Welcome to our review of Mike Wheeler from Stranger Things, released by McFarlane Toys. Mike is part of the 3rd wave of Stranger Things 7 inch scale action figures from McFarlane, arriving alongside his good friend Will Byers and the mysterious Eleven in her Punk outfit.
"Mike Wheeler best friends of Will Byers, Dustin Henderson, and Lucas Sinclair gets entangled in a supernatural conspiracy when his best friend Will goes missing and he befriends a girl who escaped an experimental facility with telekinetic powers. Mike and his friends join forces with their new friend and do whatever it takes to find Will, even if that means encountering an alternate dimension, government agents, and a supernatural monster."
Mike arrives on the retro style blister card that McFarlane have used for their single figure Stranger Things releases to date. The design remains unchanged with an 80's feel to the rounded card with its tramlines and the 1980 movie style image of the main characters to the right.
The figure sits to the left as you view the card with the character name above. Like the other members of the gang released to date, only the first name of MIKE is used on the packaging.
There is a change to the back of the wave 3 packaging, and one that may indicate something worrying for the line. Previous releases have a "coming soon" section to the left, but this is abandoned on the wave 3 releases and the whole rear of the card is taken up by images of the current set of released figures - Punk Eleven, Will, Mike and the exclusive Upside Down Will.
While I may be reading too much into this, the fact that we have also had no announcements as of this review (Jan 2019) and the fact these figures seem to be hanging around even when reduced are not good signs.
While the blister card has a good retro feel to it, it comes with the usual issues that it is easily damaged and many arrive warped out of the case. You can also not remove the figure without damaging the card.
Out of the packaging Mike is sat in an inner tray - strapped in place with elasticated ties. These ties do have a habit of rubbing the paint type used by McFarlane so remove with care. Don't forget his stand which sits behind the insert.
Paint & Sculpt 3/5
The figure stand is included with all McFarlane Stranger Things releases and is a circular clear disk printed with the Stranger Things logo. Like the others there is a very subtle yellow hue to the plastic and then one peg hole to attach the figure too. Mike has a single foot hole in his right foot and slots onto the stand pretty firmly.
Unlike some of the other figures (Dustin, Lucas) Mike is a little easier to stand up without the stand.
Actor Finn Wolfhard has a very distinctive and expressive face and McFarlane have tried to capture that on the figure but not quite to the same success as they had with Dustin. From some angles - side on particularly - it looks great. And from other areas it looks odd, with the mouth a little too large and stretched. The hair too isn't quite right, perhaps a little too big around the sides?
While the sculpt might not be spot on, the paint is well applied with very realistic eyes under that heavy fringe and some shading to the skin tone. The lips do look unpainted, but there is a thin shade on them and this needed to be darker.
The clothing is spot on with Mike wearing a striped collared shirt which is beautifully coloured with no paint issues on the striping. His jacket hangs naturally with bulges and creases in the right places It is washed very slightly to weather it and the buttons are individually painted - as is the zip.
Mike's jeans are dark but have a stonewashed/denim paint application which works well. The trainers are quite small in proportion to the body and when you compare them to others like Dustin and Lucas. It is a wonder he can stand so well with these tiny feet. The trainers are painted and weathered with a blue stripe to the side.
All of the gang have been well accessorised to date and Mike comes with a similar setup, starting with his torch - another new sculpt and a more modern design to that seen on Dustin and Lucas. It is cast and painted in silver with a bronze band round the base and a white lens.
It fits in his left hand, the right being far too closed up to allow the torch to be squeezed in.
Accessory number two is... you guessed it, the Walkie Talkie. This is a re-use from the other gang members, cast in black with white and silver details. It is too big to fit in a gripping hand so a second hand is included with a large peg in its centre that slots into the walkie talkie.
Changing the hand is a pain as McFarlane continue to use a very fragile and very small wrist joint. A more robust peg in hand would have been easier and still given the same result.
Mike gets a rucksack too, another new sculpt and painted in green with white, black and red details. Unlike the others it is left quite bright with no obvious weathering or mud splatter.
The fit to Mike is obviously also a lot tighter than the other bags as there is a split in the straps making it easier to put on the figure - with the strap slotting back into a socket on the bag once in place.
Once worn the fit is natural and looks like it was part of the figure from the start - very well executed.
Having seen Lucas with a catapult and Dustin with a compass, Mike does feel one accessory light in terms of being the same value as the other figures?
I am pleased to see that Mike does have some additional movement than the previous releases, even so only the 13 points of articulation are present.
The head rotates fully on a ball joint and there is a degree of downward motion so Mike can look down if you wish - looking up is blocked by the hair and the collar. The arms are balljointed shoulders and raise further than we saw with Dustin and Lucas, although they are still not the full 90 degrees. The elbow remains a single joint with a rotation - but I would urge caution using the rotation as the shape of the arms just looks wrong once its moved.
These elbows will bend to the full 90 degrees - although that still is not enough for a "using my walkie talkie" pose. And despite those intricate and fragile wrist ball joints - the hands simply rotate within the sleeve - and side way movement and they pop off on this figure. In fact the walkie talkie hand even drops off on its own.
There is no torso or waist articulation at all, leaving the legs as the last posing option. These are a T-joint hip and these too are improved so can swing out to 90 degrees allowing Mike to sit if you want him too. Knees too bend to a full right angle and there is better play in the ankle rockers - which may be one of factors of him standing much better despite the tiny feet.
Once posed, wrist joint aside, all Mike's joints are firm and secure and he is at much less risk of falling over once secured in a standing position - this is a good move forward vs the earlier releases who are all prone to weak ankles, odd shaped feet, poor fitting stands and weak leg joints.
It is positive to see Mike brings some improvements to the figure design and whether that be intentional or not, it is very welcome. The articulation, while not extensive, is more robust with better range of movement and a shoring up of the joints to be more stable - wrist piece aside.
While the face sculpt is not dead on, it is a good likeness from certain angles and the figure as a whole is well painted.
After the bar was set with Lucas and Dustin, Mike feels like there is one accessory missing. And while I have detailed where Mike has seen improvements, the figure still has flaws with the joints on the wrists dropping off and breaking and that walkie talkie hand being almost impossible to swap in and out securely.
Mike gets an above average 3 out of 5.