Better late than never is my philosophy and although today’s review came out earlier this summer and is now disappearing from shelves I’m finally getting around to reviewing it. I go by the old adage that if you can’t be first in a race, might as well be last. Although I had very little interest in Terminator: Salvation (and judging by the box office neither did anyone else) when it opened this past summer I was mildly interested in the toys.

Terminator toys for me have always been pretty cool and it’s a bit of a shame that we’ve never had a definitive line. Kenner had some pretty cool toys in the early 90’s following the success of Terminator 2, but they had all the flaws that Kenner toys typically did. Not very good likeness, only minor attention to details, wacky glow in the dark features… Man Kenner loved some glow in the dark. Still, I have my endoskeleton from the line somewhere.

When I heard Playmates would be making a 3 3/4 set of figures based on the new movie I was quite excited. As a kid I always wanted Termnators to fight my GI Joes but Kenner’s figures weren’t in scale with anything let alone GI Joes. Also 3 3/4 is my scale of preference and the idea of adding a line of Terminators to face off against my GI Joes had me salivating almost as much as it did decades ago. Now that I have a few of the figures in hand, do I feel like I got my dream from my childhood come true?

The answer might surprise you.

I’m not sure Playmates has ever been known for their dynamic packaging. The original TMNT figures had some really great packages but beyond that they’ve always had pretty bare minimum packages. I’m surprised to say that the Terminator packaging is quite eye appealing. With some deep blues and purples as well as bright orange, it’s all very nice.

While this is a standard bubble card it has a bit of a clamshell aspect to it. It’s almost a hybrid. Of course the back isn’t covered in plastic but you could almost feel that they wanted to go that route. The nice thing is that it tells you a bit about the figure right there on the package. Very cool.

Inside is a fair amount of twist ties. I’m not sure why we needed so many twist ties on this figure because the way the package is there is no way anyone was stealing this figure. Rather annoyingly the weapons are tied in too. The back of the package shows the rest of the figures in the series. They look pretty good to me, but I know a lot of people crapped on them. I never saw the movie so I’m not really interested in any of them.

Fans immediately dismissed these figures because they felt they wouldn’t have enough articulation. Myself, I’m not an articulation junkie and I think these Terminators are only missing two cuts that would have made them much better. The neck has no movement and while a ball joint would be ideal, I would have settled for a neck cut. Also there is no waist cut or swivel, limiting the posing somewhat. I wish they’d done like the old Kenner endoskeleton with the rubber waist hoses and cut, I always liked that.

The shoulders are a blast with a pin/post style joint that’s not a ball joint but has all the same areas of movement that a regular ball joint would allow. That’s part of the brilliance of the endoskeleton design I suppose. He also has elbow joint and swivel arm battle grip. Moving down he has t-crotch legs with a LOT of movement in both directions.

Dun..Dun.. Dun-Ta-Dun-Dun-Ta.. Do the Skynet!

As well the Terminator or T-RIP as it were, has basic knee joints. None of the articulation is over the top but it includes an incredible range of movement. I pretty much hate toy Nazis who judge a figure by it’s articulation points. This figure moves better than a lot of toys with twice as much articulation, so why is it worse?

Another interesting point about the articulation is that it’s all woven seamlessly into the sculpt. You can’t really tell that there are joints or swivels as they fit right into the design. Making them virtually invisible.

First let’s start off with the bad. I don’t like the open mouth. Playmates made all of their endoskeletons have an open mouth and I just don’t think it looks as good. The other real weak area is that he suffers from gorilla arm syndrome in the sense that his arms are a bit too long for the body. Conversely, he includes a trading card that has a picture of this particular model of Terminator and it appears to have long arms too. Perhaps this is a case similar to NECA’s Street Fighter IV line where they’ve stuck strictly to the art provided to them and thus have a worse figure for it. At least he doesn’t have thunder thighs.

I like the paint work on the eyes and they’ve given his bone structure a nice black wash throughout. There is another version of the endoskeleton but it looks almost exactly like this one, but the overall color is black. I find that a bit weird, but I know it’s an idea that the Terminator franchise has been playing with for some time.

“May I have this dance?”

As far as the actual sculpt goes, it’s pretty solid. A bit more detailed than the old Kenner sculpts and certainly better than those $1 Toy Island versions for a few years back. Certainly the sculpt could be tighter here or there, but I think it’s a pretty damn good mass market interpretation of the character.

The feet are really impressive to me, giving him the proper Terminator feet as opposed to the flat feet that other versions have given this model through the years. More impressive is the fact that this figure has an INCREDIBLE center of balance despite those odd feet. It’s really easy to pose him and he stands on those balls very good.

Unfortunately he’s true 3 3/4 scale as opposed to new 3 3/4 scale (which is 4 inches) and that makes him smaller than most other mass market figures currently available today. He does fit in well with classic GI Joes as well as DC Infinite Heroes and some of the smaller guys like Indiana Jones. You could definitely fudge him into the bigger lines as well, so long as you aren’t a scale Nazi. Twice I’ve mentioned Nazis now.

Size doesn’t matter.

The package rather humorously advertises a “High Tech Rifle” that he doesn’t come with. Unless of course these rifles are so high tech that they’re handguns. I assume he was originally intended to come with the rifle on the proto picture on the back of the package. Subsequently it says that the picture on the back is a prototype and he could look different or come with different stuff. As they say in the wrestling business, card subject to change.

The weapons he does come with are decent enough. He can hold them both quite well which is always a plus. I really like the pistol for various reasons. It just looks futuristic and fun. I’m giving it to a GI Joe I’m certain. The Uzi type gun is adequate as well.

Finally he comes with a trading card. Collect em’ all!

Additional Notes:
I tend to believe the rather controversial philosophy that Hasbro and Mattel with most of their lines make “collector” lines. That means that almost all of their toys are in some way, focused towards attracting collectors. Whereas Playmates for better or worse makes KIDS toys. You can see in both the final products and in their business practices that Playmates is targeting children not adults. Naturally that makes the toys unpopular with most collectors who are far too concerned with things like articulation.

That’s not to say that you can’t find a happy medium. Hasbro’s GI Joe line is perfect for kids and collectors. Still I think people tend to be too rough on Playmates. These are fine toys. Not perfect, but still fun. Of course kids didn’t really like these either, but that has more to do with the black hole of suck that is Christian Bale killing the Terminator franchise. Well, that and no Arnold to make it interesting.

These originally hit at the massive price of $7.99 and I suspect that hurt sales right out of the gate. While you might be able to get away with charging $7.99 for Spider-man or GI Joes you won’t be able to charge that for “Marcus” and “Barnes” whoever the hell they may be. I picked these up at a TRU 2 for $10 sale way back when and I have no problem with paying $5 for them. Most stores clearanced these guys out and you could pick them up for even cheaper a while ago. Perhaps if they’d had an 3 3/4 Arnold figure they might could have anchored the line around it and managed to sell a few more.

Score Recap:
Packaging – 8
Sculpting – 7
Articulation – 6
Accessories – Pistol, Future Uzi
Value – 6
Overall – 6.5 out of 10

So here’s the ultimate conundrum. The figures themselves aren’t perfect but they do more than adequately fit the needs I wanted back when I was a kid. These Termintor: Salvation figures are the perfect size to terrorize my vintage GI Joes… Unfortunately they’re a bit too puny to strike much fear into my modern ones.

Still, I find these figures aren’t as bad as many made them out to be. They aren’t crappy little toys. They’re quite good. Significantly better than most DC Infinite Heroes. However the price and lack of name recognition for anything outside of the endoskeleton itself doomed this line from the beginning. Well that and Christian Bale, he ruins everything.

If you can find them cheap, there’s no reason not to pick up a few.

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