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The Shield of Draumm

Seventh Kingdom
by yo go re

Clever readers will surely have noticed that in our Elephant Soldiers review, we only showed three variants, but referred to the Horsemen selling a set of "Anitherian Nine." Seems like we're a few figures short, right? Well, that's because for FANtastic Exclusive 2, the Four Horsemen did something different... something unexpected. In 2006, the Mynothecean Six were all cows, just like their leader, Xetheus. So when we started learning about the variants, fans assumed they'd all be elephants, as well. But hey, you know what happens when you make an assumption: you make an ass out of you and "mption."

Vowing to repel all who dare threaten the realm of Animynthus, he is the heroic hippopotamus - The Shield of Draumm!

Yes, that's right, a hippo! You would not believe the buzz on the FANtastic Exclusive message boards when ths news dropped - everything the fans had come to expect had been trown out the window, opening the floodgates for rampant speculation (full disclosure: as one of the sites approached to be a partner this time around, OAFE knew about this game-changer a week or so in advance; that just made it more fun to watch the reactions), and the guesses went wild. More hippos. More different animals. Some representatives from the other five kingdoms. Some representatives from the other, out-voted lines. Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes! Volcanoes! The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria! It was good fun!

The Shield of Draumm is a Raving Toy Maniac exclusive, limited to 400 pieces. Most of his body is shared with Ramathorr and the other elephants, but some changes have still been made.

The base figure is the same, of course: the rough, cracked skin, the huge toenails, the sculpted-on armor bits, etc. What really makes him stand out are the paint apps. Rather than one solid color, like all the previous exclusives, Draumm is grey with light pink highlights - you can totally tell where his soft bits would be. From his throat down to his chest, then spreading outward along the insides of the arms, the paint fades from the dark to light colors nicely. His palms are pink, as well, and so are the insides of his thighs. Oh, and the cutest bit? The bottoms of his feet! Awww! His nails are painted black, giving them a nice contrast not just with the skin, but with the elephants, as well.

There's obviously no way to "cheat" an elephant head into a hippo, so Mr. The Shield gets an newly sculpted piece there. The skin isn't quite as cracked as it is on the body, but the appropriate texture is here, and he even has dimples representing his whiskers on his uppoer lip. His ears are separate pieces glued in place, and his black eyes are barely slits. The pink paint continues here, on his eyes, nostrils and lips. His mouth is open wide, showing off his 18 teeth and glossy pink tongue. And with no dangly bits getting in the way, the range of motion is most impressive.

Though the figure is wearing the same skirt as all the others in this set, it's still a new combo: Ramathorr had the square loincloth, while Draumm has the same beltbuckle as the elephant soldiers. However, the pachyderm pack didn't have the rear waist armor, while the hippo does. His shoulder armor is also smaller and simpler, though it still shares all the familiar design elements. His color scheme is bronze and black.

Our friend the hippo has two accessories, both reused: first is the war club that all the variants have carried, but he also gets the long staff the cows came with... and the flag attachment. It's just a big pike now. The mustard-colored handle has a pretty substantial scratch in the paint, but that's just an issue with mine - and besides, it looks like battle damage. The peg designed to hold the staff together snapped off as I was trying to assemble it, but the overall design and construction of the piece means that it still holds together well. I appreciate nice workmanship like that.

The hippo is a bit shorter than the rest - 8¾" tall - but still has all the same articulation: rocker ankles, hinged knees, thigh swivels, balljointed hips, tail swivel, swivel waist, balljointed torso, balljointed wrists, hinged elbows, bicep swivels, balljointed shoulders, swiveling tail and a balljointed neck. No trunk, of course, but that goes without saying. The leg joints are a bit loose, but as long as he's standing straight up, he stands just fine. No crazy poses, at least not in the long term. His joints are for playing, not for displaying.

If OAFE's name had been pulled from the hat to host an exclusive, the hippo is the one we would have wanted. He looks great, shows a clever re-use of the base body, and is the figure that changed fans' expectations. Plus, he's perfect next to the elephants. The Shield of Draumm is a nice piece, and you shouldn't hesitate to get one if you can.

-- 06/01/08


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