“The freak—In the gas mask!”
Those were the words that introduced movie-goers to Karl Ruprecht Kroenen, uttered by Sgt. Whitman in the first Hellboy movie. It’s an apt description. Kroenen is kind of one of those characters who’s utterly fascinating and thoroughly entertaining, but who also possesses absolutely no redeeming characteristics whatsoever. Dude’s a Nazi assassin. Kind of a bad guy. But, he also had one of the coolest designs from the Hellboy films, which does tend to make a guy a little popular with the fans. While the guy spends the majority of his film appearance in more of a crazy ninja assassin get-up, he starts things off in World War II, wearing an SS Officer’s uniform, which, coupled with his gas mask, makes for something of a memorable look. Today, I’ll be looking at one of the action figures of that particular look.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Officer Kroenen was released in Series 1.5 of Mezco’s Hellboy line. I know what you’re thinking: 1.5? What’s up with that? Well, Mezco did the first series of Hellboy figures, which gave us two HBs, Abe Sapien, Rasputin, Samael, and the main version of our boy Kroenen here. That left a few major players out of the line, presumably saved for Series 2. But, before getting there, Mezco announced Series 1.5, which, in theory, was meant to be made up of figures that had parts mostly re-used from the figures in the first series. Series 2 never came to be, meaning 1.5 was the last series we got. Also, most of the figures in 1.5 had a lot of new parts, making the whole “it’s a cost saving mid-way point” seem a bit dubious. But hey, we got another series of figures. Let’s not complain about it! As noted in the intro, this second version of Kroenen is based on his appearance in the WWII-based prologue to the film, where the character is serving as an officer in the German military. The figure stands 7 ¾ inches tall and has 25 points of articulation. While a lot of his articulation is pretty standard, there are a few oddities here and there, such as the weird swivel joints at the middle of his feet, and the awkward hip joints. Overall, his movement is pretty good, though. The gimmick to Series 1.5 was the re-used parts, so clearly Kroenen has a few parts her shares with his Series 1 counterpart, though not that many, truth be told. The head, neck, knees, shins, and feet are the same as the Series 1 Kroenen. Apart from that he’s all new. It’s not a shock, mind you, since his two designs don’t exactly lend themselves to shared parts. The shared parts are all just as nice here as they were on the first figure, and they fit well with this design too. The head is definitely the strongest piece, and it does a nice job of capturing Kroenen’s distinctive gas mask. Said mask is removable, allowing you to see Kroenen’s decaying face beneath. The face has been exaggerated a bit from the movie, which makes it a bit more grotesque; it’s well –sculpted and sufficiently creepy. The head is adorned by a newly sculpted hat, which sits in place pretty snuggly, and looks to be appropriately scaled to the figure. The long coat isn’t actually a sculpted piece; it’s made from a faux leather material, and it actually pretty well tailored to the figure, especially at this scale. Beneath the coat, the body sports a fully detailed SS uniform. Even the arms, which are totally hidden by the jacket and never actually seen in the movie, are a fully detailed all-new sculpt, complete with the arm-band on the left arm. The uniform (and the body sculpt in general) is a little more cartoony and stylized than the usual movie figure, but it fits with the rest of the figures. Kroenen’s paint work is pretty decent overall. There’s a bit of slop on the hat, but that’s really the only occurrence. Also, the gas mask is a matte black here, as opposed to the glossy black of the first series figure and the movie. That said, I actually think the matte looks better here. Ever so slightly surprising on the paint front is the presence of a swastika on one of the pins on his chest (though not on his arm band). It is, of course, accurate to the film, but as we’ve seen with Red Skull and all the Nazis from Indiana Jones, such things tend to be omitted from action figures. I guess older target audience for Hellboy and its associated merchandise made for less of an issue. Kroenen included two sets of hands, one with blades attached and one with a trigger finger on the right hand, as well as a Luger P08. My figure is, unfortunately, missing his blade hands.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
When the first series of Hellboy figures was released, Kroenen was the very first figure I picked up. As much as I liked him, I lamented the fact that he wasn’t the Officer look from the opening. So, I was pretty pumped when I found out that this guy would be on 1.5. Of course, then 1.5 ended up being pretty hard to find, so I never actually got Officer Kroenen. I wrote off the figure as being yet another I’d never get, and decided to be content with my Series 1 Kroenen. This past month, while attending Philcon, my Dad, Super Awesome Girlfriend, my pal Phil, and I went to nearby toy store The House of Fun, where I found this guy loose. Sure, I paid more than twice what I would have when he was new, but I’m just thrilled to finally have the guy.