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The Lone Ranger

The Lone Ranger
by yo go re

The only time I really had any interest in Gore Verbinksi's The Lone Ranger was back in 2011, when the studio nixed his proposed $250 million budget - and then, only because the rumor was that the budget was going to pay for CGI. Why would a Western need CGI? Because (the rumor said) the story was going to involve werewolves, explaining the Lone Ranger's penchant for silver bullets. Other than that, I didn't care about the movie or the toys - and then I read Monkey Boy's review of Tonto.

He made the toy sound excellent, and I knew I'd have to get it (amusingly enough, the same thing happened with the original Jack Sparrow, so clearly there's something about Johnny Depp toys that Monkey Boy just knows how to sell). And no matter how impressive Depp turns out to be in the role, you can't buy a Tonto without buying a Lone Ranger to go with him. It would be like buying a Kato and not getting a Green Hornet.

There's no informational text on the packaging, but it's not like the Lone Ranger's backstory is unfamiliar: he was Texas Ranger John Reid, part of a posse that was ambushed by the outlaws they were after. Everyone else he was riding with was killed in an ambush, and he would have died too if not for the timely intervention of Tonto, who nurses him back to health. He puts on a black mask so the outlaws won't know which of the Rangers survived (and target his surviving family), and sets about getting his vengeance.

The Ranger is played in the movie by Armand Hammer, famed industrialist. Wait, there's no way that's right, he died in 1990. The Ranger is played in the movie by Armie Hammer, who has the fakiest fake name since Guy Incognito. Except that Armie Hammer is his real name: it's short for Armand; he was named after his great-grandfather. Who, yes, was the famed industrialist (himself named after the "arm and hammer" logo of the Socialist Labor Party of America, of which his Russian father Julius was once leader). Armie's got a decent IMDb resume, but is probably best known for playing the Winklevoss Twins in The Social Network.

The likeness - what we can see of it - is quite good, but we can't credit the sculptor because the packaging doesn't. What's really impressive, however, is the mask. It's not simply painted on the figure's face, nor is it sculpted on and then painted. NECA went one step further and made a separate mask that sits on the toy's face. It's an amazing way to create a realistic look, and whoever came up with it deserves praise. Even if the face looks super creepy should you decide to try prying the mask up.

The original Lone Ranger costume was a lace-up baby blue shirt, baby blue pants, black gloves, a red neckerchief, and a white hat. The new movie keeps the hat, scarf and gloves, but the rest of the outfit is of a more realistic bent. He's wearing a Victorian era suit, which makes sense: before the days of mass-produced garments, only the upper classes could afford "new" clothes, which were tailored specifically for them; when fashions changed or the clothes became too worn, they were sent to consignment shops, where the working class bought them second-hand. Brother Lone-o, here, has a black coat, black vest, white shirt, and brown pants. He wears his gloves over the sleeves of his frock coat, but his cowboy boots disappear up his pant legs. Instead of hanging loose, his red bandana is rolled tightly before being draped around his neck.

Since the movie costume is about as colorful as a modern cover-based shooter videogame, there doesn't seem like there's a lot to talk about in regards to the paint apps. The coat is black, the pants are brown, and so forth. But there are a few points of interest. For instance, the thin black cords around his thighs, which would be used to hold the holsters down while riding. They're easy to overlook, but they're painted well. His belt buckle, the two buttons on the back of his coat, and his star badge are all done in silver. His sculpted stubble has a bit of a darker app than the rest of his face, and there's dirt and grime painted on his neck. When I found these figures at Toys Я Us, they had four Tontos and two Lone Rangers - I picked the one with the filthier neck. Made him seem more cowboy-y.

And then there's the hat. The Lone Ranger's trademark white Stetson is a separate, removable piece that hugs his head nicely. The fit is tight enough that you can lift the figure by his hat, but not so tight that there's any paint rub between the hat and the hair. This isn't NECA's first removable hat, but it's still nice to see. The body of the hat is white, naturally, with an ecru hat band.

And of course, the toy also comes with the Lone Ranger's twin Colt .45 Peacemaker pistols. They can fit in the holsters beneath his coat, but where's the fun in that? You want him to hold them! The guns are silver with pearly white handles, and unlike some other figures we could mention, both his hands have the trigger fingers extended so he can use the guns properly. If the new movie is anything like the old series, "properly" means "to shoot the guns out of their hands," since the Lone Ranger swore not to kill.

Like Tonto, the Lone Ranger has good articulation. He has a balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders and elbows, balljointed wrists, a balljointed waist, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, swivel/hinge knees and balljointed ankles. That all makes for a pretty good range of motion. The section of pants over his pelvis is soft PVC, much like Jason Voorhees, so it can flex out of the way when you raise the leg. The only thing missing is a horse for him to ride - and despite NECA's luck lately with finally releasing some seemingly unreleasable toys (e.g., the Predator Trophy Wall, ED-209 and the Spider-Gremlin), don't expect to see an official Silver hi-ho-ing his way onto store shelves any time soon. Time to check out the girls' toy section for a plastic horse!

Like Monkey Boy said, Lone Ranger is looking pretty interesting, mainly because the "Bruckheimer + Verbinski + Depp + unlikely source material" equation has worked before. I'm still probably not going to see it in the threater, because between Iron Man 3, Star Trek 2, Man of Steel, Pacific Rim and Wolverine, this has been a pretty big summer, and Lone Ranger looks like the type of thing that can wait for Netflix - a cool film, but not the "holy balls, look at this SPECTACLE!" type thing that will get me to spend $30 on an afternoon out. But even if the movie turns out to be a dud, NECA's still made cool toys of a cowboy and an indian, and they look great together.

-- 06/29/13

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