The Joss Whedon created universe of FIREFLY was destined to fail and their is one reason for that: FOX. The channel historically pulls promising shows barely out of the gate only to replace them with garbage that even less people will watch than its predecessor! FIREFLY aired just 11 of its 14 produced episodes and quietly was off the air before you could say “Shiny.” They literally never gave Whedon’s magnum opus its due but who knew that the writer/director would have the last laugh.
Before he was a household name as the auteur behind the AVENGERS juggernaut film franchise, Whedon cut his teeth for years in the business before hitting the big time with BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. It was on the heels of that long running hit on which FIREFLY was built. However the FOX suits were circling for blood 13 years ago and someone had to fall on the chopping block. The adventures of a group of displaced space cowboys in the ‘verse after the fall of the Independents to the dreaded Alliance had one basic tenet—it is a space western without all of the CGI that can muck up important things like character development. If we know one thing, its that Whedon is a winner when it comes to creating a character.
In a strange move because of a small, devout fan base, Whedon released the DVD with the three unaired episodes to fill out the first season’s narrative. Fans were impressed. So impressed that before our geeky eyes, the little show that FOX canned was becoming a cult hit. One friend told another to pick up the cheap 14-episode box set, then another friend borrowed it, then someone downloaded the torrent, etc etc. FIREFLY had permeated the most important of all when its original intention was simply to survive one season on network television. Fans became die hard, binging on the repeat friendly episodes over and over again until the voices became loud enough for Whedon to crazily go to the movie studio and asked to write and direct the feature film SERENITY to wrap the story up and be shown on the BIG SCREEN! That’s right, 2005’s SERENITY was a full length feature film and is perhaps one of the best bookends to a TV series there has ever been. Partly because this anomaly never really happens and party because geek culture was proving to have some serious weight in the entertainment industry. Imagine if all of your favorite TV shows that got canned has enough fan power to produce a feature film to give fans closure! To this day I watch all 14 episodes and then finish it off with a chaser of SERENITY. The product is just that good.
And the last decade has been that much better for the FIREFLY franchise with more merchandise that Mel Brooks’ “Yogurt” had in SPACEBALLS. To coincide with the theatrical release of SERENITY, Previews Exclusives released just three 6-inch figures; Malcolm Reynolds, Jayne Cobb and a Reaver. The figures were okay at best as far as appearance but it was slim pickings as they were not readily available at your local TARGET or TOYS R US. For these three figures, you had so schlep out to your LCS (Local Comic Shop) in the hopes of them having ordered a case. That was all action figure junkies had to whet their appetite on. Then something else happened, FIREFLY had began to outgrow itself. There were FIREFLY throw pillows, blankets, statues, comic books, necklaces, maps—-you name it, it has been or is going to be made. It is a strange thing to be part of a cult following when you were actually a fan before the whole thing was even labeled a cult!
Finally in 2014, FUNKO had the moxie to grab the license and have it join there retro ReACTION line of figures. I like to think of ReACTION figures as the toys I deserved as a kid when the show was actually on. Like when I was a kid and THE A-TEAM figures were terrible, I would have much rather have had a ReACTION treatment. And its not that I do not LOVE LOVE LOVE ReACTON figures. And its not like I did not pick up all five FIREFLY figures ReACTON produced. The problem was, as toys being my business, I KNEW the technology to build bad ass MARVEL LEGENDS style figures with lots of articulation, accessories, likenesses and sculpts. I wanted the works for FIREFLY! There were hordes of professional figure Customizers that tried their hand at the FIREFLY gang but they always fell flat to me. It was not until TOY FAIR 2015 that my wish had come true. FUNKO had been holding all the cards the whole time and introduced five FIREFLY figures in their glorious LEGACY COLLECTION line. 6-inches or more? Check. Facial and body likenesses? Check. Articulation? Double check. This was a thirteen year journey that was finally over.
When FUNKO was nice enough to send me the first wave of FIREFLY figures, I was absolutely giddy. Checking my phone obsessively to see the tracking progress on the package, making sure my doorbell worked as to not miss a delivery. It was a drama figure filled week folks. When they arrived, I was like a kid on Festivus morning. FIREFLY figures were now a real thing and I was going to do everything I could do to promote them and tell AFJ that these are a must buy. And if you haven’t watched FIREFLY or SERENITY (for shame), trust me, you will be buying these figures too after you get done with the binge marathon. I am going to review each piece figure by figure because to do them as a group would be a sin.
Before the breakdowns, I should say that the figures are incredibly affordable for what you get. Depending on what online retailer you use, I can vouch that AMAZON has all five of them for under $19 with FREE SHIPPING if you have PRIME. Amazing deal. On a quick note, die hards will immediately notice that there are a few characters missing in this first wave of FUNKO LEGACY figures including Shepherd Book, Inara Serra, Dr Simon Tam & River Tam. All integeral to the FIREFLY canon. And of course, the dreaded Reavers are missing. If they do decide and go ahead and make those, I am totally going to do what STAR WARS Junkies do and “army build” but instead of Stormtroopers, it will be with the awesomely disgusting REAVERS!! They are sick. Pretty, pretty, pretty sick. So I am definitely hinting at the FUNKO brass to please make a second wave of figures, the sooner the better.
CAPTAIN MALCOLM REYNOLDS
Now, onto wave one. Naturally, when you think of FIREFLY, you think of Captain Malcolm Reynolds played as the hardcore Browncoat war veteran of the battle with the Alliance. Reynolds is till fighting the war within and does so in his old Browncoat duds at all times. So before he was a wisecracking crime novelist on CASTLE, actor Nathan Fillion was seriously kicking ass as the Captain of the Firefly-class starship Serenity. I remember once my Mom saw me watching FIREFLY and said, “why aren’t you recording CASTLE for me?” I said, “this is not CASTLE, this is FREFLY from years before CASTLE.” She still did not understand this possible rift in the time travel continuum that an actor can be on several shows though out their careers but at the same time in the here and now. The first thing that grabbed me about the Malcolm figure and all of them actually is the beautiful window box display. They are pieces of art amongst themselves and you almost do not want to remove them from the package. That being said, because of the packaging, these are the perfect figures for both the loose collectors and the MIB (Mint In Box) crowd. And you can actually have the best of both worlds because you can easily remove the figure from its plastic house without ruining the packaging and eventually safely return it without issue.Captain Mal, the Han Solo for a new generation, comes replete with his signature Browncoat duster jacket and not only do you get a shotgun as an accessory, you get Mal’s signature Moses Brothers Self-Defense Engine Frontier Model B pistol. They even got the “Liberty Hammer” as it is affectionately referred to as to appeared worn and rusty from use. Bonus points for a holster to manage Mal’s sidearm to fit into which is an added attention to detail I love and appreciate as a collector. Although Mal’s fatigues are not the most easy on the pallet, somehow, brown and maroon work exceptionally well here. The Mal “costume” has become one of the easiest to put together at big Cons across the country and I can guarantee you will run into some next week at SDCC. I am not sure that Captain Mal will be the most coveted figure in this first wave despite him being the big dog on the Serenity but he will be the most essential to own.
Played by veteran actor Adam Baldwin, mercenary Jayne Cobb, who always goes anywhere if the money is next up to bat. Quick Adam Baldwin story first. At SDCC 2009, combing the San Diego nightlife with my brother, I literally ran into Mr. Baldwin coming out of a pub with none other than BUCK ROGERS’ Erin Gray. I wasn’t so concerned with her, I had to talk to the man that saved Canton! However, despite having interviewed a lot of celebrities over the years either in person or on the phone, I always act like a babbling idiot in front of one. This was no exception. Bear in mind this is during San Diego Comic Con, the Super Bowl of the geek world and the streets are packed. I politely asked Mr. Baldwin if I could get a picture with him even though I know he was charging $50 per signature at his SDCC booth. He could not have been more gracious and approachable. And TALL. The guy is like a skyscraper and I’m not a shrimp. So what did I do? Apparently I went on and on about two of my favorite childhood movies that he just happened to star in. MY BODYGYARD (not to be confused with Whitney Houston’s THE BODYGUARD) and the other movie was embarrassingly D.C. CAB co-starring MR. T! We talked for a few minutes and he walked away as I made a beeline for my brothers phone to see the pic. Then it hit me, in my flat spin before crashing, I neglected to ask him one word about FIREFLY or SERENITY or playing Jayne, etc. I got bupkis!The Jayne figure is just like Baldwin is in person, he’s big. They capture Baldwin’s mug perfectly and have his goatee trimmed perfectly to really sell the head sculpt. The figure looks like it just jumped off the screen and FUNKO’s insane attention to detail has me thinking of future LEGACY lines they will be making. This, for me, is my favorite figure in the bunch because it just has an organic feel to it with clean lines and is proportioned perfectly. Did I forget to mention what Jayne comes with as an accessory? That’s right true believers, WE’VE GOT VERA! Jayne’s signature weapon is now immortalized in plastic form. And detailed at that; hyper detailed I should say. Plus you also get a RAMBO style knife and an old time hand pistol for good measure. The only thing missing from this bad dude is “the hat.” Those that know FIREFLY lore will need no other hints as to what that statement means. Jayne sported a hat sent to him by his mother in one episode and although it is not seen in every episode, it touched a chord with fans and became a celebrity in and of itself. Good news though Junkies, PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVES did produce a special edition Jayne with the storied beanie and its available for just a few dollars more than the regular edition.
Captain Mal’s right hand and fellow Browncoat veteran from the war with the Alliance is Zoe Washburne played with warrior babe perfection by actress Gina Torres. I do not have any daughters but I have to think that while not for young girls, this figure is a good, positive role model for young women that do not think that they can play with the boys. Right down to the neck jewelry Zoe wears, every detail is spot on tis figure. Her signature sawed off shotgun is along for the ride along with a smaller companion pistol to keep on her hip. FUNKO really got Ms. Torres’ skin tone down perfectly and it is clearly her from across a room even if I just was a fan of her on the show SUITS, it is obviously her. It is that exact in the likeness department and the paint job is just spectacular. This will most definitely make one of my testosterone heavy shelves of figures get a breath of fresh female air and rightly so. Far and away, this female figure kicks most any female MARVEL LEGEND on its butt currently on the market.
If their is a human heart that runs the Serenity, it is most definitely Kaylee Frye. The adorable sweetheart from the nether regions of the ‘verse that never thought she’d see any more of the stars she looked up at at night became Captain Mal’s head engineer. Whereas Mal does not know how to even achieve liftoff on the spacecraft, Kaylee can make her hum across the skies. Actress Jewel Staite’s remarkable spunky beauty is captured perfectly in the likeness of her action figure. You can almost see the engine grease on her cheek that she is constantly wiping off on the program. Kaylee is in her engineer room “onesie” which goes perfect with her long sleeve purple undershirt. It might have been cool to see Kaylee with her hair up with chopsticks like in the Pilot episode along with the Geisha-type umbrella to capture the shows Asian flair but its no big deal. Kaylee’s only extra is her trusty wrench but really, what else does she need? Another winner and more kid friendly for girls than Zoe while still maintaining the strong, positive female vibe.
HOBAN “WASH” WASHBURNE
Although Wash doesn’t make it out of SERENITY alive (sorry folks, no spoiler warning for a decade old movie!), he is still perhaps the most beloved FIREFLY character. The figure is a dead ringer for character actor Alan Tudyk and his trademark grin and semi-crossed eyes. Wash is outfitted in his signature Hawaiian shirt over his pilot duds which I always thought was a metaphor for where he would like to be flying rather than space. Somewhere off coasting in the beautiful tropics with his wife, Zoe. Perhaps the greatest accessories of all belong to Wash in the form of, you guessed it, his dinosaur toys. His scenes playing with the plastic toys are still hysterical all these years later and it is ironic that an action figure comes with a toy as an accessory. All around, this figure is killer and a must have to round out the first wave.
All in all as just one of a few properties that have gotten the LEGACY COLLECTION treatment, FUNKO continues to impress. In fact, the FIREFLY series is their best set to date in my opinion and its not just because I am a die hard fan of the show and movie. Their is something extra in these figures that was not there in the first wave of GAME OF THRONES figures. Not to say those weren't outstanding figures, but rather with FIREFLY, it feels like FUNKO is really finding their groove in the lucrative 6-inch line of figures. I cannot thank Yoko, Mark & Brian at FUNKO enough for hooking up AFJ with this awesome case of figures. On behalf of the Junkies, I can't wait to see what you guys cook up next! And hey, don't forget your FIREFLY POPS! either!