Here’s a little something different for this Friday, as I’m going to gas on about some comics and merch! I make it no secret that some time ago, I began turning away from the two mainstream comic publishers, because… well, to put it bluntly, their books turned to shit. It happened first with Marvel and much later when the infection spread to DC, and it was like watching a couple of dear friends that I’ve known since childhood dying from an incurable disease. As a result, I started seeking my comic fix with indies. A lot of my money started going to Zenescope and the rest went to crowd-sourced books on Kickstarter or Indigogo. Unfortunately, the crowd-sourced scene presented its own set of challenges. When the books showed up, they were usually excellent, but in a lot of cases, they didn’t show up. Indeed, I recently had to get refunds on some books that were now two to three years late. Enter Iconic Comics and Kamen America!
One shining beacon of excellence in the indie comic scene has been Iconic Comics, hooking me with their Kamen America series and then getting me into Black Hops and Soulfinder. The Kamen America books tell the tale of fashion designer Carly Vanders, who obtains super powers and becomes Kamen America, an on-the-nose send up to the Henshin genre. Over the course of six books (so far!) and a couple of cross-overs, we follow the adventures of Kamen America and her friends, The Kamen Corps, through thick and thin, friendship and betrayal, and epic battles. It’s hard to put my finger on one thing that makes these books so special, because they’re actually quite the pitch-perfect medley of great art and colors, fantastic quippy dialogue, fun humor, and loads of heart and soul. But, if pressed, I would have to point to the characters. I was invested in these characters from the early pages of Stars and Strife, right up until the last pages of Daughters of Liberty, and with the end of each book, I cannot wait for the next. Luckily the creators, Mike Pellegrini and Timothy Lim have the whole publishing thing down to a tee. The books are done by the time they’re projects go up, and they always ship on time. At this point, it’s almost ironic to see this franchise on a crowd-funding site, because everything works like clockwork and the timely delivery of a quality book is guaranteed. The series started with floppies, which I’m proud to have in my collection, and has since graduated to beautiful hardcover editions, and has even seen its first hardcover omnibus.
Each of the volumes have offered some cool merch, including everything from badges to pins, collector cards to calendars. But most notable has been the series of acrylic standees. These have been a no-brainer ad-on for each of the volumes and they really convey all the colors and art found within the comics.
We even got a plushie of Badger the Capybara, the official mascot of The Kamen Corps. This big, beautiful softie is colorful and adorable and will forever be sitting on the desk of my comic-themed office judging me with his indifferent Capybara peepers. He comes clad in a personalized, blue zippered tracksuit with the Kamen America logo stitched on the back proving that this franchise has become so big that it is even churning out merch for the lucrative and untapped Capybara market.
But the real gem of Kamen America merch is the roughly 8-inch resin maquette that was offered up with the Daughters of Liberty campaign! The figure comes in a heavy duty, enclosed box and nestled in a foam tray cut to her specifications. There’s a minor bit of assembly here, as you have to peg Carly’s feet into the base and then tab the long trail of her yellow sash into her back. Once that’s done, she’s good to go!
Comics is one thing, but creating statues is another, and so I wasn’t quite sure what we were going to get here. Even some of the big boys can’t get statues right. Have you seen some of the stuff that Dynamite has put out? WOOF! But, these guys haven’t disappointed me yet, so I was ready to slap down the not too inconsiderable $250 bones, which got me this maquette, as well as the book, Badger, and all the other goodies. And I probably shouldn’t be surprised that this figure turned out so great. The sculpting is sharp and the colors are vibrant. The composition of the piece features Carly in what I would consider her pretty iconic pose with fists up, feet turned slightly inward, and a smile, which represents the unswerving positivity and charm of the character.
The paint lines are sharp, and there’s not a flub or spot of slop to be found. There are a few specs from the black foam that I should have done a better job of blowing off before taking the pictures, but they were easy to miss. The colors here pop so beautifully with the crimson of her long boots to the bright yellow of her hair and sash. The white is super clean, with no signs of anything bleeding through, but what really wowed me was the metallic blue and gold used for her one-piece. Exquisite! The base is a muddy disk, which if you read the comics, has a certain significance to it, and its scattered with some blue rocks. Fairly simple, but it works!
The portrait is excellent, right down to her sculpted earrings and adorable trademark ahoge. And even when punched in this close with the camera, the paint lines hold up pretty well. There’s a little gap that can be seen around her hair, but it’s barely noticeable when viewing the figure on the shelf and at eye level.
As a toy collector, I’m always going to want some kind of physical representation of the media I love. Whether it be movies, video games, or in this case comics. I have a compulsive need to have characters that I love displayed on a shelf, and so I was really excited when this maquette was revealed. There were only 200 of these available for the campaign, and I’m pretty sure they all wound up selling. I don’t usually make it a habit of spotlighting stuff on FFZ that can’t be found for sale, but this was a case where I wanted an excuse to talk about the comics and this awesome figure. And while the figure may be difficult to get, the comics are all available through Amazon or Iconic Comics directly, and I can’t recommend them enough. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll fall in love with the characters, and when it’s all said and done, you’ll want more!