Big Trouble In Retro China

By bill - March 20, 2015

ReAction-Big-Trouble-featFunko delivers a fun set of toys based on John Carpenter’s Big Trouble In Little China.

The ReAction collection isn’t losing any steam in 2015, and the first new line for the year is here.  Based on John Carpenter’s cult classic, the Big Trouble In Little China series features six figures from the movie, all realized in the vintage Kenner action figure aesthetic.  While the quality of the figures ranges from fantastic to kind of disappointing, the overall effect of seeing these characters all together in toy form is, admittedly, totally awesome.

What we get in this set are most of the main characters– Jack Burton, Gracie Law, Lo Pan and the three storms, Thunder, Lightning and Rain.  It’s a good mix of characters, though it’s still a total bummer to not get Wang as well.  And the subway creature would have been great, especially since the best ReAction figures have tended to be the non-human ones.

But let’s not get lost in hypotheticals… what we do get is a pretty good mix of characters.  The best of the bunch if definitely Lo Pan, the evil wizard who serves as our main villain.  This guy features a great all new sculpt with his long black robes, fully sculpted embroidery on his shoulders, and his ornate headdress which shows off a surprising amount of detail.  Lo Pan even features his gold claw-shaped pinky rings, which was a nice touch to add.

ReAction Big Trouble 021I think Lo Pan is the perfect example of how to do a retro figure right.  The detail on him is intricate enough to quiet most any naysayers, and the overall design of the figure feels genuinely retro.  I’ll admit some ReAction figures simply felt like intentionally bad renditions of a character, but this guy has the perfect look and feel of an early 80s Kenner release.  Packing him with his eyeball creature makes Lo Pan one of the coolest and best ReAction figures ever.

So Lo Pan is the best in this set, but that doesn’t mean he’s the only good figure.  Gracie is also quite excellent.  I love that her ReAction figure features her in her wedding dress from the finale of the movie, because this feels totally authentic to the Kenner toy aesthetic.  This outfit is worn for only a short time, and serves no purpose outside of that context… but it is the most eye catching look Gracie wears, hence it’s the most “toyetic.”

The costume choice is perfect and Gracie gets a very good all new sculpt.  Kim Cattrall’s likeness doesn’t quite come through the face sculpt, but it is a huge step up from the strangely pinched female faces we saw in many earlier ReAction figures.  And Gracie’s removable headdress fits her very well, offering two unique looks for the figure.

When I first saw Big Trouble as a kid, I was obsessed with the storms.  These guys were total badasses, they had sick powers, awesome fight sequences, and super fun on screen death scenes.  What’s not to love??  All three figures feature new sculpts, which do a good job of capturing the warriors’ respective billowing robes and demon-decorated armor.  While Thunder, Lightning and Rain each has a unique look and feel, their capes and rice hats tie them together nicely as a team.  Each storm also includes his signature weapons, which fit well in their hands.

ReAction Big Trouble 036

Rounding out the set is our hero, Kurt Russell’s idiot tough guy Jack Burton.  I love Jack as a lead (he and Bruce Campbell’s Ash are my absolute favorite dumb guy action heroes of all time), so I had high hopes for him as a retro action figure.  Sadly, he is absolutely the weak link of this series.  Jack suffers from the same design flaws which have sunk previous ReAction figures– namely, a grossly oversized head and a weirdly flat torso.  This hurts the figure, as does the poor likeness, which looks nothing like Kurt Russell to me.  If not for his iconic t-shirt, I honestly would not be able to recognize this figure outside of his packaging.  The strangest thing about this is Funko and Super7 already did a Kurt Russell figure last year (Snake Plissken), whose likeness was much better.  Yes, that figure was totally simple in his design… but the actor’s portrait still came through.

Jack isn’t all bad, though.  I do appreciate that he features more sculpted detail than we’ve seen in past ReAction figures; it’s a trend I definitely like.  The muscles on his arms and chest are well defined, and even the flow of Jack’s mighty hair has just the right amount of texture while remaining squarely in the retro aesthetic.  Jack packs a gun and knife, and he can hold both well, and even if he’s not great on his own, he fits in nicely with the far superior other figures in the set, thanks to their good sense of scale.

I LOVE Big Trouble In Little China, so I’m trying very hard to be impartial here and not judge these figures through rose colored glasses due to my love of the source material.  But I do truly believe that these figures are showing a definite growth in quality for Funko.  Gone are the simple, overly flat areas of a sculpt where absolutely nothing happens.  Mostly gone are the disproportionate heads and flat bodies and problematic inter-figure scale issues.  These flaws have been replaced with more detailed sculpts and improved proportions and scale.  Funko and Super7 are figuring out how to make these toys a little more stylistically intricate, while retaining that Kenner inspired retro feel… and the Big Trouble In Little China series is a great example of the progress they’re making.

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