Hot Toys - MMS194 : Barney Ross - Review

(Please be aware that this is a ‘mini’ review.  This mean there is either slightly less written content or fewer images than included on our normal full length reviews.)

After reviewing the Art Figures ‘Soldier Of Fortune 2’ figure, based on Gunnar Jensen from The Expendables 2, and having previously reviewed Art Figures’ Lee Christmas figure; I felt the sudden urge to add to the collection and bought (on a whim I might add!) the Hot Toys MMS194 Barney Ross (version 2.0) figure. 

Now, for me this was quite unusual as I would normally only purchase a Hot Toys figure if the character was from a film that really struck a chord with me, any of the Terminator franchise for example!  I have to be honest that whilst The Expendables films have been entertaining, they’re not exactly movie masterpieces in my opinion.  With that said however, the latest incarnation of Barney Ross from HT does represent excellent value for money in terms of the sheer number of parts you get for your money.  Some figures are light on accessories, this one however for the average pre-order price of £139.99 in the UK is brimming with goodies!  Besides, what 1/6th collection is complete with out a Sylvester Stallone figure?  Especially if you already have a couple of Arnies’ on display!

As previously mentioned I got this figure on a discounted pre-order price for £139.99, just days before it came into stock and price went up slightly to a still very respectable £149.99.  I ordered it from the highly recommended Collectable Kitbash, and with a day of it arriving in stock, it was sitting on my doorstep waiting to be opened; fantastic service as always!

So, let’s have a little look what you get for your money.  The MMS194 Expendables 2 Barney Ross comes with the following items:

1 x Pair of gloved palms for gun shooting
1 x Gloved left palm with ring for gun holding
1 x Pair of gloved fists (with ring on left fist)
1 x Pair of gloved relaxed palms
1 x Right palm for gun shooting
1 x Right palm for cigar holding
1 x Black beret
1 x Black T-shirt
1 x Black zip-up tee
1 x Black tactical vest
1 x Pair of black pants
1 x Pair of black boots
1 x Leather-like black belt
1 x Brown beret
1 x Navy blue T-shirt
1 x Denim vest
1 x Pair of brown pants
1 x Pair of brown boots
2 x Pistols with pouches
1 x Revolver with pouch
1 x Assault rifle
1 x Watch
1 x Pair of sunglasses
1 x Pair of goggles
1 x Headset
1 x Cigar

Wow, that is quite an exhaustive list – pretty much the only thing that distinguishes this set from a ‘DX’ version would be an extra head, even then this set gives a DX edition a run for its money!

The box art is the usual affair that we come to expect from Hot Toys MMS releases these days, but this one has some beautiful artwork on the front cover, and a unique ‘textured’ finish which makes it particularly nice.  Inside, the figure and accessories are spread across not one but two plastic trays; such are the sheer amount of goodies that you get with this release!  The first tray features the figure (albeit half clothed!), the hands, weapons and small accessories.  The second tray contains the rest of the ‘combat’ uniform, along with the additional clothing items for the ‘casual’ look; you certainly are spoilt for choice here.

Carefully removing the figure from the box you can instantly appreciate the hard work that has gone into making this piece.  Not only is the body type specially developed for this figure, and not the re-use of a previous incarnation, but the detailing on the tattoo artwork is incredible, almost passing for real!  Like previous muscle bodies of this type (think T1 T-800 or the T2 MMS T-800 release) the trade-off for realism is that of articulation and this one is no exception.  Expect nothing more than a 90 degree bend at the elbow, and limited shoulder movement; making realistic ‘weapon holding poses’ somewhat difficult.  There are a total of 9 hands included in the set, four of which feature the strange leather ‘wrist guard’ piece.  What I found odd about these left hands in particular, is that only two of them feature Barneys’ signet ring; the fist and the relaxed hand.  So what happened to the ring for the other two hands?  Did he take it off and forget where he put it?  Very odd.

The head sculpt on this figure is what you would expect with Hot Toys, and it’s one area that they do very well; not surprising really considering their products are licensed and often require approval from the actors themselves before it goes to market.  They really have captured that ‘recently had yet another face-lift’ look, and it makes you wonder what we’d get if Hot Toys ever produce another Arnie figure, it would be a far cry from the fresh-faced DX10 T-800!  My only criticism of this head sculpt are to do with the eyes, they just don’t seem to be looking anywhere, instead a ‘staring straight forward’ blank expression is what we get, and no matter how I pose him it just doesn’t look quite right.

As I mentioned previously, the figure is only half dressed when you remove him from the box, partly to show off the excellent tattoo work and the other reason is you get to choose which outfit you wish to display Barney in.  Now for me, there was a conscious decision right at the start that I would be ditching the ‘civilian’ clothing, it’s just not a look I really found that appealing.  With that in mind, you will notice no photos of him wearing that apparel, although I have included some pictures of it ‘unworn’.  Opting for the ‘black tactical’ approach, it was simply a matter of fitting the zip front shirt and tactical vest.  Now there is included in the set a black t-shirt, but my money saving tip is don’t use it… you really don’t need to, it can’t be seen so put it to one side and use it on another figure!

For both the combat and casual outfits, the tops are supposed to simulate long sleeve tops that have the sleeves pulled up.  Hot Toys have actually put a couple of stitches at the elbow crease to keep the sleeves ‘bunched up’ in the right places.  It is possible you could pick these stitches if you wanted to pull the sleeves back down again, but I couldn’t guarantee you wouldn’t ruin the garment entirely.

One of the feature points of the Barney Ross figure is belt and twin thigh-holster rigs, that I have to be honest, and quite possibly controversially… I think they could be better.  Although the ‘brushed brass’ effect belt buckle is beautiful looking, the rest of it is unfortunately quite plastic in appearance.  The reason I feel this could be better is at a time when a lot of the smaller names in the 1/6th business such as DAM, Soldier Story and Art Figures to name a few are making realistic looking boots, belts and accessories from leather or similar synthetic textiles, we have Hot Toys, a major brand name still producing them in plastic.  Whether or not it is that I just expect too much for my money, I’m not sure, but when Hot Toys are often thought by many as the definitive 1/6th manufacturer (incorrectly so I feel) one would expect a high level of quality than that produced by a smaller company for a significant price reduction.  Let me just be clear, I’m not saying the quality is terrible; I’m merely saying it could be better… all companies should strive to be innovative and better themselves in this highly competitive market.

The same critique above can be equally applied to both the boots and the beret.  As a direct source of comparison, the boots worn by the character in the movie are extremely similar to that included with the ACE ‘French Foreign Legion’ figure, M1952 ranger boots.  Whereas the Hoy Toys ones are the same plastic affair we’re used to, the ACE versions are real leather, real laces, metal buckles etc...  I’m almost tempted to swap them over!  Again, another direct comparison is that of the beret.  The Hot Toys version is that suede effect ‘plastic’ that we used to get on BBI and Dragon figures nearly 10 years ago!  Yet the Art Figures ‘Lee Christmas’ figure, included a proper ‘felt’ like beret, not a hint of plastic in sight…   Come on Hot Toys, you need to increase your game somewhat!

In terms of the weaponry provided, we have some very nice pieces indeed.  Barney is equipped with 2 x 1911 ‘Kimber’ pistols, detailing the Expendables logo on the grip, his iconic single action army revolver and Noveske M4 Diplomat rifle.  In true Hollywood fashion however, you aren’t given any spare magazines for these weapons; a good job too seeing how Barney hasn’t got anywhere to stash the extra ammo!

Although I dealt some criticism in terms of the detailing on certain elements of this figure, one thing Hot Toys do very well is weapons, especially ‘movie’ weapons.

The 1911 ‘Kimber’ pistols are both highly detailed, finished in black with chrome working parts.  On this model the slide lock, hammer and slide are all moveable, with a releasable magazine as you would expect.  The Expendables logo also appears on both sides of the grip.

The single-action Colt Army revolver is a fairly unique piece in 1/6th scale, in flat matt black but nicely weathered, it features a cock-able hammer with a tiny firing pin (now that is detail Hot Toys, you have redeemed yourselves!) and revolving cylinder.
The Noveske Diplomat rifle is a very piece indeed.  I can draw a direct comparison from the version provided by Art Figures for their ‘Soldiers Of Fortune’ release, and apart from the obvious differences in stock and accessories, the overall weapon is very similar.  Both have a working charging handle that is oddly not spring loaded, an opening ejection port, sliding stocks, flip-up iron sights etc…  The Hot Toys version has a nice subtle weathering to it that gives it the slightly more realistic edge.  Both the red-dot reflex sight and sure-fire tactical fore-grip are very nice too.  In terms if realism when it comes to rifles however, you can’t beat Soldier Story; and many will agree.

Finally that leaves us with the smaller accessories that come with the figure, of which there are a plentiful selection including his sunglasses, goggles, throat-mic and ear-piece, wrist watch, bracelet and cigar.  The watch is particularly nice, a gold face with a brown strap; it also features a fairly realistic ‘glass’ front that even appears to magnify the dial beneath it – one of the better watches I’ve seen in 1/6th!  The part that I found the most frustrating of all was the ear-piece / throat-mic combination, I just could not get that ear-piece to stay in!  In the end I committed what many would feel is a 1/6th crime, and applied a small dab of superglue to hold it in place.  Whilst you may think that a little drastic, I don’t intend on changing the appearance so I’m quite happy to leave it there permanently! 

So, that pretty much concludes this ‘mini’ review.  In conclusion, although you may feel there were a few aspects of this figure that I cast a negative view upon, overall I DO like it.  I think in comparison to other MMS releases, this one represents excellent value for money as it is truly packed with parts.  You do often find that any of the figures that have a ‘military’ feel about them come with a great amount of items to play with.  Take the Selena Kyle release for example… roughly the same price and you get a pistol… that is pretty much it.  This figure is also a great buy for anyone who missed out on the original Barney Ross released in time with the first Expendables movie.

I do stand by the points I made in terms of choices of materials, and would love Hot Toys to ditch the moulded boots on their figures in favour of something more realistic.  As much as we all love collecting them, I know I can’t be the only one that feels we could be getting slightly more for our money.

Special thanks to Collectable Kitbash for the excellent service as always on delivering this figure.  At the time of writing this, they still have a few left in stock.


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