Update: for the female figures T01B and T03B, see HERE.
I suppose it was bound to happen sometime. After it introduced us to its twelfth-scale female seamless bodies (pale T01A and suntan T01B), TBLeague (formerly Phicen) has now released two types of twelfth-scale male seamless bodies. I don't collect that much in this scale, and certainly don't have the interest and means to engage as much in customizing in it as in sixth scale, but I picked up a couple of these bodies all the same: as in the case of the female body, I was curious whether TBLeague can match the considerable degree of excellence it had achieved in sixth-scale in figures two times smaller. As before, the result is impressive but the answer is, unsurprisingly, "not quite."
Packaging: 4/4 stars
I for one appreciate compact, safe, and stackable packaging, and that is precisely what we get from TBLeague for their twelfth-scale bodies. Each comes in a clear plastic box filled with a white foam trey containing the body and its spare parts and outfit. Unlike the female figures, the top layer, in this instance needlessly obscuring the "sensitive" areas of the body, is here paper, not foam. But everything is safe and collector-friendly.
Sculpting: 3/4 stars
Sculpting refers to both the head sculpts and the molds of the soft silicone-covered stainless-steel seamless bodies. The fit but relatively slender TM01A ("little bro") stands about 15 cm (5.6 inches) tall, while the fit but bulkier TM02A ("big bro") stands about 16 cm (6.3 inches) tall. The two bodies sport similar but not identical head sculpts that are appropriately sized for their respective body. Some have compared the appearance to a young Sylvester Stallone, but the resemblance is distant enough that this could be mere coincidence. The bodies and heads are sculpted in what appears to be greater detail and realism than the female bodies (T01A and T01B) that preceded them, although the facial features are clean enough to look slightly stylized. It would be perhaps unreasonable to expect better in this scale. The same can be said for the sculpt of the body molds, where the soft material also limits the potential range of detail. Nevertheless, in addition to the various appropriate muscles, you can find plenty of finer veins, and this good level of detail carries over to the harder plastic feet and various hands. Despite all the talk of anatomical correctness, the figures not being sex toys, and prior practice (barring the unfortunate M31), TBLeague omitted to provide the pieces that actually make these bodies male. Whether they would have been particularly useful is beside the point, and their absence impacts both the completeness and the look of the set negatively. For some reason (the sculpt of the feet or is it something in the articulation?) the twelfth-scale figures do not balance as easily and as well as their sixth-scale counterparts.
Paint: 3/4 stars
We need not expect very much from this type of set, going by TBLeague's prior record, apart from consistent paint application and a close (though not always perfect) match between the colors of the silicone body and the harder plastic hands, feet, and (in these sets) head sculpts. The nipples continue to be unpainted, but you can always try to make them a bit more realistic yourself, as desired (oil pastel seems best). The one part or the set where there is anything like a more complex paint job is the head sculpt. It would be unreasonable to expect the degree of realism we find in better sixth-scale head sculpts on a piece in twelfth-scale, and TBLeague's twelfth-scale female body came with a disappointingly bland and anime-like head. With the male bodies we get a little more realism than that. The paint application seems pretty clean -- which is generally a good thing in itself, although in this instance it does not really improve the realism of the appearance. Note, for example, the patterned paint application on the eyebrows -- which is of course far less apparent (if at all) in hand. Some other companies, like Hasbro, have begun to experiment with technology which, while utilizing a less clean paint application, has resulted in some more realistic results, which might have been nice to see here.
Articulation: 3/4 stars
Despite the old assumption that seamless bodies sacrifice articulation, TBLeague's sixth-scale stainless-steel silicone-covered seamless bodies are among the best articulated action figure bodies on the market. In principle, this could and should have been carried over to the twelfth-scale, but it is not. Sixth-scale TBLeague bodies boast 28 points of articulation (which appear to be almost as many as one might possibly need); but their twelfth-scale bodies reduce the articulation to 22 points. For the most part it is not quite clear exactly what is being sacrificed, but one definite omission is the ability of the lower arms to swivel inward (or outward) independently of the upper arms/shoulders. To some degree this can be compensated for there, but it remains a limitation and annoyance that gets in the way of the experience. It might be a one-off thing, but the hip and knee joints on the larger body I received were a little looser than expected. It can still stand and pose, but it is loose enough to make me wonder.
Accessories: 3/4 stars
Technically speaking, the sets don't include any actual accessories like weapons or stands. They do include spare parts, namely three alternative pairs of hands, making a total of four pairs: fists, knife grip, gun grip, and outstretched grasping "I'm gonna get you" hands. What is conspicuous in its absence is a pair of relaxed hands, not to mention bent-toe feet. As noted above, the hands and feet are nicely sculpted and painted to match the silicone body cover very closely.
Outfit: 3/4 stars
The only outfit we get are simple black trunks. These work reasonably well, though they are quite difficult to get on the bigger of the two bodies. Technically, we don't even need that much, so perhaps this merits a better score. Not that I've ever really used them, but sixth-scale TBLeague bodies used to come with wrist and ankle covers (and their twelfth-scale female bodies did too), and that is not carried over to these sets. What makes the issue a bit more important, is that there seems to be a wide range of sizes for twelfth-scale figures, and many of the outfits you might want to put on these bodies will turn out to be too bulky or too tight to look right or to work at all. A somewhat more extensive outfit set might have gone some way to address this problem. Finding footwear that works reasonably well with the foot pegs appears to be biggest challenge in cobbling together some customs, judging by my ad hoc experiments so far.
Fun Factor: 3/4 stars
As impressive and "neat" as the recreation of their sixth-scale bodies in a scale twice as small may be, TBLeague's twelfth-scale bodies do not carry quite the same degree of fun factor. To some extent this is inherent (less articulation, less complete sets, smaller size limiting realism), to some extent it is conditioned by external factors (less in the way of accessories, bar those sourced from certain military and superhero lines of toys and/or collectibles). Some of that might change in the future, as twelfth-scale figures are becoming more and more popular, perhaps in part due to the overpricing of sixth-scale ones. Nevertheless, if you get lucky with matching and reasonably fitting head sculpts and clothes, you can probably get plenty of satisfaction from these figures.
Value: 2/4 stars
Give or take a few US dollars, these sets retail for about $40. That is not exorbitant, especially when compared to high-end Mezco One:12 Collective sets, but of course those sets depict characters from licensed franchises and are loaded with accessories and displays. And $40 is a lot more than what you would pay for other, less high-end but still well-articulated and well-accessoried sets from other licensed franchises, and all that for a base body with great seamless looks but no accessories, or clothing, and some difficulty in adopting the latter from other sets.
Things to watch out for
Not a whole lot. The heads, hands, and feet are relatively easy to attach and remove, and the articulation is generally cooperative -- just don't force anything. Also make sure you don't loose or misplace some of the tiny hands or other pieces, although the compact boxes are probably convenient enough for the purposes of storage. As noted above, these figures do not seem to be quite as stable and balanced as their sixth-scale counterparts, although they are also less likely to damaged from a fall, except perhaps from a very tall shelf on a very hard surface, if even then. On the other hand, the internal stainless steel skeleton is bound to be more delicate and fragile than the larger ones, so proceed with a modicum of caution.
Overall: 3/3 stars
Were it not for a few questionable decisions, these could have been great. As it is, they are just good, even if they benefit from novelty value. To fully capitalize on their potential, you have to get lucky with additional items that fit and work with the twelfth-scale seamless bodies, and that is not quite as easy as one might hope. I don't regret getting them, but I don't think they or any other twelfth-scale figures would replace the sixth-scale versions in possibility and quality anytime soon.
Where to buy
Apart from eBay, the following stores (among others) have them in stock or on pre-order.
Big Bad Toys Store (and for the other body HERE) for $40
Cotswold Collectibles (and for the other body HERE) for $45
Hobby Galaxy for $41
Monkey Depot for $45
Timewalker Toys (and for the other body HERE) for $45
I hope this has been useful. And, as always, what do you think?
Update: for a comparison to 1:6 figures, see HERE.
Update: for the female figures T01B and T03B, see HERE.
#tbleague #phicen #seamless #male #body #twelfth #scale #sixinch