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by yo go re

Wow, this Plants vs. Zombies graphical upgrade is really something!

The dreaded captain of the stormy seas.

Wait, should that be capitalized? Is that scant little bio just saying he's the "captain of the stormy seas" as a general description of where a pirate operates, or is it telling us he's in command of a ship called the Stormy Seas? Eh, we're obviously overthinking it. Blackheart (not that one) is somewhat unique in Fortnite, because while he is a skin you can buy and wear in the game, the character has also appeared on the island as an NPC giving out quests. Granted, you'd have to beat him in a fight first and then get the mission from his digital ghost, but still. There are dozens of characters like that, but there are hundreds of skins, so it's still at least uncommon.

The Blackheart skin, like Drift or Dire, is one that changes appearance as you earn XP and complete challenges: he's a normal sailor with a small goatee, then he's got a fancy coat and a full beard, then his beard gets ridiculous and he loses a hand, and finally he's a skeleton pirate. What an unusual thing for us to review! This figure represents the Stage 4 look, because that's the coolest (after that, it was just about giving the ghost different color glows). His clothes are tattered, allowing us to see the skeleton inside, and strands of seaweed cling to him like he just walked up onto shore. While his right sleeve still has its large cuff at the wrist, the left is hidden by the cap for his hook hand, all wrapped up in a chain.

Blackheart has the same swappable face gimmick as most of Jazwares' Fortnite Legendary Series figures, but when your "face" is a skull half hidden behind an eyepatch and a huge gray beard, there's not really much of a difference between one face and the next. Is this one a little angrier? Is that one a little happier? Sure, maybe, but it's not a drastic change. Apparently in the Chinese edition of the game, Blackheart doesn't have a skull, just a creepy black void inside his hood; that could have made for a cool alternate look.

Because the beard is molded as part of the face(s), turning the head at all makes whichever face is on there pop off. And of course, missing some bodyparts means he's missing some articulation - can't have an ankle joint if you don't have an ankle, right? On the plus side, since his body is an exposed skeleton, they've done the waist as a balljoint where the spine meets the pelvis. And the PVC coat helps keep it from flopping around all crazy. Other than that, he's got hinged toes, a hinge ankle, swivel shins, double-hinged knees, swivel thighs, balljointed hips, hinged fingers, a hinged hand, swivel wrists, double-hinged elbows, swivel biceps, swivel/hinge shoulders, and a swivel/hinged head. The tie around his peg leg comes down lower than the peg itself, which can make balancing him iffy unless you have a particularly wide stance.

Blackheart has plenty of accessories, all suitable for a pirate. For instance, the Flint-Knock pistol, which we even called "piratical" the first time a figure came with it! Way more than the Burst Assault Rifle he also comes with. His Harvesting Tool and Back Bling both come from completing the Blackheart Challeneges: the Swag Smasher is basically an anchor jammed into a treasure chest, with a cutlass shoved through it and a bandana-wearing octopus hugging the whole thing; meanwhile, Mutiny is a broken-down old ship's wheel, which looks really cool plugged into his back. Finally, there's a bright red propane tank with yellow lettering on the side reading "KA-BOOM" - that one's not normally something you'd see with a pirate, but it's a good display piece for lots of figures.

It's October, which means we're almost to the end of Jazwares' Fortnite license - it's possible Blackheart will be one of their final figures. If so, he's a good note to go out on: a really cool design with totally appropriate accessories. If nothing else, Pirate Deadpool will finally have someone to fight.

-- 10/15/21

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