DR. DAVE BOWMAN
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY ULTIMATES (SUPER 7)
“Mission commander of the Discovery One spacecraft and lone survivor of the five astronauts on board. After being led out of the spacecraft by HAL 9000 in an attempt to leave him behind, Dr. Bowman manages to improvise his way back onto the ship and shuts off HAL 9000, continuing his journey to Jupiter.”
As someone whose main focus of writing is for a website that deals entirely with toys, it’s very rare that I really get to flex that deeper meaning, human existence, really makes you think, cerebral side of myself. I mean, sure, sometimes I wax on seriously about things within the absurd, but it’s rare. So, today, I’m switching things up, and discussing a Stanley Kubrick movie of all things. I know. I’m surprised about this development, too. I promise to not let all this high art stuff go to my head, though. Kubrick, and in turn Kubrick’s estate, was always sort of odd about merchandise in regards to his film work. Something about true artistry or something like that. By and large, it’s not a big deal, since many of his works don’t exactly lend themselves to easy toy coverage. Over the years, some of the barriers have been broken on some of the more figure-friendly things. A Clockwork Orange in particular has become easier to work with, and clearly Funko’s doing something right, because we’ve also gotten an assortment of Pops. For some reason, 2001: A Space Odyssey has been a particularly tricky one for licensing over the years. Companies will try to get something off of the ground, only for it to be ultimately cancelled before going into production. For something that’s probably *the* definitive science fiction film, it’s honestly a bummer that there’s been such an uphill battle on doing something for it toy-wise. When Super 7 announced they were adding 2001 to their Ultimates banner last year, I was excited, but also worried. I’ve been misled before. However, it’s not the case this time around! The figures are actually here! How about that? So, in honor of the things actually getting produced and all, I’m taking a look at the closest thing the movie’s got to a main character, Dr. Dave Bowman, today.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Dr. Dave Bowman is part of the first, and presumably the only, wave of 2001: A Space Odyssey Ultimates figures from Super 7. Dave is seen here in his space gear, the most sensible and most distinctive of his looks in the movie, and also the look he’s got for a good chunk of his screen time. It’s also a quite distinctive and a rather signature design for the genre as a whole. The figure stands 6 3/4 inches (sans helmet; he gets an extra half inch with the helmet in place) and he has 26 points of articulation. The first Super 7 Ultimates figure I looked was Casey from their TMNT line, and his articulation scheme was pretty solid. These figures are a little different, and the end result is definitely a lot more limited, especially when it comes to the elbows and knees. A degree of this is certainly due to the design of the suit; you can clearly see in the film that there’s some definite restricting. That said, it doesn’t quite get to this level. It’s not like Dave gets into many action poses or anything in the movie, but I’d have liked just a touch more motion on the elbows at the very least. Dave’s sculpt is new to this line, albeit mostly shared with Frank and Heywood, since they all had variants of the same space suits. It’s a generally sensible sculpt. Some of the details are a little on the softer side, but, for the most part, it’s quite a nice recreation of the suits seen in the film, especially in its fully-assembled set-up. Once the helmet’s off, though, things do get a bit rougher. Firstly, the join between the helmet and the suit is off; the silver part should stay on the suit, but here it’s on the helmet; it winds up making his neck look very long and wonky with the helmet off. Secondly, the head beneath the helmet’s definitely the weakest part of the overall sculpt. He doesn’t look entirely unlike Keir Dullea…but it’s not super close either. His hair is parted the opposite direction, his forehead’s too short, and his jaw’s too pronounced. He also just generally looks too old for Dullea in 2001. All that said, there’s a sort of a caricature effect going on, and the head looks decent beneath the helmet, which is really what’s most important. Dave’s paint work is generally okay. It’s a lot of base color work, but there’s some really nice work on the smaller details of the suit, especially it’s insignias. The head under the helmet is again the weak spot; the paint’s a bit on the thick side, and, in the case of my figure, there’s a slight imperfection on the right cheek, which looks like he’s gotten a bruise or something. Thankfully, it’s mostly hidden by the helmet. Dave makes out with a pretty solid accessory selection here. There’s a second helmet in green, three sets of hands in gripping, relaxed, and open gesture, his sketchbook, an alternate older head, and a whole separate character in the form of HAL-9000, Discovery‘s on-board AI-turned antagonist. The green helmet allows for Dave’s look after his airlock jump, which is cool. Technically, he should have a set of gloves in green to complete the look, but it’s still a nice gesture. The sketchbook shows one of his drawings of the sleeping crew members, which is fun. The alternate head actually has a slightly better likeness of Dullea than the standard head, so that’s cool. HAL’s the star extra here, of course. He’s based on his smaller console appearance from the pod bay, which is notably the console he uses to read Dave and Frank’s lips, and thus find out their plan to shut him down. It’s also a far more easily packaged version of him than the larger version from the bridge.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
My first exposure to 2001 was when it was still technically in the future, though not by much. I was about 7 at the time, so I didn’t really understand it, but it’s designs certainly stuck with me, as did HAL in particular. Hey, us ’92 kids gotta stick together, am I right? As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to appreciate the movie as a whole. When Super 7 announced these, I was already drawn to Dave, just on the basis of wanting one of the space suits. Seeing that HAL was included just clinched the whole thing. Yes, I bought a $50 figure for the small hunk of plastic that came with him. Okay, no, not really. I did want the whole figure. This is a figure that’s definitely got some flaws, but at the same time, there’s so much cool going on here that it all winds up actually working pretty well. And also there’s a HAL! Did you see the HAL?
Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review. If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website.