Welcome to our review of the McFarlane 7 inch scale Stranger Things action figure of Dustin. As one of the members of the main foursome of the show, Dustin arrives as part of the 2nd wave of Stranger Things releases from McFarlane - along with his good friend Lucas.
"One fourth of the main quartet in Netflix’s hit series Stranger Things, Dustin has quickly become a fan favorite with his classic lines and lovable demeanor. Dustin is always there to support his best friends no matter how strange their adventures get."
Dustin is packed onto the same blister card that launched the Stranger Things figures with wave 1 figures of Hopper and Eleven. The card has a very 80's feel with rounded corners, tramline borders and a very 80's grouping of the main characters to the right of the blister.
The Stranger Things logo sits at the bottom of the card with the Netflix logo at the top breaking that red and white tramline. The character name is in white text above the blister.
The rear of the card continues the retro feel. It is split into two parts. The right hand two thirds is a bold red colour with images of this round of releases - Dustin, Lucas and the deluxe Demogorgon figure.
To the left hand side is a blue strip headed by the Stranger Things logo. Under this sits some circular red inserts which indicate the next releases in the line. There are no images of figures here, instead a head shot of the character. Of the ones listed we have seen releases of Mike, Will, Barb and Punk Eleven. There is no confirmed release of Steve at the time of writing this review (Jan 2019).
While the card looks great, it is easily damaged like any cardboard backing and even fresh from the case appears to suffer from warping. There is no way of removing the figure without damaging the card and you wonder if the more modern theme of window boxes would have been a better option.
Dustin sits in an inner tray in the blister, strapped in place with elasticated ties. These ties can rub the type of paint used by McFarlane so remove with care. Around Dustin are his accessories, and behind him is a stand.
Paint & Sculpt 4/5
Before we can get on to looking at Dustin as a figure we have to put him on his figure stand. The way McFarlane have designed this figure means he is difficult to stand on his own thanks to the rounded and shaped trainers. To support this we have a clear stand with Stranger Things logo. This is cast in a hard clear plastic, but does have a yellow hue to it - this may be deliberate to fit in with the retro feel of the figures, but I doubt it.
There is one peg on the stand and then only one foot hole on Dustin's right foot. The fit is OK, but not overly secure and even on the stand you have to play and pose the legs and feet to help Dustin balance. Like the other Stranger Things figures to date - Dustin is a serious "shelf dive" risk even with his stand and you should consider this when placing him on display,
The head sculpt for Dustin is excellent and has captured the look of actor Gaten Matarazzo. The sculpt has character about it with a cheeky smile/smirk on Dustin's face. This looks much better than the emotionless head sculpts we have had to date on Hopper, Eleven and Lucas.
Paint is a nice texture, and there is a crisp application for the eyes and lips. The hair is sculpted rammed under his baseball cap and is painted a plain brown. The colours on the cap are crisp but there is some bleed where white meets the other two colours.
Dustin is dressed in his Waupaca shirt with the text clear and the leaping stag well executed. I suspect these are decals rater than paint apps. Over this is blue jacket with checked inner lining. The check pattern is impressive and the coat is subtly washed and the buttons individually painted in a gold colour.
The trousers are a beige cargo type and there is even a corduroy pattern in the sculpt. Again a subtle wash brings out this detail along with the seams and pockets. The outfit finishes with a pair of dirty white trainers. It is a slight shame that these have been left as one colour as you can clearly see lace and trimming details it he sculpt which would have looked great painted.
Dustin is a wash with accessories starting with this very retro style torch. It is cast in a softer plastic but has good detailing around the sliding on/off switch and the battery cover at the base. It will fit best in Dustin's left hand. The hands on the figure are not as malleable as say a Marvel Legends so you'd have to do some hot water treatment to get the torch in the other hand - and that would have a knock on to the next accessory. Even using the left hand the fit is very tight and the risk of paint rub is high - I'd avoid moving this accessory two many times.
Accessory number two is a compass. This is an intricate piece cast in clear plastic with an applied dial decal and even visible needle and makings down the side. While the Torch fits in the left hand, this one is definitely shaped to go in the right hand - slotting snugly between the thumb and fingers.
The Walkie Talkie is something we saw with Lucas and the exact same piece is included with Dustin. The Walkie Talkie is cast well enough in a black plastic with aerial and painted buttons.
Being a "grown ups" device it can look oversized in the hands of Dustin and it obviously also posed a problem of how it can be held in the usual gripping hands. The solution is an alternative right hand with a giant peg in the centre of it that slots into the back of the Walkie Talkie
This is the exact same hand as packed with Lucas, just updated to the right skin tone for Dustin. Swapping the hand in and out is an awful experience. McFarlane have gone with the most fragile and tiny wrist joint onto which you have to push and slot the hand. It is possible, but with care and I suspect many collectors will end up with cracked and broken wrists. This is a very odd choice as these tiny fragile joints do not add anything to the articulation and a plug in piece like Marvel Legends would have been more robust and worked just as well.
Like Lucas, Dustin has a backpack. And impressively it is not the same backpack used on Lucas repainted. This is a new sculpt and is painted in a light blue with white bag hook and straps and a silver zip. The whole bag has been weathered with an effect of splashed dry mud which works well.
The bag is slid onto the figure by means of the arms being positioned back ward and bent at the elbow. Once in place it sits really well and looks part of the sculpt not an add on piece.
While a good job has been done so far on sculpt, paint and accessories we are going to hit an issue with the articulation - an ongoing issue with McFarlane figures. Dustin has an articulation count of 13 points which in itself is a few short of what we now see as the industry base standard of 16 points. These 13 joints are all also very restricted.
The head, which appears to be on a ball joint, can only rotate to the side and there is no upward or downward motion. Beneath these the arms are ball jointed shoulders, but they can only raise up to about 45 degrees. The elbows are similar restricted as a single bending joint but they do have a rotation built in which does help. We've already mentioned the wrists which are ridiculously fragile and still only give a rotating movement - same as a peg would have given.
With no upper torso or waist movement you will find the poses for Dustin in terms of using any of his accessories are a bit awkward. He cant raise the torch to a point where it looks like he is shining it, nor the compass to look at closely, or even the walkie talkie to his ear to talk.
The legs are sadly just as bad with a T-joint hip that swings out to side and in front. Again rather than the full 90 degrees we'd expect, the leg stops about halfway rendering the legs restricted to standing poses. The knees are a robust ratchet joint and the tightest on the whole figure. They also have the ability to rotate which you may need to tweak to keep Dustin stood up.
The ankle joints are there but held in by the trousers and even when turned they do seem to sprint back to the front. And going back to where we started the review, the feet are shaped and not flat making standing difficult without the stand - and not overly stable with it.
Dustin, like all of the McFarlane figure from this current era of 7 inch releases, looks great. The sculpt is one of the best ones I've seen and the paint neat and well weathered and detailed.
They have also hit the nail on the head with the scale with each of the group (released across wave 2 and 3) appropriately sized to each other.
Accessories are great and while the Walkie Talkie is a re-use, I can forgive that considering they gave him a brand new torch sculpt, compass and a new rucksack sculpt.
The issue with Dustin is that the basics of an action figure for a collector is to display the figure and to do that you need it to stand either with or without the need of a stand. Dustin is really difficult to stand without the stand, and on it he has a habit of flopping over in a short period of time as peg fit is far too loose and the hips and ankle joints are weak.
There is also the very odd choice around the wrist joints which are fragile. This wouldn't have been too bad if you simply left them in place - but McFarlane are encouraging you to swap them by including the alternative hand.
On the strength of sculpt and paint I score Dustin an above average 3 out of 5.