Our third and final figure of the inaugural wave of Disney Ultimates! from Super7 is the most surprising of the bunch: Prince John, the phony King of England! Super7 often surprises with its deep cuts, and Prince John certainly fits the bill. While it’s hard to argue much from Disney could be considered a true deep cut, it’s certainly surprising to see the villain of Robin Hood in the first wave of the line without the film’s protagonist. This supposedly caused some confusion in the Disney fanbase which had little familiarity with Super7 prompting founder Brian Flynn to take to the internet to assure the fans that Robin Hood himself was coming, he’s just not in Wave One. Prince John is apparently Flynn’s pick and it’s a character he has a lot of affection for and when you run your own toy company you get to do stuff like put Prince John into the first wave of Disney figures. As someone who grew up watching the film over and over, I can’t say I’m disappointed to see the prince so early.
Prince John stands a full seven inches making him, by far, the largest figure in the first wave. He absolutely dwarfs Mickey and towers over Pinocchio. I suppose that’s appropriate considering he’s a lion and all, but it will be interesting to see how he scales with the upcoming Robin Hood. Prince John, or PJ, is not particularly big in the film. Robin is pretty close in size while Little Jon and the Sheriff look down on him. That’s an issue for another day, for now, he looks great at this scale and his big, soft goods, robe is particularly lovely. What’s not, and stop me if you’ve heard this criticism before, is the lack of paint. The body of PJ is cast in a yellowish plastic and with no shading or embellishments I can’t help but feel that it looks an awful lot like those Lion King toys from the 90s. Those things were probably five bucks at Toys R’ Us, but this is a $45 collectible and it just needs something more. Beyond that feeling, the head looks nice and his crown is painted well with gold paint and gems, but he’s missing his whiskers on all three heads. His hands feature the gemmed rings and his default expression is rather neutral. Beneath the robe is his soft, blue, gown (I guess that’s the proper term?) that’s all sculpted. Unfortunately, there’s already some color transfer from the robe to the gown and I don’t know if that’s likely to get worse or if it was mostly an issue of being confined to a box. Since the robe hides it, it’s not that great an issue, but hardly encouraging.
Excepting the feeling of a lack of paint, PJ really looks the part. That robe goes a long way in adding to that which is soft and just the right shade of red. The trim is more dense as the white is clean and the black dots within look nice. As was the case with Mickey, it’s also plenty big to allow the figure to move underneath it. Unlike Mickey, the robe doesn’t close with a belt, but it’s heavy enough that it basically closes on its own. Most importantly, it behaves as it does in the film and since it’s comically large on PJ it’s practically a character all on its own.
And speaking of characters all their own, we have Sir Hiss! And not just one Sir Hiss, but two! The first features a smiling Hiss partially coiled up that can sit on a surface. He has a ball-hinge at the base of his neck so he can swivel and look up and down, but is otherwise non-articulated. He’s very well painted, and the likeness is quite possibly the best of any character in this first wave. The same can be said for the second Sir Hiss which is elongated and features a strangulation expression. This is for John to grip and it’s pretty damn funny and also a little surprising that Disney let them do this, but since it’s from the film and the violence is bad guy on bad guy I guess that made it okay. As much as I love these additions, I feel like we need a Sir Hiss accessory pack! Or more versions with other characters from the film. Flying Sir Hiss, drunk Hiss, scared Hiss – the possibilities are nearly endless!
Aside from Hiss, PJ doesn’t come with much else. He does have his mother’s mirror, which has a slightly reflective, foil-like, sticker for the mirrored surface and the back of the mirror is well painted and sculpted. PJ can hold it with his lone, right, gripping hand or you can finagle it into the coils of Hiss. PJ has open hands in the package, but can swap to two different sets of fists: one with the gems in his rings, and one without from when Little Jon steals them. As for heads, we have two extra: angry John and a perplexed John where the crown is tipped forward covering his eyes. His neutral head has a removable crown which pegs into his ears, but the other two feature a permanently affixed crown. I do like the comedic one, but I feel like the angry one could have been embellished more. He gets really mad in the film where as this expression is more menacing than angry, and maybe that’s what they were going for? What’s missing though is plainly obvious: no thumb-sucking hand or expression! Considering how much Flynn seems to love the character, I am shocked that Super7 didn’t give us the pieces to recreate those scenes from the film. This line is called Ultimates because it’s supposed to represent the ultimate expression of the character, and how can you do Prince John without that?! Did they honestly prefer these portraits to that, or did they just find it too hard to get him to suck his thumb and tug his ear? Not only should we have gotten a proper thumb-sucking hand, but we should have got a second one with mud on it! It’s just baffling.
The last thing we need to talk about with Prince John is also the least impressive: articulation. Same as it was with the other two figures in this line, PJ doesn’t move all that well. He has the same, bland, ball and socket for the head that lets him move in all directions, but without tremendous range. He can look up a bit as well as down, but there’s no reason for him not to have a double ball peg given the presence of the robe. The shoulders are ball-hinged and he can almost raise his arms out to the side, but more importantly, he can rotate just fine even with the robe. The elbows are tight and single-hinged with swivels and they’re somewhat buried in the sleeve of his undershirt or gown. They’re fine, and his hands rotate and hinge in-and-out. The torso features nothing, and bizarrely, Prince John is like a tube of plastic. His hips are way down there and I guess it makes sense considering he’s a lion. Though if he were to go on all fours his rear legs would be comically short. He can rotate at the waist at least with ball-hinge hips, single-hinged knees that swivel, and ankles that hinge and rock side-to-side. His knees are basically sculpted to always be bent so the range isn’t great and the ankles are definitely more loose than I’d like. He’s able to stand okay, though my kids running into the room where his shelf resides was enough to cause him to fall over so his ability to stand could be better. He also has a ball joint for his tail, but it doesn’t do much aside from just letting you control which side it trails off towards. It’s basically the same story though where there’s not a lot of articulation and some of what is there is just too loose. I really wish Super7 could at least figure out the loose issue as so many figures suffer from it.
Overall, I do think Prince John turned out well enough when judged on what is actually there. The sculpt is solid, I like the robe, I just wish there was more paint and tighter joints. I don’t need him to do ninja kicks, but I do need him to stand. The color transfer issue is also concerning. Mostly, I can’t help but look at this guy and feel like Super7 really missed an opportunity to deliver a truly ultimate version of Prince John. Who else is going to make a Prince John figure? The lack of a thumb-sucking pose is a real bummer. Maybe they’ll come back to him when the cast of the film is a bit more fleshed out. They could do a throne that comes with the needed parts or maybe do a pajama version of the character or blue-robed variant. Do I want a variant of PJ? No, not really, but maybe I could do the throne. Considering they’ve already solicited thrones for other lines and they’re around $45 though, I’m a little less enthused about that prospect. Super7 tends to make things right when they get something so fundamentally wrong, and so I do feel like this may be one of those things. The fact that PJ is a favorite of Brian Flynn gives me a little more optimism. As released, Prince John is fine, but he could have been so much more.
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