Last modified: Saturday, January 6, 2001 6:20 PM
(Wait! Don't bother reading this, since Scott Baker's done a much better review at his web site, complete with good pictures and informed commentary! Be sure to check out the rest of his site too, especially those great concept drawings in his future projects section. -Jimbob, 7/7/99)
Man's exploration of Space is a fascinating subject-- both for what has been accomplished, and for what is yet to be-- And all that manly hardware! Yep, you guessed it-- I'm doing this review to balance out yesterday's Queen Amidala review. However, I must warn you that according to one of the Sandbox definitions, Buzz Aldrin is a doll, and not a figure, since he's not holding a weapon. ;^)
Hasbro has carved out a special niche by being the only manufacturer to produce 1:6th scale figures representing Man's explorations in Space. They're no latecomer to this either, since their '60's spacesuit and capsule set is a true classic, and remains one of the neatest toys ever produced. Their recent Timeless Collection reproduction of that set, although expensive, was warmly received by those who couldn't find or afford the original at today's collector's prices. The main difference between the original and the reproduction is the material used in the space suit-- the original was made of a silver foil laminate, while the repro was made of a white vinyl. Earlier in the '90's, Hasbro released a sci-fi astronaut accessory pack for the HOF figure, which was recycled into an Apollo 13 figure-- It wasn't so bad as a sci-fi toy, but as the Apollo 13 astronaut, it seemed cheap & recycled. This figure was outfitted with a thin white synthetic fabric spacesuit. In my opinion, the best spacesuit was the Mercury Astronaut's, issued on a CC figure. The suit was made of a durable silver material and looked very good. I don't have the Shuttle astronaut, but it seems to be very well done in an orange suit with a mirrored helmet visor. As you can see, Hasbro has done quite a few renditions, each notably different from their previous attempts.
The Buzz Aldrin figure follows that pattern. The space suit is a synthetic white fabric, but it's quilted with foam padding and gives the suit bulk. It's well made-- the crotch is secured with snaps, and the pouches which secure to the legs with elastic straps have snap closures too. The patches are well done, as is the hose assembly in the front of the suit. I won't quibble about how accurate the suit is-- I don't expect them to capture every single button, seam and detail of the real spacesuit, as long as it looks generally and passably correct. In my opinion, they did a great job with the space suit.
|The helmet is another matter, and it's a cryin' shame, too. The helmet is very well-made, and the dual clear & mirrored visor is a marvel. The problem is that it looks ridiculously large and is shaped wrong! I don't know what the designers were thinking-- there's enough clearance, even with the thickness of the dual visors, to have made it more reasonably sized. Even if it were slightly oversized, it would be acceptable-- but this sucker is HUGE, and it's embarrassing. The error is particularly noticible because the images of the Apollo astronauts are indelibly burned in most people's minds, and immediately, you sense that something is wrong. That they wasted the production resources which produced the wonderful mirrored visor to produce this head-balloon is appalling, when they could have just gotten the master pattern right.|
|The other complaints seem minor. The overlaid rubber gloves are sort of strange, but it's a solution to making them removeable without going to fabric, which has its own funkiness. I'm not sure that glove-hand castings would be in the spirit of this line (removeable outfits). They use that approach in their 12" Star Wars figures, but those outfits aren't supposed to be removed. They are oversized as well, but somehow it's not as big a deal when compared to the helmet. The boots are well-sculpted, but their softness contributes to the difficulty of making the figure stand. The backpack & hoses are appropriate for the figure-- they looks okay and don't draw attention to themselves.|
The headsculpt seems to be a fair likeness, and the unrealistic toy-like look mainly comes from the paintjob. I don't like the simulated light reflections in the eyes, but they seem to be the rage among toy producers these days. As I mentioned in the Amidala review, Hasbro goes for a stylistic look rather than realistic look, and for things like the face, that's okay with me. The consumer can usually do something about that without going through a lot of trouble.
I hadn't noticed this before, but Hasbro has worked on the CC figure: The neck articulation is vastly improved, and it seemed to me that the joints weren't as loose. I still don't like the rubbery material they use though, but if the material's density fools people into believing that it's related to quality, power to 'em. (I'll buy Dragon & vintage-style.)
For the money, this is a pretty good value. The suit makes its value on par with anything produced by the other manufacturers, since military fatigues don't have anywhere near the complexity of a spacesuit. Of course, producing a more accurate helmet wouldn't have cost anything extra, so that's an unnecessary disappointment. I do wish that they would treat the Space line with a little more respect though, and perhaps give it a more upscale treatment as they've done with their Star Wars Amidala figure. However, it seems that popularity drives the market and fictional space heroes are more popular with the toy-buying public than the real ones...
(Apollo photos are from NASA's web site and comply with their usage guidelines.)