Saturday, February 5, 2011

REVIEW: Tron Legacy Black Guard

The Black Guard are Clu's elite special forces. Their physicality and fighting skills are un-matched in the world. Behind their fearsome, faceless masks they carry out Clu's Iron will over the inhabitants of Tron City.

Let's hope the figure is better than the blurb...

... And... It's Not.
OK, so I'm making cheap jokes at the toy's expense, but it is true. I'd heard from other reviewers that the Tron Legacy toys were weak and having picked one up for myself, I can see what they meant. I'll explain as we go along, but for now, just ready yourself for a not-so-positive review. 

The Tron Legacy figures use a fairly standard blister-pack for the entire range. The packaging is actually quite cleverly designed, as the front print is shared between the other figures with an insert in the pack itself identifying the figure. The rear of the pack of course, is unique to each figure.

The blister-pack has a small cut-out allowing you to poke a finger in and activate the light-up feature. A quick tip - always check your figure's light-up feature works and if you have the ability to do so, grab one from near the back of the peg, as hopefully it'll have received fewer presses.

Unfortunately, the packaging must be ripped to open, as the plastic is glued to the card, although the packaging isn't so great as you'd want to keep it anyway, so it's no big loss.

Black Guard
It's difficult to know where to begin with this toy. It should be magnificent. Tron Legacy was superb and the character design from the movie was great. Whilst this isn't a bad translation of that design - the sculpt is nice and the ''face'' looks great - beyond that it's a crushing disappointment.

The problem is that the figure is that it's horribly designed. In order to accommodate the light-up feature the designers at Spin Master had to cast the entire torso as a single piece, so there's absolutely no body articulation - no waist to twist, no torso to turn, nothing. Look at the images and you'll see how rigid and stiff the figure looks. The light-up feature is nice, yes, but I'd rather have an extra joint in there.

As for the limb joints, again, the design really lets them down. The range of movement on the hips is restrictive, making it difficult to really get a decent, planted-foot stance from him. The same goes for his knees - I'd estimate you get a whole 30 degrees of motion there.

The shoulders are a little better, with a ball-joint that's not restricted by the cast. The elbows are also much more effective than the knees, with a better range of movement and the head is also nicely jointed, with a peg that allows both rotation and tilt. But it's really too little to save the figure, because that rigid, immobile chest piece and poorly-designed legs sap all the dynamism or excitement the figure should have.

Then there's the paint-job, which is very poorly applied, with orange paint splodges applied liberally - except to the mouth of the helmet, where it should be. A note to Spin Master - if your packaging includes a photo of the actual Black Guard from the movie, make sure the paintwork on your toy matches it.

Similarly, the paint on the chest piece is the real let-down. The chest looks to be cast from transparent plastic, painted over with strategically-placed gaps to allow the light to shine through. Unfortunately the paint's application isn't very accurate, with incredibly ragged edges and in some places it's not evenly applied, resulting in a ''bleed-through'' of the light effect.

There are a host of other small design problems that add-up to drag the figure down. For example, the Identity Disc fits nicely into his hand but you'd expect it to fit onto his back, as it does in the movie. Guess what, though? It doesn't. Then there are his batons, which again, he can hold relatively well but there's nowhere to put them when he's not holding them. Why doesn't the underside of the base have a couple of slots they could fit into when not in use? 

It's very difficult to say much else about this toy. The legs are poorly articulated and the paint is badly applied, but it's the lack of torso or waist articulation kills the figure. Whilst it's a good likeness of the Black Guard from the movie, that doesn't make it a good toy.

The Black Guard includes his Identity Disc and two batons. Each Tron Legacy figure also includes its own colour-coordinated stand. The base and figure fit together pretty well and his weapons slot into his hands relatively well, so that's at least one positive.

Final Thoughts
I hate negativity and I really dislike having to find fault with somebody else's work but there's really nothing I can say about this figure that's positive - except that it's from a really good movie.

The production quality is poor, with badly-applied paint and a really cheap feel to the toy, especially the joints that become quite loose as you pose him. But it's the design that really lets this figure down. I honestly cannot understand why anybody would think having a solid torso piece would be a good idea. OK, it lights up and that's the line's USP, but when the figure is so utterly rigid and lifeless, I frankly don't care.

These figures retail at $9.99. For a regular action figure that's pricey, but for a figure as badly-produced as this, there's no way this could be considered a good buy. Even the $7.99 I paid for this toy is still too much. If you can find them in a bargain bin for under $5 - and trust me, you will very soon - then some of them might be worth picking-up, providing you don't build-up your hopes or expect a good action figure. Until then, though, avoid.

Production QualityC-
Final ScoreD

Image Gallery


  1. These toys have been marked down at my local Wal-Mart but even at the lowered price i can't bring myself to buy them. I rather go find the old TOMY ones.

  2. I'm gonna wait untill they show up in discount stores like the Avatar figures did.

  3. Yeah, they'd need to be a lot cheaper before I could recommend them and even then, it would be with a warning.


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