If you know anything about Popeye, you know one of him most famous quips is, “Well blow me down.” As cliche as it might seem, I cannot thing of any pronouncement that better describes this @#$^ing fantastic new One:12 Collective release from Mezco.
Hoo boy. Admittedly, I have not gotten a new One:12 figure in a minute, but it seems l have pretty impeccable taste in cherry picking the releases, if I do say so myself. While comic heroes and villains might make up the majority of the line’s releases, I have to say that I actually have little to no interest in the superhero fare. Granted, I am getting the Blackbolt and Lockjaw set because, duh, but my favorite One:12 offerings are those that are outside of the superhero/villain genre. I love my Pink Skulls and Warriors, and I cannot wait for Conan and Deathdealer, but my absolute FAVORITE releases are those celebrating Popeye, and they have all been damned near perfect thus far, hence my good track record.
All kidding aside when it comes to the figures I choose to collect here, this new “Stormy Seas Ahead” set keeps up the mostly flawless history of Popeye in One:12 while giving us something that I have wanted since I got the original Popeye release: Bluto. Holy smokes, you guys, this big bully boi is something to behold, and the fact that we get a new and meaningful variation on Popeye just makes for the icing on the cake. I was afraid that when Popeye was first announced in all of his quasi-realistic glory, he was going to be a one-off in terms of character selection from the property, but with the introduction of Bluto, I am already dreaming of Olive Oyl, and dare I say, my dear Wimpy. Can you imagine them in this style? My body is ready. Okay, but I am not going to get ahead of myself here because these is a lot to celebrate with this set, and it instantly climbs into the conversation of my favorite release (thus far) of the year.
Bluto is a revelation. I don’t know the part library of One:12 well enough to determine if parts of his base body are made up of preexisting pieces, but even if they are, his form is perfect. It is fantastic that he matches with Popeye in terms of his hulking build and bullish posture, but the fact that Mezco has translated him into this style to also match his foil perfectly in that regard is some beautiful thing as well. This is brutish sailor turned longshoreman that you might have seen working the docks in the 1940s, and in no small part gives credence to how we see characters like that in our mind’s eyes. I mean, the strange Robert Altman movie aside, it is kind of difficult to imagine any of these characters in a “realistic” format, but Mezco’s take is about as perfect as you can get as far as I am concerned.
Speaking of that movie, as Olive would say, “he’s large, and he’s mine” so both of those things are true now, but that first adjective sell’s this figure utterly short. One:12 Bluto is a total chonker in plastic and he has the build and the weight to back up his reputation. Yes, he towers over Popeye, but he makes the Popeye figure feel downright diminutive due to his wide build hefty weight. Seriously, even though you would never be crazy enough to do so, don’t throw this dude at anyone because you would likely concuss them if you did. I was shocked with how heavy this figure is, and as noted, how much he makes the Popeye figure feel almost tiny by comparison. His inclusion instantly adds so much depth to a property only four figures deep at this point, but man, it is impactful.
Now, I see the possibility of a “sailor” Bluto as pretty strong for the future, but I am so glad we got what I consider to be his more iconic look first. For a guy who generally shies away from soft goods when it comes to action figures, I admit that I find his clothes tailored pretty perfectly. His black polo style shirt contrasts with the more meshy fabric used for the long john sleeves underneath very successfully, and his pants are easily identifiable as tough of make, probably Dickey’s or the like. He also has a voluminous leather coat that fits him very well and coordinates with the rest of the outfit very nicely. I was originally not considering displaying him with the coat, but it looks so good on, I am suddenly faced with a tough choice. I appreciate that his hat and belt are made of sculpted plastic because it affords them fit and detail they might not have gotten via fabric or other materials.
Bluto has a couple of sets of swappable hands, as well as some “tough guy” implements like a boat hook, kettle bell weight, and a giant wrench, and latter two are actually made of metal for a neat effect. All of these are perfectly selected for him and you do not have to dig deep to find reference material to associate all of them to Bluto. My favorite Bluto piece in the set though, is the swappable “pummeled” portrait that wonderfully depicts with this scallawag would like after going multiple rounds with Popeye out on the docks. His squinty eye has so much character to it, and the lump about his right brow immediately calls for some ice. I collect so many other lines, so my budget does not really lend itself to buying multiples of sets like these, but man, between this portrait (and the matching Popeye version that I will get to in am minute) and the multiple costume offerings, I am really thinking about what I am going to do the future. All of these pieces deserve to be displayed.
I thought it would be difficult to damned near impossible for any release to dethrone Popeye, or even the Pink Skulls from the top of my One:12 mountain, but Bluto blustered his was into my collection and instantly took the crown. I genuinely love and adore this figure – it is a perfect offering for me.
Now, that isn’t to say that you should sleep on the Popeye in this set, and if you are starting to think that maybe we have hit a saturation point with the character in this line, I would invite you to wait just a damned minute. I am actually loving the different iterations of the character, so having to buy a two-pack to get Bluto was really no fuss for me, but these variations are also quite different from each other, so it makes getting them meaningful. That said, all of the outfits featured thus far looks iconic enough to the character that if someone was jumping into the line right now, this version could serve well as a standard version of Popeye and not look like some variation that needed a stretch to justify.
That said, this one skews more toward the limited Mezco exclusive version (in the white sailor uniform) than the original standard figure, with the base outfit being a play on that sailor suit. This time, the white top has been swapped for a navy blue and it makes for a nice contrast from top to bottom and also puts this version in the middle of the previous two Popeyes in terms of the overall color scheme. His duffle bag has been recolored to match the outfit, and you get the round sailor, billed sailer, and black beanie hats we have seen released before. I am thinking about how I am going to display these versions now in terms of the hats because I like all of them so much.
Originally, the big draw to me for this Popeye was the inclusion of the yellow rain slicker and hat, an outfit I have been a fan of for the character since that original rain coat Popeye was released in the original Mezco line. The bright yellow is instantly an eye-catcher next to all of the rest of the outfit offerings for Popeye, so if you wanted to go deep in terms of contract on the shelf, this will be the way to do it. I like the coat itself quite a lot – it is bright and the vinyl material does well to mimic an actual rain coat, while keeping the feel and movement more natural at this scale. The coat looks great with the black beanie, too, and likely, this is the way I am going to display this figure because I don’t find the yellow rain hat to be nearly as successful.
I get it, this line is known for the real cloth outfits and accents, but this hat would have been realized much better in plastic. The same vinyl of the coat does not fit naturally or fold the way it should with the hat, so it is a real struggle to get it to sit naturally and look correct aesthetically. In fact, I cannot get it manipulated to look correct when viewing Popeye straight on, but the profile is somewhat better. It was originally going to be a no-brainer to fully deck out Popeye in the slicker and hat, but as mentioned above, I will likely turn to another hat as an alternative because I just cannot get into the rain hat. It is as shame, too, because other than that, this set is pretty much perfect.
That aside, Popeye does come with other cool items, and while there is a bit of newness, much of it we have seen before. The rain coat isn’t the only alternate outfit in the set as that smart-looking peacoat is here as well. I have my white outfit Popeye displayed with this right now, due to the contrast, but again, it is good to have the option if you missed that figure. Popeye also has a few sets of alternate hands to punch and hold and point, as well as the three aforementioned hats, a compass, telescope, two cans of spinach (one closed, one popped), and his two different pipes – one with smoke and and one without (with extras in case you lose one). As I said, we have seen this stuff before, along with the two basic stands for both of the figures, but these add value to the price point, and give further avenues for variety from figure to figure.
Popeye also has three portraits, two of which we have seen before, and a new bruised and battered version to coordinate with Bluto. Now, it is obvious that Popeye and Bluto have been scuffling because that is what they do, but like Bluto, I find this to be my favorite of the included Popeye heads, even if it is a bit gross. Let’s see, it looks like Popeye has a broken and bloody nose, a nice shiner on his right eye, some pre-cauliflowering on his left ear, and a nasty raised hematoma on his forehead. This makes of pummeled mug that looks like it got the worst of the fight when compared to Bluto, but it still has a bit of smirk in the expression, so you know Popeye is ready for more. This is a clever and logical take to add some variety to the Popeye portraits, so I am glad to have it. I am thinking that a possible future release could feature Popeye and Bluto in matching sailor suits, so these heads seem like they would fit even better there, but I guess we will see.
This is an awesome set, and the clunkiness of the rain hat notwithstanding, everything is pretty perfect. I love that we have meaningful new Popeye variation, and Bluto is absolutely wonderful, and one of funnest figures I have gotten in awhile. Like I said, I don’t have an expansive One:12 collection, but I am a completist with Popeye, and this grouping looks amazing all together. Also – I want MORE, lots more, and there is so much to do. Like I said, further meaningful versions of Popeye and Bluto will be welcomed, but man, I NEED Wimpy, and Olive Oyl, too, and really, Pappy would be so easy to make at this point as well. From the looks of it, Popeye is selling like gangbusters for Mezco, so I hope all of these things are in our future as this property represents the very best of what the One:12 Collective line is capable of doing. Please continue to blow me down.