Tag: diamond select

New Photos of DST’s Stargate Atlantis Series 3 Figures

Diamond Select Toys has revealed a slew of packaged photos giving fans a detailed look at Series 3 in their spectacular Stargate Atlantis line. This line continues to be amazing, delivering incredibly detailed figures and accessories courtesy of the sculpting wizards at Jean St. Jean Studios. DST Stargate Series 3 again features a ‘build-an-accessory’, this time including an Ancient Control Chair that is fully in scale with the line’s 6″ figures. Each figure contains one piece of the Control Chair, so collecting the entire series enables you to build this spectacular device.

Diamond Select Toys’ Stargate Atlantis Series 3 is due in stores later this month and includes the following figures…

  • Ronon Dex (Previews Exclusive)
  • Col. Samantha Carter
  • Dr. Jennifer Keller
  • Garrison Uniform John Sheppard
  • Wraith Drone

Additionally, fans will be able to hunt down a very limited edition Garrison Uniform Jack O’Neill, which will be packed at a rate of only one per case!

Garrison Uniform John Sheppard

Ronon Dex

Dr. Jennifer Keller

Wraith Drone

Col. Samantha Carter

Ancient Chair Device 'build-an-accessory'

Garrison Uniform Jack O'Neil

Review: Diamond Select Toys Marvel Select Incredible Hulk

It’s no secret that the work of Diamond Select Toys is a mixed-bag in the eyes of collectors. Their handling of the Buffy: The Vampire Slayer line led to over 100 figures, though some were less favorably received than others. Marvel Select, their second most extensive line, has endured a similar history.  DST’s latest offering in the Marvel Select line is a new version of the Incredible Hulk… and he’s one of the finest figures Diamond Select has released. I originally saw this version of the Big Green Mean at Toy Fair International earlier this year and I salivated like an Ang Lee Hulk dog when I caught my first glimpse. Luckily, the figure has lost none of his detail from the initial prototype to final product. I know this is a bold claim, but he may be the best Hulk figure I’ve seen thus far and I see no need for other versions of this character in the future.

The scale of figures in the Marvel Select line has always been slightly larger than standard 6” superhero releases  This is a great asset for the Hulk as he is enormous. When I first got him, I could not believe how heavy and sturdy the figure was. Despite his enormous size, he fits in the standard DST Marvel Select packaging and looks sensational. His size in the standard packaging creates a neat optical effect too, for it appears that the bubble can barely hold him. The Hulk is in relatively full view, less an odd radiation signal and black triangle on the front of his bubble.  This is kind of a bummer as it’s both unnecessary and view-inhibiting. For the ‘in package’ collectors, he’s still a solid display piece.

Of course, once this guy is out of the package, the real fun begins. Whether you collect 3 ¾” or 6” scale, this Hulk WILL smash every figure in your current collection. With only the largest build-a-figures standing taller than him, Hulk is bigger than several 25th G.I. Joe vehicles and pretty much every hero on the 1/6 market.  Despite this, his size does not in any way diminish his detail. This figure looks sensational. His expression is fantastic, his muscles sculpted to perfection and his purple pants are good and torn. Given his articulation, which includes ball-hinged elbows, shoulders, hips/knees, hinged ankles, swivel waist and ball-jointed head, this Hulk can smash in a variety of poses and look awesome in all of them.

Hulk’s coloring and details are excellent as well, which is of significant importance on a figure this big. Bad paint apps stand out on much worse on large releases, but this figure suffers none of these pitfalls.

The only thing I don’t love about this version of the Hulk is his base. He does not fit on it adaquitely and frankly, I think the figure is almost better served without it. However, given that Marvel Select is one of the few lines that still consistently includes a base, I won’t complain and will just put G.I. Joes on it instead. The base could have actually benefited most with a scale piece such as a stop sign, fire hydrant or tire to give this Hulk some point of comparison. Again, this is a minor gripe. The base is still a well done piece on its own, I just don’t think the figure fits well on it, despite sculpted footprints in the cement.

The bottom line on this figure is that any super-hero collector should have him… he’s that good. Diamond Select must have used gamma radiation or voodoo magic to make this figure cost effective. Looking practically like a statue given his sculpt, size and paint, this version of the Hulk is a steal at $20. He’s an amazing value and well worth hunting down.

Click here to see our full photo gallery of the
Diamond Select Toys Marvel Select Incredible Hulk!

You can read more of C.J.’s musings on film, toys and music over at stunksstage.com.

Is It Mego Or Is It Memorex?

There are many things throughout our adult lives that spark memories of childhood. It is very rare that we can actually recover a physical piece of our young lives. Thankfully, Diamond Select Toys has decided to help out with that. Back in the early to mid 1970’s if you bought action figures chances are they were made by Mego. Producing highly articulate 8-inch figures, the toy company had the license to a wide range of characters, from Marvel to DC Comics, from The Planet of the Apes to The Wizard of Oz and many, many more. In 1974 the company acquired the license for the TV series Star Trek. Over the subsequent two years, fourteen Star Trek figures were released in total with varying quality and rarity. Now, over thirty years after Mego stopped producing these figures, Diamond Select is releasing replicas that are an exact match. The Star Trek Retro line is being released in sets of two, featuring an Enterprise crew member and an alien in each set. The first one we are going to take a look at includes Dr. McCoy and a Romulan.

The Packaging
The packaging is the most welcome surprise in these sets. At first glance the figures appear to be housed in the same old blister packs of yore, but that is not entirely accurate. The figures are carded, however both the card and figure are encased in a sturdy outer plastic case that simulates blister packaging, but, once a thin strip is cut off on all sides, the clear case is resealable. This allows you to keep the card intact, remove the figure to play with (yes, I know, the horror) and have a safe and easy way to store your toy. I am simply stunned at how useful a feature this is and now wish every figure came encased as such. Brilliant design by Diamond Select.

The front of the card is a very close recreation of the ones that the original figures came with, using the original artwork albeit slightly rearranged and minus the Mego logo. The back of the card has the first wave of figures posed much like they would be in a commercial from the 70’s along with a short text piece about the history of the figures.

All-in-all, the packaging is top-notch. My only complaint would be that cutting off the necessary parts of the plastic case is pretty difficult and can be frustrating the first time you do it. But that is a very minor and perhaps unnecessary quibble.

The Figures
The figures are unbelievably impressive. Personally, I can’t tell the difference between these new figures and the way I remember the originals. I imagine these must have been manufactured in a completely different way, but the care and attention that went into making them as accurate as possible is clearly evident. I plan on tracking down at least one of the originals to do a side by side comparison, but I dare say it’s really not needed.

The Romulan comes with that same fantastic removable gold helmet and the red phaser, communicator, and tricorder of the original. The removable outfit and boots feel like they were made of the same material as that of thirty years ago, but perhaps just a bit thicker and sturdier. The outfit even has the same type of snaps.

Doctor McCoy has his blue colored accessories (phaser, communicator, tricorder) and removable clothe Starfleet uniform. The big improvement here over the original (and I’m assuming it’s been done with all the Enterprise crew figures) is with the Starfleet symbol on the shirts. Originally, the symbol was made of a sturdy piece affixed to the shirt with a thin silver foil on the front. Inevitably the silver foil would easily come off with only minimal handling of the figure. A much thicker and better adhered silver material was used this time, thankfully. My only nitpick with the McCoy figure is that I’m almost certain that the original had gold rank braids on the sleeves, like in the show, and this one has silver. That may just be Diamond’s way of marking these as remakes, but I wish that had used gold instead.

The ball joints used in the articulation points seems to be a bit stronger and the construction of the waists seems much hardier than the originals, but that may just be my muddled memory. Again, at the risk of becoming a broken record, I give high praise to the attention to detail in these recreations, right down the the phasers being very loose in the utility belts. That annoyed me as a kid, but just made me smile now the first time phaser fell out.

The Nostalgia
If you ever owned any original Mego figures these recreations will make you grin like the kid you were back in the day. I imagine that the folks working on this project were just such kids who got the originals when they first came out. I’m eager to check out the rest of the sets and I’m very curious if Diamond plans on making Mego-like figures for the crew that wasn’t in the 1970’s sets (Sulu, Chekov anyone?). Or if they will recreate the playsets, too. Have a new version of the Enterprise playset would be a dream. In the meantime, I’ll be happy with these figures and fondly remembered afternoons from my childhood.

Thank you to Diamond Select Toys for providing the review samples for this article. You can purchase your own Mego recreations here!

Exclusive Interview With Action Figure Sculptor Jean St. Jean

If you dig action figures, chances are you own something that was created by Jean St. Jean Studios. The sculpting house, founded by St. Jean himself, has grown since its creation in 2005 and now boasts clients such as NECA, Diamond Select and DC Direct. Jean began his career making dolls and preschool toys for Appollo-Juno, Inc but soon moved to McFarlane Toys, where he eventually rose through the ranks to become Sculpting Supervisor. A few years later, Jean ventured out on his own and eventually founded Jean St. Jean Studios, which has become one of the most popular and highly-regarded sculpting houses in the industry.

Jean was kind enough to answer a few questions about his career, what influences him and what may lie on the horizon for Jean St. Jean Studios.

PCZ: You’ve been in the sculpting industry for a number of years. After all the work you have done, what stands out as your favorite, or the project that you are most proud of?

Jean: There are two actually; The Tomb of Dracula Marvel Milestones for Diamond Select Toys and the 18” Pumpkinhead for SOTA. The Dracula in particular was something I had wanted for someone to make, let alone get the chance to design and sculpt it myself. The Marvel Dracula had been ignored for years and I’m very glad it was me that got to do the first statue. I put a lot of time into rereading the whole series and studying Gene Colan’s art, especially the face and body language.

Production issues aside, I love the Pumpkinhead; partly because I never thought any company would be nuts enough to do an 18″ action figure. Also because typically, I’m not the guy folks come to with monster jobs. Generally, I’ve been typecast as a realism and portrait sculptor, so when something like Pumpkinhead or the Day of the Dead figures for Amok Time come up, it’s a nice change.

PCZ: In the Diamond Select Stargate series, you were able to incorporate ‘build-a-figures’ such as the Stargate and MALP. How does your approach to sculpting these large-scale devices/accessories differ from a standard action figure? Do you prefer working on action figures or accessories?

Jean: The ‘build-an-accessory’ idea was Diamond’s and I think it is awesome. From a fan standpoint it allows us to make oversize accessories that are iconic elements of the shows. It also adds a buying incentive for collector’s to pick up the whole set. Having said that, they have to be sized and decorated within certain cost parameters to make them a reasonable addition to each of the blisters. These things are very expensive to produce so in order to get them out to fans, compromises have to be made.

There are plenty of examples of companies promising the moon on some insanely expensive product and then having it slip below the radar because of unrealistic costing for production. Within my team of artists I have guys that specialize in fabrication (or, a more mechanical form of sculpting) for vehicles, weapons and architectural elements. I’ve begun doing more of it myself, for instance the (DC Direct) World of Warcraft Gnome Mechanostryder as well as the weapons for my Warcraft figures. Figural and accessory sculpting each have elements which I enjoy doing, again because I prefer to have variety in my workload.

PCZ: Has there been an instance where the final packaged product has drastically differed from your original sculpt? What is your reaction to this and how much control do you have over the finished product?

Jean: Rarely does a final PVC toy look like a hand painted prototype. In fact, never does the final product nail the prototype. Concessions have to be made for cost and for practicality of reproduction. Because I understand this, I generally expect to be underwhelmed, though I’m mostly pleasantly surprised. That’s not negativity, it’s just practicality. However, McFarlane has made some amazing innovations in the production process that have completely changed the look of the average action figure. They have forced everyone else to pick up their game. The average collector is much more discriminating and savvy of the production process.

PCZ: Not many fans know that you are also an accomplished musician with a degree in classical piano. To what extent does music influence your sculpting work (or vice versa)?

Jean: Over the last ten years I’ve traded one obsession for another. Where I used to practice (music) 16 hours a day, now I work those hours making toys and statues. I’ve gotten to sculpt a few of the musicians I listened to like the Kiss Alive Gene Simmons, Alice Cooper and the ‘Roid Rage’ Ozzy Osbourne for McFarlane. I also worked on the (Iron Maiden) Phantom of the Opera Eddie and Freddie Mercury in the yellow jacket. Both of these were for NECA.

PCZ: Can you tell us a little about what some of your upcoming projects are? Anything new with Diamond Select or are you working with other companies?

Jean: As far as I know (Diamond Select) is still rolling ahead with Stargate: SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis and Battlestar Galactica. On other fronts I’m working on Mezco’s Cinema of Fear (wave three was my first line), DC Direct AmiComi (Poison Ivy was the first) and Day of the Dead and other cool properties coming up for Amok Time.

PCZ: Have you ever worked on a project that required you to work with source material that you were unfamiliar with? Have any of your projects made turned you into a fan of a show/book/movie that you were previously unexposed to?

Jean: Actually, Stargate was a property I had only passing knowledge of before the Diamond gig came up. I started cramming to become immersed in the show, and thank God I ending up really liking it. I’m more of a horror guy than a sci-fi enthusiast but (Stargate) is a fun show with really well written characters and great casts. Plus… there are some cool aliens!

PCZ: You have mentioned in previous interviews that you got started in this business as a toy collector. What new toys keep you hunting shelves to add new items to your collection?

Jean: Indeed. An addiction worse than crack, I’d wager. Super Powers started it for me in my ‘20’s and I just can’t get clean! Right now I collect mostly anime figures and PVC statues. Just this weekend I picked up two of the Hasbro Iron Man movie figures and two of the Gentle Giant Hellboy figures.

PCZ: Have you ever worked on a line that didn’t make it though final approval with the licensor (for whatever reason)? Anything that you wish you had a second chance with?

Jean: The only thing that comes to mind is Samara from The Ring for NECA, but that had nothing to do with the sculpt; it was an issue of international versus domestic licensing rights. I’d love to attack that and other Japanese horror properties at some point.

PCZ: What’s on your short-list of musicians that you would want to turn into an action figure?

Jean: I think a Diamond Dogs, Aladdin Sane and Ziggy Stardust Bowie would be cool. Also, guitarists like Ritchie Blackmore and Michael Schenker or a line of metal screamers like Rob Halford, Tate Dickinson… and especially Ronnie James Dio.

PCZ: What are your long term goals in the sculpting industry? You are already the owner of your own company… where do you see yourself a few years down the road?

Jean: More of the same but with more capacity and efficiency. I’m constantly trying to improve on my own abilities. Maybe, eventually doing some of my own manufacturing.

PCZ: We here at PCZ are big fans of your work on NECA’s Highlander box set. What future do you see in kilted action figures? Do you think that it’s high time that Scotsmen were given their due in the toy industry?

Jean: I think the irrepressible engineer Scotty from Star Trek and Connor MacLeod are forced to carry the banner of the Scots alone. However, the kilted action figure allows for more range of motion for the ball joints (Nyuk! Nyuk!) and easy access for long wedgie-prone car rides. Personally, it took me eons to get out of black jeans and into shorts , so unless I’m an immortal like MacLeod and his ilk, it’s unlikely I’ll ever make the bold fashion statement of the kilt, where junk roams free and wedgies are a thing of the dark and distant past.

We want to thank Jean St. Jean for the time and patience (especially with that last question) he took in this interview. You can see more of Jean’s work over on his MySpace page. Or, run down to your local toy shop and pick up one of the many amazing figures sculpted by Jean St. Jean Studios!