SASQUATCH, SNOWBIRD, AURORA, & SHAMAN
The United States doesn’t hold a total monopoly on North American super hero teams! No, no, Canada also gets in on the fun, with their own psuedo-Avengers-equivalent, Alpha Flight! First appearing in the pages of Uncanny X-Men in 1979, the team eventually moved to their own series, and they’ve maintained something of a cult following ever since. In 2012, that following was prominent enough to warrant a pair of boxed sets, which gave us a rather sizable line-up for the team. The second, NYCC-exclusive pack is the focus of today’s review!
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
These four made up the second of the two Alpha Flight boxed sets, released in 2012. The first was at SDCC, and this one followed up at NYCC as mentioned above. Though, neither set was a gangbuster, so they were available from a number of retailers after the fact.
More than just an urban legend, Sasquatch is Walter Langowski, who has the ability, via either magical or radioactive means depending on your preference, to transform into this hulking creature. He’s definitely up there in terms of recognition, falling behind Guardian and maybe Puck for best known team member. Sasquatch takes quite a departure from the standard ‘mate body, getting add-ons for his head/chestcap, hands, upper legs, and feet. Apart from the upper legs, which are standard bulk-up pieces, everything was new to this figure. While the pieces work reasonably well, the design of them definitely proves rather on the limiting side in terms of playablity. The head can’t turn, the arms only barely move, and he falls apart at the waist a lot. So, really, anything beyond a basic standing pose isn’t happening. He looks decent enough, though. The paintwork on Sasquatch is fairly scarce. He’s mostly just the same orange all around, which is accurate, but maybe not super exciting. The face is definitely nice, and is a solid recreation of Byrne’s artwork. Sasquatch has no accessories, since the clear display stands hadn’t *quite* become standard issue.
An Inuit goddess, initially limited to the Canadian borders, Snowbird is one of Byrne’s earliest Alpha Flight creations, predating his professional work in comics. She makes use of two add-on pieces, one for her hair/head-piece, and the other for her cape. Both pieces were new to this figure, and they work reasonably well. The cape lacks the grandeur with which Snowbird’s design was usually shown, but that does mean she’s a less restricted and top-heavy figure, so I can totally understand DST’s call on that one. Snowbird’s paintwork is pretty decent. The application is clean, and the colors match up well with her comics design. She’s slightly washed out looking, but that’s true to the character. The face is accurate to her design, but seems…off. It’s just not particularly appealing to look at, truth be told. I guess she just doesn’t look quite right on a cylinder. For accessories, Snowbird just gets a flight stand. One of her alternate forms would have been cool, but given the two new add-ons she got, not necessary.
Though she’s a little lesser known than her brother Northstar, Aurora is still pretty well known, even if it’s largely in connection to her brother. Splitting the two up between these sets was actually pretty clever. Aurora uses one add-on piece for her hair. It’s borrowed from Thor‘s Jane foster. It’s not the most luxurious piece, but it gets the job done, and is a respectable choice. The majority of Aurora’s design is done with paint. Her white and black combo is quite eye-catching, and really works well in this style. Due to the very stylized fashion of coloring Northstar and Aurora’s hair, there’s some confusion over what’s the proper coloring. To ease this issue, Aurora includes the same hairpiece painted both white and black. She comes wearing the white, but the overall appearance is more or less the same either way. In addition to the extra hair piece, Aurora also includes a flight stand, as well as an alternate hand, which allows her to hold hands with the Northstar figure from the other set.
Shaman is exactly what it says on the tin…more or less. He’s also the least fortunate of the founding members when it comes to toys, as this figure was his very first, and to date, only. The figure uses add-ons for his hair, belt, and boots. The boots are the DCD Flash boots (rather than the Invaders Cap boots we tend to see in the Marvel line), and the other two pieces are brand new. The hair and the belt are quite nicely rendered pieces, with the small detail work on the belt in particular being quite impressive. The paintwork on Shaman is the nicest in the set. His face is a good fit for the stalwart Shaman, and the details on his costume are crisp, clean and quite bold. While I might have liked to see some fringe detailing on the boots, I can’t really fault DST for not attempting it. Shaman included two energy effects pieces, both molded in the same translucent blue.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
I grabbed this set from my favorite minimate retailer, Luke’s Toy Store. The set’s a bit more of a mixed bag than the first one. Sasquatch is passable at best. Nothing really stands out as exemplary, and he’s certainly got his flaws. But, this is kind of the same assortment of problems that every larger character runs into. Snowbird represents a solid attempt from DST, but is sadly another miss, I think largely due to the design not really translating all that well to the style. Aurora may be a fair standard-issue offering, but she really works in this style, and pairs nicely with her brother. By far the star of the set, Shaman is a surprisingly good figure, from start to finish.