KING KONG OF SKULL ISLAND (MEZCO)
An undeniable icon of the silver screen since he first debuted in his 1933 film, King Kong is a slightly tough egg to crack when it comes to merchandising. In the ’30s, of course, tie-in merchandise was far from the business it is now, and by the time such things had come into vogue, Kong was more of a thing of the past. Sure, the idea of 20-foot gorilla is certainly a spectacle to behold in 1933, but how exactly do you translate that into little plastic figures in a way that isn’t kind of generic and passé? What separates a King Kong figure from some dollar store monkey? That can be a bit of a grey area. When the 2005 remake hit, Playmates picked up the license and did their best to sell it, but failed to make much of an impact. At the same time, Mezco picked up the license as well, and produced a slightly more popular rendition of the title character, but this was admittedly back before they were quite as well versed in the figure-making game. Fortunately, with a new Kong movie in more recent history (and therefore more Kong in the public eye), and a lot more experience on Mezco’s part, they’re giving it another try. I’m looking at that today.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
King Kong of Skull Island is a standalone release from Mezco, who started hitting retail at the beginning of last month. Despite their similar naming schemes, this figure is *not* based on Kong from the recent film, Kong: Skull Island. He is instead from Joe Devito’s illustrated novel King Kong of Skull Island. I know, how could anyone *possibly* confuse those two things? It just baffles the mind. Anyway, the figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation. As with most Kong figures, he’s in a scale that’s really all his own, so as to maximize playability and minimize costs. So, he’s not really going to be interacting with your other popular figure lines. Well, at least not as Kong, anyway. Unsurprisingly, he’s sporting an all-new sculpt, based on Devito’s depiction of the character. It’s a pretty solid piece of work, and definitely calls back to some of Mezco’s more stylized figures from earlier in the ’00s. In particular, I was definitely reminded of their comics-based Hellboy line. Utmost realism is obviously not at the forefront here, but then again, that’s probably for the best with a character like Kong, who could otherwise prove generic. His articulation is fairly decently worked into the sculpt, so it won’t stick out like a sore thumb, which is fairly commendable, especially when it comes to a figure with all the fur and everything. They certainly had a better time of it than Hasbro has with their more recent Chewbacca figures. With all that said, while the joints certainly look nice, I can’t say they offer much in the way of range. They’re quite tight, and difficult to move. On the plus side, this means what poses you can get him into are held pretty well, but his range is still limited. There are two different heads included with the figure. The first is a more serene one, a calm, yet intense expression. The thinking man’s Kong, if you will. This is my preferred of the two, because it’s a bit more versatile and seems better suited to the poses the figure can pull off. The second is a far more intense, screaming head, a mid-battle or mid-escape Kong. Admittedly a pretty classic Kong look, and while I may prefer the other one, I’d certainly feel something was missing without this one. Paintwork on Kong is pretty decent, and very subtle work. There are a number of details that can be easily overlooked, such as the accenting on the fur, which certainly adds a lot to the depth of the sculpt. In addition to his extra head, Kong is packed with five hands (a pair of fists, a pair of open gesture, and a right hand designed for gripping), a pair of removable shackles (with real metal chains!), and a miniature Ann Darrow figure for him to hold.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
While I certainly have an appreciation for King Kong as a fixture in pop-culture, I’ve never found myself particularly drawn to any of the figures produced of him. This one caught my eye moreso than others, but I still held off. When All Time Toys got in their stock, one of the figures had some issues with his packaging, which was very fortunate for me because, hey, review sample! Kong is a decent figure. Not a perfect one, mind you; that articulation holds him back quite a bit. That said, as his own, standalone sort of piece, he’s pretty nifty, and he’s certainly one of the two best Kongs on the market, with the plus side being that he’s way more affordable than his only competition (the Figuarts release).
As mentioned above, I was given this guy to review by my friends at All Time Toys. If you’d like one of your own, he’s still available via their webstore here. Or, if you’re looking for other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.