Vitruvian HACKS (Series 2): Laguna the Cavern Fairie by Boss Fight Studios

A few weeks back, I started to check out the first wave of Boss Fight Studios Vitruvian HACKS Series 2 and after having just spent half my weekend at the local Medieval Faire, I felt inspired to come back and open up another of these fantasy-based 4-inch figures. So let’s have a look at Laguna, the Cavern Fairie!

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, I really dig this packaging. It manages to offer the classic feel of a card-and-bubble, while still being totally collector friendly. Just bend the edges of the plastic on the side and slide the card out to get at the goodies. The landscape-style card features some nice character artwork on the front, and on the back there’s a couple of paragraphs about Laguna and how she and her kind fit into this original fantasy world. You also get a “Collect Them All” shot of all the figures in this wave and the second one, which is going to be shipping out any day now, so I really need to get caught up!

And wow, what a great and unique looking figure this is! While the Knight of Accord was built off a largely newly sculpted buck, Laguna appears to feature the same generic female buck used in the initial series of HACKS, with her outfit sculpted separately and actually worn on the body. As a result, this figure feels like it preserves the heritage of the original HACKS series a lot more closely. It’s also a pretty remarkable achievement for a figure in this scale to actually be wearing a tiny sculpted plastic outfit. The outfit consists of two pieces and fits the figure extremely well. It sports plenty of great sculpted detail and it doesn’t feel like it’s at all over-sized, which has been a common issue with outfits on figures even bigger than this one. The paintwork on the outfit is precise and exact, right down to the little blue baubles that dot the edges of her “skirt.”

The body is cast in an ashen-purple skin color and is characterized by wings, which connect to her back on hinged pegs. BFS did an amazing job with the sculping on both sets of wings. They have beautiful texturing and tiny bone tips. The combination of skin color and wings give her a very gargoyle-like appearance, which also feels very appropriate for a race of cavern-dwelling fairies. Laguna also includes a second pair of open wings to offer a couple of different display options. One unfortunate issue I have with my figure is that the hinge on her left closed up wing is frozen. I’ve tried boiling it, I’ve tried razoring the seams, but nothing will get it loose. It’s a bummer.

The head is gorgeous! While I was a little cool on two of the three heads included with the Knight, this one really shines on every level. She’s pretty, has some sharply defined facial features, and near perfect paint for her eyes, eyebrows, and lips. The hair sculpt is also sharp and very intricate, although it does look like it’s defying gravity. I would have liked it more if it wasn’t so high, but when the rest is so good, I’m not going to nitpick. Laguna also has a pair of sculpted gnomish goggles worn up on her head. She uses these when she ventures out of her cavern habitat into the brightly lit surface world.

Because Laguna uses the standard HACKS buck, she has some great articulation. The only thing lacking would be swivel cuts in the biceps and shoulders. Her legs feature ball jointed hips, double hinged knees, and the ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulder and elbows, and the wrists are hinged pegs. The hinged pegs allow you to easily swap out her hands with the extra pair that’s included. She has a ball joint in her chest and a double ball joint in her neck. As already mentioned, the wings connect to the body with hinged pegs.

Laguna comes with two magical weapons. The first is this wand, which has a sculpted rod and a cluster of crystals at the head.

The other weapon looks like some kind of enchanted hatchet, with a crystal in place of a regular axe head. I’m not sure if this thing shoots magic blasts, or if she just buries that crystal into her enemies, but it’s a pretty cool and imaginative piece. The handle is sculpted to look like ancient and gnarled wood, and the red and blue crystals illuminate nicely under the right lighting.

Laguna is an excellent figure, and she may be my favorite of the pair I opened. That’s saying something, because she’s also a lot simpler than the Knight of Accord, which came with a whole bunch of extras to customize him into different looks. You don’t get any of that with Laguna, instead she’s intended to be a very specific character. And that’s cool. But I do hope that later on down the road, BFS releases some kind of generic Cavern Fairie with a couple extra heads.

Vitruvian HACKS (Series 2): Knight of Accord by Boss Fight Studios

The folks at Boss Fight Studios have followed up their Greek Mythology based Series 1 of Vitruvian HACKS with a Medieval-Fantasy based second series. I’ve reviewed quite a few figures from the original series (with still more to look at eventually… I’ll get to them!) and I’ve been very pleased with all of them. There was never any doubt that I would be diving into Series 2, even though my fantasy figure heart has been forever stolen away by The Four Horsemen’s Mythic Legions. Hey, there’s always room for more, right? And as it turns out, each of these lines of figures have their own charms. I’ve picked up the first wave of four figures, as well as one of the two exclusives, so let’s start out with the heroic Knight of Accord! There’s a lot to talk about, so hang on tight!

I’m delighted to see that they haven’t changed the package design. The figure comes on a landscape-style card with plastic covering the front, which will display beautifully right alongside all my Series 1 figures. It’s also totally collector friendly, as all you have to do is bend the edges of the plastic up and slide out the card to get to the figure. And don’t let the small bubble fool you, there are two nested trays and a ton of stuff packed in there with this 4-inch figure.

The back of the card has a little blurb about the Knights of Accord. Note that this isn’t a specific character and we’ll soon see he can be many different characters. The cardback also shows off the other figures in Series 1 as well as the Series 2 figures, which should be coming soon.

The Knight uses a brand new buck, which is a mix of sculpted armor and clothing. Some of the armor is still removable, like the thigh plates and the grieves. The shoulder pieces also come detached from the figure and have to be pegged into the shoulders. This figure is a pretty big departure from Series 1, which used completely nude bucks with all the armor separate, but given the new time period, it’s certainly understandable that they went this route. The attention to detail is pretty spectacular when you consider the scale. Segmented plates and tiny rivets are all part of the sculpt, as are the straps that are meant to hold on the plates. And those rivets, as well as the reinforced edges of the armor, are painted bronze. I don’t think there’s ever been a better example of an armored knight in this scale. The name of the game here is customization, and the idea is that you can get a bunch of these figures and tweak them all to make up a squad of different characters. To further that end, BFS has included three different heads with the Knight.

Each of the heads come on their own bar-bell ball joint and these noggins are a bit of a mixed bag. OK, none of them are terrible, but overall I’m more partial to the head sculpts we got with Series 1. That stock head, for example, sure got an extra helping of eyebrows! Who is this, Sir Eugene Levy? The second head is my favorite. I think it’s the best overall sculpt and the beard makes him look distinguished. The final head is OK, but looks a little lumpy. Keep in mind, as with most 4-inch figures, they don’t hold up all that well to close scrutiny via the camera lens. Truth be told, they all look fine to me when viewed with my naked peepers. Well, except for that first head… his eyebrows are still huge! Are three heads not enough to customize your Knights? Well, let’s talk helmets…

First off, you get this stand-alone helmet, which looks great and fits the heads perfectly. I really have to give BFS credit in that both Series 1 and Series 2 have had some of the most impressive helmets I’ve ever seen in this scale. I love the sweeping curves of the horned crest and the extra sculpted detail around the visor, which is also painted gold to match the paint accents of the armor. The helmet fits so well that the eyes actually line up with the visor holes. So cool!

You also get an open-faced helmet with pegs on the side and it’s designed to work with three different visors. The problem is the visors don’t peg into the helmet very well at all. I’m afraid to force them at the risk of tearing the hole in the visor itself. Two of them do, however, clip on fairly well with just friction holding them in place and can even still be opened and closed without them falling off. It’s not the way these were intended to be used, but it’s the only way that I can really get them to work. The one up top is my favorite.

But this one is pretty cool too! What about the third? It doesn’t work. I’d have to actually peg it onto the helmet to make it stay put and as I said, I’m not willing to risk it. But even with three heads, two visored helmets, and the other helmet, you’ve got plenty of options to mix and match and create a little army of Knights.

The articulation is virtually identical to the Series 1 humanoids, so let’s run through it real quick. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and elbows, with hinged pegs for the wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, double hinged at the knees, and hinged at the ankles. There’s a ball joint in the torso between the waist and chest, and as mentioned the neck is a double ball joint. The absence of things like lateral rockers in the ankles and swivels in the thighs do hold this Knight back a bit. Also, the legs feel a tad mushy, which was an issue I had with some of my Series 1 figures. So, not perfect, but still pretty damn solid, and I’d say that overall he’s probably more poseable than he should be wearing all that plate armor.

As for weapons, you get a couple of choices here as well. For starters, The Knight comes with this pretty cool double-headed battleaxe. It’s a very ornate weapon and includes a highly stylized head with cut-outs in the blades. The grip is sculpted and painted with black, gold, and blue. It’s designed to be wielded with one or both hands, and the articulation does allow for either.

Next up, he comes with a broadsword and scabbard. The scabbard can peg into the hole on the strap coming off the left side of his belt. It’s a bit of work to get it in there, but unlike the visors, I was able to make this work. There is also a ring on each side of his breastplate, which can hold the scabbard. Functional holsters for guns usually impress me in 4-inch figures, so as you can imagine, I’m practically losing my mind over a functional sword scabbard. Not that we didn’t see them in Series 1 also. The scabbard is painted black with some blue straps and a gold throat and tip.

The sword features a golden hilt with an up-swept crossguard and a stout blade. No bendy plastic here. This thing will go right in your eyeball and keep itself straight while doing it! Like the axe, the sword’s grip is designed to be wielded in either or both hands. It is, however, a bit of a tight fit in the scabbard. It’ll go all the way in, but then getting out requires a bit of force.

The final accessory in the Knight’s inventory is his shield. I believe this is an example of what scholars call a “heater” shield. It’s a pretty classical design with a heavy border framing its heraldic crest. There are sculpted rivets around the border and the grip features a soft sleeve that hugs the figure’s forearm and a grip. It’s kind of tough getting the grip into his hand, but even without putting the grip in there, he can still hold it convincingly. The sleeve will do most of the work.

There are a few extra goodies that I haven’t mentioned yet. The Knight comes with a second pair of hands, in this case the hinges are designed to move the hand forward and backward, rather than up and down. It’s the same thing BFS did with their Series 1 figures, and while the distinction might seem subtle, it’s nice for when you want to have your figure pointing his sword forward. And you also get the standard Boss Fight Studios action figure stand. The figure’s feet peg into one or both of the pegs. It’s exactly the same as the stands that came with Series 1.

If anyone was wondering whether Vitruvian HACKS Series 1 was a case of lightning in a bottle, I would urge them to play around with this figure. And as amazing as this individual figure is, I’m most intrigued by the mix-and-match design. The original HACKS series was designed with customizers in mind, but I felt that accessing it required actual customizing skills, which I sadly do not possess in spades. This time around, it feels like it’s been made far more accessible right out of the package by just swapping out heads and helmet styles. It would have been cool if the sash on the belt could have been swapped out for a different color, but then again I think they’ve done plenty.

The Series 2 figures are selling for $25 a pop on the Boss Fight Studios webstore and yeah, that’s a good chunk of change for a 4-inch figure, unless you’re used to buying GI JOEs from that club. It’s also about five bucks more than most of the Series 1 figures were. I’ll concede the price here feels high, especially when compared to roughly $30 average for a Mythic Legions figure, but at the same time, it’s easy for me to see where the money went. This is an exceptional figure with all new tooling and sculpting and plenty of extras thrown in. And the fact that I’m not only all in so far with these, but I’ll also likely buy at least one more Accord Knight, should prove that I’m very happy with my purchase.

Vitruvian HACKS: Atelis Warrior (Kokomo Toys Exclusive) by Boss Fight Studios

A couple of weeks back Indiana toy store, Kokomo Toys revealed their second Exclusive release from Boss Fight Studios’ Vitruvian HACKS series and I was quick to drop in a pre-order. It also reminded me how I’ve let this line has fall by the wayside when it comes to my reviews. I still have quite a few figures from Series 1, and I promise I’ll be getting back to looking at them regularly. But for now, I’m going to go ahead and push this figure to the head of the line, because I’m really excited to open her up and check her out.

BFS have done a few exclusives in this line and they’ve all come in these simple, illustrated boxes. They’re certainly not as flashy as the full-color carded packaging used on the regular releases, but these are still collector friendly and the little boxes give you a place to keep all the extra bits. And there are a ton of extra bits! I probably could have bought three or four of these figures and kitted each one out to make them look unique. So, let’s start out with the basic figure and then check out all the extra goodies.

The Atelis Warrior (I’m just going to call her Atelis) is the result of a misguided attempt to turn human warriors back after they’ve been cursed as Gorgons. The result is this half-stage mutation warrior, who in the end still remained loyal to Medusa and the Gorgons. That’s a pretty rad backstory for what is a great looking figure. We’ve seen just about all of these parts before in previous HACKS figures that I reviewed here. You get the basic female buck, painted green. The chest armor, shoulder armor, and arm pieces all come from Medusa, while the greaves are from the Spartan Warrior. Pretty much all the armor and accessories here are repainted with a gorgeous gold and they all look fantastic.

The sculpting on the shoulder piece is superbly done, especially for a 4-inch scale figure. I also really appreciate the individually painted rivets on the skirt and straps. The sandal straps are individually painted, and even the body has some nice dark green markings to drive home the whole snake motif. As always, all the armor pieces are removable and they are compatible with the other female HACKS figures. For that matter, even the figure itself can be disassembled and rebuilt fairly easily.

Atelis comes with two head sculpts, which was an unexpected, but most welcome, surprise. The standard head looks to be a repaint of the Coral Snake Gorgon head, which was part of the original wave of four figures. This portrait features some very nice sculpted scaling, and the eyes look incredible. The head attaches via a double ball-jointed post, which allows for easy swapping as well as a little extra movement in the neck.

The second head is an even more incredible sculpt. You get the full open mouth with some beautiful work on the interior. I can practically see the venom glands in there ready to spew! This head has a little more of a sheen to it and both the sculpted scales and the painted markings are different for this head, so if you happen to be picking up a couple of these, you can diversify your display quite nicely. As long as we’re talking heads, let’s take a look at the head gear included with the figure.

You get two types of head gear, the first being a standard Spartan-style helmet. We’ve certainly seen this before, and it looks great in the gold paint with a dark green comb on the top. These helmets were obviously designed for the human heads, so the cheek guards splay out a bit on the snake heads, but I still think it looks fine.

The other piece is a gold repaint of the snake skull headpiece we’ve seen with some of the Gorgons. I loved the design of this thing when I first got it with the Coral Snake Gorgon, and I have to say it looks incredible in gold.

BFS have really been packing these exclusive releases with a ton of weapons and Atelis here is no different. She comes with two sets of hands and each set has the hinges placed differently. As for the weapons, first off you get two of those skeletal whips that have been included with some of the Gorgons in the past.

Next up, you get a pair of matched swords. These are the Etruscan style swords with leaf-shaped blades, all decked out in gold.

You also get this sweet little skeletal dagger, which compliments the whips quite nicely. Get ’em caught in the whip and then make with the stabby-stabby! It’s a delightfully brutal combination.

And finally, Aetlis comes with a gorgeous golden shield with Medusa’s face sculpted into it. This features the usual combination of sleeve and grab bar that allows the figure to hold it pretty securely. It can be a little bit of a chore to get her hand to grasp the bar, but to be honest, the sleeve is more than enough to keep the shield on her arm.

With BFS hard at work on Vitruvian HACKS Series 2 (this time, a medieval-fantasy themed series), I was all but certain that Series 1 was finished. Nonetheless, this lovely lady came across my Twitter feed back in March for pre-order and I jumped on it right away. At $30, she ran about ten bucks more than the regular figures, but in fairness, you do get some more goodies in the box than with a regular release and since that included shipping, the price here doesn’t seem outrageous, especially for an exclusive release. The Atelis Warrior is still available through Kokomo Toys’ Ebay Store.

 

Vitruvian HACKS: Penthesilea (Amazon Commander) by Boss Fight Studios

It’s no secret that Mythic Legions stole a lot of the attention that I would have been lavishing on Boss Fight’s Vitruvian HACKS line. Maybe that’s a good thing, because it allowed some of my frustration over the HACKS Kickstarter to simmer down and now I can really enjoy the figures. I’ve already looked at six of the releases from my original Backer Rewards, but I have a lot more to cover, and a new figure just hit my doorstep this week making me realize I should get back to it.

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Enter Penthesilea, the Amazon Commander or Warrior Queen depending whether you want to go by the front or back of the card. The packaging here is the same as all the releases, except for the pair of boxed exclusives. The presentation features some colorful, character-specific card art and a nifty collector friendly design that allows you to slide the card out and get into the bubble without having to slice or cut anything. Penthesilea hails from Wave 5, which I believe is the most recent, although the back of the card shows two more waves on the way after that, both with some excellent looking figures.

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From the neck down, Penthesilea is a straight repaint of the Amazon Elite Warrior. The female buck this time is Caucasian and the armor consists of the fully enclosed piece for the torso, as well as bracers and grieves, now painted gold instead of silver. I love that sculpted musculature in the chest plate! There’s also a blue “skirt,” replacing the black on the previous release, made to look like individual leather strips. The quality of paint Boss Fight has been using on these figures is top notch and the gold in particular is quite striking. Even the paint applications on this figure are very sharp right down to the tiny rivets on her belt and the individual straps on her sandals.

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The articulation is standard for the line and features rotating hinges in her shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs have ball joints at the hips, double hinges in the knees, and the ankles are hinged and feature lateral rockers. There’s a ball joint in the torso and another in the neck. Penthesilea is pretty agile, but some added swivels in the biceps and thighs would have made her even better. These figures are designed to be somewhat modular. Every piece of armor is removable and the entire body can be broken down, but I haven’t attempted that with any of mine.

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The head sculpts on the HACKS have been pretty good and Penthesilea continues that tradition. I don’t think she matches the card art all that closely, but I still really dig this portrait. She looks a bit more mature than some of the other figures and she has a stoic and possibly battle weary look about her. The paint on the eyes and eyebrows is sharp and straight and the white streak in her hair gives her a lot of personality. She also features a ponytail, which means getting a helmet on her is out of the question.

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Penthesilea comes with three swords, all of which were included with the Ultimate Spartan Warrior, as well as some of the other figures, only here they are presented with clean decos and hilts painted to match the armor. You get a pair of leaf-shaped swords, one slightly longer than the other and each with unique hilt designs. The silver painted blades on these are just gorgeous.

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The third sword is a repaint of the broadsword that came with the Amazon Elite Warrior. This is possibly my favorite sword in this line’s armory, but then again I really do love them all. The hilt is again painted gold to match the armor and the blade is painted with more of that lovely silver.

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There’s a slot in the back of Penthesilea’s “skirt” allowing you to store one of her swords, so technically she can carry them all at once.

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The final accessory is her shield. It’s the same great sculpt that we’ve been seeing all along, but with a new deco painted on the front. The art on the front is very reminiscent of the Classic Greek style and it depicts what appears to be a griffon eating a horse. Bad ass! The shield is mostly gold to match her armor and it features that amazing hammered texture, as well as some nicks on the face to show where it’s deflected blows. The inside of the shield is fully detailed and it features a sleeve and grab bar to attach to the figure’s arm.

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For a figure that is essentially a straight repaint with a new head, Penthesilea still feels pretty fresh and new. It may be because I haven’t looked at any of the HACKS line for a while. Then again, it could just be because I dig these figures so much, that even the variants really excite me. Her inventory may feel a little light after opening the two weapon-packed Exclusives, but what’s here still makes for a solid release and she may end up being one of my favorites in the regular releases.

Vitruvian HACKS: Stonefist The Gorgon Hunter by Boss Fight Studios

Hey, remember Vitruvian HACKS? Yeah, it was that Kickstarter from 2014 that took forever to deliver. I checked out the initial four figures from my Backer Reward as well as the two Exclusives and then these got buried by the excitement of the Mythic Legions (that other Kickstarter) figures rolling in. Well, I haven’t forgotten HACKS and it’s long past time that I swing back and open up another one of these beauties. Today I’m going with Stonefist The Gorgon Hunter. And let me tell ya, this dude is a badass!

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It’s been a while since I’ve showcased the regular packaging for these figures, especially since the two Exclusives just came in little boxes. Stonefist features a carded bubble with some vivid, colorful artwork and some tabs around the plastic front that allow you to slide the card back and get at the figure without damaging anything. The figure comes on a little tray with the bulk of his accessories in a baggie behind the tray. The back of the card shows other figures that are available and gives you a little blurb about the character. When Stonefist ran afoul of a Gorgon, he blinded himself to prevent the curse from completely petrifying him. All it got was his left arm. Now he’s a blind dude with a stone arm, who makes a living hunting Gorgons. HOLY SHIT, THAT’S RAD!!!

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Stonefist features the basic HACKS 4-inch male buck. I’ve looked at it almost half a dozen times now, so I’m not going to dwell on it too much.  I will note that the head sculpt is pretty soft and because he’s blind, the eyes are painted so that they’re not very well-defined. It’s intentional, but it does give him something of a mannequin head look about him. The painted scar helps, and quite frankly, he’ll be wearing his helmet all the time, so it’s not a big deal for me. The articulation is as good as always and because these figures are modular, they can be taken apart at the joints without much difficulty for a little mix-and-match action. Even all the armor can come off of him.

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His greaves are more ornate than what we saw on the Spartan figures and feature some ornate sculpted scrollwork. The coat of armor is also different from any of the initial figures I’ve featured here. Besides being a new sculpt, it has a flashy deco consisting of mostly white with some red and blue accents and thankfully it’s not as patriotic looking as it might sound. Yes, it’s a bit unorthodox, but he’s blind and maybe the armor dealer was having a little fun with him. I really dig the sculpt of this new armor and I love that it has a loop for one of his swords in the back, but it doesn’t fit the figure quite as well as the Spartan armors do and mine will not stay pegged in at the sides for love or money. Overall, the paint is solid for a figure in this scale, I like the gold they use all the applications are mostly clean. There is, however, some slop concerning the red around the “skirt.”

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The helmet is a style we saw before, but this is a brand new deco with more of that lovely gold paint and some pretty rad teeth printed on the sides of the cheek protectors. It can be tough to sit the helmet right because it’s not easy to see where his eyes are, but I guess it doesn’t matter as far as Stonefist is concerned. In fact, if he wants to freak out his enemies, he can just wear it backwards.

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Being true to his name, Stonefist’s left hand and part of his arm are indeed petrified. Boss Fight proved they could do a really nice stone effect with the Cursed Spartan and here we see that effect again. It looks great and creates a very cool backstory for this guy. If it were me, I’d probably just go around punching Gorgons with my stone fist. “There, Snake Face! Have a taste of your medicine!” POW! But Stonefist chooses to use more conventional weaponry, so let’s take a look at his personal arsenal!

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For starters, he comes with three swords, including a long sword that fits into the scabbard, which hangs off his shoulder. This is the same scabbard we saw with the Spartans and I still dig it a lot.

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He also comes with a matched set of sword and short sword, each with more pronounced leaf-shaped blades. All of the swords have painted silver blades and copper painted hilts. Thanks to the scabbard and the back loop, so long as he keeps one blade in hand, he can carry all three.

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Stonefist also features this beautiful shield. It’s the same mold we saw with the Spartans, but with a brand new deco. The front surface is painted with a very classic looking Greek face with the eyes scratched out. So cool! Again, we have some great looking gold paint and the hammered pattern sculpted into the shield is fantastic. The shield uses the same elongated clip to wrap around the figure’s forearm and there’s a grip for the hand to grasp, but I still find it very difficult to get the hand wrapped around the grip. It’s not necessary to equip the shield on the figure, but it does look better if you’re posing him with the inside of the shield on display.

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Lastly, we have the spear, which has been no stranger to this line as just about all the human figures I’ve looked at have had one. Hey, I’m not complaining, as these are beautifully painted accessories and both the tip and the butt cap are pretty damn sharp too!

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Stonefist is without a doubt one of the most colorful characters in this line (both literally and figuratively!) and I’m really glad that I added him to my selection way back when the Kickstarter ended.  I believe most of the HACKS figures are still available through Boss Fight’s website and when last I checked, Stonefist was priced at $19.99. Twenty bucks may sound like a lot for a 4-inch figure, but the truth is that it’s easy to see where the money went. The number of accessories combined with the excellent design and careful paintwork make this figure well worth the money to me. In fact, just opening him up and playing with him this evening has made me doubly anxious to start checking out the rest!

Vitruvian HACKS: Ultimate Spartan Warrior (NJCC Exclusive) by Boss Fight Studios

It finally happened! My second and final box of joy from Boss Fight Studios arrived with my remaining Vitruvian HACKS figures. I’ll be looking at those soon, but before I get to them, I have one more Exclusive figure to check out. I already Featured the Kokomo Toys Amazon Elite and this time I’m looking at the New Jersey Collectors Con Ultimate Spartan Warrior. Damn, I lived in NJ for the first 21 years of my life and I don’t remember ever seeing any toy or collectors conventions until I moved 1200 miles away. Aw, that’s not fair!!! There’s nothing like that where I live now. NOTHING!!!

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The figure comes in the same style box as the other Exclusive with the figure on a tray inside. It features some monochrome line art and blurbs about the character on the back. It’s certainly not as flashy as the regular release packaging, but it gets the job done, I like the artwork, and it’s damn surprising how many goodies this tiny box can hold.

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Yeah… seriously. This guy is more like a weapons pack with a figure thrown in! You get four helmets, two shields, five swords (one with a scabbard), two axes, and an extra pair of fists with the hinge on a different axis. This is a huge chunk of a the entire Vitruvian HACKS arsenal all in one neat little box.

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But that’s not to devalue the figure, because the Elite Spartan (shown on the left) is a mighty damn cool. From the neck down, this guy features the same sculpt and articulation as the regular Spartan Warrior, so I’ll refer you back to that original Feature for more details. The big difference here is that the Exclusive is all muddied up with some paint spray that overall looks pretty good. I think the stuff on the white strips around his “skirt” ventures into Hasbro’s unfortunate POTF2-era weathering territory, but the stuff on his skin and armor looks fine. The head sculpt is also new, as this guy has a bushier beard. The vanilla Spartan Warrior was a solid release minus some mushy knees, this one feels a little better in hand. Let’s talk helmets…

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Four helmets is above and beyond, Boss Fight! We start off with a variant of the one that came with the Spartan Warrior. It’s not as shiny and it’s splattered with mud.

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Next up we get a fully painted and non-petrified version of the helmet that came with the Cursed Stone Spartan. I’m really happy to have a regular version of this one as it has a little more flourish to the design than the regular.

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Third is this one, which is my least favorite in terms of design, but easily the most impressive in terms of sculpt. This one is a new piece to me, as it was not included in any of the original assortment of four figures, but I’m pretty sure I have it coming in one of the figures I’ve yet to open.

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And lastly, there’s the good old fashioned Barbute, for when you’re less worried about fancy plumage and just want to keep your noggin from getting bashed in or your ears and nose cut off. This looks like it’s the same mold used for the silver helmet that came with the Amazon Elite.

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Moving on to the shields, we’ve seen these before. The first is the same one that came with the regular Spartan, whereas the other is the beautifully sculpted Medusa head shield that came with the Cursed Stone Spartan. Once again, this is another piece I’m really happy to have in a non-petrified version. It looks fantastic with the bronze finish. The shields use the same soft plastic sleeve with grab bar to attach to the figure’s arm. It can be tricky to get the grab bar to work, but it can be done. On the other hand, it’s not necessary, the shield can be warn perfectly fine with just the arm passed through the sleeve. It all depends on how accurate you want it to look from the other side.

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Weapons! Some of these weapons were included with the regular Spartan Warrior, so we get the same spear. as well as the matched long and short swords. These are fantastic little accessories with some phenomenal paint.

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You also get the scabbard and shoulder strap that we saw with the Spartan Warrior and a new sword to put into it. This one has more of an Etruscan type hilt. The scabbard fits the figure quite well an the red paint on the tassels and the silver paint on the buckles is all very sharp.

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The fourth and fifth swords include a repaint of the broadsword that came with the Amazon Elite and a Falcata, which was not in any of my initial four figures, but it may very well be included in one of the figures I’ve yet to open. The Falcata has a bronze colored blade and a brown grip. No doubt about it, if you love swords, this box has plenty of blades to make you happy!

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Let me axe you a question… do you like axes? Good, because you also get the pair of axes that came with the Amazon Elite. Phew! That’s a lot of accessories. Oh yeah, you also get the stock Boss Fight Studios figure stand that comes with all of the HACKS figures.

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Like the Exclusive Amazon Elite, this figure was really easy for me to get on Ebay and at $30, I really don’t feel like I had to pay that much of a premium. They were sold directly by the NJCC, so there wasn’t any scalping padding the price. Considering the regular HACKS are about $20, I’m happy to pay the extra $10 to get what is basically a beefy accessory pack. I suspect that all of these weapons can be found scattered across the other HACKS releases, so technically what’s new in this Exclusive? It’s the dirtied up deco on the figure and some of the equipment. But HACKS is a line that gets better with sharing and the bigger the pile of arms and armor the more fun these get. The Ultimate Spartan looks distinct enough to stand beside the regular Spartan and bolster my ranks and I’m sure glad I got him.

Next week, I can start digging into the rest of the regular release figures!

 

Vitruvian HACKS: Amazon Elite Warrior (Kokomo Toys Exclusive) by Boss Fight Studios

I thought I was going to have to wait until Boss Fight Studios finally got around to shipping out more figures before I could delve into the lovely Vitruvian HACKS line again, but thanks to an Exclusive through Kokomo Toys, I’ve got a new figure in my dirty paws and ready to go. The Amazon Elite Warrior is exclusive to independent toy retailer, Kokomo Toys out of Kokomo, Indiana. I only know Kokomo Toys from their adverts on the What’s on Joe Mind? podcast, but I’ve seen lots of pictures of their store and it looks like The Promised Land might be in Indiana. I’m kind of glad they’re half a country away from me, because I could probably go bankrupt in that place.

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The packaging is different this time around. Instead of a card and bubble, the figure comes on a tray in a form-fitting monochrome box. I know, usually exclusives come in better packaging than the trade releases, but that’s not the case here. And while it’s not as flashy as the presentation on the regular figures, it’s fine for what it is. You get an illustration on the front and a little blurb about the character on the back.

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And here she is in all her glory. This is the first time I’m able to play around with a full-on female figure from this line. That is to say a lady that doesn’t have snake parts where her legs should be. And speaking of legs, I don’t find any of the wonkiness here that I experienced with my Spartan figures. These are some solid gams. She features a dark complexion with some tattoos painted on. She also features armor pieces similar to the Spartans and consisting of wrist bracers, full torso armor, front and back, and leg grieves. As before, the armor is all removable.

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The paint here is excellent, with a bright, metallic silver used for the armor that makes for a nice change up from the bronze colored pieces on the Spartan and Coral Gorgon. Her “skirt” is black with silver studs. Overall, this armor ensemble feels a little more utilitarian than the Spartan, but I really dig it a lot and the bright silver contrasts nicely with her dark skin.

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One cool feature on this figure’s armor is the loop on the back of the belt that allows you to store one of her weapons.

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The portrait features a nicely detailed sculpt for a 4-inch scale lady. She has short hair and more tattoos painted on her face. Very nice!

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The Amazon Elite comes with a wide variety of accessories, some I’ve seen before among the other figures and some are brand new to me. For starters you get not one, but two helmets. One is very similar to what we saw with the Spartan. It includes the high red comb and is painted silver to match the armor.

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The other helmet is more of a utilitarian Barbute. There’s no comb or crest and it features the same brilliant silver paint. Both helmets fit the figure very well.

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The shields in this line are quickly becoming my favorite accessories, and here’s another reason why. It’s the same basic sculpt as the one included with the Spartan Warrior, which means it includes that lovely hammered surface and the fully detailed interior with grab bar and sleeve. I actually found it much easier to get the female figure’s hand to hold the bar on this one. The front surface is painted with a traditional Greek warrior motif similar to what you might find on pottery of the period. It’s simply gorgeous.

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Of course, no elite warrior would be complete without weapons and this gal comes with a nice assortment. First off, you get these cool light axes, which are brand new accessories to me. They have sculpted shafts with silver painted heads.

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Next you get a beautiful long sword with a black grip and a stout blade. This one is also a brand new accessory to me.

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Finally, you get the spear, which is a repaint of the one included with the Spartan Warrior and Cursed Stone Spartan. It features a leaf-shaped head and a spiked butt. Also included in the box is a pair of replacement hands with the hinges cut along the other axis, and the standard figure stand that has come with each of the figures so far.

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This Exclusive is available for purchase through Kokomo Toys’ Ebay shop at the cost of $30. Yup, she’s ten bucks more than your average Vitruvian HACKS figure. It is a bit steep, and I’ll admit I hesitated a bit, but in the end, I’m glad I pulled the trigger. You get more stuff than with any of the four Wave One figures. And as it turns out, this is easily my favorite among my three humans in the line so far and give me a nice idea of what’s to come, as I have a few more of the female figures on order and waiting to be shipped to me.

Vitruvian HACKS: Medusa and Coral Gorgon by Boss Fight Studios

Last week I tackled half of my initial shipment from Boss Fight Studio’s Vitruvian HACKS Kickstarter with the Spartan and Cursed Spartan. Today, I’m checking out the second half of this first wave. There’s a lot to cover here, so I’m going to dive right in and look at some snake ladies!

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Once again, the figures come in collector friendly blister cards that allow you to bend back the edges, slide out the card and get at the goods without damaging anything. You can keep the pristine card all by itself or just return the figure to the bubble and keep the whole shebang. I’m not one for keeping packages, but with presentation this nice, I’ll be hanging on to these. Each of the Gorgons have custom card art and blurbs about them on the back of the card along with shots of all the other figures in the series that you can collect. Let’s start out with Medusa, the Cursed Gorgon Sister!

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Wow, this is a unique and wonderful looking figure. From the waist up, she’s all woman. Below the equator, she’s all snake. The humanoid part of the buck is very nice and includes sculpted muscles in the abs and armor on the chest and shoulder as well as a wrist bracer on her right arm. She also wears a belt rig slung loose on her hips with a loop for her dagger on the right and an armor plate on the left. The sculpting and paint on the armor pieces represents some great work and gives it a realistic, worn patina and pitting. The tiny sculpted leather rigging that holds the shoulder armor is above and beyond for figures in this 4-inch scale.

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The snake tail includes six ball jointed segments with overlapping snake skin plates that make for a pretty well articulated tail that can support the figure in a surprising number of poses, whether coiled flat, tail up, or extended out behind her. There’s a lovely bit of sculpt around the back of the torso where the snake scales taper off to become regular flesh. Below that, the scales are individually sculpted on the back of the tail and the painted patterns look amazing. The creepy appendage is topped off with a large rattle.

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Insert ex-girlfriend joke here. This gruesome portrait is spectacular. Her mouth is open in mid scream, exposing her forked tongue and pearly whites. She has red, pupil-less eyes and her forehead shows some faint scaling. The head is topped off with a grizzly mop of snakes.

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In addition to the segmented tail, the upper half of the figure includes all the articulation we saw in the Spartan male bucks, which suffice it to say is quite good. You also get a pair of extra hands included with both of the Gorgons, as well as the standard Boss Fight Studio figure stands which, in the case of these legless lasses, are totally useless. But hey… free figure stands!

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Medusa comes with two weapons, a dagger and a whip. Both accessories look like they are fashioned from bone, or spinal columns to be precise. Actually, the whip looks like it might just be a snake skeleton right down to the tiny skull that makes up the pommel of the grip. Either weapon can be held in either hand and the dagger can be carried through the loop on the figure’s right hip. Quite frankly, I could gush on and on about this figure, but we’ve still got another to look at, so let’s move on to the Coral Gorgon…

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While we’re dealing with the same basic buck, there are so many changes here that the Coral Gorgon feels like a fresh figure. And nothing against Medusa, she’s awesome, but this Coral Gorgon is sporting one hot and sexy deco. You get a deep reddish-brown with some lovely black and yellow stripes, not only on the tail, but also on the biceps. Coral is also wearing armor consisting of a full chest and back plate with sculpted muscles and very similar to the style and color worn by the Spartan Warrior, only clearly designed with the female form in mind. She’s also got a pair of matching wrist bracers. The bright luster of the bronze armor is gorgeous when paired with this deco.

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The tail has the same great articulation, but the rattler at the tip is replaced with just a standard taper. The coloring here really picks out the detail in the sculpted scales wonderfully.

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The head is shrouded in a remarkable animal skull helmet with the spinal cord slinking down the figure’s back. It’s a fantastic piece for this, or any scale and it is easily removed to offer a better look at the head itself.

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NOPE!!!  Egads, I don’t know why, but I find this portrait to be a thousand times creepier than Medusa’s. Not sure if it’s the bald head, the giant yellow eyes, or the exposed fangs, but this is some serious nightmare fuel. QUICK, PUT THE HELMET BACK ON!

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Coral Gorgon comes with a sword and a shield, both of which are made to look like stone. Maybe she snatched them off the bodies of petrified victims? The shield appears to be the same gorgeous piece of kit that came with the Cursed Stone Spartan, whereas the sword is unique in this initial assortment. I have the same difficulty getting the figure’s hand to properly clutch the grip on the shield, but it’s not really necessary here, since the bracers lock into the sleeve a lot better and hold the shield securely without the hand in place.

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As great as the Spartans were, these Gorgons are the real showpieces of this initial assortment. And while Medusa is an absolute classic and a figure that I so badly wanted back when I was a young lad playing with my Clash of the Titan figures, I think the Coral Gorgon edges her out a bit with her gorgeous and distinctive deco and downright creepy helmet and face sculpt. Either way, I’m starting to regret not picking up more of the Gorgons. I have six more figures coming to me, and none of them are Gorgons. WHAT HAVE I DONE??? Well, with pre-orders still open, I think I may have to remedy that.

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Of course, I will be back to look at more of these figures as soon as they arrive on my doorstep, but I’ll conclude by paying the best compliment I can to a Kickstarter. Boss Fight Studios delivered here on everything they promised. It might have taken longer than anyone could have expected, but in the end, when the figures are in hand and they are this spectacular, it’s hard to come away with anything other than satisfaction. I’m all the more anxious to get the rest of my order, and super excited to see what the Fantasy Series is going to look like, because I’ll be a proud backer of that one as well.

Vitruvian HACKS: Cursed Stone Spartan by Boss Fight Studios

As promised, I’m back to check out the other humanoid figure in the initial Wave of Vitruvian HACKS, Series 1. This fellow is not as lucky as the Spartan Warrior that I looked at this morning. He done got himself an eye-full of Gorgon and he’s been turned to stone. Because this figure shares a great deal with the Spartan Warrior, I’m going to suggest reading that feature if you haven’t done so already. In the interest of brevity, I’m going to refer back to it a lot.

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The packaging is basically the same as the Spartan Warrior’s, but everything is customized to suit the character. There’s even a grizzly passage on the back about how humans cursed by the Gorgons experience heightened senses while petrified. So, not only are they conscious for it, but they are aware of everything that’s going on around them for miles. Creepy!

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From the neck down, this poor guy is just a repaint of the regular Spartan, so the same great sculpt applies here as well. The paint is a wonderfully convincing stone finish. There are a few areas where the paint was a little sticky when I first got him out of the package, but it seems to have settled down after a little handling and I can’t find any evidence of it on my fingers.

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The articulation here is identical to the previous figure, which means for a petrified guy, he can move around pretty well! I’ll refer you back to my one issue with the Spartan and that was the legs. The legs on this figure are a little more wonky. I think some of it might have to do with his grieves needing to be straightened, but part of it is that the soft plastic joints are warping at the knees. I may try a little blow dry straightening to see if it works. It’s not really noticeable to me when he’s in action poses, only when standing straight.

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The Cursed Spartan features a new head sculpt, which is bald and works well for this look.

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You also get a removable helmet. It’s the same basic style as the one included with the Spartan Warrior, but it is a unique sculpt with several notable differences.

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I had a lot of great things to say about the regular Spartan’s shield, but the sculpt on this guy’s shield is even more amazing. Ironically it features Medusa’s head on it, all sculpted as well as a decorative border around the edge. This is a stunning piece of work and the intricate detail in the sculpt is married perfectly with the faux stone finish. The interior of the shield is the same as we saw last time with a soft plastic sleeve and a hand grip. Once again, it’s tricky to get the hand on it and I’ve found it better to just leave it there, since you do get an extra pair of hands to work with.

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The Cursed Spartan comes with a sword and a spear. The sword has the same leaf-shaped blade as the regular Spartan’s, but the hilt is brand new. The spear is the same sculpt as the regular Spartan’s spear. Both accessories are treated with the same stone finish as the figure and shield. You also get the same figure stand that was included with the normal Spartan.

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While largely a variant of the figure I looked at earlier, this is still a wonderful piece of work. Obviously, this figure is going for a very specific look and it succeeds brilliantly. I wouldn’t mind picking up a few more, as there’s enough accessories and articulation here to create a nice display of Gorgon victims. And speaking of Gorgons… I’ll be looking at those next week!

Vitruvian HACKS: Spartan Warrior by Boss Fight Studios

The Summer of 2014 saw a lot of Action Figure related Kickstarters and one of the big ones was Vitruvian HACKS (Highly Articulated Character Kit System) from the folks at Boss Fight Studios. This 4-inch line based on Greek Mythology boasted great sculpts and a system of interchangeable parts making these figures perfect for collectors and customizers alike. The project was wildly successful, but hit a lot of delays for reasons I have no intention of going into here. To make a looooong story short, the figures were originally slated to ship in February of 2015, but in actuality are only now shipping out to backers. I got my initial Backer Reward wave late last week, but I’m still waiting on the four additional figures that I ordered at the time the project ended in July 2014, plus another two I purchased when the figures went up for general Pre-Order in December of last year. While I’ll be the first to admit my patience wore thin toward the end, I was always confident the figures would come and they would be great. These guys know what they’re doing and I think they did a fine job when faced with numerous hurdles. I was going to look at two figures in this initial Feature, but I ran long…

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The figures come packaged on landscape-orientated cards and I am absolutely thrilled to say that they are collector friendly. I still remember how difficult it was for me to make the decision to cut into the bubbles of my Legends of Cthulhu figures from Warpo Toys, but there’s no such anguish here. You just fold back one of the edges of the plastic front and slide the card back to remove the tray from the bubble, thus having your cake and eating it too. Some of the accessories come on the tray and others are bagged behind it. The packaging displays well standing, and there’s also a J-hook if you want to hang them on the wall.

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The card art is colorful and customized to each character. The back of the card features a profile of the character. You also get a classic “Collect Them All!” spread of each of the figures in Waves 1 through 4. The Spartan Warrior is where this line began, so I will in turn begin with him. I do want to proceed with one caveat: The customizaiton aspect of these figures does not interest me at all, so I’m not really going to touch on it. I’ll just note that if you have a bunch of these figures, some custom skillz, and a Philips-head screwdriver, the sky is the limit.

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So, I have to admit, after waiting so long, taking the Spartan Warrior and his accessories out of the package felt like an event. A lot of impressions came to mind as I started to play around with the figure. Let’s start with the good stuff first, and frankly it’s really almost all good stuff. The sculpting here is excellent. The figure is built on a nearly naked buck with some excellent definition in the muscles. Yes, that means that all the armor is removable, and while it looks like it would take a bit of work to get the grieves off, the armor on the torso just un-pegs and is worn like a vest. The chest plate also features sculpted muscle tone and the individual strips of the skirt are clearly defined, despite being one piece. From painted preview figures to final production, this guy remained consistent through and through.

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The paint quality here is also solid work. I adore the bronze paint they used for the armor as it features just the right amount of sheen. The red and white paint on the skirt makes the deco pop beautifully. Each of the tiny straps on the sandals are painted and the paint on the head is absolutely immaculate. There are a few minor flubs here and there along the skirt, but these are hardly noticeable when you’re just viewing the figure in hand and with the naked eye.

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While there’s obviously no likeness to be beholden to (although possibly inspired by Gerard Butler), I dig the head sculpt a lot. There’s a lot of sculpted detail in the hair and the somewhat larger eyes give the figure a distinctive, somewhat stylized, look that works for me.

The articulation is solid, but it’s missing a few key points I would have liked to see in a figure in this price range. What you do get: Lots of rotating hinges! They’re in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, and ankles. The legs are ball jointed at the hips and have double hinged knees. There’s a swivel in the waist, a ball joint in the torso, and another in the neck. What’s missing are swivel cuts in the thighs and when you couple that with the grieves limiting the ankle articulation a bit the legs can sometimes look a little awkward when posed. That having been said, you’ll note the lack of figure stand in any of my action shots, which means he stands just fine on his own in almost any pose. It hardly even took much work on my part.

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Moving on to the accessories, you get an incredible looking helmet that fits the figure’s head beautifully. I can’t remember a piece like this ever being designed to fit a figure this well in the 4-inch scale. It has the same gorgeous bronze paint as the figure’s armor and a bright red comb. This piece and the way in interacts with the figure is quite literally perfect.

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Next, we have the scabbard and swords. The accessory is worn on a shoulder strap that’s pegged into the scabbard. Again, the fit here on the figure is exceptional when you consider the scale. It sits high on the figure, which I believe is historically accurate, and the fact that it’s pegged into the strap means that you can swivel it to get a nice position for the figure to draw the sword. The paint on the strap’s buckle as well as the fixtures on the scabbard and the red tassel all look great.

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You get two swords (xiphos), one long and one short, with identical hilts. Both will fit the scabbard, but the longer one is a tight fit and a bitch to get out, so I’ve been keeping the smaller sword in there. It comes out easy and if you are only displaying him with the one blade, there’s no way to tell it isn’t the longer one. The swords are gorgeous, with leaf-shaped blades and bronze-painted hilts that match the armor and bright silver blades. He can either sword in either hand perfectly.

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Next is the shield, and this is a real showpiece of his accessories. And rightly so as the hoplon is where the Greek Infantry’s name, hoplite, comes from. The front has a sculpted hammered look to it and a gorgeous bronze and red paint job. The reverse of the shield is fully detailed and features a grab bar and sleeve to accommodate the Spartan’s arm and hand. I’ll note that it was really tough for me to get the hand to hold the bar. Ultimately, I popped out the hand, got it in position and then fed the arm through the soft plastic sleeve and reconnected. Since the figure comes with an identical set of extra hands, I’m going to opt to just leave one grabbing the bar at all times.

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And that brings us to the final piece of the Spartan’s arsenal, the spear (doru). Like everything else about this figure, Boss Fight spared no expense on the detail and paint on the spear. It has a sculpted tip and butt cap and a sculpted grip, all beautifully painted. It’s a solid piece too, with no warping at all, and both the head and butt are super sharp and pointy.

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The Spartan Warrior also comes with a sculpted Boss Fight Studio stand, which is included with all the figures. It’s a functional little piece that pegs into the figure’s feet and is perfect if you’re lining your figures up for a museum-style display. But as I said earlier, the figure’s balance is such that stands really aren’t needed for most of the poses.

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If you can’t tell, I am absolutely delighted with this figure. Even the one minor issue I have with the legs is easily forgiven by the care and attention to detail that went into everything about this guy. The base figure is solid and the accessories are among the best I’ve ever seen executed in this scale. If you missed out on the Kickstarter, the Spartan Warrior is currently available for Pre-Order through Boss Fight Studios’ online shop at $20. However, they’re still processing and shipping Kickstarter orders, and made it clear that they won’t be processing the Pre-Orders until all the KS business is taken care of. While $20 may sound like a premium to pay for a 4-inch figure, it’s not a whole lot more than you’ll pay for Hasbro’s 4-inch Black Series right now. And you’re also getting a premium quality product to go along with that premium price. While I’ve only opened the one figure so far, I have to say I’m very glad I backed this KS, and it was worth the wait.

And since I intended this to be a Double Feature, I’m going to run off and recoup a little and I’ll be back later this afternoon with a look at the Cursed Stone Spartan.