TOY REVIEW: Disney Vinylmation 9″ Merlin
I picked up two of the unreleased Animation Series 1 9″ vinyls that were accidentally put out by the Times Square Disney Store over the weekend. I reviewed the first, Bolt the Dog, on Sunday. Tonight, I’ll be discussing Merlin, the legendary-yet-grouchy wizard from the 1963 Walt Disney Classics Collection animated feature “The Sword in the Stone”.
As I mentioned, this was put out for sale by accident and I believe pulled from the shelves at this point, so it’s not available for purchase at any Disney Store or Disney Park at the time of this review. These are supposed to be released for sale in early Spring, though it could be any time since they’re obviously ready now.
On to discussing Merlin! Like all of the human Vinylmations, Disney chose to take a very stylized and cute-ified approach as opposed to a realistic or screen-accurate one. Mercifully, Merlin came out looking better than poor (hyper-obese) Aladdin. Rather than wearing his hugely baggy robes that go down to his lower legs and a pair of slippers, this version of Merlin’s robes go all the way to the bottom of the figure. While Merlin isn’t entirely screen-accurate to his appearance in “The Sword in the Stone”, these modifications to his clothing make him look a lot cuter than I think he’d look with part of his legs showing on the vinyl. The way that they painted up the top of his head and mouse ears to try to represent Merlin’s hat really didn’t work for me at all, but I’ll talk about that more later on.
By far the most outstanding feature of this vinyl is the way that artist Maria Clapsis designed Merlin’s long, flowing beard. I wasn’t sure how well it would translate from the concept art to the finished figure, but it actually came out looking pretty outstanding. The long white beard is Merlin’s distinguishing physical characteristic, and getting it right was an absolute must and a big victory for this figure.
This 9″ Merlin is a limited edition of 1,000 produced. I don’t consider Merlin to be anywhere near being one of the more popular characters, so I do think it’s a little strange to get a 9″ figure of him. He would look really great with a 3″ Archimedes the Owl, though! I can only hope there will be an Archimedes forthcoming in a future Animation series to pair him with.
Another cool feature of this figure is the silver-painted magic sparkles that appear on the front of Merlin’s “hat” and carry over onto the entire back of the figure. They’re there as an interpretation of Merlin’s magical abilities on the figure, and they really add a point of interest to what could otherwise have been a very plain vinyl. The paintwork on the sparkles is excellent, and they really come out looking great.
The one major disappointment for me with this vinyl is that he has neither of his iconic accessories–his wizard hat and wand/cane. I understand the logistical difficulties of fitting Merlin’s hat into the box, but I really wish they could have found a way to incorporate onto the figure somehow. His head looks peculiar with the mouse ears. The cane would’ve been cheap and simplistic to include, so I’m less forgiving of that being left off of this vinyl. For the amount these cost, Disney definitely could’ve included at least one simple accessory for Merlin.
Overall, I think this is another very good 9″ vinyl. While there’s nothing really wrong with him, per se, I do feel that including his hat as an accessory or even just his cane would have gone a long way to making this design look more “complete”. Without either, Merlin is just lacking that little something extra necessary to give him a perfect grade.