Few brands are as immensely popular as Disney, which is why it’s a bit surprising that the company’s presence in the world of action figures has always felt a little lacking. It’s thought (and maybe even confirmed by the company) that Disney’s interest in properties like Marvel and Star Wars stemmed from them being unable to internally develop IPs that better aligned with what boys enjoy. Disney has never had trouble selling princess dolls to little girls, but action figures? It’s always been a tougher sell. They’ve tried and managed to craft a wonderful IP in Gargoyles, but apparently it didn’t have the sort of commercial success that Disney was looking for. Even so, it’s a shame their classic characters haven’t always been well-represented in plastic. Maybe they just think kids don’t want a Mickey figure? With the collector market amongst adults really exploding over the last decade or so I suppose it’s no surprise that we’re finally seeing some change in this area.
It was a little over a year ago that I took a look at the Hero Cross HMF Donald Duck. At the time, that figure was one of the few collector grade figures of Donald Duck out there. Since then, we’ve seen other companies show interest in Disney figures like Super7, McFarlane, and now Beast Kingdom. Beast Kingdom has actually been at it for a little while doing some collectible statues and also dipping its toe into the action figure game with it’s line Dynamic 8ction Heroes. The first figure I saw from Beast Kingdom and had interest in was a Jack Skellington. Since there isn’t a review of that figure on this blog I obviously didn’t buy it, but I sure was tempted. Beast Kingdom has since released a Mickey, Darkwing Duck, and Scrooge McDuck, but it was Donald Duck that I decided would be my entry point into the world of Beast Kingdom. And today, on Donald Duck’s 88th birthday, I’m going to tell you all about it!
Donald Duck has long been one of, if not my absolute, favorite cartoon characters so when a new product featuring him comes along I immediately take notice. I liked the figure from Hero Cross last year, but the cost of that line left me content to just make Donald my one and only. Beast Kingdom has a similar issue in that these figures are not cheap. And like everything the past year, the price seems to only be going up. I paid just over 70 bucks for this guy at Big Bad Toy Store and that’s certainly a lot for an action figure. It’s a hard price to live up to, but if I was going to have any interest in adding to my collection beyond Donald, I needed this figure to win me over.
Donald Duck arrives in a pretty hefty package. It’s a square box and the top slides off like the box to a board game would. There’s an insert featuring Donald’s shirt pattern over a plastic tray which contains the actual figure. There’s a transparent plastic overlay on that tray, but otherwise everything is loose with no tie-downs or anything. It’s also worth pointing out that this seems designed for internet sales because you can’t see the figure at all without opening the box which is taped closed. There are some product renders on the rear of the box, none of which showcase the entire figure’s body. It’s a bit odd, but again, this isn’t the type of product destined to sit on a shelf at a brick and mortar location.
Donald stands at approximately 6.3″ per Beast Kingdom’s product solicitation. He’s quite big and might catch some folks off-guard as a result. He’s bigger than even the Hero Cross Donald and if there’s a scale to this line I’m not sure what it is. Donald obviously doesn’t exist in the real world, but when animated into live-action he looks like he could be around 3.5′ tall which would make this something close to 1/6th scale. Either way, he’s likely not going to scale with anything else out there except for other Beast Kingdom figures from this line. And by “line” I mean the Disney ducks, and maybe Mickey, because the Jack figure from Beast Kingdom is 8″ tall. As I said before though, I don’t have any other figures from this line to compare him to, but I’m assuming he shares some parts with the likes of Scrooge and Darkwing and they’re probably all comparable in size.
Donald is presented in his licensing art attire. That means he has a light blue hat and shirt with yellow trim on the shirt and a red bowtie. It’s not my preferred Donald, but it’s not unexpected. Since Beast Kingdom lists him as “Classic” Donald maybe they intend to do other versions later. Out of the box, Donald has a fairly neutral expression with gripping hands. The white areas of his body are appropriately white and the only other color really is the orange of his bill and legs. There’s very little paint on this guy, especially because his eyes are a separate piece of very light blue plastic. The only paint you’ll find on him really are the black pupils of his eyes, which are printed I’m guessing, and his inner mouth on the alternate portrait. The white plastic has a nice matte appearance, while the orange is a bit more glossy and “plasticy” in nature. It stands in contrast to the more saturated and richer presentation of the Hero Cross figure and I wish they had painted those parts. This is a figure meant to represent a classic cartoon character and that saturated look would serve it better in replicating the ink and paint origins. The bill looks okay, but the feet have a cheap look to them as a result that I wish wasn’t present in a $70 figure.
Also contributing to the figure’s appearance is the use of soft goods for the shirt. It’s a design choice by Beast Kingdom probably to differentiate their product from others out there, and as far as I can tell, all of the figures in this line come with soft goods attire. The quality of the shirt seems okay. It has the thickness of a Barbie shirt and the printing of the yellow parts looks nice. I like how the rear “flap” is sewn into the collar and the bowtie is also handled well. The issues I have it with though are that mine is fairly wrinkled out of the box and I’m not sure there’s much I can do about that. I wouldn’t dare iron it, and if I wanted to I’d have to figure out how to get it off to do so which would likely require me to remove the figure’s arms. I suppose I could hit it with some wrinkle release spray and see if that helps. I also find the fit of the shirt just looks a little off. It sits very high on Donald’s shoulders and basically erases his neck. I find myself tugging on it a lot to try to bring it as low as possible, even though it isn’t accomplishing much. I think there’s just not enough weight to the material which is often the issue of soft goods and why some people hate them. I don’t think it looks terrible by any means, but it’s easy to see why Hero Cross went with a vinyl body instead of soft goods.
Beast Kingdom does refer to this line as its Dynamic 8tion line. Why they use an “8” I don’t know, but nitpick aside you would expect some dynamic posing out of a line with such a name. That’s going to be a challenge for a duck, but Beast Kingdom does list 12 points of articulation for this figure. Donald’s head sits on a double ball-peg with another ball-peg at the base of the neck. This means he has no trouble looking in basically all directions. The shoulders are on standard ball-hinges and he gets good rotation there even with the soft goods shirt. At the elbow is a single hinge with a swivel and the sleeve of the shirt slides up past the elbow pretty effortlessly to facilitate movement of the joint. The wrists are on ball-hinges so he gets a full range of motion at that point as well. In the torso, we have what feels like a ball joint of some kind. It mostly allows Donald to rotate as trying to use it as an ab crunch causes the figure to just snap back into place when released. The legs are where things are most limited as he has a ball and socket joint at the hips and ball joints at the ankle. There’s no knee joint which is odd so Donald’s knees are permanently bent. His shape being what it is, there isn’t a lot one can do with the legs and the plastic for them is too light to handle one-legged poses and some walking positions, but I suppose that’s why there is a stand included. He moves about as well as I expected and the only knock I’d give the figure are the lack of knee joints and it’s worth pointing out that Beast Kingdom’s Darkwing has knee joints, while Scrooge does not. Most of the articulation is well-hidden at least which is a nice bonus.
In terms of accessories, Donald has a lot and a little. All of his accessories are just optional display parts so there’s no props or anything. Given he’s a generic Donald Duck, there isn’t exactly a prop that jumps to mind so I suppose it’s not a big deal, it’s just odd to have gripping hands on a figure that has nothing to grip. Donald also has a set of relaxed, open, hands and a set of waving hands. No fists is a bummer so you can’t even really try to replicate his classic hopping mad pose. Donald also comes with a second head, but I think it’s just included either as an extra or to help pack the other faceplate because it’s not needed. Donald’s face system works in that there’s a plate that comes off and behind that you have a plate for the eyes which are removable. The back of his head works with both faceplates, which is good because when I tried popping the head off the neck came with it and I could not get that off. And thankfully I don’t need to because I can just swap the faceplates. Donald’s other expression is an open mouth with frowning eyes which required a different shape for the eyes. You get four sets of eyes for each faceplate: straight-ahead, looking up, left, and right. Swapping them is fairly painless, and swapping the hands out is also easy, which is great considering I had issues with my Hero Cross Donald. Lastly, the hat is removable and attaches via a magnet. Beast Kingdom also includes a stand which is made of translucent, blue, plastic and features a black arm that is designed to grab the figure around the neck. It’s a bit unusual, but it works and it looks okay since it has Donald’s name printed on the front. I just wish it wasn’t hollow and had more weight to it so I felt like it was really anchoring the figure down, but he doesn’t have issues standing so I likely won’t even utilize the stand.
Beast Kingdom’s take on Donald Duck arrived largely as expected. The product shots online paint an accurate picture of what you’re getting, so if you’re a Donald fan and you’re okay with the price, then you should be satisfied. I have some nitpicks with the soft goods, but they look as advertised so it’s not like Beast Kingdom delivered a product that was misleading. My only real issue is with those legs as a digital render isn’t going to reveal just how cheap they look in person. If I’m paying a premium for a collectible, cheap is the last thing I want to enter my mind when I look at it. And the lack of fist hands too kind of sucks as I find the options I have in posing the figure aren’t “wowing” me. It would have also have been nice if the beaks were removable. I like the angry expression quite a bit, but the neutral one is almost too plain. It looks like Donald, but when am I ever going to choose to display Donald with an expressionless face? This is a character that’s usually displaying some pretty extreme emotions be they happy, mad, frustrated, scared, etc. I definitely don’t picture Donald Duck in my head with a blank expression on his face.
Ultimately, your perception of value is going to define how you feel about this figure. It mostly looks the part, the articulation is acceptable, and there’s some options available for display purposes. It just all comes at a pretty steep cost and I don’t know if it truly earns it. There’s no feeling of “extra” with this guy: no reference items or just fun add-ons like you might see from other companies or even from Beast Kingdom as they included Scrooge’s number one dime in his set (among other things, and to be fair, he’s being sold for $85). I’m fine with this figure though and I’m happy to add it to my Donald display, but it didn’t leave me wanting more figures from the line. I feel pretty comfortable now in passing on Scrooge and the nephews. Maybe Beast Kingdom can convince me to buy another Donald down the road if an update comes along based on a favorite short or something, but for now, I’m content to let this be it and I enjoy it for what it is. And on a personal note, I’m also happy to devote this blog’s 900th entry to a Donald Duck toy! Now I have 99 entries to think of an appropriate 1000th one. Will it be Donald? Will it be a toy? Check back, I suppose, in a year and half or so.