Jazwares Mortal Kombat series 2 and 3

group shot
Over a year and a half ago I reviewed Jazwares' first series of Mortal Kombat figures. I wasn't very kind to them, not that they didn't deserve it. They had a lot of problems. But despite their issues, Jazwares pushed forward and they have put out two more series of Mortal Kombat figures. While these figures have been out for quite a while, I was just recently able to find the complete third series locally. Despite the problems with the first series figures and due in part to the fact that these are the versions of the figures that I'm at least somewhat familiar with even if I'm not much of a Mortal Kombat fan, I thought I would give the newer figures a chance. And they show a lot of improvement over Jazwares first four figures.

Packaging - series 2 3/10, series 3 6/10

The packaging for series two remains largely unchanged from the first series. The cards are roughly shaped like a keyhole with a large circular Mortal Kombat logo at the top and the figures in a trapezoidal bubble below it. Unlike the stripped down versions of the first series I bought, these do a decent job of filling up the space within the bubble due to the fact that they include more accessories. The back of the card is still overly generic. There are two versions, with either just the second series figures shown or both the first and second series pictured. Either version leaves a great deal of wasted space. And the images of the figures on the cards showing both series are so small that they are almost worthless.

But all is not lost because the line has received a complete overhaul for the third series. The keyhole shape is gone in favor of a more squared off shape with the circular MK logo sticking out at the top. The bubbles are larger as well, filling almost the entire card. It makes a surprising amount of difference in the look of the figures. They seem larger and more impressive. The back of the cards is still fairly generic, just images of the second and third series of figures and the legal small print. But the images of the figures are significantly larger which gives you a better appreciation of the figures. They also included the names of the characters which had not been included on the previous cards. I would still like to see some character specific information on the cards, but this redesign is a big step in the right direction.

Sculpting - Kung Lao & Liu Kang 5/10, others 7/10

I wasn't thrilled with Jazwares first offerings for the Mortal Kombat line. But they are showing considerable improvement with each series. They have dumped the recycling of bodies and gone for original sculpts for each figure. The detail work much improved as well. Everything is significantly sharper than the first series, more on par with what you would expect from a mass market action figure. Another area where the improvements in sculpting show is on the figures' rear ends. Kung Lao and Liu Kang are sculpted with a straight line across their back sides where the legs and butt meet. It's fine when the legs are positioned straight so that both parts line up. But once they move it looks both figures are wearing miniskirts. Both of those figures went into production ahead of the rest to create a two pack of figures for the release of Shaolin Monks and it shows. Even Scorpion and Subzero from series 2 have a more natural contour to the sculpt when the legs are moved. both Liu Kang and Kung Lao have some problems with their head sculpts as well. Liu Kang is stuck permanently looking slightly up because the sculpt doesn't accommodate the neck properly. Kung Lao has an extremely boyish looking face. The series two figures also show some signs of problems from the factory. All four figures have visible marks from what looks like the points where the plastic was injected into the molds. And somehow they managed to goof up on the mold for Kung Lao's torso so that the two halves don't match up near the waist on the right side. Fortunately none of these issues is particularly noticeable nor do they seem to have been carried over to the figures from series three.

Paint - Kung Lao, Subzero & Liu Kang 4/10, Noob 7/10, Others 5/10

The paint work, much like the sculpting is showing marked improvements as well. Noob is the best of the eight figures. He is the only figure that doesn't have any issues with sloppiness. Noob also deserves some credit for the fact that they did not skimp on the paint work. It would have been quite easy to just leave most of the figure in the same tone of grey paint. but they varied the shades on Noob's clothing which goes a long way to add visual interest. Kano also deserves credit for how well the shading on his chest and arms turned out. Unfortunately the paint washes used on the rest of the figure were not blended in well at all. Johnny Cage's biggest problem is that the color of the plastic for the torso doesn't quite match the arms. Since that color is used for the flesh tones, getting them to match is quite important. The frosting on his hair isn't blended in well either. They also tried to touch up a few spots on his legs after the fact, but failed to match up the paint color properly. The paint on Reptile's clothes is a bit sloppy, but his biggest problem is that the paint on his scales isn't very consistent resulting in some areas that are very dark green and others that are exceedingly light. (Perhaps he has a fungus problem.) All four of the series two figures (Kung Lao, Liu Kang, Scorpion and Subzero) have issues with sloppiness along the edges of their clothes. None of it is too serious though. They tried to feather out the paint on Subzero's biceps to create the illusion of his arm transforming into ice. It would have looked good, but there are too many spots where the tan paint was rubbed off. Liu Kang's eyes are painted as if they were rolling up in their sockets slightly, which when combined with the angle of the neck due to the sculpt makes it look even more like he is staring out into space. Kung Lao is the worst figure of the eight. He has numerous stray paint marks on his clothing. The paint along his collar and sleeve is so thin in parts that the tan of the plastic shows through as well. The only thing that saves his score from dropping even lower is that the intricate dragon designs on his chest, forearms and legs all came out very well.

Articulation - Reptile 7/10, others 6/10

The articulation is showing marked improvement from Jazwares' first series of Mortal Kombat figures. At a minimum, the articulation includes:
  • either hinged (series 3) or rotating (series 2) ankles
  • jointed knees
  • double jointed hips (rotating and hinged)
  • rotating waist
  • double jointed shoulders (like the hips)
  • rotating biceps (just under the shoulders)
  • double hinged elbows
  • rotating wrists
  • ball jointed neck
Kano, Reptile and Kung Lao all retain the double jointed knees of the first series. The four figures from series three also have rotating joints in their thighs. There is some room for improvement in terms of the amount of articulation, particularly to allow the figures to stand flat footed in different poses. But the change to hinged ankles with the figures in series three is a good start. More importantly, there is marked improvement in the quality control over the first series. The heads and arms no longer pop off quite as easily. Still, there is room for improvement. While none of the joints are exceedingly loose, some are less tight than they should be. And others, particularly the thigh joints on some of the series three figures are so tight that I've given up on them least I break them. And this is even after I tried the standard remedy of freezing the figures to stiffen up the plastic before working the joints free.

Accessories - Reptile & Kano 7/10, Kung Lao 6/10, others 5/10

Unlike the first series of Mortal Kombat figures, the series two and three figures are not available in stripped down versions without all of the accessories. This time around, all of the figures come with a few weapons and a circular stand with the Mortal Kombat dragon logo on it. But since only half of the figures (Scorpion, Kung Lao, Kano and Reptile) have accessories that really tie into the games, most of them are just needless extras. They did get most of the more important items. Scorpion has his dagger that shoots out of his palm. Kung Lao has his hat which can be removed for the figure to throw. (Though mine is missing the paint on part of the chin strap. I don't know why they didn't just use black plastic.) Kano has his daggers which can be stored on his ankles and a lucky rabbit's foot around his neck. And Reptile has a replacement head with an optional tongue. I'm somewhat surprised that they gave Johnny Cage two extra sets of hands so that you can choose between open palms, grasping or fists but no weapons. (At the very least it calls into question why he needs grasping hands with nothing for them to hold.) But Johnny's extra fists also show how the figures missed out on their full potential in this area. There are so many accessories that could have been included which would have allowed you to recreate moves from the video games such as a skull head for Scorpion, or an ice blast for Subzero. (Heck, they already had the skull head sculpted for Scorpion as part of a variant for the series one Scorpion.) Instead they made due with random weapons. They aren't bad, but they could have been much better.

Value - Reptile 7/10, others 6/10

The retail price for these figures is as low as $6 each. But if you are buying them from a specialty store, the price is likely to be at least a few bucks higher. At six bucks a piece which is what I paid, they are a pretty good deal despite their short comings. If you can find them for under $10 a piece, they might still be worth considering. But if the price climbs much above that, you would have to be a pretty big Mortal Kombat fan to buy more than just your favorite character.

Happy Hunting:

A little patience paid off for me. The local Toys R Us store eventually received all of them, though it did take quite a while before Johnny Cage and Noob showed up. For some strange reason, the cases being shipped to Toys R Us don't contain all of the figures from series three. Kano and Reptile ship together in one assortment (possibly with more of the figures from series two) while Johnny Cage and Noob are in a different assortment. That can make getting a complete set difficult. And for some reason, they don't have them listed on their web site either. But they are still available at some sites. Entertainment Earth has both series available as sets.

Liu Kang & Kung Lao MOC

Scorpion & Sub-Zero MOC

Reptile & Kano MOC

Johnny Cage & Noob MOC MOC

series three card back

Scorpion face Liu Kang face

Sub-Zero face Kung Lao face

Noob face Johnny Cage face

Reptile face Kano face

Johnny Cage groin punch

Liu Kang front and back Liu Kang's leg Noob front and back Kung Lao front and back Kung Lao with hat Kung Lao throwing hat Scorpion front and back Scorpion figures Sub-zero figures Sub-Zero front and back Sub-zero paint work Kano's chest Kano front and back Kano's dagger storage Reptile front and back Reptile's tongue Johnny Cage front and back Johnny Cage's leg paint Reptil kicking Ninja fight Johnny Cage's weapons Kung Lao's weapons Reptile's weapons Scorpion's weapons Kano's weapons Liu Kang's weapons Sub-Zero's weapons Noob's weapons