The toy industry is effectively an industry plagued with problems. Ever since the end of the psuedo-golden era of sales (roughly ending around 2000 [we're looking at you, Episode 1 (truly a Phantom Menace in more than just subtitle)]) our beloved hobby has been maligned with many factors making it decreasingly sustainable. Initially, we faced retailers only interested in licensed properties, wanting no original/in-house product, then it was the proliferation of video games drawing attention (and money) away from traditional toys, but now we're faced with a foe so substantial it is affecting all avenues of modern life - rising oil prices.
Plastic is derived from petroluem, and as such, many companies are looking for ways to save money by lowering the amount of plastic they use/need in products. We've seen some companies begin cutting back on accessories and pack-ins, others have returned their packaging to blister cards from clamshells, but all pretty much all companies are all taking the same step - they're shrinking the size of their figures.
Mezco was really the first to embrace this new trend by showing off 3¾"-scaled lines for practically every license they had.
3¾" is a figure size that has been around for many decades but which was cemented in the world of toys by Kenner and their omnipresent Star Wars Power of the Force line. Not only were all the original figures in that scale, when Kenner (since purchased and assimilated by Hasbro) relaunched the brand in 1995, they opted to use that same scale, despite the industry standard then being 5", so that they could reuse alot of the old vehicles form the original line. Little did they know that that decision created a new sort of industry precident, one that would, 13 years and hundreds of successful Hasbro figures later, foster what would become a new industry-standard scale. The unofficial launch of this new scale can be found in the San Diego Comic-Con 2008 exclusive Hellboy 2 Hellboy figure - and it's great.
For all intents and purposes, Mezco simply took their 7" figure and shruck it by half, effecitively treating it as two-up.
This figure maintains all the sculptural and paint detail, accessories and articulation as its larger forefather ultimately making it one of the best figures in this scale made to date.
The figure presents Hellboy in his black t-shirt and brown overcoat combo look supporting his cigar chompning head. Based on what Mezco has shown for the future of HB2 in this scale, what makes this figure exclusive is the black t-shirt and cigar-clenching head. Articulation-wise, we're looking at a whopping 21 points: balljointed head, balljointed shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged left elbow, swivel at the left wrist, swivel at the top of the "right hand of doom," balljointed right hand, balljointed ribcage, swivel waist, balljointed hips, swivels at the top of the thighs, hinged knees, hinged ankles, pivoting feet, swivel at the top of the tail and two additional swivels in the tail.
The figure also comes with three accessories: a base, Hellboy's handgun "The Samaritan", and his new weapon "The Big Baby," a six-barreled grenade launcher.
The Samaritan is an old classic that fits comfortably in both Hellboy's left hand and the holster on his belt (much like the 7" figures, the holster is a separate soft-plastic piece with a covering flap, though it lacks any "locking" peg to hold it closed). The barrell and chamber cylinder appear to be a separate piece with a hinge just below the barrell which would allow the gun to open...
were the chamber cylinder not glued to the block. I can only assume it was some sort of Q.C. thing and the hinge is pretty small/fragile looking, but thats a feature that would have been pretty neat.
Happily, though, the Big Baby doesn't dissappoint on this front - It has a hinge just past the trigger allowing its cylinder to swing open. The Big Baby also features a carrying strap (consisting of a vinyl or pleather strip and two metal rings) that is a nice feature but sadly too short to fit comfortably over Hellboy's coat's shoulder section (a separate piece cast from a firmer plastic than the coat).
The infamous Right Hand of Doom comes in a gesture or pose that I don't think has seen release yet - a "C" handshape. Not a fist and not a relaxed pose, the hand is a bit of a conundrum.
My first thought was that it was meant to carry a little baby-in-blanket accessory that never got made (but would have been a very cool pack-in!). Then I figured, maybe it was meant for HB to hold the chamber cyclinder of the Big Baby (which would also be very cool!), however, since HB has no real left-elbow articulation to speak of, its impossible to get the R.H.o.D. close enough to the gun. Thats a shame, becuase the balljoint at the wrist is great and has enough range that the pose would be quite probable. I then recalled seeing or thinking at some point that H.B. could hold the B.B. in the R.H.o.D. so I tried to recreate that. A-OK! Amazingly, I found the index finger to be separate (though partially connected from paint, separated easily enough by a well-placed fingernail) supporting this belief - alas, the gaps between handle and gaurd on the B.B. were too narrow to fit the R.H.o.D. thus rendering me stumped. I guess this odd hand pose is another special/exclusive element to this figure.
The base is a simple black cylinder (hollow underneath) with a single peg (both of Hellboy's feet have pegholes) on it.
To add some life to the piece there is a sticker on it of the B.P.R.D.'s logo rendered in yellow. Basically it just looks cheap. My guess is that they wanted to do a basic mold that could be used across the different 3¾" lines, which is fine, but this sticker just has a very cheap look to it. A simpler asphalt texture would work better, look nicer and be more-or-less just as universal for the different lines, or at least something more along that train of thought. Compared to the high qaulity of the figure, the base is pretty disappointing - fortunately Hellboy stands perfectly fine without.
The paint on this guy is pretty amazing. Much as with the sculpt, it is almost identical to the quality of the 7" figures. It's really the great paint that makes this arguably the all-around best 3¾" figure ever produced (at least yet). It even includes the image and text on the stock of the Big Baby.
Simply put, I love this figure.
It cost $10 at the con which is a steal for exclusives. Is it worth $10 in stores if it were available...? Well, Star Wars and Indiana Jones prices have just crept up to $8, which is a lot for the scale. For me the overall quality of the figure would be worth $10 as a singlecarded mass release, but in all honestly a whole line in this scale at that price point would probably be a hard sell. But, with the whole economy suffering and prices rising, $10 may shortly become the going rate for this scale with all larger figures going uniformly for $15 to $20.
That's a hard pill to swallow for a guy who grew up in a world of $4.99 figures, a world where Spawn series 1 was a ripoff for $7.99 and McFarlane Monsters series 1 was an inconceivable $9.99. The world changes and as human culture develops, so perpetually rises our cost of living. Prices are going to become very steep in the immediate future and this is going to force a lot of us to specialize our collections much more than we're currently accustomed to. But if Mezco can keep the quality of their figures this high, there will always be a place for at least some of their product on my shelf.