#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.

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#0931: Yukio, Viper, & Black Clan Ninjas

URBAN YUKIO, VIPER, & BLACK CLAN NINJAS

MARVEL MINIMATES

YukioViperNinjas1

It seems hard to believe that the second Wolverine film came out three years ago.  Wedged in between Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, and as the last X-Men film before Days of Future Past overwrote the original timeline, it kind of got lost.  It’s a shame; it’s not a perfect film, but it was a fair bit of fun, and fixed a lot of issues presented by X-Men 3 and Wolverine: Origins.  The movie got a handful of Minimates, and today I’ll be looking at the specialty assortment’s Viper & Black Clan Ninja pack, as well as the variant Urban Yukio & Black Clan Ninja Pack.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These two sets were released in Series 52 of Marvel Minimates, which was based on The Wolverine.

URBAN YUKIO

YukioNinja2Yukio is a relatively minor X-Men character, but she plays an important role in the Wolverine mini-series that the movie based its plot on, so she found herself with a decently sized role.  In the comics, she was just a normal human with ninja training, but the film made her a mutant with the ability to foresee death.  She had two rather distinct looks in the movie (neither of which really resembled her comics appearance).  This figure represents the less formal look that Yukio sports towards the end of the movie. She stands about 2 ½ inches tall and has 14 points of articulation. Yukio has add-on pieces for her hair, skirt, and the tops of her boots.  All of these are re-used, with the hair coming from the TRU Series 9 Magik, the boots coming from Series 34’s 90s Rogue, and the skirt coming from BSG’s President Roslin.  The parts are all fairly decent matches for her look from the film, so the re-use is reasonable here, though the boots have the unintended side effect of making her taller than everyone else in the series. The paintwork on Yukio is decent.  She’s got a lot of color, and she’s pretty bold looking, which is nice.  The detailing on the torso is nice and sharp.  The face doesn’t really look like Rila Fukushima; for some reason, they’ve given her a slight smile, which doesn’t seem right for the character.  That said, the face is nice and sharp, and looks suitably unique. Yukio includes a clear display stand and…nothing else.  Not even a sword.  That’s quite a letdown, especially since Yukio is pretty much never seen without her sword in the film.

VIPER

ViperNinja5Viper was an interesting inclusion in The Wolverine, given that her most prominent role is being highly placed in Hydra, an organization that Fox isn’t allowed to use.  Fox seemed to skirt the issue by only referring to her only as Viper (not her alias Madame Hydra) and by making her a mutant, with no known ties to Hydra.  For this figure, DST based Viper on her look during Yashida’s funeral, which is a rather short-lived look when all is said and done, but we got several others in their funeral attire. Viper has two add-on pieces, one for her hair and one for her skirt.  The skirt is a re-use of the Gwen Stacy skirt from the SM3 series, which is still fairly modern looking.  The hair is a new piece, based on her hair from the scene in the film.  It’s a pretty great sculpt, with a lot of detail, and it captures her look very nicely. Viper’s  paint is overall is nicely handled, at least from a purely technical standpoint.  Everything’s pretty clean, and the line work is all pretty sharp.  The likeness is pretty good; certainly closer than Yukio.  The sunglasses stand out, as the details make them look convincingly shiny.  You can actually make out the reflection of some of the reflections from the funeral’s setting.  All that said, the design is rather drab and not terribly exciting. For accessories, Viper includes a clear display stand, and an extra head, without the sunglasses.

BLACK CLAN NINJAS

YukioNinja3The Black Clan Ninjas took the role occupied by the Hand in the original story.  They were initially supposed to be the Hand, but Fox lost the rights to Daredevil and all associated characters in the middle of production on The Wolverine, necessitating a quick name change.  It’s not like it really matters, though; they’re fairly basic ninjas either way. The Ninjas use add-on pieces for their jackets and the edges of their gloves.  The jacket is a new piece.  It has a scabbard attached to the back, so that they can stow their swords.  The jacket’s a little on the bulky side, but looks alright overall, and captures the basic look from the film pretty well. The paintwork on the Ninja is fairly basic.  It’s mostly just black, though there’s a bit of variation to the finish, which is nice.  The eyes feature an impressive level of detail, and add a nice bit of character, without removing the ability of the figure to be an army builder. The Ninjas each include a basic sword, which can be stowed in the sheath on their back, as well as the usual clear display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Yukio set was one of the ones I wanted from Series 52, but she ended up being a bit difficult to get, so I had to order a full series set from Luke’s Toy Store. This is probably Yukio’s most prominent look from the movie, and it has the advantage of being bright and colorful in a series of mostly drab figures.  However, the lack of accessories knocks her down a peg, and the likeness really isn’t there. Viper is certainly a well put together ‘mate, but the decision to go with her less exciting funeral look over her more comics accurate final battle look hurts the figure.  As it stands, she’s better than you’d expect, but still a bit lackluster. The Ninjas are really the stars of these sets.  They’re fairly simple, but in just the right way, and they benefit from the fact that you don’t even need to be a fan of The Wolverine to like them.