When you can't beat 'em, join 'em - that's the credo of any underhanded scoundrel. And it worked pretty well for Captain Jack Sparrow. Fighting against the mutinous crew of the Black Pearl got him marooned - twice - on the same godforsaken island. His luck turned around, however, when he agreed to join them.
For Series 2 and 3 of their Curse of the Black Pearl toys, NECA had a clever idea: collect all the figures, and their bases would join to form a large diorama. It was supposed to be in the first series, as well, but got scrapped. In any case, the centerpiece of the dispay would be the Jack/Barbossa boxed set.
NECA still isn't breaking a lot of new ground with the sculpt on Jack Sparrow. By necessity, they didn't just re-use the existing sculpt (well, above the waist, anyway). Jeck's left arm must be in shadows, because it's still human - his head, chest and right arm are all skeletal.
The sculpt on the new parts is very nice, as we've come to expect from NECA. The bones look real enough - they're not textbook accurate, but they serve their purpose - and the tattered remains of his clothes cling meagerly to the underlying structures. The box shows him with a big, toothy grin, but the final figure is more restrained, calmer. If it's a question of a variant figure, then the distribution is wildly lop-sided, because the "smiling" version is nowhere to be seen.
Skeleton Jack shares all the same points of articulation as his non-cursed versions: boots, waist, wrists, shoulders and neck. He also gets the benefit of an elbow joint in his bony arm, but his right wrist seems dangerously thin - the hand doesn't turn freely, and I'm not about to force it. He's got a replacement hand, but when it's this hard to turn, switching it is going to be a dicey prospect.
He may have trouble with his hand, but Jack is well-armed. He's got his pistol tucked into his belt, and his sword fits in the scabbard at his side. His human hand is removable, as well, swappable with one curled to hold the included bottle of rum. Yes, another re-use. Avast! The paint apps are really nice: everywhere he's skeletal, Jack has a blue tint. Moonlight!
Actually, the fact that Jack became a skeleton was one of the things that seemed out of place in the movie: the others had all been cursed for years, so their bodies and clothes had time to decay; Jack, meanwhile, had only been immortal for a few minutes, so he should still have looked relatively hale and hearty. Oh well, that's just fridge logic - the stuff that doesn't leap out at you right away, but hits you later when you're getting a snack.
Jack's opponent in this duel is Captain Hector Barbossa, his mutinous first mate. His sculpt is basically the same as the standard figure - only one arm and his head are new. That seems like a very low amount. These are supposed to be cursed pirates, so let's see them under the effects of that curse. It's not like the actual Cursed Pirate just has one phantom limb. These things should be completely moth-eaten from head to toe.
Barbossa is wearing his big poofy pantaloons tucked into his boots. He's got a blue corduroy coat over his colorful undercoat, and a faded, yellowing sash hangs at his waist. His hat, which ins one of the few elements that shows evidence of the curse, is ragged around the edges, torn off on one side and sporting a huge, ostentatious feather.
Without his hat on, Barbossa is 7 1/8" tall. He moves at the boots, waist, shoulders, wrists, right elbow and neck. The downside of that is, since they didn't bother to zombify anything below his chin, when you move his head around you can see his pink, fleshy neck. Just like Jack, he's got one human hand, which really looks out of place. His hat is removable, and his accessories include a pistol, his sword, a hatchet for some reason, and the knife with which he cut Elizabeth Swann's hand.
There's a hole on Barbossa's shoulder that allows Jack to perch there. Jack the monkey, not Jack the pirate. Of course, since he's just as dirty as his owner, he turns into a wee little skeleton, too. And he does a much better job of it than either of the big figures do since, as an accessory, he gets an entirely new sculpt. The peg on his butt doesn't fit into the hole in the jacket very well, so he does have a tendency to fall to the floor.
As mentioned above, the figures' bases connect to create a diorama. As part of a box set, these bases have license to be a bit larger and more ornate than those included with the regular figures. The stony ground has a rough texture, and there's gold and treasure strewn all about. The left half of the base is 6 3/4" wide, 4 1/2" deep and sports a stalagmite that stands 5" tall. Impressive! The right half has stalagmites, too, but the tallest is only about 3". Despite that, it's 6 7/8" wide and 4 3/8" deep. The paint is great, and each half of the base has a spot of eerie blue moonlight.
There's one other piece in this set that makes it a must-buy for Pirates fans
- the Aztec gold. First we have a 6" x 2 1/2" section of cave floor that's detailed just as well as all the rest. On that rests an ornate stone sarcophagus, carved with detailed Aztec symbols all around. The cracked and chipped lid lifts away to reveal hundreds of golden medallions piled in the chest. It's a beautiful sight.
The gold, by the way, is actually a thin rubber piece. You didn't think they were actually going to fill the chest, did you? No, of course not. The good thing about that? You can store tons of extra accessories in there, under the gold. That's quite handy, especially for a line like this. The closed piece is 5 3/4" wide, 3 1/4" deep and 3 1/4" tall.
Even if you don't want to open this set
and build the complete diorama, which you should, this box set will look great. The box and the cardboard insert are designed to re-create the cave in 3D, so these figures look good even if you leave them mint. Not that you should, but you'll probably want to hold onto the box.
This set has a lot going for it, but the big pricetag would be a lot easier to swallow if the figures were more dessicated.
Do you feel cheated that these guys are still so human? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.