“What we are dealing with here is a perfect engine, an eating machine. It’s really a miracle of evolution. All this machine does is swim and eat and make little sharks, and that’s all.”
JAWS is one of my favorite movies, ever, for all time. If it is not number one, it is certainly in the top three, and while Mr. Hooper was talking about how sharks are perfect engines, JAWS, to me, is a perfect movie. I absolutely love every single thing about it: from the characters and dialog to the story structure to the iconic score, everything is crafted so beautifully. Spielberg has never been better than he was for this film, and the cast is unforgettable, with Robert Shaw turning in one of the best performances of one of the most memorable characters in the history of film. I love everything about this film.
That being said, it is hard to imagine that any of the producers thought the film could be a financial success without a strong merchandising/action figure push behind it… I am completely kidding about that, but damn it if we aren’t smack in the middle of 2015 and one of my toy dreams has finally come true: I have an action figure of Mr. Quint and his friends to call my own. Seriously. For some reason, I was allowed to see JAWS at a very young age, and the ferocity and horror of it never bothered me. In fact, it completely engaged me. I actually had multiple dreams as a child of actually getting JAWS action figures, and my brother and I spent far too many hours playing “JAWS” growing up, something I doubt was typical of many kids of the 1980s.
Thanks to Funko and Super7, I am now the happy owner of the JAWS ReAction figure line. Quint, Brody, Hooper, and, of course, Bruce the shark are in my collection and I am still having a hard time coming to grips with it – I can hardly believe it is reality. It might seem a bit weird that I wanted to play JAWS with action figures then and now, but I do. So, even though ReAction is not really my thing, there was no way I was going to pass this set up, and the style does work for the property, especially considering that the movie was not designed to be “toyetic.”
The ReAction style throws back to an era of action figures that predates me, so I don’t really have that nostalgic feel for the aesthetic, but instead of being one of the more modern properties that makes for a plastic anachronism in this line, JAWS’ 1970s panache fits right in with the aesthetic. Frankly, it probably could not be done any other way as this style is like Lego and Mini-Mates: it is not a “likeness” to an actor, but rather a representation of a character, so that route makes for a much more streamlined process in getting actual product made. At any rate, Bruce the shark can be a real pill to work with, and he apparently doesn’t give up his likeness very easily. At least that is what I have heard.
If you are familiar with the ReAction style, you can see that the three human characters fit right in with what has come before in the line. These are designed with nostalgia to a bygone era in mind, so most of the design choices have been made with that consideration. The figures clock in at the 3¾- to 4-inch scale and have a five-point articulation scheme, both of which were very standard for the late 1970s in terms of design. The sculpts, details, and paint schemes fit within that mode as well, so while they might be considered “soft” for modern day figures, the aesthetics match what you might remember from things like vintage Star Wars and the like. That is what I mean by these figures not really having a likeness to the actors, but rather a representation of the characters. Your preference for this is going to vary, but these accomplish what they set out to do pretty successfully.
Brody, Quint, and Hooper are all pretty unmistakable from the first glance. All of the figures look enough like the corresponding characters at this scale that they will likely have singing “Show Me the Way to Go Home” right away. For being a simplified look, most all of the costume details are there, so Body and Hooper have their glasses, and Quint has his beat-up green hat. The costumes are those featured just as the trio departs Amity Island in search of the great white shark, and they certainly look appropriate to that setting. The “character representations,” I will hold my tongue ahead of saying “likenesses,” are all good too, and Martin is stern of face, while Hooper has his poofy Richard Dreyfuss ’70s hair, and Quint is scowly with his patented mustache.
Each crew member (remember, Quint is the Captain, him by himself) comes with a character-appropriate accessory as well: Brody has his standard-issue revolver, Quint brings his harpoon gun, and Hooper gets a… camera, which is completely appropriate, but just not as tough as the other two. Again, these accessories are built in the ReAction style so they are pretty basic, and the limited figure articulation will not allow the figure to hold the accessories in a convincing fashion by modern standards, but again, that is not the point. I do wish there was more than one accessory included because Brody needs his cigarette, chum bucket, and Old Spice bottle; Quint is DYING for a can of Naragansett; and Hooper would do well with a crushed plastic cup. I guess I have some custom project ahead of me.
Now, if the human figures in this set fit the mold of ReAction, The Great White Shark (or “Bruce” as he was called on set), chews right through it. That is not to say that he does not fit in perfectly with the line, because he does, but this is the obvious centerpiece and a fantastic one-off that would have been a glaring hole if Funko had not produced him along with the rest. The sculpt is really excellent and they got the form and shape of this behemoth just right. In a ReAction line where a lot of details are made to fit into the established shape, Bruce gets the full treatment. The body is big, the “face” looks just like him (and I would argue that Bruce does indeed have an unforgettable face), and the mouth even opens and closes, so you can stuff all kinds of things down his maw. I’ve seen one eat a rocking chair once. So, that being said, poor Quint can meet his untimely end (is there anyone on the planet that would have not rather seen him trade places with Hooper?), and, in fact, I need to hunt down the SDCC-exclusive set that recreates that very scene.
The shark is excellent in all facets, but man, he REALLY needs a stand or something so he can be displayed properly. Because of his build and fin structure, you cannot even get him to balance out of a nosedive without one, so I really wish Funko would have included this, but as it stands, I am using two sword stands from the Mattel Voltron line at the suggestion of a friend, and they work well. I know, it is a bit of a nitpick, but he needs SOMETHING to keep that imposing look going.
Overall, I think this is a very successful ReAction execution by Funko and Super7, and it is certainly my favorite piece of that overall line. The figures are fun and represent the characters well, and Bruce the shark is just great. If you are JAWS fan, and I don’t want to talk to you if you are not, I would most certainly recommend this set for your collection; it is a lot fun. It is available on Amazon now, so check the links at the bottom of the article.
For now, I will leave you with Quint’s USS Indianapolis speech because frankly, it should be included in everything everywhere:
Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into our side, Chief. We was comin’ back from the island of Tinian to Leyte… just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in twelve minutes. Didn’t see the first shark for about a half an hour. Tiger. Thirteen footer. You know, you know that when you’re in the water, chief? You tell by lookin’ from the dorsal to the tail. Well, we didn’t know. ‘Cause our bomb mission had been so secret, no distress signal had been sent, huh. They didn’t even list us overdue for a week. Very first light, chief. The sharks come cruisin’. So we formed ourselves into tight groups. You know it’s… kinda like ‘ol squares in battle like uh, you see on a calendar, like the battle of Waterloo. And the idea was, the shark goes to the nearest man and then he’d start poundin’ and hollerin’ and screamin’ and sometimes the shark would go away. Sometimes he wouldn’t go away. Sometimes that shark, he looks right into you. Right into your eyes. You know the thing about a shark, he’s got… lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eye. When he comes at ya, doesn’t seem to be livin’. Until he bites ya and those black eyes roll over white. And then, ah then you hear that terrible high pitch screamin’ and the ocean turns red and spite of all the poundin’ and the hollerin’ they all come in and rip you to pieces. Y’know by the end of that first dawn, lost a hundred men! I don’t know how many sharks, maybe a thousand! I don’t know how many men, they averaged six an hour. On Thursday mornin’ chief, I bumped into a friend of mine, Herbie Robinson from Cleveland. Baseball player, Bosun’s Mate. I thought he was asleep, reached over to wake him up. Bobbed up and down in the water, just like a kinda top. Up ended. Well… he’d been bitten in half below the waist. Noon the fifth day, Mr. Hooper, a Lockheed Ventura saw us, he swung in low and he saw us. He’s a young pilot, a lot younger than Mr. Hooper, anyway he saw us and come in low. And three hours later a big fat PBY comes down and start to pick us up. You know that was the time I was most frightened? Waitin’ for my turn. I’ll never put on a lifejacket again. So, eleven hundred men went in the water, three hundred and sixteen men come out, the sharks took the rest, June the 29, 1945. Anyway, we delivered the bomb.