Saturday, 16 November 2013

Funko POP! Plague Doctor Review

Company: Funko

Series: POP! Games (Assassin's Creed)

The Background

During the time of the black plague, many doctors adopted a distinctive uniform – a bird-faced mask, accompanied by a thick leather coat. While more than a little disconcerting to the modern eye, these distinctive costumes were essentially a crude version of a modern-day hazmat suit.

Germs and disease transmission were not fully understood at the time, but their coats served as a means to insulate doctors against the infected patients that they visited. The nosecones were filled with spices and pleasant-smelling flowers, with the idea that the sweet smells would ward off airborne disease (though as would later be discovered, the plague was not airborne).  They also often carried a long stick, which was used for prodding patients to examine them, rather than touching them directly.
Plague doctors have been getting a bit of attention over the last few years. They featured quite prominently in Assassin’s Creed 2 and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, as background characters in the main game and as a skin for multiplayer. A co-worker also informs me that they’ve appeared in an episode of True Blood, in a flashback.  

My own experience with plague doctors dates back to 1999ish, when I came across this picture in a history textbook at school. The book gave very little context for the image, and I remember feeling a curious combination of being simultaneously disturbed and fascinated. It definitely stuck with me, though – in 2010 I got a tattoo of that same image on my right shoulder.  

But plague doctor-related stuff is still relatively uncommon, so I was pretty pleased when I saw that Funko were releasing the Plague Doctor from Assassin’s Creed as part of their POP! Games series. The other characters (The Assassins Altair, Ezio, Connor and Edward) are neither here nor there to me. No, this was bought solely on the basis of being a plague doctor.

The Packaging

This is in the same basic style as all the POP!s have been – greyish box, with a cartoon of the figure on the side and front. All the other characters in the series are pictured on the back. There’s also some Animus-style details added in the background, which is keeping in the theme of the release.

Funko boxes are pretty neither here nor there to me, as they all end up in the bin anyway. But this one struck a chord with me and I seriously considered keeping the Doctor MIB – not something I do often. However, habit won out and I opened him within minutes.  I still have the box as well, and may do something with the art on it.

If you do display yours MIB, you probably already know that Funko boxes tend to use a fairly cheap cardboard and get banged-up pretty easily. Just be careful when storing.   


I’m quite satisfied with the sculpting on the whole. The key feature – the mask – looks good, with little lines of detail etched in where they probably could have got away with making a flat sculpt (e.g. the mouth, the cheeks). I also like the strap on the back of the head. I wouldn’t have missed it if it wasn’t present, but it’s a nice little touch. There’s also some subtle detailing on the robe and the gloves, all of which enhance the overall look, rather than being distracting.

I’m not sure how closely it resembles the in-game character (though from memory, it’s not a bad likeness), but as I mentioned above, I didn’t buy this for the Assassin’s Creed aspects, so matching the exact appearance wasn’t too important for me. Mileage may vary for more dedicated fans.  

There aren’t really accessories per se; however, he does have a syringe filled with a green fluid moulded to his right hand. Articulation is virtually non-existent. His head swivels on a peg, and that’s it. Still, Funko toys are display pieces, not action figures, so he doesn’t lose any marks for that.   
Funko does quite a good job of cuteifying iconic characters. But while the Plague Doctor is certainly cutesy, I wouldn’t say he’s cute. I don’t find him unsettling, but others certainly have, and I can understand why – I was definitely unsettled the first time I saw a plague doctor outfit.

I’ve bought quite a few POPs since the beginning of the year, and the paint jobs can be very hit or miss. This one is probably a bit below average for Funko. The whole fig appears to be moulded in green, with details picked out in paint, primarily brown. There’s a bit of slop onto the robe, which does give the impression that he’s been out working, I suppose.

The metallic buttons on the collar have also been done quite questionably. At least one seems to have gone around the button, rather than on it, though it’s been quite washed out. The buttons on the coat are also a little off.  
But the main thing to look out for is the goggles. Around the eyes, I can see that there’s been slop from the black detailing – which has then been less than subtly covered up with almost-matching paint. It’s not a dealbreaker, but it is disappointing.

If this were some other companies, I think I’d be quite annoyed. But I’ve come to almost expect this from Funko. It’s an area where they could really lift their game, but it still doesn’t wreck my overall enjoyment of the figure.
As for variants, I’ve only come across one in the Assassin’s Creed series thus far – Ezio in his black robe – but I’m kind of hoping for a glow in the dark variant of the Plague Doctor. I haven’t yet dipped my toes into the obscure waters of Funko variants as yet, but a release like that might just tempt me. 


"The mask isn't for you - it's to protect the people that you care about!"

I can see the Plague Doctor becoming a bit of a cult favourite with POP! collectors, whether they’re Assassin’s Creed fans or not. Most of my POP!s are superheroes, so he gains a lot of points simply by virtue of being different.  The sculpting is solid, even if the paint isn’t, and he’s an endearing little fellow. The longer I have him, the more I like him. He makes a fine addition to the collection.


No comments:

Post a Comment