#0805: Courage

COURAGE

I AM ELEMENTAL

Courage7

Welcome to day 4 of the Post-Christmas gift reviews! Today’s entry has just a bit of backstory. A year and a half ago, I supported my very first action figure campaign, titled I Am Elemental. This campaign’s purpose was simple: action figures for girls. The action figure industry has an unfortunate history of not treating that half of the population the greatest, and I Am Elemental’s goal was to fix those in the best way possible: by making some really cool action figures! The initial set of figures arrived last year just before Christmas, and they made my list of favorite reviews for my second year of this site, so I was pretty pumped to see what was next for the line. When they started their project, the trend of figures was definitely towards the 3 ¾ inch scale. In the last year or two, thanks to lines like Marvel Legends and Star Wars: The Black Series, the trend has somewhat shifted to a 6 inch scale. I Am Elemental has followed suit, and their second proper release is in a somewhat larger scale. So, let’s see how they fared on their first venture into this new style!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Courage4Courage is a single release figure, available in late 2015 via the I Am Elemental store, as well as several online retailers. The smaller figures were each based on one emotion, or element, which all added up to the series’ theme of “Courage.” This figure acts as an amalgam of all those separate elements, in kind of a mega-power-up form. One would presume that this is the in-universe reason for the figure being almost twice as tall as those released previously. Courage stands a little over 6 ½ inches tall and has 36 points of articulation. She’s a touch on the large side to fit in with ML or The Black Series (though you can make it work), but she fits pretty nicely with stuff from DCC and NECA, and I think she even looks pretty cool with my Ultra-Act figures. Her articulation is pretty fantastic; she has a ton of mobility, and most of the joints move fairly smoothly. Courage is the first figure in the line to possess a completely unique mold. It’s clearly based on the smaller-scale figures, which makes sense. The basic underlying body armor is all the same, just blown up to a larger scale. She’s got two main add-on parts, a helmet Courage5and chest armor. The helmet is removable, and it’s a very well designed piece. It sits nice and snuggly when in place, but comes off without damaging the figure, and the helmet is not to big, nor is her head too small. The chest piece is actually made up of three separate parts; the shoulder guards are separate, jointed pieces, allowing for unhindered movement of the arms. Near as I can tell, the chest piece isn’t removable, at least not without taking off the head, which doesn’t feel like it’s meant to be removed. That’s fine by me, because the armor’s cool enough that I can’t see myself removing it anyway. Joan of Arc has been a noted inspiration for the figures since day one, and that’s definitely apparent in the design of the armor, and really the figure in general. It’s a classic look, and it certainly won’t look dated in a few years’ time. But, she’s not just inspired by Joan of Arc, she’s also inspired by the seven smaller scale figures. Bravery and Honesty seem to show through the most, butCourage8 elements of each of the Courage series figures show up on this figure, which is very nice to see. For instance, three of the Courage series figures had ponytails, so Courage has three ponytails, each one slightly different. I Am Elemental figures have all exhibited a simple, streamlined style to their sculpts. Courage continues this, but adds just enough extra detail to keep her from being too simple. The overall result is a very pleasing aesthetic. The paint work on Courage is pretty decent. It’s not perfect, but it’s above what we tend to see from larger companies, like Hasbro and Mattel. She borrows a lot of her coloring from the Courage Red version of Honesty, but, as with her sculpt, the figure has a little bit of each Courage series figure’s color scheme worked in. The color choices here are nice and bold, and she’ll definitely stand out on the shelf. In addition to the previously mentioned removable helmet, Courage includes a sword (with cool flamey bits!), a shield, and a character card.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Courage was a Christmas gift from my parents. It was no secret how much I loved the figures I got through the Kickstarter, so it should be no surprise that I was eagerly anticipating this figure, after being wowed by it when it was shown at Toy Fair 2015. So, I was thrilled to open the figure on Christmas morning. Out of the box, she’s just a fantastic figure. She takes the already high standard set by the original figures and soars way over it. Like the previous set, she’s an awesome toy first and foremost. I really can’t ask for much more.

Courage9

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#0436: I Am Elemental

BRAVERY, ENERGY, HONESTY, INDUSTRY, ENTHUSIASM, PERSISTENCE, & FEAR

I AM ELEMENTAL

Advance warning, guys and gals: today’s review is something of a lengthy one. Buckle up.

It’s not often I get the chance to reflect on how this site has affected my toy buying habits, but it’s done its fair share. One of the things the site has done is cause me to be a bit more diverse and adventurous with my buying, just for the sake of keeping things interesting. It’s also led to me to take an interest in new venues for figure-making. One of the biggest new venues is Kickstarter, which has been freaking swarmed with new action figure pitches as of late. The one that pulled me in was I Am Elemental. The pitch for I Am Elemental is fairly simple: action figures for girls. Female action figures and female action figure buyers are both overlooked far too often when it comes to toymakers. Female figures usually end up being totally absent or badly shortpacked. What’s more, the proportions are always way off, and they are often not up to the quality of their male counterparts. I Am Elemental aimed to fix that, offering a line of all female figures, the primary audience of which is girls. I may not be in that particular audience, but I love good action figures, no matter who they’re aimed at, and I’m a huge fan of bringing in new action figure fans!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These figures make up the first series of the I Am Elemental, which is all based around the emotions that add up to Courage. There were a few different options for getting the figures; the one I went for includes a full set of the 7 regular figures, as well as the Kickstarter Exclusive Courage Red Honesty. The figures all came blind bagged (though I was guaranteed a complete set) and they included an activity book, a bracelet to link all of the figures’ shields, and a metal lunchbox that’s meant to be used as a carrying case.

BRAVERY

“Bravery does not shrink from challenge or difficulty. She has the ability to create a protective force-field around herself and others.”  One of the noted inspirations for these figures is Joan of Arc. I think Bravery is the figure with the most Joan of Arc-like elements of the set. She’s 3 ¾ inches tall and she has 15 points of articulation. Waist, wrist, and ankle joints are the most noticeably absent joints on these figures, but I can understand why they aren’t there. Bravery shares her torso, upper arms, and upper legs with all of the figures in this set, her lower legs with Honesty, and her lower arms with Persistence. The basic pieces are all nicely done. One of the selling points of these figures was more realistic proportions, and they definitely succeeded there. There is still a bit of stylization to them, but it’s much more subtly handled. There are a few details on the body, showing etched lines in the armor and such, but overall the sculpt shows a more simplistic style. Bravery’s unique parts are her head and her shoulder armor piece, which slides down over her neck joint. Her head has braided hair, which is very distinctive and is very well detailed. The armor is nice and sharply sculpted, and it does a lot to differentiate her from the others. Bravery’s paint work isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty good. There’s a little bit of bleed over on the edges of the gloves, but everything else is pretty much where it should be. Bravery’s color scheme is pink. I’m not the biggest fan of pink, but it’s used pretty well here, and it’s not an obnoxious shade or anything. Bravery includes a shield with her elemental symbol on it, two character cards, and a small carrying bag with a draw string.

ENERGY

“Energy approaches life with excitement and does not do things half way. She has the ability to control electrical impulses.” Energy is decidedly more modern looking than Bravery. She has the same height and articulation. She also shares the same basic pieces with all of the figures, plus she shares her lower arms with Honesty and Fear and her lower legs are shared with Industry. The lower legs have some big stompy boots (technical term, that) and the arms sport some pointy wrist guards. They’re nicely done, and match up with the rest of the body well. Sadly, my Energy ended up with two left legs, which means she has a little trouble standing and looks a little odd from certain angles. Also a terrible dancer. That said, it’s not so bad that it ruins the figure. Just a bit of an annoyance. Energy has a unique head sculpt, with a really cool asymmetrical haircut, as well as an “energy” add-on piece which sits on her shoulders. Both of these are very nice. I particularly like the cool shapes of the energy. The figure’s paint is better than Bravery. Her color scheme is primarily orange, though she does have purple hair for variety’s sake. Everything is pretty clean, and the orange definitely stands out. She includes the same accessories as Bravery.

HONESTY

“Honesty tells the truth. She has the ability to make others tell the truth.” With Bravery taking a more classic look and Energy taking a more modern one, Honesty finds herself somewhere in between. She’s very definitely got an angelic theme to her, with the wings and the power described on her card. She has the same height and articulation as the others. Her body uses the common pieces shared by all the figures, plus the parts that she shares with Bravery and Energy. She also features a unique head and a set of clip-on wings. The head is nice, though probably one of the more “basic” heads in this assortment. The wings are really cool. Like the rest of the figure, they have an air of simplicity about them, which really works. They also help to make her one of the most distinctive figures in the set. Honesty has some of the best paint work in the set as well. Her primary color is turquoise, which contrasts really well with her red skin tone. All of the lines are clean, and there isn’t any slop, which is good. Honesty includes the same accessory selection as the others in the set.

INDUSTRY

“Industry works hard at all she does. She has the ability to control physical objects and repair anything that is broken.” Industry seems to be the quirky tech person of the set, which is something I can somewhat relate to. She’s the same height and has the same articulation as all the others. The figure is constructed from the base torso, arms, and legs, as well as the lower legs seen on Energy, and a set of lower arms which she shares with Enthusiasm. The lower arms feature fingerless gloves, which are totally the perfect accessory for any self-respecting tech genius. Industry has a unique head which features short hair and a headband, which fits with the practical nature of someone named Industry. Also befitting her practical nature is her backpack piece, which clips over her shoulders, and also gives her some pretty rad shoulder pads (Rob Liefeld would be proud!). The paint is nice and clean on Industry, with minimal slop and bleed over. Her primary color scheme is a pink that is deeper than the one on Bravery. She’s also got an orange skin tone, which makes her stand out a bit from the others. Industry includes the shield, character cards, and small carrying bag that are included with all of other figures.

ENTHUSIASM

“Enthusiasm cultivates and shares a positive mindset. She has the ability to change the negative emotions of others.” Enthusiasm seems to follow in the footsteps of Energy and Industry, sporting a design that is more modern feeling. If I’m honest, she almost feels like a modern upgrade to Bravery, with a similar color scheme, and shoulder armor (but with a newer twist). She uses the same torso, arms and legs as the rest of the figures, with the same lower arms used on Industry. They worked well with Industry’s personality, and they work well here, too. Enthusiasm also features a set of lower legs that she shares with both Persistence and Fear, which feature a set of shin guards (logical addition for someone who doesn’t have time for the negative). For unique pieces, she has her own head sculpt with long hair pulled back into a pony tail with her bangs in her face (also in line with the “no time for the negatives” thing), and a breastplate, which clips down over her shoulders. The head has the most personality of all those in the set; it stands out, in a good way. The ponytail is a separate piece, so it might be nice if it were articulated. Also, the head seems to sit just a touch too high on the neck, but those are minor issues that don’t hold the figure back. Enthusiasm’s color scheme is a mix of light purple and pink, which I actually like a lot more than I thought I would. The paint work is pretty good overall, but there is a little bit of bleed over on the armor’s change from purple to silver. It’s not terrible, but it’s pretty easy to spot if you know it’s there. Enthusiasm sports the same accessories load out as the rest of the set.

PERSISTENCE

“Persistence finishes what she starts and persists in spite of the obstacles. She has the ability to push through any obstacle with super strength.” I Am Elemental has a super hero theme running all throughout it, but Persistence is the one figure to wholeheartedly embrace the idea. There is no denying that she’s a super hero. She’s got the domino mask, the primary colors, the power set, and, above all, the cape. And when you think about it, Persistence is the perfect emotion for super hero-ing. Persistence is constructed with the basic parts used for all of the figures, along with the lower arms seen on Bravery, and the lower legs from Enthusiasm. She has a unique head, which has medium length hair (great for heroics), and the aforementioned cape. The cape has a slight windblown effect to it, which gives the figure a nice dynamic look that I really like. Persistence’s color scheme is predominantly a light blue, befitting her super hero look. All of the paint is applied nicely and cleanly, and the color is nice and bold. Persistence includes the same selection of accessories featured with the rest of the figures.

FEAR

“Fear spreads the impulse to pull away and hide. She has the ability to stop a moving object in its tracks.” Fear is probably the most unique of the figures in the set. She represents the only “negative” emotion in the bunch, and she has a much darker overall color scheme. However, the character’s description on her card indicates that she’s meant to be more of a “dark hero,” which is a pretty cool. Fear is important to Courage, so it makes sense. The figure makes use of the base body, with the lower arms seen on Energy and Honesty, and the lower legs from Enthusiasm and Persistence. She has a unique head sculpt, notable in that it’s the only one to have a helmet. The helmet has a neat serpentine style to it, which makes sense with the fear motif. She also has an armor piece, which sits on her shoulders. The piece is pointy and looks just right for Fear. Fear’s color scheme is much darker than the others. Her primary color is a very dark purple, and even the silver of the body is a much darker shade. The paint work is nice and cleanly done, with no issues with slop or bleed over. Fear has the same accessories as all the others, plus an additional fear spirit thingy, which continues the serpentine theme of the helmet.

COURAGE RED HONESTY

As an extra incentive to the Kickstarter supporters, the makers of I Am Elemental threw in an extra figure, done in “Courage Red,” signifying the overall theme of Series 1. They allowed fans to vote on which of the seven figures would receive the Courage treatment, and the vote went to Honesty. Structurally, the figure is identical to the regular Honesty. The difference between the two is that, instead of the silver body suit of the regular figure, this one has a red one. The red is a deep red, and it’s done in a nice metallic sheen. It’s a subtle change from the regular version, but it’s a nice one. I actually don’t know which one I prefer.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I Am Elemental is my first venture into the world of Kickstarter, and they’ve done a tremendous job of getting me hooked. When I came across the idea, I was immediately drawn to it. I’m definitely a supporter of the idea behind the figures, for a plethora of reasons. And above all, I’m a sucker for cool action figures. In all honesty, these are some of the coolest figures I’ve seen in quite some time. Every single figure practically radiates with evidence of the care and enjoyment put into them. They call back to a time when toys really were designed with kids in mind, and I think they are a huge step towards making action figures a viable thing again. And they’re just so much fun!