Tuesday, February 24, 2015

REVIEW: Magic: The Gathering Ajani Goldmane

Funko's Magic: The Gathering Legacy Series
As you may recall, last week I took a look at the Magic: The Gathering Chandra Nalaar figure from Funko's Legacy series. And whilst the figure had potential, you may also recall I was disappointed with just how poor the design (and execution of said design) was, with two pieces dropping off my figure within a day of owning it. You'd think that experience would be enough to put me off the Funko Legacy figures for good but, as it's only fair, I decided to give the line a second chance (and the fact that this Ajani Goldmane figure was also marked-down to $8 didn't hurt) - but has my faith in Funko been restored, or is this another deeply-flawed figure?

Read on and find out...!

Before proceeding to the Review proper, I want to take a moment to comment (again) on the packaging of this figure. Yes, Ajani Goldmane comes in the same, bland, white packaging as Chandra Nalaar (and the artwork shows him in a lore-friendly white cloak rather than his aquamarine one) but this time, that's not my complaint. You see, my Ajani Goldmane was packed into his restraining case so badly that I initially thought there'd been a mix-up in the packing department and he'd shipped in the wrong tray. He hadn't. The figure's head and shoulders were not ''pressed'' into his restraining tray, his sword accessory was sliding around inside the box and the top of this case was dented in.

How it got into this state, I don't know but the external packaging was completely undamaged - so in other words, the damage to the internal packaging was inflicted before the box was sealed...

Ajani Goldmane
Ajani Goldmane is described as a magician who works with ''White Magic,'' that is, magic of the soul and of healing. His appearance certainly implies he's some kind of folk magician/shaman, although that could also be a hangover from the tribal nature of his people. Overall it's a neat look that allows the designers to both highlight his animal nature but also include a few neat ''layer'' pieces to add some extra visual texture and depth to the figure's appearance and there's certainly some great up-close detail here, with an assortment of straps, harnesses and buckles all being nicely rendered.

Although he's listed as being around 6'' tall, he's actually somewhat larger than that. And that's without extending his ''animal'' legs to gain any extra height (which, at full extension, add about another inch, although they do look unnatural in that position.) I like that the character isn't just a human with an animal head and that his race's physical differences are reflected in his sculpt.
Unlike the Chandra Nalaar figure, the ''layer'' pieces are placed in a way that is, on the whole, pretty successful (although his sword scabbard does feel a little precariously attached.) There's a more solid feel to Ajani Goldmane (not only due to his larger size and bulk) and the pieces that are here don't get in the way too much. Obviously, the cloak slung over his right shoulder impacts upon the movement of his right arm and it, along with his left shoulder-plate, make it virtually impossible to move his head but at least these pieces don't feel as if they're seconds away from dropping off.

With that said... Within about 10 minutes of taking Ajani Goldmane from his packaging and posing him, he broke apart at the torso. Seriously. His lower body just dropped off, leaving me holding his upper torso and arms. Thankfully the two pieces reconnect with ease (just not in any kind of ''click'' together way to ensure they stay together) but picking him up by his upper body or head often results in this same experience. And, as it's a joint, I can't exactly glue the pieces together...
Thankfully this was the only ''breakage'' I experienced with the figure's articulation and, on the whole, the joints are pretty good. Some are a little stiff at first (and you will feel as if you're about to either free the joint or snap a piece off...) but once they've been given a little work-out you'll find they hold a pose well and - as I mentioned above - his ''layer'' accessories don't get in the way too much.

The articulation rig itself is very good and certainly allows for a wide range of movement and pose options. He's certainly more pose-able than Chandra Nalaar (due to him not wearing such inhibiting armor/costume pieces), which is certainly good to see. 

He is, however, a little unstable on his feet and is really crying out for rocker ankle joints. His large paws can be great at keeping him upright in some poses but in others their weight - and the position of the joint being so far from the base of the leg - works against the balance of the figure and getting him to stand upright can be a frustrating exercise. Thankfully his staff (see below) can act as a ''third leg'' in some poses, or in others as a counter-balance, which allows for some pretty impressive poses. He's really a figure that could use a stand or base to help make him more stable, especially as his great-but-weird ''animal'' leg articulation - and center of balance - takes some getting used to.
Paint wise, Ajani Goldmane veers from great to terrible, with his accessories, clothing, armor and weapons all having some great little details (that are very cleanly applied on the whole) but when it comes to Ajani Goldmane himself, then the app leaves a lot to be desired. His tail, mane, teeth, fur and body are all cast from the exact same shade of white, which normally would be a good sign of continuity but here it just makes him look flat. A dark wash to accentuate the sculpt or some fur detail in his mane or yellowing of his teeth would be a massive improvement, as right now everything just runs into one. There are also a few splashes and splodges of aquamarine and brown from his clothing/armor on his limbs, which is kind of sloppy. And then there's tampo transfer detail on his face, which is almost cartoonish, being too ''clean'' and graphic for a figure with so lifelike or realistic a sculpt. 
Ajani Goldmane comes with two accessories: a double-bladed staff and a curved sword. The former is a pretty neat accessory although the sculpt detail is a little unfocused. Both ax-heads sport a roaring lion design but it's quite muddy and difficult to really distinguish (and I don't buy that it's due to his tribe's primitive weapon smithing techniques...) The curved blade is a neat-looking piece (and he sports a sheath upon his belt into which the weapon can be slid) but I found it utterly useless as a weapon, due to the fact that his right hand - with which I assume the weapon is intended to be gripped - doesn't open enough to allow it to fit in and his left hand is cast in a wide position to accommodate the staff. Again, it's a case of a nice idea suffering from terrible execution.
Both weapons feature pretty decent paint apps, which do a reasonable job of selling the double-headed staff's history (in the character's lore, his weapon is forged by combining his weapon with that of his deceased brother) and the silver/gold add a nice little pop of color that ties in well with his shoulder-plate.

Final Thoughts
There are a lot of problems with Ajani Goldmane. His paint app is uninspired, a few of his layer pieces inhibit his articulation (although thankfully they're at least solid and don't feel like they're going to pop off), he can't hold his sword accessory, his scabbard feels very tacked-on (and I'm amazed it hasn't come away yet), my figure was, apparently, packaged by somebody wearing boxing gloves and - worst of all - my figure's torso joint comes apart.

And yet, for all these problems, this is actually a pretty good-looking figure - certainly the best-looking, in my opinion, of all the figures in the Magic: The Gathering Legacy line-up. It may not be perfect but in terms of design and execution, Ajani Goldmane is in a different league to Chandra Nalaar. I'll admit, that's not really saying much but if the Legacy line-up was more like this and less like the rebuild-your-own-figure Chandra Nalaar, then I'd be more interested in seeing what else the range has to offer.

That's not to say I've been totally converted to their cause. No figure - no matter how many times it's billed as being ''not for children'' or pitched as ''for Adult Collectors'' - should break in two pieces under the most gentle of handling. It's not like I was playing ''let's see if he can survive being thrown down the stairs'' when the figure came apart and, as I've mentioned in the past, I'm always cautious when it comes to handling my figures. The cram-him-into-the-box packaging is also unacceptable, especially as there are collectors who like to keep their stuff mint in box. Considering this figure retails at over $20, I'd expect at least a modicum of quality assurance.

With all that said, though, there's no denying that Ajani Goldmane is an impressive-looking piece. Sure, when you look closer you'll see the imperfections (and lack of detail) in his paint app, the layer pieces may stop him being quite as pose-able as you'd like him to be and his sword accessory is purely for show but these are things you can come to accept, given enough time. 

I'm happy with my figure, despite the issues I've had to work around or learn to live with, but that's probably because I only paid $8 for him (courtesy of Target's clearance sale.) Had I paid the $20+ asking price the figure usually retails for, then I'm sure I'd feel very different about the whole experience and until Funko sort out their quality control issues and build quality, I still can't recommend them - at least at full price.

A good, albeit flawed, figure - if you can find him on clearance. 

Image Gallery

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...