Review: Indiana Jones Collectors Review: Grail Knight
(Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade)
Review and Photography by Jeffrey A. Gouse (SithLord0498)
Review Date: October 15, 2008
Indiana Jones’ lot in life seems to be one of constant peril and adventure, and the relics he seeks are never ordinary—especially when dealing with Christian artifacts. After barely escaping the destructive power of the Ark of the Covenant, Indy finds himself in search of a more benevolent relic—the Holy Grail. As before, perilous tests await the adventuring archaeologist when the goal is in sight. However, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade put an additional element into the mix by giving the Grail a human face. The face was that of the Grail Knight, an immortal guardian charged with protecting the holy chalice over many hundreds of years. A noble Knight of the First Crusade, the Grail Knight spent centuries hidden in the Temple of the Sun, waiting for the one who would challenge and replace him.
An important player in the climax of the movie, it is very appropriate that Hasbro included him in its initial Last Crusade assortment. Upon seeing the packaged figure, collectors will undoubtedly be blown away by the immense amount of detail they see. Look below the superficial, take the figure out of the packaging, and another, more dismal story unfolds however.
PORTRAIT: Average (Bordering on Above Average)
The Grail Knight is a great example of a figure with a killer generic portrait. Yes, generic. When compared side-by-side with screen captures from the film, it is clear the figure does not resemble the actor at all. At most, it could be a younger incarnation of the character. The beard is inaccurate, the face is too gaunt, and the overall facial features are completely different. That being said, this figure does capture the nobility, bravery, and wisdom attributed to the knight. On a more technical level, this is one of Hasbro’s best sculpts in the Indiana Jones line thus far. The chain mail effect on the head dress is excellently rendered, and it blends well with the armor mesh’s continuation on the body. The sculptors also did an outstanding job on the simulated bone structure and wrinkled skin texture. The paint applications are solid this time with the eyes painted straight and even and the facial hair blended well with the skin.
But those achievements still do not change that this is not the Grail Knight seen on camera, and that is why the score falls short of excellence.
Hasbro’s trend of stellar costumes in the Indiana Jones collection continues. The Grail Knight sports a highly detailed costume with many accurate elements. The overall rendering of the tunic is very faithful to the filming costume with the garment draping down to the appropriate length. Even the stitching lines appear to share identical widths with those on the real costume. The sewn-on Cruciform Sword patch has been translated as a raised part of the sculpting, and the result looks very realistic and adds to the overall texture. The detailing on the belt is very accurate, and the cloak’s size and sculpted flow are both exceptional.
However, there are some inaccuracies. The two Cruciform Sword symbols on the cloak do not appear to be found on the filming costume, so one can only assume Hasbro exercised artistic license here. The bottom of the head dress is also inaccurate as the chain mail should drape further down the knight’s chest. Beyond that, there are no other perceptible inaccuracies.
The paint applications are solid as well. The color mixture and brushing on the metallic elements of the costume give a very convincing facsimile of aged metal, and the tunic’s shade appears to be a very close match with the filming costume. As far as bleeding, there is one semi-noticeable area on the cloak’s left symbol. Fortunately, the shadows cast by the sculpted folds do an excellent job of concealing the blemish. In fact, there are only two areas that could benefit from alterations. First, the silver on the red cloak ties are too faint. Second, the top of the sword scabbard should be gold not gray. Beyond that, the Grail Knight has very solid paint applications.
ARTICULATION: Below Average (Bordering on Poor)
The Grail Knight’s poseability suffers from two crippling blows. First, the figure’s design severely impedes the figure’s stability. The cloak is weighty and pulls down and back on the figure, and the legs are permanently sculpted in very unnatural looking acute angles—an approach whose only logical reason could be to offset the effects of the heavy cloak. If that is the goal, however, it fails. Ultimately, the Grail Knight has a very poor center of gravity and must rely on either a figure stand or its heels and cloak to support it. The second crippling blow is the omission of wrist and ankle articulation. The wrist joints are necessary to perform any meaningful poses with the broadsword, and the ankle joints would have gone a long way toward minimizing the negative impact of the awkward sculpting.
As for the remaining points of articulation, they function below expectations due in large part to the bulky costume obstructing their ranges of motion. The elbows cannot even flex a full ninety degrees because the upper sleeve extends into its path, and the knee joints are placed level with two obstructing boundaries—the pants and the lower tunic. Additionally, the ball-jointed head does not rotate upward very well because of the forward angling of the neck.
In the end, there is very little one can do with this figure.
ACCESSORIES: Holy Grail (Excellent); Broadsword (Average, Bordering on Below Average)
Obviously, the Grail Knight would not be complete without the Holy Grail itself, and Hasbro did a respectable job bringing the Grail into the 3.75 scale world. The overall proportions look good, and two thousand years of weathering has been translated extremely well in the paint applications. The only critique here is that the Grail’s color is too bright, but that something that needs a side-by-side comparison to see. The inner part of the cup is painted metallic gold, simulating the divine glow seen in the movie.
The broadsword is the figure’s only other accessory, and it is an overall disappointment. On the surface, the sculpting looks very detailed and authentic, but it is not. Comparisons to a picture of the actual sword prop shows that there is no gold in the hilt, the triangular ornamentation on the base of the hilt should be more of a rounded square, and the grip is too short. Additionally, the sword is made from a very soft and flimsy plastic, which resulted in a blade that was heavily warped straight out of the packaging. Adding insult to injury, the figure’s scabbard is a solid, non-functional piece that can’t even store the sword!
OVERALL RATING: Average (Bordering on Below Average)
Aesthetically, the Grail Knight is a beautiful idealization of the character with solid sculpting and painting. Look beneath that glorious veneer, and one finds a deeply flawed figure with substandard articulation, questionable design choices, and a disappointing weapon. If the intention is to merely keep it on display and let it look pretty, then the Grail Knight is exactly what you’re looking for. If you actually want to do anything with it, then this is a complete miss. In the end, it all comes down to what you plan to do with it and how many failings you are willing to tolerate, so making a concrete recommendation is not really possible.
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