Ultima Online: Lord Blackthorne and Adranath by McFarlane

I know there’s a little thing called Toy Fair going on and I’m burning a lot of my spare time pouring over the reports from on the scene. I don’t do news here, so I won’t be doing any regular updates about it, but at some point this week I will post some random thoughts about what we’re seeing. As for today… like duct tape holding together the middle of the week… this is more Toy Closet Finds! It’s frightening just how many loose McFarlane figures I have rattling around in the bottoms of totes. It’s even more frightening considering I unloaded dozens of these things at a yard sale once. How do I still have so many? Are they breeding? Since this isn’t the first time I’ve featured one of the Ultima Online figures here, I’ll skip the long prelude about the adoration I had for the Ultima game series growing up and the bitter soul-crushing betrayal I felt when the franchise turned into an MMORPG. Good thing I never have to feel that kind of disappointment again, right? I mean, a single-player game that I love turning on its roots and becoming exclusively online. I don’t have to worry about that happening again…

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Oh… Right. Anyway, when I stumbled upon a nearly full set of these figures at KB Toys’ liquidator store many years ago I bought them based on the novelty of actually owning some Ultima figures. It didn’t matter that the characters were unfamiliar to me. There weren’t any Shamino or Iolo figures hanging on the pegs, so these would have to do. It also didn’t hurt that they were $4.88 each. The packages are long gone, but suffice it to say they came in your typical McFarlane clamshells. Let’s start with Lord Blackthorne first.

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Lord Blackthorne was one of the coolest twists of the original Ultima games. He was basically a guy who took over the kingdom of Lord British and warped the Virtues to serve his autocracy. He turned The Avatar from a hero to an outlaw and boy did I learn to hate that bastard. There are times when I think, “maybe I didn’t give Ultima Online a chance. Maybe I missed out on something that respected and enriched my beloved franchise.” And then I see this figure and banish all such thoughts from my head. Yes… apparently somewhere along the way in Ultima Online he turned into some kind of f’ing steampunk cyborg. Sigh.

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I’m going to do this guy a favor and completely detach it from Ultima. Once I stop thinking about this guy as Lord Blackthorne I can really get behind this figure because everything about him is awesome. He’s only about three-quarters of a torso as his entire lower half has been replaced by a giant spike and his left arm has been replaced by a massive robotic claw. His hard plastic cape is sculpted to serve as a base and make him appear to be hovering. It’s a clever design and it supports the figure really well. He has some kind of giant tank strapped to his back, shoulder armor, and hoses and wires running all over the place.

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The sculpted detail and paintwork on Blackthorne is beyond impressive. The metal parts have all their sculpted rivets, screws, and panel lines. There are welding marks along the seams of the tank on his back and all the artificial bits have rough, hammered surfaces. Even the organic bits are beautifully recreated. He has veins in his arms, staples along a gash on his head and a grim expression. If you’re into nasty looking steampunk cyborg dudes, this is a guy that belongs in your collection.

Blackthorne’s articulation features a head that rotates, rotating shoulders, and a waist swivel. His robotic arm has an elbow hinge and one of the claws is hinged as well. There’s also a hinge on his left shoulder armor to allow for greater movement in that arm. Unfortunately, a couple of points of articulation are better left unused. Rotating Blackthorne’s head will cause the cable running into his head to tear and rotating him at the waist will cause part of his cape to come away from its socket. Like most McFarlane figures, he’s best left to stand on the shelf and look cool.

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And then there’s Adranath. I had to look this guy up because after hundreds upon hundreds of hours spent in the Ultima universe, I had no idea who this asshole was and that’s because he was a new character introduced in the online game. I still couldn’t find a lot of info on him, so it makes me wonder if all the characters in UO are so shallow that this guy deserved an action figure over the others. Apparently he’s some kind of necromancer and he dresses well.

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Either way, the character means nothing to me, but I really dig this figure. Unlike Blackthorne with all his steampunkery, Adranath looks like he’d be right at home in any fantasy setting. His face is wrinkled and puckered, like he’s been chilling out at the bottom of a lake for a couple of hundred years, but the rest of the figure is characterized by a magnificently sculpted lordly outfit. The detail work on his finery really blows my mind and it’s stuff like this that reminds me why I bought so many McFarlane figures back then in the first place. Just looking at all the sculpted detail on the back of his cape, right down to the tiny crosshatch texturing, impresses the hell out of me. He comes with a gnarled twisted wood staff, with gold string hanging some beads from it.

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Adranath has six points of articulation. His head will turn, his arms rotate at the shoulders, his left elbow has a swivel cut and his hands swivel at the wrists.

And that’s all I’m going to have to say about McFarlane’s UO figures. I should hate these figures because they’re tied to the fact that Lord Betrayal British sold out and raped my childhood, but these are amazing figures and I still have to respect that. In spite of what they represent, I usually find a place to display them somewhere, and that says a lot about how good they are.

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Besides these two and the previously featured Juggernaut, there were three more in the series, two of which I owned, but I have no idea what happened to them. There was also a big dragon or wyvern or something, which looked very cool, but he never showed up at the KB Toys closeout store, so I never got him. I guess I like these guys enough that they managed to survive a lot of toy purges, and that’s saying a lot because when I purge, McFarlane figures are usually my first target to go.

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