Since the release of their eponymous “Black” album, Metallica have consistently been one of the most controversial bands in heavy metal. Many (this writer included) cut ties a long time ago, content to remember their past glories fondly but abandoning any hope that they’d rise above the level of average dad rock again. They kind of did on Hardwired… to Self-Destruct, but calling it a triumphant return would be...generous. Still, they have nothing to prove critically, based on their first few albums. And based on the albums that came afterwards, they have even less to prove commercially.
But though I think they’re a bit of a spent force musically, I was quite pleased to see Funko were making Metallica part of the POP! Rocks line. I knew James Hetfield would be a must-buy for me, and so now he stands on the shelf alongside Jimi Hendrix and Lemmy.
This POP shows Hetfield circa the release of the Black Album, though it could kind of be him anywhere between 1988 and 1992; the main thing marking it out as specifically from this period is his wolf’s head necklace. But if you can pinpoint it to a certain date or concert, please feel free to let me know in the comments below.
It captures an interesting time in the band’s history; Metallica were transitioning to a much more commercial sound via the release of the Black album, but they were still unapologetically a metal band, and looked the part. Hetfield has a bit of a pseudo-Lemmy look going on with his facial hair, in tandem with a not-quite mullet. It’s not his best look, but he’s certainly had worse over the years. Appropriately, he’s got his distinctive white Gibson Explorer, though it’s sans “EET FUK” sticker and instead has a Metallica logo printed across the lower edge. The guitar itself is surprisingly detailed, with tone and volume knobs, and even a pickup selector switch! Funko have also included a guitar strap, which is a nice touch. This is the first time I’ve seen them do it, but I assume future guitar-slinging POPs will also feature them.
Paint is sloppy, which is not particularly surprising. It’s mostly forgivable, except for the face, which is noticeably patchy on the moustache. This is one I might – MIGHT – actually get around to repainting myself, because I really wasn’t thrilled with the work done at the factory.
It’s definitely not Funko’s best POP! Rocks piece – but it’s a fun one for Metallica fans. You can also pick up Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Rob Trujillo to complete the band, should you feel so inclined. I’m still hoping for Ronnie James Dio further down the line; hopefully the release of Metallica is a sign of them testing the water for future metal releases.