Toy Review: Spike, Shining Armor, and Princess Cadance vinyl figures, from Funko Toys
With the release of Princess Celestia and Princess Luna in late December, Funko and Hot Topic gave fans of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic animated series, two of the show’s major secondary characters to add to their collections.
With the Mane 6 characters already out in stores, the door seems wide open now for additional secondary and background characters to find their way onto store shelves. Of course, the realm of secondary characters still has plenty to go through on the checklist.
Spring of 2015 saw a few more of these characters come to prominence…including one that wasn’t actually a pony at all…
He’s been a part of the My Little Pony legacy for many years…but it was largely within the Friendship is Magic series, did Spike gain a little more respect…and a small legion of fans.
The baby dragon assigned to be Twilight Sparkle’s assistant has been on some interesting journeys of his own. Spike’s time with the Mane 6 definitely helped him gain a wider perspective on things that were considered “girl’s stuff,” and he also ended up having a crush on Rarity. Some have considered Twilight and Spike’s relationship to be akin to a Mother and Son. To me, I saw them more like an older sister and an adopted brother, with the older sister kindly allowing her brother to join in with her friends and their adventures.
Spike’s figure is the first of a smaller wave of Friendship is Magic figures, that are not in the exaggerated FunkoPOP line-up. Even so, his vinyl material is made from the same type as the POP figures.
With animation, Spike’s form is exaggerated at times, but the sculptors at Funko managed to do a decent job translating him into 3 dimensions. They even worked on giving him more of a dynamic pose. Instead of just having his arms to his sides, we get his right arm with a raised claw, as if he’s ready to make a suggestion.
The sculpt does shave down the size of his head’s scale ridge, and his eyes seem a little big when seen from the front. An impressive little detail, is the faintly-painted eyebrows over his eyes. They could have done away with this, but I think the light paint application works well! Size-wise, Spike is pretty close to his scale on the Friendship is Magic cartoon series, and puts him at chin-level with the main ponies in the Funko lineup.
Even with some minor issues here and there, I think he’s a great little purchase to add to many collections, and for many fans of the under-used “number one assistant,” is a great new figure.
Final Grade: A-
As any series continues chugging along, numerous characters are introduced that were not part of the original story pitch. With the 2-part Season 2 finale, A Canterlot Wedding, many were introduced to Twilight Sparkle’s brother: Shining Armor. But he wasn’t just any sibling: he was Captain of the Royal Guard in Canterlot! (Twilight and Shining’s parents must be very proud of their two famous children).
Considered Twilight’s BBBFF (Big Brother Best Friend Forever), Shining’s role on the show has largely been of a supporting character. After the reappearance of the Crystal Empire at the start of Season 3, he and Princess Cadance were assigned to protect and rule over the Kingdom, starting with the beginning of Season 3 of Friendship is Magic.
Much of the world press went crazy over the wedding of England’s Prince William to Kate Middleton in April of 2011, and in April of 2012, the royal wedding story seemed to make little references to England’s real-world union.
Much like Prince William, Shining Armor is befitted in a jacket that seems very similar, along with a blue sash. This also makes Shining Armor the first male stallion to be (almost) fully-clothed. The jacket also helps hide the seam between his head and body, making for a nice, clean assembly.
Shining also is a first in two areas regarding stallions produced by Funko for this line. Not only is he the first male unicorn, but he is the first medium-sized one, between the smaller Dr Hooves, and the larger Big McIntosh figure.
The one area of Shining Armor’s design that is a little wonky, are his eyes. By the looks of it, he was meant to be viewed from a 3/4 angle, giving a “too cool for mule” smirk. The eyes don’t work so well in a front view, which makes him go wall-eyed. Also of note, is that when seen from the front, his unicorn horn is placed slightly to the left.
As it stands now, Shining Armor’s figure is one of the better crafted ones, with the exception of being viewed from head-on. Given that he only wore his royal jacket just one time, I do wonder why they didn’t just release him as a non-clothed stallion, given his many other appearances sans jacket.
Final Grade: B+
Probably of all the characters introduced in Season 2, Twilight Sparkle’s former foal-sitter and new sister-in-law, racked up quite a lot of fan-based eye-rolling when she was revealed to be another alicorn…though not quite on the same levels of power as Celestia, or Luna.
While Celestia and Luna seemed to buck the trend of being “pink pony princesses,” Cadance seemed to fit that role to a “T.” A sweet-voiced alicorn whose power seemed to be centered around love, she didn’t seem as deep or serious enough to please those who took the show’s world super-seriously. Much of her appearances have simply been relegated to being in bad situations, which leads me to feel that she’s almost the equivalent of an assistant. I mean, Celestia pretty much gave her and Shining Armor total control over the Crystal Empire, and put them in extremely-stressful situations in protecting the place from the evil King Sombra.
In regards to her Funko sculpt, Cadance did surprise me in several ways. My first thought was they had simply re-used Princess Luna’s mold, but much like some other pony sculpts, she’s a brand-new one! For example, Cadance’s wings are slightly smaller than Luna’s, and her neck seems thicker than Luna’s as well. They also added a slight airbrushing of purple to her wings, much like Cadance’s wings on the show.
Even her head isn’t looking straight-ahead, but is tilted down and to the left slightly. Cadance also has a pretty large shock of hair, though looking a little more like taffy than cotton candy, given the texture of the vinyl being used.
Like most first-releases, Cadance is not without some sloppiness, but she seems a little more sloppy in paint areas than Spike or Shining Armor. A positive is that the vinyl “seams” in parts of her face are not as noticeable as those on my Princess Luna figure. Even with these issues, I still find her release to be very well done.
Final Grade: B+
The figures should now be available at your nearest Hot Topic stores, or on their main website. Shining Armor and Princess Cadance each retail for $18.50 apiece. In the case of Spike, his smaller size puts him at a cheaper price, of $12.50.
As of this writing, these three figures will also escape the exclusivity of Hot Topic in late September, when they become available through several other retail outlets.
I had thought that along with Shining Armor and Cadance, we’d get our first villain figure since Discord, in the form of Queen Chrysalis (who also appeared in A Canterlot Wedding). However, her absence does bring up a thought that has been on my mind since these figures were announced: is it possible that Funko might not give us the villains in the series, at this size? Sure we have Discord, but he’s in that grey area due to his reformation episodes.
Recently, pictures surfaced showing Chrysalis being a figure in the smaller, Mystery Mini’s series of Funko figures for the show, but it does make one wonder if she’ll have a larger counterpart or not.
As it stands now, the main secondary characters regarding royalty have all been released, which leads to my speculation that Funko will try to produce some of the more normal secondary characters we’ve seen the Mane 6 encounter, such as Zecora, or Ms Cheerilee. The upcoming Fall release of their Mystery Mini lineup also includes figure of Season 4’s characters of Cheese Sandwich and Maud Pie, which leads some of us to believe they’ll be joining their larger counterparts soon.
As one can see by the paragraphs above, there’s plenty of room for speculation in keeping the series going. With Friendship is Magic almost halfway through its 5th season, there’s bound to still be some momentum and demand for more characters.
Of course, the big question will be how long the line can last, since almost all of the more important members of the cast have all been released.