As I have probably stated in previous reviews; Metal Gear is my all-time favorite videogame series. Therefore I’m really disappointed that there is still no action figure line in my favorite scale (1:12 or 1:10). Luckily Play Arts Kai offers a decent character selection in their series of high quality figures. This might be just wishful thinking, but I’m still hoping that my current toy company of choice, NECA, will pick up the rights to Metal Gear and bless us with a full line of figures. Until then, I will enjoy the hell out of these PAK versions.
The Man on Fire comes in a standard PAK window box packaging. It does not have the opening flap on the front, which I would have preferred. The box features some abstract artwork from the game and some product photography. Nothing special going on here. For some reason the colors that were used feel very muted, as if the box has been sitting in the sun for too long. Other than that, I find it a strange choice to use a black backdrop inside the packaging. This figure has a lot of dark finishes and blends in with the background. This makes it hard to see the figure and some of the accessories. It could have been easily fixed with a light background, but I guess, PAK wanted uniform looking packaging for all the characters from The Phantom Pain.
My first impression is not all that positive. The difference in the sculpted hard plastic parts and the soft rubber overlay pieces is a bit too obvious. The way the glossy and matte finishes are applied feels very random. I’m not sure what effect this is suppose to convey. Other than that, the paint applications are fine, although not outstanding. There is some sloppy paintwork, which is most noticeable on all of the bullets. This could have been done much cleaner. I do appreciate how the lower arms are painted, a very cool molten lava effect.
I’m also rather disappointed that the sculpt, except for the lower arms, looks rather soft. Like the molds for some of the pieces were not properly cleaned or something. Maybe PAK was going for the “partially molten”-look, but the end result is not that great. The bullets sticking out of his body are dull looking and look more like spikes than anything else. I’m not a big fan of the utilization of the soft plastic overlay pieces on this figure. They don’t sit flush with the adjacent parts and make for an weird and segmented look. Especially the transition of the chest piece into the abdomen area looks bad. The chest piece is too short and too wide to hide the articulation. This is some super crappy engineering.
As mentioned above, the lower arms have some crisp sculpt work and the upper chest is also nicely detailed, but is somewhat ruined by the sloppy paint. Trying to find something positive, brings us to the head sculpt. It looks cool, a bit reminiscent of Darth Maul, due to al the black and red and the protruding bullets. I’m really trying to find something that impresses me, but alas, it is all pretty mediocre. Sure, he looks fairly menacing, but nowhere near as badass as in the game.
A lot of the articulation points were extremely stiff the first time around. I had to wrestle them free with the use of hot water. The articulation of this figure really needs some getting used to, but once you understand how the different joints work together, you can get The Man on Fire in some fun poses. Be careful not to force and break anything, just heat the joints up and see which way they are designed to move. I really dislike the way the shoulder joints are engineered. They can pull off any basic movement, but if you would like a bit more freedom for some hyper dynamic stuff, you are in for a letdown. I would have much rather preferred the inclusion of a butterfly joint in the shoulder. All other joints, and their range of motion, are serviceable.
This figure does become a lot more fun once you get it in some dynamic poses. The range on the head and neck is pretty impressive. The range of motion on the knees is also great, however the knee joint does look very strange when forced to its maximum. The plastic of the boots around the ankles is too stiff to allow enough movement. However, you can pull the feet off their peg a little bit, to create a lot more range of motion. I’m not sure if it is designed that way, but it sure works great. The Man on Fire will have no problem pulling of a flaming dragon punch. See what I did there? 😉 After loosening up all the joints, The Man on Fire is fun to pose around. The only downside being that he looks somewhat strange standing in a vanilla pose.
Another issue that I have noticed while posing the figure around, is that I don’t like the centre of gravity on this figure. The bulk of the weight sits in its thighs. This makes for some weird weight distribution and awkward balancing.
This is where The Man on Fire really shines. The accessories that this figure comes with, almost make me forgive all its shortcomings. There is a lot to talk about here; the figure comes with a set of semi open hands, a set of fists with bullets between the fingers, a right hand with flames coming out of the palm, interchangeable flame pieces for the upper arms and to top all of that off, a interchangeable upper torso with flames. With said accessories you can create a totally distinctive look for this figure. And that is pretty amazing. Attaching all the flaming parts really makes for some cool display options. It’s like an action feature, without being an action feature. And even though I do not like some of the design choices on this figure, the engineering to allow all this interchangeability is wonderful. Some companies would, just as easily, release this as a separate figure (a clean version and a “flame on” version). But PAK gives us a great variety of display options with all these extra parts. All the accessories are well sculpted and painted.
I really like the thick wrist and shoulder pegs, they feel very sturdy while exchanging the hands and arms. No risk of brakeage here. To swap out the torso, you will need to remove the head and the arms. The head comes off at the base of the neck quite easily, but removing the arms is rather cumbersome. I recommend heating up the shoulder areas to soften the plastic. This way you’ll need to apply less force to remove them and reduce the chance of damaging your figure.
The Man on Fire also comes with a standard PAK display stand. But flying poses are out of the question, because the figure is too heavy to be supported by the provided stand.
The only thing that could have send this figure truly over the top, would have been the inclusion of an interchangeable, unmasked head of you-know-who.
In closing; this figure is really a mixed bag. Five years ago I would’ve probably be super impressed with it. But when I look at it today, I can’t help but compare it to the extremely detailed sculpts on figures produced by NECA. And the only conclusion is that the Man on Fire falls short in this department. Sure the pose-ability is fine and the accessories are really fun, but when I weigh this against some of the questionable engineering and soft sculpt I can’t, wholeheartedly, recommend this figure. Especially considering the price point that these new PAK figures are being sold for. If you can find this figure for €80,- or less and you are a big Metal Gear fan, you should pull the trigger. Anything north of that price point is not really worth it, even if this is the only action figure of this character in existence.
+ A lot of accessories
+ The accessories allow for a distinct secondary look
+ Thick wrist and shoulder pegs