Thursday 22 June 2023

Toybox REVIEW: Revoltech Zurg (Toy Story)

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Release Date: March 2023
RRP: 11,880 yen

Even without appearing in the first Toy Story movie, the name "Emperor Zurg" immediately latched onto me. In amongst all the other fantastic things going on in the film I wanted to know more about Buzz Lightyear's sworn enemy, and when he finally appeared in Toy Story 2 I was not disappointed. That love continued on with the Buzz Lightyear of Star Command cartoon (where he was brilliantly voiced by Wayne Knight) and the Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin Disney Parks ride. Not so much 2022's Buzz Lightyear movie, but the less said about that the better. However despite this love I've never owned a good Zurg toy, so naturally Kaiyodo made my dreams come true when they announced Revoltech Zurg (Toy Story) would be joining Woody and Buzz as part of the Revoltech line. Despite releasing not too long after Buzz's solo movie, this figure is based on Zurg's original appearance as the sworn enemy of the Galactic Alliance.

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Revoltech Zurg comes in fairly standard packaging, but sporting a design that'll be immediately nostalgic to anyone who grew up with the Toy Story films. It's a sky blue box sporting the cloud pattern of Andy's bedroom walls, along with the Toy Story logo and the character name. Curiously that last one is in a rather Wild West-style font, which is perhaps a little ill-fitting for Zurg but I suppose works with the whole Toy Story aesthetic. The sides and back of the box feature numerous images of Zurg in various poses with and without his signature Ion Blaster, and there's even a few shots with Revoltech Buzz Lightyear (who I now feel the need to track down after buying Zurg) as well. Inside the figure and accessories are neatly laid out on a moulded plastic tray, with the included display stand taped underneath in a segmented plastic bag.

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One thing I always love is when packaging includes a themed backing card, and Kaiyodo really hit a home run with Zurg's. Despite the box itself having a (somewhat ill-fitting) classic Toy Story aesthetic, the backing card is a CGI mock-up of Zurg's empire, complete with towers, spaceships and images of Zurg commanding obedience. Not only does it look great, but it also makes a perfect diorama background for photos as well.

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Other than being smaller than the "real" toy that appeared in the film, Revoltech Zurg is a near perfect replica of how the character appeared in Toy Story 2. In addition to getting the sculpt, colours and finish of the figure perfect, Kaiyodo have also paid close attention to all the other details he had in the film - there's even the "Look Here" window on the back of his head where you could see the world in Zurg-vision! But as nice as those little details are, it's the overall finish of the figure that's really impressive. The glossy metallic purple of the main body is just gorgeous, and then it's accentuated by those areas of metallic red, silver and gunmetal. The cape has some nice flat colouring which offers up a contrast, and then of course there's that menacing head sculpt just to top it all off. While it isn't a particularly complex design nor is Zurg a character that appeared much in Toy Story 2, there's just something about Zurg's design that makes him immediately stand out. While the Revoltech figure may be based off the Toy Story 2 toy, it works just as well for anyone who wants it to represent the "real" Emperor Zurg from the Buzz Lightyear fiction.

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Admittedly Zurg was never going to be the most articulated toy to begin with based on his design, but Kaiyodo have done a pretty good job in loading it up with enough joints to fit the Revoltech line's style of dynamic posing. Altogether Zurg features the line's signature swivel hinge "revolver" joints in the following areas;
- Head
- Shoulders
- Elbows
- Wrists
- Fingers (Thumb, index finger and remaining three fingers)
- Waist
- Cape
The figure also has hinged shoulder pads. While that solid lower half may mean there isn't any leg articulation to speak off, the base of the figure does have three free-rolling wheels that allows it to glide across surfaces (and is also screen accurate to how the toy appeared in the movie too). Though in more recent years many have begun to feel that Revoltech's distinct style of clicky joints has become outdated, it's interesting how a lot of the ones featured here provide a pretty smooth range of movements. The shoulders are particularly well designed with two joints connected internally in a way that provides movement similar to that of a butterfly joint. In the absence of anything complicated it's also nice to see articulated hands thrown into the mix, so Zurg can point and grandstand maniacally just like any supervillain worthy of the title. In most scenarios I'd always bat for a soft goods cape over a hard plastic one, but here the latter is far more true to the onscreen toy. It doesn't move much (in fact it just moves up and down), but the four small joints holding it to the body are surprisingly strong. Nothing is particularly surprising on this release, but it does everything you'd expect it to and does it pretty well overall.

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Emperor Zurg is fairly light on accessories when it comes to quantity, but the few he does have certainly pack a punch. Along with the standard articulated clear plastic display stand Zurg also comes with his Ion Blaster, a loose ion ball and an alternate grip piece for the blaster which has Zurg's right hand moulded onto it. The main event here is the Ion Blaster, which would look like it jumped straight out of the movie if not for the four revolver joints adding articulation to the pipe connecting the gun and backpack. The Ion Blaster is an absolutely BEAUTIFUL piece, from its clear plastic backpack with internal ion balls to the three-barrelled gun with adjustable power setting. Attaching the Ion Blaster involves taking the plug piece out of Zurg's cape so that the backpack can fit in, fitting the gun into his hand and then plugging in the additional joint on the handle onto Zurg's wrist for extra support. While you can wrap Zurg's articulated hand around the trigger, it's much easier just to use the alternate grip with the moulded hand instead. That said, the standard grip is INCREDIBLY difficult to remove from the Cannon at first and will require a bit of working (preferably with either hot air from a hair dryer or some hot water). While the Ion Cannon does look great in Zurg's hand, the sheer weight of the weapon plays a big factor in its overall enjoyment too. Even with Zurg's fairly stiff elbow and shoulder joints, it's almost impossible for Zurg to hold it on his own without toppling over. This is exactly why a display stand has been included, and includes an articulated claw piece for the barrels to rest on rather than it plugging directly into the gun itself.

There's much less to say about the ion ball piece. It's just a yellow ball, and even though Zurg can technically hold it in his hand according to the instruction sheet it's not even meant for him. There's a small hole in the ball suggesting it can be fixed to a hand, with the sheet saying it can be used with either Revoltech Buzz or Woody. Perfect if you want to recreate the catch scene from Toy Story 2, but not good for much else.

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Revoltech Zurg (Toy Story) was one of my most anticipated figures of 2023, and for the most part Kaiyodo have absolutely delivered the high-end Emperor Zurg toy I've always dreamed of. The sculpt, colours and finish of the toy are nothing short of perfection, and even the implementing of Revoltech's signature joints across the whole body hasn't had detrimental effect on it. The figure isn't without it's flaws though, but it is worth saying that the fact the figure struggles to hold the Ion Blaster without the aid of a stand is a relatively minor complaint. A much bigger one is that it's hard to deny the figure is pretty damn expensive for what it is. It really is fantastic looking, but given the limitations of the design either Kaiyodo are extremely bold charging a retail price of 11,880 yen ($82/£65) for this or that price has a serious Disney licensing fee one top of it. That said, Zurg isn't a character we get figures of in any form that often, so until anyone else is offering anything better Kaiyodo are more than welcome to my money.

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