This past Summer, the Expendables 2, the much anticipated sequel to the hit action movie, was released. It boasted a large cast of veteraned action movie stars, including Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and Chuck Norris. The movie didn't do incredibly well in the United States (possibly due to fallout from The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises), but did extremely well overseas making the movie an overall hit.
A lot of people, myself included, have been wanting to see action figures of these characters ever since the first movie was released in 2010. Well, Diamond Select Toys has answered the call and has just released the first three figures (and hopefully not the last) in their Expendables 2 toy line: Barney Ross, Hale Caesar, and Gunner Jensen.
There are two versions of Barney Ross (Stallone's character): one with a beret, and one without. The subject of today's review is the version of Barney Ross wearing his beret. So join me as I take a closer look and see if this figure is worth your money, or if it's just expendable (so sorry).
Check out hi-res images for this figure in our GALLERY
The packaging is a bit of a departure from DST's normal style. The majority of their action figures come in book-end style packaging, while this is more traditional. I definitely like it though. It's more a classic, action figure packaging. The blister is simple and has the figure displayed front and center, with the character's name at the bottom, and the logo on the left hand side. Something I don't like though is how his accessories are hidden. The figure is holding one pistol, but he has two more tucked away behind the "Expendables 2" insert on the left of the blister. It's really easy to miss at first, so don't forget to check behind there before throwing the packaging away.
The card back has this great jagged shape to it, as if pieces of it have been broken and blown away. There's an awesome explosion of colors with lots of bullet holes printed on it. The back continues the same design, incorporating the Expendables skull with wings made of weapons. It shows off all three figures available right now, and features a bio for each, giving a great summary of their characters from the movie. It also lets you know there are two versions of Barney, which is much appreciated.
Barney's sculpt is a combination of new and old parts. The legs and pelvis are 100% reused from DST's Stargate line, no doubt to save money. They work for this figure though, and blend well with the new parts. And the legs are covered with a new nifty belt with leg straps and gun holsters that are movie accurate.
His torso has a great looking tactical vest that looks just like it did from the movie, right down to the "BLACKHAWK" letters on the chest. He's even wearing the necklace with a knife pendant on it that Barney wore in the movie. His arms look very much like Stallone's, with some great, realistic muscle detail and lots of veins popping out.
The head sculpt is actually a very good likeness of Sylvester Stallone, albeit a bit caricaturized. You can definitely see Stallone in there, with the way his lips look, the general shape of the head, the cheekbones, and eyebrows. The detail could be a bit tighter, but I'd say it's instantly recognizable as Stallone from the movie, right down to the beret he wears throughout most of it.
Being dressed in tactical mercenary gear, the paint scheme is black and shades of gray, but there's no detail lost in the sculpt. There's a lot of dry brushing to help keep the details in the sculpt standing out. I really like the dry brushing in the bottom of the pant legs. It gives it this dirty look, like he's been trudging through mud or something.
There's some good variation in the skin tone as well. They didn't just mold the plastic in flesh tone and leave it at that. There seems to be some air brushing or a paint wash that really helps sell the flesh as looking realistic. Everything looks good on the face as well. The eyes are centered and well detailed, and there's no bleeding of the mustache or hair paint onto the face. The only real paint flaw I can discern is on the left arm. There's some kind of black mark there. Other than that, the paint is really good on this figure.
Barney has a ball jointed neck, ball jointed shoulders, bicep swivel where the shirt meets the arm, single elbows, wrist cuts, waist swivel, hip cuts, thigh swivels, and single knees.
The upper body articulation is pretty good. You can get some really good, natural poses out of him. The shoulders are true ball joints, meaning they actually sit on ball joints inside the torso, so you don't get nearly as much range as you would with disc ball jointed shoulder. Because the lower body is completely reused from the Stargate figures, it's not very posable. If there was a hinge in the hips, it would be a drastic improvement and allow for more poses, but as it is now there's just two, maybe three poses you can really get out of the legs. The inclusion of some ankle joints would really help too, but again these are reused legs so unfortunately that's just how they were made.
Barney comes with three identical pistols as accessories. They're very cool looking, and there are holsters for all three: two on each hip, and one on the back of his belt. The guns fit perfect in the hip holsters, but the one on his back does not keep the gun in place very well at all. Also, he can really only hold his pistols in his left hand. His right hand is open too wide to really grip the pistol. Your best bet is to just balance it in his open hand. His trigger finger is molded to the rest of his hand, so you can't even use that to keep the gun in place. You'd have to take an X-Acto knife and free the trigger finger yourself, or use poster tack in the hand.
I'd also like to note that his belt is removable. While I wouldn't technically call it an accessory, it is pretty cool that it's removable, if you wanted to remove it for any reason. The belt just clasps together at the buckle, and even the little leg straps unbutton at the buckles. It's kinda hard to button it back together, due to the plastic being so soft, but you can just unbutton the belt and the hip straps will just slide off the legs. Also, his watch is a separate piece as well. It can't slide off the hand, but if you ever wanted to remove it, you'd just need to heat the hand up to pop it off, and the watch would slide right off the wrist.
This figure is actually quite fun. The legs aren't as posable as I like and thus limit the amount of fun to be had with posing, but it's still very enjoyable. Not only do I love when figures come with lots of accessories, I also love when they come with the ability to store them. Having holsters for all the guns is very cool, and I'm very fond of the para-military like action figures out there. This is like a 7" scaled G.I. Joe to me, and I really love that. I do think that collectors would be able to appreciate this figure more than kids would, but speaking of just the figure itself, I see no reason why a kid couldn't have a lot of fun with this.
QUALITY CONTROL/THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR -
No real QC issues here. However, watch out for the paint job on these figures. The one that I picked up had a really good paint job, but there were some I saw on the pegs with a lot of paint smudges and flaws, so be wary of that. Also, like I said earlier, there are two versions of the Barney Ross character available. One with beret, and one without. If you call ahead to a store to ask them to hold the figure for you, be sure to let them know which version you want.
It's been a long wait for Expendables action figures, so what's the verdict? I think this is a pretty good figure. It's not perfect by any means, but it definitely has its strong points. The sculpt is really good, and quite movie accurate, despite the legs being reused from older figures. The paint job is also quite good and despite being a very dark color scheme, manages to still make all the sculpt detail pop. The articulation is quite good in the upper half of the figure, but not so much in the lower half. It's amazing how a simple hinge in the hips can drastically improve the amount of posability a figure has, and this figure is missing it.
The pistols he comes with are really cool, and it's awesome that you can holster all three of them. I just wish he could actually hold the guns in both hands. That right hand of his is just too wide to really hold onto the pistol, and that hurts the figure. There's a lot of ups and downs with this figure, but of course it's up to you to determine how much they make or break the figure. If you're a fan of the movies, and want action figures of the characters, then this isn't a bad figure at all.
FINAL SCORE: 3 / 5