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by yo go re

At last! A perfect mascot for the best Gatorade flavor!

Drippy and dangerous.

It's only just occurred to me that all the figures in the first wave of Hasro's Fortnite Victory Royale Series are from the "Spy Games" conflict that formed the background story for Chapter 2: you've got Midas (Rex) and Chaos Agent, the leaders of Ghost and Shadow respectively; deluxe figures of Shadow Meowscles and an as-yet-unaffiliated Skye; Lynx, who we know from the Season 2 trailer was part of Midas' team; and today's friendly subject, Rippley.

Judging by the story (told through trailers and loading screens), Rippley is the good-guy equivalent of a character called Sludge - and while there are dozens of evil red Sludges, there's only one heroic blue Rippley. He appears to be a living puddle of Slurp Juice wearing some tactical clothes: boots, pants, fingerless gloves, and an armored vest. His body is molded from translucent blue plastic in an effort to suggest his liquid nature; he's not eaxctly translucent in the game - even in the official renders, when he puts his arm in front of his body you can't see his vest through it - but making the toy this way does a lovely job of getting the idea across.

Rippley's "head" is really just another bubble in the fluid of his form. It has eyes and a mouth, but it simply floats within him. Cleverly, Hasbro has made a wonderful effort to duplicate that look by creating a solid little ball and mounting it on pole the same color as the rest of the translucent plastic. Yes, the final effect is a lot like someone wearing a space helmet, but you've gotta give them credit for trying so ambitious right in Series 1.

Speaking of ambitious, Hasbro has opted to create the toy's elbows using those new "pinless" hinges, so his arms can be as smooth as possible. The efficacy is lowered somewhat by the fact that the actual hinges are still visible in there, but it would probably be worse with pins jutting through horizontally. Other than those, the figure moves at the ankles, boots, knees, thighs, hips, waist, chest, pecs, wrists, biceps, and shoulders. The dome part of his head can be removed, giving you access to the solid ball of gloop within; both ends of the neck pole are balljoints, meaning the face is way more poseable than you'd ever expect it to be. In fact, it's more poseable than the shape of the dome will even allow, so it'll get pushed back into the middle when you reassemble him.

The accessories are simple yet appropriate. His harvesting tool is the Sludge Hammer, a translucent blue hammer (which, in the game, continually shifts between this shape, an axe, and a pick, though that's obviously beyond the abilities of a simple lump of plastic). For Back Bling, they gave him the Air Strike Set's Containment Pack, which matches his style with its black body and blue cannisters. Unfortunately, the shape of it doesn't allow enough light to get into the blue part, so you can barely tell there's supposed to be anything special about it; also, since the backpacks are meant to be interchangeable among all the toys, it doesn't sit firmly against his back, and thus wants to tip and fall out if you hold it wrong. Finally, he's armed with a Pump Shotgun, which would normally be pretty mundane, but this one does something new: every previous Fortnite weapon has just been its stock model, while this one is the first toy to have a Wrap applied! Wraps are just a cosmetic that gets applied to any of the stuff you pick up in a match, but this one is the Rippley Wrap, which turns the shotgun blue and makes it look even better with its owner. Neat!

Lynx was a nice first look at this new line, but a lady in a black cat suit isn't exactly the most distinctive thing ever. Rippley, though? He couldn't be from anything but Fortnite. Where else are you going to see a living liquid man? The way art director Dave Vennemeyer and sculptor Dennis Chan chose to make him is really cool, but now we have to ask: when do they use what they learned here to make a Marvel Legends Glob Herman?

-- 11/26/21

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