I am a little late to this party. I've always liked Hellboy, but missed my chance at getting earlier, licensed figures from that franchise. Now a non-licensed figure called Hellman (a name that I think he would prefer!) has been produced by Artoys, and I picked one up on eBay. It took a good three weeks to get here from China, but arrived safely yesterday, despite the rather disturbing condition of the outer package. The product bears many similarities to what I have seen from Hot Toys' second Hellboy figure, but also some differences that will be highlighted below. I am adopting a Michael Crawford-style format for this review, although I am treating outfit and accessories as a single category.
Hellman comes in a sturdy shoebox-type package. Artistic depictions of the character populate sides of the surface, filtered and posterized to different degrees. One surface of the lid features Hellman's trademark exclamation, "Oh, crap!" and two other surfaces bear the BPRD (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense) acronym. Similarly, once the lid is removed, the sides of the box showcase Hellman/Hellboy's other designations: his real name, Anung un Rama, and his loving nickname, "Red." Nothing too spectacular, but very well done. The same can be said for the foam packaging inside the box -- I would take this over nestled plastic trays any day, and appreciate it with this and any boxed figure. Below a thin lid of black foam lies a black foam tray containing the figure, three additional head sculpts, and a few accessories. Below this foam tray lies a second one, containing the remaining items. Again, nothing mind-blowing, but perfectly safe and collector-friendly.
While I am no Hellboy expert, the sculpting on the figure looks excellent. All four head sculpts are beautifully sculpted, with great attention to detail. The soft rubber body also exhibits plenty of fine texturing, cuts and bruises (in a way more apparent than in the actual film), and features the carved "tattoos"/scars on the upper torso and right arm. Perhaps the execution is not quite as fine as Hot Toys', but I don't think it leaves much to be desired. The hair is pretty finely carved, though not as finely as we have seen in some of the highest-end products in recent years. The cut-off horns seem to protrude a little too far out of the forehead compared to what we see on the screen, but this does not really detract from the overall look. Other sculpted elements are very finely done, including the heavy right hand and arm, the belt buckle, the crucifix, the guns and shells.
Three of the head sculpts portray Ron Perlman's depiction of Hellboy from the films. Two of these have the cut-off horns with different facial expressions, while the third has the head sporting two complete and uncut horns. The fourth head sculpt (with cut-off horns) has a more snarling and caricature-type appearance, being based on the comics instead. This was supposed to be a preorder special, although it might actually be present in all boxed sets.
While the paint work is very good, it is not quite perfect. Overall the red color used is a bit duller than what we see on screen, and especially so on the rubbery body. The head sculpts and especially the hands have a slightly more intense color. That's right, the colors do not match perfectly, although the difference is not too bad in hand. Displaying the figure in the coat or coat and t-shirt largely precludes the slight differences from being noticed, but they are there. Generally speaking, the overall duller color goes in the opposite extreme from the old Hot Toys version: where Hot Toys' Hellboy was a bit too orange, this one is perhaps a little too red. In terms of application, the paint is generally very cleanly applied, except perhaps in the teeth (most notably on the full-horned head sculpt). This can be a good thing to a point, as the guns (for example), could have benefited from some weathering.
This is where the figure falls palpably short of what one might hope. The wrists, ankles, and knees have good articulation, and the figure can stand well even without the included stand. So does the neck, especially at the base of the skull. The tail is articulated by way of an internal wire, and works quite well, except that in some cases its hollow rubbery shell can crease in strange ways -- sometimes futzing with it helps, sometimes it does not. However, there is little or no ab crunch or waist rotation, and the legs cannot reach a seating position at the thigh. Although the rubbery outer shell is quite soft, it precludes the underlying skeleton from keeping most medium to extreme poses with the arms and shoulders; and when you can bend something well enough -- for example the elbows -- the hollow rubbery shell often assumes unsightly and unnatural shapes. There are partly or more fully seamless bodies (especially TBLeague's) that would have performed much better.
Accessories and Outfit: 4/4
This is a very well-equipped figure. It comes with the four head sculpts (Hot Toys provided only three -- lacking the comic book one) and a total of four hands (relaxed and fist heavy right hand, spread out left hand, gloved trigger grip left hand); admittedly that is not much in the way of hands (Hot Toys did not provide any more for Hellboy II), but it is where it comes to outfit and real accessories that the set shines.
Apart from the action figure stand, which comes with an optional surface sticker, the accessories include a rosary with a crucifix, two guns, and a cigar. The smaller of the two, the "Samaritan," can be opened to display the shells in the chamber, although they do not seem to be removable; there is a coiled strap hanging from the handle of the gun. The lager gun, "Big Baby," can also be opened, and six large shells can be inserted (at least theoretically -- it is a very tight fit) into its hollow chamber openings. The handle is sculpted and painted to resemble wood, with a painted on inscription and image of... "big baby." You attach the supplied shoulder strap to the gun. Then there is the cigar, which can fit into a couple of the hand sculpts, but unfortunately not in any of the head sculpts.
The outfit choices are also very good. They include beautifully detailed real leather boots, fine black real leather pants, a ripped black t-shirt, the beige overcoat with shortened right sleeve, and a complex belt with buckle and straps. You attach a holster for the "Samaritan" gun to the belt (its additional straps go around the right leg), and there are six pouches (in three different sizes) that can also go on the belt. The rosary with the crucifix can also be attached to hang from the belt, using its own little strap.
All this looks great, although it can be a bit of a hassle. Putting the t-shirt and even the coat on the rubbery body can be a little frustrating, though not nearly as difficult as I expected. Putting the holster and pouches on the belt was not too bad, but trying to buckle it properly was beyond my abilities or at least patience. I really do not appreciate this aspect of functional sixth-scale buckles. The pants reach a little too high up, and it is somewhat difficult to make them ride down and stay that way, but I am not about to attempt any actual alterations.
The ripped black t-shirt is movie accurate, the tears corresponding exactly to the ones suffered by Hellboy after his encounter with the tooth fairies in Hellboy II. The coat is also very impressive, especially as its collar can lay flat on the shoulders, unlike so many others in this scale. Other impressive features of the coat include the buckles on the collar and the right sleeve; thankfully, these last were already done in the box, and did not require me testing my limited skills at buckling things in this scale. The pants and coat make suitable accommodation for the tail.
How does this compare to Hot Toys' Hellboy II? The latter included separate removable shells for the "Samaritan" gun and a second little rosary for the left wrist, neither of which is included here -- this second rosary is missing altogether, while these shells (unlike those that come for "Big Baby") appear to be sculpted and painted in the chamber. On the other hand, we get things that were not included with Hot Toys' Hellboy II -- the cigar, the black t-shirt, and the fourth (comic-style) head sculpt. This is not a bad trade off, although of course I would have preferred the best of both worlds.
Fun Factor: 3/4
While the problematic articulation limits the fun potential of this product to some extent, overall it looks great and allows for plenty of good poses and a variety of different looks. To be honest, I am rating this category just a little too low, as I may have rated the previous one just a little too high.
This is difficult to evaluate. When the set first appeared, it was retailing for as low as around $170; then the price reached around $250; now the price often exceeds $300. This in the space of two months or so, and for an unlicensed figure. It really depends on where you buy, but also when you buy. At $170, this product is a steal; at over $300, it approaches daylight robbery, although it does have four head sculpts. It offers a lot, although it suffers from some flaws and limitations, most notably when it comes to articulation. And it is not as if you can put everything on a different body -- it would take serious customization and skill to create an equally detailed and accurate but better articulated body.
I am divided on this figure. The look is excellent overall, despite some minor problems (paint mismatch, pants riding too high) and offers plenty of outfit and accessory choices, while still missing some. My one significant disappointment is the articulation, while the choice of finely-crafted head sculpts is a big plus. The price plays a role too, but is a big variable, depending on what sort of deal you manage to find.
Where to buy? It is already sold out at several retailers. Cotswold Collectibles still has it for $300 here: https://www.gijoeelite.com/Hellman-Figure. Or you can always look on eBay.
What do you think?
#productreview #artoys #hellboy #male #film