Yodasnews Review: “Mighty Muggs” (Wave 1 Assortment)
Review and Photography by Jeffrey A. Gouse (SithLord0498)
Review Date: March 26. 2008
At first glance, Hasbro’s new “Mighty Muggs” brand may seem like just another kid-friendly line that may or may not have a chance at success. However, this is not the case. The Mighty Muggs represent Hasbro’s attempt to merge the Star Wars universe (and collectors’ dollars) with the ever-expanding Urban Vinyl/Art Toy movement.
Trying to get a handle on what exactly that movement is has been difficult because there appear to be many different forms that fall under the general umbrella. The closest counterpart to the Mighty Muggs appears to be the Dunny figure, which starts its life as a uniform body. Various designers and artists then paint their own vision onto the template as though it were a blank canvas. The resulting creations are then produced in small quantities and sold to collectors. The following link provides many examples of these figures.
As you can see, these look very similar to Mighty Muggs.
OK, end of modern history lesson. Let’s move on and examine the entire inaugural assortment in the Mighty Muggs line.
Common Characteristics of Mighty Muggs
As with the Dunny figures, all Muggs share the same basic body type with three points of articulation: swivel head and arms. A major upside to this uniformity is that, for once, each figure’s accessory is guaranteed to fit snugly in either hand. All too often, the basic action figure line relies on using clear rubber bands to keep the accessory in place. Not here.
Also because of this standard template, the paint applications are the only way to differentiate each figure (except Darth Vader with his helmet). Therefore, paint quality is also the “make or break” point for each figure. For the most part, the Muggs excel in this area. However, both the paint and plastic are easily scuffed and/or chipped, so a decent amount of care is required when handling these figures.
With those general observations in place, we can move on to the individual figures in the first wave of Mighty Muggs…
Chewbacca - Excellent
Chewbacca is, by far, the “cutesy-est” figure in the first wave, which really shouldn’t come as any major surprise. It also sports the simplest paint applications with each line being crisp and precise. The only trace of fuzziness is in the transition between browns on the “fur”, but even then there are only a handful of barely-perceptible blemishes. The design of Chewbacca’s bowcaster, the figure’s lone accessory, has undergone a simplification process that streamlines the design into a basic form that still retains distinctive features. In this case, those features would be the scope and crossbow design.
What is most interesting is the way Hasbro’s designers created the sense of a larger scale through a simple optical illusion. Chewbacca is a towering character, but all Muggs have the same base body. So how does one make this particular figure look more massive? Shrink the facial features. When compared to other figures in this wave, Chewbacca’s eyes, nose, and mouth are comparative smaller. This, in turn, creates more blank space on the head, making it appear larger. It’s a very clever and effective technique.
Han Solo - Excellent
Whereas Chewbacca had the most flawless paint applications in this wave, Han has the best face because of the authentic characterization. With minimal work, the designers firmly encapsulated the sardonic attitude of Captain Solo by including Harrison Ford’s signature look—the crooked smile.
Other elements of the figure work well too. The red Corellian blood stripe on Solo’s pants is a very vibrant red. Paint lines are crisp, and bleeding is virtually non-existent. Han’s signature blaster shares the simplification process used with Chewbacca’s bowcaster, and the result is just as effective. The last notable feature is the inclusion of a single curly chest hair painted on the body. Not only does it add to the rugged characterization of Episode IV-era Han, but it is quite possibly the first time that particular element has been included on a Hasbro Han Solo product.
Boba Fett – Above Average (Bordering on “Average”)
This is where the first wave starts hitting bumps along the road. The most glaring problem with Fett is that he is the only figure in this assortment to have no accessory (unless you count the permanently attached jetpack). That’s right. The bounty hunter’s signature blaster is not included. I suppose this version of Fett subdues his prey with harsh language. The paint lines on this figure are quite often fuzzy and/or crooked, which isn’t too surprising considering the level of complexity is higher with this design. Still, paint applications are critical in this style, and the Fett figure fails to deliver as well as it could have.
That is not to say Fett has nothing good about it. There are many features that turned out looking very good. First, both of Fett’s iconic insignias have been included in simplified forms, and their paint lines are very clean and crisp. The Bantha Skull on his shoulder is actually near-flawless. Also, the colors contrast superbly with each other, and the reflective quality of the silver paint effectively simulates metal. Lastly, the designers included two small conjoined silver circles to replicate the dent on Fett’s helmet, proving that they pay attention to the little details found on the source material.
Stormtrooper – Average
The best aspect of the Stormtrooper Mugg is that it utilizes a simplistic method of painting to simulate the three-dimensional effects that armor would create. Hasbro’s designers forged the body in white to create the overall base color and then used tan paint applications to create the look and location of drop shadows that raised armor would leave. Unfortunately, the rest of the body armor is not nearly as good. Like Fett, the paint boundaries are very soft and fuzzy—only more distractingly so here. Additionally, the light coloring of the Stormtrooper means it’s most vulnerable figure to noticeable scuffing as you can see in the picture below. The bright side is that the helmet, for all its complex patterns, is crisp, clear, and exemplifies the standard for this type of product. Shame that the rest of the figure didn’t follow suit.
Darth Maul – Excellent (Bordering on “Above Average”)
After two disappointing figures, things take a turn for the better once more. Darth Maul sports the most intricate and best paint applications in the entire assortment. The standout features here are the clear and mostly symmetrical facial tattoos (always a challenge for painters) and the dual starburst pattern used to simulate very complex Sith eyes. Additionally, the dark lines differentiating the multiple layers of Maul’s clothing are crisp and uniform as well, effectively emulating depth on a two-dimensional canvas. The most noticeable flaw (and one for which we don’t have a good picture) is that the cummerbund is noticeably off-center. Beyond that, there are small nitpicks such as asymmetrical horns, a lazy eye appearance due to inconsistent placement of the white eye-dots, and crooked lightsaber blades. Overall, however, Maul is solid figure with enough impressive features to overshadow the negatives.
Darth Vader – Above Average
Darth Vader has the distinction of being the only Mugg in the first wave that deviates from the standard appearance because of the cape and helmet cap, which are both cast in hard plastic and removable. In fact, the helmet cap works in conjunction with the white eye-dot paint application to create two expressions. The first is a sinister shifted-eye expression when the helmet is in place. Without the helmet, Vader has a more wide-eyed and innocent expression. Both can be seen in the picture below.
The mask and body suit lines flow naturally and are predominantly evenly-spaced, and the circles on Vader’s belt-mounted control boxes are done to almost machine precision. However, there are some flaws. On the figure itself, several rectangles in the chest panel are askew. On basic figures, this wouldn’t be easily perceived, but the simplified nature of the Mighty Mugg design makes it quite noticeable. This further highlights the importance of needing impeccable paint applications with these figures. The other flaw is the lightsaber. The blade is crooked like Maul’s saber, but the paint lines are also very sloppy, making it an overall disappointing accessory.
While these may only cater to niche markets of collectors (Star Wars and non-SW alike), there is no doubting the creativity and overall quality of this new product line. Certainly, there are some drawbacks. One is the general fragility of both paint and plastic, but that is a factor that may be remedied over time. Until then, take extra care with these figures. Another shortcoming is that Hasbro needs consistency with accessories. Either include something with every figure or drop accessories altogether. Also, collecting the entire line can get pricey with an average retail price of $10 each. Regardless, these are an interesting addition to the Star Wars merchandising universe, and it will be interesting to see how some characters are handled in the future (Jabba the Hutt, anyone??).