Remember when you were kid (or at least younger) and you wanted to go to the toy store as frequently as possible in hopes of finding something new, not because you had read about it in ToyFare or seen it online, but because you were just blindly hoping? Remember the time before the subculture of toy collecting had become established? Before the corporate websites, fan sites dedicated to breaking news, pages of toy reviews by fellow collectors? Do you remember a time when we had no idea what was coming out until it hit stores?
If you were buying or collecting toys before McFarlane came along and blossomed the internet collecting community, chances you do remember such a time. I'd also bet that you, like me, find yourself daydreaming on occasion about how much fun it'd be to have that experience again; to walk into a toy store and find figures you had no idea were even being worked on, sitting right there on the shelf looking at you. Well, Zizzle is bringing that time back again.
In later November or early December of 2006 I walked into the local Target and, as per my routine, first power-walked to the toy aisle. After the quick perusing of the Marvel, DC, TMNT and Star Wars sections I found nothing and turned around to shoot the PotC section a quick glance before shoving off. But what did I find? A figure from the third film, At World's End! After a long moment of shock and disbelief ("How did I not know about this!?") I dove into the pegs flipping through the figures and within a matter of seconds I was holding six action figures that hadn't even appeared on a rumor list. Since then Zizzle has released two more "surprise" assortments (Deluxe Series Two and the Comic Book Two-Packs) and while those were also cool discoveries, I will never forget that one day a few months back when, for the first time in over 10 years, a toy company completely surprised me with new figures on the shelf. It was magic. It was Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest Series Four.
This assortment is actually fairly confusing. It has six figures. One is a straight re-release, one is a refresh (old figure with a few new parts), and four all completely new sculpts. Three figures are definitely from Dead Man's Chest, two figures are definitely from At World's End and one figure is definitely from Curse of the Black Pearl. The four figures from DMC carry a "Secrets of the Deep" logo on their cards and all six figures include gold coins featuring the character they come with, a feature apparently exclusive to this one wave. Thus you see the confusion. For clarity's sake we will just be referring to this as Series Four of DMC. Let it be known!
Davy Jones - This guy is a straight repack of the Deluxe Series One Davy Jones figure,
which in turn is a slight rehash of the regular line's Series One Davy Jones. This figure includes the same sea-worn sword that came with the Deluxe Davy and a new, exclusive gold coin with a three-dimensional relief that looks odd, but when held up to a light, creates a sort of 3D image (Mattel did a similar thing with its last wave of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets figures several years ago). The coins include a pseudo code number on the back rim of the coin, which can be taken to a Disney website (linked via Zizzle's web page) where you can enter a PotC: DMC sweepstakes and use the codes to acquire points for... something.
Heroic Will Turner - This is the third Will in the regular assortment and the first one of truly questionable need. If you're a dedicated completist like me, then he's yours, if you're not, then...
well it's basically an aesthetics matter. From the hips to the neck, this figure is identical to the Will in Series One. This new version however has a new head (with Will's hair in a ponytail, as opposed to spread willy-nilly about his shoulders) and new legs (sculpted straight, as opposed to the action pose lunge in the earlier figure, though the new legs are at a slightly wide and odd angle). I'm a "fan" of refreshed figures, as long as they're justified and offer a new take on the figure. While the straight legs do apply to a concern I had voiced on that figure, and the ponytail-ed head gives the figure a valid new appearance, I must confess that these differences, while major, are subtle enough to be easily missed and it is therefore that the figure could just as easily be not missed in a collection. In his favor though, young Mister Turner does come with two all new accessories, a dagger and an axe, as well as a character-specific 3D gold coin.
Clanker - Clanker is one of the all-new sculpts in the series and features the standard eight points of articulation from the line, which are: swivel neck, swivel shoulders, hinged elbows, swivel waist and T-crotched hips. He comes with a character-specific 3D coin as well as his beloved hat and weapon of choice, a "ball and chain mace."
I can not stress enough that you should be careful with the mace, especially when removing it form the package. I accidentally pulled too hard which broke one of the links in the chain leading to a rather long and very frustrating journey of reconnecting miniature chain - it was not fun. But who is Clanker? Who is the man behind the clank? He's one of the perpetually R.O.A. (Rapid Oceanic Anthropomorphology) suffering crewman of the Flying Dutchman, the ship captained by the illustriously infamous Davy Jones. What's his sea animal hybrid of choice? Ya got me, I really only know the character as "Ol' Potato Nose" as he has ridiculously exaggerated facial features and what appears to be seaweed for hair. Now, I love R.O.A. and think it can deliver some of the coolest looking things ever (Davy Jones is a [visual] orgasm for me) but Clanker is by far one of the dumbest looking things in all of cinema. The only good thing about him being made (well, other than getting more Flying Dutchman crewmen) is that this means we don't have to worry about getting him later - it's all uphill from here folks!
Half Skeleton Jack Sparrow - This is by far the most interesting figure of the bunch, if not confusing. He's definitely not from Dead Man's Chest and most likely isn't from At World's End (or if he is, that's one hell of a spoiler!) so this must be the famous "final battle" version
from the end of Curse of the Black Pearl which is very cool because it proves that Zizzle does indeed have rights to the whole trilogy and that they will most likely go back and do figures from the first movie once the A.W.E. hype dies down! While the left leg very much appears to be Series Two's Cannibal King Jack, the rest of the figure is all new. He has the same eight standard point of articulation and the same solid level of detail in both paint and sculpt. Much like Series Three's Jack, I'm not too excited about the super white shirt, but it doesn't really detract from the figure, I just think the yellowish color from Series One and Two looks more appropriate. Other than that, there's a big of "open" stomach underneath the exposed ribcage that is just flat and gray - it would have been nice if it had been sculpted in or painted black, but it doesn't "ruin" the figure by any stretch of the imagination. Jack Sparrow is a staple of an PotC toy line, and I certainly give many thanks to Zizzle for an all new appearance for this Jack, but can't help but note that it leaves one less Jack for a potential BP Series, unless it gets refreshed in some capacity.
Singapore Disguise Elizabeth Swann - A big part of Series Four's gimmick is to hype the third movie, At World' End (opening worldwide May 25th, 2007)
and this version of Elizabeth comes straight from it. Considering the exceptionally long shelf life of the Elizabeth Swann from Series One of DMC, it's surprising that Zizzle opted to maker her one of the "preview" releases, but this is one neat figure. Liz actually comes with two outfits, as it were. She has a removable Chinese straw hat and soft pvc coat revealing two pistols holstered in vest. What's more, the vest is soft pvc and can be removed as well (both garments fasten shut with a small peg - in the front for the coat, and in the back on the vest). While certainly a cool feature, the coat is oversized, in the shoulders and hovers above the figure's actual shoulder line, riding about level to her nose... which just looks kind of odd. Fortunately, the figure underneath looks very cool. It's a really interesting look that's sort of half sexy, half badass. It should be fun to see how it plays in the film, but it certainly makes for a great figure. Oh, and standard eight point articulation (yes, even t-crotched hips, instead of the v-crotch on the last Elizabeth figure).
Singapore Pirate Tai Huang - Tai Huang is a crewmen of the Empress, the vessel captained by Chow Yun Fat's Captain Sao Feng. As such, he comes decked out in full Singaporean Pirate garb and is accessorized with a really neat golden gun and an Asian sword. His hat is a separate piece but is glued on, though it seems like it could just as easily be removable, making the glue an odd choice. Perhaps in future releases it'll be removable. The figure is sculpted quite nicely with lots of details and even some subtle texturing on the clothes. The paint is certainly up to snuff too. Articulation is at the same eight points as everywhere else and both the gun and sword fit into slots on Huang's belt. If you're into Asian Pirates and/soldiers, this figure is a must have!
Zizzle's Dead Man's Chest line of action figures goes out with a nice recap of how the entire 3¾" line was run - some re-releases, some refreshes and some all-new - implying long-term dedication to the line, teasing us with what's to come in 2007 and the years to follow. It should be noted though that the two At World's End figures in this assortment will also be two of the eight figures from Series One of that film's toy line. As always, I continue to be disappointed in the total lack of balljointed shoulders in this series (the figures would become exponentially cooler with that one single improvement!) and again, I must wonder aloud why they bother to produce hands as separate pieces but opt the square-peg and glue them in place rather than cylinder and ball peg them, creating an additional point of articulation at no additional cost. As always though, I remain a fan of this line and while I hated the film Dead Man's Chest with almost as much disgust and animosity as I did Star Wars: Episode III [you're insane. on both counts. --ed.], I am looking forward to At World's End if for no other reason than all of the cool toys it will bring.
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