#1111: Punch It

PUNCH IT

SMALL SOLDIERS (HASBRO)

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I feel it would be unfair tor review a member of the Commando Elite without also giving the Gorgonites their proper due, so today I’ll be looking at yet another Small Soldiers figure.  Fun Fact: the supporting Gorgonites in the movie are all voiced by the members of Spinal Tap (likewise, the Commando Elite are voiced by the cast of The Dirty Dozen).  Harry Shearer, also known for his work on The Simpsons, voiced Gorgonite Punch It, whose figure I’m taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

punchit2Punch It was part of Hasbro’s Small Soldiers line from 1998, but he wasn’t a standard release.  Due to his size, Punch It was his own, special deluxe release.  It’s actually a bit surprising that he was just a solo release, and not packed with Scratch It, his perpetual companion from the movie (who you had to buy a large vehicle to acquire).  Anyway, the figure stands a little under 8 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  The articulation issue is still present here, but amusingly enough, Punch It has more articulation than a lot of the figures in the line, despite his on-screen figure actually having less movement than the other figures.  The only real frustrating part for me is that the hands and legs, which are separate pieces, are glued in place, rather than being articulated.  Punch It’s sculpt is actually one of the better sculpts to come out of this line.  It captures the movie design pretty solidly, and there’s a lot of really tight small detail and texture work.  He’s appropriately chunky and solid, and all of the extra details make him one of the most visually interesting figures Hasbro put out.  Possibly the only downside to the sculpt is the fact that if you remove his big missile launcher on his back, there’s a big obvious post sticking out.  Of course, it’s not like it’s anywhere near as obvious as the huge freaking gun thing on Brick Bazooka’s back, so that’s a plus.  Punch It also gets one of the cooler paint jobs from the line.  The basic work is all pretty solid and clean, and the colors match up nicely with his design, but I think the coolest part is the marbleized plastic for his skin, which plays up the texturing very nicely.  Punch It included a back-mounted missile launcher and a clip-on claw for his right arm.  My figure doesn’t have those pieces, sadly, so I can’t expose you guys to the awesomeness therein.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m always on the prowl for Small Soldiers figures, so when I found Punch It at Yesterday’s Fun over the summer, I was pretty psyched.  Sure, he was loose and missing the accessories, but there’s no denying the sheer coolness of this design.  If I’m totally honest, I think that Punch It’s design was the one that best translated to the actual toyline.  This guy is just really, really cool, and I’m very happy that I got one.

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#1110: Sgt. Brick Bazooka

SGT BRICK BAZOOKA

SMALL SOLDIERS (HASBRO)

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Back in April, I looked at a pair of figures from Small Soldiers, which is probably one of my favorite movies (I know, Ethan likes the movie about the action figures.  What a shock).  The figures in the movie, built by the legendary Stan Winston Studios, are really, really cool.  There was a tie-in toyline from Hasbro (who also helped design the on-screen figures), which don’t quite capture the awesomeness of their onscreen counterparts, and was sadly short-lived.  That being said, something is better than nothing, right.  Today, I’m taking a look at one of the villainous Commando Elite, Sgt. Brick Bazooka!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

bazooka2Brick Bazooka was released in the first series of Small Soldiers figures from Hasbro.  Unlike Archer and Chip Hazard, this was Brick’s only figure in the line.  This figure is more or less captures his basic look from the film.  He’s about 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation (well, technically he’s got 6, but one of those is tied directly into his action feature).  As I noted in the last two Small Soldiers reviews, the articulation on these guys is by far the most disappointing aspect. That we couldn’t even get elbows and knees is the worst part.  But, three figures in, I can kind of move on from it.  There’s two aspects of the sculpt: one good, and one sort of weird.  One the good side, from the front, the figure’s a pretty good representation of the “sculpt” from the movie.  He’s got the buzzcut and the super creepy grin down pat, and while he’s not a pitch-perfect recreation of the film design, he fits in well with the other figures in the line, which is really the most important thing.  So, about the weird.  You know how his name has Bazooka in it?  Well, apparently, that means he needs to actually turn into a really big gun.  Because toys or something.  Anyway, the gun swings forward from his back, with his head flipping through the torso, and…stuff.  It’s kinda weird.  I can’t say it adds much to the figure, and it means that he’s got this huge gun sticking off of his back even in normal mode.  It looks rather strange.  The paint work is pretty much on par with the other figures I’ve looked at.  It’s clean, it matches pretty well with the colors on the screen, and all-around looks like what you see in the movie.  There are a few missing details here and there (which was true with the others as well), and mine sort of beat up, but that’s understandable.  Brick was packed with two large guns and a missile for his chest-gun-thingy.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When I was growing up, I didn’t have a Brick Bazooka figure, but my cousin Rusty did, and I was always a bit envious of that, because I thought he was a really cool figure.  For whatever reason, Bazooka’s one of the rarer Small Soldiers on the after market, so I didn’t see one for a good long while.  Brick ended up being a birthday gift from my parents, who picked him up for me from 2nd Chance Toyz.  This guy’s really goofy, and totally a product of the ‘90s, but that’s kind of what I’m about.

#0904: Major Chip Hazard

MAJOR CHIP HAZARD

SMALL SOLDIERS (HASBRO)

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Small Soldiers does a fair bit of subverting people’s expectations. The title, the marketing, and the casting of the typically heroic Tommy Lee Jones as Major Chip Hazard (countering the usually villainous Frank Langella as Archer) all point to the Commando Elite as the assumed heroes of the piece. Heck, they even brought in Hasbro, who made their name with the “Real American Hero” G.I. Joe, to help design the figures seen in the movie. Their foes, the Gorgonites, are all grotesque monsters, clearly designed to make the Commando Elite look extra heroic by comparison. But the movie wastes no time showing the audience how wrong their perceptions were, and the Commando Elite quickly prove themselves a perfect antithesis to the noble Gorgonites; they’re cold, calculating, and with a desire to win their battle at all costs. Tommy Lee Jones’ Hazard is the worst of the bunch, a perverted, twisted version of the classic heroic soldier archetype.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

ChipHazard2Chip Hazard was released in the first assortment of Small Soldiers figures. Hazard would go on to get the most variants of anyone other than Archer, but this one presents him in his actual look from the movie. Well, more or less. The figure is about 6 ½ inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation. Yep, he loses the waist articulation, making him even less articulated than Archer. Wrong direction, guys! I’ve already harped on the articulation issues in my review of Archer, so I won’t get into it again. It should have been better, but that just wasn’t the case. Hazard’s sculpt is a bit more stylized than Archer’s; he still more or less resembles his on-screen counterpart, but his proportions have been made more “90s heroic” (smaller head, larger arms/hands). The likeness on the head is close, but not as close as Archer’s. Hazard still has sculpted, faux joints, but his are a bit less visible than those on Archer, which kind of hurts his representation of the toy in the movie. In addition, there are a few details that are missing or changed from the movie to this figure. He lacks the dog tags sported by his on-screen counterpart, as well as his customized belt buckle, and he has two smaller grenades in place of the single larger grenade he had in the movie.  Lastly, he his left forearm has protrusion (meant to attach to his accessory) which sticks out as being just sort of tacked on. Hazard’s paintwork is generally okay. The colors match up closely enough, which is good. The camo patterns are, understandably, not quite as detailed as the one’s movie Hazard had. The arms and legs make out perfectly alright in this respect, but the vest doesn’t work as well, with the pattern looking more like cheetah’s spots than a standard camo pattern. The grenades end up being the wrong color (they should be roughly the same color as the belt), and his belt buckle remains the same color as the rest of the belt, despite being red and silver in the movie. Hazard included a big missile launcher thing, which attached to his left arm. My figure doesn’t have this piece, but that’s just as well.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I noted in my Archer review, I didn’t really have any of the Small Soldiers figures growing up. I think my cousin may have had a Chip Hazard (I know for sure that he had a Brick Bazooka) but I never did. I ended up finding Hazard at 2nd Chance Toyz last October, at the same time I got Archer. Of the two, Hazard’s the weaker figure. He’s less accurate to the source material, has less articulation, and generally just a less entertaining figure. However, being less entertaining than Archer doesn’t mean he’s not entertaining, and having the pair of them does inherently make both a bit more awesome.

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#0903: Archer

ARCHER

SMALL SOLDIERS (HASBRO)

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When it comes to 90s movies about toys that are actually alive, most people remember Toy Story. Or, on the more horrific side, Child’s Play. I’m not knocking either of those (well, maybe Child’s Play; not really my thing) but my go-to movie of this odd sub-genre is hands down Small Soldiers. The movie was, at best, a modest success, but it had some pretty awesome people involved. It was directed by Joe Dante (of Gremlins fame), featured the vocal talents of Tommy Lee Jones and Frank Langella (to say nothing of featuring the likes of Kirsten Dunst, David Cross, and Phil Hartman in live action roles), had visual effects by industry legend Stan Winston, a score by Jerry Goldsmith, and is one of the earliest examples of a film making use of a Led Zeppelin song. It’s an awesome movie. Toy makers Hasbro were brought on as consultants for the designs of the film’s lively action figures, and in return were given the rights to produce the film’s tie-in toys. Sadly, they weren’t quite as successful as they were in the film. Today, I’ll be looking at Archer, emissary of the Gorgonites, the heroic faction of action figures.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Archer2Archer was released in the initial 1998 assortment of Small Soldiers figures from Hasbro. The figure stands 6 ¾ inches tall and has 6 points of articulation. Here’s where we encounter the primary issue with these figures: articulation. The toys seen in the movie had a lot of articulation (they had to be able to move around in a fairly humanistic manner). The real life toys had 6 points, all cut joints. Letdown doesn’t begin to describe the articulation here. It’s made worse by the fact that the sculpt clearly emulates the articulation seen in the movie, but leaves it motionless. Clearly, they wanted the figures to be cost-effective, and that didn’t allow for the proper articulation. I’m not sure what the best fix would have been (short of charging more per figure), but there’s no denying that this is a major failing of these figures. With that out of the way, how does the rest of the figure fair? Not badly, actually. The sculpt does a pretty good job of capturing the toy design from the movie, especially the upper half. The proportions have been tweaked ever so slightly, making him a bit more squat than his movie counterpart, but it’s not that far off. One thing that is a bit off is the pose, which has Archer’s back totally straight, despite the character in the movie always having a slight hunch. It definitely throws off the appearance of the figure, which is a shame. On the plus side, the detail work on the sculpt is pretty great, and captures a lot of the smaller details seen in the movie. The paint on Archer is definitely a step down from what was seen in the movie, but that’s fair, since the one in the movie was a professionally painted prop, and this is a mass-produced figure. Given the circumstances, he’s not bad. The best work is on the head, which exhibits some surprisingly subtle work in a few spots. The rest of the figure is reasonable enough, especially for the time. There are a few details that go unpainted, but the general application is pretty solid. Archer was packed with a crossbow (with launch-able missile) and a knife. Mine, however, does not have those pieces.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

By the time I saw Small Soldiers (on VHS; I didn’t see it in theatres) the first assortment of figures had pretty much totally sold through. So, I had to settle for a weird variant version of Archer, which was the only Small Soldiers figure I owned for a good long while. When I finally had the resources to go pack and find some of the others, most of the figures had rather high after-market prices. Last October, at the suggestion of my friend Cindy Woods, I checked out 2nd Chance Toyz, a cool nearby shop that carry all sorts of older toys. They had Archer for an exceptionally reasonable price, so I picked him up. Sure, he’s not as cool as the figure in the movie, but he’s still a pretty fun toy in his own right. And that’s the important part!