Before Batman, before Superman, there was The Ghost That Walks…The Phantom. Created by Lee Falk in 1936, the Phantom is one of the best known and most successful newspaper strip characters, spawning radio shows, comics, movies, and television shows over the years.
In the 1970’s, a litte company called Mego hit it big with their 8″ clothed action figures based on properties like Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, and Superheros. They didn’t make it through the turbulent early 80’s, but this series of action figures has become one of the most beloved for toy collectors today.
Now meet Cast-A-Way Toys, who have brought Mego’s back in their own way. They are producing a range of characters in the same format, done in a similar simplistic style, to complement your Mego collection. They’ve added a new character to your Mego shelf with the release of the Phantom, and his arch enemy Achmed.
But this review isn’t about the Phantom or Achmed (although you can see a review of the Gray Ghost variant of the Phantom at my other site), but rather a diorama they’ve produced as a complimentary piece to the figure: the Skull Throne, which he sat on out in the Skull Cave.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit my site at Michael’s Review of the Week - Captain Toy.
The Skull Throne for the Phantom
As I mentioned, the Phantom figures are in an 8″ scale, and the throne is designed to work best with that scale. I’ve included some photos with other figures as well, so you can get an idea of how it might work, but I’m using the Cast-A-Way Toys Phantom figure (both purple and gray) in most of the photos.
This throne was originally available at the FX Show in Florida, but it’s still available through their collector’s club. More on that in the Where to Buy section.
Packaging - Bupkis
I actually got two of the thrones, one for the purple suit Phantom, and one for the gray suit Phantom, so they could be on display at the same time. Both of them came wrapped in bubble wrap inside a larger box, but with no packaging of their own. Not sure if that was the case at the FX Show, but I will say that it resulted in both of them having some minor damage to the resin part of the base. A couple of the small ‘coals’ were chipped on one of them, and the other had a crack along the edge. Both of these problems were fixed with some simple Crazy Glue, but something a bit more sturdy for shipping would have been nice. That’s particularly true considering how crazy cool the packages are for the 8″ figures themselves.
Sculpting - ***1/2
You won’t be able to tell at first from the photos (or in person), but the throne itself and the base with urns (or ‘braziers’) are made from two very different materials.
The ground base with the two braziers is made from a poly resin, much like the usual mini-bust or statue. You’ll want to handle it with care, since damage is possible. The underside of this base is coated with a thin felt material to help avoid damage to it, or to whatever surface it may sit upon.
This material holds a very sharp, detailed sculpt. The rocky cave ground looks great, and the roughly hewn braziers with their skulls around the base are extremely realistic. The coals and embers on the top of the braziers look good too, even with a haphazard paint job. In fact, it’s that rather haphazard work that gives the overall piece it’s feeling of realism, as if it were truly carved by native tools right out of the cave floor.
The throne itself is made from a soft polyurethane, that you can throw against the wall and it will bounce right off! Unless you let your dog chew on it, it’s pretty much impossible to damage easily, and that means you won’t have to worry about paint rubs, or chipping the seat when you’re moving the figure around on it.
The seat can also be removed from the rock floor and used on it’s own, which might be a viable option if you’re looking to use it with a larger figure, say 12″ tall. I’ve included a couple shots with other characters to show the scale. First up is the Masters of the Universe Classics Skeletor:
And here’s a 12″ Sideshow figure for comparison:
The detail work on the overall diorama is quite amazing, especially considering the different materials. I’m quite impressed by how rock-like the throne is, and how much detail the soft, squishy foam can hold.
The throne clearly belongs to the Phantom, since at his right side is the skull symbol (the same as the skull symbol on his right ring), and at his left side are the four sabers (also the same as his left ring). The symbols can work with other characters too, as long as nobody is paying too much attention.
Paint - ***1/2
The key feature of the paint work is to make the stone sculpt all the more stone like, and in this it succeeds quite well. The trick is the heavy wash, which highlights the details, adds shadowing and depth, and gives it an overall dirty appearance.
The coals are painted as well, but with a very rough, slapdash style, which gives them a chaotic look. Again, you might think this would look sloppy, but instead adds to the realistic appearance. Fire and coal are not neatly colored but ever changing, and the sloppy look works great in conveying the feel of glowing embers.
Design/Quality - ***1/2
Considering the size of the company, I’m very impressed with the quality of this diorama. I really wasn’t expecting the soft foam for the chair, and yet I think it was an excellent idea. It certainly looks as good as actual polystone or polyresin, yet is practically imprevious to damage and a whole lot lighter weight. I’d love to see this used for other diorama pieces from other companies in the future, particularly in sixth scale.
Value - **1/2
This diorama ran $75 at the show, or through the Cast-A-Way Club. It’s fairly large, and with the more limited exclusivity, the price/value is about average.
Things to Watch Out For -
Be careful handling the embers and coals. I noticed that breaking them off is fairly easy to do if you’re not careful. Other than that, you should be good to go!
Overall - ***1/2
While this throne/base is designed specifically for the Phantom, it does have other potential uses. I think that it fits in pretty well with the MOTUC line (although they don’t sit quite as well as the Phantom does due to their slightly more limited hips), and certain Medicom lines might be able to use it as well. Hmmm…maybe even the Mezco Hellboy line…I’ll have to give that a try too.
If you have picked up one of the Cast-A-Way Phantom figures, or even are a regular collector of other Mego lines, this throne will fit in perfectly. Dioramas this nice don’t come along very often, but when they do, it’s always appreciated!
Packaging - Bupkis
Sculpt - ***1/2
Paint - ***1/2
Design Quality - ***1/2
Value - **1/2
Overall - ***1/2
Where to Buy -
This was an exclusive at the FX show where it was $75, but you can also purchase one by becoming a member of the Cast-A-Way Club. The $25 fee will get you access to all their exclusives during the year.
You can always hit ebay too, looking for a deal.
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