Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Disney Select Maximilian

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Release Date: February 2020
RRP: $24.99/£29.99

The Black Hole is 1979 film by Walt Disney Productions, released during a time when every film company was desperate to be the one to make the next Star Wars. At the time it was the most expensive film the Disney produced, and despite featuring some rather grand (and at times dark) ideas the film generally failed to capture the hearts and minds of audiences and critics alike. Over the years it has amassed some cult following though, and ever since seeing the film as a child it’s always been one of my favourites as well. Largely thanks to its great robot designs, which have received a fair few toys over the years but never anything that’s been particularly high-end/affordable. Now after all these years Diamond Select have finally stepped in with their Disney Select range, and I’ve finally added Disney Select Maximilian to my collection. The figure was designed by Yuri Tming, and sculpted by Gentle Giant Studios.

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Disney Select Maximilian comes packed identically to Diamond’s other collector-orientated action figures, which is on a huge blister with a card spine folded over one side. For those unfamiliar with Diamond’s packaging it can be a little bit confusing figuring out just how to open it without completely damaging the spine part, and truth be told I didn’t have much luck with it either. Anyway the packaging works because the focus is completely on the figure itself, and the spine adds to it nicely with the same font and background used in the film’s opening credits. The actual spine part features a profile image of the figure, and then the backing card gives you a good look at all the pieces included as showing off the V.I.N.CENT and B.O.B. figures also available in the wave. Also tucked away in the corner is a brief synopsis of The Black Hole, including those all importance designer and sculptor credits that often go unappreciated by collectors. After managed to tear open the packaging, you’ll find Maximilian and his accessories spread across two moulded plastic trays.

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While The Black Hole as a film might not be looked back on particularly fondly by most, regardless of its quality it still had some pretty amazing robot designs and Maximilian is the one that stands above them all. A floating red behemoth completely devoid of any expression, Maximilian is the greatest creation of USS Cygnus commander Dr Hans Reinhardt and his right hand bot. Despite a relatively humanoid shape Maximilian has no feet and continuously hovers, and has six arms at his disposal. His domed head only sports an expressionless visor. It’s an incredibly striking design and easily the part of the film that’s stood the test of time the best, and it’s amazing to finally see a high quality collectors’ figure after all these years. Gentle Giant Studios have produced a huge brick of 80s robot nostalgia and it couldn’t look any better. The deep crimson paint job is covered in black weathering and silver paint chips to give the finish added depth, and the sculpt itself is the perfect toy translation of the onscreen prop. Although Maximilian doesn’t have any feet the figure is still capable of standing perfectly upright on flat surfaces thanks the flat undersides of the legs, but the figure looks far more imposing when displayed on the included display base. For Black Hole fans, this figure really is a dream come true.

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But as incredible as he looks in the film, Maximilian isn’t the most mobile of robots. Despite being armed to the teeth, he spends most of the film just hovering around and looking super imposing. As such there wasn’t much of a need to fill the figure with articulation, so it skates by with just the bare minimum. The head can turn a full 360 degrees, and each of the six arms features a hinge at both the shoulder and elbow connection. The arms are also attached to a turntable, allowing them to rotate so you can choose which of his armaments you’d like facing the front. Moving further down the body the waist can also turn, though sadly not a full 360° since the arms get in the way after a short while. Both legs are also able to lift up at the hips, and the fins protruding from either side of them can also move up and down. Very basic articulation, but spot on to the physical prop and that’s what’s important.

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What the figure lacks in articulation though, it certainly makes up for in accessories. Maximilian comes packaged with a great range of extra pieces, all of which manage to cover all the robot’s most notable moments in the movie. Included are three pairs of alternate hands for his pair of bladed claws - closed hands, open blades and then the blades in the spinning motion he used to murder Dr Alex Durant. The spin is represented through pieces of translucent plastic between each of the blades, which captures the effect perfectly. Each of these hands simply plug into the respective arms, so can be swapped around easily. Next are two blue electricity bolt effect parts, which can wrap around any of the four gun arms to simulate their firing effect. But the best piece of all is the alternate head, with the eyes of Reinhardt peeking out from behind the visor. This is based on the end sequence of the film, where the heroes travel through the black hole and see a hell-like vision where Reinhardt and Maximilian merge to rule over the Cygnus drones in a fiery hellscape. Like the hands the heads simply plug onto the top of the body, so can easily be removed and reattached. 

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The last accessories worth mentioning are of course the huge display stand, and parts of a Cygnus bridge diorama that need to be combined with other parts included with V.I.N.CENT and B.O.B. The display stand is a huge black circle base with a central plinth, which Maximilian can then connect to via the exhaust port between his legs. It isn’t articulated or anything fancy like that, but it does allow Maximilian to be displayed hovering as he should be. Meanwhile the Cygnus parts included here are red plastic block, and then a printed card piece (featuring various computer readings) that slots onto it. Not really much to say about it on its own, but if you are buying the other robots (and if you’re buying Black Hole figures, odds are that you will be), it’ll make an excellent display piece when all put together.

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Everybody has at least one bad film that they love regardless, and The Black Hole is my number one in that respect. Because of that very fact the Disney Select Maximilian was a winner in my book simply by existing, but the fact Diamond produced a figure with such love and care just makes it all the better. Maximilian might not be a particularly articulated or expressive robot, but that price tag is well earned by the size and detail of this thing - it truly is a sight to be behold in-hand. Fans of the film (or just a good old fashioned killer robot design) will not want to miss out on this, but be warned despite the film’s general consensus these figures sold like hotcakes (shout out and thank you again to @thebacklogflex for hooking me up) and the aftermarket has not been kind to them. There is a reissue due later in the year though, so be sure to jump on that before they’re gone for good.

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