#1398: Sword Fighting Hercules

SWORD FIGHTING HERCULES

DISNEY’S HERCULES (MATTEL)

“He’s the greatest sword fighter of all time! Whether he’s fighting the terrifying Hydra, or battling the dangerous Nessus, Hercules fights the bravest of battles with his mighty sword and shield!”

You may have noticed a slight theme to the last few Sundays here at the Figure in Question.  That theme is Disney’s Hercules.  Today, I’m continuing that theme, though I can’t make any promises for keeping it going past this week.  I’ve looked at a variant of Herc, as well as his main foe Hades, but I’ve yet to just look at the standard Hercules.  That changes today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Sword Fighting Hercules is another entry in the Basic Assortment of Disney’s Hercules figures from Mattel.  As noted in the intro, this was the line’s take on Herc’s standard hero togs he sports for the majority of the film’s run-time.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  In a change from the last two figures I’ve looked at from this line, this guy actually gets some elbow movement, which is cool, but it’s at the cost of all of his leg movement.  You win some, you lose some.  It does cause him to be a touch harder to keep standing than the Hydra Slaying variant, but he’s mostly pretty manageable.  The elbows are a little loose, presumably to aid in the use of action features, but still rather useful.  Also: neck articulation! That sure is nice.  Being able to look side to side and all.  Like the other two, this figure’s sculpt diverges somewhat from his film counterpart.  This one is probably the most faithful of the three I have; most of the changes come from simply translating him into three dimensions.  There are a few slight oddities to his proportions.  His neck’s rather long, as are the arms. Still, not a bad sculpt overall.  Like his Hydra Slaying counterpart, Sword Fighting Herc has a removable cloth cape.  The same cape, in fact (exactly the same in my case; this guy’s borrowing his).  If you want to get technical, it should be a little brighter to be accurate to the film, but it works nonetheless.  The paintwork on this guy is generally pretty decent.  The colors are a little bit more washed out than in the film, but they aren’t far off, and the overall look is quite nice.  Herc is packed with his sword (obviously), as well as his shield.  My figure is missing the shield, but that’s really the less essential piece, so I’m not losing sleep over it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After finding Hydra Slaying Herc and Hades, I was figuring that would be it for my whole Hercules collection, especially since this guy in particular had a rather high after market price.  Then I found this guy at Yesterday’s Fun over the summer, sans cape.  Since I already had the cape from the Hyda Herc, I was able to put together a mostly complete figure for a fraction of his going rate.  As with the Hydra variant, this figure was a pretty pleasant surprise, and I’m very happy to have found him.

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#1391: Fireball Shooting Hades

FIREBALL SHOOTING HADES

DISNEY’S HERCULES (MATTEL)

“Fast talking, slicker than slick, Hades is ruler of the Underworld.  When he shoots his deadly fireballs, he causes ultimate destruction.  Only the heroic HERCULES can put an end to this fiery villain’s evil plan!”

Poor Hades gets bum deal when it comes to popular culture.  In just about any adaptation of mythology, he’s perpetually cast as some sort of ultimate villain, when in the actual myths he’s actually one of the more level-headed and reasonable gods.  Compared to the likes of Zeus, Poseidon, or Hera, he’s really not that bad.  Disney’s Hercules is one of the prime offenders when it comes to reworking things to make Hades the villain.  The actual villain of most of Hercules’s stories in mythology is Hera, who resented Herc for being one of Zeus’s many bastard children.  Herc and Hades barely even interacted.  But, I guess having Hera constantly trying to kill Hercules out of a constant anger caused by Zeus’s sexual escapades wouldn’t have made for a very good kids movie, would it?  So, they went with the more obvious “god of death = evil” bit.  At least it was entertaining, right?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Fireball Shooting Hades was released in the basic series of the Disney’s Hercules tie-in line from Mattel.  While Herc got all sorts of variants and the like, this was the only Hades figure in the line.  I’m not sure what other variants you could really do, but hey, I wouldn’t have though of Hydra Slaying Hercules either.    The figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 3 points of articulation.  Bit of a step down from Herc on the movement front.  Obviously, he lost some articulation to his designs lack of legs, which is understandable.  It’s a shame they couldn’t at least put some extra movement in the arms.  At least his head can turn, though.  Hades’s sculpt was unique to him, and it’s okay, I suppose.  It’s more faithful than the Hercules figure I looked at, which is good.  However, it also means that the focus is on trying to be faithful to a 2D character, rather than making just a good looking toy.  The body works out all right.  It’s pretty clean and it follows the line work of the movie.  The smoke at his feet is a little blocky, but it’s not terrible.  You just need to find the right angle for him.  The left arm is a little impeded by the figure’s action feature, but I’ll touch on that a little later.  The biggest issues come from the head.  They’re pretty much entirely related to the fluidity of Hades’s face in the movie.  He’s very expressive and all over the place, which makes capturing him in one single sculpt rather difficult.  He’s the sort of character that would likely be better served with a few interchangeable heads, but the toy industry wasn’t quite there in ’97.  So, we have to settle with a single expression.  Mattel went with a scary, scowly, wide-eyed grimace.  It’s not a great look.  I mean, yeah, he looks a little frightening, but it’s more in that uncanny valley sort of way, where his eyes just seem too human.  Parts of the sculpt look fine, but it doesn’t add-up to a really great piece.  It’s not terrible, but it could be a lot better.  Moving onto the paintwork, Hades is pretty decent.  Nothing crazy stand-out or anything, but the application is pretty clean and the details are pretty sharp.  In particular, I like the way the flames behind Hades’s head have been handled.  I sort of which his actual hair had been done in a similar fashion, but the solid paint isn’t awful.  Hades has two different “action features.”  The first is the titular “fireball shooting.”  There’s a missile launcher in his left arm.  Load up the fireball and press the button.  There it goes.  Wooooooo.  The second feature is even less involved; move the slide on his back up and down, and the flames behind his head will rise and fall.  Fun times.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up Hades here from Lost in Time Toys, at the same time as Hydra Slaying Herc.  It was actually finding Hades that got me to grab the pair.  Hercules was pretty fun, but Hades has a few more flaws that hold him back.  Ultimately, he’s fine if you want to stick him on a shelf or a desk or something, but his actual playability is kind of low.

#1384: Hydra Slaying Hercules

HYDRA SLAYING HERCULES

DISNEY’S HERCULES (MATTEL)

“In his most courageous battle of all, HERCULES must save Thebes by destroying the terrifying Hydra.  Each time he slays a head, the mighty HERCULES throws it back at the ferocious beast.”

To quote the muses: “Honey, you mean Hunk-ules!”  Actually, no, to paraphrase the muses, “Honey, you mean Heracles.”  Cuz, you know, if you’re gonna do Greek Mythology, maybe you should use the lead’s Greek name?   

While I do look at a lot of Disney owned properties on this site, courtesy of Marvel and Star Wars, I haven’t looked at a whole ton of their in-house stuff.  My two favorite Disney movies are Hercules and Aladdin.  Aladdin’s never been much of an action figure property, but Disney actually gave quite a go at making Hercules one.  Which makes sense, since what’s more action-y than Greek Mythology?  So, there was a whole line of Hercules figures, and I’m taking a look at one of them today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Hydra Slaying Hercules was released in the basic assortment of the Disney’s Hercules line from Mattel, which hit to coincide with the movie’s release in 1997.  This is one of the line’s many variants of the main character.  As the name suggests, this one’s (loosely) based on his battle with the Hydra at around the film’s mid-point.  Of course, in the movie, he was wearing the same hero garb he’s got on for the rest of the action, but the figure’s opted to change things up a bit and give hims a slightly more unique design.  The figure stands about 5 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  There’s not a ton of motion in the joints, especially the legs, and he’s rather hindered by the lack of any neck movement, but he’s not the worst thing ever, especially for the time.  The sculpt was initially unique to this figure, but did see a fair bit of re-use in multi-packs and such.  It’s not an incredibly faithful take on him.  I mean, you can see elements that identify him as being the Disney Hercules, but he’s definitely been given an element of He-Man styling, which isn’t incredibly surprising, given the company that produced him.  He’s also got the slightly tweaked outfit, which is far more ornate than Herc’s standard look.  The torso is wearing a more defined breastplate, and there’s even sleeves with fringing and stuff.  The wrappings on the arms and legs are also a bit more detailed, and he’s got an extra strap going across his chest.  I’m not entirely sure what the genesis of the design was, but I can’t say I don’t like it.  It’s actually pretty snazzy.  His cape is a separate cloth piece.  It’s got this nice embroidered pattern on the edges, which is cool.  In terms of paint, this guy also tweaks the usual colors a bit, going for a more cool palette of blues and purples, I guess to match up better with the Hydra?  Once again, I can’t say it’s a bad choice at all.  Different from the standard, but definitely quite eye-catching.  Herc is packed with both a club and an axe, one of which can be held in his right hand, as well as the disembodied head of the Hydra.  Which is slightly morbid, but pretty cool.  The head can be balanced on his left hand, and when you push the button on his back, the arm swipes downward, throwing the head.  It doesn’t work perfectly, but it’s moderately amusing.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t have any of the proper Hercules figures growing up, but I found this guy at Lost In Time Toys when I stopped by for the opening day of their new location.  This was the only version  of Herc they had, but he’s cool enough that I don’t mind just having the variant.  That’s right, I just wrote an overwhelmingly positive review of a Mattel product.  This is weird.