Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hot Toys SDU all cracked up: Peril of seamless muscle bodies

Remember my concerns about CMToys' Rome Gladiator "Spartacus" 1/6 scale figure with the new 12-inch muscle body (see my post HERE)? How rubberized bodies are prone to tearing over time and my issue with a no-name start-up company selling an unproven, untested rubber seamless body?

My Hot Toys 1/6 scale SDU (Hong Kong's Special Duties Unit) Assaulter 12-inch figure took a tumble the other day (more like a dive!) :( You know what they say, "The higher they are, the harder they fall!" This figure was perched on the highest rung of my display cabinet and when I opened the cabinet door, it just fell head first and broke both its hands. This was most likely due to the top heavy body and the figure trying to break its fall with its hands but they just couldn't support the BIG chest that comes as part of Hot Toys first generation 12-inch muscle body. I was surprised the rubberized muscle body didn't bounce right back up haha. Of course this could have been prevented if it was on a figure stand but I just prefer displaying my figures without them as it adds to the realism. A lot of my 1/6 scale 12-inch figures has been standing for more then 15 years and they have never complained that they are tired nor decide to fall over in protest. All except this particular figure.

Just like Humpty Dumpty, you can't put him back together again BUT all the parts and accessories can still be salvaged and re-used to kitbash another SDU 12-inch figure. Amazingly there aren't any other major damage to the gear and accessories apart from the body. This 12-inch muscle body has already suffered cracks to its arms for some time. This is a major problem with rubberized muscle bodies. Scroll down to see more...

I had posted pictures of this Hot Toys 1/6 scale SDU Assaulter 12-inch figure along with his companion SDU Breacher before (see my post HERE and HERE) but usually they are attired and never in the buff. The picture below gives you an idea of how the Hot Toys 1/6 scale FIRST generation muscle body was made and where the cracks have appeared - mostly on the arms. When I took off the outfit, I realized that the left leg had also broken off too.

In this side view profile, you can see how bad the cracks are. That is always a big concern when it comes to 1/6 scale 12-inch rubberised muscle bodies. While the idea of hiding the joints by enclosing them with rubber is not new, the execution of it has been the issue of debate for many years and the worry that rubber bodies will crack over time still persists with no definite solution in sight.

Here's another picture of the damaged Hot Toys 1/6 scale 12-inch rubber muscle body. The fall might have broken its hands and leg but the damage to the rubber body had already been done some time back with time and age being its worst enemy. As you can see, rubber bodies aren't all they are cracked up to be. Hiding joints and joint lines is good but the loss of articulation (rather limited and restrictive movement due to the muscle mass) and the definite possibility of cracking skin due to the rubber material drying up and contracting over time are the reasons why these seamless bodies have never really taken off.

Hasbro US and Palitoy UK had started experimenting and using rubber parts for 12-inch figures way back in the 1970s. They put "Kung-Fu Grip" hands on their G.I. Joe and Action Man figures and these same rubber hands had discolored or dried up and cracked over the years. Then Hasbro began releasing new 12-inch G.I. Joe figures in 1991. The Hall of Fame series had the same concept of hiding the joints but the figure suffered from extreme Rigor Mortis (Latin meaning "stiffness of death") - the limbs were stiff and difficult to move or manipulate. Hasbro then went with a "all-new" articulated G.I. Joe figure (which was essentially the all plastic body without rubber parts) with the Classic Collection in 1995.

Dragon tried introducing rubber limbs as well with their rubber sleeve arms. This involved sliding a rubberised hollow tube / sleeve over the existing articulated arm but this made the figure look unnatural (see my post HERE). They also introduced rubber legs with no visible joint lines for their WWII British desert figures but Hot Toys were the first to produce and release the rubberized muscle body type with this SDU 12-inch Assaulter figure, along with the Breacher as a companion pair. Hot Toys then went on to release their MMS 1:6 scale Spartan King Leonidas 12-inch figure (view pictures of this excellent piece of toy engineering HERE) in 2010 and with that, they have set the standard when it comes to seamless 12-inch muscle body.

Even then, most of Hot Toys recent releases do not feature the seamless 12-inch muscle body that came only with King Leonidas. Most new releases only feature a rubber upper torso from the neck to the chest, with the lower torso and arms plus legs being the standard plastic limbs with joint lines (check out my post of the Hot Toys MMS117 "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" 1/6th scale T800 collectible figure in-hand pictures HERE). The reason for this, I can only imagine, is COST as it must be costly to produce fully rubberized muscle bodies and that makes King Leonidas the exception rather than the rule.

NEXT: Hot Toys 1/6 SDU 12-inch Assaulter Figure Redo

UPDATE Sept 3, 2011: ACI offers a whole new option - see pictures HERE!


Jason How said...

omg! i know the pain of seeing your collection 'disintegrated' :(
I just realized my Hot-toys Batman DX-02 rubber suit is cracking out too. especially between the legs, it's torn. i guess it's my fault that i display on the open shelves near the window, i guess the heat and the UV light cause rubber suits to crack.

alex teo said...

ouch Jason, i feel your pain :( rubber bodies and rubber suits are NOT ideal for sun tanning. sorry to hear about your predicament.

onesixth.hobby said...

Hey Alex, thanks for the pics and I'm sorry about the SDU figure. Do you think moving/playing with the rubber body helps? Maybe if you let it sit for a long period of time is causing this tear? Anyway, I'm really glad HT retooled their muscled body.

alex teo said...

hi Gene, i wasn't quite excited about Hot Toys muscle bodies for the HK SDU even back then but i liked everything else so this is a good time to switch bodies haha. i don't play much with the figures but i think humidity and age has a BIG part to play with the muscle bodies cracking. CHEERS

Rash said...

Officer truly down! 21 gun salute for this one for services rendered over the years.

BigHatDino said...

Both my Assaulter and Breacher went that way some time ago. I removed the head sculpts as they're both amazing but, typically, the heads don't fit on ANY other HT bodies :(

It's really gutting that this experiment failed. Even more gutting for those who shelled out for HT's Brothersworker figures which had muslce bodies - those were, or became, even more expensive than the SDU figs :(

Michelle Klein-Hass said...

People who are part of the Japanese Doll community were initially enthusiastic about the Arte Tokio seamless bodies. However: in spite of the fact that these were extremely expensive cast silicone bodies, underneath the silicone was a plain wire armature. Anyone who remembers Gumby and Pokey toys remembers what happens to that plain wire after a few poses...SNAP!!! As a rule, when I hear the word "seamless" applied to a doll or action figure body, I cringe. I don't mind joints. The sturdier the better.

Jason Austin said...

"This was most likely due to the top heavy body and the figure trying to break its fall with its hands but they just couldn't support the BIG chest" Man you made me laugh so hard at work that my office mates asked if I was ok! I am so sorry to hear that happened, we take so much care for our figures and spend so much money on them and then something like that happens! Hot toys should show a little support and replace some of these known problems with their figures. I hate paying hundreds of dollars for something that will fall appart even when I'm taking good care of it! I love your blog and I have been following it for a while now. I check it out first thing every morning just to keep up on the going on's of Toyworld! As a kid I have always loved toys as well as collecting them and I never grew out of it, it's such a nice feeling to know that there are others that share your passion! Shaun Wong is the one that got me started with collecting and he only had great things to say about you, he is also the reason why I stay broke! Keep up the great work brotha!
Jason from Cali!

alex teo said...

hey Rash, you can never keep a good (1/6) man down haha - check out my next post :)

yup BigHatDino, one of the many reasons I stayed clear of the Brothersworker figures.

@Michelle, wise words ;p give me good old plastic joints anyday

Hi Jason from Cali, thanks for all the support, man :) Shaun is a dear friend whom I also came to know because of our shared passion of toys and blogging; and any friend of Shaun's is a friend of mine haha I'll rather be broke but happy than be rich but miserable. What's the point of hoarding all that money which you cannot bring with you to the other side anyway, right? This way we all stay happy and all that positive energy is doing everybody a lot of GOOD! cheers, brotha & keep on collecting!!!