Sunday 26 July 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Disney Select V.I.N.CENT & B.O.B.

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

Coming from a time when the world was very much caught in a Star Wars frenzy, it isn't any surprise that the most memorable characters of Disney's The Black Hole are its robots. It may have tried to incite terror with the crimson Maximilian, but it also went for the "cute and sassy" market too with its hero robots. V.I.N.CENT (Vital Information Necessary CENTralized) is part of the U.S.S. Palomino crew that finds itself aboard the U.S.S. Cygnus, where he meets an older model in his series - B.O.B. (Bio-Sanitation Battalion). B.O.B. helps the crew unravel the mysterious of the Cygnus and its captain Dr Hans Reinhardt, but is sadly killed by Maximilian during their escape. V.I.N.CENT on the other hand makes it out alive, journeying with the other survivors into the titular black hole. Both robots have been immortalised alongside Max in Diamond Select's Disney Select toy line, quickly becoming must-have releases for fans of this fun but somewhat troubled film.

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The Disney Select V.I.N.CENT & B.O.B. set 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, but after the hassle I had with Maxmilian's I did a much better job of it here. The spine itself adds to it nicely with the same font and computer grid background used in the film’s opening credits. Its side part (i.e. the literal spine) features a profile image of the figures, and then the backing card gives you a good look at all the pieces included as tempting you to also buy the accompanying Maximilian figure. Also tucked away in the corner is a brief synopsis of The Black Hole, as well as the designer and sculptor credits - little facts that often go unappreciated by collectors. After managed to tear open the packaging, you’ll find the two robots and their accessories spread across two moulded plastic trays.

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The newer model of the two robots, V.I.N.CENT has a sleek egg-like design which screams of what designers thought the future would look like in 1979. Designer Yuri Tming has done a spot on job getting the sculpt to match all the details of the onscreen model, right down to all the various bits of panelling that adorns V.I.N.CENT's silver body. The quality of the toy's tampographs are exquisite, particularly when you take a look at the toy close up and see all the little serial numbers and functions on all of the panels. The paint work is accurate and for the most part pretty sharp, but the QC isn't quite as flawless here as it was with Maximilian. My copy has a few blemishes here and there, a mark on the chest's central readout and some minor scuff marks on one of the "feet". It's all stuff that you only really notice close up though, and given the price point of these figures it's fair to accept some minor paint problems. The other thing that's surprising about V.I.N.CENT is just how light he is - the body itself is mostly hollow so that the head gimmick can work. 

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Meanwhile B.O.B. may look just like a battered version of V.I.N.CENT on first glance, but take a closer look and you'll see there there are actually some minor aesthetic differences between their designs as well. The most obvious one is the top of B.O.B.'s head, which has multiple tiers and looks more akin to a trash can lid than V.I.N.CENT's smooth dome. Rather than multiple hatches B.O.B. simply has an array of lights on his shoulders, and the central chest panel (as well as the name tag underneath) are also different. However Diamond have done an equally amazing job making B.O.B. look just like his onscreen counterpart, in fact arguably moreso than V.I.N.CENT since they also had to take into account that significant wear and tear. The figure really looks like it's been battered to hell and back, with a black wash paint job that really brings out all that dented detailing. It's also worth noting that this is a far more solid figure than V.I.N.CENT as well, a weighty ball that really feels like it could still be alive and kicking after multiple bashes. Not that I recommend trying it though - or else you could find your B.O.B. with a pair of matching broken legs.

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V.I.N.CENT in particular has a lot of cool moving parts, and it's clear that Diamond made a consciencous effort to get as many of the robot's onscreen functions into the toy as they could. The most important one is the head, which can of course rotate a full 360° but also compress down into the body AND extend to reveal V.I.N.CENT's exposed brain circuitry. Truthfully it isn't all that detailed under that translucent yellow plastic, but the colouring really helps sell the effect regardless. Not to mention that you don't a really close look at it in the film anyway, so it's still accurate enough to work. The top section of the head can also rotate on its own freely of the face part, which is worth keeping an eye on if you want to keep it lined up the same way it is in the film. On top of that V.I.N.CENT has three opening panels - one in the centre of the body and two either side of the front claws. All of these are there to help get at sockets for accessories, so we'll look at those a bit further down in the review. The side arms can also rotate, so technically you can display the arms either horizontally or vertically. So while V.I.N.CENT technically doesn't have many limbs to speak of in the same way a human robot would, there's still plenty of tricks in that small body for numerous display options!

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Old B.O.B. on the other hand though is much more of a static piece, with nearly all of the appendages glued or moulded on rather than presented as detachable pieces. Which makes sense since he's an old robot that's seen better days, but it does present a rather different figure to V.I.N.CENT when you compare the two up close. That said poor old B.O.B. isn't a complete brick, and features both a ball jointed head and extended claw. While admittedly you can't get all that much out of moving the claw, the ability to both tilt and rotate the head does manage to add bit a fair bit of expression to that relatively blank face. It would have been great if could have pushed down in the same way V.I.N.CENT's does just to make recreating his death scene that little bit better, but with how crumpled his chassis has become the option to tilt still works pretty well overall. 

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The set comes with a number of different accessories all based on various moments in the film, but poor old B.O.B. is left in the dust here as all the alternate appendages are for V.I.N.CENT. First up we have three different sets of claws - two outstretched, and a shortened pair that fit in at the front of the body. When the ones at the side are not in use (a pair are already connected to the body in-package), a pair of panels mimicking fully retracted ones can be put in their place. It's a nice little assortment, but there are some very strange design choices here. The shortened ones can only fit in the front, and the default longer pair can only fit on the sides. The third pair can't properly fit anywhere, as the pegs are too small for the ports on the side and too large for the ones at the front. You can loosely lock them into the front by pinning them down with the flaps on either side of them, but it's really strange to include accessories that aren't really compatible. Next we have a pair of extended laser cannons, which can be swapped out with the retracted panels next to the front claws. The problem here is that the panels sit almost completely flush with the body, so pulling them out without damaging the paint is extremely difficult. If you don't have long nails a pair of tweezers is a necessity, but even that won't always stop you from scratching them. When finally applied though the guns look great on the figure, even if they are simple blocks of clear plastic with some red running down the middle. There's also the drill attachment which V.I.N.CENT. used to defeat Maximilian in the film's climax, which is a simply a small rod that plugs into a port hidden behind the body's central panel. It's hard to tell what it is simply by looking at it, and unfortunately my copy had a fair bit of chipped paintwork. Finally V.I.N.CENT. also has a pair of collapsed legs, which can plug on in place of the extended ones.

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Each of the figure also comes with their own articulated display stand, as neither can be posed without one since they're floating robots with no proper legs as such. The stands are much smaller and more complex than the one included with Maximilian, consisting of a small circular base and multiple rods and joint parts that can be put together to a length that suits the buyer. It's a great idea, but another area where the execution falls a little short. The joints are extremely tight to the point where moving them immediately feels like they're about to snap. Of course you can loosen them with a screwdriver, but by doing that they immediately aren't as good at holding the weight of the figures - especially if you're trying to use all the pieces each arm came with. Personally I had much more luck making the arm as short as possible and using as few joints in the process.

The more exciting part of the display options included here though is the second half of the U.S.S. Cygnus bridge diorama, which is comprised of the floor baseplate, railings and three connector pieces. The latter bits are especially interesting, since it suggests that there could possibly be more Black Hole figures coming out down the line some day (unless it's simply so that the various Disney Select figures can join together, in which case boo). When fitted together all of these pieces can join to the backplate included with Maximilian, making the full diorama. While it's sadly a little too big for Maximilian, both V.I.N.CENT and B.O.B. look great in front of it.

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As far as sentimental value goes, Diamond's Black Hole assortment are already my undisputed toys of 2020 - these are the figures I've wanted since I was about five years old. However looking at it objectively, the Disney Select V.I.N.CENT & B.O.B. figures slightly fall short of the extremely high bar set by Maximilian. While as far and sculpt and accessories go these figures really are top notch, the overall QC is much more spotty. Minor scuffs, chipped paint and difficult to remove accessories are unfortunate, but in some respects easier to forgive on $25-30 figures. Parts that don't even fit properly however are just downright baffling. I have no doubt though that anyone who loves The Black Hole enough to buy these figures are going to absolutely adore them, and owning them really is a dream come true. While there's certainly the scope and potential for Diamond to do more figures should the demand be there, ultimately the three most important characters are here. Hopefully their reissue later in the year will make them far more plentiful, because every Black Hole fan deserves a shot at these.

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