#2186: Tron, Flynn, & Sark

TRON, FLYNN, & SARK

TRON (DST)

“When a brilliant video game maker named Flynn hacks the mainframe of his ex-employer, he is beamed inside an astonishing digital world and becomes part of the very game he is designing.  He must team up with the heroic Tron and evade the forces of the Master Control Program to find his way home and shut down the power-hungry MCP once and for all.”

Despite being at best a modest success when it hit theatres in 1982, Tron did get a little bit of toy coverage at the time of its release, courtesy of toy makers TOMY, who have us a handful of the film’s main characters.  Since then?  Well, neither the movie no its sequel, Tron: Legacy, has had a ton of luck with toys.  The original film’s titular character was fortunate enough to get a couple of figures earlier this year from DST as part of a tie-in with Kingdom Hearts, and to follow things up, they’re giving a Tron line proper a try.  Let’s have a look at those guys today!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Tron, Flynn, and Sark make up the first series of Tron figures from DST.  The line-up seen here is specifically the Walgreens-exclusive, slightly paired down line-up; specialty stores will be getting the same Tron and Sark, as well as Flynn in a red color scheme (because why not, I guess), and all three will include parts to build a Recognizer.  The Walgreens set started hitting in early September, and the specialty line-up should be arriving in the coming weeks.

TRON

Both Tron and Sark were just released in DST’s Kingdom Hearts line.  I had initially thought that these figures would be slight retools of those releases, but that’s actually not the case.  Tron is seen here sporting an all-new, more movie inspired sculpt.  The figure stands 7 1/4 inches tall (giving him a 1/2 inch on his predecessor) and he has 29 points of articulation.  Comparing the two Tron figures, leads to the question “does more articulation mean more posability?” and in the case of these two figures, it’s kind of a toss-up.  The double joints on the elbows and the swivels on the thighs certainly are an improvement, but the hips just seem different for the sake of being different, and the added mid-torso joint doesn’t change his range in the slightest, meaning he’s got a break in his sculpt there for no practical reason.  Perhaps most frustratingly, the neck, which had a decent range on the KH figure is now greatly reduced.  That’s disappointing.  The overall sculpt is a bit less stylized, obviously, since it’s based on the movie, and not a game, so Tron has a slightly more realistic set of proportions, as well as greater detailing on a few areas of the sculpt.  The boots in particular are quite impressively handled.  That said, the head is different from the previous figure, but I can’t really say it’s any more accurate or closer to Boxleitner in appearance.  In general, while the sculpt goes for a more realistic look, I found that the sculpt made more compromises for the articulation this time, and the end result is a figure that just never looks quite as natural standing on the shelf as the previous figure.  Tron’s paintwork marks another change from the KH figure, and honestly another area of different for the sake of difference.  Rather than the grey with blue of the prior figure, this one is predominantly a light blue, with grey for the “skin” and darker blue for his tron-lines.  I suppose an argument can be made for this being more accurate to the film, but the very dynamic nature of how the characters look on screen means that either appearance reads more or less as accurate.  Tron is packed with his disk (a notable improvement over the KH figure) and a display stand.  The disk is nice to have, though it’s worth noting that his hand posing isn’t totally ideal for holding it and it has a little trouble staying in place on his back.

FLYNN

The movie may be named after Tron, but Jeff Bridges’ Kevin Flynn is the more clear-cut protagonist (and his son is undoubtedly the protagonist of Legacy).  Despite all that, he’s far less common as a figure, and was left out of the Kingdom Hearts stuff.  Also, for whatever reason, DST decided to make the wider release version of him in red, rather than his blue that is his default look, making this figure the most desirable of the Walgreens trio by a country mile.  Yay? Flynn’s construction is very similar to Tron’s, and the two of them share the same right arm, lower torso, pelvis, hands, and lower legs.  The articulation is the same here as above, for better or for worse, but on the plus side, Flynn’s got his little toga thing from the movie, which hides the non-functioning torso joint for the most part.  Of course, then it ends up restricting his left shoulder.  You win some, you lose some.  The head, though not a spot-on likeness of Bridges, is at least distinctly a different person, so there’s that leg up on the TOMY figures.  Flynn’s paintwork very much follows the model of Tron’s, swapping out the character-specific details of course.  He’s still predominantly that light blue color.  The specialty release will, of course, swap this out to match Sark’s colors.  Flynn is packed with a disk and display stand.  They’re the same as Tron’s, but the tunic at least keeps the disk more in-place when on his back.

SARK

The legendary David Warner actually does triple-duty in the original Tron, with turns as corrupt exec Edward Dillanger, Big Brother stand-in Master Control, and dictator-esque program Sark.  Of the three, I guess Sark’s kind of the most toyetic, isn’t he?  Sark was offered in the Kingdom Hearts line, but like Tron, this figure is an all-new offering.  He shares no parts with the other two figures, and that’s probably for the best.  By and large, Sark’s articulation actually works a fair bit better than the other two.  The range on the shoulders was definitely better, and the mid torso joint is not only functional, it’s also pretty much hidden.  In general, the articulation and the sculpt mostly stay out of each other’s way on this guy.  Getting him into a basic standing pose is a lot easier here.  By far my favorite part of the sculpt is the head.  While the other two likenesses are so-so at best, Sark is pretty unmistakably Warner, even if he’s hiding behind all that goofy headgear.  Sark’s paintwork goes back to that KH styling, with the majority of things being grey, with the red highlights thrown in.  This confirms for me that I really just prefer the grey with accent color look, as it just works a lot better.  I don’t know why they opted to do it the other way for Tron and Flynn.  Sark is again packed with his disk and a display stand.  The disk is still tricky to hold, but is at least much more secure when plugged into his back.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When these figures were shown, I had no idea if I’d be picking them up, because they honestly didn’t look all that different from the Kingdom Hearts releases, and I don’t believe Flynn was part of the initial line-up.  I happened across Tron and Sark while checking some Walgreenses in an out of my area location.  I almost just picked up Sark, but decided to grab the pair, and at the time had no clue about the Flynn figure.  Once discovering Flynn’s existence, I was able to get hold of him as well with an assist from Max.  I want to like these figures more than I do.  Tron is really hurt by following the KH figure.  While this one tries some new things, ultimately, the more standard faire of the previous figure is just more enjoyable to me.  Flynn is more unique, but still suffers from a lot of the same issues.  Sark is by far the best of the trio, and is the only one that really seems to succeed in what they’re trying to do with this line.  Ultimately, I’m not sure what DST’s aim was with these figures, but they’re something of a mixed bag, and a little hard to recommend.  They’re not terrible, and at least the Walgreens releases are pretty cheap, but I can’t see the specialty versions being worth $30 a piece.

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#1999: Tron

TRON

KINGDOM HEARTS (DST)

Today we’re gonna party like it’s 1999!…or 1982, perhaps.

Despite a pretty solid fanbase who seem ripe for buying cool collectibles, neither Tron nor its sequel Tron Legacy have ever had much luck in the world of toys.  The original film had a small line of figures from TOMY at the time of its release (with some re-releases many years later from NECA), but not much else.  Fortunately, Tron made its way into the Kingdom Hearts franchise, which itself has been getting a lot of toy coverage recently.  Among that toy coverage was Tron’s title character, who I’ll be taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Tron was part of Series 3 of DST’s Kingdom Hearts toyline, available two differing ways.  The specialty release included a Space Paranoids Goofy as well, but there was also a streamlined release at mass retail set-ups (like GameStop), which is the one I picked up.  The figure is technically based on Tron’s game design, which is, of course, just a slightly stylized version of his design from the original film.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall and has 26 points of articulation.  The sculpt is unique to this figure, and is a reasonable offering.  If you’re experienced with DSTs Select style figures, then Tron’s pretty standard faire.  His articulation is somewhat on the restricted side, but not terrible.  The stylization really shows up in the arms and the feet, where the proportions are a little bit on the exaggerated side.  The arms are kind of skinny and the feet kind of large.  The rest of things are pretty well matched to the film design, and he’s even got a halfway decent likeness of Bruce Boxleitner on the face.  What details the sculpt doesn’t cover, the paint does.  True to the film, he’s rather monochromatic, being grey with blue accents.  The tech-y details outlined in blue look pretty sweet, and their nice and crisp.  There’s a little slop on some of the lighter blue accents, but for the most part it works out okay.  Tron is packed with one extra: a Heartless Soldier minifigure.  It’s distinctive from prior Soldiers in coloring, but ultimately of little interest to me, since I was just in it for the Tron figure (which is why the Soldier is already in someone else’s collection).  Tron doesn’t include his disk, which is a bit of a shame, but not a huge shock coming from a line that doesn’t always give Sora his keyblade.  I suppose making one of your own wouldn’t be too hard.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I have no real attachment to anything Kingdom Hearts, but I knew I wanted this guy as soon as he was shown off.  I initially thought I was going to have to pony up for the larger set, but I found this guy at a GameStop a few weeks ago, which made me pretty happy.  He’s not without his flaws.  The articulation could be a little better, and the lack of disk is annoying, but he’s pretty decent for what he is, and honestly he’s the best Tron figure you can get.

#1457: Mercury

MERCURY

TRON 2.0 (NECA)

“Jet Bradley, a young computer engineer working for ENCOM, must step into the digital world in search of answers.  He uncovers a sinister plot spinning out of control that threatens to corrupt one reality and forever transform another.”

Tron Legacy is perhaps one of my favorite movies ever.  In terms of toys, though, it’s also one of the biggest disappointments ever, with some of the most lackluster offerings imaginable under its belt.  The Tron franchise in general hasn’t really tended to have much luck with toys.  The only entry to really escape this curse is Tron 2.0, 2003’s video game sequel to the original film.  In it, the son of one of the original film’s heroes goes into the digital world looking for his missing father, and he’s aided by a kick-butt female program sent by his father to help…wait, this sounds familiar.  Yeah, there are a few similarities between 2.0 and Legacy, but they’re actually pretty superficial.  Anyway, when 2.0 hit, they went all-out and had some figures made, which were produced by the fine folks at NECA.  Today, I’ll be looking at the previously mentioned kick-butt female program, Mercury.  No, she’s not Quorra, but I’ll try not to hold that against her.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mercury is one of the four Tron 2.0 figures NECA released in preparation for the game’s release.  She hit in early 2003, about 5 months before the release of the game.  The figure stands about 7 inches tall and she has 11 points of articulation.  She’s not the most mobile figure ever, but given that NECA was still moving past their usual McFarlane-style plastic statues at this point, she was actually pretty decent.  Honestly, my only real issue is with the v-hips; that’s a style of joint I’ve just never really lived.  Obviously, she’s based on her in-game design, though it’s a slightly idealized version.  Since the graphics of a 2003 video game were still a little bit compromised, this figure sort of smooths some things out and presents a slightly more realistic composition.  She’s still a bit6 stylized, of course, since she’d look a bit weird if she wasn’t.  They kept the essence of the character without the flaws, I suppose.  The sculpt does a nice job fitting in all of the details from the game, and I particularly dig the big bulky gloves.  Those are pretty awesome looking!  The paint on Mercury is a bit monochromatic by design, but NECA didn’t just phone it in; they actually put a lot of effort into getting all of those distinct shades of blue on the figure, and she’s better for it.  Even without translucent plastic or light-up features, this figure conveys the whole Tron aesthetic very well.  Kudos to NECA for that.  Rather than the usual disc, Mercury is armed with a cool fighting staff.  It’s translucent with dark blue piping, which has this nice holographic look about it, and it can be fairly easily held in either hand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This figure’s a recent acquisition for me, but it’s been housed in the same place as the rest of my collection for several years now.  It used to be owned by my brother, who decided over this past summer to part with a lot of his action figure collection.  I’ve taken most of the strays in, of course, because, as I’ve noted before, I’m the personification of the Island of Misfit Toys.  In the case of Mercury, it’s actually a figure that I might have tracked down on my own eventually.  I’ve never played Tron 2.0, but this is still a pretty fun figure, and an early sign of how good NECA would eventually get at making consistently awesome stuff.  One of these days, I’ll need to track down the rest of this particular line.

#0469: Tron

TRON

SCIENCE FICTION VINYL FIGURES

Tron is one of those movies that’s really innovative and that everyone remembers the name of, but that lots of people haven’t seen or don’t really remember. It’s got its loyal fans (and there are a fair number of them), but it’s not really held in the same esteem of many other landmark films. I myself didn’t actually see the movie until just before the release of its sequel Tron Legacy. But, I can appreciate the importance of the movie, and I like the designs. So hey, toys!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Tron was released as part of the first assortment of the Science Fiction Vinyl Figures from Funko. Tron is another of the more common 1:12 ratio figures . He’s roughly 2 ½ inches tall and he features no articulation. Tron is probably one of the figures that is the most drastically changed, design-wise. His proportions are the most exaggerated and his texturing and such is rather simplified. While I felt this detracted from E.T., it works pretty well for Tron. He really works in this style. The armor details are nice and sharp, and everything is pretty clean. The arms are separate pieces, but the cuts are well hidden by the shoulder armor. Tron is posed as though he’s getting ready to throw his disc, a good choice for the character. It separates him from the more statically posed Robby and E.T. fairly well. The figure’s paint work is very well done, easily the best of the figures I got. For the most part, he’s just done in a flat blue, with white detail work. The detail work is nice and sharp and is a very good replica of the design from the movie. The sculpt of his face is blank, leaving the paint to fill it in. It doesn’t really have any resemblance to Bruce Boxlightner, but it seems to fit with the rest of the “human” faces from the line. At the very least, the blank white eyes are a lot less creepy here than they are on E.T.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After getting Robby and E.T., I decided to go back and get a few more of the blind boxes. This time around, I let Super Awesome Girlfriend do the picking, and it seems to have worked out in my favor. Tron is one of the cooler designed figures from this series, and he really translates well to the style.