Puppet Master
12 Inch Scale
By: Full Moon Toys

There was a time when Charles Band was somebody. Something like a cross between Steven Spielberg and Ed Wood (with an emphasis on the latter), Band managed to have his finger in just about every awesome low budget movie from the mid 1980’s to the early 1990’s. Everything from Troll to Ghoulies to Robot Jox to Puppet Master and beyond, Charles Band had some influence on it. Somewhere along the way it all fell apart and now Band makes movies that have all the acting of a porno and half the nudity.

In fact Band routinely sends me (and anyone on his mailing lists) requests for money to help fund the aforementioned abominations of cinema. I might be willing to fork over some cash to see Tim Thomerson in a new Trancers flick, but I have no money for Evil Bong 4. Even some of Band’s better recent efforts, still lack the passion and talent of his earlier works.

So why all this background about what is ultimately just another Puppet Master figure review? Because even though Decapitron is a Puppet Master character, he didn’t start that way. Decapitron was originally an Empire Pictures film, which had Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo writing at the helm. It was set to be the biggest budget production Band and company had done at the time. It was basically Robocop meets Worzel Gummidge.

Unfortunately Empire went out of business, Bilson and De Meo went to write the screenplay for Rocketeer and whatever, if anything that was shot or produced for Decapitron went sealed in a vault of legal entanglements. The same fate which also befell Pulse Pounders, a trilogy of short films by Empire, which contained an unseen sequel to Trancers.

Band must have loved the idea of Decapitron, because by the time Puppet Master 4 rolled around, Band recycled the idea and turned Guy Rolfe’s Andre Toulon into a puppet version of Decapitron. That film made a big deal out of the character and had him battle Totems. Puppet Master 4 and 5 aren’t the greatest entries in the series, but they do show off some of the fun spirit that was still left in a struggling Full Moon. Unfortunately, they would also pretty much spell the end of an era.

Despite the dire shape that they’re in these days, Full Moon was probably at it’s height around 1999. Retro Puppet Master was just released, seemingly just to shill toys and yes, there were plenty of toys. Full Moon had started making action figures of their creations and they were a big hit. Whether it was arrogance or Band’s love of the character, I don’t know, but for some reason Decapitron got a 12 inch release.

The box is quite nice and reflects the quality of Full Moon’s products in the era. Make no mistake, they were good. The toys, the boxes, they were excellent. Full Moon became infamous for releasing lots of unique variants, which were briefly worth a ton of cash. Decapitron here also has a “stealth” variant… Just because.

Still, Decapitron makes for an odd choice for a deluxe figure. It’s just that nobody really liked Decapitron. He wasn’t really a puppet. He was Andre Toulon. Sure I wouldn’t mind a Decapitron figure, but there were plenty of other characters that deserved 12 inch figures before him. Regardless, the packaging is nice. Including stills from the movie and even a shot of the aforementioned doomed Empire Pictures Decapitron movie poster.

Of course, if you didn’t know the history, that poster would make no sense at all. Ever the salesman, Band’s Decapitron package mentions a “bonus” morphing head. Of course, every figure included this bonus head… So it wasn’t really a bonus.

Although the original Decapitron concept had five interchangable heads with varying powers, we mostly only see three heads in the Puppet Master incarnation of the character. This means that all three heads need to be recreated here. It’s an ambitious task, but one that actually works fairly well and makes for a fun toy.

First up is the Andre Toulon head, which was superimposed on the body in the films. It’s a decent caricature of Guy Rolfe. It’s not perfect by any means, but it does the job. I wonder if Rolfe ever recieved any money off this figure? He has his leather coat which is a decent faux leather material, with a turtleneck underneath, along with rubber boots and cloth pants.

The face has a strange purpleish wash on it however, that’s a bit distracting in person. It doesn’t look so bad far away, but when you get up close, it’s not so pleasant. The head sculpt of Rolfe is definitely better looking than the replica that Band currently sells on his website. Actually, this figure looks superior to that one in every way.

The bonus morphing head looks about right. I’d say it’s just a little misshapen, but that could be a little bit of package warping. This head really isn’t interesting, but I guess it’s cool to have if you’re looking to do the whole transformation sequence.

The most important and best head, is the electric robot head. This is the head we all think of when you say Decapitron. It’s very well reproduced here and looks like actual metal, although it’s just a nice hollow plastic.

The heads fit on the body via an interesting system where you have to turn them to the side to “lock” in. It works quite well, but I’m not sure why they didn’t just go a more pedestrian route of having them pop on and off. This works fine, but make sure you know that’s how they go off and on. If you just try to force it off, you’ll break it.

Oddly enough the body also has some of the purple shading on it around the neck. I’m not really sure why, as the coat and turtleneck cover up any of the neck that you might see. It seems like wasted effort and the purple is sort of ghastly anyway.

The biggest issue here is that for a 12 inch figure… He’s not 12 inches. For those unfamiliar with the 1:6 scale, let me clue you in. Classic GI Joe is not 12 inches. He’s about 11 1/2. That means that poor Decapitron here is about 11 inches tall. It makes him severely undersized.

I had heard that this body was downright terrible, but I don’t think it’s that bad. The joints are a bit stiff and it’s definitely dated, but it’s not the worst body out there. Certainly it’s short, and this body wouldn’t have even been up to standard in 1999, but it’s still fairly poseable.

So long as you’re not trying to have him do too many dynamic poses, you should be okay. Decapitron wasn’t exactly the most flexible character in the films, so he’s not really lacking here. I’m sure those who obsess over articulation will not be as pleased.

The body has a good density to it and it doesn’t look like it was repurposed from another source.

The legs do have a few issues though. It’s hard to spread them very far and they’re sort of connected in a way that the more you move them out, the more they’re like a v-crotch. You can get some ball joint movement, but not as good as the arms.

The feet are just a simple joint, which is definitely lacking by today’s standards. Oddly enough, they have a fair amount of sculpting details on them. I’m not sure why.

The only real accessories here are the heads. It would have been great if this could have included some of the other heads. The original Decapitron design definitely would have made a better toy.

All of the clothing is removable, but I should note that the turtleneck sweater can only be removed by removing the head. In fact I’m starting to think this sweater is the same one that came on the smaller Pinhead figure. The pants are undersized as well, forcing them to be tucked into the boots.

The boots are a really hard to deal with rubber. I don’t recommend trying to take them off. If you do, it’s best to put them in warm water, but be careful because you can also soften up the legs in doing this. Basically, leave the boots on unless you’re doing a review and absolutely need to make him naked.

I want to say these were around $30 when they first came out, which would put them at about $50-$60 in today’s inflated market. They’re definitely not worth that. While this is a fine toy, Decapitron is a bit boring as a character and quality here is not on the level of Sideshow or Hot Toys. Heck, this guy isn’t even a real 12 inches!

However, if you look around, you can find this guy online these days for pretty cheap. I’d say the average price is around $20. For that kind of money, he’s worth it. It’s a pretty good version of the character and a cool generic villain if you want. Plus you get three heads, which could easily be repurposed on spare bodies as new characters.

Score Recap:
Packaging – 8
Sculpting – 8
Paint – 8
Articulation – 6
Accessories – Morphing Head, Toulon Head
Value – 7
Overall – 7.5 out of 10

Puppet Master fans will find themselves at odds with this figure. It doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the Puppet Master figures, but it’s the only decent represenation of this character. If it would have included some of the other heads, then maybe this would be a must have. As is, it’s just something kind of neat that was made and isn’t too bad to have if you don’t pay too much for it.

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