When Jazwares announced a new line of Mortal Kombat action figures to premiere alongside the new release, I was ecstatic. A lifetime fan of video games from the fighting genre, I love my SOTA Street Fighters to death and have always felt there was an unfilled hole in my collection where the Mortal Kombat fighters should be. With the recent revival of the fighting genre, beginning with the excellent Street Fighter, the news that Mortal Kombat was returning in a big way pleased me to no end.
When the game finally came out I was ever so pleased to find my expectations met: with a balanced and interesting new engine, sensational graphics, a fully realised story mode and some of the most despicable gore ever seen in a video game, Mortal Kombat was back! About the same time Jazwares revealed images from their first series of 6″ figures based on franchise favourites Sub Zero, Scorpion and Raiden, and subsequent images from a 3 3/4″ scale series. Fans were torn, prefering the look of the smaller figures to the seemingly less-detailed 1/12 scale toys. How do the final releases fare? Let’s find out!
Packaging: The packaging design is extremely good, with the big dark MK logo serving as an excellent background for the colorful characters. The sculpt and accessories are on full display and looks very presentable for MOC collectors. There’s a bio and pictures of the other figures in the line on the back as well as a shot of the CG character on which the sculpt is based – it’s very suitable and will serve all collectors.
Design & Sculpt: These are exceptionally well-sculpted toys, there’s no doubt about that – each is very well detailed, capturing the look and identity of each of the characters, as well as fully displaying their unique and detailed appearance. They fit right into the same 6″ scale as the SOTA’s Street Fighters, exactly as I’d dreamed, and perfectly capture the bulk and size of each of the characters.
Both Scorpion and Sub Zero share a very similar body and head, as is to be expected from characters that were originally palette swaps. Where Sub Zero’s ninja garb is more minimalist, Scorpion is covered in appropriately spikey armor plates, which helps distinguish him from other series ninjas and add to his aggressive, dangerous scorpion-like visage. Despite being based on the latest incarnation, they’re quickly recognisable for fans of any of the games from the series; likewise Raiden is is undoubtly the God of Thunder, present in every entry in the franchise, wearing a slight variation of the costume from the game. Due to his hat he appears slightly taller than the two ninjas but this is accurate to the character, and he shares the same empty-white eyes as Scorpion. There’s been some discussion about Raiden’s proportions being off, but again this is just due to the size of his hat – he’s excellent.
Plastic & Paint: Unfortunately an excellent sculpt is really only as good as its paint application, and it’s here where the toys falter. Sub Zero is easily the best of the lot – his paint is nearly flawless, with excellent detail all over, his ninja garb painted appropriately and drybrushing used to bring out detail on his armor, belt and insignia. But neither Scorpion nor Raiden fare so well – Scorpion’s paint looks uneven, with a fair bit of overspray on his gold costume, and his face is unfortunately messy. This really gets in the way of the otherwise fantastic facemask, which looks appropriately creepy.
Likewise Raiden, who’s splotchy face draws attention away from the otherwise simple but tremendous costume. The insignia on his chest is similarly disappointing; rather than painting the design a poorly-applied sticker covers the area, which just doesn’t look right. Overall neither toy looks bad on the shelf, but up close they leave something to be desired.
The plastic used in the construction of these toys is firm and durable, able to keep them in poses and be played with without risk of breaking, which is perfect for the characters and franchise. You won’t have to worry about loose joints or toys taking an accidental tumble, which is great if you want to enact your Mortal Kombat VS Street Fighter franchises on the shelf.
Articulation: When it comes to the articulation and playability, these toys are outstanding – the packaging boasts “Over 15 points of articulation!” and none are wasted – we’re talking ball-jointed shoulders, elbows, legs, knees, neck, hands and feet, with additional joints at the midsection and upper leg. You can pose them in all kinds of fighting stances and poses and they stand easily, plus with the added durability they’re great fun to play with as well as pose on the shelf.
My only minor complaint is the midsection joint, which is limited due to the design but avoids having a big nasty cut joint across the belly (regardless of how often these characters find themselves split in the middle in the game). They’re not quite super-articulated, like, say, Marvel Legends, but they’re essentially on par with SOTA’s Street Fighters, the aforementioned benchmark for this kind of toy.
Accessories: Where these toys fall short of SOTA’s legendary Street Fighter series is in the accessory department. Scorpion gets the best, including his two swords – both are made of a softer plastic, but have nice paint/detail and both fitting into his hands for play or on his back for display – as well as his harpoon. But the latter lacks even a chain and can’t really do anything (except, maybe, slice open a head, as is depicted in some of his more gruesome fatalities). In today’s expensive world the amount of accessories and interchangeable parts that SOTA’s Street Fighters had is out of the question, but Scorpion for one is really crying out for an interchangeable skull head, as well as a proper harpoon with a chain made of hard plastic so he can be posed throwing it. This might be pushing the budget for a toy that already includes three accessories, but it does feel like a missed opportunity, especially when the others in the series have even less.
Sub Zero features his ice sword, which is simple but effective sculpted in soft plastic with an appropriately icey detail. This is a thicker weapon than Scorpion’s blades and is a bit trickier to get into the hand – this may have been solved with interchangeable hands, but again, breaking the budget. Another accessory would also have been nice, like his signature ice ball extending from the wrists; likewise Raiden might have been even cooler with some electricty to pose with, instead he has only his removable hat. I’d have also liked interchangeable open hands, to better represent how his character punches, but instead he falls short.
Again, I must stress that I understand the investment and cost of making toys nowadays, so I am happy with what we have, but can’t help but wonder if there couldn’t be a little more without breaking the bank. Imagine having an unmasked Scorpion in this series without having to buy some kind of variant, or being able to pose Sub Zero shooting his ice at Scorpion while he throws his harpoon – one can always dream.
Quality Control: As mentioned, these action figures are incredibly durable and will stand up to play, however you may have to sort through several to find one with superior paint aps.
Overall: I think Jazwares have done a good job with these and that they’re good toys – not great, but good. It’s a tremendous step in the right direction, even if the weak paint and lack of accessories is a drawback. On the shelf these toys look awesome, and they’re incredibly fun to play with – it’s my fondest wish that they are successful for Jazwares and that we will see an entire line of these figures, finally giving me a roster of Mortal Kombat characters to fight with my Street Fighters.
As pleased as I am just to own some MK figures in this scale, I’m not going to let that bias get in the way of my overall recommendation – Mortal Kombat fans and fans of ninjas/thundergods have plenty to like here, and Jazwares has found a way to cater to the entire spectrum of collectors: they look great on display in their package, they look great on display on the shelf, and are great fun to play with. That’s a success, even if there is room for improvement, and I really hope we get to see some of the girls next – bring on Mileena, Kitana and Sonya!