Everyone loves cybernetic apes. McFarlane Toys has made not one, not two, but three different Cy-Gor figures, plus Code Red from the Techno Spawn line. Something about the notion of a technologically-enhanced gorilla just seems to click with many people - or at least, comic book and action figure fans.
Cyborg gorillas are the stuff of pure pulp, so perhaps it isn't a surprise that Mike Mignola created the "Kriegaffe." Kriegaffe means "war-ape" in German, though the correct spelling is kriegsaffe; this was an early error that got by the editors, and it has since become entrenched, so - like Michaelangelo of the TMNT until the recent revamp - the misspelling is here for good.
The first appearance of the kriegaffe was in the second Hellboy story ever,
a short comic in The Comic Buyer's Guide that also introduced fan-favorite villain Herman von Klempt, a former Nazi and mad scientist who had preserved his head in a jar. The concept was pure, unadulterated comic book camp in the classic Kirby style, and while Mignola had intended von Klempt and his organ-grinder monkey to be a one-shot, he found he couldn't resist bringing the character back for a second bout with Hellboy in the miniseries Conqueror Worm. In the first story, the cyborg ape was called "Brutus," but in Conqueror Worm von Klempt refers to the ape as "Kriegaffe Number Ten," Hellboy having destroyed his ninth (Brutus).
Kriegaffe isn't a cybernetic ape like Cy-Gor; he isn't laden with high-tech weaponry. Rather, Kriegaffe is a product of early twentieth century technology. Mignola created a look for the Kriegaffe that's straight out of the old 1940s comics where the villains were always Nazis and the evil robots always seemed to have the same general design as a Sherman tank or a water heater. Rather than high-tech gadgetry, Kriegaffe has huge bolts and arms that look like they're made from the same metal as that indestructible swing set you had at your elementary school.
When Mezco announced its comic Hellboy line (way back in September 2004, a year before the line would actually hit retail), I was the first to suggest on their boards that they create a von Klempt/Kriegaffe two-pack. It was an obvious choice, so I won't claim any credit, but it shows how much I wanted this particular figure. As a matter of fact, I went on to win the prototype of the figure in a contest [and thus, became mankind's most hated enemy --ed.]. But what impressed me most was how closely the action figure followed the prototype (which are usually a bit nicer-looking than the figure).
Kriegaffe #10 was sculpted by Dave Cortes of Inu Art,
who handled the sculpting duties on the whole Hellboy line. It's a superb sculpt, capturing Mignola's art style while still allowing it to be an action figure. This is not an accurate sculpt of a gorilla, but it's an accurate sculpt of a gorilla as drawn by Mignola. There are lots of wonderful details: the Frankenstein-style bolts all over the body; the flat, segmented fingers, a classic Mignola feature; and the blocky, chunky feel of the figure as a whole. And let's not forget the texture, a highlight of this line; each bit of metal has a smooth but slightly lumpy feel, like wrought iron. Also, it should be noted that the figure is quite large, and certainly looks like he could give Hellboy a hard time in a fight.
Another interesting thing to note is that Kriegaffe #10 is a rotocast figure (meaning he's hollow and made from a more pliable plastic than most action figures). This is an interesting cost-saving measure that Mezco has been using on a few of their lines, including Family Guy and The Goon. In the so-called old days (of the 1980s and '90s), the rotocast process didn't allow for particularly detailed or articulated figures (particularly in this small scale), but recent advancement have given us amazing rotocast figures such as the rotocast movie Hulk, the 12" Green Goblin and the upcoming Marvel Legends Icons figures. In any event, the result is that we get a large figure like Kriegaffe at a reasonable price with no loss to detail (although we do lose a smidgen of articulation).
The paint work
here is no less impressive than the sculpt. Considering this is a rotocast figure, I'm amazed at how well Mezco was able to apply the paints. The majority of the figure is molded in black, of course, but the details are impressive. Every bit of metal has a wash that makes it look real and weathered, a lovely touch and possibly my favorite feature of this figure. The eyes are a malevolent blank yellow, just as Mignola and his colorist Dave Stewart color them, and the teeth have a worn look to them.
Kriegaffe #10 has balljoints at the head, chest, shoulders, and hips, and a double balljoint at the wrists; and pin joints at the elbows, knees, ankles, and jaw. Yes, the jaw is articulated,
which is very cool, as are the double balljoints on the wrists, which take full advantage of Mignola's wonderfully goofy character design in which the gorilla's robotic hands are attached to its robotic forearms via ball bearings. The only place the figure lacks articulation is swivel joints at the bicep and hip, which I would guess are too difficult to do at this scale with a rotocast figure (that, or they spent the tooling budget on those wrists). But the articulation allows for plenty of good poses.
Kriegaffe #10 comes with one accessory: his master, Herman von Klempt. Again, the sculpting is superb on both the head and the container, and the jar has a touch of a green tint (mostly at the top) to suggest the green water of von Klempt's tank. The von Klempt that came with Kriegaffe #10 didn't bear his trademark swastika (to prevent any controversy in the marketplace); if you want that, you'll have to get the Mezco Exclusive Hellboy, because the version in that set had it. While von Klempt can stand fine on his tentacles (which are solid, and not bendy, unfortunately), I do wish the figure had included a clear stand to allow him to "float."
Kriegaffe #10 was the short-packed figure in the first Hellboy wave, probably due to production costs. AS such, he was very difficult to find, and his secondary market value is already around $30 and will no doubt continue to increase unless Mezco re-releases the figure or a new exclusive version. However, after Hellboy this is probably the must-have figure of the line, and I highly recommend it to all fans of Hellboy and cybernetic gorillas.
Photos courtesy of Bluesparrow. Visit his action figure blog at Neon Batman.
Who'd win in a fight between Cy-Gor and Kriegaffe? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.