Last week at Slay-a-Thon, I had the opportunity to purchase the soon-to-be released Malcolm Reynolds 17-inch Tonner Doll. The final version is limited to 1,000 pieces and is due out in late August or early September.
The box is painfully plain and doesn't even name the character on the front. It also doesn't have any type of window treatment, which is likely to be disappointing to collectors who want to keep their items mint-in-box while also displaying them. In the case of this figure, you'd just be displaying an oversized black box with the "Firefly" logo.
Tonner Dolls are known for their high quality clothing, larger size than most collectibles (the "Serenity" action figure line is in a 6-inch scale and Sideshow's most popular figures are 12-inch scale). However, their character likenesses tend to be hit-or-miss. When this doll was first announced, the Nathan Fillion likeness was ravaged by most people on the Internet, based on the first photos released by Tonner. I can safely say the likeness is better in person, but it's still not perfect. The thing that hurts it the most is the hair. Tonner appears to have based the doll's hairstyle on this promo photo:
However, the end result came out like this:
Move the hairline down a touch and give the right side less of a toupee look and I think the figure would look much better overall.
Beyond the facial likeness, this is a pretty solid figure. Mal's holster is spot-on accurate, though kind of a pain to get on. It comes separate from the pants, and took me a little while to actually get attached, since it connects via a functional loop around the lower leg, then gets looped in through the fully functional belt. Sure, it all adds to the accuracy, but the pieces all feel very delicate, and I was definitely afraid I was going to tear something (particularly when re-looping the belt).
Two of the other "accessories" are basically clothing items that could have easily shipped on the figure itself. Mal comes with socks and boots, both of which are easy enough to put on. I'm sure with other Tonner collectors, dressing the dolls completely is part of the experience, but I really just wanted to get Mal as close to the promo photos as quickly as possible, so having to put the socks and boots on was kind of weird.
Then there's Mal's pistol. The accessory itself is very well done, though non-functional (and by that, I mean the trigger doesn't move -- obviously it doesn't shoot mini-bullets). However, for the life of me I couldn't figure out how to get it to stay in Mal's hand. The Tonner site has this image:
The only thing I can guess there is they used some kind of adhesive to get the gun to stay in Mal's palm, because his index figure doesn't fit into the trigger slot, and you can clearly see that his hand isn't wrapped around the handle. This is kind of misleading, since right now I have to settle for having Mal's pistol holstered (I may eventually spring for an invisible rubber band to hold it in place).
The biggest disappointment has to be the lack of inclusion of Mal's signature browncoat. Tonner is making this available as a separate accessory, for $40, but with an initial cost of $155 it really should be included. It's an iconic look for the character, and I can't imagine anyone who'll spring for this figure won't also want the coat -- though for the extra $40, some may end up passing.
A plain base/stand combo is included though it's not necessary; Mal stands on his own and can be posed. Overall, this figure is good and a nice addition to any "Firefly" fan's collection, though it feels disappointing because it's so close to being great, and for $155 (or $195 once you include the coat) it really should be great.