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.

#0760: Maria

MARIA

SILENT SCREAMERS: REEL MASTERS

Maria1

What’s this? A silent film character on this site? What, am I trying to inject some culture or something?

As surprising as it may be, my interests do actually go beyond modern day entertainment and action figures. I love me some old silent movies, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis in particular. That movie’s got a lot going for it: cool dystopian setting, art-deco look, underground civilizations, gripping fight scenes, a crazy mad-scientist, and one of the coolest freaking robots of all time! Maria, the robot who became the film’s signature character(who actually stole the name from the film’s female protagonist. It’s Frankenstein all over again!), would go on to influence a number of other robots, with Star Wars’ C-3PO probably being the best known. She’s received a few pieces of merchandise over the years, including an action figure, which I’ll be looking at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Maria2Maria was part of the second series of Silent Screamers, dubbed Reel Masters line, and released in 2000. Interestingly, while this series was released by Mezco, the first series was actually released by Aztech Toys. Aztech ended up splitting into two separate companies, Art Asylum (creators of Minimates, among other things) and Mezco. So, this series ended up being one of Mezco’s very first products. The figure is about 7 inches tall and has 13 points of articulation. While she is ostensibly based on her robotic appearance from Metropolis, Maria’s design has definitely been tweaked a bit for this figure. The original Maria design is kind of a classic for a reason, so changing the design is shaky ground to stand on at best. Mezco opted to go for a more modern design aesthetic, or at least an early 2000s design aesthetic. In the film, Maria’s look was built around an actual person, so she definitely wasn’t rail thin. Here, however, Mezco is taking advantage of the fact that there isn’t a person inside the figure, so they can give it whatever proportions they like. So, this Maria is really tall and quite lanky.  That’s a reasonable change. However, for some reason, they’ve also given her a pair of rather large breasts, and a pair of crazy high-heeled/platform shoes, which don’t really work well with the design, since Maria’s not really supposed to be overly-sexualized, especially not while in her robot form. Her face has also been tweaked to be more human, which kind of deprives the figure of the necessary cold, steely look.  In addition, the general retro-y, art-deco nature of Maria’s original design has been tweaked, to look a bit more like something that wouldn’t look completely out of place in, say, an early Image comic. The end result is a sculpt that is still clearly Maria, but just feels really off. On the plus side, her paint is actually pretty cool. She’s mostly silver; for some reason, I had always assumed she was gold, but I guess silver’s reasonable. She’s also got some blue accent work, which looks pretty sharp, and looks pretty nifty next to the silver. Maria includes the chair used to bring her to life. Like Maria herself, its design has been tweaked a bit, though nowhere near as much. The chair and stand need to be assembled once removed from the box, and those tubes are a bit of a pain to get into place, but the end result looks pretty cool. Plus, the figure ends up looking a fair bit better sitting in the chair than she does standing. The only real downside is that she has to sit with such a wide stance, due to her hip joints.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been a pretty big fan of Maria from about 5 years old or so, even before having seen Metropolis (in fact, I saw Metropolis because it was the movie in which Maria appeared). My dad had one of the Maria statues, which I always though was pretty cool. I remember this figure being released, but I don’t think I ever saw it in a store, so I never got one. I ended up getting her as a birthday gift from my pal Phil just this past year. This figure’s far from perfect, but she’s also the only action figure of Maria on the market, and she’s not the worst thing ever. If you’re a fan of Metropolis or cool robots, you could do a lot worse.

#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.