Tuesday, November 16, 2010
TRON LEGACY: Impulse Projection Technology Figures...
With the upcoming release of TRON LEGACY on December 17, Spin Master has unleashed a massive assortment of toys based on the upcoming sequel to the cult classic 80s video game adventure flick. Spin Master is known for cheapo toy lines such as last summer's M Night Shyamalan Crap Fest The Last Airbender. I'm happy to say this new line of Tron figures could be the toy line that changes everything for Spin Master. I'll go into more detail on the other pieces in the line in future posts. This time around I'll be focusing on the totally radical Impulse Projection Technology figures.
Four figures are now available as part of this 7 inch line including Clu, Sam, Rinzler and a Blackguard. There's also a 12 inch Sam figure with the same features and even more lights. I picked up the 7 inch Clu and Sam figures last week and haven't been able to stop playing around with them. The impulse projection technology makes it possible for an image of the character's face to appear inside their helmets when it lights up and you can actually see the figure appear to speak. Unlike other licensed toy lines to utilize voice features Spin Master actually included the lines from the film as voiced by the actors. So when the Clu figure "speaks" you actually hear Jeff Bridges' voice not some impersonation of his voice like Hasbro did for those Phantom Menace Commtech Chips back in '99.
I truly feel like this is a new chapter in action figure history. This feature is truly something we have never seen before in any line of figures. Those Visionaries figures I loved so much back in the 80s don't even come close in terms of cool factor, and technology to these Tron figures. Back in July Disney and Spin Master made a big announcement about this toy line and one of the key points they focused on was the new technology that would be introduced to action figures with this new line. At first it all seemed like a silly feature that would never look good when it was first announced at Comic Con, but once you get the figures in your hands and activate their features they truly seem to come alive and. The feeling of motion as well as the changing features and expressions on the facial projection is pretty convincing.
When I was growing up back in the 80s we never had anything like this. I wonder how much a feature like this would've rocked the very foundations of our existence if we'd gotten figures with impulse projection technology back in the day. The kids these days who've never experienced the world of Tron are in for quite a treat when they see the new film and decide to ask Santa for some of these figures. Lucky bastards.
The upper body on each figure also lights up. There's a pattern of lights that follows along from the chest to the waist making it appear as if their suit's functions have just gone online. I keep pushing the activation button and staring at these babies over and over again and still I can't find anything that gives away the gimmick. The toy gurus at Spin Masters have really proven themselves with these figures.
A lot of folks out there have been wondering what's the secret behind the illusion. If you have some extra dough burning a whole in your pocket and decide to pick up some extra figures you could crack some of these bad boys open and find out for yourself. What you'll find inside each figure is a ring lined up with some pretty powerful, small LED lights. Right above this ring there's a second ring lined with really small pieces of film which contain the images of each actor's face with different lip and mouth movements. Once you activate the figures a pattern of lights emits from the LEDs pushing the different projections up to the inside of the helmet in a succession of quick bursts which give the illusion of movement.
Each figure is really well sculpted. The light and projection feature obviously takes precedence here so the articulation has to suffer for that. The figures don't have as many points of articulation as say a MOTU classics figure, but it doesn't really matter. You still get more articulation than any action figure from back in the 80s or 90s and the projection feature is way to cool to complain about anything else.
The figures all come with their own identity disc which attaches quite nicely to their backs just like they do in the new movie. Clu also came with a kick ass light Katana and Sam comes with the launch baton used to activate and control the lightcycles. The baton also attaches to the side of his leg.
In order to get the level of detail and cool features that Spin Master was able to bring to these figures they worked closely with the folks at Disney's licensing division in order to better match the story and character elements from the film to the line of toys. For that same reason Spin Master toy makers have recently stated that as cool as the impulse projection technology is they do not plan to incorporate it into any other lines in the near future. The concept matches perfectly with the Tron line and to start putting other toy lines out with this feature would diminish the coolness and uniqueness of this line.
I for truly hope sales of the line are strong enough to allow Spin Master to go into production on a second series of figures. Already there have been rumors of a Quorra figure and other cool accessories for a follow up wave.
Each figure sells for $14.95 at most retailers, but you can take advantage of a great deal the slimeballs at Walmart are offering to get them for less. If you go to the Walmart website now you can buy the figures for the $14.95 price but you get a 5 dollar gift card which you can apply to the second figure. You buy a second figure and you get another 5 dollar gift card that you can apply to the third figure and so on.
I'll be back throughout the week with more TRON coverage. So stay tuned...