REVIEW: BIG CHIEF’S SHERLOCK & WATSON FROM THE ABOMINBLE BRIDE

Written by | Featured, Reviews

Watson: Holmes, against absolutely no opposition whatsoever, I am your closest friend.
Holmes: I concede it.
Watson: I am currently attempting to have a perfectly normal conversation with you.
Holmes: Please don’t.

The BBC’s Sherlock was the first place I was introduced to Benedict Cumberbatch. I know he’d had many roles on other BBC series and movies, but Sherlock was my introduction to him in 2010. And as much as I like him as Dr. Stephen Strange in the MCU, Sherlock Holmes is still my favorite role of his.

The Abominable Bride was a special episode of the BBC show Sherlock broadcast in 2016. It took the characters back to the more traditional Victorian era from the Arthur Conan Doyle novels. It was fun to see these characters, as played by Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, against this more traditional backdrop.

I honestly never expected to see licensed versions of these characters but I’m glad that figures like these are being made. As with many of their figures, Big Chief offers a Limited and a Signature Edition, the later has the addition of the signatures of the actors on a special plate with a certificate of authenticity. Other than that they are the same and I will be reviewing the Limited edition here.

I’ll also be reviewing the 221B Baker Street diorama seen in some of these images, also from Big Chief.

ReviewWhatsInTheBox

Sherlock Holmes

  • Sherlock Holmes figure wearing a three-piece suit with tweed printed pattern, white high collar shirt, patterned tie, handkerchief, victorian overcoat with cape, partial socks, shoes.
  • 6 Interchangeable hands
  • 2 Interchangeable Gloved Hands
  • Smoking Pipe
  • Magnifying Glass
  • Riding Crop
  • Revolver
  • Victorian Lantern
  • Fob Watch with Chain
  • Display Stand

Dr. John Watson

  • Dr. John Watson figure wearing a three-piece suit with tweed printed pattern, white high collar shirt, patterned tie, victorian overcoat with cape, partial socks, shoes.
  • 6 Interchangeable hands
  • 2 Interchangeable Gloved Hands
  • Bowler Hat
  • Pistol
  • Persian Slipper
  • Candle Stick with Holder
  • Fob Watch on Chain
  • Patterned Scarf
  • Display Stand

 

Avg. 7.5 (Holmes 8/10 | Watson 7/10)

As with the Connery Bond, the Holmes sculpt was done by the talented Inigo Gil. Like Bond, it’s a very good likeness.- the shape and the features are spot-on. The lower lip muscles could be a bit more pronounced, but that’s are very minor nit. The paint here feels a bit too flat for me. The coloring and sheen of the hair are good, the eyebrows are a little light. The eyes are fine, an appropriate blue color, but the skin lacks some depth overall. I feel like it could have used a lighter “highlight” layer over this one (Cumberbatch is pretty fair-skinned) which also might help bring out some skin surface details, like skin pores, which are present in the sculpt. He’s just a little too “ruddy” or blushed.

I like the paint on Dr. Watson a little better, there’s more depth – a little redness around the eyes and the bit of five o’clock shadow helps too – and he’s paler overall. It looks like he did have that extra, lighter layer applied. The hair and mustache are just a little too dark, but the details are nice. Curiously neither of them have any lower eyelash paint which is a subtle detail but helps define the eye area. Some of the details of the sculpt (this one was done by Alex Down) like exaggerated mouth muscles and too jowly lower mouth area, along with the under-eye bag lines make him look older than he should, but the likeness is there at most angles.

Putting them side-by-side, I couldn’t decide if the Holmes sculpt is just a tiny bit undersized or if Watson is a bit oversized. The actors have very different head shapes to be sure, but something is just slightly off. I think it may be that Dr. Watson’s head is a little too wide.

 

Avg. 7.5 (Holmes 7/10 | Watson 8/10)

As with the first Bond figures, Big Chief has done a pretty good job with the specifics of the clothing, reproducing the patterns and details like button and pocket placement. What is a great improvement, and something I suggested in my Bond review, is the replacement of the bulky snaps used for the Bond figures with magnets to hold the shirt, vest, and jacket closed. This makes the line of the clothing and the profile of the figure much better and helps especially because of the addition of overcoats with Sherlock and Watson. The clothing is still a little “bulky” especially along the seams and the shirt collars, a thinner material for the shirts might help.

The suits are generally good; Holmes’ suit is a cotton material that reproduces the original (which looks like wool to me) very well. Dr. Watson’s plaid pattern is well reproduced though I would have liked it a little more subtle – maybe a slightly darker background material would have made it less contrasty. The material is a serviceable facsimile for what is also likely a wool suit. The coats are where the two figures split for me. Watson’s coat is fine – the cut and weight are very good, nicely sized and properly colored buttons. I know the lightweight wool of the original is a tough material to replicate at scale, and I wish it had a little more of that look, but it’s good.

Sherlock’s greatcoat and cape do not fair as well with me. The look of the material is ok, the buttons are fine and details like the red buttonhole are there, but a very important part of it – the collar – is too high and the structure is too thick. On the original, the cape, which buttons to the top of the coat, is unstructured and sort of flops over to create the collar. It doesn’t stick up as this does – the shirt collar should actually sit above the whole thing. It seems like another level of the collar was added causing it to sit high up over his face where it should sit very close to his shoulders. Part of this is also due to the head sitting a little too low on the neck as well, but it’s mainly the height and structure of the collar. It should have had the same weight as the cape itself.

For accessories, each figure comes with about the same amount. Both come with a basic, non-branded stand. Each comes with their own distinctive hat, a bowler for Watson and the famous deerstalker for Sherlock. Both are plastic, which isn’t unusual – especially for the structured bowler, but considering the great job they did with Auric Goldfinger’s cap, it might have been nice to have the deerstalker made of material. Holmes’ other accessories include his smoking pipe, a magnifying glass, a riding crop, a revolver, a chained pocket watch, and a Victorian lantern. This last might have been cool with a light up feature, but that would have brought the cost up, I’m sure. The rest are well-detailed and adequately painted, although the pocket watch could have used a shinier finish.

Dr. Watson’s other accessories include a pistol,  a candle holder/candle, a pocket watch, a scarf, and a Persian slipper (where Holmes keeps his tobacco as in the books). Again, all are nicely painted.

 

ReviewArticulation

Avg.8.5 (Holmes 9/10 | Watson 8/10)

Both figures utilize Big Chief’s Anatomix body for their base which has over 30 points of articulation just about on par with all recent body types. It’s a solid body, elbows and knees are double jointed and have no issues reaching their full contraction even in most of the clothing. Hands move freely, including the gloved hands due to the nice, pliable nature of the material used for hands. They’re a little trickier to adjust the wrist pegs with, but I love the flexible material Big Chief uses for hands – a partially closed hand can hold just about any object that would fit in a palm this size.

Both sculpts are un-necked, which I personally prefer for natural movement and the necks have a moveable joint under a rubberized covering which looks good and allows a nice range of movement.

Ankle movement is restricted due to the height of the boots both figures wear. They are flexible to some degree but push them too far and they pop off. In fact, Watson’s feet are especially apt to fall off – sometimes with the simplest of movement. This is fixable with some blu-tac or the more delicate super-glue method, but this should not be the case with a new figure and is the biggest reason I dropped the score for him. I don’t know if this is a universal flaw, but it was both feet in this case so I doubt it’s isolated to mine.

Other than that the articulation is fine and you’ll be able to get them into any pose you want, though they may require a stand for walking or running poses.

ReviewPricePoint

Avg. 8 (Holmes 8/10 | Watson 8/10)

As I stated above, these are sold as a set. There are two available versions; the Signature Edition and the Limited Edition. The difference being that the actual signatures of the actors are included on a special laser-etched plaque with the Signature edition.

The Limited Edition set – the one I’m reviewing here – retails for £349 (approx $455 US). That brings each figure to the $228 range each.

Now, price is a tough thing to judge in this industry. Hot Toys is a behemoth and as such can keep costs down due to the volume they produce even while paying what are likely huge licensing fees for the hot properties (Marvel, DC, Star Wars) they make figures for. Smaller companies, like Asmus, for example, do some great work, occasionally packing the figures with lots of accessories while often keeping prices around $200. However, they, like Qmx, StarAce, and Big Chief have licenses that should cost quite a bit less than Marvel, DC and Star Wars. Due to the lower count of figures they produce though, the cost per figure goes up. So you end up with figures from a specific episode of a BBC show coming in just under the price a Captain Marvel figure from what will likely be a worldwide blockbuster movie.

So, you can’t really compare them apples to apples. What at first glance may seem a bit high for the property is really not too far out of line. That said, for that price, a few of the more glaring issues and QC faults should not come into play.

 

ReviewOverallDesign

7.5/10

The packaging is beautiful. So nice in fact that I’m inclined to suggest they spend a little less time/money on the boxes and a little more attention to some of the little issues mentioned here. But if you’re a packaging person you’ll love this one.

I do love that Big Chief will produce figures like this. They’re something I personally would own as a fan of the show. Niche figures from small licenses will only be made by smaller manufacturers and hopefully, they’ll do well enough to keep figures like this being produced.

Overall this is a nice set with a few nits that drag it down a little. If you’re a fan of the show or Holmes in general, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed and with some futzing and some simple fix-ups, it can look very nice on the shelf.

 

 

Thanks to Big Chief Studios for providing the figures for review.

For more from across the toy community, stay tuned to Exclu

Last modified: March 19, 2019

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