Like many of you, I had been waiting until the time was right to buy anything from the Tron Legacy toy line. I saw the movie and enjoyed it, but the toys were not quite impressive enough to make me go on a crazy shopping spree. I was waiting for the line's inevitable demotion to the clearance bin, but I got a Walmart gift card for my birthday so I decided that now was as good a time as any to pick up a few Tron toys. I've been drooling over Flynn's Light Cycle for the past few months, so that was a no-brainer. But who would be the pilot? I passed over Kevin and Sam Flynn, both of which had questionable face sculpts and poor paint apps. I decided upon Clu, in part because of the importance of his character in the movie, and in part because I thought his yellow circuitry would go best with the white Light Cycle. Let's check them both out.
Company: Spin Master
Size: Clu - 4" tall, Light Cycle - 6.5" long
Price: Clu - $10, Light Cycle - $15 at Walmart
Packaging: Clu - Carded, Light Cycle - Boxed
Clu's circuitry detailing seems accurate to the film costume and the few paint apps that adorn the figure are relatively sharp. But two big problems manifest themselves in regards to this figure's appearance. First, the movie suit has some interesting textures to offer some visual differentiation (as you can see in the triptych), but this figure's suit is about as flat as it can get. And second, the proportions just don't work. The torso is way too wide (presumably, to account for the internal electronics) and the helmet is much too small.
Flynn's Light Cycle looks great, a nice representation of the Second Generation Light Cycle shown in the film. There are a few missing details, like the black bar that should be on the bottom of the cockpit hatch right above the front wheel, but there's nothing that you would notice without directly comparing the toy to a production shot. The sculpting of the controls inside the cockpit are reminiscent of the concept art of the interior controls, but the detail is lacking to say the least.
Light Cycle N/A
10 years ago, I would have thought it weird for hyper-articulation to become the norm, but it has. With that in mind, Clu has a good range of motion for the most part:
- Ball-socket neck
- Ball-hinge shoulders
- Swivel biceps
- Hinge-swivel elbows
- Swivel wrists
- Ball-hinge hips
- Swivel thighs
- Hinge-swivel knees
- Hinge-swivel ankles
Light Cycle N/A
Clu comes with an identity disc, a light katana, and a stand. The accessories are small but appropriate. I especially like the stand. It fits the figure well and the design works great with the Tron styling. It also has a bit of potential play value: I can imagine it being some kind of a cool hover disc in a game.
There's no doubt that ten bucks for a small figure like Clu is excessive. Not even Star Wars figures, with that license's exorbitant licensing costs, are that expensive. Of course you're paying for the light-up action feature, but it's still a difficult price to swallow. Flynn's Light Cycle seems about on par with other vehicles of its size, even accounting for the electronics. Quality-wise, they both seem pretty sturdy. I don't think either will break under reasonable play pressures.
Unfortunately, Star Wars and Tron Legacy figures aren't quite to-scale, which makes this head swap look more than a little like the shrunken-headed hunter at the end of Beetlejuice.
Although Clu's light-up feature is kind of cool in some regards, it's also inexcusably uncool in others. Only the chest circuitry lights-up (unlike the movie costume's circuitry, which glowed over the entire body), and the space needed for the feature's electronics and batteries distort the figure's torso, making it too wide. Glow-in-the-dark paint apps for the circuitry would have worked so much better with the limitations of a figure in this scale: not only would it have looked great and be applicable over the entire body, but that chunky torso would no longer be required to house the light-up feature. Not only that, but the figure's price would be more reasonable since it wouldn't include all those expensive electronics. Another option that would have been cool would be to make the figure out of translucent plastic, like the vintage Tron line.
Flynn's Light Cycle fares a bit better in the coolness category than Clu. The classically inspired design is certainly awesome, it can easily "stand" without support, and its light-up feature is more impressive. But again, it's not nearly as cool as the vintage Light Cycle with its ripcord that, when you ripped it through the toy's gears, made the Light Cycle speed away. Also, the cockpit is a bit problematic. Sure, Clu fits in it, but just barely and only after squeezing down and slightly distorting the cockpit hatch. One of my major toy-related pet peeves, up there with loose ankle joints, concerns cockpits that don't quite fit the figures intended for them. What happened to the good old days when figures easily and comfortably fit in the cockpits, like the vintage Star Wars X-Wing?
So what does fit easily in the Light Cycle's cockpit? Glyos figures like Sarvos above fit pretty well (but not Callgrim, which is tragic considering how awesome it would be for Callgrim Legacy to drive a Light Cycle). GI Joe figures like this Snake Eyes also fit. But the VOTC Stormtrooper fits best and can actually tilt its head up enough to look out the front canopy.
Overall: Clu Neither of these toys are particularly notable parts of any toy collection's "legacy". Clu is screwed up by a light-up feature that distorts the figure's body and inflates its price beyond a reasonable amount, and yet doesn't even look all that great because it doesn't light-up all the circuitry on the costume. Kevin Flynn's Light Cycle looks great on a desk, but it just isn't as fun as the vintage Light Cycle with its ripcord action.
The question now is: what, if any, Tron Legacy toys will I be picking up when they go on clearance? I think I'll skip the action figures. Even at a fraction of the price, they're just not cool enough to take up space in my collection. But I might get some version of the 5th generation Light Cycle so I can have a cool Light Cycle evolution display. (I'd have to get a vintage one to represent the 1st generation. That would make a cool Then and Now post, wouldn't it?)