Athena Sixth-Scale Figure (Deluxe Edition) by Phicen/TBLeague

I didn’t set out to start collecting Phicen figures. The gateway purchases for me were their Zenescope figures and I had no intention of going any further. But I was so impressed with them, it lead to another and another, and now it seems like I’m pre-ordering these ladies on a regular basis. That wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t revealing what seems like a new figure every month. And today’s figure is a bit of a milestone, as its my first Phicen figure that’s not based off of a comic book property. Nope, Athena is just an original design based loosely (OH, SO LOOSELY!!) on the Greek warrior goddess, Athena. Oh yeah, and I should note that while Phicen is now officially known as TBLeague, I still tend to use the two names interchangeably.

Athena comes in what has become standard packaging for TBLeague figures, which consists of a shoebox with a tri-fold cover that connects to the sides of the box with magnets. Both the box and cover are made of sturdy, durable cardboard, and as I point out almost every time I review a Phicen, the packaging here feels vastly more premium than the packaging used for most of the Hot Toys or Sideshow figures in my collection. The tri-fold cover features some excellent artwork on the front and sides, and the back panel of the box has shots of the figure itself.

Inside, Athena comes nestled in a foam tray with all of her accessories laid out around her, with a second tray and more goodies under that one. And let me tell you, this figure required a lot more futzing than any of the previous Phicens I’ve purchased. As usual, you have to attach the head, which is no big deal. But beyond that, the figure comes wearing only her boots, top, and skirt. All the individual armor pieces have to be attached and that amounts to 11 pieces, not counting the helmet. The majority of these pieces are secured with elastic straps, and while some will just slide on, others require you to work with teeny fasteners. And yes, some of these pieces feel delicate, and don’t forget you’re dealing with a soft-skinned figure that does not react well to being poked and prodded. I’ll admit it, setting her up was quite the chore.

But, I’m happy to say that it’s all worth it, because once Athena is all kitted out, she looks absolutely stunning. Originally, I wanted to shoot her as I added the various pieces of armor, but it was so much work getting it all onto her, I have no plans to take any of it off again, so let’s just start at her feet and work our way up. The calf-high boots are made of a leather-like material reinforced with sculpted gold pieces on the heels and toes. The shin armor are made of somewhat pliable plastic and simply clip on. They hold on surprisingly well too! The knee armor is held on with actual straps, and while they have a habit of slipping around when bending her at the knees, they’re not too bothersome.

The skirt consists of individual strips of brown leather-like material hanging down to cover her front and back nether-regions. On top of that goes a separate belt made of the same material, with ornate gold discs, like mini shields, on the front and back, as well as larger hip plates and some golden chains that hang down over her thighs. I really dig all the little etching on the individual discs and there’s a cool sculpted pattern that makes them look like they’ve actually been hammered out of metal. Athena’s arms feature a pair of bicep rings, plus some mesh sleeves, which are totally optional, and I keep waffling back and forth over whether to keep them or not. In the promo pics, the flaps that extend over her hands are supposed to loop around one of her fingers, but there’s no actual hole to do this, and I’m a little afraid that if I try to make one it’ll tear.

Her chest covering consists of two strategically placed leather-like straps that cover her “nipular” areas and criss-cross just before looping around her neck, while the other ends pass under her arms and across her back. The shoulder armor pieces were the hardest to get onto her. These are held on by elastic straps with tiny buckles and a snap that attached them to the shoulder. Getting anything to slip all the way up a Phicen’s arm is tough, because the realistic skin offers a lot of resistance, and these had to go all the way up to the top. I tried unfastening them and fastening them in place, but that proved to always result in the armor piece unsnapping from the strap, so I had to do it the hard way. Finally, there’s the gorget, which curves up to encircle her neck and has a few ornamental chains that hang down betwixt her bosoms. That’s right, I SAID BETWIXT HER BOSOMS! Anyway, despite the fact that all this armor is worn by the figure like real armor, the bulk of it stays put quite well, and didn’t cause a lot of problems when I messed around with her.

The head sculpt is extremely pretty and I have to give credit to Phicen for how far they’ve come with their portraits. It’s hard to compare this head to a Hot Toys sculpt, because it’s not based on any famous actress’ likeness, but the realism is pretty damn good. The contours of the face are smooth and elegant. I love the glossy paint used for her lips, as it looks realistically wet. The paint for the eyes is extremely close to capturing that surreal spark of life that Hot Toys grants it’s figures. Athena sports a long mane of golden rooted hair, and while it’s common to get some flyaway strands, this gal’s coif isn’t too hard to manage, and you don’t have to be a professional hairdresser to make it look good. Her tiara is a separate piece and when Athena goes into battle, it can be swapped out in favor of her helmet.

The helmet goes on very easily, thanks to the slightly pliable plastic used for the cheek guards. The hardest part is getting her hair to sit right under it, but just bunching it all up and pulling it to the back seems to do the trick. The sculpted decorations on this piece are beautifully done, with raised scroll-work on the cheek guards, a decoration that kind of resembles an upside down Fleur De Lis. The dome has a hammered finish similar to some of the rest of the armor pieces, and the crest sweeps up majestically in the front. Probably my favorite aspect about the helmet is the figure seated under the crest. It’s a half-woman, half-animal (possibly winged) sitting on her hind legs and pushing up with her arms. It really adds to the timeless fantasy design of this figure.

Athena comes with a handful of cool accessories, as well as three pairs of hands. The hands include a relaxed pair, a pair with two of her fingers pointing, and a pair designed to hold her accessories. The first of these is her sword, which comes in a scabbard. The scabbard is molded plastic and features some gold decorations and a chain to hang it from the belt, but I couldn’t find any specific place to put it, so I wound up just looping it around the belt before putting it on her and having it hang down behind her legs. It looks good, but it’s a little awkward when posing her. I would have rather just had a clip on the belt to attach it to.

The sword itself is beautiful but it strikes me as more medieval in design than Greco-Roman. It has a cruciform hilt with a rather large pommel and straight cross guard. The blade is made of die-cast metal, giving the weapon a nice heft, and it tapers pretty sharply to the point, giving it a late medieval flavor. It also has a snazzy mirror polish to it. Part of me wishes that they had given her a more appropriately designed sword, but it’s not a deal-breaker for me and it is a fantastic looking piece.

The shield, on the other hand, reels it back in with a more solid Greek design. It’s round with a familiar Greek pattern running around the edge, sculpted bolts reinforcing the next ring, and a beautiful sculpted relief of Medusa’s face framed by a fury of snakes. The shield is molded in plastic and has a sumptuous gold finish that matches the rest of Athena’s armor pieces. On the flip side, the shield includes an elastic strap to go over the arm and a grab bar. Getting her fingers around the grab bar can be a chore, but once it’s on there she holds the shield very securely. I’ve also found that the relaxed hand offers enough support to hold the shield in poses where the elbow is bent.

Next up is Athena’s battle standard, which is secured to a spear. The spear itself has a silver spike butt cap and a broad bladed tip. There’s a ribbed grip up near the tip with gold painted rings where the flag secures to the shaft. The flag is made of a semi-stiff cloth material that shows off the gold sun emblem and gold borders. Now, I’m no expert on the standards used by the Greeks, but like the sword, this accessory looks a bit more medieval to me. Whatever the case, she looks great holding it.

And last, but certainly not least, Phicen has been pretty generous with bundling some truly impressive diorama pieces in with their figures, and in this case Athena comes with a huge antique column, which can be used as a display stand. This is a hefty and beautifully crafted piece with some realistic weathering and some blue and gold paint around the decorations. It also stands almost as tall as the figure herself. The top surface is studded with pegs, yes Phicen equips these figures with peg holes in the feet so they can be secured onto a base or stand just like most 3 3/4-inch and 6-inch scale figures. The problem is that to display Athena on this stand, I’m now looking at a required 24-inches of clearance on my shelf, and I don’t really have anyplace right now to accommodate her.

Fortunately, the column looks pretty good when tumbled onto its side as well, and I may wind up just displaying Athena reclining on it or climbing on top of it.

While I was originally content to stick with just the comic-based figures, TBLeague’s original designs have been getting better and better and I just got to the point where I couldn’t resist any longer. And I’m certainly glad I didn’t, because Athena is a stunning figure with some beautifully designed armor strategically designed to show off the Phicen body. Sure, some aspects of the design aren’t exactly seated in any sense of historical accuracy, even if some promotional materials are suggesting that it is supposed to be the Goddess of Wisdom and War. There are certainly hints of Greco-Roman design here, but I wholeheartedly believe that this figure is best enjoyed as a fantasy figure straight out of one of those old Pepla (Sword-and-Sandal) flicks, and that perhaps her name is just given in reverence to the mythological Goddess. Regardless, Athena retailed for $170, and considering the craftsmanship and extras, I think the value is certainly there, especially in a market where even the less revered companies are putting out sixth-scale figures in the $200+ range.

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Lady Death “Death’s Warrior” Sixth-Scale Figure (Deluxe Edition) by Phicen/TB League

TB League, formerly known as Phicen, continues to pump out a number of fantastic boxed figure sets based on the ladies of indie comics. I’ve already looked at their Zenescope gals, as well as Vampirella and Red Sonja, and now it’s time to give Brian Pulido’s Lady Death from Chaos! Comics a go. The character has had a troubled history of being passed along to different comic companies as each previous one folded. There was a less-than-stellar anime released by ADV Films, and now she lives on through Kickstarter-funded stories. Like Red Sonja, the first version of this figure was released a little while back and I missed out, because she sold out quickly. But TB League recently issued a brand new version and this time I was quick to pre-order the Deluxe Edition. As “Death’s Warrior” this release comes with some pretty cool armor and a brand new helmet and the Deluxe Edition includes a gigantic throne display diorama. Let’s take a look…

The Deluxe Edition comes in a massive cardboard mailer box, which houses the figure’s box and a large styrofoam brick with the extra display environment. I’m fond of pointing out just how premium the packaging on Phicen’s figures look, especially when compared to some of the more expensive big name Sixth-Scale producers out there. Lady Death’s heavy duty box consists of a lift off tri-fold front, which secures to the sides via magnets. You get some great shots of the figure itself and a little blurb on the back. Inside, the figure resides in a foam tray with some of her accessories laid out around her. There’s another tray beneath it with more goodies, and as always the head comes off the figure and wrapped in plastic. And speaking of plastic, nearly the entire figure comes wrapped in plastic with the armor placed over it. This is great for protecting the silicone skin, but getting it off is a daunting task that involves some precise cutting near and around the soft skin, right where you do not want to be putting a sharp edge. But, a little patience and care is all it takes.

And here she is all set up and ready for display and boy is she beautiful! The most distinctive thing about this particular body is her is her pure white skin, and I have to say that it looks quite stunning. I say, pure white, but it actually has a bit of a ghostly blue hue to it that comes out rather striking under certain light. Of course, this body consists of Phicen’s usual silicone skin and muscle covering a fully articulated stainless steel skeleton, and thanks to Lady Death’s predilection for skimpy costumes, the character design allows a lot of that seamless body to show through. The only joints visible on the figure are her wrists and neck, and the only ones concealed by the costume would be in the ankles. Phicen has produced a wide collection of these bodies in different types to use on different boxed figures, but because of her distinctive skin tone, Lady Death is probably the first time they had to fully customize one to work with the character. I really dig that. And while they were a little restrained when choosing the bust size for Red Sonja and Vampirella, they kind of went all out for Lady Death. I really dig that too!

The costume consists of an armored top that just about manages to contain her ample bosom. It’s sculpted in plastic with a texturing that makes it look like leather and with bronze scroll-work decorations sculpted in. There are painted rivets running along the bottom edge and a very lucky skull placed betwixt her undead orbs. The bracers on her arms are sculpted with a similar motif, here with some smooth black and textured brown panels and more of the bronze scroll-work sculpted in. Moving down, she has a rather small sculpted plastic plate with a skull to shield her Netherworld regions, front and back. Finally, she has a pair of fairly plain leather high-heeled boots with a pair of ornate bronze skulls at the tops just above her knees. These are actually separate rings and not part of the boots. They stay on purely from friction and they do stay put fairly well, but every now and then they need an adjustment to make them sit flush with the tops of the boots. There may not be much of it, but I think Phicen did a beautiful job with the sculpt and paint on this outfit. It’s a lot more ornate than the simpler leather bikini that came with the first release. Admittedly, that first outfit is more iconic for the character, but I’ll happily take this one as a consolation prize.

The portrait is absolutely stunning, and I really appreciate how far Phicen has come in this area. They’ve managed to up there game a little bit with each release, both in terms of sculpt and paint quality, and getting a bit closer to that uncanny level of realism slowly but surely. Granted, Lady Death isn’t a great example for judging realism, since she’s an undead demon warrior, but there’s so much to love here. The paint on on the eyebrows and around the eyes is very sharp and clean, and there’s a nice glossy coat over her pupiless eyes. Her lips are slightly parted, feature some nice texturing, and are painted with a bright and glossy red that really stands out among all the white of her skin. And speaking of skin, the skin tone on her head matches the silicone skin on the body very closely. The hair has that same slightly blue tinge to it, and there’s a lot of it, so some rudimentary styling skills will come in handy. Personally, I think this is a character where the hair looks best just left to run wild.

Before getting into the accessories, it’s worth mentioning that Lady Death comes with three pairs of hands. These include a relaxed pair, a pair that looks like she’s about to claw your eyes out, and a pair designed for holding her weapons. Surprise! No fists! Each of these include red painted fingernails and swapping these out is pretty easy, and this is another area where I commend Phicen for improving. Swapping hands on some of their earlier boxed figures was an absolute chore, but I found that these come off and go on without any problems.

Lady Death also comes with a cape, which is a beautiful little garment with a black leather-like outer material and a softer red cloth for the interior lining. The neck includes sculpted skulls as a clasp and a high collar, but it does not open, so you do need to pop her head to put it on and take it off. The edges include some flexible wire so that you can pose it. I love the way this looks on the figure, but I don’t think I’m going to use it a lot. I don’t think it works well with the throne, and I also get a little nervous about having all that red dye in the cape’s liner in constant contact with Lady Death’s pearly white skin. Still, it’s a great option to have and just adds more value to the set as a whole.

As “Death’s Warrior,” naturally she’s got to have a helmet and this is quite a nice piece of work. The entire thing appears to be cast in single piece of plastic and includes a black and bronze deco to match her armor. There’s a row of tiny painted rivets running along the brow and a skull front and center, because Lady Death sure loves her skulls. The cheek guards on the sides extend upward to form some jagged looking wings, and there’s a silver bar that runs under her eyes and meet just above her nose. The helmet was a bit of a bear to get on the first time, as it really is a very snug fit and there isn’t a whole lot of flexibility in the plastic. I was mostly worried about scraping the paint on her face. When I did finally get it on, I found that her hair was trapped in front of her eyes, so I had to give it a second try, this time with her hair pulled tightly back. As much as I love the way this looks on the figure, I’m not going to be putting it on and taking it off a lot.

As for weapons, for starters Lady Death comes with her sword. I should point out that the character has wielded three swords (that I know about), named Apocalypse, Darkness, and Nightmare. Apocalypse is the one I most closely associate with her, but this one is Nightmare and it’s no slouch. The blade is made of diecast metal, a technique that I first saw Phicen using with Red Sonja and I wholeheartedly approve. The figure’s joints can handle the weight and it gives the accessory a premium feel. The rather ornate hilt features a bronze guard and pommel with a brown painted grip to simulate leather wrap. The silver blade has a generous amount of blood spattering on it. The accessory holding hands make for a tight grip, allowing her to hold it perfectly in either hand or both. On the downside, she doesn’t have a scabbard that allows her to wear it on her person, but as we’ll soon see, that doesn’t bother me so much.

Her other weapon is this giant sickle. I think this is the same one that came with the previous release, but whatever the case, it’s an impressive piece of hell-spawned cutlery! Even with the curved handle, the sickle is taller than Lady Death herself. The handle is sculpted and painted to look like wood, complete with a natural wood-grain finish and sculpted wrap on the handle and shaft. The blade itself is plastic, but painted in metallic silver to look like real metal. There’s also a really cool looking skull mounted at the top of the shaft and painted to look like part of the blade. And just when I thought this figure can’t get any better, I opened up the huge chunk of sytrofoam to find this…

Holy SHIT! Lady Death’s throne is the mother of all accessories, if you can even call it that. It’s really a massive display environment. I know, I gassed on and on about how cool the dragon base that came with Red Sonja was, but I think this might one-up it. It’s made of three pieces: The base, the chair itself, and the skull that connects to the top of the throne with a magnet. I guess you can say it’s four pieces if you count the velvet pillow that goes into the chair. Yes, it actually has a real pillow! The base is sculpted to look like old stone and rock and there’s a pile of skulls in the back left corner as well as a single skull and some bones on the front right corner. The chair doesn’t actually attach to the base, so you can position it where you like on the platform, or even just use the platform and stand Lady Death on it. The chair itself features some exceptionally nice sculpting and paintwork. I love the skulls on the armrests and the bones that connect them to a third skull on the bottom front of the piece.

There are lots of fun ways to place Lady Death on the throne, and while I had to clear plenty of space on my shelf to fit it, I can’t imagine displaying this figure without the throne. I also like that it gives me a place to display her helmet and sword. The one caveat is that if I’m going to have her sitting on it regularly, I worry about the red dye on the pillow transferring to the white skin of her demon derriere. In the end, I took some non-acidic archival plastic and cut a square to put between the pillow and her tushie. Hey, you can never be too careful!

The more of TB League’s boxed figure sets I pick up, the more impressed I am with what this company is putting out. The seamless bodies keep getting better and better, and they’ve been upping their game on the quality of the costumes and accessories. But it’s the Deluxe Editions that are adding that extra little (actually not so little) something that has been launching these releases to the top of my Sixth-Scale want lists. This Deluxe Edition of Lady Death set me back $179, and I’m actually a little curious how they’re able to pack in something as impressive as the throne and still keep these figures under $200. I was motivated to finish this review, because I have another of TB League’s ladies arriving this week, and I actually have two more on pre-order that are due to hit in the next month or so. And if that’s not bad enough, they just revealed a few more that look pretty damn good. The releases are coming so fast that this line is getting hard to budget for, but I’m going to try to make it work any which way I can! And if that means cutting into my Hot Toys and Sideshow budget, then so be it.

Red Sonja “Scars of the She-Devil” Sixth-Scale Figure (Deluxe Edition) by Phicen/TB League

Phicen, who now seem to be calling themselves TB League, is quickly becoming my favorite Sixth-Scale action figure company behind Hot Toys. Equipped with their always impressive seamless female bodies, they’ve been turning out some amazing boxed figure sets based on some indie comic properties, as well as totally original designs. So far I’ve reviewed three of their four figures from Zenescope Comics, as well as Dynamite Comics’ Vampirella. I’m getting really behind on all my Sixth-Scale reviews, so today I’m checking out the Deluxe Edition of Red Sonja, yet another femme fatale from Dynamite Comics.

This is Phicen’s second release of Red Sonja, dubbed “Scars of the She-Devil.” The first sold out very quickly. This time around, they fixed some complaints about the head sculpt and hair color, gave her a battle damaged look by adding some scarring, decked her out with new accessories and changed up her armor. In short, this isn’t a re-release to add more figures into circulation, but rather an entirely new version. And because this is the Deluxe Edition, they bundled her with a diorama style display base. The figure comes in this massive mailer box with the figure’s regular box inside and a giant brick of styrofoam to hold the base.

Sonja’s box looks great and it’s much wider than most standard Sixth-Scale figure boxes. It’s fully enclosed with a tri-fold front flap securing to both sides by magnets. The front and side panels have photos of the actual figure and the back panel has more photos as well as a little blurb about Red Sonja herself. Lift off the top to reveal a foam tray with the figure and her accessories, and as usual the head comes separate and wrapped in plastic to protect the hair and paint. I have to say that the quality and presentation here is really premium and it blows away the flimsy sleeved window boxes that we’ve been getting from Hot Toys lately.

As mentioned, Sonja comes out of the box in need of having her head attached. You also have to gird on her her sword belt, but apart from that she’s all set to go. Not that there would be a lot to put on her otherwise. Her outfit is appropriately nearly non-existant, with just a scale mail bikini top held up by some rather ornate shoulders, and a couple of patches of scale mail to protect her coming and going down there in her nether regions. The scale armor bits are sculpted plastic and they look great with bright and lustrous metallic silver paint. These pieces are secured with brown leather straps, and they stay put quite well while posing her. She also has a pair of bronze guards on her thighs and some great looking brown boots and gauntlets. Both feature some nice sculpted rumpling to make them look like leather, and the gauntlets have some etched scrollwork as decorations. While the boots look great, they do not allow for much range of motion in the ankles, so her feet won’t always be flush with the ground in those wide stances, but I found that she balances really well. As for the gloves, swapping out her hands means swapping out the whole glove, and oh boy is that a pain in the ass. I’ve since settled with giving her a weapon gripping hand on the right and a relaxed hand on the left, but there are more to choose from if you’re feeling particularly patient. I’ll also note that Sonja also comes with a bronze band for her left upper arm. You can have a look at it on the package shot, but I’ve opted to forgo that piece in favor of a more minimalist presentation.

The sword belt hangs loose around Sonja’s hips and holds a sculpted plastic scabbard for her sword, which is most comfortable when slung just behind her right hip and sweeping across the back of her legs. I think the body they chose is a pretty good one. It’s appropriately tanned, rather fit, and not as ridiculously endowed in the chest as some of their more prolific body types. As always, that seamless skin covers a stainless steel skeleton, which is capable of some very cool articulation. They still don’t have the look of bent elbows quite right, but everything is really uncanny, especially the knees and abs. As the name suggests, this “Scars of the She-Devil” version of Sonja features various battle wounds, which was something I wasn’t so sure I was going to like, but turned out looking pretty damn good. Not only do they look realistic, but I think the design team applied just the right amount of them without going overboard. I also dig how they’re all positioned on her front, because Red Sonja always faces danger head on!

Speaking of heads, Sonja’s got a right pretty one. I think the original release had a decent portrait, but I like this one a lot too. As to which is better? It probably just comes down to a matter of taste. Either way, the paintwork on the eyes and lips is quite good, as are the eyebrows and eyelashes. Phicen isn’t near Hot Toys quality on their faces, but then again these aren’t real likenesses, so they probably aren’t trying to be. As a result, there’s a little more doll than action figure in these heads, but I’m OK with that. The hair color has actually been toned down a bit, some may argue it’s still too bright, but it’s definitely not as electric as the first release. Again, I dig it just fine. It comes with some product in it to keep it from going all crazy, and I found that it isn’t too hard to keep under control. One nitpick I will grant is that her rather serene expression doesn’t lend well to action poses, but I don’t think we’ll see a point where they start including alternate heads, because quite frankly these boxes are stuffed with enough goodies as it is. Besides, I tend to display my Sixth-Scale figures more in the museum-style, so this expression will do nicely. Let’s move on to the accessories!

First up is, Sonja’s sword, which fits fairly snugly into the scabbard on her belt. The sword features a sculpted handle that looks pretty close to what I remember seeing her carry in the comics. The grip is painted brown, while the pommel and crossguard have a bronze finish. It also features a diecast metal blade, which was a damn nice surprise. In the past Phicen accessories haven’t always felt terribly high end, so it’s nice to see they’re working on improving. The blade has some blood spray caked onto the blade, and despite having a nice heft to it, her grip can support its weight securely.

Next, she comes with a sculpted plastic shield, which features a brown surface that’s all nicked and scarred up. There’s a silver band running around the edge, silver ovals studding the middle circlet, and at the center it has a silver disc with a single spike protruding from it. On the flipside, there’s an elastic strap to go over the inside of her elbow and a grab bar, which works really well even with the relaxed hand.

The last piece in her arsenal is her massive battle axe. This thing has a wicked looking blade with silver edges to make them look sharpened. There’s some gore smeared on the blade as well, which looks a little over-the-top, but damn I love it. The grip is sculpted to look like it’s wrapped with brown leather strips and there’s some red cord tied around the bottom of the shaft. Unlike the sword, the axe is all plastic, and that’s probably a good thing, because it would be extremely heavy if the blade were metal. As great as they are, a couple of weapons and a shield isn’t exactly a crazy amount of accessories for a so-called Deluxe figure, but then I’ve yet to bring out the centerpiece of the set… Behold, the base!

Yes, the Deluxe version of Red Sonja comes with this stepped rock base with a dragon’s head and right claw rising up out of it. This thing is outrageous. I literally could not believe it when I took it out of the styrofoam. It’s crazy heavy and the sculpting and paintwork are absolutely superb. It requires a little bit of assembly, the dragon neck plugs into one slot and the claw into another. I can’t get over all the detail in the dragon’s mouth and the intricate scales.

The rocks have a number of foot pegs offering several options for posing Sonja on it. Yup, foot pegs. Phicen includes peg holes on most of the costumed figures’ feet just like a 3 3/4-inch or 6-inch action figure. The pegs hold fairly well and I’ve yet to have Sonja take a shelf dive, so whether you want to just stand her on it, or actually have her battling the dragon, there are some pretty cool display options here. I think the base only added like $25 to the Deluxe Edition’s price, which seems like a steal to me. It elevates what was already a really great figure to an epic showpiece.

Thinking back, I remember how broken-hearted I was when Red Sonja’s first release sold out before I could put in my order. Phicen’s figures are like that. Some sell out in pre-orders, other linger around for a while, but either way once they sell out, the prices on the secondary market skyrocket. Now, I realize that things sometimes happen for a reason, and I’m glad I missed out on that release, because I love everything about this version more. The armor is cooler, the axe and shield are better, and I even turned out liking the battle damage. But it was the addition of the dragon base that really goes above and beyond. The retail on this Deluxe Edition was $180, which puts her about middle of the road for high end Sixth Scale figures, but when taking in the complete package, I feel a great sense of value with this release, and that’s not something I can say about a lot of my Sixth Scale purchases these days.

FigureFan’s Favorites 2017, Part 2

Welcome back to the Week of Insufferable Lists. I’m not really here this week, but my Life Model Decoy is right in the middle of laying out my Ten Favorite Acquisitions of 2017. Let’s jump right in with the final five. Again, these are in no particular order…

Mythic Legions Stone Troll by The Four Horsemen: Back when I blew my tax return on that original Mythic Legions kickstarter, I never could have guessed how big it would get. Now my Mythic Legions army is expansive and early next year, I’ll be dropping another 35 figures onto those shelves. But if I had to choose one figure that really illustrates how big and successful this line has been, it would be the huge Stone Troll. The sculpt and paintwork on this guy are amazing and it really illustrates how much more craftsmanship can go into a toy that isn’t destined for the shelves at Target or Walmart. My only regret is that I couldn’t budget the Forest Troll to go with him, but at least I take comfort in the fact that soon he’ll have a Cyclops buddy.

DC Bombshells Batwoman (Designer Series) by DC Collectibles: While I had to take a pass on collecting most of the DC Bombshell statues, I was happy to get the Bombshell figures as a more space-friendly alternative. The first wave was chock full of knockouts, so it wasn’t easy choosing one as a favorite. In the end, I went with Batwoman, because I love the pun, I love baseball, and this figure is just too much fun. Great sculpt, great articulation, and great accessories! But hell, I just as easily could have stuck Harley or Wonder Woman in this slot. These are some of DC Collectibles’ best work in years.

Lost Exo Realm (LER-04) Deluxe Severo by Fansproject: 2017 will likely be my last big hurrah with Third-Party Transformers and it was mostly spent tying up loose ends. It took me a long while to get around to picking up Severo and wrapping up my LER Dinobots, so long that I had almost lost interest. He sat for months waiting to be opened, but when I finally did it was love at first sight. Not only is he an imposing beast in either robot or dino modes, but he comes with so many extra weapons and a throne fit for a king.

DC Gallery (Batman: The Animated Series) Zatanna by Diamond Select: I’ve been generally pleased with Diamond’s line of budget statues based on Marvel and DC characters. So much so, that I knew I had to include something from this line on my list of favorites. There were several contendors, but in the end, I had to go with Zatanna. Not only do I love the character, but this statue is very nearly perfect. The sculpt is a spot on representation of her from the Batman Animated Series, the paint application is clean and precise, and the overall quality feels like something beyond a budget statue.

Zenescope’s Robyn Hood Sixth-Scale Figure by Phicen: I purchased and reviewed all three of Phicen’s Zenescope figures in 2017, and I don’t think anyone really cared. That’s cool. Zenescope is a small comic book company, and most definitely a guilty pleasure of mine, so I can understand the lack of interest. I could have probably picked any one of these figures for this list solely based on the fact that it’s a miracle a company actually produced Zenescope merch, much less high end merch. And while I love all three of these ladies, the truth is that picking one was not even difficult. Liesel Van Helsing and Mercy Dante are both great figures, but Phicen just knocked it out of the park with Robyn Locksley.

And that’s going to do it for the good stuff. Come back tomorrow and we’ll start having a look at some of those purchases that sucker punched me in the nether regions with my first five Disappointments of 2017.

Vampirella (Asian Edition) Sixth-Scale Figure by Phicen

Happy Halloween, folks! I don’t always do special content for the holidays, but this time I remembered to save a figure for just this occasion: Phicen’s Sixth-Scale Vampirella! And when you take Vampirella’s scant outfit and pair it with Phicen’s seamless female body, well… I can’t think of a better match between license and figure producer! Vampirella is one of those timeless characters that’s been around a long time and has enjoyed varying forms of success and popularity, and yet she never really seems to hit it big. Debuting in 1969 (she’s only a few years older than me!) as the host for a series of horror themed comics (think The Crypt-Keeper, only a lot nicer to look at) before eventually evolving into a lead character in her own adventures. I first discovered her in a stack of comics and adult stowed in a top shelf of one of my uncle’s bookcases. It wasn’t until the fairly recent Dynamite Comics run that I really reconnected with her and I can’t recommend that series enough! I got this figure a little ways back and ever since she’s been on my display shelf begging for some attention, so let’s check her out.

The figure arrives in an extra large brown mailer box, which is designed to accommodate not only the figure’s box, but also the block of styrofoam containing her base. Note the “Asian Edition” on the box? It’s there to signify that this initial release of the figure features a portrait designed with Asian features. And believe me, I’ll touch on that more when I discuss the portrait.

The figure itself comes in an illustrated box with a front cover that wraps around the sides and is held on by magnets. You get plenty of shots of the figure on the front, back, and side panels and naturally everything is collector friendly. While still relatively simple, I have to say the quality of the box and presentation here feels better than the standard window box and sleeve we’ve been getting from Hot Toys these days. Lift off the top and it reveals a foam tray, which holds the figure and her accessories. As with most Phicen figures, the head needs to be attached, and in this case her jewelry has to be put on.

Vampirella comes wearing her iconic and skimpy costume. I am told on good authority that it’s called a monokini, which is a type of swimsuit. OK. That works. In this case it’s crafted of vibrant red fabric and fits the figure perfectly. And by perfectly, I mean it’s snug. So snug that it doesn’t take much scrutiny to recognize that these figures are anatomically correct. The garment terminates at her neck with a flared white collar, which always gives me a smirk. It’s like her creators wanted to give her something a little more vampire-y, so they just tacked the collar onto her outfit. Brilliant! The only ornamentation on her red modesty-sling consists of a gold triangular medallion strategically placed, um… right where you see it up there in the photo. Her outfit is rounded out by a pair of stiletto-heeled boots, which are made from a pleather-like material and end just below her knees, an ornamental golden bicep cuff on her right arm, and two golden bangles on her wrists.

I’ve reviewed three Phicen figures this year, but if this is your first experience with them, then the thing to know is that the Phicen body consists of a fully articulated stainless steel skeleton wrapped in silicon that mimics not only the look (and sort of the feel) of skin, but also the musculature underneath it. What’s more, the skeleton is designed to articulate in a way that accurately reproduces the joints of a human being far better than just about any other action figure on the market. There are still some things they need to work on, like the elbows still look a bit flat to me when they bend, but other areas are downright incredible. I’m mesmerized by the way the torso can pivot and crunch and the way the ab muscles look so damn real. My other Phicen figures have much less-revealing costumes, so Vampirella is one of the first times I’m really getting to see everything at work on one of these bodies. Phicen has a number of different body types at their disposal and surprisingly they went for one of the more realistically proportioned ones for V here. Some have complained that her caboose doesn’t fill out the costume as well as it should, but it works fine for me.

And speaking of complaints, one of the loudest choruses of whining came from the fact that this “Asian Edition” uses an Asian head. The obvious complaint here being that Vampirella has never been depicted as someone with Asian features, and I can understand why that might irk some people. In reality, V isn’t really Caucasian either. She’s an alien from the planet Drakulon. I’ve already mentioned this at the beginning of this review, and I’ll touch on it more at the end. For the time being, let me just say that this head sculpt has grown on me quite a bit, to the point where I don’t really even notice the Asian features being out of place for the character. She’s attractive, they did some cool and crazy shit with her eye makeup, and I love the quality of paint they used on her lips. She even has a cute little birthmark just above her left cheek. The rooted hair can be a bit of a chore. It’s prone to getting caught in the neck seam, but with a little care it looks fantastic. When I first bought her, I thought I’d be quick on the hunt for a replacement head, but it isn’t really a priority for me any longer.

Vampirella comes with three sets of hands: Grasping, Relaxed, and what I can only describe as “Immagonnagetchu” clawing hands. If you read my previous Phicen reviews, than you may remember that I’ve had a hell of a time swapping out hands on these ladies. Instead of using a hinged peg, these hands go right onto the steel skeleton’s ball joint. Sometimes, they’re so hard to get out that the ball comes with them, and then you’ve got a whole world of headaches getting things right again. In the case of V, her hands pop off easily and go back on just as well. No fuss, no muss. And if the wrist seams on what is an otherwise seamless body bother you, those wrist bangles are nice to strategically cover them up. All of her hand sets feature really long and sharp fingernails, which require a bit of care, when having them interact with her delicate skin. I think a lot of what has been said about the extreme delicacy of these figures has been overstated, but you still have to be more careful with these than you would a regular plastic figure. Anyway, my favorites are the claw hands, although they don’t really match the serene expression on her face.

There is one more aspect to Vampirella’s costume that I neglected to mention, and that’s her cape. It fastens easily around her neck with a snap-clasp, and it is an absolutely beautiful little garment. It’s made of super soft material, and it’s black with a stitched red lining. It has a remarkable weight to it that allows it to fall about the figure in a very realistic manner, despite the scale. Also, this is where her grasping hands come in. They’re designed so that you can place the cape between her fingers and have her hold it out at arm’s length for some wonderful poses.

In addition to the hands and cape, Vampirella comes with a vampire skull, a vampire bat, and a diorama base. The skull and bat are just cool little props to use while displaying her. The bat has a clip near its feet so it can be clipped onto one of V’s fingers. It’s a nice looking piece, with excellent sculpted detail and paintwork, but the clip is ridiculously delicate and I can see it breaking very easily.

The base is easily the showpiece of V’s extras. It’s large and heavy and features a felt lined bottom. There’s a muddy patch of grass with some rocks and creepy vines, a pile of skulls, and a bone, and a couple of decrepit grave markers. This piece is so large that it comes encased in its own styrofoam brick inside the mailer box, but beside the actual figure’s packaging. It’s beautifully painted and I was really blown away by the quality of it. Hot Toys could learn something here, because with over 30 Hot Toys figures in my collection, I can honestly say that none of them have come with a base or stand as cool as this piece.

Now, on the downside, it doesn’t have any pegs (yes, Phicen figures have peg holes in the bottoms of their feet), which at first seemed like an oversight, however, the mound of skulls is actually intended to be something for her to sit on. She can also stand on the base very well, but with nothing supporting her, I wouldn’t trust displaying her like that, as she’s liable to take a shelf dive.

I picked up Vampirella for $145, which feels like a great deal in a market where it’s getting harder and harder to get a quality Sixth-Scale figure for under $200. Indeed, with Phicen’s bodies selling for around $100 by themselves, I’d say Vampirella and her accessories alone were worth the price, and it feels like the diorama base was a freebie. Now, here’s the sticking point around the whole “Asian Edition” controversy. I pre-ordered V when she was first solicited, because several of Phicen’s boxed figures have been selling out upon release lately. Was there eventually going to be a Non-“Asian Edition?” Nobody knew… until a couple of weeks ago when the “Western Edition” was revealed at the Shanghai Comic Con (of all places) and subsequently went up for pre-order at all the regular sites for around ten bucks more than the “Asian Edition.” Would I have preferred that version? Yes. Am I going to double-dip on this figure because of it? Probably not. Hey, these are the pitfalls of being an early adopter. When I pulled the trigger, I asked myself if I would be happy with this figure no matter what, and the answer was yes. And now that I have her in hand, I’m still very happy with her. She’s a great looking figure and I’m happy to have the character so beautifully represented in my collection.

Zenescope’s Liesel Van Helsing Sixth-Scale Figure by Phicen Ltd.

If you follow me on Twitter than you probably know that I’m a big fan of Zenescope Comics. I started reading their flagship title, Grimm Fairy Tales, a while ago as a guilty pleasure and slowly got sucked into the wider universe of characters and other books until I had an entire shelf devoted to their floppies, trades, and a few limited edition hardcovers. Plus, since Marvel has forsaken me with their bullshit, I’ve been leaning on Zenescope a lot more lately as a new outlet for my comic book dollars. Sadly, there’s been precious little in the way of Zenescope merchandising, with the shining exception being a small assortment of Sixth-Scale figures from Phicen and Executive Replicas. I’ve already looked at Mercy Dante and Robyn Hood, Today I’m going back to their very first release: Liesel Van Helsing!

The packaging is still quite similar to the two followups: Robyn and Mercy. And the presentation here is first rate. You get a wraparound sleeve with the Grimm Universe logo and the figure’s name on the front as well as some wonderful character art on the back and side panel. The other side panel has the figure’s name so you can line these up on a shelf and still tell who is who. The high-quality box is black and textured with a magnetic front flap and a foam tray that contains the figure and accessories. The packaging rarely ever makes or breaks a collectible for me, but when you’re paying a lot it’s nice to get a premium presentation. This is definitely a lot more effort than Hot Toys has put into the packages for their recent releases, and I appreciate that, especially from such a small company.

And here she is all ready for action. Van Helsing features the ever amazing, and a little bit creepy, Phicen realistic super-flexible body. I’ve lost track of which particular model body this is, as they’re constantly making changes and improvements, but suffice it to say, you get a stainless steel skeleton wrapped in a shapely silicone muscle and skin, which feels squishy to the touch and only shows seams at the neck and wrists even if you were to strip them down. Oh yes… and enormous boobs. Because Phicen. And Zenescope. There isn’t a whole lot of set up required to get Liesel ready for display, but she does come with her trench coat off and getting it on is a MAJOR pain in the ass. Besides having to deal with the friction of getting the realistic silicone rubbing against the sleeves, you also have to pop her hands off and getting the hands off of the steel ball joints is frustrating. Once this jacket went on, there was no way I was taking it off again. The same goes for the accessory holding hands, so I’ll mention now that she does come with an extra pair of relaxed hands and a pair of fists, even though you won’t see them used in this review. Now… let’s take a quick trip around her outfit.

As a girl displaced in time, Liesel’s wardrobe has had several looks throughout her various appearances, but Phicen went for her most traditional and iconic 19th Century monster hunter garb. And might I say, they did a fabulous job with her costume. The troublesome trench coat is great once it’s in place and features a belt on the back so it can be cinched tighter and there’s a wire in the bottom so it can retain a flowing look for those action poses. It’s a cool blending of modern and vintage, with the big buccaneer sleeves to give it that hint of period attire.

The red and black corset is made out of a similar leather-like material with four individual belts running across her tummy and two pointed half cups tasked with the momentous job of keeping her goodies in place. These can be a little frustrating because there is about a two millimeters difference between them doing their job and Liesel suffering a nip-slip. I had to do quite a few re shoots to keep this review at a PG rating. Moving further down, she sports a very scant pair of tight shorts some real fishnet stockings. The stockings are done very well, although you do still get some bunched up seams, which are probably impossible to avoid at this scale.

The high boots feature buckles running across the fronts and real laces running up to the top. I am going to presume that these are boot-feet, but I’m not about to unlace them to find out.

The head sculpt is fair but not exceptional. It’s a far cry from what we got for Mercy and Robyn. Those were sculpted specifically for those figures and definitely looked the part. This one appears to be one of Phicen’s generic heads, as I can see a lot of resemblance to some of their other boxed figure releases. Still, Liesel can look a little different from book to book depending on who’s drawing her, so I don’t think using this head was a total flub. Plus, this was their first release in this line, so I’m prepared to cut them a little slack. Besides, I think she has really pretty eyes. At least the long black hair is very much on point, and when you include the choker necklace and her trademark hat, it’s easy for me to tell who this is supposed to be, even if I were just seeing her from the neck up.

The hat is spot on to what she’s often wearing in the comics and is comprised of both leather-like material and felt. It holds its shape perfectly and it also includes Liesel’s rather distinctive glasses. These can be removed from the hat and worn over her eyes, but it’s not like she does that a lot in the comics, so I’m happy to keep them where they are.

Most of Liesel’s equipment can be worn on her person and she does possess some nifty monster-slaying tools, albeit none of the truly outlandish stuff she invents in the comics. For starters, she wears a brace of stakes on her right hip. She comes with five wooden stakes and five silver ones. I went with the wooden ones for my display because I liked the look of them a little better and I am a traditionalist. A better prepared monster hunter would probably mix them up for when you have to switch between dispatching vampires and werewolves on the fly.

There isn’t a proper scabbard for her sword, but it can be easily thrust through the belt on her left hip and it looks good there. The sword features a short thrusting blade and a rather ornate hilt with a curved knucklebow and sculpted pommel. It fits perfectly in the intended left hand and the fingers are flexible enough so that it’s easy to bend them and get the sword in place. As is sometimes the case with Phicen’s accessories, the sword does feel a little flimsy in hand and the blade is a little bendy, but overall I think it looks great.

The strap on Liesel’s lower right thigh includes a holster for her shotgun and there’s an ammo pouch as well. And yes, she comes with two teeny-tiny extra shells to put in there if you want. The breech on the shotgun can be opened and there are two more teeny-tiny shells sculpted inside. The sculpt and finish on the shotgun is beautiful. It features checkered brown grips and a gunmetal blued finish with a stainless steel finish on the barrels. Her accessory holding right hand fits it perfectly.

Next up is her crossbow, which is painted to resemble wood with some lovely steampunk-looking fixtures and a scope. It’s also fitted with a string, which can be drawn back and hooked on the catch so you can load one of the five silver bolts into it. Liesel also comes with a quiver for the extra arrows and a hook to store the crossbow, but it’s designed to work with her when she’s not wearing her trench coat, and since I’m always going to display her with it on, it’s not a lot of use to me and it tends to stay in the box.

The final extra is a figure stand, which normally would be a no-brainer, but Robyn Hood didn’t come with one, so it’s not always a given when it comes to Phicen’s Sixth-Scale figures. Indeed, even my recent purchase from ThreeZero didn’t come with a stand, so I guess packed in stands aren’t as common as they used to be. Anyway, Van Helsing’s stand is identical to the one that came with Mercy. It has a base with a post that can hold the figure, but the post isn’t very helpful. The base, however, has thick pegs, which connect with holes in the figure’s boots just like a standard 3 3/4-inch figure. It’s an odd system to see in these larger scale figures, and the base isn’t anything special, but it works pretty well.

Liesel set me back about $150, which feels like a pretty good value in the current Sixth-Scale market, especially since the subject matter here is for a pretty limited audience. As much as I love the character, I can’t imagine her books sell more than 4,000 copies, so to get an action figure of this scope and quality based on her is a real treat. Not to mention that she comes with a lot of stuff, her outfit is carefully detailed, and the Phicen body provides endless fun for posing. I was also lucky to not have to pay a lot over her retail, since I started collecting this line late in the game and had to track her down. I eventually found her in the last but most obvious of places, Zenescope’s website, and I’m convinced I may have gotten the last one because she was removed from the site a day after I successfully placed the order!

On the downside, I’m not sure that the relationship between Phicen and Zenescope has much of a future. They showed off a Goblin Queen figure from Grimm Fairy Tales at one of the big Comic Cons a couple of years back, but it appears to have been quietly cancelled. They do have a figure due to ship any week now based off The Goddess of Death, Keres, from No Tomorrow and Grimm Tales of Terror, but they took a lot of liberties with the design of that figure to the point where it just looks like it’s loosely based on the character design. I don’t know that I’m going to pull the trigger on it. I’d like to support the line, but at this point I don’t buying that figure will save it. It’s a shame, because a release of Sela Mathers, Brittany Waters, or Belinda would have been fairly easy to do and my collection feels rather incomplete without at least having Sela on my shelf.

Zenescope’s Robyn Hood Sixth-Scale Figure by Phicen Ltd.

There’s no better endorsement for a first purchase than following it up with a quick second. I had Phicen’s Mercy Dante in hand for just a few hours before I found myself clicking the Buy It Now button on another release in the Zenescope-Phicen partnership. I’ve had this figure for a while now, allowing myself some time with her and also waiting until I had enough time to do her justice, and I’ve finally been able to set aside enough time to do just that. So let’s dive in and check out Robyn Locksley, aka. Robyn Hood! But first… background!

Robyn Locksley was just your average everyday baby that was saved from a satanic ritual in a fantasy realm called Myst, portal-ed to another world called Earth, and left on the doorstep of what might as well have been a crack-house. Needless to say, Robyn had a rough upbringing, which included selling illegal drugs for her foster father to pay for her ailing foster mother’s medicine, getting kicked out of the house after her mother died, and then beaten within an inch of her life and having her eye slashed out by an underprivileged jock who’s father basically runs the town. OK, she did steal the guy’s car and total it, but that’s hardly an excuse! And just as things couldn’t get much worse for her, she was summoned back to Myst, where she adopted the guise of Robyn Hood and helped the downtrodden people of Bree overthrow their asshole tyrant of a king. She bounced between Myst and Earth a couple more times, but eventually she settled down back on Earth and opened up a detective agency/vigilante service, where she investigates weird doings and serves up justice at the point of an arrow. Robyn Hood is a fun read. The first three collected trades take you through her adventures in Myst, but her ongoing book, on which today’s figure is based, sees her plying her trade on present day Earth. She’s also appeared in quite a few of Zenescope’s crossovers and one-shots, but I better not get ahead of myself…

Like Mercy, the figure comes in a generic shipper box with the character’s name on it. Inside, you get a colorful, high quality box with a deco designed to match Mercy’s should you wish to line them up on the shelf. There’s colorful character art on the back and side panels, the character’s name on the other side panel, and a nice logo for The Grimm Universe on the front. Unlike Mercy’s box, which featured a wrap-around magnetized cover, this one has an illustrated sleeve and an opening front flap for the box. I really love the presentation here and I’d actually rate it higher than what we’ve been getting out of Hot Toys these days. Inside the box, the figure is nestled in a cut foam tray with a second layer beneath with more goodies hidden below.

Robyn comes out of the box wearing most of her outfit (hey, clothes are not something you can take for granted with Phicen!), but she does require a little bit of work to get her look complete. The base costume includes her stylish, midriff revealing top, tactical pants and high, buckled boots. The top and bottom garments are beautifully stitched and consist of a mix of the camo cloth and a black pleather material, which does a great job recreating the modern outfit that she wore in Legacy and her ongoing comic. She also has a very soft cloth hood that hangs down off of the back of her top.

The boots are actually boot feet and they look really great. They feature some nice, clean stitching, silver buckles running up the sides, and treads sculpted into the soles. The bottoms of the feet include chunky peg holes that work with any of Phicen’s stands, but more on that later. The ankles joints are pretty strong and capable of holding her in just about any pose I could think of.

Robyn’s outfit is rounded out by a belt and a pair of bracers on her forearms. The belt features a sculpted belt buckle and has four brown leather-like pouches on each hip. The bracers are basically pleather sleeves, which slide on the forearms and mate nicely with the painted, finger-less gloves that are sculpted as part of the hands. Each bracer is also fitted with a plastic armor plate with sculpted straps. Another extras includes a strap for her right bicep, which holds four throwing daggers. This is an amazing accessory, but oh boy is it flirting with danger by putting those sharp daggers near her skin. Care is recommended whenever manipulating that arm so as not to puncture anything!

Robyn also comes with an rig of hip pouches that clips into the rings to the left and right of her belt buckle, and again on the back of her belt. These pouches have opening flaps, which secure with velcro and can be used to hold all her extra arrow tips or whatever else you might want to throw in there. Extra bow string? Magic crystals? Sure, why not?

The beauty of her outfit is that it doesn’t restrict her movement hardly at all, and that’s a wonderful thing when dealing with the Phicen body, which is based off a stainless steel skeleton that claims to mimic 90% of human flexibility quite. The ultimate test was being able to get her down on one knee without fear of pulling any stitches in the clothing or popping any joints. I don’t know of too many of my Hot Toys that could do the same. Keep in mind that the only seams on this entire figure are at her wrists and her neck. Truly a work of art!

The portrait is very nice, although it’s worth noting that Phicen is still a ways off from reaching the mad head skillz of Hot Toys. That having been said, I think this is a great likeness for the character. Her left eye, which I’m pretty sure I mentioned was gouged out by an asshole with a piece of glass, has the mystical eye that she um… grew? in the Realm of Myst and helps her to see what her bow sees. Her remaining real eye has something pretty close to that spark of life that we see in Hot Toys’ figures, and the paint for her eyebrows and lips is immaculate. Robyn features long blonde rooted hair, which can be difficult to get under control. A little touch of gel helps, but I feel like there’s always going to be one or two fly-away strands.

The cloth hood is capable of holding all her hair inside it, or you can snake some of it around and off her shoulder. Again, the more you play with it, the more you can get the hair under control and tucked away. Either way, I think the hood looks great on her and I really dig the soft material they used for it.

Robyn comes with a nice assortment of hands, and here’s where one of the figure’s main flaws comes into play. These are an absolute bitch to change out. The sockets in the hands tend to grip tighter than the sockets in the skeleton, which means the ball joint is more likely to come out of the arm than the one in the hand. On a Hot Toys or Sideshow figure, this is no big deal, but on a Phicen it’s incredibly frustrating to get the ball back into the arm socket, because you have to be careful about stretching or damaging the skin. The alternative is to have a hair dryer handy to heat up the hand enough so that the ball joint is more likely to pull out of the hand. I’ve had success with this in the past, but I currently don’t own a hairdryer. As a result, you’ll note that all the pictures I shot use the same two hands. I got those in and I’m sticking with them for now! Anyway, the ones on her are designed for holding the bow and knocking an arrow. You also get two tight holding hands, and two pairs of hands in slightly different relaxed states.

Of course it wouldn’t be Robyn Hood without her trusty bow and quiver of arrows. The quiver is plastic and is slung over her shoulder with a belt and working buckle. The arrows all feature interchangeable arrow heads. You get standard heads for each one, plus a few specialized types. These include a bullet arrow and a syringe arrow. She even comes with a length of string to tie around a grapple hook arrows, although i haven’t messed with that yet. One issue here is that the arrow heads tend to fit loosely on the shafts. This makes it super easy to swap them out, but they also have a habit of dropping off in the quiver if you put them in with the quills up. Which is why you’ll see most of the pictures with the arrows stored in the quiver with the tips up.

The bow itself is a beautiful piece. It’s sculpted with sensual curves and cast in a beautiful pearlescent green and gray plastics with the fixtures painted gold. Phicen’s boxed figures can sometimes be a little lacking in the quality of their accessories, but that is certainly not the case here. Indeed, my only complaint with the bow is that the string doesn’t have enough give to pose her with the string drawn back. Seeing as how some sellers piece these figures out, I’m tempted to try to get a second bow for her and re-string it with something a little more pliable.

While I’ve had almost nothing but praise for this figure, there is one big oversight that’s pretty hard to swallow. Robyn Hood comes with no stand. Zip! Now, luckily I have a healthy supply of the generic Sixth-Scale stands that you see her resting on above. Indeed, the stands that came with my other Zenescope Phicens aren’t much to get excited about, which is why I swapped them out with these better ones. But still, it takes some balls of steel to release a Sixth-Scale figure at this price point and not even toss in a goddamn stand! It’s a good thing I’m so smitten with her, that I’m willing to overlook those kinds of shenanigans.

While Phicen’s generic figures still tend to be pretty affordable, the boxed and licensed figures are slowly creeping up there in price. Previous Zenescope Phicens like Mercy Dante and Van Helsing ran around $159, while Robyn here jumped to $179 and quickly sold out at most retailers. Oh, I’m not complaining, mind you. She’s still clocking in at well under even what Sideshow is charging these days. The fact that someone is producing high quality collectible figures based on my beloved Zenescope books is reason enough to get me to open up my checkbook before even asking “how much?” And besides, there’s a lot to love here and it’s pretty easy to see where the money went. The body is killer, the head sculpt is solid, and the costume and gear are both fantastic. Sure, there are a few little design hiccups here and there, but it’s sometimes easy to forget that Phicen is a pretty small fish in a big ocean of accomplished Sixth-Scale figure companies. I’ve still got one more release in Phicen’s Zenescope partnership to look at, so probably sometime next month I’ll swing back and check out Liesel Van Helsing!

Zenescope’s Grimm Fairy Tales: Mercy Dante Sixth-Scale Figure by Phicen Ltd

I’m bumping DC Friday this week to give some loving to my favorite comic book publisher that isn’t Marvel or DC… Zenescope! It’s easy to get spoiled with the never ending flood of comic based toys and collectibles pouring from the big boys, but it can be slim pickings when I want a nice piece of merch from Zenescope’s books. That’s changed a bit over the last year or so when Zenescope teamed up with Executive Replicas and Phicen Ltd to do high quality collector grade sixth-scale figures of some of their lovely ladies from Grimm Fairy Tales. If you’re not familiar with the comic, I’ll direct you back to my brief look at the GFT Omnibus way back when I used to do my Sunday Funday posts.

As for Phicen… well, you all know Phicen Ltd, right? They make those curvaceous highly pose-able action figures with realistic skin that basically look like sixth-scale sex dolls! Most of Phicen’s releases consist of generic sexy female figure bodies ripe for customization, but they do also produce some original concept fantasy and sci-fi figures. That’s all well and good, but it was their partnership with Zenescope that made me take the plunge and finally buy some of their figures. And if you’re at all familiar with the often over-sexed art of Zenescope’s titles, then I think you’ll agree that this is a match made in heaven.

The first one I pulled the trigger on was Mercy Dante, a really cool and undoubtedly bad-ass character, who was first introduced as another victim-of-the-month in the pages of Grimm Fairy Tales. When she was young, an assassin murdered her parents in front of her and she was forced to raise her orphaned sister, Grace. Unfortunately, Grace wasn’t able to cope with her lot in life and she committed suicide, leaving a bitter Mercy devoting her life to revenge. She ultimately tracked down the assassin, kidnapped him and his young daughter, and then shot the daughter in the head right in front of her. It’s a sobering and hardcore page that stands out even in Zenescope’s delectable sea of T&A fanservice. Sela Mathers, who we’ll over-simplify by calling her the good witch of GFTs, gave Mercy a second chance to change what she had done and Mercy took it by shooting herself in the head instead of executing the little girl! But that wasn’t the end of Mercy’s story, because even in death she got her own excellent mind-bending spin-off in the pages of Grimm Fairy Tales: Inferno. So, enough with the backstory, let’s get to the figure!

Mercy comes in a cardboard mailer box very similar to what Hot Toys uses. It’s got her name printed on the front along with some other details, but otherwise its just a utilitarian carton to keep the package inside safe. As this is my first Phicen figure, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the packaging, but what I got feels really premium…

It’s sort of like a shoebox, only instead of a regular lid, it has a wrap around front, which is secured to the sides with magnets. The back panel features the same comic art that graced the Collected TPB edition of GFT: Inferno. All in all presentation here is much better than what I was expecting and it easily rivals if not outshines some of the glorified window boxes that Hot Toys has been doing these days. Inside the box, Mercy comes nestled in a foam tray, with her head off to the side and her accessories flanking her. Under her, there’s another foam tray with her trench coat and the parts for her stand. Naturally, everything is collector friendly and popping the head onto the figure is super easy.

With her noggin popped on, Mercy is looking mighty fine. Phicen has been producing their seamless female bodies for years now, all the while tweaking them and making improvements, and Mercy here represents the most recent evolution. You get a fully articulated stainless steel skeleton wrapped in a silicone skin, which both looks and feels eerily realistic. The only visible jointing on this figure is in the wrists and neck and even there it just consists of a seam line. And yes, the lack of visible jointing would hold true even if you stripped her down to her booted feet. In the past, we’ve seen something close from Hot Toys, for example their Ada Wong from Resident Evil 5, but even that figure has exposed jointing in the shoulders and a lot more hiding under her clothes.

Mercy comes out of the box wearing her skimpy red sports bra, tight leather pants, and high-heeled black boots, all of which fit the figure beautifully. This is a good look for her, because it really showcases the seamless body, at least from the waist up. Granted, there isn’t a whole lot of sophistication and detail in the outfit, but the stitching is neat, and the only hiccup on the whole ensemble is the flap above her butt where the waist is secured. You can see a little empty space inside the boots where her legs connect to the boot feet, but it still looks fine. The pants are also very pliable and don’t offer any resistance when posing the figure.

Speaking of posing, Mercy is designed to mimic the flexibility of the human body almost perfectly, making her tons of fun to play with. She’s also a remarkably well balanced figure, which can stand on her own pretty well, even in those high heels. I only had to bring out the stand for some of the action shots. And while the movement of the joints in this figure is smooth as silk, you can see that they can hold their position quite well, even when the figure is standing on one foot. I’m not going to run down the points of articulation here, because it’s impossible to see exactly what’s going on in there by just handling the figure. However, if you want to get a better idea of what’s under the hood, so to speak, check out this great review of Phicen’s 5.1 body and scroll down a bit to see the skeleton in all its glory.

Seeing as how the Phicen body is the Cadillac of Sixth-Scale female action figures, the only thing about this figure that gave me pause was how good the likeness turned out. But I needn’t have worried. Granted, we’re talking comic book likeness here, but I’m totally pleased with the resemblance to the artwork. The paint for the eyes and lips is particularly nice, and the skin tone on the head matches the body quite well. She comes close to catching that lifelike look I’m used to seeing in Hot Toys’ efforts, and I think this is one of the best face sculpts that Phicen has put out to date. The hair is rooted, which was a bold move, considering Mercy’s trademark pixie cut. Phicen went with using a lot of product in the hair so it stays fairly flat. Keep in mind, I haven’t messed with the hair at all, so there’s some room for improvement. This is simply how she looks right out of the box.

Mercy includes three sets of hands. You get a pair of gun holding hands, relaxed hands, and knife holding hands. All of these are super easy to swap, thanks to the exposed nubs from the steel skeleton underneath. Unlike Hot Toys and Sideshow, you don’t ever have to worry about snapping the wrist posts, or having them come off in the hand, forcing you to dig them out.

Her guns can be worn on the included shoulder rig. The rig is very easy to get on, but the holsters themselves were backwards, so I had to unbuckle the rig, slide the holsters out and put them back on the right way. This seems to be an error on more than a few of these figures, but not a critical one. It just causes a little bit of work to fix it. The rig fits the figure pretty well, although technically, the guns on a dual rig like this should hang horizontal for easy access.

As for the guns themselves, Mercy’s twin automatic pistols feature some pretty detailed sculpts and have matte gray finishes. The slide action works and you can remove the magazines to reveal a tiny painted round at the top. This is pretty standard stuff for weaponry in this scale, and while these are fine on their own, they come off as a little bit lacking when compared to what else is out there. The slides are rather loose and have a tendency to slide when handing them. I’ve even had the slides stay in the holsters on occasion when I pulled the guns out. These are perfectly serviceable accessories, they’re just nowhere near the quality of the firearms that Hot Toys and Sideshow are producing with their figures. They’ll be easy to upgrade, as there is no shortage of sixth-scale weapons out there, but I’m not sure I’m bothered enough by them to spend the extra money.

The gun holding hands work OK, but because the fingers are soft and rubbery, the grip on the pistols isn’t as tight as it could be. It hasn’t posed any problems with her holding them, but I tend to like the firmer and more solid grips that the Hot Toys and Sideshow figures have on their accessories.

Mercy also comes with a combat knife and sheath. The knife-holding hands work really well, as it’s a very tightly molded grip. On the downside, I really don’t know where the sheath is supposed to go, but you can always just thrust the knife into her boot as a back-up plan. And that brings us to the last accessory in the box…

The trench coat! Even though it’s an integral piece of her wardrobe, I saved it for last, as it seems a shame to cover up that beautiful body. Nonetheless, this is probably how I’ll be displaying her most of the time. The material matches her “leather” pants perfectly and it really rounds out her signature look. It also keeps the splattered blood and brains off of her while she’s capping demons throughout the Nine Rings of Hell.

Getting the coat on can be a little challenging, since the realistic skin on the arms tends to grab at the material. The easy solution is applying a little bit of baby powder to her skin, STOP LAUGHING AT ME, so the sleeves just slide right on. Some third-party outfits sets have a habit of staining the silicone skin on Phicen figures, especially when dealing with black or darker colors. For the most part, the outfits Phicen includes don’t usually present a problem. Here’s hoping that will be the case with the jacket. Either way, the trench coat is professionally tailored and fits the figure very well, even with the shoulder rig on, which remains nicely concealed inside the coat. There’s even a wire at the bottom so you can pose it all billowed out.

The provided stand is both a strange and interesting piece. It’s a simple black base with four chunky pegs, which are designed to either take the provided post or plug right into the holes on the bottom of Mercy’s boots. Weird, right? Foot pegs are not something I tend to associate with sixth-scale figures. The biggest issue I have with the stand is the post. You get two attachments for the post, one is a standard crotch cradle and the other is a wire, which hugs the waist like a typical Kaiser doll stand. There’s no way I’d use the waist grip on the skin, as its almost guaranteed to mark it. The crotch cradle would be acceptable, but the post is really tall, so even though you can adjust the attachments to go as low as you need, the post is always going to be sticking up really high and doesn’t really work well with Mercy’s trench coat. Oddly enough, the foot pegs are clearly the way to go here.

Mercy originally retailed for $145, which is a mighty reasonable price for a sixth-scale figure these days, not to mention for the quality that you’re getting here. In a sense, I don’t deserve to have this figure, at least not for the regular retail price I got her for, because I blew the pre-order on her… both times! The initial pre-orders at all the usual places sold out very quickly, but when Phicen did another run, I must have missed the memo. By the time I found out the second run was up for pre-order at BBTS, it sold out again. In the end, I was lucky enough to pick her up from what seemed to be the only US-based Ebay seller that wasn’t price gouging her over the $200 mark. Needless to say I’m happy to have her in my collection. The Phicen body is quite a wonder of action figure craftsmanship, and it’s great to be getting high quality figures based off of Zenescope characters. There’s been some speculation as to whether this partnership is still going strong and it’d be a shame if they stopped producing these before releasing Sela and Belinda. In the meantime, I’ll circle back to Phicen in a couple of weeks to take a look at their Zenescope Robyn Hood figure.