It seems like this is ancient/fantasy action figure review week, what with the Rome Imperial Army Legionary (HERE) and Centurion (HERE) figure reviews posted earlier, and now my Conan the Barbarian set from Mr Toys finally arrived yesterday. As a fan, it was not something I could easily pass up, although I already own the two fantasy barbarian warrior sets from Kaustic Plastik and was also going to pick up Kaustic Plastik's new Conan set, which is essentially an upgrade on their previous work and a variation of the Mr Toys set. In fact, Mr Toys seems to have redone a version of Kaustic Plastik's old sets with a selection of the items and some new additions, basically trying to replicate Conan's iconic look from Conan the Destroyer (by far the worse of the two Conan Arnold Schwarzenegger films, in my book). The Mr Toys set is available in two variants, one without (A) and one with (B) the TBLeague (Phicen) M35 seamless action figure body. Since I had M35 bodies to spare, I ordered the smaller, less expensive set A. Because this is not a complete action figure set, I am going to simplify the review and not assign point values, while providing as many images as usual. For the M35 body itself, you can check out my detailed review and a zillion images HERE.
The set I ordered (without the M35 body) comes in a tidy black rectangular cardboard box with a slip-on cover showing off the product, the Mr Toys logo, and product number. Inside the box there are two black foam treys (always appreciated) with the various items that come in the set stored safely and easy to access. Nothing mind-blowing but certainly neat and collector-friendly.
This category includes a number of items, but of course the most focal one is the head sculpt. Mr Toys appears to have used a head sculpt of Arnold Schwarzenegger that seems just a little more youthful than what we usually see, and is therefore appropriate for the film-based character; nevertheless, it features a sufficiently stern expression. This is the first "real" hair Conan head sculpt we have gotten, and that is a big plus in my book. The sculpting on the head appears to be of excellent quality. It is also very well done on the remainder of the sculpted elements: from the soft plastic headband with its ornaments, to the two pendants, to the ornamented over belt, the utilitarian dagger, and the ornately decorated sword. This category leaves nothing to be desired, and although many of the pieces appear to have been copied directly from the old Kaustic Plastik sets, there are also improvements -- including quality (especially durability -- nothing fell apart as I was handling it), the "real" hair head sculpt, the removable head band, the teeth added to one of the necklaces (although they actually go with another pendant that Kaustic Plastike had not yet produced and was therefore substituted with one that they had made, but didn't go with the teeth).
In terms of quality, the paint work appears to be excellent. The face looks realistic, the eyes are precisely painted and glossy, the metallic elements -- whether actual metal or painted plastic -- are convincing and precisely executed. Accuracy is a slightly different matter: for example, parts of the sword should have been given a gold or bronze coloring, but like the old Kaustic Plastik set we get the same clean steel look; the leather strings wound round the boots and fur leggins should have been black. There is little in the way of weathering here, except perhaps on the dagger, the buckle on the back of the ornate belt, and the metal pendant. More weathering would have lent the figure's appearance added realism.
Technically, since my set was the version that came without a body, there is none; the recommended M35 body (HERE, although M34 would probably work just as well) has pretty much all the articulation you could possibly expect and the rather skimpy outfit does not get in the way much. The boots allow for excellent ankle articulation, making wide stances easy to achieve. It is great that the boots include feet (or perhaps they are integral to them), and these fit well onto the TBLeague body. Nevertheless, the stainless steel plus silicone body is heavy and with a high center of gravity, meaning it is not going to be overly steady on its ankles. Take precautions against the figure toppling over, and perhaps stuff something in to tighten the fit of the ankle peg into the hole inside the boot.
The set includes the following accessories: the metal pendant on a string with four teeth or fangs (inaccurate, both because of their placement and because they were paired with a different, golden sun pendant that is not provided here); the green stone snake cult pendant; the decorated battle (?) headgear with "noseguard", which is tied with string at the back of the head; the dagger which fits into a sheath attached to the belt (it fits well, but perhaps a little too high); the long sword which comes with its own sheath with imprinted design and has a couple of hooks on its back, allowing it to hang from either the decorated belt (again, rather too high) or to attach to a leather-like belt that goes across the chest and back and is buckled on the front. There are several other items, but I am keeping covering them under Outfit below. The accessories are of high quality in terms of durability and execution, but again not always entirely accurate (most notably the pendant paired with the teeth/fangs necklace or the lack of gold treatment on the decoration of the sword).
The outfit is minimal, but that is the look we saw on screen for most of Conan the Destroyer. There is a furry (wolf- or bear-skin?) kilt, held in place by leather thongs (called "leather pants" in the product description), over which goes the wide belt decorated with "metal" strips and a dragon crest in the middle; all this is very well executed. The lower arms are protected by a couple of vambraces. On the right lower arm there is a brown leather vambrace with gold- or bronze-colored round studs (which represents the much more numerous and more closely set spikes in the film -- the simplification is carried over the old Kaustic Plastik set). On the left lower arm there is a black leather vambrace with thongs, held together by velcro (I'm not sure it should have been quite black as opposed to dark brown, except perhaps for the thongs wound over it; and it should have been made a little wider to allow a more comfortable fit). Finally, there are the brown leather boots with grey fur trim on the top, and brown leather straps (should have been black or much darker brown leather) wound around both boot and trim. These constantly move out of place and require some futzing to get halfway right; nevertheless they do not fall apart like those in the original Kaustic Plastik set, which is a relief.
The absence of other character from the Conan films does not help, but nevertheless, the fairly complete outfit and accessories makes this a fun set. This is augmented by the excellent articulation potential and by the quality and durability of the items included in the set. Still, not something you would want careless children to mess around with.
The set I bought, without the M35 body included, retails for anywhere between around $85 and $100 (USD), often with shipping included, if you're buying on eBay from China. This is not exactly cheap, but it is not horrendously more than the price of the old Kaustic Plastik sets from years back, partly reprized by Mr Toys. If you are buying the set with the M35 body included, the price jumps to closer to $180, but that includes the $80+ for the body. Overall, the price is not inconsiderable, but also not horribly exaggerated compared to earlier and similar practice. But of course if you are buying multiples, or also looking forward to picking up Mr Toys' He-Man set and Kaustic Plastik's new and improved Conan set, the costs will add up.
Things to watch out for
If you are treating the figure with the usual amount of care appropriate for high-end collectibles of this type, there should be little or nothing to worry about. As I mentioned, the figure can be a bit top-heavy and lose its balance, so take precautions about that. I do worry that the little round metallic studs on the leather vambrace on the right hand might fall off, as they did with the Kaustic Plastik version, but on the whole the quality seems to be better, so perhaps it should less of a concern.
All told, this is a very good set. It is not perfect (occasional mistakes with the pairing and painting of accessories, etc), but it is fairly complete as far as what we can associate with this look of the character, and it is durable and beautifully executed. Don't get me wrong: I love the old Kaustic Plastik stuff, and between their two sets, you do get more than you get here; however, I am weary and wary of everything I touch coming apart in my hands, and Mr Toys' set is like a breadth of fresh air in that respect. Moreover, with the new head sculpt, the "real" hair, and the removable headband, we get some real and unprecedented improvements in terms of the selection, functionality, and appearance of the items making up the set. I am very pleased overall, and I think most others who go for this set will be too. One should note that it looks like the new Kaustic Plastik set will correct some of their earlier mistakes and omissions (including some carried over into the Mr Toys set) -- but the new Kaustic Plastik set is much more expensive, does not include a body, and features a beautiful but one-piece sculpted head (the hair and headband are part of the head sculpt).
Where to buy?
This is a tough one. Most outfits carrying these here in the States have long sold out their pre-orders, although it is to be expected that they might get some additional sets. I don't like to pre-order, but when I saw so many venues sold out, bit the bullet and pre-ordered from GianToy (you can do so directly or via eBay). If you want one and haven't pre-ordered it, check where you would usually check (just in case), or look on eBay.
For comparison purposes, here are a couple of photos of this set alongside my custom Conan the Barbarian (also based on the appearance in Conan the Destroyer) and the much more loosely-inspired "Conanesque" figure.
I hope you found this useful. What do you think?
Update: for the new Kaustic Plastik Conan Masterclass set, see HERE.
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