#1380: Basic Ninja – Red

BASIC NINJA – RED

ARTICULATED ICONS (THE FWOOSH)

“Silent shadows hold unseen danger. Steel whispers the fatal strike. Between breaths, between blinks, the ninja makes his home; a nightmare apparition that means death to those he seeks. In times long past or futures unwritten, these invisible assassins stalk their prey, draped in the stillness of the night, leaving only mystery in their passage. Beware the darkness that lay between myth and legend; the ninja is there. Immortal warriors that live only for the bloodlust of battle, the Great Ninja Clan is the most feared opponent. Where the others fight their wars in the light, the Ninja owns the shadows. But when the Ninja Master is betrayed and murdered by unknown assailants, the Great Ninja Clan is irreparably split apart. What was one is now many as ninja fights ninja and brother fights brother to the uttermost end.”

The waaaaaiiiiiting is the hardest part!  Odds are good Tom Petty wasn’t talking about action figures in that song, but those words sum up my relationship with a lot of lines of action figures.  Doubly so when they’re via Kickstarter.  Despite the best intentions, most Kickstarters tend not to deliver by their estimated arrival times.  As I’ve delved into the world of Kickstarter, the wait for each item has increased pretty steadily.  One of the longer waits I’ve experienced was for todays item, the Basic Ninja from The Fwoosh’s Articulated Icons line.  Their Kickstarter campaign ended in October of 2015, with an estimated arrival of May 2016.  They missed that by a few months or so (okay, about 14), but the figures are finally here!  Were they worth the wait? Let’s find out!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The premise for Articulated Icons is pretty simple: it’s a line of generic troop builder style figures, purposefully designed to be compatible with current lines such as Marvel Legends and Star Wars: The Black Series.  Their first series, dubbed “The Feudal Series,” gives us one of the coolest “generic” concepts out there: ninjas!  The initial offerings for the line were limited to just ninjas, in basic and deluxe formats.  I opted for the basic red ninja, mostly due to his similarity to a certain group of Marvel Comics ninjas who wear red and fight the likes of Daredevil and Iron Fist.  What were they called?  The Foot?  The Fist?  No, those aren’t right.  Anyway, onto the figure!  This guy stands 6 inches tall, which makes him a little smaller than the average Marvel Legend, but not so small that he looks too out of place.  Plus, this way he’s also in-scale with things like Figuarts and DC Icons.  He also has 34 points of articulation, which allows for a ton of great poses.  Some of the joints are a little on the loose side on my figure (especially the shoulders), but he certainly isn’t flopping around and falling over the place (an issue I’ve had with more than a few TB Legends).   Some of the articulation could perhaps be worked in a bit more organically, but I’ve seen far worse from far larger companies.  To aid in his compatibility with various Hasbro lines, this guy’s got a sculpt by Gentle Giant Studios, the same company that handles the sculpts for The Black Series and the MCU-based Legends figures.  It’s a solid sculpt, exhibiting very balanced proportions and some tremendous detail work.  I really like the texture work on the trim of his tunic in particular, but everything about this guy feels really strong for this scale.  The standard head is wearing a simple balaclava, which is a nice, clean look.  There’s some nice small detail work here, such as the piping on the top of the mask, and you can even make out his face under the mask, but it’s all very subtle.  He also includes another head, this time wearing a zukin mask.  This head has a lot more going on, with lots of folds and such.  Very different look, and a great way of keeping things from getting too repetitive if you’re picking up a bunch of these guys.  The paint on this guy is fairly straight forward; there’s obviously a lot of red going on, which suits the body pretty nicely.  There’s a wash on all of the red parts, which helps bring out the various sculpted details.  The work on the eyes of the figures is decent enough; the eyes are green and pupil less, which looks cool and otherworldly.  There’s a little bit of slop on the two heads, but not enough to ruin either of them.  The basic Ninja as lighter on the accessories than his deluxe compatriots, but he’s still got quite a selection.  In addition to the previously mentioned extra head, this guy includes three sets of hands (in fists, gripping, and flat positions), a katana, a wakizashi, sheaths for both of the swords, a kunai throwing knife, a sash/belt, and a hood (in both up and down configurations). The hands are a lot of fun; they can be difficult to swap at first, but not after a few swaps.  The sheaths fit the swords very nicely, and have a removable loop which allows them to be attached to either the center of the back or to his belt.  The pulled up hood fits well on the balaclava wearing head, and looks very nice; the pulled down one is okay, but has a little bit of trouble staying in place on his neck.  All in all, a very nice selection.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When Articulated Icons was first announced, I was interested, but not 100% sure I was going to back it, since I’d backed quite a few Kickstarters sound the same time.  But, I liked what was shown, so I opted to go for the basic guy and at least give the line a try.  The wait’s been quite long, but The Fwoosh was good enough to keep us all very well posted on the progress of everything.  In hand, the figure is not without one or two minor flaws, but I’m overall exceedingly happy with this guy.  He’s a lot of fun to mess around with, and I’m very seriously considering picking up one or two more figures from the line, should they be available later on.

#0954: Vitruvian Hacks Pt 2

ATHENIAN WARRIOR, UNDERWORLD WARRIOR, AMAZON WARRIOR, COLUBRIDA GUARD, STONEFIST, & SKELETON WARRIOR

VITRUVIAN H.A.C.K.S.

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Some things are worth the wait. On the list of things I would classify as “worth the wait” are Boss Fight Studios’ Vitruvian H.A.C.K.S. line. In mid-2014, they ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to cover the startup costs for the line. Unfortunately, a few production snags cropped up, causing a number of delays for the line, and pushing the estimated release date back about a year. The first wave of figures (reviewed here) made its way to backers back in March, with the promise that the subsequent three waves would be arriving shortly. Those waves are making their way out to Kickstarter backers now. Today, I’ll be looking at a random assortment of those figures: the Athenian Warrior, Underworld Warrior, Amazon Warrior, Colubrida Guard, Stonefist, and Skeleton Warrior.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

BossHacksP2PackagingOkay, let’s break this down. These figures are all from the first series of Vitruvian H.A.C.K.S. The Athenian Warrior and Underworld Warrior are from Wave 2, and the Amazon Warrior, Colubrida Guard, and Stonefist are from Wave 4. The Skeleton Warrior is a special extra figure, given to backers to make up for the delay in production on the figures. With the exception of the skeleton, all of these figures were stretch-goals from the Kickstarter campaign.

ATHENIAN WARRIOR – DEFENDER OF ATHENS

BossHacksP2cIn my last Boss Fight review, I made it a point to give each of the army builder characters an actual name. So, what the heck, why not continue the trend? I’m gonna call this guy Burt. Burt’s an Athenian Warrior, which would technically make him an enemy of Lenny the Spartan Warrior from Wave 1. However, the backstory of the line has the forces joining together to fight the Gorgon army. So, they’re all buddies now! The figure stands about 4 inches tall and he has 25 points of articulation. Burt uses the same basic male body we saw on the Spartan and Cursed Spartan from Wave 1. Burt uses the bald, bearless head (same as the Cursed Spartan), which works pretty decently. He has new armor pieces, which are different from the Spartan pieces, but similar enough that they believably share a common ancestry. The Athenian armor is much more ornate than the utilitarian Spartan armor, and it has a BossHacksP2llot of really great little details, and even a spot on his back to store a sword or spear. There’s also far more texturing this time, which adds some more depth to the design. The main Athenian helmet is similar to the Spartan design, but the Mohawk is going the opposite direction, and it is once again a bit more ornate. There’s also a second helmet, which is far more simplistic and sleek, and offers a bit of variety, should you want to army build. The paint on Burt is decent, but probably the weakest of the figures I’ve gotten. The colors are all pretty vibrant, and there’s lots of really cool detail work. The main issue with my figure is the eyes, which are just off enough to make him look slightly weird. Burt includes a sword, spear, shield, sheath, a spare set of hands, and a display stand.

UNDERWORLD WARRIOR – HADES ARMY

BossHacksP2eAfter covering the real world armies of Athens and Sparta, Boss Fight decided to also get into some of the armies of some of the gods. Hades, god of the Underworld, apparently decided he wanted to get in on the fight with the Gorgons and created his own Underworld-dwelling army. Iggy here (props to Super Awesome Girlfriend for the name) is a member of said army. Now, you might have noticed some similarities to Wave 1’s Cursed Spartan. This is actually intentional. According to the backstory presented on the package, Iggy started his life as a Cursed Spartan, who was imbued with additional powers by Hades, in exchange for his service. BossHacksP2iStructurally, this figure is identical to the Cursed Spartan. I loved that figure’s sculpt, and I still love it here. To change things up, Iggy gets a new paint job, which adds a molten rock motif. The detailing is simple, but quite effective. The bright orange and yellow is surprisingly convincing as cracking molten rock. Iggy includes two swords (long and short), a sheath, a spear, a shield, an extra pair of hands, and a display stand.

AMAZON WARRIOR – ARES ARMY

BossHacksP2dAmazon’s are a pretty common occurrence in mythology and fiction in general, so it’s not a huge shock to see the concept appear in this line.  Apparently, they’re working for Ares. I mean, I guess that works. Not the God I would have placed them with, but I can’t really complain. The Amazon (who I’ve decided to name Linda) stands just shy of 4 inches tall and has 25 points of articulation. This marks the first time we’ve seen the full female body, legs and all. It feels pretty comparable to the male body, though it’s worth noting that the ankle articulation is a different design. It’s similar to some of Hasbro’s more recent Marvel Legends articulation. I honestly can’t say which layout I prefer. Linda has a new head, which has BossHacksP2jshort hair. It works pretty well, and it looks convincingly tough. The Amazonian armor is fairly similar to the Spartan armor in terms of design. The figure re-uses the Spartan Warrior’s helmet, as well as the Coral Gorgon’s chest armor and wrist bracers. She gets a new skirt piece and shin guards, which are rather similar to the Spartan pieces. The skirt has a small loop, which can hold one of her weapons. The paint on Linda is pretty impressive. The armor more or less matches up with the Spartan colors, though the gold appears to be a little brighter. The tribal tattoos on the arms and legs are quite nicely detailed, and add an awesome uniqueness to the design, and they even continue onto her shoulders, under the armor. Linda includes long and short swords, a spear, a shield (which is by far my favorite shield design in the set), a spare set of hands, and a display stand.

COLUBRIDA GUARD – GORGON HORDE

BossHacksP2bRemember how the Underworld Warrior was pretty much a straight re-use of the Cursed Spartan? Well, the Colubrida Guard is structurally the same as Wave 1’s Coral Gorgon. Once again, there’s a good explanation: the Colubrida Guard are the lieutenants of the Gorgon army, and are supposed to be similar to the other Gorgons in design. The main difference between the two figures is the paint. The Colubrida Guard trades in the more subdued red of the Coral Gorgon for a near neon-orange shade. Seriously, this thing practically glows! It’s a fantastic shade, BossHacksP2mand it makes the figure pop right to the front of any set up. Contrasting the immensely bright coloring of the actual Gorgon, the armor has been changed from gold to an almost black shade of metallic grey. The Colubrida Guard includes two swords, a sheath, a shield, extra hands, and a display stand. The swords and sheath are done up to match the Cursed Spartan, indicating that the Guards have been stealing their weapons from Medusa’s victims. That’s a pretty awesome touch!

STONEFIST –GORGON HUNTER

BossHacksP2nHere’s one figure I don’t have to name, because he’s already got one! He’s STONEFIST! THE GORGON HUNTER! This dude’s a badass, let me tell you. He’s an Athenian Warrior who came face to face with Medusa and survived the ordeal but slicing out his own eyes. This resulted in his left arm being turned to unbreakable stone and also gave him super-human senses. This guy’s pretty much the Greek Myth version of Daredevil. Stonefist is the same as the Athenian Warrior in terms of construction, though he only gets the less ornate helmet. Also, worth noting: my figure ended up with two left shoulders. It’s a rather minor difference, and not enough to ruin the figure, but it’s slightly noticeable. Stonefist’s color scheme has been tweaked ever so slightly from the basic Athenian look. Obviously, BossHacksP2kthere’s the “stone fist,” which is achieved by painting his left arm up like one of the Cursed Spartans. He’s also fairly pale, and has noticeable scaring over his eyes. The color scheme of his armor has also been changed a bit: they’ve added a bit of blue, which, when interacting with the red, makes him look a little like a super hero. The gold is all slightly tarnished, and he’s done a bit of tweaking to his helmet, adding some graffiti to the front, sort of like a WWII fighter plane. Stonefist includes three swords (one of each type we’ve seen so far), a spear, a sheath, a shield (same design as the Athenian’s, but with the eyes scratched out. Nice touch), extra hands, and a display stand.

SKELETON WARRIOR – PINK

BossHacksP2fLast up, it’s the figure I wasn’t expecting, the Skeleton Warrior. Not to be confused with the Skeleton Warriors (danananuhnuuuu)!  So, Freleng here is just a basic skeleton, but he’s been done in pink. Why he’s pink is anyone’s guess; maybe he’s made of bubble gum. The figure is about 4 inches tall and has 28 points of articulation (including BossHacksp2han articulated jaw!). The sculpt of the figure is a fairly realistic take on a skeleton, and it’s appropriately sized to fit within the basic male body. The parts aren’t quite cross compatible, but I imagine you could do some swapping with minor customization. Freleng includes a basic display stand, done up in the same shade of pink as him. He also has a set of 6 clear add-on pieces. Two of them attach to the feet and are used to secure him to the stand. The other four can be attached to the arms and legs, to allow him to wear the armor off of one of the basic male bodies. Undead army FTW!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Amazon and Underworld Warrior were the remaining two figures from my Kickstarter pledge, but I actually got the other three main release figures via Boss Fight’s online store. As cool as the Wave 1 figures were, these were the ones I was really looking forward to. My favorite of the bunch is probably Stonefist, just because I really like the concept. The Amazon is no slouch, though. The Colubrida Guard and Underworld Warrior aren’t much different from the Coral Gorgon and the Cursed Spartan, but the changes make both figures a bit more exciting. The Athenian isn’t super exciting, but I think a lot of that has to do with how similar he is to Stonefist. The real surprise star for me, though, is the Skeleton. He’s just the freebie figure, but he’s surprisingly mobile, and just a whole lot of fun to mess with. All-in-all, this is yet another fantastic set of figures. I can’t wait to get more from Boss Fight!

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#0897: Vitruvian H.A.C.K.S. Wave 1

MEDUSA, SPARTAN WARRIOR, CORAL GORGON, & CURSED SPARTAN

VITRUVIAN H.A.C.K.S.

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You gotta love the classics, and the fact is that it doesn’t get much more classic than Greek mythology. That stuff’s just pretty darn cool. It’s so cool that most modern-day storytelling is just reinterpretations of things that first appeared in Greek mythology. Unfortunately, if you’re a fan of the Greek myths and also love toys (like me), you’re kind of out of luck. Sure, you’ve got stuff like Clash of the Titans or some of the Hercules adaptations, but other than that, there’s a bit of a void.

In 2014, Boss Fight Studios set out to fill that void, and launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a series of figures based on Greek history and mythology. The campaign went far beyond its original goal of four figures, ending with a whopping 43 figures funded. The figures were initially supposed to start hitting last summer, but some production snags occurred, pushing them back a ways. Fortunately, they’ve started hitting stateside, and the first wave of figures has made its way to (most) backers. Today, I’ll be looking at Medusa, the Spartan Warrior, the Coral Gorgon, and the Cursed Spartan.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These four figures make up Wave 1 of the first series of Vitruvian H.A.C.K.S. (H.A.C.K.S. stands for “Highly Articulated Character Kit System”). They’re the four figures that the Kickstarter was originally meant to fund.

BossHacksW1PackagingThough packaging isn’t my usual thing, I did have a few general thoughts I kinda wanted to touch on. The styling of the packaging isn’t too different from Fresh Monkey Fiction’s Amazing Heroes; the basic set-up resembles a traditional blister pack, but the whole front is actually a big plastic sleeve, which folds over the edges of the backer. The backer can be slid out, allowing the figure to be removed without doing any damage to the packaging. The execution of the packaging is pretty polished, but if I have one slight issue with the figures, it’s that the layout work on the actual backer card seems a little…amateur? It’s certainly not anything close to bad, but it lacks that professional finish that everything else included seems to have. Honestly, that’s probably just the layout designer in me being hyper-critical. My interest is the toys inside; these things could ship in egg cartons for all I care.

MEDUSA – CURSED GORGON SISTER

BossHacksw1bThe one named character in the first wave of figures is the Gorgon Medusa, who was cursed by Athena to turn all those that gazed upon her to stone. She figures prominently into the story of Perseus, and has as such been adapted to film a few times. Stylistically, this figure looks to take a lot of influence from the 1981 Clash of the Titans design for the character, giving her a generally reptilian appearance. When fully extended, the figure is just over 8 inches tall, and she has 26 points of articulation. Boss Fight has base male and female bodies that they build each figure on, and, unsurprisingly, Medusa uses the female body. Well, part of it, anyway. She uses the basic upper torso, arms, and hands, along with a lower torso and tail that’s being used on several of the Gorgons. The base pieces are a great starting point, and the basic proportions are nice and balanced. I wasn’t initially sure about how the tail would turn out, but it works really nicely in hand, and offers a lot of fun posing BossHacksw1coptions. Medusa also gets a unique head, as well as add-on pieces for her chest and shoulder armor, belt, and the bracers on her right wrist and bicep. The quality of these parts is all pretty top-notch. The armor has a ton of fun detailing. The head is pretty cool too. The hair is obviously a separate piece, and it sticks off the head a bit, but it doesn’t look terrible, and I really appreciate that they didn’t try to make her face overly attractive. That’s a scary face right there, just like Medusa’s face should be. The paint on this figure is pretty darn cool. The armor has some great dry brushing work to help accent the sculpted details and really give it a grimy, worn in look. The upper half of the body is pretty basic, but solidly handled, and the tail gets some pretty sweet pattern work, which really sells the reptilian-ness. Medusa includes a large blade-whip thing, a small knife styled like the whip, a spare set of hands with side to side wrist joints, and a display stand (which she can’t actually use, but it’s the thought that counts, right?)

SPARTAN WARRIOR – SPARTA’S ELITE

BossHacksw1dSpartan Warrior seems so cold and detached, so I named this guy Lenny. Lenny the Spartan is a fairly standard Spartan soldier. Unlike what 300 may have had you believe, these guys did actually wear armor. This figure stands just over 4 inches tall (without the helmet; he gains an extra half-inch with it) and has 25 points of articulation. Lenny’s built on the standard male body, which structurally feels very similar to one of the more recent G.I. Joe figures. It’s rather muscular, but not insanely so, and it has a fairly balanced set of proportions. Lenny has a unique head, plus special sandaled feet, and add-ons for his helmet, chest armor/skirt, and shin guards. The head has hair and a beard, and has a suitably intense facial expression. He works as an individual, but isn’t so specific that he can’t also be an army builder, which is right about where you want this guy to be. The armor pieces are sculpted to fit pretty tightly to the body. The helmet is easy to remove, but also stays in place pretty well, and looks really cool to BossHacksw1eboot. The torso armor is a little restrictive, and a bit bulky from the side, but works pretty well, and has a nice, sharp sculpt to it. The shin guards actually surprised me a bit, because I didn’t think they were removable at first; that’s how form fitting they are. While Lenny’s paintwork doesn’t quite have the subtle work present on Medusa, his paint is no less well-handled. Everything is incredibly clean, and the colors are all nice and vibrant, which makes this guy really stand out amongst his peers. Also, I find his pair of red shorts pretty funny; Lenny is a modest Spartan! Lenny includes both long and short swords, a strap and scabbard for the short sword, a spear (which is really sharp), a shield, a spare set of hands, and a display stand.

CORAL GORGON – GORGON HORDE

BossHacksw1fOne of the big things that Boss Fight was pushing with this line was army building. Getting an army of Spartans seems pretty natural, but you need something for them to fight, and it can’t very well be one lonely Medusa, can it? No, you need a whole army of Gorgons! So, this here is the first Gorgon army builder, who, going by her bio was once a human, but was transformed into a Gorgon by the bite of Stheno. Clearly she needs a name too. I’m gonna go with Diane. Diane uses the same basic body as Medusa, but she gets a different head and the edge of her tip is no longer rattle snake-inspired. The new head is nicely detailed; it loses most of the human features, for something much more reptilian, and has some pretty awesome texturing. Diane also gets add-ons for her helmet, chest armor, and wrist bracers, all of which are nicely fitted to the figure. The armor bits are simpler than Medusa’s, but still really cool. The helmet can be a little stubborn to work with when posing the figure, but it looks pretty imposing, and BossHacksw1git stays in place surprisingly well. As her official name implies, Diane’s paint scheme is patterned after a coral snake (“red-on-yellow kills a fellow” and all that). The work is much bolder than Medusa’s, but like the Spartan Warrior, the quality is no less on this figure. Diane includes a large broad sword (different from the Spartan’s), a shield with Medusa’s face on it, spare hands, and a display stand (which, like Medusa, she can’t actually use).

CURSED SPARTAN – STONE WARRIOR

BossHacksw1hAw, poor Jeff. He really shouldn’t have looked at Medusa. Jeff, like so many unfortunate soldiers before him, is the end result of Medusa’s curse, having not had the foresight to make use of Perseus’s method of dispatching of the beast. As a fellow Spartan, Jeff uses most of the same pieces as the basic Spartan Warrior, but he has enough differences to make him stand out. His helmet is a slightly different design, with more of his face exposed and a bit more detailing on the front and at the base of the “mohawk.” Under the helmet, he’s also got a different head, this time without the hair or beard, and with a slightly different expression. It’s worth noting that, while the pieces are more or less the same, the shin guards on my Cursed Spartan wouldn’t budge, most likely due to the differences in paint. It’s certainly not hindering my enjoyment of the figure in the slightest, but it’s worth noting. The main selling point of this guy is the paint. Unlike the others in BossHacksw1ithis set, Jeff here is totally painted from head to toe, to ensure that he has an appropriately rocky finish. The end result works really well, and he looks pretty cool. He’s the dullest of the four color-wise, but he’s far from boring to look at. Jeff includes the longer sword and spear included with the Spartan Warrior, the shield from the Coral Gorgon, extra hands, and a display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, you’ve probably pieced together that I got these guys by backing Boss Fight’s Kickstarter. Yep, I pledged in for these four, as well as two more add-on figures (plus another three figures that I’ve pre-ordered from Boss Fight’s online shop). Initially, the only one of these four I definitely wanted was the Cursed Spartan. He’s probably my favorite of the four in the end, but the other three are no slouches either. The two Gorgons are a lot of fun (and the Coral Gorgon is giving ol’ Jeff a serious run for that top spot), and the Spartan offers a nice, bright figure. As a whole, this set is just a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to get the rest of my figures.

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#0834: Amazing Heroes Series 1

BLACK TERROR, DAREDEVIL, CAPTAIN ACTION, STARDUST, GREEN TURTLE, BLANK SLATE, CHAMPION OF MARS, SILVER STREAK, & MADMAN

AMAZING HEROES

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In the 1940s, Superhero Comics made their first emergence, replacing adventure pulps as the thing for magazines to be.  It was the era that gave us a good chunk of the DC line-up (though a fair portion of them weren’t initially owned by DC), as well as Captain America, Namor, and the original Human Torch (who wasn’t actually human). These characters have managed to stick around for a pretty long time, and their success allowed the companies who owned them to stay in business for the ensuing 75 years. Unfortunately, a lot of comic publishers from the era weren’t quite so lucky when the initial superhero boom came cooled down in the early 50s, causing many to shut their doors. While some were absorbed by other companies (see: DC absorbing Charlton, Faucett, and a few others), many simply disappeared, leaving scads of characters with no home. These characters eventually fell into the public domain. Since these characters have no associated licensing fees, you would think they’d be natural fits for action figures. Trouble is, they all went out of publication (and therefore fell out of the public eye) quite some time ago, making them a very, very niche property. However, through the help of some Kickstarter funding, some of these guys have finally made their way into plastic form!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These nine figures make up Series 1 of Fresh Monkey Fiction’s Amazing Heroes line. They are the result of two separate Kickstarter campaigns.

I’m not usually one to discuss packaging, but it’s worth noting that the Amazing Heroes packaging was designed to be collector friendly, so the figures can easily be removed and replaced. 7 of the included figures include extra, character specific cards, with art provided by several well-known comic artists.

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SERIES 1:

The initial Series 1 campaign ran wrapped up in August of 2014. It consisted of six of the nine total figures.

BLACK TERROR

AmazHero4Black Terror is probably one of the better known characters included here, no doubt due to his fairly distinctive design. The figure stands 4 ½ inches tall and has 5 points of articulaiton. He’s built on the standard body for this line, which is used for all of the included figures. If it looks familiar, that’s because I’ve sort of looked at it once before; the Amazing Heroes figures are patterned after Mattel’s Secret Wars line from the 80s. The body isn’t a straight copy, of course; the build is quite similar, but the actual construction is a little different, as the AH body is built for easier customizablity, and does not feature any hollow parts like the SW figures. The body wasn’t the best fit for the Marvel Super Heroes of the 80s, but it feels much better for 40s era characters, such as Black Terror. Terror uses the main haired male head, which seems to have been sculpted specifically with him in mind. The sculpt is nice and sharp, with a fair amount of detailing, but not so much as to make it feel out of place on the more simplistic body. Terror also uses a cloth cape, handled in the same style as Kenner’s Super Powers figures. It’s definitely goofy looking, but in just the right way. Terror’s paint work is nice and sharp. Most of his costume details are handled via paint, and, while there’s a little bit of unevenness to some of the line work, the general look is very clean.

DAREDEVIL

AmazHero5Wait, isn’t Daredevil a Marvel character? Why yes, yes he is. But, before Matt Murdock became the horn-headed Daredevil we all know and love, Bart Hill held the name. Instead of blind, this Daredevil was mute. He was actually a fairly successful character, and probably has the most modern-day appearances of all the figures in this set. He’s also got one of the coolest costumes in comics. The figure uses the same base body as Black Terror, but he uses a different head(which loses the hair and defined ears), as well as an add-on piece for his distinctive spiked belt. The belt isn’t a perfect fit to the body, but it’s pretty close, and the sculpt is a very nice translation of the design. Daredevil’s paint is key to his costume being “one of the coolest in comics.”  Fortunately, his two-toned nature is handled very well. With the exception of one small section, the blue is painted on top of red plastic, which is definitely the right way to handle it because red paint tends to be the absolute worst. The colors here are nice and bold, and he just looks really sharp. Daredevil includes his signature boomerang, which he holds very well.

CAPTAIN ACTION

AmazHero6Captain Action is the one figure in the first set who’s not actually public domain, but his rights holders agreed to having him included here. Unlike the others in this set, this is far from the first action figure Captain Action has received, since he began life as a competitor to G.I. Joe (in fact, his line was actually the first instance of licensed action figures, though the good captain was himself wholly owned by Ideal Toys). The Captain gets a head sculpt that is different from the two prior sculpts, with a slicked back hairstyle and a slightly more expressive face. He was originally set to use the same head as Black Terror, but FMF used some of the Series 1.5 funding to get a third basic head produced, which is definitely a better fit for Captain Action. He also gets a separate piece for his traditional officer’s cap, which is molded to the sculpt of his hair, allowing it to sit quite nicely and securely. Captain Action’s paintwork is on par with Terror’s; it’s not 100% perfect, but there’s not anything particularly bad. The figure comes packed with a pistol, just like the one the original CA carried. I wouldn’t have minded getting his lightning-bolt-shaped sword too, but I suppose the line had to be drawn somewhere. Also, while he has no disguise pieces, the interchangeable nature of the figures means you can have him masquerade as any of the other characters in the set!

STARDUST

AmazHero7Stardust the Super-Wizard I was previously unfamiliar with, but reading up on him, he certainly is an interesting character. If you though Superman was overpowered, this guy can do pretty much everything Supes can, in addition to being able to transmogrify people! He’s also probably the figure done the least justice by the base body. His listed height is 6’8”, which would make him at least a little bigger than the rest of the Amazing Heroes. In addition, his original artist, Fletcher Hanks, had a very unique art style, which makes fitting him to a base body, or even rendering him in three dimensions at all a bit of a mean feat. So, it would seem FMF did their best to render him within the established style. As well as using the base body, Stardust also uses the same basic male head used for Black Terror. It works surprisingly well, and looks quite different than it did on Terror. A lot of this is owed to the paint, which offers enough subtle differences to make him look convincingly like a different person. The only real downside to Stardust is the rather unfortunate grey coloring of his original design, though next to the more colorful designs of his series-mates, he actually does stand out a bit.

GREEN TURTLE

AmazHero8The Green Turtle! Wait, isn’t that a sports bar? Umm, yeah, but he’s also a superhero. More importantly, he’s the first Asian superhero in comics, which is pretty nifty. I actually know a fair bit about Green Turtle, thanks to the recent (and fantastically done) revival, The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew. He’s definitely a fun character! He uses the same head as Daredevil, as well as a cloth cape, handled in the same way as Black Terror’s. It’s too bad it’s just straight green, as opposed to featuring the more intricate design of the comics, but I imagine such a design would have proved rather pricey. The rest of his unique features are done via paint, which is handled pretty well overall. The colors are nice and bright, and the general application is nice and clean. I’m also glad to see that Green Turtle has a slightly different skin tone than the others in the series, given his different ethnicity.

BLANK SLATE

AmazHero11The Blank Slate is kind of a multi-purpose figure. He’s the line’s one villain, based on a Daredevil foe from the 40s [EDIT: Helpful reader Lich informed me that the Blank Slate isn’t an actual Daredevil villain; he was given a fake backstory for the line.  I should have researched a bit better). Through a simple head swap, he can be either the lead Blank or one of his minions, which also makes the figure an army builder. And on top of all of that, he’s also a great base body, should people want to make their own Amazing Heroes figures. He uses the same basic body, and includes both the Terror and Daredevil style heads.

 

SERIES 1.5:

While the Series 1 was successful in funding the 6 main figures, it didn’t raise enough funds to get the two stretch goal figures into production. Fresh Monkey Fiction ran another Kickstarter in December of 2014, offering the two new figures, as well as Mike Allred’s cult favorite superhero, Madman.

CHAMPION OF MARS

AmazHero12I know what you’re thinking, but no, this isn’t John Carter. No, this is “Champion of Mars.” See, because John Carter isn’t in the public domain. However, some of his comics are, so we get this guy based on the art of said comics. But he’s definitely NOT John Carter! That said, “Champion” is really hard to keep typing, so I’m just going to use a common male name in its place. Let’s go with John. So, John here uses the same head as Captain Action, which was actually sculpted specifically with him in mind. In addition, he also has an add-on piece for his harness, which is a very nicely detailed piece, which adds a lot to the figure. Lastly, he’s got a cloth cape, which is identical to the one included with Black Terror. John’s paintwork is a lot more brown than his compatriots, which is actually quite appropriate for the character, and gives him a unique flair amongst the others. John is packed with a sword, which is a little flimsy, but still very cool.

SILVER STREAK

AmazHero13I don’t actually know much about Silver Streak, but he does appear to be your fairly average speedster character. And he’s even red and yellow! He also uses the same head as Captain Action, which, if I’m honest feels like one use too many. That being said, the head does actually fit Silver Streak pretty well, and I guess the blonde does enough to differentiate the two. I’ll just make sure to keep the three of them separate on the shelf! Silver Streak probably has the most vibrant paint work of all the figures, despite it not actually featuring anything even close to silver. Everything is nice and sharp, and the red in particular really pops, to say nothing of that pretty sweet patterning on the belt!

MADMAN

AmazHero14Madman is kind of unique amongst these figures. Not only is he not public domain, he’s actually a fairly contemporary character. This isn’t even Madman’s first figure. Heck, it’s not even the first Madman I’ve reviewed here. But it’s Madman, and it’s not like you can have too many Madman figures, can you? Of course not! Plus, Madman’s actually one of the few contemporary characters who actually fits in pretty well with the rest of these guys.  In addition to the standard body, Madman has been given his own head sculpt, as well as add-on pieces for the cuffs of his gloves. The head sculpt is downright amazing (heh!) and does a great job of melding Allred’s style with that of the rest of the line. The paint on Madman is pretty solid overall. There’s a tiny bit of slop around the eyes, but the rest of the work is nice and clean.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After being broken in to the whole Kickstarter thing with I Am Elemental and Return of Skeleton Warriors, it was really hard to say no to these guys. So, I backed the first campaign. And then, I backed the second one too, because I wasn’t going to let the set go incomplete, darn it! It’s been a long wait to get these guys, but they sure were worth it. These are just a whole lot of fun!

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#0560: Skeleton Warriors

BARON DARK, TITAN SKELETON, & TRAVELER SKELEDEN

SKELETON WARRIORS

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“Skeleton Warriors! Da-nanana-nah!”

–Skeleton Warriors Opening Credits (paraphrased)

I totally missed out on Skeleton Warriors in its initial run (both the toys and the show). In my defense, while I was actually born, I was still rather young, and it did have the misfortune of not being in anyway related to superheroes. To be honest, I was completely unaware of the series’ existence until the “Return of the Skeleton Warriors” Kickstarter last year. Following my discovery of the Kickstarter, I did actually sit down and watch the first two episodes of the show. It didn’t really hook me, per say, but the figures still looked cool enough to warrant me pledging in for a full set. They just arrived last month, and I’ve finally gotten a chance to set aside all the Marvel-related stuff and take a look at these guys.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

All of these figures are part of the first “series” of The Return of Skeleton Warriors. The Lightstar Crystal Blue Baron Dark and Titan Skeleton, as well as the Traveler Skeleden, were all exclusive to the Kickstarter campaign, while the regular Baron Dark and both the regular and glow-in-the-dark versions of the Titan Skeleton are available for individual purchase via the October Toys Store.

TITAN SKELETON(S) – REGULAR, GLOW-IN-THE-DARK, & LIGHTSTAR CRYSTAL BLUE

SkeletonWarriors4The Titan Skeletons are the backbone (heh!) of this line. They serve as the base starting point from which all of the more specific Skeleton Warriors can be built. There are three different varieties of Titan Skeletons: Bone colored, glow-in-the-dark, and clear blue. The three are identical in sculpt, so I’ll review them as one. The figure stands 5 inches tall and features 26 points of articulation. The Titan Skeleton’s sculpt is a pretty standard skeleton sculpt, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. It’s well proportioned, and each piece is sufficiently detailed and textured. Now, the cool thing about this figure (and all of the figures in this line) is that it’s Glyos compatible. If you don’t know what that means, let me ‘splain…no, it’s too much. Let SkeletonWarriors5me sum up: the figures feature Glyos joints, which means, not only can they disconnect at every joint, but the parts can be interchanged with lines like Weaponeers of Monkaa, which makes for some fun possible combinations. None of the Titan Skeletons feature any sort of paint, but they are molded in the three different colors as noted above. All three colors are nicely chosen, so that’s pretty great. The Titan Skeleton has no accessories, though the ability to be taken apart and reassembled is definitely a fun enough feature to make up for that.

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BARON DARK

SkeletonWarriors2Baron Dark is the cartoon’s primary antagonist and is the leader of the titular Skeleton Warriors. The figure served as the main goal of the Kickstarter, and he’s definitely the one with the most work put into him. The figure stands just over 5 inches tall and has 26 points of articulation. The Baron uses the Titan Skeleton body as a starting point, but features his own head, upper torso, lower legs, and feet, as well as add-on pieces for his cape, loin cloth, and bracelets. The new pieces are generally very well sculpted, and feature an even greater level of detail than the Titan parts. The add-on pieces in particular feature lots of small detail work and cool little touches, like all the miniature skulls throughout the design. The only real flaw with the sculpt is the fact that the lower legs are rather restrictive of the ankle articulation, which causes the figure to be harder to balance in certain poses. It’s a relatively minor issue, but it’s hopefully something they’ll try to avoid on any future figures. What really separates the good Baron from the Titan Skeleton is paint. Baron Dark features a rather intricate paintjob. With the exception of a few minor instances of bleed over and exactly one SkeletonWarriors8instance of slop (near the top of his right calf) the paint is really cleanly handled. In addition to the basic color work, a fair bit of work has been done to accent the sculpt’s finer details and add a little bit more depth. All of the bone pieces feature a nice brown wash to bring out the recesses and texturing. The cape also features a little bit of darker red to indicate some weathering, although it comes and goes with some rather harsh lines. Baron Dark is armed with a big freaking sword, which he can hold pretty well in either hand.

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BARON DARK – LIGHTSTAR CRYSTAL BLUE

Skeletonwarriors3Just like the Titan Skeleton, there’s more than one variety of Baron Dark. He too was available cast in a clear blue plastic, which is always a plus in my book. He features the exact same height, articulation, and sculpt as his full color counterpart. The only difference between these two is that this one is … clear blue. He even features the same big ol’ sword, molded in a matching plastic. In addition to the awesomeness that is the clear blue plastic, this version also offers a nice look at the Dark sculpt without any paint to mask any of the sculpted details, which is a nice opportunity.

TRAVELER SKELEDEN

SkeletonWarriors9One of these things is not like the others! So, the thing of note about this particular figure is that it isn’t technically a Skeleton Warriors figure, it’s actually from the official Glyos line. It’s designed to be a merging of the Glyos Universe’s Pheyden and a skeleton, presumably from the Warriors universe. Skeleden stands roughly 3 inches tall and features 12 points of articulation. From what I’ve been able to find online, it appears that Skeleden’s hands, torso, calves, and feet are re-used from the Glyos line’s basic Pheyden figure. The figure’s head, arms, and legs are new, as well as the add-ons used on the torso and lower legs. The whole theme of this figure is merging the styles of the two lines represented, which the sculpt manages to do quite nicely. In general, the sculpt is a very strong one, with lots of very clean, sharp detail work throughout. The Skeleden’s paintwork isn’t quite SkeletonWarriors10as complex as that seen on Baron Dark, but he does have a little bit of work on his head, which is handled quite cleanly. The rest of his pieces ware molded in the appropriate colors. The Traveler Skeleden includes a specially crafted, skeleton-themed axe, as well as an extra head, arms, and legs which allow the figure to be displayed as a more standard Pheyden.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, clearly, since I have the Kickstarter exclusives and all, I got these figures by backing the Return of the Skeleton Warriors Kickstarter campaign. After breaking into the world of Kickstarter action figures with I Am Elemental, I found myself drawn to these guys, just based purely on how cool they looked. Well, they’re finally here, and I’m thrilled to have them. The Baron isn’t without issue, but he’s pretty darn close, and the Titan Skeleton offers a nice, base skeleton in a cool variety of colors. Plus, the Skeleden got me my very first Glyos figure, which, given how much I like this little guy, could prove to be another dangerously addictive line. All in all, this is another success for me on the Kickstarter front.  Now, here’s hoping for a series 2!

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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!