metal for their sword and dagger blades, but that seems to be a thing of the past. I’m really OK with that, as the heavier blades sometimes take their toll on the figures’ joints.

The sword has a blade similar to the dagger, with a leaf shape and a somewhat dark finish. The guard almost resembles a heart and has some nice sculpted scrollwork patterns, a ribbed grip with painted gold bands and a flattened pommel. The scabbard is plastic, mostly textured black but does have gold painted fixtures. You get a pair of hands perfect for holding either of these weapons, as well as a pair of fists and a pair of relaxed hands.

In addition to the cutlery, Ramses also comes with a very long spear with a pointed tip and bottom, and boy both of these are damn sharp! The shaft has a sculpted woodgrain pattern and there are painted gold rings at the base of the blade and top of the end cap.

And last but not least, you get a round shield. This piece has some great texturing on the outside surface that looks like it’s been covered in stretched leather, as well as some raised gold floral patterns. The interior has an elastic arm strap and a grab bar to secure it to the figure and the system works quite well.

Ramses also comes with a figure stand, which is packaged separately from the box in a Styrofoam brick. It’s a round base with dark, rocky terrain and a bendy post attached to a claw that grabs the figure around the waist. It’s a great looking stand, but it doesn’t feel like it was really intended for this figure. The dark rocks don’t strike me as very Egyptian themed and the claw feels like it was made for one of the female figures, as it’s a pretty snug fit around Ramses waist. I’ll never complain about getting a figure stand, especially one that looks as good as this one, but I may end up handing this one off to one of my other fantasy themed TBL figures, where it will be more appropriate.

Ramses originally sold for $179, and I was thrilled to get him for half that. This is an absolutely striking figure to behold and he’ll look great among my bevy of TBL’s Egyptian ladies… many of which I still need to get around to featuring here. Sure, the overall design needs to be taken with a grain of salt in regards to its historical accuracy and I still consider this Egyptian line to be fantasy concept figures. The Egyptian flavor is certainly there, even if it’s something more akin to Hollywood History rather than being totally accurate. I believe TBL is currently offering an Egyptian throne accessory, and I may splurge for that to give this Pharaoh a place to sit!

Imperial Guardian Sixth-Scale Figure by TBLeague/Phicen

I’m a day late today, but this week has been kicking my ass at work and that’s going to be a running theme as we get deeper into Q4. I’m going to do my best to stay committed to three reviews a week, but I may be shuffling them around a bit as to when they actually go live. So let’s get to it with another look at a TBLeague sixth-scale figure! Yes, folks, TBLeague is continuing to stoke their furnaces with my hard-earned dollars with a seemingly never ending stream of their boxed figure releases. This time I’m opening up one of their more recent concept figures, The Imperial Guardian! What Empire is this battle maiden guarding? I guess that’s up to you, but I have a feeling she’s going to look great doing it.

The packaging and presentation is pretty typical fare for TBLeague these days. The open shoebox is made of sturdy cardboard and features a tri-fold cover which connects to the sides with magnets. From an artistic standpoint, it’s not one of their flashier boxes, but as always it relies entirely on pictures of the figure to do the talking. A good number of TBL’s releases these days are based on indie comic characters, but as I mentioned above, this one is a purely a concept figure with no fiction (at least none that I’m aware of) to back it up. A little blurb about this original character on the back of the box would have been welcome, but judging by the poor quality translation in the care and instruction manual, I can understand why they didn’t. Inside the figure comes nestled in foam with her head, armor pieces, and accessories positioned around the body. A second foam tray under that holds her rather long spear. Let’s get her all set up and check her out.

There’s a lot to love here, but I think what attracted me to this figure the most is the bit of Jean D’Arc vibe I’m getting off of her. TBLeague’s concept figures tend to flirt with the historical, but in the end they do their own thing. Fair warning, this figure requires a bit of work to get her ready for display, as the only armor she’s wearing when she comes out of the box is her chest piece and corset. Everything else has to be put on, and while most of it is pretty straightforward, it took me a while to get the armored skirt on and laced up. There’s a lot of excess string, but I will likely wind up trimming that down. Possibly one of the most notable things about this figure is the fact that she isn’t showing much skin. Indeed, you get a glimpse of thigh between her skirt and leg armor, but that’s it. It’s unusual for a TBLeague release to be covering so much, since these are built around the seamless body and the outfits are usually skimpy to show off that seamless bod. So, where TBL usually uses it to great effect, in this case, she could have easily gotten away with a regular jointed body as the outfit covers almost everything. As a result, collectors who are into this line for the skin and more outlandish costumes, may be a little tepid on this release.

But that’s not to say this isn’t an absolutely fantastic looking figure. The Guardian is wearing a red long-sleeved top and pleated skirt with the armor worn on top of that. The individual armor pieces are all cast in plastic, but the sculpt and paint make them totally convincing as actual metal armor. Heck, removing these pieces from the tray, I was tricked into expecting them to have a lot more weight than they do. Each of these pieces is painted with a weathered copper finish. There are sculpted rivets and some interlocking plates, as well as some general pitting. The armor corset is softer and more flexible to allow her freedom of movement in that region. She has leather-like bracers on her forearms under the armor pieces there and stockings, which extend up past her grieves and can be seen behind the knee armor. The straps and buckles on her chest armor are sculpted, but the others are all working buckles and straps that actually hold on the armor pieces. I dig the combination of the copper armor with the red skirt, as well as the bits of red cloth that show between the armor pieces. She also has a decorative pair of red cords that run from her right shoulder and across her chest.

The head sculpt features very short rooted hair, which stays in place and looks fantastic. I actually thought this head was recycled from their Zenescope Mercy Dante figure, and while they are indeed quite similar (and the hair is nearly identical), this one is still entirely new. I’m pretty sure I say this every time, but when it comes to portraits, TBL has really upped their game in the last few years. The paint is superb and realistic. The eyes have that spark of life, which is often elusive to all sixth-scale figure producers except Hot Toys. The paint used for the lips is a deep glossy red, and the skin tone is a little pale, but quite lifelike with a rosy hue to the cheeks.

While it’s a shame to cover up that beautiful portrait, the final piece to the armor is a tight fitting and fully enclosed helmet with an adjustable visor. Getting the helmet onto her noggin is a scary prospect, as it is extremely tight fitting, and I worry about messing up the hair or scratching the paint on her head. The ears in particular make it tough to get on, but with a little partience and care I was able to do it. Although I will probably need to use a pencil to tuck the hair on the right side of her face into the helmet the rest of the way, I could probably leave it as is and it will still look fine. The helmet shares the same coppery metal finish as the rest of the armor and features a hinged visor and a hinged face plate, each of which are independent of each other. There’s also a bright red plume that spills out the back like a long ponytail, which looks quite striking.

Closing the visor reveals a pretty non-nonsense helmet design. If you look closely, you can see that the visor doesn’t really line up with her eyes. If I take another crack at adjusting it, I might be able to fix this, but I really don’t want to rub it on the head any more than I am doing, so I will likely leave it like this. Take away the studio lights, and you can’t really see in there well enough to know that it’s not aligned with her eyes anyway. Since I don’t want to be putting the helmet on and removing it a lot, I will likely display this figure with the helmet on and the visor up, as that gives me the best of both worlds.┬áBecause the armor pieces took up most of the room in the tray, there are sadly not a lot of other accessories included with this figure. You do get three pairs of hands, which include fists, accessory holding hands, and relaxed hands, and these are all very nice sculpts with some detailed work on the armor. The only other accessory included is her long spear. Nope, you don’t even get a stand, so I had to dig into my box of generic sixth-scale figure stands.

The spear is a nice enough piece, and it even includes a grizzly coat of blood on the tip, showing that the Imperial Guard is not a ceremonial position, but a skilled warrior. I really like the design of the blade, as it’s practically a short sword mounted on a pole. The shaft is smooth and it terminates in a pointed cap that looks like it could do some damage as well. The spear works well in her accessory hands, and she looks great holding it! Still, I really feel like this figure needed a sword and scabbard. Sure, I could borrow one from another figure, but I’d rather not deprive one of my other TBL ladies of their weapons. I also think a red ribbon, streamer, or standard is called for on the spear. Heck, I could probably fix that myself, even with my non-existent DIY skills.

 

As a basic figure, the Imperial Guardian set me back about $160 and she is indeed a very beautiful figure for that price. TBL has managed to keep the cost of their figures locked in for a while now, and I maintain that these offerings continue to be among the best value in the sixth-scale market these days. Everything that’s here is expertly crafted and looks absolutely amazing, but to be honest, I felt like the accessories needed to be padded out a bit more to make this figure feel complete. This would have been an excellent opportunity for TBL to offer a Deluxe version (as they frequently do) with maybe a sword, scabbard, and shield, or perhaps just a sword and some kind of battle standard. As it is, I think the extra armor pieces just took up most of the budget. Still, a great figure with some opportunities to bulk her out if you’re game for a little sixth-scale accessory hunting on Ebay.