Wednesday, February 5, 2014

REVIEW: True Legends Heroes of Olympus

Toys R Us Exclusive | Released 2013

Long ago, great heroes were sent on epic quests by Zeus and the other Greek gods to battle legendary monsters and perform incredible feats of bravery.

True Heroes
True Heroes is a line of Toys R Us-exclusive figures, developed for the store chain by the Chinese toy manufacturer Chap Mei. Although known mostly for their military vehicles (which GI Joe fans I'm sure will be familiar with), the company has also dabbled in a variety of other genres, including medieval knights, high fantasy and pirates, many of which have been released by Toys R Us under the sub-brand of True Legends.

Currently the True Legends ''Classical Mythology'' line only features three sets, the Hydra and Hercules Playset, the Ancient Warrior Warship and the subject of today's Review, the Heroes of Olympus Four Figure set.

Heroes of Olympus
The Heroes of Olympus set consists of four figures with an assortment of accessories. Let's take a closer look at each, shall we?

Sculpt & Design
Hercules is the ''chunkiest'' and most muscular of the four figures and the overall impression is very good indeed. His musculature is as over-the-top as it needs to be, with bulging biceps and thick, stout thighs. It's definitely a stylized, larger-then-life build but it works well and conveys a lot of power.
Up close, there are some good detail touches. Fingers, toes and clothing are very neatly rendered and there's a lot here to engage the eye. His back features an ''open'' scabbard into which his sword can be slung when not in use, which is another cool detail but what I really like the fact that the designers sat down and created a figure of Hercules and not simply Generic Greek Hero. See that lion tail at his waist and the pelt he wears? My guess is it's the hide of the Nemean Lion, the beast Hercules slew as part of his 12 Labors. That's a nice touch and shows some thought and research went into his creation.
The head sculpt is particularly cool, with Hercules sporting a fantastically detailed, highly expressive look that puts a lot of more expensive toy sculpts to shame.

Perseus is the second figure in the set, joining Hercules as the other mortal (or at least, demi-god) in the line-up. Like Hercules, his sculpt is highly detailed, with some superb muscle work and very intricate armor work. I also like that, again like his half-brother (who is also his grandson...!) Hercules, his sword can be sheathed at his side but what's really cool is when you stand them side-by-side, Hercules' brute strength and additional size becomes even clearer. I like that. Again, it's not simply a case of the pack featuring two Generic Greek Heroes with different heads and paint jobs.
Like Hercules, Perseus' sculpt has some fine up-close detail, from the scales of his skirt to the bolts on his armor and even down to his finger nails and knuckles. The images I've included probably don't do justice to just how intricate the workmanship is here and it's a testament not only to great sculpting but also a neat, clean production process.
Again, it's worth drawing attention to the head sculpt. Although not quite as lifelike as Hercules' (it's very slightly marred by a molding line down one side) it's a great-looking figure.

Zeus is, perhaps, the oddest-looking figure of the set. Whilst the body sculpt is good, with his toga having an almost storm-like quality to the way it's wrapped around him and the detailed musculature, the designers have included a few ''divine'' details, which I'm not quite sure work. For starters, there are crackles of lightning sculpted across his thigh and arm. I can see what they were going for but unfortunately they look more like some kind of plant growth or even protruding bones than they do electricity. And then there's his electrified hobo head. Again, it's cool to see the designers trying to make Zeus non-human but I'm not entirely convinced it works.
Still, design oddities aside, the work here is neatly done, with some great detailing on his toga and his armored boots being particularly well done.

Medusa is the final figure and, it could be argued that I've saved the best for last. Not only is the basic design awesome – fans of Ray Harryhausen's works will love this rendition – but it's also beautifully realized, from the twisted coils of her lower body to the ripped rags of her clothing, right to the glaring expression and serpentine hair, every detail here is just perfect.
There's so much to love here: she's covered in scales – individual scales, not just some kind of block-print effect; the clothing looks ripped and torn in a lifelike manner; her facial expression is guaranteed to shock and scare. It's great to see what an awesome job the sculptors have done with this rendering of the character and, yet again, she's made entirely from unique parts.

One area where the Chap Mei/True Heroes figures could be seen to fail is in their articulation. Whilst some of the True Heroes military toys have articulation similar to that of the figures in The Corps! line, it's not uncommon to see them sporting as few as five or even four points of motion. Let's look at each in turn.
Hercules features a twist waist, single joint neck and single jointed arms. His legs are locked into position and – waist twist aside – cannot be moved.

Perseus features the same twist waist, single joint neck and single jointed arms.

Zeus comes with a twist waist, single joint neck (which is actually a little useless, as his beard tends to inhibit most movement here) and two, single-jointed arms.

Medusa again has the waist twist joint, a neck joint (her head/neck can actually be extended about two inches from her body) and single jointed arms.

Whilst I would have loved a couple of extra points in the articulation, I'm surprised to find that I actually don't mind the limited number of joints here and that's thanks to the way in which the articulation and the sculpting work together. Unlike straight-limb figures (such as those seen in the new Star Wars Mission Series figures), each figure here is already posed in a fairly dynamic manner. A few twists of the – albeit limited – articulation allows you to repose each in a variety of expressive ways and it's good to see the economic way in which the designers maximized the pose potential with so few joints.

Hercules' right arm, for example, pivots laterally/in-and-out, meaning he's always brandishing his sword but this joint allows you to add different expression to that pose. Similarly Zeus' waist joint is cut at an angle, so as you twist him his ''hurling lightning bolt'' pose becomes more pronounced. Perseus' crooked arms allow for him to stand in attacking or defensive postures. And whilst I would have preferred to see Medusa's arms swivel vertically, even this lateral ''grabbing'' motion is pretty neat.
So yes, the poseability is limited. But when you watch most children play with action figures, you'll see it's only us adults who really get hung up on articulation rigs. If it's still a problem, look at them more as poseable statues than action figures and I'm sure your worries will quickly vanish, especially when you see how sturdy they are when standing unsupported.

On the whole the paint apps are pretty well done. Again, I'll look at each figure individually. And keep in mind, these are my specific figures and you may find some of these issues are limited to my toys only.

Hercules is probably the best-looking in terms of his paint app. His brown hair pops nicely, facial details are fantastically neat and his outfit's bronze and brown look works nicely. The silver plates on his sandals are a nice touch and for a figure of this scale they're well applied. Unfortunately, both he and Perseus have wrist bracers/bands that are unpainted. It would be an easy enough matter to paint them for yourself but it is a little disappointing that the paint budget didn't stretch to these pieces, too.
Perseus has a similarly neat paint app, although his darker armor does lack the punch of Hercules' brighter tones. Unlike Hercules, though, he has a dry brush app on his armor to give it a scratched, worn look that works well. Again, the face app is very good.
As I mentioned earlier, Zeus is the oddest-looking of the four (and yes, I'm saying compared to him, Medusa looks normal!) so his paintwork has a lot to make up for. Sadly, whilst the head, toga and armored boots are neatly done, the white lightning lines on his arm and leg are very patchy. As I said, this may be limited to my figure but it's frankly a bit of a mess.
Medusa has a suitably reptilian palette and some neatly applied paintwork, although it's fairly limited. Her claws are tipped with yellow (and the app is a little loose) and her face is painted the same green as her belly scales. I'd have liked to see some detail here such as white fangs but the yellow eyes are very cleanly applied indeed.
Extras and Accessories
The pack features an assortment of weapons and play accessories. As well as a Gladius-style sword for Hercules (and yes, it's his sword – the weapons only fit into specific scabbards) and an oversized Bowie knife for Perseus, the set also includes a length of chain, a shield (which can be adjusted/reangled for display purposes), a lightning bolt for Zeus and three ''Battle Tabs'' which can be slotted into their back ports and used to make each of the humanoids perform ''battle attack'' motions. Before you get too excited though, these movements are simply waist twists, assisted by the use of the Battle Tab. It's a goofy play feature I'm not sure works particularly well but I'm sure there'll be somebody who likes it.
Overall the accessories are pretty good. Like the figures themselves, the plastic is the right balance between rigid and rubbery and each fits very neatly into the figures' hands. Sadly there's no paintwork on any of these pieces (although the shield is comprised of a gold rim with silver center) but at least the color isn't something silly like pink or neon green.
The box interior tray also includes a painted ''diorama'' backdrop, which I've used in some of the above images.

Final Thoughts
I have to admit that I'd looked at the True Heroes military toys in the past but – really neat (and huge) vehicles aside – I found little to really catch my attention, so it came as a surprise to me when I found myself repeatedly looking at the Legendary Heroes sets in my local Toys R Us. And I was even more surprised when I not only bought a set but also when I got the figures home and began posing them.

The sculpt work here is superb. Each figure has a wonderfully heavy, chunky, tactile feel that makes them feel comfortable in the hand and looks great on the shelf. But what I particularly like – and I've mentioned it above repeatedly – is that this set features not just four figures but four characters. Each is created from individual pieces and it's a design decision that totally pays off. It would have been so easy to simply repaint a core body and stick on a new head but Chap Mei had the sense not to simply release a set of Generic Greek Heroes and instead give us detailed, well-realized character pieces.

Perhaps most incredible of all is that they managed to do all of this for under $10. That's right. This four-figure set retails at just $9.99. When you consider that Hasbro is charging that for a single figure and – in some cases – their articulation set-up isn't that much more complex than the rig these figures sport then you'll see why I'm so impressed with this set. They may be cheap but they're certainly not nasty.

If you're a fan of movies like Clash of the Titans (these figures remind me of Mattel's 80s tie-in line) or Jason and the Argonauts, or you just like neatly sculpted fantasy characters then you'll find a lot to love here. I'll certainly be investing in more from this line and I'm sure once you experience them for yourself, you will be too.

Awesome retro-action figures at a price you can't pass up. What's not to love?

Image Gallery


  1. Damn, those are great! I would buy that for ten bucks, absolutely

    1. Yeah, I'm certainly paying more attention to the True Heroes/Legends lines after this!

  2. Excellent review! I'll definitely be on the lookout for this set (and others) next time I'm around a Toys R Us!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it!

      The Warship is worth looking at - it's massive. It's only $50 but it must be around 2 1/2 feet long. And it comes with an octopus/baby krakken!

      I think I'll probably pick up the Orcs next though. Not sure if I want the four pack or the double rider set, as both look pretty awesome.

  3. How tall are these figures because they look really great

    1. They're around 4 1/2'' tall - about a head taller than a GI Joe. And yeah, they're very cool-looking figures!

  4. Great review. These are excellent toys. "Chaps 'R Mei" are currently having a sale on True Heroes and they also are discounting a lot of the Mythical line such as the guardian and four arm troll. I picked up a double of this set to display in box. Now I wish I still had my old Kraken from The Clash of the Titans from WAYYY back.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it! And thanks for the heads-up. I'll be sure to take a look.

      I get that same Clash of the Titans vibe from these figures, too. It's very cool!


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