#1837: Abe Sapien

ABE SAPIEN

HELLBOY (MEZCO)

Man, I’ve gone almost the whole month of October without looking at anything all that spooky.  That in and of itself seems pretty spooky, right?  No?  Okay, fair enough.  Anyway, within the spirit of the month, I guess I’ll look at something from the more paranormal side of things, with another visit to the world of Hellboy, a series that blends so many of my personal interests.  Today, I’m looking at my favorite character from the Hellboy-verse, Abraham Sapien!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Abe Sapien was released as part of the first series of Mezo’s movie-based Hellboy line.  There were two different Abes available, one standard release (shirtless), and one Previews-Exclusive release.  Today’s review focuses on the exclusive release, which allowed for (more or less) a fully-suited up Abe.  The figure stands 7 3/4 inches tall and he has 25 points of articulation.  He has the same articulation as the Kroenen figure I looked at a few years back, which means he has the same pluses and minuses as that figure.  Overall, it’s standard for the time, but there remain a few odd-ball joints that subsequent lines from Mezco would re-work or drop entirely.  Some of these joints, the mid-foot cut joints in particular, were a little fragile and prone to breakage, as was the case with one of my Abe’s feet.  Fortunately, it’s one of the less essential joints, so gluing the foot back together hasn’t robbed him of all that much.  Abe’s sculpt was shared between the two variants, and then re-tooled for the battle-damaged figure from Series 1.5 and the main Abe from Hellboy 2.  It’s a pretty solid sculpt overall.  It’s filtered a bit through the lens of Mezco’s more stylized sensibilities, so he’s a little ganglier, and a little more angular than he was in the movie.  There are two heads included with the figure.  Since this Abe is meant to be the fully kitted-out Abe, he comes wearing his goggled head, which is accompanied by the two pieces of his rebreather system.  The rebreather can easily removed by popping off the head, allowing the head to be displayed without it, if that’s your prerogative. By virtue of being a straight re-paint, he lacks the gloves and shoes that Abe should technically have in this set-up, but I suppose we can all just imagine that he’s decided to forego those pieces for the day. The paint is, of course, imperative here, since it separates him from the standard release.  The first Hellboy figures were a bit more reserved in coloring than later counterparts.  Abe in particular seems to have been toned down a fair bit from his on-screen appearance.  His blues are more murky, which makes him a little less eye catching.  I do like the shiny finish they’ve given him, but beyond that, he does sort of run together a bit more than I’d like.  Of course, he’s still far from terrible.  Abe is packed with a second head, sans the goggles, and also included a belt, but mine seems to have gone missing.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I came into the first Hellboy movie with no familiarity of the source material, so I didn’t know what to expect.  Retailers didn’t either, so the figures weren’t the easiest to track down.  I never found the basic Abe, but I was fortunate enough to get this one through a friend who worked at Diamond.  He’s a decent figure, but perhaps not as strong as the Kroenen figure I looked at before.  Admitedly, my opinion may be slightly colored, since there are a greater number of Abes on the market to choose from.  Still, you could do a lot worse than this one.

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Flashback Friday Figure Addendum #0011: Johann Kraus

Hey ho, it’s another Friday, which means it’s time for another Flashback Friday Figure Addendum!  Today, I move away from Marvel and DC and set my sights on another big comics company, Dark Horse, specifically the Hellboy side of things.  Let’s have a second look at the esteemed Johann Kraus!

I came in somewhat late to the Hellboy scene. My first interaction with the characters and story was the release of the first Hellboy movie in 2004. I saw the movie with a group of friends and had no expectations at all. I actually thought that Abe Sapien was supposed to be the villain! Anyway, the movie was really good, and I was hooked on all things Hellboy. Mezco Toys had the license for the movie, and I picked up a few figures from that line, and then Mezco decided to move onto a line of figures based on the comicbooks. Today, I’ll be looking at that line’s version of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense’s resident expert on ectoplasmic stuff, Johann Kraus.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Johann was released as part of the second series of comicbook-inspired Hellboy line from Mezco Toys. He stands a little over 7 inches tall and features 15 points of articulation. He’s based on Johann as Mike Mignola drew him. Seeing as Mignola originated the design, that’s a good call. The sculpt does a pretty good job of translating Mignola’s 2D drawings to 3D, which was no easy feat, I’m sure. They’ve incorporated some great texture work all around, which captures the gritty look of the series very nicely. The paint is serviceable, with some pretty decent dry brushing all around. They’ve used a semi-translucent paint on his head, which works nicely to capture his ectoplasmic look. Sadly, my figure has a scratch on his face, which brings the work down a bit, but I’d be exceptionally happy were that not the case. Johann included a spare set of hands to simulate his ectoplasmic powers at work.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got Johann from my local comic store (Cosmic Comix) when series two was first released. Shortly after the release of the first Hellboy movie, I picked up an issue of Hellboy Weird Tales, which among other things, contained a story that focused on Johann. It was my first interaction with the character, and I enjoyed him immensely. So, when the figure came out I knew I definitely wanted one. I never got any of the other comicbook Hellboy figures, but Johann is still very entertaining, and a great representation of the character.

Right, I forgot I went through this second period of brevity about 3/4 of the way through my first year.  A lot of these reviews were written during a visit with Super Awesome Girlfriend early that summer, and I didn’t actually have the figures with me, which kind of shows, if I’m honest.

First off, I incorrectly listed the articulation; he has 17 points, not 15.  Not a huge difference, but lets get those facts straight, shall we?  Aside from that, my review of this guy wasn’t too bad.  I mean, it’s kinda short, and only briefly touches on everything, but at least nothing major got left out.  The first time around, my figure was missing his extra hands with the ectoplasm attachments.  I found those during The Find, and I’m really glad, because they add a lot of life to the figure.

That outro is, of course, now inaccurate, since I did eventually pick up both Lobster Johnson and Roger, just last year.  But, for a while, this guy was the only one I had, and that wasn’t so bad.

#0898: Roger

ROGER

HELLBOY (MEZCO)

Roger1

The artificial man is a recurring story element in lots of different popular culture. Typically, it’s the likes of Frankenstein’s monster, or even characters like Ash and Bishop from the Alien franchise, or perhaps just a more generic robot. They’re created through scientific means. However, there are a few examples, such as the Golem or the Homunculi, which are created through supernatural means. Today’s focus, Roger, is officially the latter, but functionally works as the former. Just go with it. Without further ado, here’s Roger!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Roger was released in Series 2 of Mezco’s comic-based Hellboy line. The figure stands just shy of 8 inches tall (Roger’s a big guy) and he has 23 points of articulation. Roger has a sculpt courtesy of Inu Art, and he’s based on Mike Mignola’s artwork from the main series. A lot of Roger’s appearances were actually in BPRD, which was drawn by Guy Davis, not Mignola. However, it makes sense to have all of the figures in this set be in the same basic style (plus Davis’ style isn’t too far removed from Mignola’s to begin with). Roger’s sculpt is totally unique to him. His proportions are a pretty spot-on rendering of what’s seen on the page, and the resemblance to Roger is definitely there.  Roger’s far less clothed than the other two figures I’ve looked at from this line, but that doesn’t mean he lacks Roger2the attention to detail. Like Lobster Johnson, he has that chiseled look, with a ton of cool texturing, which really makes this figure stand out from others. The hatch at the center of his torso is actually articulated to allow it to open (though the interior of his torso is merely simulated, not actually shown). The loop on Roger’s… modesty… plank (?) is a separate, metal piece, which is a nice touch. Roger’s paint consists almost entirely of variations of browns, but there’s enough there to keep him from being too boring. The paint is all nice and clean, and there’s some pretty cool shading throughout the figure. Roger includes a BPRD flak jacket, if you prefer him a bit more clothed, as well as a book with a skull on the front of it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

At the time of this figure’s release, my only real exposure to the franchise was the first movie and a handful of comics I’d picked up, none of which featured Roger. Not knowing the character, I didn’t pick him up. Then I actually read a number of his appearances, and quite enjoyed the character, but finding the figure at that point was…less than practical. At this year’s MAGFest, one of the vendors had a Lobster Johnson figure, which I very happily snapped up. The next day, they had added Roger to the table, and I happily snapped him up too. I don’t find him to be quite as fun a figure as Lobster J, but he’s still pretty solid, and I’m happy I got him.

#0880: Lobster Johnson

LOBSTER JOHNSON

HELLBOY (MEZCO)

LobsterJ1

After being introduced to the Hellboy franchise by the 2004 movie, I was very invested in finding out just what this series had to offer. I was thrilled to find that there was a ton of stuff in the comics that the movies didn’t even begin to touch on. One of my favorite non-movie characters (and apparently one of Mike Mignola’s favorite creations) was pseudo pulp hero Lobster Johnson. After the modest success of their first movie-based line of figures, toymakers Mezco put together a tragically short-lived line of comic based figures, granting good ol’ claw-hand a shot at a figure, which I’ll be reviewing today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

LobsterJ2Lobster Johnson was released in the first series of comic-based Hellboy figures. It’s actually a little surprising that Johnson got a spot so early in the line, but he was the one figure in the line-up specifically requested by Mignola (the same thing happened with the small selection of Heroclix the series got). Johnson was released in two different variations: a regular one, and a translucent blue “Ghost of Lobster Johnson” one. The Ghost version was a summer convention exclusive, with the normal colored version being the regular, mass market release. Mine’s the regular one. The figure is 7 ¾ inches tall and has 20 points of articulation. He has a sculpt by INU Studios, based right on Mignola’s art from the series. This sculpt is an incredibly masterful translation of Mignola’s style into three dimensions; it gets the proportions down great (though, boy does this guy have some skinny wrists), and just overall does a really nice job of capturing Lobster’s look. Also, unlike a lot of comic-based figures, Lobster doesn’t skimp on the texturing; he almost look likes he’s been chiseled out of stone, which is definitely befitting of a Mignola design. The paintwork does a nice job of accenting the sculpt; the uniform gets a nice assortment of dry-brushed details and the like, to make it look good and worn-in. It would have been nice if the claw logo on his torso were a bit brighter, just to stand out a bit more, but it’s not bad. The face is really impressive, making use of several different flesh tones to give him a distinct, almost picturesque quality. Lobster is packed with a pistol (which can be held, or stowed in his holster) and the evil brain from Lobster’s debut story, “Killer in My Skull.”

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Despite loving the movie and having a few of Mezco’s figures from that line, I never got any of the Series 1 comic figures (and only a single Series 2 figures). It was a choice I came to regret much later, after the prices had all sky-rocketed. At this year’s MAGFest, I saw this guy on a vendor’s table, and was very happy to find out the guy was asking well below the figure’s going rate. I’m really happy that I got Lobster; of all the comic figures I missed out on, he was probably the one I most wanted. He’s an incredible figure, and it’s a shame Mezco didn’t get to do way more of these guys.

#0772: Officer Kroenen

OFFICER KROENEN

HELLBOY (MEZCO)

OfficerKroenen1

“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

OfficerKroenen3Officer 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, OfficerKroenen2complete 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.

#0515: Hellboy

HELLBOY

HELLBOY: ANIMATED

HellboyAnimated1

Back in the days before every comic book property under the sun was getting a movie or TV deal, it was a pretty huge accomplishment for anything that wasn’t Batman or Spider-Man to make it to the big screen. Such was the case with Hellboy, which surprised everyone by not only making it to the big screen, but also managing to do so without fundamentally changing everything about the series. That said, getting one movie made is one thing. Getting a sequel? Even less likely. In the years that followed the first Hellboy film, the film’s director, writers, and principle cast members decided to continue their fun through a series of direct-to-DVD animated movies. They produced two, Hellboy: Sword of Storms and Hellboy: Blood and Iron, before eventually returning with the live action Hellboy 2. While Mezco Toyz held the licenses for the comic and film incarnations of Hellboy, the animated license was picked up by Gentle Giant, at the time known for their statue and bust work (now they’re the ones responsible for the sculpts in Hasbro’s Star Wars: The Black Series and Marvel Legends Infinite Series). They produced HB and his teammate Abe Sapien. Today, I’ll be taking a look at Big Red himself.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

HellboyAnimated2Hellboy was released in two different ways, though the figure is the same both places. He was available as a single figure, or packed in a set with the two movies. My figure comes from the set with the movies. The figure is about 6 ½ inches tall, with 30 points of articulation. The figure is based on the standard Hellboy design used in both animated films. He’s done here in his sans-coat look. One has to wonder if there might have been plans to do a coated version later down the line. The figure’s sculpt was original to him, and it’s really quite well done. In the films, HB’s proportions are rather exaggerated. The figure does a nice job of translating them, resulting in an (overall) sturdy figure, to a level that’s pleasantly surprising. From his head to his hooves, HB’s sculpt is very carefully handled, resulting in something that not only replicates the cartoon look, but also looks pretty great in three dimensions. Something that sets this figure apart from the vast majority of animation-based figures is texture. Many animation figures attempt to replicate the totally smooth look of the animated character, which can be rather problematic if not done right, and can also end up a little boring. HB, on the other hand, is pretty much coated in unique textures. The best work is definitely on the Right Hand of Doom, which is appropriately rocky looking, but he also has a rather neat orange peel-style texture on his skin, which is strangely appropriate for the character. The texture really catches the light just right and ends up making the figure quite interesting to look at. My only issue with the sculpt is that the shins are so thin that one of them snapped on my figure. However, this is less the sculpt’s fault and more an inevitability of the character design. Still, it’s something that warrants caution. The paint on this figure could have been rather flat, but it’s actually not, which is pretty cool to see. The base paint work is pretty much par for the course. There are a few spots of bleed over and missed lines, but nothing too bad. The strength of the paint really lies in the accent work, which does a lot to bring out the best of the sculpted work. The musculature is all outlined by some nicely handled dark red airbrushing, the RHoD has a black wash to bring out the cracks in the rocky surface, and the belt/pouches/holster have all been given a sufficiently worn looking paint job. All of this is above what is generally expected for an animation figure, which just makes it that much better. Hellboy included his signature gun, The Samaritan, an extra left hand to properly hold it, the Sword of Storms, and a display stand with the Hellboy Animated logo on it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I kinda missed these figures when they were first released, mostly due them being in scale with pretty much nothing I owned. I ended up finding a slightly damaged HB along with the DVDs at this record store called Music for a Song. They were selling it for less than the price of one of the DVDs by itself, so I figured it was probably worth it. I’m glad I found it and decided to go for it, because it’s probably the best Hellboy figure ever made. The articulation’s great, the sculpt is great, the paint’s great. The only thing (at the time) that wasn’t great was that he really didn’t fit with anything else I owned. And then DC Collectibles started doing Bruce Timm-styled figures in the 6 inch scale. Batman/Hellboy team-up FTW!

Hellboy&BatmanAnimated

#0232: Johann Kraus

JOHANN KRAUS

HELLBOY

I came in somewhat late to the Hellboy scene. My first interaction with the characters and story was the release of the first Hellboy movie in 2004. I saw the movie with a group of friends and had no expectations at all. I actually thought that Abe Sapien was supposed to be the villain! Anyway, the movie was really good, and I was hooked on all things Hellboy. Mezco Toys had the license for the movie, and I picked up a few figures from that line, and then Mezco decided to move onto a line of figures based on the comicbooks. Today, I’ll be looking at that line’s version of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense’s resident expert on ectoplasmic stuff, Johann Kraus.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Johann was released as part of the second series of comicbook-inspired Hellboy line from Mezco Toys. He stands a little over 7 inches tall and features 15 points of articulation. He’s based on Johann as Mike Mignola drew him. Seeing as Mignola originated the design, that’s a good call. The sculpt does a pretty good job of translating Mignola’s 2D drawings to 3D, which was no easy feat, I’m sure. They’ve incorporated some great texture work all around, which captures the gritty look of the series very nicely. The paint is serviceable, with some pretty decent dry brushing all around. They’ve used a semi-translucent paint on his head, which works nicely to capture his ectoplasmic look. Sadly, my figure has a scratch on his face, which brings the work down a bit, but I’d be exceptionally happy were that not the case. Johann included a spare set of hands to simulate his ectoplasmic powers at work.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got Johann from my local comic store (Cosmic Comix) when series two was first released. Shortly after the release of the first Hellboy movie, I picked up an issue of Hellboy Weird Tales, which among other things, contained a story that focused on Johann. It was my first interaction with the character, and I enjoyed him immensely. So, when the figure came out I knew I definitely wanted one. I never got any of the other comicbook Hellboy figures, but Johann is still very entertaining, and a great representation of the character.