The Summer of 2014 was a big one for toy-related kickstarters. I backed three of them, and while two are facing delays in production and distribution (these things happen), the folks at Warpo were able to get their offerings out in a pretty timely manner. The Legends of Cthulhu is a line of retro-style action figures based on the enduring writings of H.P. Lovecraft. I started reading Lovecraft about the time I was in Junior High. I couldn’t tell you the first story I read, but I’m positive it was one of the Dream Cycle stories and I was instantly hooked by his fleeting descriptions of other worldly dimensions, alien landscapes, forbidden cities, and ancient and bizarre gods. To this day I keep a couple of well-worn paperback copies of his short stories in my nightstand for when I’m up for a little easy reading before bedtime. But why have there never been any proper Lovecraftian action figures? Where were the likes of Kenner, Mattel or LJN? One might as well try to gleen the true shape of Ycnàgnnisssz than understand why the toy companies of the 80’s had no such offerings. The closest we probably ever came were The Inhumanoids. Well, nearly 30 years later I can rejoice for they have arrived as if plucked straight out of the early 80’s and delivered to my doorstep through the shades of time itself. Today I’m going to look at the packaging and some of the other backer incentives and tomorrow I’m going to… <gulp> open these up and check out the figures. Probably. I mean, I really shouldn’t. They look so nice in the packages. But I really want to…
The wave includes four carded figures and what beautiful cards they are! You get Spawn of Cthulhu, the Professor, a Deep One, and a Cultist. It’s a well rounded slice of the important players with the Professor serving as a fine stand in for Lovecraft himself. As early 80’s packaging mock-ups, these cards are totally credible and absolutely delightful. Everything from the chosen font for the series title to the foil Fan Club stickers looks the part. The figures are each secured in a simple coffin-style bubble with the name of the figure printed on the card above it. The artwork consists of some twisted crag on which a handful of Cultists are no doubt paying homage to the Elder Gods and summoning up a Spawn or Deep One to do their bidding. While original, the art looks as if it could have been pulled straight from the cover of a 70’s or 80’s printing of one of Lovecraft’s collections. Fabulous!
The back of each card features photos of each of the figures (Collect all Four!) and more totally bitchin artwork, this time showing all four characters in all their action-packed glory. Will the Professor survive? You decide!!! I love it!!! The only nitpick I have for the packaging is the fact that it isn’t collector friendly. I get that anything other than a sealed blister pack would not have properly conveyed the retro feel for these figures and I totally respect that, but it also means not being able to have your cake and eat it too. I am the last person to be considered a “mint-on-card” collector, but these figures look so great in the packaging I assured myself that I was, under no circumstances, going to open them. But I might. I mean, maybe… “oooooopen theeeeeem!” Wait, who the hell said that?
The other benefit of being a supporter of the kickstarter was getting in on the stretch goal figures. Warpo hit two of those and that meant production of the Conjured Cthulhu and Cultist High Priest. Both of these are variants of two of the main figures, but cool nonetheless. The stretch goal figures didn’t get the full carded treatment, and that’s understandable. Instead they got baggied with a snazzy printed, folded, and stapled card. The card topper matches the deco from the fully carded figures and even retains the hole to let it hang on a peg. The next stretch goal was a large scale figure of Cthulhu himself. We didn’t quite get there, but I’m still holding out hope that the large Cthulhu figure may one day see the light.
Lastly, at my level of support I received a Legends of Cthulhu Coloring & Activity book. The fact that this even exists makes me a happy person, let alone that I now have it on my shelf. The full color cover features a reprint of the artwork from the cardback. But I’m not going to color it. Nope. Not going to do it. But… I may buy some Crayons just to have on hand. Never know when you’re going to need Crayons! Not for coloring this book, though. No sir. Warpo did offer a plethora of other Legends of Cthulhu merchandise for higher bracket supporters and believe you me if funds weren’t stretched out between two other kickstarters, I would have gone all in.
When it comes to presentation, Warpo absolutely nailed it with this series. Let’s face it, we’ve seen a lot of retro-style figures hitting the market last year, mostly coming from the endless parade of Funko’s ReAction licenses. This new niche market has become bloated and tiresome practically overnight. Not to mention a lot of those releases have been hit and miss. What Warpo has done here is so cool that it totally transcends all that other retro nonsense. They took a popular fictional license that has been begging for a proper action figure treatment since… well, since action figures were born, and they flawlessly melded it with a genuine degree of retro charm both in the presentation and in the actual toys. I can easily point to this set and proclaim that Warpo has succeeded at what ReAction is only trying to do. Indeed, it’s impossible for me to look at these carded figures and not see a labor of love. And that’s why I really don’t have to open these figures to enjoy them. They come alive in my hand while still in the package. But… they look so cool. And toys are made to be opened and played with. Maybe I should open them? I shall have to seek council on this. I will journey to the Crimson Desert to Irem, The City of Pillars. I shall light a votive candle in the subterranean shrines of Nug and Yeb. I will pose my query to Shub-Niggurath herself and stand vigil until the skies burn and the seas boil and I finally receive my sacred answer. I’ll be back tomorrow.