Everyone knows Johnny Depp makes a great pirate, but if there's one actor from the franchise who could possibly be described as more piratey than Depp, it's indisputably Geoffrey Rush. His portrayal as Captain Hector Barbossa is archetypal pirate with just enough extra flair to make it entirely believable. His "ARRRRS" don't sound corny, they sound truly intimidating. NECA has given us a Barbossa figure (and repackaged it again and again), and Zizzle gave us a 3" Barby from their line, but like the many tentacles of the Kraken, the Pirates of the Caribbean toy license is spread far and wide. It was only a matter of time before the quintessential pirate got some more love in action figure form. This time, it's the Disney Store's in-house guys giving it a go.
The Disney Store keeps producing exclusive action figure product,
chugging alone despite being largely overlooked by the action figure collecting community. While notoriety may still remain elusive, the figures they produce (usually based on the latest movie property) have been increasingly ambitious in terms of sculpt, paint, and packaging. Sometimes, one could even call them innovative?
Check out the packaging on the new Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End line. The follow-up line to their hit-and-miss Dead Man's Chest figures, the AWE toys are packaged in standard clamshells. Except, they aren't. There's a dime-sized hole in one corner of the backing, and a perforated seam runs just inside the edge of the card around the entire perimeter. By hooking a finger or pair of scissors in that hole and pulling, the package should theoretically come apart with none of the typical mayhem and violence associated with clamshells. It doesn't work perfectly, but what does? It's still better than the usual clamshell pain.
But enough about the packaging [no, "enough" would include a picture --ed.].
The figures themselves are, once again, rather hit or miss. Some appear to be straight repacks, like Jack Sparrow and Davy Jones. Others, like Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner, appear to be mostly if not entirely new sculpts of previously done characters. Tia Dalma is a new sculpt of a character Disney hasn't tackled yet, and so is Barbossa. While he's meant to represent Barbossa from the third film, his look is pretty much identical to his appearance in the first film, and his brief cameo in the second (come on, if that's a spoiler, then you're living at the bottom of the Mariana Trench).
The sculpt is easily up to snuff with any mass market work out there, and while the detail work isn't McFarlane or NECA quality, it wouldn't be a huge leap to say this sculpting work could hold its own with a fair share of today's specialty market companies. In fact, I like this guy more than NECA's Barbossa. NECA's offering, while pretty good, always seemed to be missing something. It was rather skinny and slouching in appearance, while Disney's seems to capture a bit more of Barbossa's presence. The facial likeness, while it fails to capture all the wrinkley goodness of NECA's, seems to have better proportions and, in the end, looks more like Geoffrey Rush did in the film. The rest of the sculpt, while a bit soft overall, is pretty movie accurate, and features a decent amount of wrinkled fabric and texturing. The pockets and cufflinks on his coat are especially nicely sculpted. Also, bonus points to Disney for the cool bony hand sculpts, complete with pointy nails.
The paint is, by and large, surprisingly good.
While the face and hair are a bit goopy, the dirty look to his face is nice, and the pattern on his undercoat is great. The silver bits are nice and rustic, and the boots are properly weathered. The coat could probably use a bit more of a wash to make it more haggard, but it's pretty good as is. The only real sore spot is the top of his head. The hair above the bandana is a much lighter shade of brown than the rest of his hair. It's very noticeable, but not if you keep his hat on. And really, how often is Barbossa sans hat on camera? The ring on his hand is also left unpainted, unfortunately.
Like the last series, the articulation is charmingly ambitious, but still has its share of problems. On the DMC figures, the legs popped off at the hips if you tried to pose them even slightly, and while that problem has been solved, the hips are still a point of contention. They're secure on the legs, but they're extremely loose, and they behave more like a t-crotch than true ball jointed hips. Still, Barbossa gets balljoints in the neck and shoulders, peg biceps, hinged elbows, hinged wrists, a peg waist, peg thighs, nicely concealed hinged knees, and hinges at the ankles. Not bad. Interestingly, the white cuffs of his shirt also turn independently of the wrists, which is pretty useful in helping him hold certain accessories.
And speaking of accessories, Hector is nicely decked out. He gets his big floppy hat, complete with sculpted feather (not a limp attempt at a "real" feather a la NECA). He also gets his sword and pistol, both with nicely sculpted elaborate flourishing silver details. The sword fits properly in the hook at his sash,
unlike the Jack of the last series, which had a very toyish plug hole in the loop that the sword hilt could be plugged into awkwardly. The pistol can't be stuck in his waistband, though. Both hat and sword have the much-lamented "Disney-China" copyright stamp on them, a very toyish throwback on an otherwise nicely detailed, movie-accurate figure. He does get one more accessory, and it's much appreciated: his apple! With some finagling, it can be held pretty solidly in his hand, and it's a wonderful addition that has been overlooked by every other company's attempts at a Barbossa figure. He doesn't get a figure of Jack the Monkey, though, although you can always use the undead monkey accessory that came with DMC Jack (and also comes with the repackaged AWE Jack).
Loose hips and copyright stamps aside, this is probably the best all around Barbossa figure yet. It's not as detailed as NECA's, but it's a lot more playable and looks truer to the look of the good captain in the film. Plus, he's got the apple! Hunt him down if you're a pirate fan, although if you're not in a rush (no pun intended), you could always wait for the inevitable clearance sale. But with anticipation for At World's End in full swing, who can really stand to wait?