Many of us in the gaming world are also collectors of toys (myself included). For many years a large majority of us were scratching our heads as to why GeeDub hadn’t jumped on the action figure train. Well, as many of you know, last year saw the unveiling of a collaboration between Japanese toy giant Bandai and Games Workshop to unleash a Space Marine action figure, followed shortly thereafter by McFarlane Toys who would bring it to store shelves.
Our intrepid reporter, Matt Crump, took one for the team and wrote up a review for your reading pleasure. So get some Marmite and toast together and a cuppa and lets get started. Matt, over to you sir.
“So a slightly different article this time as it doesn’t involve a creative output from myself but from others and most notably on an industrial scale…What are we talking about? Action figures!!!! Now if you were born from the 1970s onwards there’s a really good chance that action figures where/are a massive part of your childhood/life. Now a little ground rule before I continue – when I say action figure I mean a poseable figure that comes preassembled and in 99.9% of cases pre-painted. I guess I view toy soldiers like the tubs/bags of green army men and the classic airfix 1:72 or 1:32 model soldiers as a separate entity in the toy world.
Now as a child when it came to action figures it was the holy trinity or triumvirate of Star Wars, Battle Action Force and Action Man (G.I Joe in the U.S) which were all made in the UK by Palitoy in Coalville… Sadly He-Man never cut the mustard for me (gasp! – Ed) and transformers well they were only ever 50% of an action figure….I jest of course. But like a lot of kids of my generation action figures made way for vinyl records, computer games etc. No more could the barked commands of Darth Vader, or the rat-a-tat-tat of a Z-Force soldier firing his FAL SLR be heard, replaced instead by blistering Heavy Metal music and the fuzzy analogue sounds of Thunderblade and Rastan on a Sega console.
However that is not the end of the story.. When I started work at 16 I suddenly had lots of cash to spend and going into a local Toys R Us a shop I had not frequented in a few years I was amazed at the quality of the new breed of action figures from Todd McFarlane’s Spawn to the X-Men and later in the 1990s the new breed of Star Wars figures. So I opened my wallet and felt like a kid again decorating my bedroom with cool Sci fi and comic book action figures… this carried on for a good few years until marriage (“we can’t live in a man cave” she says!!) and parenthood (“that’s too grown up for them” she says .. again!!!) slowed down my action figure buying to pretty much zero. Also the industry’s shift to pre-posed limited edition ornament style figures didn’t do much for me as I like my action figures to be playable…”
For the Emperor!
“So fast forward to now and you can imagine my delight as a forty something dad when Games Workshop announced their first action figure to be made by industry heavy weights Bandai, a fully posable detailed Primaris space marine no less! Now I have to admit the price really put me off and I had no intention of buying one until the day of the pre order when I thought if they have some still available I’ll buy one… Which I did for the princely sum of £75 (by the gods man… that’s more than the new Castle Grayskull playset that is coming out! – Ed).
When the figure arrived I was really impressed by the whole presentation it looked ace and took me back to those halcyon days of buying cool toys. So unpacking my new figure (I’m not one for keeping them in boxes) I was suitably impressed by what rested within. The marine looks the part he looks bulky and imposing and certainly more threatening than Action Man and his shifty eyes!!! Now as a modeler the finish is not how I would paint it, but I have to remember this is an action figure. The finish was very crisp really neat there is a little shading in the recess which sets it off. The gold on the should pad edges and Aquila is vibrant and doesn’t trespass onto the blue.
You get a good selection of hands to use and the 2 weapons (Bolt Rifle and blade) are nicely presented. The hands where a little awkward to insert into the arm socket and needed a little lubrication ( 😮 ) but I think the fixed pose hands offer a better look than the “action man” style rubber hands of yesteryear. However I can see it being an issue if you want to change the pose of your marine as they may well work loose over time. Also they are crying out to get lost or become an ingested foreign body for a child/pet! I posed my marine is holding both rifle and knife as I want to show off what war-gear he has, the spare hands are stored in the box most likely never to be used.. Another issue presented itself during the fitting of the hands and that was the ease in which the armor plates and shoulder pads fell off with a bit of rough handling. Thankfully everything slotted back in and the finish was none the worse. I would say that is a small price to pay for a nicely decorated action figure. However it does reduce its playability – so is it a true “action figure”?
Articulation on this guy is very good and the model doesn’t suffer from limp arms or legs so he can be posed well holding the rifle without the need for him to lean to keep him standing up.
Pros and Cons
- Looks great for a marine action figure
- Good articulation
- Nice paint job
- Decent load outs
- Price point
- Playability is low due to plates falling off, its essentially an ornament
- For price I think GW could have done an officer or a more flamboyant chapter (I’d love to see a chaplain or librarian in this size, or even a marine in Terminator armor! – Ed)
- Hand-Arm sockets very tight
- Knife could have done with being a bayonet to fit on the rifle like the old Forge World multipart “big” space marine
Enter McFarlane Toys…
So that should be the end of that – however to continue the story my son really liked the Bandai space marine but of course I had to explain it wasn’t a toy (all toy collecting adults who are parents have been there! – Ed). So I was really pleased when Games Workshop announced the Mcfarlane range of action figures. The bonus here straight away was the more wallet-friendly price of £25. I also figured it wouldn’t be as fragile as the Bandai version so would make a decent gift for a 7 year old. The figure I had my sights set on was the Ultramarine Primaris Intersessor assault sergeant. My son loves the Ultramarines and I thought at worst he could be a companion to my Bandai marine giving me 2 marines on the shelf.
The latest recruit was duly opened on Christmas Day to much excitement. The box is a lot simpler and certainly this ended up in the recycling after. Being a dad on Christmas day our prime duty is putting toys together and this guy was no different but in fairness only 3 parts to make him right. The backpack slotted on really nice and firm. Then came the load out: the pistol and chainsword. Now this guys hands are more akin to the Action Man style of hand in that it’s a rubber grip in a permanent pose. The chainsword went in well but the pistol took a bit of flexing certainly a child would not have been able to do it.
Obviously a positive note on this is the gun does stay in the grip so not all bad. The paintwork is again crisp but does lack the depth of the Bandai figure and the gold is in my opinion pretty flat and actually looks a bit cheap. The worst part on the gold is the indomitus crusade cross on his arm that looks well moulded but let down by the flat dull gold.. Perhaps a wash would have helped set this off better? You also do get some mould lines on the figure but this a what I would call fairly standard on a toy. But as a sergeant we do get his heraldry and that its really nice and sharp and sets him off well.
Another plus point is his weight – he is far more solid than the Bandai marine. The other obvious plus point is his playability; this action figure (now named Sgt. Eddie no less!!) has been used a lot. He comes on days out and guards the car, partakes in regular interactions with Lego, The corps, Mario, Playmobil and even the Sylvanian world! With all this action, the figure has not chipped or worn and the joints have remained firm so he hasn’t developed a floppy leg or arm. This to me ranks this guy a true action figure; a toy first and foremost that easily doubles up as an ornament (you actually get a cool display stand as well).
Talking of Ornaments, I posed “Sgt. Eddie” next to his Bandai brother – interestingly the McFarlane figure is taller which seems a little curious but guess the two companies are separate entities so it perhaps just a coincidence.. I really like the McFarlane figure I think he is all things to all men (and children) and for the money is top value.
Pros and Cons
- Price point really affordable
- Playability top class this is an action figure that can live with the action!
- Construction really well made and weighty good articulation
- Load outs are top you don’t get much more iconic than a chainsword
- Hands are tight and you run the risk of stressing the plastic if too rough
- Gold edging looks flat and a little cheap on the detail parts
- Not as premium as the Bandai figure but then it’s a lot less cost wise
In conclusion the two marines are certainly great additions to your 40K collection and hopefully Games workshop will embrace this even more and perhaps provide us with some Xenos. I think the McFarlane figure is great value and stands up well as a collectable and toy. The Bandai is for more hardcore collectors, though admittedly I’m not one of those I just had the cash handy and dipped in. Until a Dark Angel appears I probably will skip the future Bandai releases as its hard for me personally to justify the continued expense. But like many others who be in the same situation I think McFarlane’s version is great to keep your action figure habit satisfied and it has the handy side to getting the kids interested!
Until next time…… Keep it grim dark
Well, thanks again Matt for an epistle of grimdark proportions! I’ll be writing up a (way less detailed) review of the McFarlane Adepta Sororitas figure shortly.
Thanks for stopping by!
Paul and Matt