Sunday, December 4, 2011

Spotlight: Bob Wilson/Don Carter action figure (Bif Bang Pow!)

Earlier today we gazed lovingly at Bif Bang Pow!'s Bob Wilson bobblehead. Now we move on to their action figure version, which has one rather surprising bonus feature: he's actually two characters in one!

William Shatner appeared in two Twilight Zone episodes, both beloved classics: season five's "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" (in which he played the aforementioned Bob Wilson, a man beleaguered by a Gremlin on the wing of an airplane) and season two's "Nick of Time" (in which he played Don Carter, a man beleaguered by a Mystic Seer fortune telling machine). This action figure serves as both characters, including complete outfits and episode-specific accessories (they do share the same pair of shoes, however). This Bob Wilson/Don Carter hybrid immortalizes Shatner's contribution to the series while offering collectors the ultimate in interactivity: you can choose which Shatner character you'll proudly display.

Yeah, okay, this approach is somewhat problematic if you want to display both characters, as you'll have to buy two Bob/Dons to do so, which will give you duplicate sets of clothing and accessories. You'll also pay more, as this deluxe single figure will run you $32.99 (as opposed to the $37.99 Entertainment Earth charges for two regular figures), which means you're paying $14 for a change of clothes and a fancy box. Yeah, maybe this isn't such a good idea after all. It's certainly an interesting approach, and the fact that it's a Comic-Con exclusive adds to its perceived value, but if you're the type to open and display your figures, you're probably gonna be a bit pissed.


No, I am NOT James Van Der Beek.

The Shatner likeness is... well, a bit disappointing, especially after the Bob Wilson bobblehead turned out so good. It's not a bad sculpt at all, don't get me wrong, it just... well, doesn't look much like Shatner. It's really too bad, not to mention frustrating, since Shatner himself gave the sculpt his stamp of approval! Even more madding is the fact that Mego pulled off a vastly superior Shatner likeness on their Captain Kirk action figure, at this EXACT same scale, over 30 years ago:

Well, since we're dealing with essentially two different action figures, let's tackle them individually. First up: Bob Wilson (the default or, in other words, the only one you'll ever see if you don't open him up and change his clothes).

Bob Wilson is really a no-brainer for the action figure treatment, since Bif Bang Pow! has already given us his nemesis The Gremlin. Bob comes with everything you'd expect: suit and tie, newspaper, pistol; it's nice to see Bif Bang Pow! throwing in some accessories (out of six TZ figures last year, only 1 had an accessory: The Kanamit's cookbook). Surprisingly, the best of Bob's accessories is the newspaper, because it contains a brilliant in-joke. It's a variation on the newspaper featured in season one's "And When the Sky Was Opened"!

Bob comes with a pretty spiffy looking wristwatch, which carries over nicely to his inevitable Don Carter identity switch.

Bob doesn't come with socks, but since his pants hang low enough, it's not really an issue. For the record, none of the new human characters come with socks. As I recall, only Talky Tina from last year had socks, which were painted on (but then again, her ankles were visible, so it was necessary).

Okay, now I'm gonna straight-up get my bitch on. The Mego-style body used for these TZ figures works well enough if they aren't encumbered by too much clothing.... which Bob Wilson is. You've got a shirt with collar, a necktie and a jacket, which adds up to a problem I'm calling EPS (Excessive Puffiness Syndrome). Nothing looks (or sits) right, poseability is severely restricted, and the sleeves of both shirt and jacket aren't long enough. Further, the elastic-band necktie (while a clever idea) totally fucks up the shirt collar (this same problem will resurface with Henry Bemis, who we'll spotlight later in the week).

My solution is to put the necktie UNDER the shirt, which looks a bit goofy but allows the collar to lay down correctly.

The necktie is held in place by a tiny little square of Velcro near the bottom of the shirt (it's actually hidden behind the waistband of the pants when the shirt is tucked in).

I'm not gonna sugarcoat this: I hate the fabric suit, period. Why they couldn't simply create a single-piece jacket with a faux shirt collar and tie is beyond me. It would've looked better, been easier to handle, and would've undoubtedly been cheaper to produce. At this scale, it's just too many layers, and it looks ridiculous.

Hand over the gorilla suit. It's gotta be more comfortable than this bullshit.

Heeeeeey ladies!

Let's get Bob out of that ill-fitting suit and into something a little more comfortable... like a whole new identity. Ladies and gentlemen, Don Carter!

First, the good: the outfit is pretty much dead on. Here's a shot from "Nick of Time" to demonstrate:

Nagging wife not included.

The not-so-good? The polo shirt is utterly destroyed by that horrendous collar. Seriously, what the hell happened here?

I think maybe the collar is supposed to lay down. Mine doesn't. A couple of tiny strips of Velcro would've REALLY come in handy here. But even then, the collar is still too damned big. A thinner material would've really worked well here (the shirt doesn't need to be as thick as a real polo shirt at this scale, guys).

Don Carter is obviously the less dynamic of the two Shatner characters here, but he does come with a killer accessory. That's right, it's a miniature Mystic Seer!

No, it doesn't dispense fortunes. And yes, the head is a bit ratty looking, but this thing is literally TWO INCHES TALL. The detail is pretty impressive, all things considered, and it's even got the bejeweled eye!

Don's final fortune read: "Ditch the bitch and take ME home."


The front of the box is actually a flap, held shut by a tiny dab of Velcro. When opened, we are treated to shots from both episodes on the inside of the flap, and a window-box granting us a full-frontal view of Bob, flanked by his (and Don's) various accessories. Each character is depicted on opposite sides of the box:

The back of the box gives us a rather cute group shot of the whole Twilight Zone action figure family, including six figures that won't be released till next year:

This same picture adorns the card-backs of all the newer TZ figures. I especially appreciate the crashed spacecraft in the background, which looks like it came directly from season five's "Probe 7 - Over and Out."

I've gotta give Bif Bang Pow! props for the packaging. The figure and its assorted accessories are packed in a triple-layer plastic tray system, which makes it quite easy to put everything back into the box exactly as it came from the factory (the regular figures come on blister-packs, which are effectively destroyed upon opening). After my photo session with Bob/Don, I put him carefully back into his box, and you'd never know he'd been opened. Now THAT'S collector-friendly!


If you couldn't tell, I'm really torn on this item. There are a few things I love, a few things that I hate, and a lot of things that I'm relatively ambivalent about. If you're a TZ collector like me, you obviously have to own this (if you don't already). I do recommend it (if for no other reason than the awesome accessories it comes with), but with pretty heavy reservations. Think before you buy.

Cheer up. You're gonna outlive Nimoy no matter what.

No comments: