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Jason and the Argonauts
by Poe Ghostal

Talos was a man of bronze, made by Hephaestus, whom Zeus gave to Europa after he kidnapped her and took her to Crete. Talos became the guardian of Crete, circling the island three times each day and throwing stones at any ship which approached its shores. He had a single vein, which ran from his neck to his ankle and was closed by a single bronze nail. When the Argo approached Crete on the way back from obtaining the Golden Fleece, Medea cast a spell on Talos and then removed the bronze nail; all of Talos' blood ran out and he died, thus enabling the ship to land.

--entry on "Talos" from Encyclopedia Mythica

I have a certain affinity for the classic 1963 film Jason and the Argonauts. First and foremost, it's one of the only films (until the recent Bourne Identity) in which the hero shares my own name. Second, it's a movie full of heroes, monsters and women in loose robes - what more could a guy want?

When I was younger I was quite the impulse buyer, particularly in buying toys. Now that I've aged and have to manage what little money I have a bit more tightly, I've streamlined my hobby to just a few main lines - well, one, really: the new Masters of the Universe line. But that doesn't mean I don't still buy the occasional standout figure from other toylines; and once in a while, I spot a figure that I just have to have, right then. Case in point: Talos here.

Talos was made by X-Plus USA, a small but growing company that focuses primarily on higher-end collectibles such as statues, models and chess sets - all based on a few popular properties such as Godzilla and, of course, the works of Ray Harryhausen.

For those who don't know, Harryhausen is probably the pioneer of the special effects industry. His most famous creations are usually stop-motion beasts, such as Ymir from 20 Million Miles to Earth, the Cyclops from The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad and the Medusa and the Kraken from Clash of the Titans, the most recent (and probably best-known) of Harryhausen's films. Talos is from the aforementioned Argonauts.

X-Plus was founded in Japan in 1986 as a trading company; it wasn't until 1998 that they moved into the models and collectibles market. In 2000 they shopped their wares at the San Diego Comic Con, revealing heavy, 12" solid figures of Ray Harryhausen's monsters. Now X-Plus has shrunk those figures to an 8" size and imported them to America via Diamond Comics Distributors.

But enough of all this preamble... how is the figure? Talos is the latest in the grand tradition of hollow vinyl Japanese toys which have been produced for countless properties - most notably for Godzilla, but also for Gamera, Ultraman, and so forth. I enjoyed collecting Japanese Godzilla toys as a child, and one of the things that drew me to Talos was this similarity.

Like most of these Japanese vinyl figs, Talos has no packaging or accessories. He has a small tag attached to him (it can be pulled out easily without leaving any noticeable holes in the toy) with some pictures of the other Harryhausen creatures. That's it for packaging, which means Talos is fairly unprotected on store shelves. In fact, I found mine in a huge pile of Japanese vinyl imports. Fortunately, the paint applications on these figures seem to be solid, because there was no noticeable damage to the figure.

There was, however, some slight problems with the plastic. As often happens with vinyl figures, Talos was a little bent out of shape: his little sword (which isn't removable) was bent, and his feet weren't exactly flat. That's normal for vinyl figures; not only can they sometimes come out of the mold a little twisted, but they can be bent during shipping or while being put on display (or tossed in a pile of other vinyl figures). Fortunately this can be rectified simply by warming the figure (hot water will do, or even steam), bending it to the right shape, then running cold water over it. The vinyl is very pliable and easily takes on new shapes.

My Talos's feet didn't take to this method too well, though, so he still has a bit of a problem standing. He leans too far forward and takes the occasional tumble. Don't put him on a high shelf. Fortunately, though, that rubbery vinyl means he won't take much damage pitching from a 6" shelf to the floor.

Talos has relatively limited articulation: swivel joints at the neck, waist, and shoulders. This is about average for vinyl figures, which generally emphasize sculpt over articulation, but try to cram in the articulation where they can. Since Talos sports a kicky Greek skirt, leg articulation couldn't be added without ruining the sculpt.

But I've been focusing on the negative. Talos sports one of the best paint applications I've ever seen on a vinyl figure. He looks like he's made from bronze, complete with shiny spots where the brown has rubbed away. He looks like a little statue. I can easily see someone picking this up and doing a double-take because it doesn't weigh three pounds.

The sculpting is also dead-on. He looks exactly like Talos - 'nuff said.

This isn't really a toy for kids - while kids might enjoy playing with it, and it can definitely take the beating a kids would give it, I don't know how much fun they'd have with it. On the other hand, an imaginative kid might have a blast. The only problem is that since this is a collectible (and an import to boot), it's a little expensive at an SRP of $11.99. That's a lot less than what the heavy 12" figures went for, but it's still a lot for an 8" hollow figure.

As a fan of Jason and the Argonauts and Greek mythology in general, Talos was a no-brainer for me. I recommend him (and the other toys in the line) for any fan of the movies or Harryhausen's monsters.

-- 08/19/02

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