9 Inch Scale
When Disney backs a movie with their full effort, they really back it up. In the early 1990’s it seemed Disney was intent on having their own Batman-like blockbuster. First they rolled out the red carpet for Dick Tracy, which failed. So they tried again in just one short year, managing to repeat nearly all the same mistakes in marketing that they did with Tracy. In 1991, The Rocketeer saw Disney spend over $19 Million dollars in advertising and get tons of tie-in advertisements as well. The Rocketeer was everywhere in 1991, even though the film didn’t quite find it’s audience until it’s theatrical run was nearly complete and I’m not sure Disney ever knew exactly how to market the film.
The Rocketeer was marketed to kids, but missed one major aspect, action figures. Of course, for kids, The Rocketeer was a pretty boring film. The movie should have been marketed to adults, similar to the way Pirates of the Caribbean was. Of course, the kids could get in on the action just like Pirates, but alas it was not to be.
Although Rocketeer didn’t get an actual action figure, he did get a variety of other stuff, including what we’re looking at today. A vinyl figure from Applause. How does this vinyl figure shape up?
Vinyl figures don’t always come in packages. While the more urban designer vinyl trend of late has often seen them come in window boxes, the popular vinyls of Japan simply have tags. Applause seems to follow that philosophy here.
The Rocketeer has two tags, one that hangs tightly onto each wrist. One nice thing about these tags is that they’re held on with elastic bands and not punctured into the vinyl itself. A pleasant surprise.
Of course that also means that the tags are likely rarer and harder to find. One of the benefits of the Rocketeer’s quasi-failure, though, is that you can usually find a lot of this stuff for pretty cheap and still complete. Not many kids had one of these in 1991. Mine is 19 years old and I just bought it, but yet it looks like it’s in perfect shape as if it just came from the shelves.
The tags themselves are both pretty neat. The hard blue plastic Applause hands carry the company logo and are less exciting. The actual Rocketeer tag however, is quite beautiful. Showing off some of that Dave Stevens magic.
Inside there is a nice little intro to the character. I like the checkered taxi print deal, just because it was all over the Rocketeer stuff back then. It gives it a art deco feel for whatever reason.
The sculpt is pretty simple, but effective. The look is in a lot of ways, similar to the JusToys Bend-Ems Rocketeer that I reviewed last year. I don’t know if Disney sent out a style guide or what, but all the Rocketeer products of the time have him with a distinctly reddish hued jacket, as opposed to the more accurate brown.
Once you get past the obvious need for some color correction, the overall look of the figure is pretty good. There aren’t a ton of details, but there is a fair amount of folds and creases in the pants and coat. The rocket pack looks pretty good too, though it seems slightly less sharp than the smaller Bend-Ems version.
The chest is both a strong point and a weak point. The limited paint aps means that his unbuttoned coat and the shirt part underneath are the same color. It sort of muddies the effect and makes me wonder why his coat is unbuttoned at all. That said, there’s some good sculpting here as the unbuttoned side of the coat actually has the button holes. An interesting attention to detail.
The front of the torso also has a pretty nasty looking molding spot. You can see where both his legs and chest were apparently glued together. At first I thought it was a point of articulation, but it’s in fact only where the two pieces are formed together.
I guess because most of the products that came out at the time were either hard PVCs or candy toys, I didn’t expect this guy to have any articulation at all. In fact he’s got movement in three areas. That’s almost enough to qualify him as a JLU!
You have a cut neck and cuts at both of the arms. It’s not enough to truly qualify him as an action figure I guess, but it was an unexpected surprise to me. I really thought this guy was going to be hard, closer to PVC and he’s actually soft and flexible. I don’t know if this would have worked as a “action figure” in 1991, but it was pretty close.
Speaking of surprises…
I fully expected that his rocket pack would be removable. It isn’t however. It’s glued in. You could remove it with some force, naturally. I suppose this was done to keep kids from stealing it back then.
At some point I imagine these things were everywhere. Now due to a rise in the vinyl market (maybe?) and interest in the Rocketeer himself, they are harder to find. Not impossible mind you, but less available than some of the other products. That means you can expect to pay about $20 and possibly more for one of these dudes. I wouldn’t pay much more than $20, however, he’s just not worth that. If you have a time machine readily available, try November 1991 as I suspect these things were being clearance out for like a nickel.
Packaging – 6
Sculpting – 6
Articulation – 4
Accessories – N/A
Value – 6
Overall – 6 out of 10
All in all this makes for a nice little collectible, but probably wasn’t an alternative for a Rocketeer figure back then. If you’re a fan of the rocket man, you might want to pick one up, but if not you won’t be missing out on anything major. Also if you’d like you can follow me on Twitter and enjoy all sorts of goodness.