By Mezco Toyz
After an incredible five seasons, the AMC epic Breaking Bad is winding down. And as this popular show enters the home stretch, the floodgates of merchandising have opened. Over the last few weeks I have spotted more Breaking Bad items than ever before, t-shirts, pint glasses, shot glasses, lanyards, keychains, plushes, air fresheners… and Mezco is leading the pack, with Walter White bobbleheads, action figures, and prop replicas.
Breaking Bad has become my second favorite television show of all time (to answer the obvious question, HBO’s The Wire is still #1). The saga of Walter White has been compelling and unrelenting since the pilot. I cannot say that there has ever been a bad episode throughout its run. In reaction to the most recent series premiere I read one reviewer remark that a single episode of Breaking Bad offers more story development than entire seasons of some shows. It’s true. The tension that builds at various points in the show always pays off in explosive and unexpected ways. The premise of a terminally ill high school chemistry teacher transforming into a drug kingpin sounds strange to the initiated, but the journey has been amazing. Walter White is the hero and the villain, occasionally hilarious and often terrifying. So when an action figure is made of this man, of course I need it in my collection.
The package labels the figure simply Heisenberg, the alias that Walter adopts for his underworld dealings. He comes on your basic cardboard backer with plastic bubble, decorated with the shades of green and yellow that are commonly associated with Breaking Bad.
A photo of Walter White in his trademark Heisenberg hat glowers off to the side. The package is strangely molded around the figures face, obscuring it slightly. For a figure where the likeness is probably the main selling point, that is not a great decision.
This is Walt’s category to shine. The sculpt is fantastic, from the unmistakable Bryan Cranston likeness to the detailed, wrinkled outfit. The Walter White look is captured perfectly, the plain shirt, pants and light jacket, the loafers… it truly captures his suburban middle class sensibilities. He even has a tiny gold wedding ring sculpted onto his finger.
Walt is captured seemingly mid-stride, but with both feet grounded enough that the figure does not feel unstable. His arms seem tense at his sides, as if he is ready to raise his gun at any moment. In fact, the posture overall capture the intensity that Walt exhibits when he is using his Heisenberg persona. If there is a weak point in the sculpt, it is that the revolver in his right hand is pretty soft. Yes, it is a permanent part of his hand, which is never a good thing on an action figure. Weapons need to be removable from hands. At the very least, throw in a swappable alternate hand if you are going to mold an accessory on. The details are not particularly sharp on the weapon, and the thick black paint does not help.
With such a nice sculpt under there, it is a bit of a shame that the paint is pretty thick and simple. He could really use a wash to bring out the finely sculpted details in that face. Walter White is a pretty gritty, craggy looking character, and a paint wash would help bring that to life. Painted facial hair is always a bit tricky on action figures, and with the somewhat glossy finish Walt’s beard does look a bit like it was sculpted from wax. The clothing has a nice flat paint job that gives them a textured look. And again, the gloppy black on the gun should really have been a nice brushed metallic application instead.
Not a damn bit.
I knew he would never be a super-articulated figure. He does not need to be, really. The preorder pictures revealed an apparent lack of knees and elbows, or hips. But the final figure has no movement. Not even a head swivel. It’s frustrating… even if an unbroken sculpt were the goal, a ball joint head and shoulders would have made the figure much more expressive. At least let the figure raise his damn gun. Even McFarlane Toys most immobile figures generally had a few swivels. But no, this is a statue all the way through.
Since he cannot move, it is important that Walt includes a few key pieces from the show to keep the figure interesting. First up, his black hat and sunglassed. These pieces allow you to transform him from plain old Walter White to his druglord alias, Heisenberg. They fit well and stay securely in place. He wears large sunglasses on the show, and these are well scaled compared to a lot of action figure glasses. If the pistol were removable from his hand, the transformation would be more effective.
Walter also includes a duffel bag stuffed with bundles of cash. Such bags are common throughout the show, and this one is well detailed, down to the simple pant apps on the cash. It hangs nicely at his side.
There is one more secret accessory, not mentioned on the package. Carefully packaged out of sight behind the labels, there is a little clear bad of blue crystals. That’s right, this action figure includes some meth. It is a very ballsy accessory, and Mezco must know they are risking the wrath of enraged parents groups who will claim that this is a toy that children might play with. I was surprised that the figures were being sold at Toys R Us in the first place, and after finding the bag of drugs accessory I am just impressed. The bad even has an indentation so that you can clip it snugly into his left hand.
This probably does not sound like the most enthusiastic review, but I do not regret the purchase. Just know what you are getting yourself into. It isn’t much of an action figure. It’s a mini statue. It is unlikely that we will ever get any companion pieces besides some Walter White variants. Even in this limited style, I’d love a Jesse Pinkman and Gus Fring. I never imagined that I would be able to own a Walter White figure, so despite the shortcomings, it is awesome to have such a compelling character represented in plastic. I would love to see more iconic television characters from mature programs get figures, the way that cult classic film characters are created by NECA with such obvious reverence.