#2802: Ming The Merciless



NOTE: This review was written before June 6th.

“Evil ruler of the planet Mongo.  Ming the Merciless has been battling the unconquerable Flash Gordon for years, in their constant clash of good against evil.  Desperate to seize and dominate the Earth, Ming’s greed for conquest has become his obsession.”

As I touched on in yesterday’s into, Defenders of the Earth leaned pretty heavily on the Flash Gordon franchise for much of its plot and mythos.  To that end, the show’s primary antagonist was Flash’s own nemesis, Ming the Merciless.  Much like Flash was a quite prototypical hero, Ming is very much the prototypical arch-villain, inspiring many popular villains that would follow.  Like his nemesis, Ming has had his fair share of figures over the years, but who’s going to complain about getting one more?


Ming the Merciless is figure 03 in the first series of NECA’s Defenders of the Earth line.  He too is based on his animated design from the show of the same name.  Even more than Flash, Ming’s design has been subject to much adjustment over the years, and that was true for the show as well.  Beginning initially with some very definite Yellow Peril overtones, by the time of Defenders, they were trying to move him away from such things.  It marked an early transition to a more alien design for the character, with making his skin a very distinctive green hue.  It also, much like with Flash’s design, attempted to take elements from many prior designs and role them all into one.  The end result is something that’s still very much Ming in terms of look, and definitely gets the idea across.  The figure stands about 7 inches tall and he has 33 points of articulation.  He’s got the same articulation scheme as the other two figures, by virtue of again using the same base body.  Ming winds up with the most sculptural deviations from the main body, with a new head, a slightly tweaked upper torso to add the epaulets, new forearms, a new collar piece, and a skirt piece for the waist.  It’s all topped off with a cloth cape, complete with a wire in the lining for posing.  Technically, for full accuracy to the show, the arms should feature looser sleeves, but that might have been too many new parts to cost out.  The parts that are there are quite impressively handled; there’s a lot of character in the face, and the depth of detail on the costume parts is really well-rendered.  Ming’s paint work is more involved than the other two, but it works well.  The accenting on his face and hands is fairly lifelike, and while he’s still got the chipping issue on the ankle joints, at least the molded color is a little darker, so it’s not quite as noticeable.  Ming is packed with two alternate left hands (one open gesture, one trigger finger grip), a sword, a staff, a laser gun (modified from the other two), and two laser effects pieces.


Obviously, if I’m gonna get Flash Gordon, I can’t very well not get Ming, right?  That would be silly.  Ultimately, I wasn’t quite as sure about Ming going in, but I do have to say, he turned out very nicely.  The QC issues are less so on this release, and he’s got a very dynamic appearance.  While he doesn’t quite dethrone Flash as my favorite, he’s still a mighty fine offering.

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 and their eBay storefront.

#1057: Ming the Merciless




If Dale Arden is the prototypical heroine/love interest, then Ming the Merciless is most definitely the prototypical arch villain.  I mean, c’mon, “Merciless” is part of his name.  Over the years, Ming has run the gamut between alien and human; he’s always just different enough to be clearly of another world, and always human enough to hit close to home with his evil ways, but the exact balance can be anywhere between those points.  In the case of the ‘90s cartoon, he was definitely in the more alien camp.


ming2Ming was released as part of the basic assortment of Playmates’ Flash Gordon line, which is sensible seeing as he’s, you know, the primary villain (though being a major character was hardly a guarantee of a figure for this line.  Just ask poor Dr. Zarkov…).  The figure stands about 5 1/4 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  Of particular note on the articulation is the presence of knee joints, something no other figure in this line possessed.  Why did Ming get the extra articulation?  Simple.  Playmates also released his throne, and he had to be able to sit on it.  So, rather than give all of the figures this quite useful articulation scheme, they just made Ming that way, which means he doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the line stylistically.  On the plus side, he has one of the nicest sculpts the line produced.  He takes the show design and tweaks it to make it just a bit more realistic, both in level of detail and in overall proportions.  It still makes him seem very different from the others, but that’s kind of okay.  The cape is a separate piece, which is alright, but it has a bit of trouble staying on, and it makes hime slightly difficult to keep balanced. The paintwork on Ming is pretty decent.  The colors are a fair bit less vibrant than the last two figures, but that’s show accurate, and it makes him seem a bit more villainous.  The details are all pretty clean and sharp.  He’s also got a nifty light-piping feature on his eyes, which gives him sort of an eery kind of a gaze.  Ming was packed with an extending staff thingy, and an Airsled, this time in purple.


Ming was my second figure from this particular line.  He was one of the many figures I picked up from Ageless Heroes’ going out of business sale back in ’99.  Ming was then my fourth figure in the line, when I got another as a gift from someone a year or two later.  Another Ming was later acquired as part of the full set of figures I bought last summer, bringing the total Ming number up to three.  That’s a lot of Mings, but I can’t say I totally mind.  The biggest problem this figure faces is being very different from the rest of the line, but that’s less a problem with him and more a problem with the other seven figures.