COBRA Viper (Figure Subscription Service)

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I’m going to start this review with a confession, though it’s a confession that will likely not come as a surprise to many.

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I love me some neon G.I. Joe.  I always have.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t love the figures because of the neon, I enjoy them in spite of their garish colors, and in most cases actually would prefer it if the kickass 90s molds would use slightly tamer, more realistic color schemes.  That being said, I will never look down on a figure because of its brightness, and the Battle Corps COBRA Viper is a perfect example of that.

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Yes the figure is purple and orange, and yes he would be a huge target on the battlefield, but from a pure sculpt perspective the figure is incredible.  The awesome narrow, sloped helmet with embedded visor, along with the built-in rebreather is an amazing design aesthetic, looking somewhat insect-like but also like something that could completely exist in the real world.  I think that’s what I’ve always loved so much about A Real American Hero, the fact that they take this outlandish concepts and manage to build figures around them that make them seem realistic.

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As one might imagine, after modern era format figures have been around going on seven years, we’re starting to run out of credible updates…so the Collectors Club is having to dig deep into the vaults, and with the COBRA Viper I think they made a great choice.  The choice makes sense as well, considering the Iron Anvil that was released for the 2015 G.I. Joe Convention.  Once that figure was revealed, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that the character’s predecessor from the vintage days would appear somewhere along the line as well.

Interestingly, rather than duplicate the spectacular build for the Iron Anvil, the Collectors Club went their own way, and I think the results are mixed.  I’ll never be one to admonish trying to develop new concepts rather than just repaint what’s already been done, however the Iron Anvil figure build, frankly, was superior to this one in every way.  The sculpt and tooling for the G.I. Joe: Retaliation Snake Eyes works a lot better in my mind, and allows the figure some better range of motion and an appearance of being more streamlined.

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Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against the Jungle Viper torso and legs we see here, the look is just thicker and more bulky, and overall I prefer the nimble appearance of the previous iteration.  Also, the use of the G.I. Joe: Retaliation COBRA Trooper arms means the wrists don’t get the extra articulation, which is a shame as well.

Looking at the color scheme, they did a decent job matching up the vintage ’94 COBRA Viper, while muting the tones somewhat.  You can immediately tell where the inspiration came from, but they manage to dial down the neon to a degree, which is a good combination.

Accessories

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The G.I. Joe Collectors Club chose some neat weapons for the COBRA Viper as well.  I’m a huge fan of the assault rifle that he comes with, I’ve loved it ever since it was released with G.I. Joe: Resolute Destro and I’m happy to say the COBRA Viper hands fit it really well.  He’s also got a purple knife inspired by the crazy blade that the original Viper came with, though since this knife is one that generally plugs into a hole on a figure, it has a huge rounded peg on it.  Without having some place to plug it in on the Viper, that seems a bit odd, but it’s not terrible.  Lastly, he has a pistol that fits neatly into the holster on his ankle.  He doesn’t come with a lot of weapons, but what he comes with makes sense and look pretty neat alongside the figure itself.

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I’m a huge fan of this version of the COBRA Viper and I have been for a long time.  I was really looking forward to seeing what the Collectors Club did with it. Unfortunately I ended up slightly disappointed in the build, though the overall color scheme and accessory compliment (almost) make up for that.  It’s a fun figure and a nice addition to the modern era collection.  Now someone get me a Crimson Guard Commander dammit.

Charbroil (Figure Subscription Service)

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If you’d asked me at any point over the past several years if we really needed an update for Charbroil, I would have said “hell no”.  In the 21st Century the need for flamethrower troopers seems unnecessary, and Charbroil isn’t even the number 1 flamethrower trooper on the G.I. Joe team.  Not only that, but we’ve already received two Charbroil updates, though one was Rise of COBRA and one was Night Force, so we never really got the 1988 update that some folks might have thought we needed.

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I would have disagreed.

However, throughout doing this review and realizing just how many 1988 figures have now been released, it’s kind of cool to see the group shot and Charbroil does fill a hole in that roster, which is cool to see.

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Charbroil himself is a decent figure.  He uses pretty much the entire base figure for the G.I. Joe: Retaliation G.I. Joe Trooper (like the Night Force version did) but done up in colors more accurate to the 1988 version.  The shade of brown for the uniform is a decent match for the ’88 original and the yellow trim does a good job complimenting it now as it did 19 years ago.

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One curious choice, however, was that instead of reusing the same unmasked head that we got with the Night Force version, instead this Charbroil has a balaclava.  I’m not entirely sure why that decision was made, though I would have much preferred the unmasked head here as it was with the Convention set.

If I have a gripe, while the sculpting on the legs is exceptionally well detailed and looks really nice, the ankle joints don’t work especially well (as they really haven’t since 2012) making it tough to keep the figure standing, either on the battle stand or off.

Accessories

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This figure comes with the accessories you’d pretty much expect, including the familiar helmet, backpack with flamethrower (and removable flame) and pistol.  Honestly there’s nothing especially revolutionary or different here, and nothing that wows or impresses.  The weapons are fine and they make sense, but beyond that they’re just kind of there.

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As a character, Charbroil has never really held an interest for me, and as we sit here in 2017, the concept of a flamethrower trooper seems unrealistic at best.  It’s nice to have another entry in the 1988 figure roster filled, however, and I will admit I geeked out just a little when I shot that group shot that keeps on getting just a little bit larger every year.

Scoop (Figure Subscription Service)

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Hm.  Every once in a while you run across a figure that you mostly like and mostly enjoy, though a certain decision was made that seems strange and misplaced, but you want to love the figure anyway…

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Okay.  Why is Scoop orange?  I think the Club might have been going for “mustard yellow” (since they seem to like making these modern updates just a little dimmer and darker than their vintage counterparts)…but he really, truly looks orange.

Before we go down that road, I do want to say, as another entry into G.I. Joe’s illustrious roster of 1989 characters, the inclusion of Scoop was pretty much a given ever since we got Sky Patrol Airborne in the Con Set in 2015 using Scoop’s distinctive helmet.  That kinda sealed the deal right there.

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And it makes sense.  Scoop is one of those rare later year characters who appeared after 1987, yet still had a very distinctive and familiar role in G.I. Joe animation as a Crimson Guard traitor on the G.I. Joe team during Operation: Dragonfire.   Now, as one might suspect, he ends up having a change of heart, but he was still a central character throughout that mini-series and it makes sense to explore him as an action figure in the Figure Subscription Service.

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Scoop’s figure is legitimately great.  His head sculpt is reused, but it’s not exactly common and feels fresh just the same.  His parts are all from the G.I. Joe: Retaliation family and its evident with the nice modern sculpting, great range of motion and functional articulation that suits the figure build perfectly.  From a construction standpoint, I feel like the Club really and truly nailed this one.

But what’s up with the paint scheme?

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I can’t remember a time when Scoop was orange, either as a toy or in the comic or in the cartoon, yet here he is in action figure form a wholly more orange color than he should be.  It would be interesting to hear why.  It’s not like the color is terrible, it’s a fine color that works well enough, but the Club typically works hard to mimic the vintage color pallet as much as they can, so this stark distinction seems surprising.

That being said, by and large, Scoop is pretty fantastic, honestly.

Accessories

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Not only is the figure great, but the Club did an awesome job getting the right accessories for him, too.  He’s got a Resolute tactical vest, which I’m always in favor of, a nice multi-colored assault rifle, the great camera that came with the old school 25th Anniversary boxed set, as well as a microphone.  He also has a knife that fits in his ankle sheath.

In short, Scoop has a perfect allotment of great gear that makes sense and feels interesting.

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If you’d told me six months ago that halfway through the FSS, Scoop would be my favorite, I would have said you were out of your mind.  Yet here he are, and here he is.  So far, among the rest of the Figure Subscription Service, Scoop stands alone at the top.  He’s really fantastic, strangely orange colored and all.

Ambush (Figure Subscription Service)

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Got to get tough!  Yo Joe!

I just can’t help myself… every time I get a figure from 1990 in my hands I just want to belt out that theme song.  When the DiC series first aired way back when it seemed laughable in comparison to the Sunbow days, but looking back on those 90s years it’s still kinda cool to see the later generation characters in animated form.

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It was such a weird time in 1990.  It almost felt like a “soft reboot” of the G.I. Joe brand, with all new characters (many of them sort of replacing existing characters), tons of interesting accessories and when I say “interesting” I mean weed whacker and weird mesh tent type of interesting.

Ambush was a “concealment specialist” in those days, one of the few figures from 1990 that didn’t automatically replace an existing character.  His color scheme was a bit odd, looking very much like a desert commando, yet his accessories were clearly more geared towards jungle camouflage.  To be honest, I actually preferred the Sidetrack rendition of the figure to the original.  But I digress.

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The Collectors Club dives back into 1990 with Ambush as part of their FSS and does an okay job of it.  His head is from the Convention General Mayhem, which works surprisingly well, to be honest.  The deco of the figure is a nice match for the vintage version, though the long brown sleeves don’t work quite as well without the underlying texture.  Also, his torso and legs are from 25th Anniversary Dusty, which… is…  I just don’t get it.  In 2017 I can’t find many reasons why someone should use 25th Anniversary parts when there are so many others available.  If the entire purpose was to get that weird “shirt tail” piece, I’d have considered just not sweating that a whole lot.  As a result the figure looks somewhat dated, not just alongside other figures, but alongside himself.  With the obvious later generation head and later generation arms, the torso and legs don’t quite mesh.

As a result of the strange confluence of parts, Ambush looks like his arms are a bit too long for this torso (though not as bad as I thought originally) and his neck is bordering on giraffe.  Now, the Club did think to include the PoC Dusty scarf/cape piece to help offset that a bit, but if you want your Ambush to look more vintage accurate and you remove that?  Well, he doesn’t look real good.

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Of course a lot of that isn’t noticeable if you’re just checking out the figure on display, so perhaps I’m making mountains out of molehills.

Accessories

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Considering how much thought and work were put into the accessories for the original 1990 run of figures, you would think that would be a key consideration with these new versions, and to a degree, it is.  Ambush as a nicely fitting helmet, the collar and cape from PoC Dusty, the net from Shadow Tracker, a bandolier and two machine guns.  He’s actually pretty loaded.

While the net sort of misses the point of the original ghille suit/camouflage net, I give the Club props for doing what they could to blend that aesthetic.

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Ambush is a decent update, though unfortunately a somewhat flawed one.  I’m not sold on the 25th Anniversary parts, but they did a nice job replicating the deco and he’s loaded with pretty fun gear and weapons.  He’s better than I feared he might be based on some early images.

Boss Fight Studio Vitruvian HACKS Atelis Warrior

Available for sale now at the Kokomo Toys eBay Store!

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In spite of how utterly awesome the Vitruvian HACKS Gorgon figures are, there has been some demand among the collector community for Gorgon “foot soldiers”.  Snake creatures that run around on two legs rather than slithering on their spectacularly engineered, articulated tails.

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Well, for Kokomo Toys’ most recent exclusive, Boss Fight Studio did just that with the Atelis Warrior.  The majority of the figure is repurposed from the Amazon template, with the standard female buck, Amazon skirt, leg armor, and gauntlets, except we get Medusa’s chest armor and arm gauntlets to compliment it.  Along with that we get both different variations of the Gorgon head, the “calm” version and the “screaming” version which adds a very nice layer of customizability to this fun troop builder.

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Putting aside all the great extra pieces, just looking at the figure itself, this is a spectacular looking new type of Gorgon soldier.  The green skin color is a really great, unique shade of green that is different than any other shade before it, an almost pale, faded hue, complimented by intricate and fascinating tattoo work throughout.  As an “Altered Amazon” this figure has a neat back story, and built upon the already terrific Boss Fight Studio female figure buck, it’s a poseable and well balanced fighting machine.  The overall presentation of the figure is terrific, with the Amazon Skirt complimenting the Medusa armor to perfection, giving us a figure that is truly inspired by the Amazon Warriors, but has some really great Gorgon elements.

Accessories

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The Atelis Warrior comes with an excellent assortment of great accessories.  Her weapons are a nice gold sheen and she is loaded.  This tailless Gorgon comes with two swords, two snake whips, one snake knife, two helmets (one Myrmidon and one Gorgon), and the Gorgon shield, allowing for many awesome variations of accessory load outs.  Being able to swap out the head and arrange the weapons in so many different ways gives collectors a wealth of options for posing various different Atelis Warriors.  As you can see, I bought several for this very reason.

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The Atelis Warrior is a ton of fun.  A great Gorgon figure worked into the fantastic female base figure adds a fun new element to the Vitruvian HACKS mythology and is an exceptionally fun figure to boot.  Great stuff from Boss Fight Studio and huge kudos to Kokomo Toys for pulling off this great exclusive!

Available for sale now at the Kokomo Toys eBay Store!

Boss Fight Studio Vitruvian HACKS Eos Warrior

Available for sale now at BossFightShop.com!

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To say I was pleasantly surprised with the Helios Warrior we received a short while ago would be a massive understatement, so at least I was somewhat prepared for what to expect from the Eos Warrior that just arrived at my mailbox last week.  Even being so prepared, however, I found it difficult to contain my excitement over getting yet another God and Titan inspired enchanted warrior to fight against the Gorgon Horde.

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While Helios is the Greek Titan representing the sun, his sister Eos is a “titaness” or goddess representing the dawn.  It makes sense for the two siblings to work together in order to provide supernatural help to human kind.

Like the Helios Warrior, the Eos Warrior is produced with a fantastic translucent orange hue which I can only explain as “blood orange”.  It’s a distinctly different, more vibrant color than the translucent orange blank and creates this look that truly feels representative of solidified flame.

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I was pretty amazed at how similar this female figure is to her male counterpart, from the figure’s base color, to the rich candy apple red of the armor, to the Phoenix logo on the torso armor as well as the shield itself.  They even come with the same accessory compliment.

Like the Helios Warrior, this figure is vibrant and striking, immediately standing out on display among even other colorful offerings.  There is an exceptional punch to the color contrast, resulting in a spectacular looking aesthetic that truly feels handed down from the Gods.  As with every figure we get from Boss Fight Studio, the construction, articulation and design are spot on, each color choice nearly perfectly complimenting another, and pairing the Eos Warrior next to the Helios Warrior just creates this perfect book end experience and I enjoy having them as additions to the Spartan/Gorgon conflict.

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If anything I wish Boss Fight had dipped into more supernatural entities like Poseidon to reflect other environments.  Of course, there are blanks available to do this for anyone who truly wants to…

Accessories

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The Eos Warrior comes with a nice variety of accessories, with the Amazon torso armor, skirt, and leg armor and the same Gorgon/Amazon gauntlets that most female warriors come with.  She also has three separate swords (the same ones that Helios Warrior came with) and a great Phoenix deco shield.

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Eos Warrior looks spectacular and comes with some really great accessories, almost perfectly complimenting the Helios Warrior’s look and feel.  I love the colors, love the concept and really like how this figure came out.

Available for sale now at BossFightShop.com!

Boss Fight Studio Vitruvian HACKS Anakritis Gorgon

Available for sale now at BossFightShop.com!

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Throughout the past year we have received several different types of Gorgons with many different paint decos, so it seems only appropriate that the last release of Greek Mythology figures contains a pair of new Gorgons, and a pair of really striking new Gorgons at that.

The Anakritis Gorgon is based on the pattern of a neon Garter snake with some excellent, vibrant colors and an intriguing pattern across the surface of the snake’s skin.  Without the armor, this very cool pattern continues along the flesh of the creature underneath and creates a very cool aesthetic.

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Released with the “screaming” Gorgon head, the Anakritis is developed as an interrogator of sorts, a sinister member of the Gorgon Horde, colored in an excellent shade of blue and red.  I love the way the two colors compliment each other on the skin, both exposed and hidden behind the armor.  Certainly, the Boss Fight folks have limited tooling to currently work from, so repaints are prevalent, but the difference between how Boss Fight handles repaints and other, more mainstream companies do, is that Boss Fight really digs into the reason and purpose behind the repaints and puts together some terrific deco choices, so even repaints feel fresh, appealing, and new.

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One word of caution – if you’re tempted to remove the gauntlets from the Anakritis’ arms, use a hair dryer or heat gun and be very careful.  Mine were able to be removed fairly easily, but they did cause some paint wear on the forearms underneath.  Nothing drastic, but something to watch for.

Accessories

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I’m glad Boss Fight went in a different direction than the typical sheath, sword, helmet, shield for their accessory compliment, however these particular Snake Blades did end up a little warped out of the package.  Far from a deal breaker, and these weapons seem to be the only ones that suffer from that occasional malady, but I did want to mention it.  I really love the vibrant metallic color shade of the blades and the shield, which contrast nicely with the flat almost stone texture of the armor and Gorgon skull helmet.

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I’m on board for whatever Gorgons that Boss Fight Studio decides to produce, and the Anakritis is no exception.  I love the way the bright colors work off of each other, I like the back story, and the accessories are decent as well.  This figure builds upon the existing base of Gorgons well, but also stands apart on its own quite nicely.

Available for sale now at BossFightShop.com!

Boss Fight Studio Vitruvian HACKS Serpentess Order Gorgon

Available for sale now at BossFightShop.com!

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Even as Boss Fight Studio revealed their first Gorgon releases, many folks were asking them about the potential for an “albino” variation of their sinister snake sisters.  Well, it took until the very end of Series 01, but they came through in a huge way with the Serpentess Order Gorgon!

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But this isn’t just a plain white albino deco.  This is a clear example of why the Boss Fight Studio designers are the best in the business.  They could have decoed up a pale white figure and be done with it, but instead they worked in a very pale pink hue and created this astounding pearl-like color scheme that is just phenomenal.  I can’t quite explain the effect of the deco of the snake skin, but it looks as if it’s crafted from the surface of a valuable jewel with this slight hint of pink and a gloss that is unlike much of anything that I’ve seen on an action figure before.

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This slight pink color is offset amazingly well by the translucent purple armor, gauntlet and Gorgon skull helmet, which offsets the pearl sensation of the underlying body in such a way that the figure looks almost ephemeral, which completely backs up the excellent storyline crafted around this character.

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According to the bio, the Serpentess Order Gorgons are nearly mystic, with the ability to speak or understand any language, raise and commune with the dead, and produce venom that imbues the same mystical powers upon those who drink it.  The Serpentess Order is fascinating from a story standpoint and spectacular from a design standpoint.  It truly is an almost flawless combination of two key components of action figure development.

Accessories

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Along with the terrific paint scheme, the Serpentess Order Gorgon has wonderful accessories.  I’m a big fan of the long swords, and she has two of them in terrific crystaline color schemes, which follows the backstory of her using crystal armor and weapons as part of her mystical nature.  The transparent nature of her armor and helmet is really beautiful and with the shimmering white flesh underneath it, we have a very spiritual looking figure.  Great, great accessories to go along with a spectacular figure.

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I can’t say enough good things about the Serpentess Order.  She has a great backstory, an astounding and understated paint scheme, and terrific overlay of fun (and functional) accessories.  This is just about as good as it gets, folks.  Pick her up!

Available for sale now at BossFightShop.com!

Boss Fight Studio Vitruvian HACKS Berzerker Disciple Gorgon

Available for sale now at BossFightShop.com!

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Ever since the majesty of Medusa was first revealed, G.I. Joe fans everywhere have been dreaming of a male figure build with the snake tail for…well, for reasons.  With their seventh wave of Vitruvian HACKS figures, Boss Fight Studio has delivered, and what’s especially nice is that they’ve delivered a pretty damn cool action figure in its own right to boot.

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Ever since first reading the biographies for Eurayle and her Disciples I became extremely interested in that element of the Gorgon universe.  Devoted human soldiers under the hypnotic trance of one of the Gorgon sisters seemed like a really intriguing twist on the infamous Medusa mythology.  With very cool pale green skin tones and some great weapons, I ended up buying a few of the Disciples and love where that story is going (especially with Achilles’ release in Wave 6).  The fact that Boss Fight Studio bumped up production of their male lower-torso (initially slated for release with the Naga Serpent in their Fantasy series) to work it into a Series 1 release is really awesome from a fan point of view.

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The Berzerker Disciple Gorgon is a figure that works exceedingly well in many different ways.  The various shades of green throughout the figure compliment each other flawlessly and put together a strikingly beautiful look.  Familiar light “Disciple” green along the belly, embraced by a much darker, vibrant green at the edges makes for one heck of a nice looking Gorgon.  He’s got the bald Blank head with a two-toned green deco that further emphasizes his “berzerker” nature.

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I’m happy to see that the articulated snake tail works to perfection with this new male lower torso and the entire figure feels like it was designed this way from the beginning, from head to toe…err… tail.  Construction, deco, and character concept are all terrific.

Accessories

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The Berzerker Disciple Gorgon doesn’t come with a ton of weapons, but what he does come with makes for a fascinating combination.  He has two separate sheaths, which ends up in a great cross-strap look across his bare chest (he doesn’t come with armor) and the darkened Gorgon skull helmet sets it all off nicely.  He comes with two short swords dipped in venom and looks like an excellent fast attack, lethal trooper.  I really like what he’s got.

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To say I was excited when Boss Fight announced the early release of the Berzerker would be a wild understatement.  One might say I went “berzerk”.  He’s a fun, intriguing figure with some unusual accessories and for the first time since Wave 4, a newly tooled part included (with the lower torso).  Great, GREAT figure and a nice compliment to my already growing horde of Gorgon villains.

Available for sale now at BossFightShop.com!

Boss Fight Studio Vitruvian HACKS Helios Warrior

Available for sale now at BossFightShop.com!

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Throughout the Vitruvian HACKS toy line to date there’s been a healthy helping of influence from the Greek Gods, and the Helios Warrior is no exception.  Helios is a titan, (which I believe is actually an elder to a God) and is the physical manifestation of the sun in Greek Mythology.  Like several of Hades operatives that have already been released, the Helios Warrior serves the will of the titan against the Gorgon Horde.

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Purely from a design perspective, the Helios Warrior is simply beautiful.  Absolutely gorgeous.  One of the few unsung aspects of the HACKS line has been their use of translucent plastics throughout different figures, and it is used to perfection here.  The base color of the figure isn’t  like the existing Transparent Orange, it’s much brighter, and is offset beautifully by the metallic red shine of the Spartan armor.  These two colors combined together really produce a fantastic “flame warrior” effect that works in concert together and provides a terrific supernatural vibe.

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I know there has been some hypothesis that the base figure for the Helios Warrior is little more than a Translucent Orange Blank, but I will tell you that this is definitely not the case.  The Helios Warrior is a very vibrant, almost clear gold figure that looks starkly and amazingly different than the standard clear orange blank, something that is clearly evident when looking at them side by side.  The Helios Warrior is on your left below:

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Along with the excellent combination of light translucent and metallic red, the phoenix deco on the armor is fantastic as well, adding some real spirit to the figure.  Intricately painted flame wings and the upturned beak look really, really nice, with a great concept and even better execution.

Accessories

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For the most part we’re not seeing a whole lot of new excitement when it comes to Wave 6 accessories, since they’ve all been released several times already.  However, looking at the Helios Warrior accessories I see a ton of vibrant color combinations that truly bring this gear to life.  Red handles and orange blades, not to mention the Phoenix tampo on the shield all add some real awesome spark to these existing accessories.  The yellow trim on the red leg armor is fantastic as well and only goes to further accentuate the “fire” elements of this figure.  The red isn’t merely “red”, it’s got a spectacularly rich finish with a great shine to it, the very definition of “candy apple” red you’d be more likely to see on a fancy sports car than an action figure, but it works to perfection.

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Ever since we got our first glimpse of the Helios Warrior I was looking forward to getting this one in hand.  The Undead Warrior is already one of my all time favorite figures, mostly due to his transparent deco, and the Helios Warrior now joins him in this fantastic supernatural cadre coming in to do battle amidst the Spartans and Gorgons.  I’m really looking forward to seeing the Eos Warrior as well in Wave 7, and I think they’ll both make fantastic compliments to each other.  Great stuff!

Available for sale now at BossFightShop.com!