Saturday, 25 March 2017

Quick Crappy Review: Disney Store Star Wars Elite Series C2-B5 & Film Collection Belle*

Death to all but metal!1
…and princesses

So…my local Disney Store (Romford) closed down a little while ago and is apparently going to be a much bigger Holland & Barrett, yay. I’m not over this, I buy a LOT of shit from the Disney Store, especially at Christmas, and now the nearest branch is in Lakeside, a shopping centre about 30 minutes away by car. I don’t drive so if I need to go a Disney Store because, say, it’s Mother’s Day or because I want to, say, buy a doll (these are both obviously hypotheticals…) I have to ask someone to take/go with me and I feel guilty about this, because I feel guilty about asking anyone to do anything if it’s just for me, I know: first world problems. BUT I went to see Kong: Skull Island at Lakeside and so I got to pop into spend £75 in about four minutes in a Disney Store. Kong’s alright by the way, a weird mash up of King Kong and Apocalypse Now! that actually kind of works for the most part and has a kickass soundtrack, the best way to think of it is King Kong’s Aliens, I mightily enjoyed it.

A nice surprise, the Disney Store is knocking out their Elite Series figures for half price (£10) I could have bought a character I don’t have in toy form to go with my AWESOME BLACK R2-D2 like the First Edition Storm Trooper or Tie Fighter Pilot but that would be silly, instead I just bought another Darth Vader because I have no impulse control. Vader’s way too old even for my reviews so that’s why we have strange bedfellows for this review, and if your brain is making jokes about Emma Watson, beds and machines you are a horrible person and should hate yourself, just like me. A C2-B5 is just the name for the Galactic Empire’s black Astromech Droids that they used in Rouge One: A Star Wars Story, which in case I haven’t made it clear yet is, in my absolutely factually correct opinion, the best Star Wars film since Return of the Jedi and one of my favourite Star Wars stories of all time. Being someone who always wears black, who paints his bedroom black wherever he lives and just generally likes things in black, the Death Troopers and C2-B5 units in Rogue One make me happy in many places. C2-B5 was part of the Rogue One wave of the Elite Series that came to the UK around late November 2016, so I’m only 3 or so months late this time. 

The Elite Series are die-cast, which is in fact Bulgarian for ‘swankier than your usual toy’ and this droid sure is swanky feeling, it2 also weighs about as much as a grown man, that may or may not be an exaggeration but if you are thinking of having some Elite Figures up somewhere, don’t use wall shelves just to be on the safe side. C2’s a straight up repaint of the earlier Elite Series R2-D2 as far as I can tell but then he doesn’t need to be anything else so why waste money? He’s cast in that mat-finish black metal, which is rather nice as I’ve already scratched some paint of Darth Vader just getting him out of the box, which is a point, I don’t normally touch on packaging (because I throw it away) but these things are absolute pricks to get out of the boxes, held into unusually tough plastic trays with unusually thick twisty tie things, I’m guessing it’s because of their weight but it makes getting them out without doing any paint damage a bit of a magic

trick.  ANYway he’s cast in that mat-finish black metal with all the little details painted on, mine is mostly good on that front, they’ve bugged up a little on from the pipes on the front of C2’s ‘feet’ but it’s barely noticeable. There’s a scratch on my droid’s shoulder that catches the light but having stared at for far too long I can say that it’s definitely a scratch, annoying but not a paint app issue. Our little trashcan sports all the articulation his model allows for. It really bugs me when toy companies gives a figure articulation that the character should not have just to have more articulation, like when Playmates gave the TMNT ab crunches and waist swivels, shells don’t work that way and Astromech droids have clear and obviously articulation points that should be obeyed, I do not want ball joints on my R2-D2 and I appear to have trouble sticking to the fucking point today. Anyway we have swivels at the ‘neck’ and ‘shoulders’ and hinges at all three ‘ankles’, no complaints there. He doesn’t have working wheels but you can put the third leg (shop that giggling) ‘away’! Simply push up a little further than the bottom of the droid to lock it in and then push in again to release it, which incidentally is the exact same way you stored the remote control in my first television. Though many Star Wars fans would consider this ‘action feature’ absolutely essential Kenner and Hasbro have both proved that if you’re making an astromech droid it’s nothing of the sort so I thank the Disney Store’s team for adding it in, cheers all.

C2-B5 comes with the standard Star Wars: Elite Series stand which is very nice but he has absolutely no need for it and in fact cannot physically use it as all three of his ‘feet’ lack a peg hole. Still I’m sure someone needed a spare stand when they bought this, so if you did in fact drop Rey’s stand down the back of the chest of draws or something then C2’s accessory is really great, if not it’s shit, moving on.

As the film came out on the Friday and I bought a doll from it on the Tuesday you could assume that I liked Disney’s new live-action Beauty & the Beast film, you’d be right in that assumption BUT my buying of the doll is more to do with my liking of Emma Watson as Belle than it is my liking of the film. I thought Watson was great, I was a bit iffy when she was cast but no, she’s great, I don’t know how well she’s been received by proper critics or by the Disney fandom but as a person who watches the Disney animated movie one a month or so and used to watch it on repeat for days I could not be happier with her. But what about the GAYNESS dwitefry, talk about the GAYNESS *sigh* yes, LeFou is gay in the film and by god you’ll know it, it seems the only gay person the team have ever seen is Larry Grayson3 and I was a bit disappointed with how stereotypical he was at times but there is no gay kiss, he doesn’t bum Gaston in the West Wing, it’s totally safe, your children will not catch The Gay from watching some short arse camp it up between musical numbers, and he has an awesome moment with Ms Potts during the fight scene. The fucking point, yes, I remember it now, The Film Collection is Disney Store’s line of high-end but all-ages dolls for their live-action films with a focus on quality and likenesses. Belle is being released in two ways, in her blue and white dress with a Film Collection Gaston, or in her yellow dress solo, given that these things cost nearly 30 quid each I bought the yellow dress - though I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want the two pack as well - a Beast has also been released in the line, they came out March 2016 in the UK (I think).

I’m from a time when they stocked those gorgeous sculptures and snow globes and things like Film Collection and Star wars Elite allow me to continue to live in my bubble where the Disney Store is still associated with high quality merchandise, because no matter what I nitpick about this doll know that it all feels very high grade but also know that I’m comparing her dress, hair and plastic to the standard fashion dolls put out by Mattel and Hasbro and stocked at every Toys R Us in the land and not the £200 collector’s dolls you can only buy online, Belle may be high end but she’s still only a high end retail toy. Honestly I could have done with a better texture on the dress, something smooth and shiny rather than the standard cotton used here but the glitter and gold detailing does a good job of making it at least look mostly swanky - the glitter is clinging pretty good on mine btw but there was a small flurry when I took her out the box, and now there’s gold shiny on my keyboard, table, trousers and Mick Foyley’s autobiography. You’ll have to cut a plastic tag to puff out the arse side of her dress (I know so much about fashion) and to free her head from the packaging because companies continue to do this stupid thing with their dolls, so squeaky bum time should strike at least twice while freeing her. The puffed out arse side of the dress also allows her to stand freely (which is good because she doesn’t come with a stand - or any accessories actually, would it have broken the bank to given her a little plastic Lumiere?) but, well, there used to be these fashion doll-like dolls who were used to cover the spare toilet rolls in the bathroom (my great grandmother had some, which should tell you old that fad was) and…yeah… I don’t think that’s going to be a problem for many people, I’ll shut up. She has lovely gold plastic shoes on under there as well as a mass of underskirts so they didn’t skimp on quantity when it comes to clothes, when it comes to body parts though…they totally did and it causes the figure to look a little off.

The only new piece tooled for the doll is the head (the pinkie ring is painted on) and slapping an ultra-realistic head on a generic doll body just makes the whole figure look that little bit off. Now I haven’t studied Emma Watson’s body too hard…*he says unconvincingly*…but I know it doesn’t look like this (points for not giving her massive tits though), and Disney could have done well to tool up a realistic and accurate upper torso and arms to match the style of the head and Watson’s body. So what about the head? Well the likeness of the face is spot on and unlike a lot of likenesses it gets better the closer you get but the proportions of the head a little bit off from the front, specifically her forehead and the gaps between her ears and eyes are too large, from most tilted and side on views it’s fine but straight on (which is how the doll is packaged remember so pretty important) you can tell there’s just a bit too much spam. The head’s also slightly too big for the generic body, for me this doesn’t really make her look like a bobble head, but more like she’s pushing her face really close to mine – now a lot of people would like Emma Watson to do this but this isn’t Emma Watson, it’s a small plastic facsimile of her and it’s invaded my personal space - back up, woman! Oh yeah, a quick rundown of articulation: ball joints at the head, shoulders, wrists, hips and ankles and hinges at the knees, the hips are a little blocked by the mass of skirts but everything else is pretty damn nice, she can get into just about any dancing pose you want and as this is a literal belle of the ball what more could you want?4

"you're a lot shorter than I remember"
"you're a lot more Hermione fucking Granger than I remember!"
I’m done, conclusions: despite nit-picking for two paragraphs Belle is quite lovely (her hair’s fantastic) with the best likeness of Emma Watson out there, C2-B5 is a FUCKING BLACK AND SILVER R2-D2 and is pretty much perfect, and Holland & Barret can do one. 

I don't have any other horses, alright? 
1 I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist, I don’t think like that really though (well I am pretty convinced that Eminem and Dr Dre are at it) – I listen to as much Punk as I do any genre of Metal, I like Country & Western and am at the moment listening to a Motown compilation.
2 I tend to assign Astromech Droids the male gender but in an effort to not upset Tumblr users I’m going to be avoiding using ‘he’ ‘she’ or anything else of the sort.
3 actually there might be a more reasonable explanation for LeFou’s characterisation (which can best be described as ‘Mr Humphries’), Walt Disney World’s staff is about 85% LGBT and there are a LOT of camp gays down in the Utilidors from what I understand, which makes perfect sense to me but then I’m straight and from Essex, so maybe some of the film crew just sat in the Fantasyland break room and took notes. 
4 well she does ride a horse, rescue a man-beast, mourn a man-beast and probably wield a big stick in that dress (she does that a lot in this film, ‘big stick’ is a fucking defence mechanism it seems) but other than the stick thing (like most dolls she doesn’t have anything close to c-grip hands) she can probably do all that, I don’t have a horse in her scale to check, the only horses I have are way too big or way to small, she looks a bit silly riding Queen Chrysalis or Warduke’s Nightmare.  

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