Skeleton Warriors: Baron Dark (20th Anniversary Collector’s Edition) by October Toys

The Summer of 2014 was all about Action Figure Kickstarters! OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but there were a handful of notable ones and I funded most of them. The first to pay off was Warpo’s Legends of Cthulhu and now comes October Toys’ love letter to Skeleton Warriors, a line of figures originally produced by Playmates Toys back in the mid 90’s. The toys (and short-lived cartoon) arrived smack in the middle of that oddball decade of my life where I was more interested in real life than toys, but I have since admired the Skeleton Warriors figures and I know it had a strong following. Looking back, I’m not sure what made me pledge this Kickstarter. I was terribly excited about Warpo’s Cthulhu figures and I’m still slobbering in anticipation of getting my Vertruvian HACKS figures from Boss Fight Studios, so the truth is I probably just got swept up in the excitement. I do remember it had a really cheap buy in, the figure looked good, and it was an easy “one and done” without a lot of Add Ons threatening to consume my monies. Obviously, the Kickstarter successfully reached its goal, but in reality it just squeaked through with about $5,000 over the goal and not meeting any of the stretch goals required for the Skeleton Guards or Soldiers, both of which were shown off in prototype form. Well, fast forward to now and I sort of forgot this guy was even coming until I got the shipping confirmation. Now that I have him in hand, I really wish all those other figures had been green lit from the start, but I’ll come back to that at the end.

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Baron Dark comes in a window box that takes a cue from the designs used by Hasbro for the Star Wars Black line or Funko’s Legacy Collection figures. It’s a handsome little package in a matte finish with the logo artwork on the front and the series tagline, “They’re Bad to the Bone” on the bottom. The side panel of the box is also lettered, which is something I’m constantly harping on Hasbro for not doing with their Black line. The back of the package has a great synopsis about the characte as well as the credit to all the talent who have helped make the figure possible. The figure itself comes in an enclosed plastic tray and the whole package is totally collector friendly. It’s attractive, informative and collector friendly? What more could you want? How about a great figure?

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Yup, you get that too! Baron Dark is a beautifully stylized and wonderfully faithful rendition of the character in what is declared to be 1/18th scale, so I’m guessing this guy is supposed to be bigger than your average skeleton, because he’s a fair deal bigger than a 4-inch figure but not quite 5-inch. The closest figure in my collection that I could match him up against would be a Figuarts. The sculpt here is absolutely amazing. The ribcage is fully defined with separate ribs and each of the bones features sculpted wear and crevices. Even each of the fingers and toes are intricately recreated. A highly effective paintwash brings out all this detail perfectly and the coloring of the bone itself is spot on. This guy is a little work of art!

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Dark’s outfit consists of some loose and ragged wrappings sculpted into his lower legs along with a pair of red sandals. He has purple bracelets and a purple sash, which are all sculpted as separate pieces and are removable if you take the figure apart. The cape, however, is the real stand out piece of the costume. It’s sculpted in red plastic and ragged and torn with shoulders made of of individually sculpted tiny skulls. The cape is also removable if you pop off Dark’s head and doing so lets you get a great view of all the detail that went into the spine and the back of the ribcage.

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Of course, nothing shows off how much wonderful sculpting went into this figure more than the head. The Skeleton Warriors character designs are so distinctive and October Toys really managed to convey that flavor in this portrait. From the bulging eyes to the fanged mouth, all the little cracks and fissures are present in the skull and his headdress looks amazing. He manages to be both goofy and frightening at the same time.

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Baron is loaded with articulation and because he’s built on the Glyos system, you can easily take the figure apart at any one of the joints. The bulk of the jointing consists of rotating hinges, which are found in the shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, and ankles. The wrists have swivels and he can swivel at the waist in two different places. Lastly, the head is ball jointed. Picking this guy up is a dangerous affair, because once I start playing with him, he’s damn hard to put down.

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Baron Dark comes with his sword, which is cast in soft plastic but manages to resist warping and retain a straight blade. It’s got a vicious looking blade and little skulls adorning the hilt. Where does Dark get all those tiny skulls? Actually, nevermind. I don’t think I want to know. The sword can fit comfortably into either of Dark’s hands and the figure is agile enough to wield the sword two-handed.

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As part of my pledge level, my box also included some ephemera, specifically a great little color booklet about the Skeleton Warriors and this project, a beautiful art card, and a Titan Skeleton figure, which is the base body on which Baron Dark is built only with a more generic ribcage and skull and no sandals. It’s an unpainted figure, but still retains all the fun articulation of The Baron himself, and I would guess that customizers will going wild for something like this.

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I can’t even imagine the work that goes into doing a Kickstarter project like this, so I’m not going to second guess why this one didn’t do as well as some of the others from last Summer. But hey, raising $45k is no small feat! It was certainly a professional and well-organized proposal, so much so that I never doubted that the money I pledged would be going to something worthwhile. And yet I’ll admit that the final figure surpassed my expectations to the point that I really, really, REALLY hope that October Toys can get some more figures in this line. Because they’re Glyos compatible and use the same body, it seems like creating the troop builders of Soldiers and Guards wouldn’t be out of the question and I know I’d be in for a bundle of each. Word is that more figures will be coming and I can’t wait. If you weren’t in on the Kickstarter, but are interested in the figure and supporting the line, you can go grab him at October Toys website for $20 along with the Titan Skeleton or GITD Titan Skeleton for $10 each. I’m thinking of picking up a couple more Baron Dark’s just to show my support.

Robo Force: Battlestar the Guardian by Toyfinity

Does the name Toyfinity ring a bell? It should, because it’s the same company that resurrected those delightfully horrid little creatures called The Mordles, which have infected FFZ from time to time. Toyfinity has also resurrected another toy line from the 80’s called Robo Force. You remember those right? The robots with the bendy arms and suction cups on their bottoms? Well, resurrected perhaps isn’t the right word, they actually re-invented them with an amazing new series of kits inspired by the Glyos build system that allows you to build updated versions of those great 80’s designs or anything else you can think up. If you aren’t hip to the whole Glyos thang, that’s OK, because by the time I’m done talking about Battlestar the Guardian, you’ll have a good idea of what we’re dealing with.

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There’s no packaging to speak of, as Battlestar arrives in a plastic baggie just begging to be ripped open. The figure comes assembled, but let’s start from scratch with the pieces. This kit contains 41 pieces, which you see laid out above. It’s enough to build the Battlestar figure and still have some parts left over.

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The pieces are molded in black, durable plastic with a limited number of paint hits scattered around some of them. You get some glossy black, for example, on the treads, some silver panels, some red, and a crisp little emblem tampo’ed on one piece. All of the pieces interact with each other using a simple peg and socket system, which allows for a ridiculous number of combinations. The pieces connect very securely, which also means the smaller ones can be a pain (literally) to separate. It helps to have a LEGO tool nearby. Because most of the kits consist of the same basic pieces, this Battlestar kit is unique mainly because of the color scheme, but you can in fact construct any of the basic figures in the line using these pieces. In a sense, and color not withstanding, once you own one kit, you own the power to create any of the figures molds.

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Of course, you also have the power to tweak them in any way you like, or just start from scratch and build your own creations. Purchasing different kits not only gives you more pieces to work with, but it also gives you different color pieces to design your own decos. As you can imagine, much like LEGO, Robo Force can become an addicting habit.

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How did these guys came up with the idea of combining the old Robo Force franchise with this type of building system? I don’t know, but it was an absolutely brilliant idea. So much so, that I think it’s a crying shame these kits aren’t available for purchase in every Toys R Us across the country. I have to confess, I thought this was a neat idea from the very beginning, but it wasn’t until I had this kit in my hand that I truly realized how much fun it is. The night I got Battlestar, I sat down at my desk and started playing around with the figure, just to see what he was all about. Before long I was pulling him apart, and experimenting. It wasn’t until almost AN HOUR AN A HALF LATER, I realized I had become totally enraptured in this little kit and building all sorts of fun mechanical terrors.

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It took me a while to finally get in on these because the initial Robo Force drops were wildly successful and sold out with lightning speed. It’s only recently that Toyfinity has had some kits in regular stock at their store and I was able to get in on the action. Battlestar was my first, but after playing around with him for just a bit, I promptly ordered two more kits. The prices vary depending on the size of the kit and the number of paint apps, but Battlestar the Guardian was only $16.50 and he is indeed still available at the time I’m writing this. I can’t recommend this Robo Force line strongly enough, especially if you’re curious about playing around with this inventive application of the Glyos system.