Thursday, January 26, 2012

Quantum Mechanix Little Damn Heroes Serenity

The year was 2002, and it was Friday night. I'd just graduated from college and was sharing an apartment with a couple friends in Western Massachusetts. It was almost eight at night, and we'd gathered in front of the TV, intrigued by previews we'd seen for a new SF show premiering that night on Fox. That show's name was John Doe.

But between eight and nine there was another new SF show, this one by the creator of Buffy. A few years later, that'd have been a hell of a selling point, but, at the time, I'd only seen a handful of episodes of Buffy and Angel and didn't really care.

John Doe didn't turn out to be all that memorable, but from the minute Firefly started, I was hooked. To this day, it remains one of my favorite live-action series. It's early (and bizarre) cancellation almost adds to the show's legend. Yeah, it died far too soon, but it sure left its mark.

In addition to action figures, I have a decent collection of miniature spaceships. In general, I like die-cast, but I've got a few plastic toys and even a few models. Mostly, I have ships from Star Wars and Star Trek, since those are of course the properties with the most merchandizing. Given my love of Firefly, I've wanted to get my hands on a version of Serenity for years, but there was nothing out there that seemed worthwhile.

Recently, Quantum Mechanix picked up the license, and started making merchandise. They've got character maquettes in both realistic and animated styles, props, and a couple versions of the ship. Despite costing more than any other single collectible I've ever bought, this is actually the low-end alternative to a massive, electronic version. Yeah, I'd love to have that, but that thing costs as much as a used car: this one's closer in price to a small TV.

As someone who's been collecting toys for a decade, I always have difficulty adjusting to the price tag on statues. A toy version of an eight-inch space ship wouldn't generally run more than thirty bucks unless it was die-cast; even then, it would probably cost no more than fifty or sixty tops. At almost a hundred, this was a little hard to justify. But not knowing when anyone would produce a version of Serenity - or, for that matter, whether these are in danger of selling out, - I ordered it.

The sculpt and paint are good - better than you'd get on a plastic toy in a similar scale - though there are areas that feel weak given the price point. In particular, I find the windshield lacking. I feel like this should at least have a small panel of glass or clear plastic embedded.

I've located what seems to be a single point of articulation on a ring located in the engine. I'm reluctant to play with his too much, since I'm not entirely certain it's supposed to move. It doesn't add much, but it's a little surprising to find any moving parts on something like this.

Also surprising are the accessories: Serenity comes with her two shuttles, which are separate pieces. One has its wings in for docking; the other's wings are out. The latter is intended to be displayed in flight and comes with a wire stand that sits on Serenity's wing and holds up the shuttle.

I appreciate the effort, though a few minor changes could have greatly improved the effect. First, given how small these are, I think Quantum Mechanix could have spared an extra docked shuttle, giving us the option of having both in their bays. Secondly, the wire holding up the flying shuttle doesn't actually clip into or onto anything, which leaves the shuttle precariously balanced. This strikes me as a design flaw, though clearly not a serious one.

The other thing included is much less surprising: you of course get a stand for the ship. It works well and looks fine. My only complaint is that it's lacking a joint, preventing you from displaying the ship in alternate poses.

Mine also seems a bit crooked, possibly due to the area where the pin connects to the ship being uneven. I can't get myself worked up over this, though: I'd rather Serenity wasn't flying perfectly level, anyway. It just seems more appropriate that way.

This isn't a perfect piece, and it's clearly a tad more expensive than it should be. But I've been waiting a long time to get a version of this ship in my collection and, for all its minor faults, this is certainly good work. The price tag's a little hard to swallow: I paid $96 on Amazon (though it seems to fluctuate - it's a few bucks cheaper as I write this).

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