V.I.N.CENT (SDCC 2009 Distressed Edition)
Review by Atom
From what I remember as a child of the '70s (and now as an adult collector today) is that the soft vinyl toy was meant as an inexpensive impulse buy. They would come in a plastic bag with a simple cardboard header card and be cheap good Kaju (in most cases) fun. 30 years later it's evolved into quite the collecting scene. While I “get” the newer renditions of Kaiju monsters in glow and clear styles, this emerging “Art Toy Collectible” thing on the other hand just baffles me. So color me surprised (and interested) when MINDstyle started showing off their prototype of V.I.N.CENT from Disney's film The Black Hole and saying that 300 would be available at San Diego Comic-Con 2009.
I love V.I.N.CENT. and the film The Black Hole. I currently had nothing from the film in my collection and wanted an almost 9-inch tall version on my shelf, but the price... $130 dollars. Yikes! For that kind of money, I am used to getting diecast metal and firing fists but friends that are more involved with this kind of collectible assured me that it had some quality paint applications and would be worth the cash. Besides who is doing anything from The Black Hole these days? Nobody. So I figured I would “know” if I wanted it when/if I saw it at SDCC09. So on Preview Night I did find myself passing MINDstyle's booth and there he was looking awfully spectacular but I just couldn't justify spending the money...
Well in the 11th hour on the last day of the Con, Shogunnadia and Shogundan surprised me with the gift of V.I.N.CENT.
The Black Hole is one of those films that made a huge impact on me as a kid and as an adult I think a) the film still holds up pretty well after all of these years and b) completely floors me that it ever got made. It starts as a Star Wars family adventure and ends as abstractly as Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.
It's the story of the crew of the space explorer Palomino as it discovers the science vessel Cygnus (reported missing many years earlier) floating on the edge of a Black Hole and their adventure dealing with the Madman/Genius Dr. Hans Reinhart as he plans to take them into the black hole. I am oversimplifying the plot a bit and not doing the film real justice. It's a dark, moody and intellectual film that touches on some great sci-fi and philosophical tenants. Honestly, it is very un-Disney-like and it may not be everyone's cup of tea. If you haven't seen it you should at least once.
V.I.N.CENT. was R2-D2 and C-3P0 rolled into one and voiced by the talented and often underrated Roddy McDowall. All the robots in the film are aesthetically well designed and characteristically memorable. While most seem to consider the evil Dr. Hans Reinhart's Maximilian their favorite from the series, I was always more of a V.I.N.CENT. guy myself.
MINDstyle went with a vintage style package to accentuate the 30 year anniversary of the movie. It's a thick die-cut box with a lid that wraps around the box and a magnetic clasp to keep it closed up. It's a very nice package really but can't help but wonder if they couldn't have saved everyone 30 bucks on the price by just sticking it in a bag with a header card... but then I guess it wouldn't be an “Art Toy Collectible” then would it? Oh well, the fancy box goes in the closet with the rest...
Inside, V.I.N.CENT. is wrapped in a plastic bag (like all classic sofubi) and a card from MINDstyle telling me this was number 56/300 in the SDCC09 “distressed edition” run. In the bag is also a small stump or “third-leg”, if you will, to brace the figure upright. He stands 8 1/2 inches tall and is almost as wide.
The first thing I notice is just how big and heavy it is. For vinyl, it sure has some weight to it and can confirm that it indeed hurts when it falls forward off your computer shelf and lands on your head.
Initially, the paint detail is fantastic. All the hand-done application (75 different hits of paint to be exact according to MINDstyle's blog) is more than excellent but the pad printing on mine is noticeably screwed up. And not just in a little way...
Right on the front of the main body it looks like the pad “slipped” for the designation number markings or they put the piece in the bag before it was dry. I'm thinking the first really. How does someone not catch this while is going through the painting process?
The rest is all good. The sculpt detail is phenomenal and looks exactly like V.I.N.CENT from the movie.
Sadly he does NOTHING. The head doesn't turn, raise or lower. The “legs” or anti-gravity generators do not extend and neither do his laser guns or claws. I guess action features and articulation aren't really expected on a piece like this.
For all their lip service to these being “art” and “collectible”, I find it hard to believe that nobody from MINDstyle noticed such an obvious printing error. So whether no one was really paying any attention or they did see it and figured it was good enough, I ended up with a less than perfect piece. If your only making 300 in the run, is it really asking to much to not get a screwed up one? It just seems to reinforce my take on the whole “designer/vinyl scene” and leaves a bad taste in my mouth... “You'll take what we sell you and like it!”
With that said, I do love having an almost 9-inch tall likeness of one of my favorite robots of my childhood added to the shelves. A regular edition appears to be due in September for the low, low price of $149.99. I'm really not convinced it's worth that asking price.
Comments27 comments posted
BUMMER about the poor printing, Atom. One a run this small (and this pricey), there isn't any excuse for that. :-(
Ironically, I was just offered one of these last night, after asking around about it (I'm a huge fan of Vincent's design). So it's been on my mind.
1) The head does turn. It might require a tiny bit of force (and I don't know what it will do the paint, if anything). But I've seen others turn the head with no problems.
2) What is this "regular edition" you mentioned? I was going to ask if you actually meant the "Tron" version they are selling at D23, but I see they've slipped a pic of a regular-colored Vincent on their homepage. No details to be had, though. The SDCC version looks pretty clean, so I wonder where the "distressed" comes from...?
Thanks for the pics!
It's really a beautiful piece and a classic design. While the actual robot in the movie isn't terribly well articulated, I can't see how a swiveling neck would be unworkable here.
While I can appreciate vinyl toys as objects, I can't get over the non-toyness of them. Even a ridiculous, maddening, kibbly adult chogokin (re: the review directly below this) DOES things.
I'm glad you reviewed this. I really dug the advance photos, and any new Black Hole product is worth a look.
The messed up paint is left like that because the target audience for designer vinyl doesn't really give a s**t. They buy it to get cool points with their frenemies.
The problem I have with "designer toys" is that the paint application is so much of it's value. You can't actually play with it if you're afraid it might get scratched!
Then again, I guess you aren't supposed to play with these.
The head turns, it's most likely the paint sticking.
The "Distressed" edition actually refers to the box, if you look at the box again, it's been artificially worn to appear old. The edges in particular are white like an old box that's been kicking around for 30 years.
I'm surprised they couldn't get the head to collapse and extend as well, but again it's "art", and the head turning is probably only there because of how it was constructed.
As for the printing, mine isn't as bad, but the text on his drill door was right on the edge, with the text just at the bottom.
It's pretty crappy that in a 300 piece run they can't keep the QC up. With so few it's reasonable to assume they'd take a bad one and re-paint it. I'm guessing they were pressed for time since this was a limited run for a convention exclusive, and just didn't have a window to re-run the "off" pieces. I'm sure there are probably a few people that will never remove it from the box, unaware if it has some sloppy paint.
Mine was #279, so I barely made it. And even then it was thanks to an awesome dude that picked it up for me.
As for the price, it's like anything else, it comes down to how much it's worth to you. For years I thought I was the only person to remember the movie, let alone to actually like it. I saw it in a theater in Hollywood with my folks, back when some films had actual overtures before the movie started, and it made a huge impression on me. I had already seen Star Wars the same way two years prior, but something about the darkness of the story made it much more memorable.
V.I.N.CENT is far more important to me than R2-D2, even when I was 5, so having a nice representation of the character is worth the money. Even if it's made by some pretentious douchebag art haus outfit. I'm no fan of expensive vinyl as "art", but I'll bite my tongue for this and any possibility of an "Old B.O.B.".
Man, I too was very tempted when I had an opportunity to pick one up from SDCC. But it looks like I made a good choice in staying away. It's beautiful piece no doubt, and the size makes it that much more impressive and I LOVE that movie and VINCENT. But the detail flaws (glaring for such a high end piece)and the fact it's not really a toy doesn't quite do it for me. Especially when you can get something much cheaper like Onell's Armodoc that's meant to be played with but is "arty" and creative at the same time.
Oh...and HEY THERE JAPE!!!! *waves*
^^ H-Man??? ^^
Well, either way, hello, Jape! Nice to see ya in these parts!
Oh, and kidnicky, ick-snay on the it-shay, o-k?
So, back to this toy...kinda crappy value, huh? Only for the diehard fans, I guess. Here's the thing about designer vinyl: you have to pay close attention to who makes it. MINDstyle is known for substandard-quality Chinese vinyl made in large numbers. Now, that's not bad in and of itself. Afterall, toys some of us around here like, such as Onell's Glyos figures, are also mass-produced in Chinese.
The thing is, even Glyos' new vinyl figure, the Armodoc, costs...what?...$20? I'll bet the unit cost on this V.I.N.Cent is in the neighborhood of $15-20, tops...to charge $130 is assinine. Then again, a large portion of that cost may go into licensing...so it may be a tough call.
Anyway, this is generally what I dislike about designer vinyl. It's more the name or "the scene" than it is about the toy. Also, whether the toy is made in Japan or China has a HUGE impact on the final quality of the piece. If this had been made in Japan, the unit cost would probably be triple. But then...it would've come out perfect.
The blurry decal is probably the result of a freshly cleaned pad that still had solvent on it, which thinned the ink and left it runny. The decal with the double exposure is the result of the previous toy being printed in an incorrect location. The faint imprint above the normal looking one is known as "pick-up" and results from the pad not being cleaned before proceeding with production. Since it appears that these decals are printed on top of additional paint detail, it's likely that it would have been too time consuming/ expensive to fix. Thus we can arrive at two conclusions concerning this toy: 1) there are at least three other misprints, and 2) they are very serious about limiting production to three hundred, and had no test shots or replacements. That seems kind of stupid, but might speak to their idea of integrity.
If the regular version appears with the same aps, then its time to call foul. If it's different somehow, hey, you still have a unique collectible. I think the likelihood is that MINDstyle farmed out the pad printing and got shafted themselves and passed that on to you :) If this company usually produces "Art Toys" (where it's okay to suck) I might cut them some slack for taking on a real chore like V.I.N.CENT.
I loved the movie as a kid....still do, too. this sculpt looks great, too bad about the paint, though. for $130, that shouldn't be like that.
it's funny...when it comes to designer collectible toys, I like the idea of it more than the actual toys themselves. I'm just not into where the people that seem to be at the helm of that genre are taking it. so much of it looks the same, and like the other comments have mentioned, where's the playability? how are some of these things "toys"? too many of these things are just statues. and if they're statues, they don't need to be in vinyl. Vinyl was used initially because it was durable...soft-yet-hard...and cheap. Now it's anything but. Vinyl has now become synonymous with big bucks and endless repetition. too bad.
again, great sculpt, bummer about the paint. (and price)
Hi, Sanjeev and Harv! ^_^
Sanjeev tried to educate me about vinyl back in ancient times, when I mentioned that I "just didn't get it" when it came to all the boutique stuff. I mean, TINY vinyl statues have been easily going for $50, $80, $100+ for years now. And most of them were fug-tacular to my unappreciative eye.
Due to it's size and number of paint apps, I have an easier time accepting the Mindstyle offering. It still hurts, but it seems a far better value than tiny, acid-trip-inspired vinyls that cost $80 and probably cost $2 to make.
Plus, there's the rarity factor, and that's the huge unknown right now. The fact of the matter is there are NO Vincent's out there this size. All we have are tiny action figures, a Kubrick, and a magnetic Mego. And all go for HUGE bucks...assuming you can even find them. As long as Mindstyle doesn't plan on churning these out ad nauseum, the price makes it relatively cheap compared to the $100-200 you'll spend on the other toys I mentioned.
And its not like "The Black Hole" is getting *more* popular as time goes on. The odds of getting a better Vincent get slimmer by the day. :-/
(Oh, and if the "distressed edition" truly only refers to the box, that is great news!)
I assumed the regular edition would include the box...but the box would appear "new" and "clean" rather than "distressed". ^_^
I shot an e-mail to Mindstyle to ask about both (if a standard edition was being made and if the figure would look different). But they are slow to answer. I'll share here when/if they reply.
Mindstyle's PR rep, Emi Uchiki, was kind enough to reply to my e-mail. I basically asked if a "standard" version would be produced and offered at D-23, and what the difference would be between that and the "distressed" version.
So it looks like a "standard" edition is a definite maybe at this point in time. LOL. And her description of the "distressed" edition does sound like its mainly about the weathered box. Good to know. I don't think I'd like a "factory-fresh" Vincent (lord knows it didn't look good on the WALL-E toys, ha).
Hiya! (yes, Sanjeev...it's H-man).
There's no doubt that this piece will be highly collectible and gain some secondary market value just because the Black Hole property doesn't have much to offer as far as VINCENT stuff (the little action figure, and a model right?). Take away the scrutiny that we're giving it and it's an undeniably gorgeous and attention getting piece for Black Hole and scifi movie fans.
Is it true that Mego passed on the Star Wars rights because they had the rights to this goldmine? Or is that just urban legend?
I've never seen the movie. Would I like it as an adult seeing it for the first time,or do you guys just like it out of nolstalgia?
would kill a for a diecast and functional version, this version to me is just a mocking tease of what could be...
Great piece here.
Yessiree, an SOC VINCENT would KILL!
kidnicky, YES, the Black Hole is a pretty good movie, even now. Disney put quite the effort into great effects back then, and the story is solid too. Crazy weird ending too, ....not telling. I just rewatched it a month or so ago, after finding an nice old paperback copy of the original novel adaptation in an antique shop. Rekindled the memories (freaked out for a kid then), and intrest.
Watch it. You'll probably like it. Better than a lotta crappola on SciFi today.
I have never seen the movie but after reading Atom's review I felt the need to watch it somehow. The sculpt looks great but it's a pity that such a beautiful statue was marred by low-quality paintwork. I believe that vinyl was used (instead of resin)to keep the price as low as possible although $130 isn't cheap.
And so this thing is an Art Toy Collectible. And here is the catch. If you consider it as a toy, then the price is too high especially when it does nothing except turn its head. But if you look at it as a collectible then that's another story. In fact, many of you said that this is the only representation of V.I.N.CENT. in this size.
As for the box, I disagree with Atom. I feel that a collectible deserves a high quality box, a numbered certificate of authtenticity a display stand/case and whatever makes it UNIQUE. Just putting V.I.N.CENT. in a plastic bag would have made the item look like some cheap toy which it isn't. Yes, for me boxes are important too.
Finally, I agree with Sanjeev that if this item was made in JAPAN it would have come out more pricy but PERFECT!
I really wanted to get one of these, but I am glad I waited. Hopefully I will grab a regular version once released. It must have cost a ton for Mindstyle to get the license, so hopefully they will make a lot in an effort to recoup their costs.
Harvey--great seeing you over here!
Anyway, I just wanna echo what JoshB has just said and clear up some misunderstandings about Chinese vinyl and the whole "designer" vinyl game.
After thinking about this more, I really think the bulk of the cost of this item has gone into licensing. Let's look at manufacturing this toy with ZERO licensing. You have just a couple rotocast (I believe that's the right term!) vinyl parts, but about a zillion paint masks and pad prints. All that detail is the bulk of where the cost is. Paint masks are pricey. So, I'm gonna up my original manufacturing estimate to $30-40USD. Now, add the box, packing materials, paperwork (if any?), and ultimately, shipping. $50? So, THEN you add licensing onto that? Ouch. I would actually not be terribly surprised if MINDstyle isn't making as much as we suspect on these.
Now, as for the vinyl's origin... Chinese does not necessarily equal "bad". Here's the deal. It just so happens that ALL Japanese is super-high quality and also super-expensive. You can be DAMN sure that if this were done in Japan, the vinyl pouring, alone, would be 3 to 5 times more expensive. The material, itself, is just pricier there...with all their secret formulas and whatnot! It's also a matter of pride. The paint work, if done in Japan, would be a little more expensive, but I'm guessing you wouldn't see the flaws you'd see on this.
So, back to China. The absolute best of Chinese vinyl is close, but not quite as good as Japanese vinyl. Their glow isn't quite as bright, for example, and their surface texture isn't as tight as in Japan. Why care about surface texture? Well it's because "clear" vinyls in China look murky, while they look crystal-clear from Japan. It's not that clear Chinese vinyl is actually cloudy--it's because on a microscopic level, the surfaces are more porous and, thus, diffuse light, rather than transmit it.
Now, here's the problem: China gets outsourced from ALL over the world to make their crap for them. That forces them to be price-competitive, so whereas you have a legacy of great vinyl toys from Japan, and the pride of being the best to go along with it, now you have widely varying grades of quality. Like I said, the best of Chinese vinyl is close to the best Japan has to offer...but the worst China has to offer is pretty awful. Remember, they're literally making doggie chew toys at the same factories as some toys we probably have! ;)
So, which factories in China make the best quality Chinese vinyl? Who knows? Which printers do the best work? Again, it's tough to say. So, either MINDstyle got screwed...or they went with the "cheap alternative", thinking these would be good enough. Either way, I think it's pretty irresponsible on their part to release these toys with such flaws.
He is a beautiful piece. But I found one important part so off that I turned my back on it. And you're probably gonna hate me after pointing this out. Or maybe not and I'm just an intolerable nit-picker(more on this in a sec).
I picked up MINDstyle's two original Dark Crystal pieces a few years back. Only because there is so little DC merch out there. I don't buy ANYthing unless it articulates. I thought they were nicely done, to contradict Sanjeev. Maybed they declined in quality since 2007. Or maybe the amazing box design for the Land Strider had me fooled. I dunno. I've since passed them on. I RARELY get turned on by products of the new vinyl fad.
I saw this guy at CC and wet my pants a little but studied him closer and(here comes the nit-picky) his inner head tapers in quite drastically. They hit the mark on every other aspect, he really is pretty gorgeous. But that one detail... uhg... it URKS me to no end.
I know you got it as a gift and couldn't ever sell it, but if I were you I'd sell it and get the Kubrick version. The V.I.N.cent and B.O.B figures are spot on and a nice 4" size(a little too big to scale in with the 3 3/4 figs. I have the Kubrick BOB along with the MEGOs. They're a nice lookin' little family. Anyway, there's my two...
And I LOVE it! Luckily, the stamped graphics on mine are all super-clean. Whatever mishaps plagued Atom's figure didn't hit this one (#200). If I was to nitpick, the "GLA419VX" on his chest is slightly lower than it should be, but I consider a little variation part of the vinyl allure. I totally see now that the paint is indeed a bit distressed, but it looks wonderful to my eye.
The head does turn, and it only took a tiny bit of pressure to break the paint seal on mine.
I also don't really see the inner head taper. Maybe it's slight, but I recall that his head under there is actually round (in the movie). It only looks cylindrical when his cap is kept very low. If anything, I'd say the downward tilt of his head is more off-model, but again I'll chalk that up to a little vinyl artistic license.
I was worried about spending the money, but no regrets at all!
It is round, you're right. The red part tapers in slightly as though the whole thing is round. But the top and bottom halves of the red part should mirror each other. The taper I'm talking about is from the bottom of his "cap" to his body. It's way wider at the top and smaller when it hits the body. Ok, I'm geeking on this infinitesimal detail WAY too much. Sorry. But I had to clarify. I promise I'm done now. :)