Wednesday, February 25, 2015

REVIEW: Imaginext Ghost Ship

Ghost Pirates!
The Imaginext Pirate line was recently expanded to feature a new sub-theme of spooky swashbucklers in the form of Ghost Pirates. We've already seen the excellent Ghost Octopus and Pirate set but today we're taking a look at the new Ghost Ship. 

The Ghost Ship
The Ghost Ship is the second set in the Ghost Pirate line-up, being pitched squarely between the ''entry level'' Ghost Octopus and Pirate set and the slightly more expensive Ghost Pirate Island at a very reasonable $15.
As well as featuring the ghostly galleon - more on that in a minute - the pack also includes a Ghost Pirate and a phantom crab. So let's start by taking a look at them.

The Ghost Pirate (and his Crab)
The Ghost Pirate follows the template laid-down by the similar figure featured in the Ghost Octopus and Pirate set, namely that he he's cast from a sickly yellow-ish plastic and sports semi-transparent arms.
Unlike the other Pirate, he has all his limbs intact. He's also wearing gloves, which means there's not quite as much clear plastic here as I'd have liked but the color-match between it and the solid yellow plastic is pretty good. It's also worth noting that this is not an identical figure and that the body (for example) is a different sculpt. I like that, as it adds a sense of individuality to the figures.
He comes with a removable jacket and hat (both of which are combined into a single piece.) It looks really good on the figure (I love the way the collar is creatively used to connect the two pieces) but, as is always the case with such pieces, it does restrict his head movement a little.
His cutlass is also a pretty neat accessory, sporting a neat skull design at the hilt and the Imaginext ''i'' logo on the reverse. It fits nicely into his hand and is a pretty solid piece. I also like the detailing in the way the sword is nicked.
The final accessory is the Ghost Pirate's pet crab. At least I assume it's his pet. The piece is cast completely from semi-transparent plastic - the same ghostly yellow as the pirate's arms - so I assume its a phantasmal crustacean. Maybe he's out to avenge himself on fans of crab cakes...
The crab will also fit over most Imaginext figures' heads, which is a fun little play feature!

The Ghost Ship
As fun as the figures are, the real meat of the set is the Ghost Ship. And what an impressive piece it is!
OK, so it's more akin to a skiff than a full-blown ship but the design of this thing is amazing. As you can see, at its core is a dark green-black base and, around this, are a number of spectral pieces, forming the vessel itself.
The prow is formed from a pair of skeletal hands, cast in the super-spooky semi-transparent green plastic, with the rear deck sporting a skull-shaped design, topped-off with a similarly eerie rigging arrangement, upon which flies a solid black Jolly Roger flag. 
It's everything you'd expect from a pirate ghost ship, yet designed in a way that's exactly what you'd expect yet also fresh and engaging. There are so many details to catch the eye and surprise. Check out the ''rib cage'' rail at the back of the deck. So cool!
Here's some close-up detail, including the skull eye socket and the ''bone'' crossbeam on the sail.
 And here it is from another angle, just to show-off how cool this thing looks.
But it's not just about being a good-looking toy, as there are some great play features here, too, including an anchor (which can be lowered and features an anchor rope), a spinning ship's wheel, a front-firing harpoon (which is connected to the anchor rope) and, perhaps coolest of all, when you twist the pirate on the deck's action disc, not only does the harpoon launch but also...
The prow's skeletal claws open and the ship lights up! 
It's such a cool use of the clear plastic! And as you can see, it works well even in a lighted room. I'm hoping we see more of this from Imaginext - particularly in future Ghost Pirate sets. It's great how such a simple concept can be so effective and it truly seals the deal as this being a ghost ship.

Final Thoughts
I've really enjoyed the Imaginext Pirate theme's previous releases. Whilst the ''normal'' pirates are fun, I found the Steampunk themed ones added a little extra depth to the line that really ramped-up the visual design and fun factor. Now, however, my love of the Steampunk pirates has been superseded by this new sub-theme. I absolutely love these new Ghost Pirates!

As I mentioned above, the Ghost Ship is exactly what you'd expect of a ghastly galleon. And then some. The skeleton-inspired design - and the fact that the pieces are cast from clear plastic - is  a stroke of genius. I love that these pieces appear almost as apparitions around the ''core'' ship and the ghostly glow just sells it perfectly. Sculpt-wise, this is one of the best-looking things Imaginext has ever released. And then it lights up and the entire thing glows... Awesome.

From a play point of view, there's also a ton of fun to be had here. The pirate and his crab are great little figures and the ship includes plenty of features that will keep fans - young and old - entertained for an age. The combination of harpoon and grasping claws is such a fun feature that I can see kids loving it and, as an older collector, there's just something so fun about the way it all works. The fact that it then also glows is just the cherry on the top.

The Micronauts and Henshin Cyborg were some of my favorite toys as a child and I've always been a fan of clear plastic toys. Now Imaginext has taken their already great figures and vehicles and incorporated semi-transparent plastic into the designs. Not only that but - in this case - they've also added light-up features to truly showcase their phantasmal designs. And it works beautifully.

Quite possibly the best thing Imaginext has ever done. And that's saying something.

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