(for Part II - M36A, see post 12 below )
TBLeague (formerly Phicen) has followed up its super-muscular M35 body (see HERE) with a leaner, lankier, and much taller body that is available in two versions, one dark-colored, the other lighter-colored (the male version of "suntan"). The darker version, M36B, was released first, and is the subject of the first part of this review. It arrived a few days ago, but I'm still unpacking from a move and only managed to get enough items out for a very basic review last night. It was previewed by Ephiane on this forum (HERE).
Note: Like its immediate predecessor, M36 does not include any garments, and like all of the basic male seamless bodies by TBLeague, it comes without a head.
Packaging: 4/4 stars
M36B comes in the traditional packaging for TBLeague male seamless bodies, complete with the usual color scheme and graphics. Unlike the case with M35, there was no erroneous use of a female design scheme. The box is a little taller than usual, to accommodate the taller body. Everything is safe and collector friendly in its plastic tray and cover. Luckily, the package did not feature any scented packets, just a couple of the usual dessicant packets. You know what these boxes look like, and I have already gotten rid of mine, so no photo.
Sculpting: 4/4 stars
Perhaps because of the rubbery silicone material, the sculpt of TBLeague seamless bodies is always slightly soft, and this is no exception. However, the texture of the surface (and to some extent the protective powder) helps make the details (veins, muscles, curves, etc.) appear sufficiently realistic. M36 is a lean and lanky body characteristic for basketball players (the physique is somewhat reminiscent of M32, but much larger/taller), but rather unusual for more average fit males. By far the tallest TBLeague body (for a comparison with others, see the last photo below), M36 stands about 13.25 inches (33.5 cm) with the head I chose for the photos in this review. Despite a warning about possibly needing modification to use a Hot Toys head, I had no problem using one here.
Paint: 3/4 stars
This is TBLeague's first "black" body, and as such it has been long anticipated by collectors. Of course, as we realized, it is not going to match every relevant head sculpt, just as the physique and stature might not be appropriate for some of the possible characters. I found the Hot Toys Finn head sculpt a good match (especially in hand) and used that for this review. The paint is basic but even and consistent. As usual for the male bodies, there is no attempt to paint details like the nipples. Because of the darker skin tone, dust, lint, etc., may be easier to spot on the body, and the protective powder is more visible than with lighter-colored bodies.
Articulation: 4/4 stars
Belying the old dictum that seamless bodies prioritize look over articulation, M36 has the excellent articulation of its predecessors. In fact, the longer limbs of its lankier physique allow it to assume some iconic poses with greater ease and success than other bodies. Occasionally, a muscle group might not move quite realistically, which is the result of the loose interaction between the rubbery flesh and the internal steel skeleton, but for the most part M36 can achieve realistic poses; most of its few limitations are shared by the real human body.
Accessories: 3/4 stars
This is a base body, and any accessory would be a bonus. In this case the accessories are of the order of alternative parts. M36 comes with the usual detachable feet, two genitals in opaque plastic bags, and three pairs of hands... or rather I should say with six hands. In the package the body is equipped with a right pointing hand and a left fist. The alternative hands are right and left dribbling or basketball-grasping hands, and a right and left hand with non-identical differently-spread fingers. The dribbling hands contain a magnet, intended to work with sixth-scale basketballs which are frequently given magnets to attach to figures' hands. In case you forget, you can see a circular line on the palm of these hands marking the location of the magnets. Something not indicated in the product advertisement, the package includes what appear to be foot pieces for a specific type of not-for-feet footwear.
So why the lower score? Because the selection of hands is overly specific, uneven (no left pointing hand or right fist), and insufficient (what happened to normal relaxed hands and to grip hands?). Moreover, unlike ACI or (in an insufficient way) Jiaou, TBLeague still fails to supply bent-toes feet.
Although TBLeague's male bodies M32, M33, and M34 came with some basic clothing items (primarily shorts), M35 and M36 have reverted to featuring no clothing at all. While disappointing, this is not technically a must for a base body. The length of the limbs and the size of the feet may present difficulties when fitting some of the available sixth-scale clothing on this body.
Fun Factor: 3/4 stars
As a base body, M36 is intended for kitbashing, so technically the sky's the limit of what you might do with it. It is ideal for basketball players, but could work for other real life or film characters, like Bombaata from Conan the Destroyer or Kareem Abdul Jabbar's character from Game of Death (see HERE). That said, the height, specific body type or proportions, and specific and uneven choice of hand sculpts are notable limitations.
Value: 3/4 stars
Retailing anywhere between $67 and $85 in most places, this base body is not a bargain, all the more so as it might be useful for a fairly small set of characters. However, in a business where the price of products has skyrocketed over just a few years, I give credit to TBLeague for remaining fairly consistent and not abusing the consumer.
Things to watch out for
Not much. The feet swap easily, the hands a little less so, and although I encountered no problem, I always recommend heating up the hands before removing or putting on (I prefer using a hairdryer for that purpose). As a tall body, M36 has a higher center of gravity and might tumble a little more readily than others, but it generally can stand well on its own.
Overall: 3.4/4 stars
TBLeague's seamless bodies remain arguably the best action figure bodies on the market, which is not to say that they fulfill all their potential. M36 is no exception to this rule. It is great overall, but there are various minor improvements (noted above) that would have made it even better. While too specific a type to work for a great many purposes, it does fill (to some extent) an important void where seamless action figures are concerned.
Where to buy
Online options include these (some of them still preorders) :
Big Bad Toy Store for $80 HERE
Monkey Depot for $80 HERE
Timewalker Toys for $78 HERE
and on eBay various prices HERE
I hope you found this review useful. What do you think? Part II (M36A) will follow presently.
#phicen #tbleague #seamless #male #body #african