Hot Toys: The Avengers - Black Widow Review


The Hot Toys : The Avengers – Black Widow figure was the very first Hot Toys figure that I pre-ordered back in June of 2012, however ironically of the four HT figures that I own in total, she was the last to arrive on my doorstep.  Having missed out on the very first Black Widow figure released with the screening of the Iron Man 2 movie, when Scarlet Johansson first appeared in the role, it was her reprisal of this character in The Avengers movie that cemented it in my mind; I must have her on my shelf.

DSCF9923In comparison to the previous version released from IM2, you do get slightly more for your money with the newer release, that being a few extra hands, new 'taser' wrist bands and the alien rifle; in the main it's the improvements over the original that make it worth while.  Some of the costume changes are subtle, obviously the designers wanted not to stray too far from the original design concept of Black Widow, and you'll notice familiar elements, but overall the her new look in The Avengers is a massive improvement.

It was also an opportunity to re-tackle the head sculpt and further improve upon the original design.  I think it reflects nicely the changes in Scarlet from her original role, whereby in The Avengers she seems 'harder', less 'naive to the world' if you will; the character she portrays is certainly stronger than in the IM2 movie.  Obviously the other major new difference is the new hairstyle, and although not perfect (it does require some attention, more on that later), I do prefer the shorter style in general.

Being an MMS release, you do get slightly less than I've been used to (my last two purchases were both DX sets), and obviously as a character she doesn't have much in the way of accessories in the film anyway.  So here is what you get in the box:

- Authentic and detailed fully realized likeness of Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow
- Eight (8) pieces of interchangeable gloved palms including:
- One (1) pair of palms for holding pistols
- One (1) pair of fists with real-like taser effect
- One (1) pair of fists
- One (1) right palm for posing on waist
- One (1) right palm for throwing discs
- One-piece tight black colored jumpsuit with belts and holsters on thighs
- One (1) pair of black colored platform boots with buckles
- Two (2) pistols
- Two (2) discs with pouches
- One (1) alien rifle blade
- One (1) pair of stinger bracelets with multiple-bullet design
- One (1) pair of stinger bracelets with multiple-bullet design with taser effect
- Figure base with Black Widow nameplate and the movie logo

DSCF9915The box itself is of the usual Hot Toys MMS design, that being the 'blister' vacuum formed plastic instead of the DX foam inserts that I've been spoilt with recently.  The box art itself is simple yet effective, a picture of Scarlet herself as she appeared in the movie, in mono print against which a blue-ish hue against a dark blue/purple background, the 'Avengers' and 'Marvel' logos embossed in silver on the front.  This outer cover slides off revealing the plastic wrapped contents beneath, held inside a black plastic inner tray, unfortunately for me the immediate lack of 'contents' I found instantly underwhelming and a little disappointing, even though I knew fully in advance what I would be receiving.

Although the bullet pointed list above seems like a fair number of parts, it amounts to nothing more than 8 hands, a couple of pistols, a figure stand and an alien rifle... and not much more.  With this in mind, the first question I had to ask myself was, 'is this good value for money?', well, not something I was ready to answer straight away, so lets continue to explore further.

Removing the figure out of the box you get a feeling for how tiny she is.  Although I have a few females in my collection of figures, they're mostly male and if you compare her to the giant that is the T-800, she is very small indeed.  She stands at 28cm tall, so that's 2cm shorter than most of the figures on my shelf, but her general proportions are what makes her seem a lot smaller.

There are a few plastic wrappers to remove, to protect the figure during transit, which are located the boots and head.  In removing the plastic wrapping from her head you will notice straight away that the hair is going to need a little work.  It lays too 'flat' out of the box, but is quite stiff due to some styling product that Hot Toys seem to have used by default.  Now here it is your personal preference to how you wish to display her, but I immediately and carefully rinsed this styling product out of the hair and styled it from scratch.  I found that by brushing through 'VO5 re-work styling putty' through the hair using an old but clean toothbrush, I was able to add a little volume, but still bring the hair under control to a manageable style.  Unfortunately that is the trade-off with rooted hair, far greater realism but unfortunately the shorter hair-styles do tend to be the most difficult to work with as they carry no weight to help pull the hair down.  I would however, choose rooted hair over moulded any day of the week!

DSCF9939The head sculpt itself is what truly makes this piece so desirable.  In my opinion it is, although whilst not a perfect representation, one of their finest female head sculpts they have produced.  The appearance is a little 'thinner' in the face that Scarlet actually appears, however they have captured her likeness extremely well.  What is particularly nice about the expression they have chosen to convey is that the eyes seem to follow you no matter that angle the head is tilted at, this makes the figure very versatile in terms of the poses you can achieve.  She is very photogenic as you can see from the various pictures I have taken.

Now normally when I conduct a review of a figure, I like to strip it down fully so we can take a better look at the body, unfortunately with this figure that just wasn't going to happen.  I discovered that the main belt that the holsters are attached to is glued together and not designed to be removable.  I persevered and managed to carefully remove it, knowing that I would need to re-glue it afterwards, but it was the second belt around the mid section that I stopped at, because this one was looking a lot more difficult to remove.  I just didn't want to risk damage to a £129 figure when it was obviously not intended for you to be removing articles of her clothing!  However, I did manage to get the top half of the clothing off which allowed a look at the newly designed arms which do allow for a much further degree of articulation.  And just to please the curiosities of our male audience, I can answer that burning question you have... no, unlike Sarah Connor she does not have them!

Overall the articulation of the figure is very good.  The entire torso from her neck all the way down to her rear is made of a soft outer rubber with three articulation points, just under the breast, the mid section and at the hips.  This allows you to pull a few sultry poses such as dropping the hip slightly, whilst maintaining the top half parallel.  The lower half of the body also demonstrates good articulation, allowing her knee to bend all the way back so that her heel touches her rear.  Great for some action poses, although at certain angles both the knees and the elbows can display a slightly unsightly joint visible through the stretched material.

The boots are made of a soft moulded plastic that allows some limited articulation at the ankle.  These boots are held on by very long ankle pegs, about 2cm in length which are fixed into the calf of the body itself and are not removable.  This might have some implications when the body no-doubt appears on the secondary market as a loose item as to what may be done with it, it could limit the flexibility for using this body in future bashes.

DSCF9943The single most annoyance I have of this figure is that of the wrist pins.  Whilst I understand they has been many a broken wrist pin in the past due to thee stubbornness of hands to come off without the introduction of a hair-dryer, these ones are simply too loose.  I noticed this of the Batman DX-12 figure also, that the hands have a tendency to come off far too easily, in this case you simply have to look at her and they seem to pop-off!  Whilst I appreciate that they include a spare pair, there is no danger of them ever becoming damaged with no application of any force whatsoever to remove the hands.

In terms of the outfit itself, it is a faithful reproduction of the one seen worn by our on screen heroine, it does however seem a little 'bluer' than the movie version, with the colour more akin to a dark navy blue than the black costume as we see on screen.  This only really does seem to present itself under very bright lighting however, and does not detract from the overall appearance at all.  You may notice in my photos that I've chosen to loosen the zipper somewhat so a little more is 'on display', what can I say, I wanted a sexier looking Scarlet on my shelf than how she appears out of the box; I'm sure I won't be the only one to display her like that either!

Rather disappointingly, the pouches on the belt for the taser 'stun discs' are moulded, with the appearance of a disc in place.  This leaves you with two discs for display and no-where to keep them.  It would have been better if these pouches could have been made to actually hold the discs, it certainly would have added more for your money.  Unfortunately this does continue to be the Hot Toys way, whereas other companies strive for realism and at a reduced price, Hot Toys continue with moulded boots for example; for £129 with little in the way of extras this would have been gratefully received by all.

In terms of weapons, as mentioned previously we have the two 'taser' discs, which although are an integral part of her outfit, we don't actually see her use these in 'The Avengers', the do however make an appearance in 'Iron Man 2'.

On the subject of tasers, a new trick up Black Widow's sleeve (quite literally), are the 'wrist taser' bands that make a brief appearance during the movie.  These comprise of a pair of 'energised' wrist bands with accompanying 'fists'.  Whilst a nice inclusion, and lets face it there was never going to be much in the way of accessories for this figure, they won't be something that I'd have on display.

Her pistols are Glock 26's, which in true Hollywood fashion despite holding only 10 9mm rounds each, seem to effortlessly fire on forever.  An interesting point actually, where does she keep her spare ammunition?  We see her re-load only once during the film, but I'm perplexed as to where that spare magazine was hiding?   The pistols themselves are the only examples of the Glock 26 in 1/6th scale existence I believe, therefore will be snapped up on the secondary market as a loose item.  The magazines are of course removable, but shame on you Hot Toys, these magazines are double stackers, not a single stack as that solitary exposed 9mm round would imply!  The slide is also spring loaded and if carefully lifted can be fully field stripped.

DSCF9918The last weapon that we see Black Widow using in the film is the 'alien' rifle from the Chitauri warriors that Scarlet is briefly seen using to defend herself whilst fighting in the streets with Captain America.  Personally, I've not even taken this out of the plastic wrapping as I have no intentions of displaying it with my Black Widow figure.  I doubt in general it will prove to be a popular accessory and I suspect mine will end up on eBay at some point in the near future.

In Conclusion...

Well, I have to admit, I feel this is one of the shortest reviews that I've ever written of a figure.  That is not to say that there is not enough good things to say about this figure, but with so few accessories and alike to talk about, there simply isn't enough that can be said.  In this respect, I will let the photos speak for themselves and I hope they portray accurately what a great figure she is.  It is true, it is not without it's minor criticisms, but when you're paying such a high price as we often do for Hot Toys products, it is only natural to expect the very best.

Now, earlier on in this review I posed a simple question being, did I think this figure at £129 (UK price) represented good value for money.  I have to be entirely honest with you, in my most recent experience and opinion; I would be inclined to say it does not.  Whilst it truly is a beautiful piece and I am very happy with it, I do think that you can get far more for your money with say a Soldier Story or DAM purchase.  I purchased this figure because I desperately wanted it, and although I don't regret purchasing it, deep down I know that I could have got more for my money with other figure choices.  In that respect, I made a conscious decision that I would only ever purchase a Hot Toys figure from now on, if that character really struck a chord with me.  For example, I've always been a massive Terminator fan, so I had to get the DX10 and Sarah Connor... the T-1000 I put together myself.  The DX12 was the next obvious choice as it is by far the best of the Hot Toys Batman releases, and as for Black Widow... well, just look at her, how could anyone resist?

I would like at this point to say a quick thank you to V-Store where I purchased Black Widow from.  The service was very good and the figure was quick to arrive once Hot Toys started to release their stock.  In fact, at the time of writing this it is unlikely that the UK retailers will see their arrivals for at least the next two weeks, and I've already had her for several.


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