Thursday, August 20, 2015

Avengers Age Of Ultron Black Widow and Hawkeye

Before I begin this review of the Avengers Age of Ultron Black Widow and Hawkeye figures I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Sideshow Collectibles/Hot Toys for providing the 1/6th scale figures for review.  It is most appreciated.

To start things off I want to review some common elements and particulars common to both figures and the best place to start is with the packaging.

The 1/6th sale figures come securely packaged in what is essentially a five-tier system.

The first tier consists of a rugged heavy gauge cardboard box with flaps at both ends secured by shipping tape.

The inner display box slides in the shipping box snugly thus protecting it from any bumps or damage.

The inner display box consists of four parts.  The outer slip-sleeve consists of a lighter cardboard material printed in black and red with a duo-tone close-up of the individual characters as seen in the film.  A large ‘A’ crosses the portrait reversing the photo and giving it a pleasant contrast design. 

Either The Avengers logo or the individual figure enclosed logo decorates all sides printed in silver foil.

The outer sleeve has a tri-flap at each end that can be opened once the tape seal is broken.
The form-fitting clear plastic two-tier protective inner container comes in two parts.  The inner part has the figure secured in place in its inner molding with a plastic and foam strap keeping the figure’s head stationary. 

Legs, arms, hands and torsos have lightweight plastic sleeves protecting them from rubbing and abrasion and weapons, accessories and extra hands are also secured in place in their open cubbyholes and (in the case of Hawkeye’s bow) are secured with a small slipover plastic shield. Figure posing and accessory placement instructions are included.

The entire inner container has a slipover cover piece that protects the figures from harm and ensures the container components don’t shift or fall out of place.

Special side and back folded slip pieces fit over the figures container's allowing them to slip easily out of their boxes.

When removing the figures and accessories gently pop the pieces out of place.  They remove with little resistance.  Be careful because many of the pieces are small and delicate.

Now on to figure articulation.  Both figures feature several points of articulation emulating a human figure.  While articulation is excellent it is restricted somewhat by the form-fitting clothing on each figure.  Don’t jerk or hastily position the figures.  These are fine pieces of sculptured art and are not meant to be tossed about or manhandled.

Wrist, knee, elbow, shoulder, head, waist, etc. articulation is smooth and makes for ease of positioning.  Ball joints are flexible making removal of hands and other limbs easy but it must be done carefully.  A simple pull and pop and body parts detach.  To replace all you need is a slight push and the parts pop back into place.  

Be aware that removing some parts shift more than just body limbs.  Parts of costumes also may be removed, such as Hawkeye’s wristbands.

Wrist, waist and neck swivel points move smoothly for easy posing.  I was especially impressed with Black Widow’s waist movement which moves and pivots like a real female waist, thus allowing the figure to ‘tilt’ at the waist and hips.

Enclosed display stands come in three parts: the base, stationary pole and stabilizing wire.
The base is six-sided with an insert cut in Avengers logo and figure name on a silver metal panel.

The poles click into place at the back of the base while the stabilizing wire slips into the pole's inner full-length slot.  By moving the stabilizing wire up and down you can position it to fit the enclosed figures allowing them to stand and pose for display purposes although the figures can stand on their own.  I recommend using the wire and base when displaying. 

Now on to the figures themselves, from top to bottom, starting with Black Widow.

Black Widow’s head and face are the most fascinating parts of this figure.  The sculpting is so precise that it matches Black Widow’s features to a tee.  Ear, nose, mouth and facial features are precise, clean and totally realistic, right down to the figure’s complexion. The eyes really draw you in with their realistic glint and moist appearance.

Widow’s hair consists of fine filament red plastic strands matching the wave and configuration of the real Widow.  Head rotation is smooth and pivots like a real head with barely any indication of a join line.

Widow’s black with blue power trim lines is form fitting and swifts and stretches with the figure.  The open, low cut upper body suit gives the figure a sexy element.  A stiff upturned collar complements the figure's head and hair.

Slightly padded shoulders lead into tapered sleeves with power gauntlets and cartridges just before the gloved hands.  Power staffs, a handgun and high-tech rifles fit easily into each hand: four configurations for each arm.  Translucent electrical power sparks fit over each hand.

The zippered jump suit tapers at the waist culminating into a utility belt (including four accessory/equipment pods) with a Black Widow logo red buckle.  The belt does shift and move and can be removed but I advise against it because the latch is quite small.

The mat and glossy black jumpsuit flows down the legs with a pistol holster on Widow’s left thigh.  Each knee is covered by a reinforced knee guard in blue and black and the feet and lower legs are shod in high-heel boots in black and accented in silver.

From the back, more shoulder and torso details are visible along with elbow guards, neck bracing and boot articulation just behind the knees.

Included with the figure are two rifles, a pistol, two sets of power wands (open and closed), a knife, six additional hands, power surges and two ball joints.

It’s easy to see why the Black Widow figure is the best selling Hot Toys figure.  It’s gorgeous and really captures the look of the film’s lead heroine.  Detailing is fantastic right down to the body suit’s texture, the facial features, accessory and weapon accuracy and realistic articulation.

The Hawkeye figure captures the likeness of the movie character perfectly (not an easy task when dealing with the slightly angular features of the actor).

The face successfully translates the ‘world weary’ look of Hawkeye right down to the slightly etched face, intense jaw and lips and heavy set eyes locked in concentration.  A slight indication of a beard peeks through on the face and the hair (while not actually fibers) is sculpted to look real with clusters and patterns much like real hair.

Articulation in all the joints, neck, hands and torso glide smoothly with no binding or stutters and with its slightly heavier frame the figure easily stands on its own without the aid of a display stand.

The uniform takes its color scheme from the comic book version of Hawkeye (black and burgundy) and with the addition of a tunic the figure has more of a ‘superhero’ feel.

The outer tunic falls just above the knees and features a ¾ length font zipper, leather and steel reinforced arm straps and padding, two vertical zippered front pockets and a wrap-over shoulder reinforcement that culminates in a waist to knee open slit for easy movement.  Various buckles and latches are strategically placed on the tunic and pants. 

A smaller inner tunic/shirt is under the outer tunic.

Black pants with three straps and buckles fit beneath black knee boots also with various straps and buckles and lower bootlaces.  Heavy treads for traction are on the boots’ soles.

The entire outfit is a well-designed combination giving the appearance of leather and fabric.
Finger gloves are on each hand with finger guards on Hawkeye’s arrow hand.

Three sets of additional hands come with the figure for holding and in the open position. 
Like the Black Widow figure the hands pop off with little effort but be mindful of Hawkeye’s wristbands that also detach.

With its high collar, long waist, knee and elbow pads and reinforced strategic areas the entire outfit has a military look befitting Hawkeye’s background.

Two bows come with the figure. One open and one closed.  Magnetic boot arrow holders, a set of long arrows, a short arrow, extra shafts and assortment of long and short arrow arrowheads and Hawkeye’s trademark sunglasses are also included. 

Clothing shifts and moves easily over the figure.  Hawkeye easily holds both bows and arrows and with the customized quiver on Hawkeye’s back all of the arrows can be put in place for quick access. Be especially careful with the arrows because they are long and slender and it can be a bit tedious putting them in the quiver.  A special slide in back attachment allows the quiver to be attached at an angle to Hawkeye’s upper back.

Both figures are truly remarkable examples of Hot Toys attention to the minutest detail.  Sculpting is topnotch as is the attention given to clothing the figures.

Priced slightly above $200 each, the figures may seems slightly expensive but for the quality of workmanship they are well worth it. I’m surprised the cost is as low as it. 

Although they are 1/6th scale figures, they are not toys.  They are collectible figures every bit as impressive as any piece of high-end sculpture.  True artists have created these figures and the talent behind them is second to none.

I've worked in the graphic design and commercial art fields for years.  I can appreciate the technical and design skills behind each figure.  Is it any wonder that Hot Toys figures are considered the best in the business?