Indiana Jones Collectors Review:  Irina Spalko (Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Review and Photography by Jeffrey A. Gouse (SithLord0498) 

Review Date: May 15th 2008

 FIGURE SPECIFICATIONS 

  • 14 Points of ArticulationBall jointed: head, shoulders, elbows, knees;  Swivel jointed: wrists, waist, legs, calves

  • Accessories:  Rapier and pistol

  • “Hidden Relic”:  Crystal Skull of Akator (Army Intel #9907211)

Nearly as memorable as Indiana Jones and his adventures are the formidable villains he has confronted during his cinematic quests.  First, there was Indy’s professional rival and greatest adversary, the amoral curator-turned-mercenary Rene Belloq.  Then came the sadistic Thuggee priest Mola Ram.  Finally, there was the power-hungry Nazi sympathizer Walter Donovan.  All were unique and presented Indy with different physical and psychological challenges. 

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is no different.  In addition to bringing Indy out of the pre-war years and into the early years of the Cold War, this adventure pits our hero against Soviet agent Irina Spalko, a villainess with her own brand of evil and a fixation on the potential for psychic powers as a Soviet weapon.  By all accounts, Spalko is poised to be one of Indy’s greatest challenges yet. 

Has Hasbro produced a figure worthy of such a sinister Soviet?  Sadly, it falls very short. 

 

PORTRAIT:  Below Average 

In what appears to be an unfortunate trend in these initial offerings, Hasbro has again produced a generic portrait.  While the unusual hair style has been reproduced fairly well, the face does not even remotely look like actress Cate Blanchett.  Even worse is the shoddy work done on the painting.  The whites of the eyes streak outside the corners, and the face is riddled with specks of the darker paint used on the hair.  The lips have been applied neatly but are far too pink, and the overall saturation level of the face is too high (Blanchett’s Spalko is very pale-skinned).

As with “Temple Idol” Indy, this sample was the best out of the store’s inventory (nearly ten Spalko figures).

 

COSTUME:  Excellent 

There seems to be an emerging pattern with Hasbro’s Indiana Jones line, and that is a combination of lackluster portraits with exceptionally well-crafted costumes. 

In addition to replicating the slender frame of Blanchett, Hasbro has paid a significant amount of attention to the emulation of cloth in this plastic medium.  The ripples, folds, and creases that have been sculpted onto Spalko’s uniform effectively look like cloth bunching up around her belt and joints.  The gloves have a good shape to them as do the boots.  To accommodate different poses, Spalko’s belt-mounted scabbard rotates, allowing it to move out of the way if necessary.  The pockets, holster, and belt buckle have all been crisply sculpted with decent paint applications.

 

ARTICULATION:  Above Average 

Hasbro continues the trend of giving their Indiana Jones figures “super articulation” (by Hasbro’s design standards).  The only ball-hinged joints that are missing from Spalko are those on the ankles.  It is completely understandable why Hasbro omitted them.  The thinness of Spalko’s ankles makes the inclusion of durable joints impossible.  Unfortunately, this adds to the instability of the figure, but another larger factor is at work there and will be addressed in the next section.  The lack of ankle articulation is the trade-off here when it comes to a question of aesthetics versus functionality.  It is just too bad that Hasbro doesn’t include figure stands as well because Spalko definitely needs one.

 

DESIGN AND STABILITY:  Poor 

Not a regular category, this section has been included to highlight a severe problem with the Irina Spalko figure, one that deeply affects its free-standing stability.  When the figure is in a neutral pose, it is very clear that the left leg is longer than the right leg by at least two centimeters.  That doesn’t sound like much, but it is enough to heavily disrupt the figure’s balance.  Also, it makes the figure look “off” on a subtle level. 

ACCESSORIES:  Average 

Spalko comes with a paltry amount of accessories, but they appear to be fairly comprehensive.  Both the pistol and rapier hilt have been sculpted with a good level of detail, and both fit easily into the figure’s hands.  The major issue here is the weak plastic used for the rapier blade.  It is thin and flimsy, which results in a warped blade that cannot maintain its intended shape.  In fact, it becomes misshapen just from the way it is threaded into the packaging.  Of course, the lack of durability may have been intentional to reduce the hazard of a toy accessory with a hard and sharp point, but that doesn’t change the fact that the rapier’s construction falls very short. 

 

OVERALL RATING:  Below Average (Bordering on Average) 

Irina Spalko is a weak link in the infancy of this figure line.  There are some positives to it, but the horrendous portrait, flimsy blade, and the disproportionate legs drive this figure into the ground.  Even if it were $5, this would not be recommended.  The only collectors to whom Spalko could appeal are completists or those really looking to get the core characters and/or major villains.  Sadly, the included “Hidden Relic” is the Crystal Skull itself.  For those seeking the relics, they will be stuck paying $7 for a pack-in and a sub-par action figure. 

Irina Spalko is a definite pass.

 

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