If you were poking around here yesterday, you may have caught an unfinished preview of today’s review, because I had it scheduled for the wrong day and it published before I completed it. So, here’s the real deal with the rest of the pictures and a nice edit to fix all my drunken typos. Enjoy!
TBLeague has made a nice niche for themselves creating sixth-scale figures based on indie comic characters, as well as some really cool original concept figures. But never did I expect them to ink a deal with Sideshow Collectibles to create sixth-scale figures based on The Court of the Dead. I mean, that’s crazy. Sideshow makes sixth-scale figures. Why wouldn’t they make these themselves? Well, to be honest, I’m glad it went down this way. The designs work well with the Phicen Seamless Body and the retail cost is most certainly a good bit cheaper than if Sideshow had done them. Today I’m checking out the first release in this line. It’s the Bane of Heaven… Kier!
Here’s a quick look at the packaging, which includes a sturdy box with a tri-fold magnet lid. There is some work to be done before Kier is ready for display. It mostly involves putting on her armor pieces, so let me get her set up and we’ll have a look! But before getting to the goodies, how about some of that backstory? The Court of the Dead is the brainchild of artist Tom Gilliland and initially presented by Sideshow as a series of Premium Format statues. I have to respect the confidence it takes to do a wholly original line of PF Statues. These statues are expensive and they take up a lot of display space. I feel like a lot of people who invest in these pieces do so because of their fondness for a specific character. But Sidshow went in guns blazing by creating a universe and character backstories, and it must have paid off because they’ve released a lot of product in this line. Personally, I loved the designs, but couldn’t commit to the flagship statues. Nonetheless, when TBLeague announced the figures, I was immediately on board.
Outcast from the Heavens and raised by Death, Kier is the Valkyrie of the Dead and also known as Death’s First Sword. Oh yeah… and she is absolutely stunning. Built on one of the large busted Phicen Seamless Bodies, Kier features a rather distinctive blue-gray colored skin with blood stains on her forearms and lower legs. These stains start out with ragged red streaks and get darker until becoming black on her saturated hands and feet. Her armor pieces consist of grieves for her lower legs, a sleeve for her right forearm, pauldrons on her shoulders, and a breastplate. Meanwhile her lower modesty is covered by a sash that hangs down from a belt. Each of the armor pieces are intricately sculpted with some cool Giger-esque patterns and painted to look like ancient bronze. I particularly dig the curved blade protruding from her armor sleeve. The shoulder pieces are attached by clear rubber bands, which make them a pain in the ass to get on, but once they are they seem to stay attached by magic. She also has rather ornate wrist and bicep cuffs on her left arm.
Also part of her armor is the gorget she wears around her neck. It’s a cool piece, but it doesn’t fit as flush against her skin as I would like. Some of this is caused by the cape that ties around her neck and runs out under the gorget. Her cape is made from a heavy fabric with a brown exterior that looks to be spattered with mud. The interior has some sewn patterns that invoke themes of blood and bone. There’s a wire running through the bottom edge of the cape so that it can be shaped into different positions.
Her head sculpt is rather attractive for a Valkyrie of the Dead. The facial features are soft and smooth, but still very well defined. She bares a rather stern and determined expression, which I suppose fits an undead harvester of souls. The paint used for the eyes is much simpler than we usually get, but that’s probably because they weren’t going for that traditional spark of life that we usually get. These are just little gray pools. The eyebrows are sharp and crisp as are the gray lines that spill from her bottom lip and follow down her chin. I’m particularly impressed by the sculpting of the hairline as it looks extraordinarily realistic. This is the first TBLeague figure I’ve seen with sculpted hair, instead of their traditionally rooted coifs, and I have to say they did a damn fine job on it. The texture of the hair is very sharp as are the braids that protrude down her back, each one sculpted with ornamental hair ties painted silver.
And while it’s a shame to cover up that pretty face, Kier comes with a mask, which is perhaps best characterized in her own words, “I have two faces, that which I was given and that which I made. My true face is the one I carved with my own two hands… And if you see it, chances are you’re on your last rattle.” And it does indeed cut a fearsome visage. The mask is brilliantly held on by magnets, which make it so easy to put on and take off without fear of rubbing paint or scratching the plastic of Kier’s pretty face. The mask itself features a realistic bone finish with the Spirit Faction symbol carved into the forehead, two gnarled horns rising from the top… well, make that one and a half, and the jaw bones hanging down from the sides like a pair of grizzly earrings. The mask is formed to fit Kier’s face, perfectly lining up with her eyes and nose.
In addition to a number of different sets of hands, and an extra set of feet, Kier comes with a skull partially engulfed in translucent mystical energy. Maybe one of the souls she is harvesting? This is a horrifically realistic sculpt, all brown and gnarled and with the jawbone missing. The translucent blue plastic swirls off of it to the side and has a beautiful glow when presented in the right lighting. The top of the skull is sculpted with five finger holes, which can be used in conjunction with one of Kier’s graspy hands to make it look like she’s poked her fingers directly into the bone.
Next up, Kier has her impressive two-handed sword. I’ll confess I was a little surprised to find the blade was made of plastic, since a lot of TBLeague’s figures come with metal bladed weapons, but given the extreme length of it, they probably made the right choice from a standpoint of weight and balance. Regardless, the hilt is intricately sculpted with a bird carving as the pommel and a gnarled tangle for a crossguard. The hilt is finished with the same rich patina as Kier’s armor.
Finally, this figure comes with a diorama style base, which is akin to the ones that come with TBLeague’s Deluxe figures. It consists of a circular pedestal with jagged slate pouring up from it. The pedestal is adorned with skulls and skull medallions, and there are more skulls and bones strewn around the rocky terrain, giving you a little slice of the dark dimension on which to display the figure. And if you’ve read any of my Deluxe TBLeague reviews, you probably know what’s coming next. Yeah, there is unfortunately no way to secure the figure to the stand. No pegs or peg holes in her feet, no magnets, and no post to secure her to. Now, I had absolutely no problem getting her to stand on the display in a variety of different poses, but there’s just no way I’m going to display her like that all the time and run the risk of an inevitable shelf dive. As a result, the stand makes for some good photo ops, but it’s not something I’m going to use to display her regularly, and that’s a shame because they did put some nice work into this piece.
Kier set me back about $170, which is right in line with TBLeague’s Deluxe figures, and I have to say that’s a hell of a value. Doubly so when you can rarely ever touch a Hot Toys or Sideshow figure for under $225 these days. And most of those don’t come with big diorama-style display bases. TBLeague did an amazing job owning this design and she is going to look fantastic displayed alongside some of my other TBLeague horror gals, like Vampirella, Purgatori, and Lady Death. Not to mention I’ve already had the second of TBLeague’s Court of the Dead figures arrive, so I hope to be checking her out in a few weeks.