Two things happened recently in the world of action figures when it comes to the Judge Dredd universe: Judge Death actually came out; Mezco’s Judge Dredd also saw release. So now we’ve gone from no currently available Judge Dredd action figures to two now that ThreeA have properly announced their Judge Dredd, and both Mezco and ThreeA have announced Lawmasters. Awkward.
So what’s the difference? Well, there seems to be quite a bit. ThreeA’s Judge Dredd is focused far more on the early 80s incarnation of Dredd as drawn by Brian Bolland, which explains the early release of Judge Death, a character who first featured in Bolland’s run in 2000AD (and with any luck the remaining 3 Dark Judges will also appear… I’d better get a Judge Mortis is all I’m saying!). In addition to his general look, ThreeA’s Dredd comes not only with the modern MkII Lawgiver but also the vintage MkI. That’s kind of a big deal, to me, as the ray gun look-a-like MkI seems to be almost forgotten when it comes to Dredd in favour of the more normal gun-like MkII.
While Mezco’s Dredd shares a lot of common elements to ThreeA’s, the biggest difference is the period that Mezco’s seems to be based on, being that of the mid-90s to modern Dredd. His shoulder eagle is more angular, the helmet fits tighter to the head, and his body is broader. And he’s bright yellow, where ThreeA have gone for gold armour. It makes quite a dramatic difference in his look, with the shoulder amour providing a huge imbalance of colour. From what I gather Mezco’s Dredd uses magnets to hold the shoulder armour on and this causes some issues with posing, which makes sense as you’d need to ensure the contact points sit together in all instances. If ThreeA’s Judge Death is anything to go by then their Dredd’s upper arms will have a ball-socket connection holding the armour on that, from my experience, works ridiculously well and so will be a welcome inclusion in a Dredd figure.
The other major difference, design wise, and indicator of the era of comics from which they come, is in the Lawmaster bike. Mezco’s is a sleek number, very much a modern era of Lawmaster, compared to ThreeA’s properly vintage Lawmaster, all headlights and chunk, with the weird conical bit on the front that I’m not sure anyone has explained sufficiently (I’m sure there’s a schematic of it that has a go). But both Lawmasters reflect their respective Dredds, leaving ThreeA’s for the older, crustier Dredd fans like myself, and Mezco’s for the more modern Dredd fan. To further emphasise this ThreeA are following up their Classic Comic Judge Death with a grey-tone Judge Dredd and his Lawmaster. Not that this makes sense since Dredd was in straight black & white, with cross-hatching being the only form of shading rather than grey washes or screentone, so it’s kind of odd when you see Dredd in many shades of grey.
One fun thing that both Lawmasters have in common, and an element that’s cropping up more and more across these premium action figures, are light up features. How good these will work remains to be seen but, coupled with the rubber tyres, it seems both are taking the construction of their Lawmasters pretty serious.y
Looking over what you get for the money ThreeA seems the better bet at $160 for Dredd and the Lawmaster, where Mezco are charging $65 and $125 respectively, but there’s not really much in it overall. The bigger questions come down to which version you like, and also whether you’re prepared to wait the 10 months for a ThreeA product to arrive. That last bit is the real biggie. I think if I was going in cold, and hadn’t had the opportunity to play with ThreeA’s Judge Death I wouldn’t contemplate putting any money down for their Dredd. But I have, so I am. Look forward to another rant about ThreeA… *cough*