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.
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.
I hope you don’t mind but I’m going to review yet another Vitruvian Hacks figure today. I usually try to keep my posts relatively diverse but the novelty of these figures hasn’t worn off yet and I just want to keep talking about them. Today I’m going to take a look at Stonefist.
This is easily one of the coolest figures in the line. I’ve already praised the Undead Warrior and the Underworld Warrior so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I love this figure too. The build of this figure is identical to those two and his outfit is the same as that of the Undead Warrior. What makes this figure stand out from the pack is the paintwork. The other warrior figures were great but lacking in the paint department, which was fine given their story lines, but Stonefist ups the ante big time when it comes to paint applications. Finally I can show you the full extent of Boss Fight Studio’s (BFS) brilliance.
If you’re not up to date on your Greek mythology, or if you haven’t seen Clash of the Titans, here’s a little recap on Medusa. She’s a cursed Gorgon and anyone who looks her in the eyes is turned to stone. I was always under the impression that those stone warriors were dead but, according to the bios provided by BFS on the card backs, those stone warriors remain alive. They’re cursed to remain completely conscious of the world around them with senses heightened to god-like levels so they can see and hear for miles around them. BFS gives a ray of hope to the cursed though by adding that they can revert back to their human forms if the gorgon who turned them is slain. I don’t know if any of that comes from Greek myth or is BFS just made it up but it’s all pretty cool regardless.
According to Stonefist’s bio he was an Athenian Warrior who, in the midst of being turned to stone, blinded himself in hopes that it would put a halt to the curse. The end result was a blind dude with enhanced senses and an unbreakable stone fist. How cool is that? I don’t know if blinding yourself to stop the curse makes much sense but it’s a neat idea and this is all fantasy so who really cares.
One of the other figures in the V-Hacks line is a generic Athenian Warrior. As was the case with the other warrior figures, Stonefist and the Athenian are the exact same figure construction wise; they share all of the same parts. They even have the same tunic but there are a few paint variations to differentiate the two. Stonefist has blue trim on his skirt whereas the Warrior has tan. Also, Stonefist has blue chainmail on his sides and black button adornments while the Warrior has gold. The multiple paint apps on the crisp white tunics of these Athenian soldiers make them the most regal looking V-Hacks in the line. The biggest paint variation between the two is Stonefist’s left arm is painted grey to resemble stone. The stone arm looks pretty believable. I like the way the speckled paint softly fades into his flesh shoulder. Another cool difference between the two Athenian figures is their skin tones. The warrior is cast in a healthy bronzed flesh tone while Stonefist shares my pasty sickly complexion.
At first I thought Stonefist had a unique head sculpt. Upon closer inspection I realized it’s the standard bald head seen on multiple V-Hack figures. It seems like a different head though because, again, the paint job is fantastic. Stonefist’s pupils are painted a foggy blue and there’s a pink scar across them to show where he blinded himself to stave off the transformation. BFS could have went gory with this effect but I’m glad they didn’t. The subtle paint job tells the story just fine.
The last thing we have to talk about are Stonefist’s accessories. He comes with a bunch of the same stuff we’ve seen with the other figures: 3 swords, a spear, an over the shoulder sheath, leg armour, a tunic, spare hands, a helmet, a display base, and a shield. They’re all great little pieces but there isn’t much to be said about them that hasn’t been said already as far as the sculpting goes. But once again some simple paint apps manage to impress. His helmet has a toothy sneer painted on each side which looks really cool and tells you that this guys is a total badass. Also, he has the same face deco on his shield as the Athenian Warrior but the eyes on Stonefist’s shield are X’ed out to symbolize his own blinding. It’s a small detail but it tells a story and I love it. The scratches even look authentic.
Thus far I’ve reviewed 3 of my 46 Vitruvian Hacks figures and I’ve rated all of them 10 out of 10. I expect most of the other figures will garner similar ratings because these things are awesome. However, just to prove that I’m not a completely biased, gushing fanboy I have decided to review my least favorite figure of the bunch, the Afterlife Gorgon. The packaging describes her as follows:
The battle between the gorgons and mankind was brutal and, in some cases, eternal. Some mighty warriors on both sides refused to pass on to the underworld and remained trapped in ghostly form. Their sworn oaths keep them locked in an eternal battle until victory is achieved.
This figure was included in a 2-pack titled “Ghosts of the Battlefield” along with an Afterlife Spartan.
Both figures glow in the dark. Since they’re supposed to be ghosts it’s a neat gimmick that makes sense for the characters. If I were a kid I’d probably appreciate the glow in the dark feature a lot more. I’d orchestrate situations to make use of it when playing, like building a cave out of pillows or just flicking the lights off to turn day into night. But as an adult collector I have little use for it. I don’t spend much time in my mancave gazing at my toy collection in the dark. Glow in the dark plastic has a very artificial look to it so it doesn’t easily pass for other materials like metal of cloth. I don’t mind it in small doses, like glow in the dark weapons or maybe glow in the dark armor, but this figure is glow in the dark from head to toe and it’s a bit much. It does look cool when glowing but in the light of day it doesn’t make for a very visually appealing figure. Her skin is the color of a used glow stick and her translucent blue armor is dull and muted. Some paint apps on the armor would have really helped to make this figure more interesting but the only apps are few dabs of black for her eyes and mouth and a pair of white fangs.
In the case of the Afterlife Spartan, the bland glow in the dark plastic is the only problem; otherwise it’s a quality figure. The same cannot be said for the Afterlife Gorgon. This is the only V-Hacks figure I received where quality control is an issue. I don’t know if others will have the same issue with this figure as I do, maybe it’s just mine, but her upper and lower torso don’t lock into place. I’m wondering if it has anything to do with the glow in the dark plastic they used, maybe it’s softer or something. The result is limited playability and posability. I have to display her in a rigid upright stance otherwise she crumbles in half. I have no doubt that Boss Fight Studios would send me a replacement if i asked them to but since it’s my least favorite figure of the bunch I’m not too concerned about it.
Another thing I don’t really like about this figure is the construction. There are both human and gorgon females in the line and they both look great. This figure is the only hybrid of the two. Afterlife Gorgon has a snakey upper half complete with a hissing gorgon face but her lower half is human with legs instead of a tail. The combo is a little bizarre. I think a glow in the dark gorgon with a full tail would’ve been much cooler and I’m curious as to why Boss Fight Studio didn’t go that route. This figure is the odd man out when displayed with the gorgon horde so I’m not sure where to put her in my V-Hacks display.
The last thing that bothers me about this figure is her outfit. She has the same belt piece as the eldest gorgon sister, Stheno, which has a full skirt in the back but nothing in the front. It looks fine on Stheno because she has shorts painted onto the figure. This figure doesn’t have painted shorts so it looks like she’s Donald Ducking it which is kinda disturbing. A ghost snake woman should have the decency to cover up her lady parts when locked in eternal battle.
For accessories Afterlife Gorgon comes with the skirt belt, chest armor, shin guards, wrist guards, a sword, a spear, and a shield. It’s a good selection though I don’t love the translucent blue plastic the weapons were cast in. They’re more vibrant than the armor pieces but they remind me of the Day-Glo G.I. Joe weapons of the 90s and they add to the overall synthetic look of this figure.
On Wednesday my “all-in” shipment arrived from Boss Fight Studios. I had contributed to their Kickstarter campaign two years ago so it was a long time coming. For more information on Boss Fight and their Kickstarter check out this post.
My all-in shipment consisted of 45 figures and 7 accessory packs plus a T-Shirt and a lithograph. It was an epic haul to be sure but the box wasn’t as enormous as I was expecting. BFS did an excellent job of packing everything economically and secure. 17 of the figures came on individual blister cards with colorful original artwork like you’d expect to find in a retail store. 7 of them came in small white boxes with black and white artwork, and the rest came in baggies. Each of the accessory packs came in white boxes as well. The unboxing seemed to go on forever as I pulled out each item and laid them on the floor.
The figures basically fall into the following categories: human warriors, gorgon soldiers, skeletons, and blanks. The humans and the gorgons are all awesome. The sculpting, the paint work, the articulation, and the accessories are all spot-on. The skeletons are intricately sculpted but due to a lack of paint they’re less exciting to look at.
The blanks are basic male and female human forms with no paint apps or accessories other than some alternate heads and hands. Customizers will love them but I’m not one to paint action figures myself so I was expecting to write them off as neat but ultimately useless add-ons. However the accessory packs, each of which includes gear for both a male and a female figure, really bring the blanks to life. Once I finally had all the figures open and displayed on my coffee table I was hard-pressed to select which one to review first. I’ll get to them all eventually but one that really speaks to me is the Underworld Warrior. The packing describes them as follows:
The gorgon sisters and their army have waged war on both man and the gods. Even the lord of the underworld, Hades himself must prepare for their onslaught. Needing to produce an army that was capable of winning this hopeless battle, he turns to their stone victims and infuses them with mystical fire to animate a molten army of burning warriors. These warriors were neither alive nor dead but rather some state in between.
When the Kickstarter was still up and running and I was deciding how much to contribute I considered army building the Underworld Warrior. I absolutely loved the idea behind them and the concept drawing of the at-the-time unproduced figure looked amazing. I envisioned a whole shelf full of them. However, the assortment of available figures continued to grow as more people contributed and I wanted them all. It quickly became apparent that collecting just the unique figures was going to be expensive so any dreams of army building were dashed. However, when BFS contacted me a short time ago and offered an additional free figure of my choice to make up for the delays in production I knew exactly who I wanted.
It’s awfully hard to pick a favorite Vitruvian Hacks figure but the Underworld Warrior is a definite contender for me. Once in hand, the figure met all my lofty expectations. Some might say that he’s not as interesting as more elaborate figures like Medusa or Leonidas but I think the simplicity adds to his appeal. When stripped of his gear the Underworld Warrior isn’t much different than the blanks. He’s bald and has no defining sculpted details. All of his uniqueness is achieved with paint applications. His base color is a dark ashy gray and he has orange and yellow lines painted throughout representing the mystical fire. It looks like lava creeping through the cracks of a volcanic rock. I’m really impressed by how cool it looks. That same color palate and design is carried over onto his tunic, helmet, and shield.
For accessories the Underworld Warrior came packaged with the aforementioned tunic, helmet, and shield as well as two swords, a sheath, a spear, spare hands, and a BFS display base. Each weapon is nicely sculpted and fits snugly into his malleable plastic hands.
Since he shares the same build as the Undead Warrior I reviewed previously I don’t have a whole lot more to say about the articulation but I’ll sum it up by saying he has the best articulation of any figure at this scale ever. I highly recommend you visit BFS’s webstore and order yourself some of these bad boys asap. 10 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.