Review – Hot Toys 12″ F/A-18 Hornet Aviator

10 12 2006

 

Hot Toys made a good marketing move recently by starting its U.S Navy Pilots line with a dash of inspiration from the movie Top Gun. The results were amazing. Pilot 12″ figures are usually very well-received by themselves. To top that, now collectors get to have pilots with Tom Cruise’s and Val Kilmer’s headsculpt underneath! And the good news is that both sculpts were well done! What a combo!

With the review of the F-14 Tomcat Aviator earlier this week, it’s time for his compatriot – the F/A-18 Hornet Aviator! One noticeable difference between this pair is the helmet design. You should be able to spot it outright. Unlike the HGU-33/P Tactical Aircrew helmet worn by the F-14 Aviator, the F/A-18 Aviator’s HGU-68/P helmet spots a rather non-symmetrical visor. It does resemble a fly’s eye!

This tactical helmet was a replacement for the earlier HGU-55/P helmet which had a knack for its visor to be blown off upon ejection.

Let’s take a closer look at this aviator in the review!

Bottomline:

This is another well produced figure with an amazing headsculpt from Hot Toys. If you are in the market for 12″ pilots, this is probably a figure you should not miss! The details on the uniform and gear are good. Figure is very stable. Similar to F-14 Aviator, the sunglasses sucks. Possesses a good array of accessories.

What’s good:

  • Good packaging – collector friendly.
  • Good Val Kilmer sculpt.
  • Good equipment details.
  • Extremely stable figure!
  • Pilots always look cool!

What could be better:

  • Sunglasses look awful. It’s different from that depicted at the back of the box.
  • Velcro flaps on some pouches failing.
  • Not a good fit between the visor and the oxygen regulator.
  • CSU-17/P counter pressure vest could have been better made.

Review Details

Packaging

Collector-friendly packaging – similar to the F-14 Aviator. You would just need to remove adhesive tapes and plastic binders to release the figure and the accessories from its plastic tray.

Headsculpt/Resemblance

Hot Toys does a good sculpt of Val Kilmer here. It’s resemblance is strongest when viewed straight. But compared to Val Kilmer in Top Gun, this sculpt looked more mature than the cocky LT Tom Kazanski. From the side, he looks like Kilmer when the sunglasses are worn.

Quality of Product

The details on the F/A-18 Aviator are good. Once again, the equipment is modelled from real life equivalent. The uniform found on this figure is largely similar to the F-14 Aviator. There is the CWU-27/P flight suit which is a standard issue for most pilots in the U.S.A.F. Then there is theCSU-15/P Anti-G suit, MA-2 torso harness, LPU-23/P life preserver and the survival vest. A different equipment found on the F/A-18 Aviator that is not included in the F-14 Aviator is the CSU-17/P Anti-G vest.

The implementation fo this CSU-17/P Anti-G vest could have been better. The zipper on the actual vest is slanted and is on the left chest of the person wearing it. Hot Toys got most of theses details right but the use of the normal size slider seems off. Let me explain. Take a look at the first pic above under the headsculpt section. In the picture, notice that the right flap of the vest sticks out like a sore thumb because the zip slider is unable to go all the way up. You can see how ugly the vest looks as a result. For those unfamiliar with flight equipment, it may look like a glaring defect. A normal slider is simply unable to zip the vest properly as it is too big. A better implementation would probably be to use one of those 1/6 scale zippers found on the calf area of the CSU-15/P Anti-G suit.

Another difference in the F/A-18 Aviator is the CRU-88/P chest mounted regulator. If you have a reference picture of the actual thing, you could see how well the details mirror it. This conveys the consistent attention to details that Hot Toys is becoming known for. And it is good news for collectors!

The good fit between the visor and the oxygen regulator was a point of praise in my review of the F-14 Aviator. However, in the F/A-18 Aviator, it’s an uncomfortable sight. A significant gap could be seen between the oxygen regulator and the visor. The reference picture below shows that this should not be. Though it is not meant to be airtight, I do not believe such a gap is accurate. If this figure is placed on a high shelve, the viewer will be able to see the the eyes of the pilot. Some cool factor is lost here.

As mentioned, the rest of the gear worn on the F/A-18 Aviator is largely similar to the F-14 Aviator. As such, they do not disappoint in the quality department. I would say that the details are the strongest point. Noticed the LT rank sewn on the shoulders?

Stability

Stability is another strong point in this Hot Toys product. I would attribute this to the solid soles of the boots. The F/A-18 did not topple over while the photo shoot was done. It did not require much effort to help it stand properly as well.

 

 

Accessories

The accessories included with this figure is largely similar to the F-14 Aviator. It is a welcome but frankly, only the L-torch appealed to me. It’s a wonderfully made version of the real thing. It reminded me of an L-torch I possess from my military days. I marveled at every part of it when I held that little thing between my fingers.

 

The helmet bag would be the next accessory worth a mention. It’s an accessory that is visible enough to convey something special about the nature of the figure.

And as with the F-14 Aviator, the sunglasses suck. It’s different from what is advertised in the pictures on the back of the box! And the sides of sunglasses look terrible when worn because they are not resting on the ears of the figure. It looked more like the sides being stressfully widened when worn. This is also an area of improvement for Hot Toys’ 1/6 work!

Conclusion

The accuracy and detail of this renditon of a F/A-18 Hornet pilot is enough to justify getting this figure. That is, if you are not too bothered by the areas for improvement I have mentioned above. Honestly, it is not really a big issue to make you want to skip this!

 

 

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