From Volks!

Last modified: Tuesday, July 24, 2001 8:29 PM



Well, sheeee-oooot! You've probably seen plenty of pictures of this guy by now, showing off his manly physique and splendid articulation. But have you ever seen how he compares to Sideshow Toy's foil-wrapped cucumber? Betcha haven't.

This article wraps up a prolonged cycle of anticipation which started as a rumor, then wishful thinking, then hope, and finally as fulfillment. During the wishful thinking phase, you could only fawn over the pictures at Volks' site. Then through the Message Board, Paulo and zman showed us pics of the genuine store-bought product, somewhere on the Pacific side of the world. Hope grew that they'd reach beyond the Japanese shores. Thanks to the Doll & Hobby Shop, I was able to order both Neo Guy and the Neo Excellent Base female doll. Without a doubt, this is the best male figure that's been produced to date. Period. Too expensive? Get outta here. Go make a bendie figure out of a coathanger.

Unfortunately, all this advance frenzy means that it's a little difficult to say or show anything fresh or new about this figure. The Neo EB article covered a lot of points that are relevant to this figure, with plenty of speculation thrown in. A lot of the speculation was on-target: The articulation design is almost identical, but scaled for a larger, sturdier male figure. Some of the concern was unwarranted: Indeed, Volks did use a heavier, more "toy-grade" plastic, comparable to the familiar stuff that's already out there. In fact, the torso plastic has a less brittle, thicker-walled feel-- I'm talking pure intuition here-- than a Dragon figure. The feet and hands even have that familiar feel of flexible PVC. [Token PVC Digression/Rant: Arrrrgh. At least they limited the use of that despised material to a few parts, and the figure absolutely is capable of standing (due to a feature mentioned below). Hands are okay with this, but weight-supporting parts aren't. My latest theory is that manufacturers use that stuff because it's easy to demold. It allows them to mold stuff with deep undercuts for the incredible detail that you find in the toys like Aliens and Resaurus' Raptors. The problem is, they can't stand worth a shit.]

One of the surprises and something different from Neo EB, were the hands. Like Sideshow Toy's innovation, these are fitted with an extra rotation axis after the wrist hinge. You can see from the pic how it inserts into the PVC hand, without adding extra length in that area. You can also see from the pic a couple of design weaknesses with this: The two-piece wrist hinge is purely a pressure fit, prone to loosening with wear. The other is the small amount of material which joins the upper hinge half to the wrist peg. This is where all the stress focuses when you twist the hand in the arm socket. Fortunately, the socket doesn't bind tightly, and the plastic seems reasonably sturdy. (So if you break it, you're a ham-fisted moron with only yourself to blame. ;^)

I hadn't noticed this on Neo EB (or have forgotten that I did), but the ankle is fitted with a similar type of hinge in both figures. Unlike the shoddy Sideshow Toy version (I've grown to hate the quality of their figures, BTW), this one has quality articulation which doesn't interfere with the figure's ability to stand.

Another difference between Neo EB and Guy is the articulation at the legs/hips, which you can see in that lurid picture at the top of this article. EB doesn't have a rotation axis for the upper thigh. Guy's is more integrated into the whole joint than most other figures, which have a crosscut seam either near the hips or close to the knee. It's not a terribly necessary point of articulation since the knee joints allow the calves to rotate a small amount. But it models the way our legs have a limited amount of rotation there (unlike a 360 degree spin which would rip our legs out of their sockets).

The neck connector may be of some interest. As you've probably heard, the connector is spear-tipped to fit Volk's head design, which is similar to a Barbie design (small opening up through the head). Volks does give you a rubber adapter which makes the pin end cylindrical shaped. Maybe it's designed for a CC/21C head--Sadly, I don't have a single CC/21C head lying around to test it out on. But I couldn't see any purpose to it with all of my Cotswold/Vintage modified heads. They simply slide onto the neck. This doesn't make you feel like you've performed that sacred Joe customizing ritual, The Headswap. Dragon heads look great if you want that Giraffe-Joe look. (Yah, you must trim...)


This compares Guy with the heights and builds of some popular figures. The height differences aren't really dramatic-- especially if you consider how much real humans vary in height. Clearly though, Guy is by far the most realistically proportioned, and despite having more articulation, it's designed so that it blends better. The fleshtone is actually less yellow than shown (by my monitor), but he is noticibly less tanned than most of the other figures.

Where Guy really shines is in the area of quality. Guy feels precision-made, and you can feel it in the way his joints operate and way he fits together and can be taken apart. If you're putting together a quality collection, this guy's the way to go. In my opinion, this reduces boxed figure buying to outfit buying, and suffering the sub-par figure that the outfit comes bundled with. The bar has just been raised. Maybe this will be the wakeup call for all the other manufacturers?

Downsides? The price could be considered a downside: At this time at the Doll & Hobby Shop, it's $35 for the figure, without a head. The head costs $15 painted, or $5 unpainted. Yes, that's expensive. But I guess it depends on what you're looking for in the hobby. Formative's figures certainly give you a lot of bang for the buck, but you could buy 10 of 'em, and you still wouldn't have a Neo Guy figure.

Drop Frank a line...