It’s time once again for my annual “best of” list; a tradition I began in 2012. I posted fewer toy reviews this year than I ever have before but that does not mean I purchased fewer action figures. My collection continued to grow by leaps and bounds in 2016 and as always it was very difficult for me to pick my favourites but pick them I did. The only criteria I had for toys to be named on this list was that they must have been released in 2016 and I must have acquired them personally. So without further ado let’s get started…
16. TIGER FORCE SNEAK PEEK-I only have two G.I. Joe figures on my list this year so Sneak Peek may seem like an odd choice in the eyes of many Joe fans. We got a lot of excellent G.I. Joes this year between the 50th anniversary series, the Figure Subscription Service, and the Collector’s Club box set and I’d bet that most people would place Sneak Peek near the bottom of their “best of” lists. Not only is he completely made up of rehashed pieces, including one of the most over used heads in the biz, but this figure doesn’t even recreate the classic 1987 Sneak Peek we all owned as kids. Instead the Club gave us an updated version of the lesser known European exclusive Tiger Force repaint. So why is this figure on my list? Well, I simply love Sneak Peek. The character was a favourite from my youth and one I’ve been clamouring to see updated since the beginning of the modern era 9 years ago. The reused parts work well together in my opinion and I quite like the face regardless of its familiarity. If the Collector’s Club had sculpted a new head for this figure I probably wouldn’t like it as much because they’d likely make it pudgy and round to match the vintage figure. I didn’t expect to like this Tiger Force paint job as much as I do but I think it’s a great mix of colours so I find myself really enjoying this more obscure deco.
15. VULTAK-The Masters of the Universe Classics line has been killing it since 2008 providing fans with awesome new versions of the property’s numerous iconic characters. But after so many years it was inevitable that the line would lose steam and fizzle out. In past years I bought Mattel’s latest MOTU offering on the 15th of every month as soon as it went up for sale exclusively on their website. I couldn’t afford to wait because new toys sold out almost immediately. Nowadays toys of obscure characters remain on sale for months so there’s no sense of urgency. I didn’t purchase a single MOTU figure this year until they were discounted during Mattel’s Black Friday sale. Even though my excitement for the toyline has waned a bit there’s nothing more exciting than opening up a new box of He-Man figures from Mattel. My Black Friday shipment contained 6 figures (none of them well known characters) and they were all awesome. Vultak is like a slap in the face reminding me why I loved MOTU in the first place. He’s like a mix of Marvel’s Vulture, Thundercats’ Panthro, and MOTU’s Hordak. He’s bright, he’s big, he’s fun, and he’s awesome.
14. ROD DRILL-Hasbro’s Transformers were my jam growing up but I also enjoyed Tonka’s line of transforming robots called Go-Bots. I had a handful of the toys and while they weren’t as complex as Transformers their simplicity and their silly names made them charming. The line has been officially dead since 1987 but in the past couple of years some third-party companies have produced unofficial homages of Go-Bot characters. You may recall that DX9’s remake of Cy-Kill (named Salmoore) nabbed the number two slot of my best of 2014 list. I love seeing old Go-Bots characters revived after so many years. My fingers are crossed for new versions of my childhood favourites Cop-tur, Loco, and Water Walk. If those characters are ever to be reproduced it will likely be by way of a company called Action Toys. They’ve been doing a great job of releasing spiffy new updates of classic Go-Bots. Vanessa got me Rod Drill for Christmas. He’s Action Toy’s version of Screwhead who transforms into a drill tank. This figure is immediately recognizable as Screwhead as they share of the same physical characteristics but Rod Drill is a far superior figure. He’s a bit larger and far more posable. He’s not as nice as update as Salmoore was but Rod Drill’s price point is a little easier to swallow.
13. SNOWTROOPER-Everybody loves the generic Stormtroopers from Star Wars but as a kid I held the Snowtroopers from the Empire Strikes Back in much higher regard. My brother Doug and I both owned a Stromtrooper but he also owned the AT-AT Driver and the Biker Scout. I suppose that’s why the Snowtrooper was the only Stormtrooper variation that felt like mine because it was the only one he didn’t have. My original 1980s Snowtrooper was one of three vintage Star Wars figures I held onto when I got rid of my collection in my teens. There’s something about that long featureless mask that always appealed to me; I thought it looked more like a ghost than a soldier. I already have a very cool 12″ version of the Snowtrooper plus multiple 3 3/4″ figures but it was still at the top of my want list when I started collecting the 6″ Black Series figures. I just got this figure a week ago and he did not disappoint. It’s not exactly what I was expecting because it’s far more “dirty” than previous versions. The base uniform is more beige than white and his boots and skirt are speckled with grime. It looks really cool though so I don’t have any complaints.
12. MARAUDER VALKYRIES– Last year I named the Marauder Task Force in my number six spot. I didn’t name a specific figure as I used the slot as more of a catch all for the whole wave of interchangable soldier figures produced by Marauder Gun Runners via a Kickstarter campaign. MGR put out variations of those same figures with new parts added this year so they could have easily made my list again. I’m a big fan of the yellow “Shock-Ops” and orange “Hazard Ops” they released this year. However they overshadowed those releases with the launch of their all-female Valkyries line this year via another Kickstarter. Thus far I have four complete figures in hand with another shipment on the way. These figures look excellent. MTF has given us a multitude of hair styles and colours, gear, and accessories so you can make unlimited figure variations. I wish Hasbro put this much care into their G.I. Joes. Hasbro has given us some pretty fugly ladies over the years but MTF has given us a squad of attractive ladies with realistic proportions. I can’t recommend these figures enough. The only reason they’re not higher is that their tiny accessories don’t stay in place unless glued which is a pain in the ass and I have no childhood connection or elaborate backstory to latch onto.
11. NAMOR-What a year for Marvel Legends. Hasbro pumped out 7 waves of figures this year. It was just a couple of years ago that I was writing on this blog that I had no interest in collecting 6″ Legends because I was committed to collecting the 3 3/4″ Marvel Universe figures. I found Legends to be gangly and awkward looking. Well Hasbro has upped their game big time and now I’m buying Legends figures every other week. I bought over 50 Marvel Legends figures this year and I’m continually impressed. I could have made a top 16 list of Marvel Legends figures alone and I still would have had to exclude a bunch of stellar toys. To pick only a choice few for this multi-line list truly was difficult. After a great deal of thought the first Legend I’ve chosen to spotlight is Marvel’s King of Atlantis, Namor the Sub-Mariner. When I first started collecting comics as a kid I didn’t like Namor. He struck me as an arrogant Mr. Spock flying around in his underwear. I’m not sure when that changed but somewhere along the way I really fell in love with Namor. His arrogance actually makes him a lot of fun to read. The fact that he started wearing pants probably helped too. Truthfully, I don’t even mind the green speedo in the comics but it just doesn’t make for a very interesting action figure. My 3 3/4″ Namor is a testament to how boring that design can be. This Walgreens exclusive Namor is sporting a much cooler black and blue costume with a nice metallic sheen. The elbows are a little weird and the trident looks dumb but those issues are out weighed by the phenomenal head sculpt. Depending on the angle you look at him he can appear regal, smarmy, pissed, or playful. This is the finest Namor ever produced.
10. K-2SO– When I reviewed this figure a couple of weeks ago I hadn’t yet seen Star Wars Rogue One. Now that I have I like this figure even more. K-2S0 was a real scene stealer in the movie. He was tough, sarcastic and funny and i was really bummed when things weren’t going his way. I’m glad I picked this figure up when I did as I imagine it will be in high demand now that everyone has seen the movie. This figure just looks and feels cool. As soon as I opened him up I wanted to pose him and fiddle around with him. He’s built nice and sturdy for such a lean figure. This sculpt, paint apps, and articulation are all great. No complaints.
9. BATMAN-Putting Batman on a “best of” list seems like such a no-brainer that it’s almost a waste of a slot. He has such a cool and iconic design that you’d think it would be a snap to design an amazing Batman figure, right? So why are there so many terrible Batman figures? Have you walked down the action figure aisle lately? It’s full of Batmen and most of them look like crap. I feel bad for kids that think those are the only Batman figures available. If only they’d venture into a comic book shop like Strange Adventures they’d discover a whole new world of awesome action figures geared towards adult collectors. For example, DC Collectibles line of designer action figures based on the artwork of Darwyn Cooke. I bought the Supergirl, Catwoman, and Harley Quinn from this line and any one of them could be on this list but I think Batman edges the others out. This figure depicts Darwyn’s contemporary version of the dark knight as seen in stories like EGO. I think this figure is a wonderful tribute to a brilliant artist who we sadly lost this year. It makes me emotional every time I look at it.
8. PYTHONA- I wanted a Pythona figure SO BAD in 1987. She was one of the new characters introduced, and heavily featured, in the animated G.I. Joe movie released that year yet she got completely snubbed by Hasbro. Her absence from the ’87 line-up seemed like a huge oversight to me. Big Lob was similarly snubbed but I didn’t like him as much. He’s finally getting a figure courtesy of the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club in 2017 but 2016 was Pythona’s year…finally. She was the free membership figure you got this year when you signed up as a member of the Club. It’s been a 30 year wait so thankfully the Club delivered a stellar figure to make the wait all seem worth it. Pythona’s got a very nice newly sculpted head with a removable ponytail which allows her to don the hood of her cloak. The intricate facial paint is well done too. The Club has been doing a great job making figures of characters long desired by fans, like Dr. Venom and Billy, but Pythona is the one I’ve wanted the most so I’m very glad the Club didn’t cut any corners. Awesome figure.
7. RINGNECK GORGON-I backed a Kickstarter campaign by Boss Fight Studios back in 2014 to help them launch their own line of figures called Vitruvian HACKS. Those figures finally arrived in 2016. I received over 30 figures and honestly I could have put each and every one of them on this list. BFS has constructed some of the nicest action figures I’ve ever seen in their Mythology themed HACKS line. Series one primarily consists of ancient warriors and gorgons. The construction of the gorgons alone is a thing of beauty to say nothing of the sculpting, painting, and accessories. The way their multi-jointed tails allow for them to be posed in an upright position without the aid of a display base is amazing. I have seven gorgons including Medusa. She seemed like the obvious choice for this list if I were to showcase just one gorgon but I just so happen to prefer the purple and orange colour scheme of the ringneck. I also prefer her closed mouth. This figure is perfect and I can’t wait to see what BFS does next.
6. CAPTAIN BRITAIN-Picking Marvel Legends for this list was really tough. I thought that Nico would make my list for sure. Silk, Black Panther, and Deadpool all seemed like shoe-ins as well. I wasn’t even sure I would buy this Captain Britain and I certainly didn’t expect I’d like him more than those other figures but here he is. CB was included in the most recent Captain America wave. The only figure I planned to buy from the wave was Eel. I really like Captain Britain as a character but this figure doesn’t feature my preferred costume so I planned to skip it. While in Chicago the other week I found the Cap wave in a comic shop (I haven’t found them here at home yet) and there was Eel. I picked him up and looked over his scrawny physique. Then I saw Captain Britain out of the corner of my eye practically bulging out of his packaging. I picked him up and was immediately won over. See ya later, Eel. This Cap looks tough as nails. The standard “bulky” body is perfectly sized for him and the unique Captain Britain parts really look great. The buckled boots, the wrapped forearms, the sunken eyes in the helmet, I love it all. Throw in an excellent and eye-grabbing paint job and you have yourself a winning action figure.
5. VENOM– Next up is another Marvel Legends figure, Venom. I’m not even a big Venom fan yet this is the second time he’s made my “best of” list in just three years. 2014 saw the release of an awesome Agent Venom. This year we got two other versions of the character. There was the large build-a-figure Space Knight Venom which looks neat but whom I have no affinity for because I didn’t read any of the short-lived Space Knight comics. The second 2016 release was this classic Venom. This toy looks like it leapt from the page of the character’s first appearance as drawn by Todd McFarlane. It makes me very nostalgic for that late 80s era of Spider-Man. The body is the exact same one that was used for Captain Britain and it works wonderfully for Venom too. He has standard “sock” feet and open clawed hands. I’m not sure if those parts are reused or not. The one piece that is definitely unique is the head and thats the piece that really elevates this figure. The head sculpt looks so good that I can’t imagine anyone ever making a better Venom figure than this.
4. TALOS-This is another figure from Boss Fight Studio’s Vitruvian HACKS line. It was exclusive to Kickstarter supporters so I don’t think you’ll ever be able to buy it from their online store. That’s a real shame because this is one of the nicer looking figures from the assortment. Most of the warrior figures share the same parts, they’re just painted differently. I don’t think there are any parts on this figure that can’t be found elsewhere. For example, Talos has the same bearded head as Leonidas and the same armor as the Myrmidon Warrior but what makes them unique to Talos is the bronze paint job. The figure is painted entirely in bronze with a green patina to add realism. It looks amazing; like a little metal statue. Whether you want to display this guy as a statue or some sort of living bronze warrior he really should be a part of your collection.
3. MALLEUS– 2016 saw the release of the Four Horsemen’s newest toy line called Mythic Legions. It’s a fantasy-based line full or Orcs, Trolls, and Knights. I couldn’t afford to go all-in on their 2015 kickstarter but I did pitch in by pre-ordering 4 of the 34 available figures. My quartet arrived in June 2016 and all of them are awesome but Malleus is my favourite. This figure is amazing in every category. The sculpting, the painting, and the accessories are all incredible (the dual axes are sick!). He’s very well articulated right down to a movable jaw. The 6″ scale really allows the Horsemen to show off. Originally I thought I might display Malleus as a minion of Skeletor but the level of detail on the Legions figures far surpasses that of MOTU figures so there isn’t much consistency there. If I had the space and the money I’d love to own all the Mythic Legions figures but if my collection never grows beyond the four I have I’m confident that I have the best one right here.
2. TAILGATE/REAREND-Many times on this blog I’ve told you how great James Roberts’ “Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye” comics are. I think its the best comic on the stands. He has a way of making you fall in love with characters you never thought you’d care about. One of the stars of the book is a little Transformer named Tailgate. I never owned the Tailgate toy as a kid because he was just a crappy repaint of Wheelcharger, a Transformer who I really liked. Well Roberts has made Tailgate a far more interesting character than Wheelcharger ever was and so I desperately wanted an action figure that reflected his comic book appearance. Hasbro obliged me with this turd in 2014. Thankfully, a third party company called Make Toys answered my prayers this year. Because this is an unofficial release they can’t call him Tailgate so Make Toys has dubbed him Rearend. It’s a silly name but who cares, everyone knows this is Tailgate. This figure is quite small so it may be hard to justify the large price tag but thankfully Vanessa got him for me for X-mas so I didn’t have to. I’m actually glad he’s the size that he is because its true to the character. The likeness to the comic book art is perhaps the best I’ve seen yet. This toy truly look like an Alex Milne drawing some to life. I love it.
1. UNDERWORLD WARRIOR-You shouldn’t be surprised that one of Boss Fight Studio’s Vitruvian HACKS figures tops my list. Almost every figure in this line is a showstopper. The paint work, sculpting, accessories, articulation, and customization possibilities launched HACKS straight to the top of the heap of quality action figure lines. Every toyline should strive to be this good. As soon as my box of HACKS arrived it was almost a certainty that one of them would top my list this year. The trouble was in deciding which one. I thought it would be harder to choose but I actually arrived at my answer quite easily. The Underworld Warrior was the figure that appealed to me the most when the concept art was first revealed at the launch of the kickstarter and once I had the figure in my hands I felt it lived up to and surpassed my expectations. It’s not the most detailed or innovative figure of the bunch but it sure does look damn cool.
Hey gang. It’s been ages since I reviewed anything so I thought I’d throw up a quickie while I wait around for the Trump/Clinton debate to start. I haven’t been feeling very motivated to blog lately so I’ve selected a figure which should make for a short and sweet write-up.
I’ve told you before about Boss Fight Studio’s Vitruvian HACKS toyline, a project they funded via kickstarter and that I supported. Series One consists of figures based in Greek mythology, primarily Greek warriors and gorgons. There are also a number of customizable blank figures available which allow you to create wholly original characters. The fourth and final category of figures included in series one is skeletons. You can use the skeletons as set dressing or as undead warriors a la “Jason and the Argonauts”.
Since I bought the all-in kickstarter package I received skeletons in a variety of colors: white, black, yellow, translucent purple, and hot pink. I believe the pink one was a kickstarter exclusive so if you like this one you’re out of luck unless you buy one on the secondary market. The others are currently available to purchase on BFS’s website along with a new grey version. It’s neat to have an exclusive but honestly the pink is my least favorite of the bunch.
The sculpt is the same on all the skeletons regardless of the color and it’s fantastic. It is truly impressive that the ladies and gentlemen over at BFS were able to capture this much detail in such a small figure and still load it up with articulation. No corners were cut in designing this figure. There are spaces between all the ribs in the ribcage and there are gaps between the fibula and tibia and the ulna and radius. He’s articulated at the ankles, hips, waist, ribs, shoulders, elbows, wrists, neck, jaw and he has double jointed knees. The movable jaw is super cool and really makes a skeleton go from docile to manic.
This is a skinny figure as you would expect but thankfully BFS provides display bases with each figure to help them stand up. They also provide clear plastic foot braces that offer additional support for skeletons specifically. There are also 4 more clear braces for the legs and arms which make it easy for you to strap armor to the skinny frame. All of the accessories from other V-Hacks figures are compatible with the skeletons. Even some of the body parts can be swapped out which can make for some eerie customs
These skeleton figures are awesome and they can be used to enhance any 3 3/4″ action figure display. Up the stakes on a G.I. Joe battlefield or recreate Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru’s demise on Tatooine.
If I have one negative thing to point out about these figures it’s the lack of paint. I was so excited to receive these skeletons when they first arrived in the mail a few months ago that I didn’t give a second thought to the fact that they had no paint apps; bones are white anyway so who needs paint. But then my Mythic Legions Skeletons from Four Horsemen Studios arrived. The paint work on those 6″ figures was so rad that it made the Hacks skeletons seem a little boring by comparison. That’s not entirely fair though as BFS’s skeletons are smaller, much more affordable, and intended for customizing.
I’ve reviewed a handful of Vitruvian Hacks figures now but I’ve only just scratched the surface of their awesomeness. I still have so many cool Spartans and Gorgons to share with you but today I’m going to take a look at a a completely clean slate. One of the main ideas behind the Vitruvian Hacks line is customization. H.A.C.K.S. is an acronym for Highly Articulated Character Kit System. Boss Fight Studio, the creators of the line, want you to swap out pieces and mix and match weapons to create your own original characters. To help customizers do just that, BFS has produced blank male and female figures in a variety of colors. The blanks have no painted details and no accessories. Each one comes in a baggie with four alternate heads (bald, short hair, long hair, masked), three pairs of feet (bare, sandals, boots), and two sets of hands. These options allows for all kinds of build possibilities. The blanks feature the same beautiful sculpting and the same amount of articulation as the standard V-Hacks figures. If you think you might be interested in doing some customizing of your own the blanks are available at BFS’s web store at a very reasonable price and they’re constantly adding new colour variations.
Since I backed BFS’s kickstarter campaign with an “all-in” contribution I received one blank in every color they had available at the time which was 16 (8 male and 8 female). I also received a bunch of extra accessory packs that contained tunics, helmets, and weapons so I was able to dress/arm all my blanks in some manner of outfit. So, rather than just review a completely blank figure, I’ve decided to review one of my original creations.
My mom has told me on more than one occasion that I remind her of the 40-year old virgin but for the record I am not in the habit of sitting at home painting my action figures (plus I’m only 38 and I have a girlfriend). True customizers might scoff at my so-called creation because I built her with minimal effort and no paint but she is a Mike’s Collection original none-the-less. All I’ve done is taken the orange female blank, given her some white and black accessories, and named her. She’s actually one of my least accessorized blanks but for some reason she’s become my favorite. I suppose the orange skin is the main reason for that. The pink and purple skins are too girly and the “walnut brown” and “champaign beige” skin are too close to actual flesh tones that they look strange with unpainted eyes. The unpainted facial features on the orange head don’t bother me because I see her more as a mythic elemental rather than an actual person.
I’ve named my elemental Citrina because of her citrusy skin tone. I’m thinking she was created by Zeus or some other conniving god for a reason not yet known. I see her as an ally to the Spartans in their war agains the gorgons. She wears mummified snakes around her neck, wrist and ankle as a means to protect her from Medusa’s cursed stare and she wields a sword carved from the tooth of the Kraken which repels all manner of beast. I’m literally making this up as I type it so forgive me if it’s silly.
I think these blanks are great and even though I have no customizing skills I find myself wanting to purchase each new color variation. It’s hard to know how to score these figures but between the quality, the concept, and my added bit of flair I’ll give Citrina an 8 out of 10.
In my last post I reviewed the Undead Warrior from the Eternal Struggle 2-pack. An exclusive set of figures produced by Boss Fight Studios for 2016 Convention appearances. In this post I’ll be taking a look at the other figure from the set, the Ringneck Gorgon. The packaging describes her as follows:
The Ringneck Gorgons were quiet and smart. Their tactical knowledge and efficiency were their most deadly asset, assessing the situation and deciding how best to win a fight within seconds. Their decicions were deadly and final, usually leaving an enemy eviscerated or worse.
Sounds pretty bad ass.
Regular readers of this blog know I love G.I. Joe, Transformers, Marvel Super Heroes, and Star Wars; all brands that I grew up watching on TV and reading in comic books. Boss Fight Studio’s (BFS) Vitruvian Hack’s toyline is an original concept with no media tie-ins so you might be wondering why I’m so excited about them. The simple answer is Clash of the Titans. And no, I’m not talking about the Sam Worthington movie from 2010 (though I like that one too). I’m talking about the 1981 film starring Harry Hamlin as the demigod son of Zeus. I first saw it when I was really young (I would’ve been 3 when it came out) and I was absolutely captivated by it. All of the mythological creatures were animated in stop-motion by the legendary Ray Harryhausen. In the climax of the movie (spoiler alert!) the Kraken emerges from the deep to accept Andromeda as a human sacrifice only to be thwarted at the last minute by Perseus and his Pegasus. As corny as it may look by today’s standards, that Kraken was the coolest thing I’d ever seen at the time. I desperately wanted the Kraken toy produced by Mattel in the 80s (still do) but the only Clash of the Titans figure I owned was Charon, the boat keeper on the River Styx.
The second coolest creature featured in the movie, which did not got an action figure which is a real shame, was Medusa, the snake-haired Gorgon who could turn men to stone with a single glance. Medusa freaked me out when I was a kid. I still think the stop-motion version is way creepier than the 2010 version, partly because she was so ugly whereas the updated CG Medusa was designed to be attractive.
The main Gorgon figure in the Hacks line is of course Medusa and from the images I’ve seen online she looks great, but I still have a while to wait before I’ll have her in my hands. As the Kickstarter raised more and more funds BFS added more and more figures to the launch including Gorgon soldiers in a variety of colors. I was most looking forward to the all black one, Black Racer. This purple Gorgon, the Ringneck, wasn’t part of the Kickstarter. She wasn’t revealed until a couple of months ago when BFS announced they’d be selling the Eternal Struggle 2-pack at Conventions this summer. It’s hard to say, since I don’t have the other color variations in hand yet, but I think the Ringneck may be my favorite Gorgon of the bunch. The green and the orange ones look a little too bright and the black one is maybe a little too dark. The Ringneck is a happy medium. The shade of purple selected is really nice and the orange used on the underside compliments it well making for a vibrant and visually appealing toy.
I can’t say enough good things about the sculpting on this figure. The gang over at Boss Fight are true artists because this thing is beautiful. There are teeny scales all over the body and the face is great. Those big soulless yellow eyes would put the fear into any Spartan I’m sure.
The design of this figure also needs to be praised. The Undead Warrior is the perfect action figure representation of a human in this scale but the Gorgons take it to a whole other level. The twisty snake tail looks and feels really cool. It’s constructed using individual segments, sort of like the tails seen on Godzilla and Otachi. It has a cool rubbery skin and can be posed all kinds of ways. Most impressively, it allows the character to stand upright which is awesome. This is leaps and bounds beyond the rubber tail Hasbro gave us on Golobulus back in ’87.
For accessories The Ringneck has removable chest armor, a spear, a sword, a very cool shield with an intricate crest, and a totally awesome helmet made out of the skull and spine of some poor creature. At a glance you could say the accessories are all just grey but upon closer inspection you’ll see they’re all different. The shield and sword look they could be made of stone, the armour is metallic, and the helmet looks like bone. It’s all very impressive.
Two years ago I backed a Kickstarter campaign launched by Boss Fight Studio (BFS) to help them produce a line of customizable action figures called Vitruvian H.A.C.K.S. (Highly Articulated Character Kit System). The campaign was successfully funded (and then some) but that’s when the waiting game began. BFS ran into some troubles along the way but they were always good about keeping their Kickstarter backers informed of their progress. In February BFS told us that the first six figures had arrived at their warehouse in the USA from the factory in China. To compensate for the delays, BFS said they’d ship out those six figures immediately at their own expense rather than wait for the entire orders to be filled. At that point I knew I was mere weeks away from owning my first Vitruvian Hacks figures. I wrote a blog post about their pending arrival proclaiming that reviews would soon follow. It turns out I jumped the gun.
I eagerly checked my email inbox every day in hopes of seeing a shipment notification but it never came. Figure reviews were popping up on other sites from people who had already received their figures and mine hadn’t even shipped yet. I was getting a little frustrated. Finally on March 30 I got an email from BFS. It read as follows:
“We are contacting you because your shipment is going to an international address. At this point we have managed to get a lot of orders shipped and sent out. Our next priority is for backers that live outside of the US. Due to price hikes in international shipping we have decided to give you the following options before we proceed.
-The first option is to pack and ship two packages to you, the first package will consist of the items that we have on hand at this point and the second will consist of the additional items that make up your backer level.
-Option two is to select one additional figure from the following list. We will give you that figure free and ship the entirety of your order in one shipment once we have the remainder of the product on hand.”
So I had a choice to make, have them send me six figures now or wait even longer (months perhaps) and accept a free figure for my trouble. I concluded that I’d already waited two years so what’s a couple more months. I was helping BFS out and I would be repaid for my kindness by way of an extra Underworld Warrior. I was mostly cool with it but it was disappointing none-the-less because I’ve been dying to get my hands on these figures.
However, a dash of good news came shortly afterwards. BFS was scheduled to appear at a Convention somewhere the weekend of April 2-3. At the con they’d be selling an exclusive two-pack of figures that was not included in their Kickstarter campaign. Thankfully, they also made the pair available to non-attendees by offering them for sale on their website for 24 hours. I placed my order and after a 2-week wait finally received a ship notification April 15. And now, 2 weeks later, I finally have my first Vitruvian Hacks in hand. I was praying they didn’t disappoint because I’m expecting another 50 of these things to show up when my Kickstarter order is filled. So, did they live up to the hype?
In a word, yes, but I will admit that opening the teeny box that the two figures arrived in was a little anti-climactic considering that for two years I’ve been anticipating the arrival of a massive crate full of individually carded figures. However, as underwhelming as the size of the box was the packaging was still pretty neat in its own right.
The name of the set is “Eternal Struggle”. The figures came in a small white box with some cool artwork on the front showing the characters confronting one another in a moonlit swamp. On the back there are lengthy bios for both characters. For this post I’m going to review the Undead Warrior and I’ll save the Ringneck Gorgon for my neck post. The Warrior’s bio provides, in part, the following:
When Hades needs warriors to defend his realm or to serve his goals in the land of the living, he simply plucks a fallen warrior from the river Styx and sends them out to do his bidding. These warriors are single-minded, doing anything to achieve their mission. they are nearly impossible to best in battle. How do you slay something that is already dead?
I really appreciate that BFS went to the trouble of crafting back stories for these characters. They could have easily omitted that detail but I really think it adds some life to these characters. If I had read that blurb as a kid my imagination would have started firing on all cylinders as I dreamed up adventures this Undead Warrior of Hades could undertake.
The figure itself is excellent. It’s similar in construction to other 3 ¾” figures like G.I. Joes and Marvel Universe so it’s completely compatible for play or display but it doesn’t suffer from any of the issues that often plague those other brands. The proportions are realistic, the sculpting is excellent with lots of subtle musculature, and the range of movement is fantastic. This figure can kick and sit down and raise his arms and do all kinds of things that many G.I. Joes simply can’t. BFS may very well have perfected the 3 ¾ figure here.
Since this figure is basically a ghost he’s sculpted in translucent plastic and he doesn’t feature any paint apps save for his eerie blue eyes. The violet plastic they used for the body looks really nice especially in front of a light source which gives him an otherworldly glow.
For accessories the Undead Warrior comes with a tunic, a helmet, a spear, two swords, and a display base. With the exception of the black base, all of the accessories are molded in translucent gray plastic and they don’t feature any paint apps either. I’m fine with the fact that there are essentially no painted parts on this figure and his gear because it adds to his ghostly appearance and I know there will be plenty of paints apps on the upcoming “living” warrior figures.
The last thing I want to mention before moving onto my review of the Ringneck Gorgon is the quality of the plastic used on this figure and his accessories. It feels like BFS has crafted the perfect formula; not too hard and not too soft. I don’t get the impression that this figure will break easily. It feels study yet flexible and I think it could withstand some serious play time. It’s a real shame that kids will likely never know about these figures. 10 out of 10.