Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Fifth Element in figure form! Part I

Contrary to popular belief, there is a set of officially licensed 5th Element figures, and they were released in 1999.  These were not action figures, however.  What they are called is feves, and they are a particular kind of tiny porcelain figure released for insertion into cakes during the Epiphany celebration every year in France on January 6th.  I own a set, pictured here:

As you can probably tell, they are very tiny in size, usually smaller than an inch in height, and Korben Dallas and Zorg are missing - not because I don't own them, but because Bruce Willis and Gary Oldman did not agree to disclose their images for use in figure form.  Why it would matter for something so tiny, I don't know.  The full set comes with Leeloo, Cornelius (or priest), the Diva, a stewardess, two police officers, a Mondoshawan Kommander, a Managalore, the Fhloston Paradise cruise ship, a taxi, and a police car, plus the title image.  They are stamped with a copyright by Gaumont and a date of 1997.  You can probably spot the minature Elemental stones behind them, and especially observant viewers will also see the Cannes' 5th Element Swatch watch.  The stones I made a long time ago out of sculpy, so they are not official.  The watch, however, is a product you can generally score on eBay, by either itself or in a special attendance set with the soundtrack and Cannes premiere ticket.

This particular feves set was a hot item back in 1999 when it was released.  I remember chasing it on eBay quite a few times when 5th Element merchandise was at its height of popularity and I could never get my hands on it because it was so expensive, up until a couple of years ago, that is.  I got the full set for a great price, but the problem is it's a very rare set to find.  My mother also wanted them (I get the sci-fi nerd genes from her), and it took me a good deal of searching but I finally found her one for sale only last month.  You can find individual pieces here and there, but a full set is almost impossible to find, and in most cases, will lead you to French collector sites and the like.

In 2002, N2 Toys (now dissolved?  I am looking for information I once had about what happened to them), had a lineup of  beautiful 5th Element action figures ready for release (a note - I am not the owner of these prototypes  - I wish I were!  These photos are also just a few that have made their way across the internet and are not copyrighted to me...if they are yours let me know so I can credit you or remove them):

Obviously, some of the prototypes don't match the others, but this can be forgiven.  According to Milla Jovovich's official site, these figures never saw release due to licensing problems, presumably, again, due to Bruce Willis and Gary Oldman's resistance to allowing their images to be used, as well as internal problems with N2 Toys.  However, with a Sirius Black action figure out, and the bust from Sideshow Toys, I think it's past time Bruce Willis got on board for licensing his image...I wanted these figures so badly I almost cried when I found out they weren't going to be released!  I collect action figures in general, so for me these were almost the Holy Grail of action figure collecting!  Speaking of Sideshow Toys, you can get 5th Element bobbleheads from them - a Mangalore, a police officer, and a Mondoshawan to be exact:  Fifth Element Bobbleheads.  The Mondoshawan is more like a statue than a bobblehead, however, and I just prefer to think of mine in that manner:  

As an aside, since my Mondoshawan is hanging out with my small collection of Terry Pratchett books, there is a Pratchett book titled The Fifth Elephant, in a title spoof of the film.  The book does not follow or spoof the film in any way, however, and is actually one of Pratchett's more serious novels.

Back to figures.  There is also this wretched beast to consider -  a knock-off Leeloo figure called "The Five Element", which is not an officially licensed figure either, and she can be quite costly:  Wild Work's The Five Element - Leeloo.  While I am wholly enthusiastic about this product because 1.  It's Leeloo in a figure form I don't have to make myself and 2.  A 5th Element Leeloo!  Finally!, on the whole it's a letdown when you think about it.  I actually think the face sculpt is fine - but I'd be painting it.  The suspenders are AWFUL, and they'd need a makeover.  I'd have to paint the pants - she didn't wear khakis and the black stripes aren't bold enough.  The hair needs to be dreadlocked.  The boots are cool looking, but they look nothing like the boots she wears in the film.  The articulation is pretty dreadful in and of itself - she is not looking so sexy.  The more I write about it the less enthusiastic I feel about this product as a whole...After dropping $100 on it to begin with, you'd probably drop another $100 on it to improve it...

At this point in time I am going to leave this post to its readers and allow them to soak up all of this stunning yet upsetting history of The Fifth Element in figure form.  It's my hope that someday the movie's cult status will somehow force someone's hand into making 5th action figures a reality.  I mean, I don't need Korben Dallas in an action figure, right?  Right?!  Eventually a Jareth Goblin King figure was produced (David Bowie's character from the 80's Jim Henson/George Lucas film Labyrinth for those uninitiated into the greatness of the Bowie - the other Supreme Being).  It just took about 20 years or so before it happened.  So, with The Fifth Element nearing 15 years old, I can hold out some hope.

Eventually I'll get to Part II of figures made for purchase, mainly statues and busts...Which are super green and have price ranges from the decent to pricey.

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