Oh the world will sing of an English King, a thousand years from now. And not because he passed some laws, or had that lofty brow. While bonny good King Richard leads the great crusade he’s on, we’ll all have to slave away for that good-for-nothin’ John!
Incredible as he is inept, whenever the history books are kept – they’ll call him the phony king of England. A pox on the phony king of England!
First of all – YOU’RE WELCOME. If I just got one of the best Disney movie songs stuck in your head, you are surely smiling and maybe even dancing at this point. Robin Hood, along with Mr. Toad, is one of my absolute favorite animated movies from the House of Mouse, and friends – it is criminally underrated. The charming songs hold everything together, but the story and cast of characters are both so wonderfully whimsical, so if you don’t delight in viewing, I am afraid to say there might not be any hope for you. Be it Robin Hood, Little John, Friar Tuck, Maid Marian, Lady Kluck, the Sheriff of Nottingham, Trigger, Nutsy, or that slick-tongued Sir Hiss, you just cannot go wrong.
However, one character arguably rises above the rest in terms of memorable personality, character arc, quirks, and of course, VOICE – and that is the good-for-nothin’ Prince John. When Super7 first announced their initial series of Disney ULTIMATES! I nodded my head in agreement with Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mickey, and Pinocchio, but PJ (I like that, I do!) is the one I have really been waiting for, and I hope beyond hope he is the start of us getting the entire core Robin Hood cast in ULTIMATES! This series underwent quite a journey in terms of development and production (as did all U! figures hitting right now) thanks to the pandemic, but as whole, this is one of those rare instances where I find the final products to be BETTER than the prototypes/initial renders. Frankly, the wait has been worth it.
I am going to start by mentioning that the packaging for Prince John (and this entire series) is absolutely exquisite. Super7 packaging, as a rule, is generally the best in the game, but the movie-specific slip covers and iridescent finish really make these stand out. I absolutely love the jewels running up the side of the slip, and the box itself has a great die cut crown in the top. It is all really top-notch and if you are a mint-on-card collector, you are really in luck here. Of course, these are all protected by the standard cardboard outer box and plastic bag, so these arrived in perfect condition. I am excited to see how the other movies/shows will be represented in this line as it moves along because these are certainly worthy of Disney collector figures.
Now, for the actual figure, Prince John is appropriately the largest figure in the series, and he helps set the scale for the line going forward. Mickey and Pinocchio are significantly smaller than PJ, and that makes sense, but he also helps establish that when we (hopefully) get Little John and the Sheriff of Nottingham, they will be oversized in terms of stature in ULTIMATES! I have included a couple of shots for comparison against figures you might already own, but overall, Prince John scales where you would expect for this line.
Prince John is presented as he appears early on in the film with his soft goods red robes and scene-specific accessories. If you are familiar with the movie (and you SHOULD be because it is awesome), this figure is perfect to replicate the fortune-telling scene where Robin and Little John rob the royal procession right down to the solid gold hubcaps. This figure is SOLID and includes about the same amount of articulation as most U! figures. Now, Disney characters have a lot of variance in size and shape, so I think the actual articulation scheme will vary greatly from character to character, and you can already see that here. PJ features a ball-jointed neck, ball shoulders, hinge and swivel elbows, hinge wrists, ball tail, ball hips, hinge and swivel knees, and forward-facing rocker ankles. That is a lot, but I am sure you will notice that there is not a torso joint, and I am positive that was done to preserve the form of his under robe. All of the joints on this particular figure are solid save for some slight floppiness in the right ankle. It doesn’t inhibit posing, but it doesn’t feel as tight compared to the other joints.
I mentioned the red robe as it is stolen literally off of his back by Robin, and it is VERY well done here. This is one of those instances where I am actually glad it is made of cloth and looks wonderful, fits well, and the spotted trimming is perfectly accurate. It is so good that I kind of wish we would have gotten an alternate blue version as well (he wears that for most of the movie), but I get that would have likely broken the budget. The sleeves of the robe do not inhibit the arm articulation at all, and if, for some reason, you want a more casual Prince, the red robes are fully removable.
PJ also includes three portraits, and they are very expressive, but slightly different from as presented in the prototype. All of them are nicely appropriate to the character and they give you a lot of options for presentation. The “smiling” head includes a crown that is removable, so you can hang it down around the head as it tends to slip down on his pointy head throughout the movie. You can almost hear him say, “how droll” with this happy expression. I think I prefer the angry/frustrated head the best as it captures his most common mood throughout the story, and it couples well with the included fists (more on those in a moment) for his arms straight down his side after being gotten by Robin Hood. The third head is more comedic as the crown has slipped down over his eyes, and his mouth/snout it depicted perfectly for that moment. I do want to say that all of the heads have very nicely painted crowns, and I love the metallic finish on the gold and beset jewels, it really makes them stand out. A thumb-sucking head would have put this completely over the top, but maybe that is a possibility for the future.
There are seven different swappable hands included, too – both for form and functionality. There are two open hands and two fists with the bejeweled rings (again with a nice metallic finish), as well as two fists with jewel-free rings (for after they are “kissed” away by Robin and Little John), and one grip hand to grab that yes-man Sir Hiss by the neck. Mummy’s mirror is also included for self adoration before it is ultimately broken, so that rounds out a pretty strong accessory count for this figure.
Ah, but see, this release is a misnomer, as this is actually a TWO PACK! We cannot forget that the sycophant Sir Hiss is also here – and in two forms no less! Yes, you get Hiss in his “standing” coiled set, as well as his “mid-strangulation” form for maximum punishment for all of PJ’s mistakes. Both of these figures feature a partial ball joint neck at the bast of the head. I love Sir Hiss, and Terry-Thomas’ portrayal of the character was spot-on and very memorable, so it is great that he was included here. You cannot have PJ without Hiss, after all.
Listen, I have been wanting collector-grade Disney action figures for a long, long time. I feel fortunate that Robin Hood is being featured so strongly and so early in the ULTIMATES! line as it is a top-three Disney movie for me. Robin himself is up next in series two, but I REALLY hope it does not stop there. Heck, next year is the 50th anniversary of the movie, so maybe we can get a quick two series sub-line so we can get Little John, Maid Marian (with Skippy), Trigger & Nutsy, and Crocodile Captain of the Guard (with Toby) in the first series, then Friar Tuck (with church mice), the Sheriff of Nottingham, Lady Kluck (with Sis), Allan-a-Dale (with Tagalong) in the second. Boom! Done! The full core cast for an awesome collection. Let’s make it happen, Super7!
I would say that PJ probably ranks up there with Slithe, Muckman, and Toxie as being one the best ULTIMATES! figures released thus far. So, if you are only going to go in for one from this series, make it that good-for-nothin’ John.
If you have not pre-ordered Prince John, you can still do so at BBTS, and Disney ULTIMATES! series three is currently available for pre-order directly from Super7, so don’t miss out on those either. Keep it right here, we will have more from this series for feature soon.
I will leave you with more of that catchy tune: Too late to be known as John the first, he’s sure to be known as John the worst! A pox on that phony king of England!
*Thanks to Super7 for sending PJ along for an early feature.