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Scarabus

Gothitropolis
by yo go re

Oh boy oh boy oh boy, the wait is finally over! It's time for Scarabus!

The foul beast, who has also been called Scarabagoth in some texts, has been both worshipped and loathed. He has lurked in the shadows for centuries, shrouded in mystery, with only his closest of acolytes knowing his true purpose. One thing is for certain to the rest of us - Scarabus is a dark force that may well usher in the end of days. --Book of Atellus Chapter 12

That's only part of the bio printed on the back of the card, by the way: for the whole thing, visit our blog. In short, Scarabus is a bad mofo. And he has the ability to move through time, which kind of makes it funny that he's so very, very late. Scarabus was the first winner of the Four Horsemen's FANtastic Exclusive vote after The Seventh Kingdom was removed from the running. For those keeping track, that was 2008 - so in theory, he should have been released in 2009, not 2011. And as long as we're pointing out lateness, we have to admit that the figures shipped over the summer: it's no one's fault but our own that we're not reviewing them until the end of fall.

From a design standpoint, it must be said that Scarabus doesn't exactly fall too far outside the Four Horsemen's wheelhouse. He's basically The Darkness with snappier clothes: big, ostentatious horns on the top, fur and cloven hooves on the bottom, and a vaguely Egyptian motif in between. If you like seeing the 4H create demonic monsters, then this will make you very happy. And considering that Scarabus was only made because the fans voted for him over everything else, the odds are good that seeing the 4H create demonic monsters is precisely what you like!

The sculpt is, of course, a thing of beauty and wonder. His armor, as we said, recalls Egyptian styles without directly copying them. For instance, the stripes on his shoulderpads and collar bring to mind the nemes headdress, the symbol on his chest and gloves looks like the Eye of Horus, and the small translucent balls on his shoulders are pinched between outward-curving hooks, similar to the way the sun rested between Hathor's horns. He has scarabs (of course) on his belt, back and as the buckles on his leg dealies. His skin looks like cracked stone, and on his thighs it fades from that texture to the fur seen around his ankles.

Since the fans voted on Scarabus' articulation, he moves really well. Swivel head, balljoint neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, swivel waist, H-hips, swivel thighs, hinged knees and swivel/hinge ankles. The two creepy pincers sprouting from his back are swivel/hinge joints, as well. If you look beneath the cape, it looks like they were planning on having a torso hinge at one point - the shapes at the small of his back seem tailor-made for it.

The hips are designed very cleverly: though he's wearing a skirt, it doesn't impede the range of motion in the slightest. How is that possible? Some sort of witchcraft? No, just a solution so elegantly simple you'll be gobsmacked that no one ever thought of it before. Rather than trying to move the legs beneath the skirt (which, admittedly, they've done before), it's split in half and attached separately to each leg. The upper part is actually molded as part of the thigh, with the lower part glued in place. Great work! You know what that means: big Scarabus breakdance party!

The dominant feature of Scarabus' head is, of course, the pair of giant, ridged horns that fall down over his chest, but if you're only paying attention to those, you'll miss his face. Well, faces: he has three of them. Not Man-E-Faces, style - they're removable. The three faces have distinct similarities (like the cracks running dowwn from the eyes), but are fully unique. The one he's wearing in the packaging looks mostly human, save for the large spikes on his cheeks. The second has larger cheek-spikes, plus a second, smaller set on the jaw, spiny eyebrow ridges and a nose that's flat and serpentine. Finally, the third head looks nearly skeletal, with empty eye sockets and a nasal cavity, plus some more cracks on the jaw. So basically, his faces are "normal", "powered up" and "dead."

In addition to the faces, Scarabus includes extra hands. One set of fists, one set for holding weapons, and one set with the fingers splayed out. The set also includes two translucent flame effects that fit beautifully onto the "claw" hands to make it look like he's trailing energy. There are small holes in the flames that the fingers fit into to hold them in place, even when the hands are hanging down. It really is a nice look.

Continuing the trend of interchangeable parts, we come to Scarabus' one actual accessory, a large staff. The top is color-coded to match the gems and flames on the figure, and features a large sphere and a flat disc with a scarab on each side. You can remove the fancy crest and replace it with a simple spear tip. Is Scarabus fighting enemies, or executing some ceremonial duties? It's up to you! The staff is 7⅜" long, without either of the tips attached, making it a good size for the 7¾" Scarabus.

Finally, there are three accessories that aren't even intended for Scarabus. You may recall that the original plan was for Scarabus to include a Timekeeper pack-in, but as the toy market changed, that became unrealistic. Heck, it would have been enough of a stretch three years ago, let alone today. So no, no new Timekeepers - you'll have to make do with the three from SDCC. However, the set includes a few pieces for use by the Timekeepers: a new collar, an armor plate for the head, and a spike that can be attached to the Chrono-Hammer. Unexpected!

Like they did with all the previous FANtastic Exclusives, the Four Horsemen created a whole slew of variants, to get more use out of the unique and surely expensive molds. Most of them are different characters, who we'll be covering later, but two of them are actually alternate versions of Scarabus. They get alternate colorschemes, and come with only one extra face instead of two.

The normal release has gold skin, red and gold clothes, and green accents.

Demon Fire Scarabus has red skin, black and gold clothes, and orange accents. He comes with the "over-powered" face, and his Timekeeper accoutrements are a metallic blue-gray.

Dormant Form Scarabus gets the "dead" face - logically - has silver skin, silver and purple clothes, and purple accents.

Really, of the three Scarabii, the normal version has the least interesting colors. The Horsemen have said that all the figures are Scarabus at different points within his own history; so figure he spent some time hibernating, woke up, and eventually built up a surplus of power. As to why he also changes color during all that? Ah, who cares - they look cool, and that's what matters.

I've made no secret of the fact that I think anthropomorphic animals are cool, thanks to a youth spent watching TMNT - so naturally I loved the first two FANtastic Exclusives, Xetheus and Ramathorr. And although Scarabus breaks from that tradition, he's still a very nice toy. The sculpt is above reproach, the articulation is great, and though the colors on the main version aren't my favorite, the actual execution of the paintwork is top-notch. I'm disappointed we didn't get more Timekeepers, but that's entirely understandable: the problems they had with FANtastic Exclusive 2 already caused them to go back to the drawing board on Scarabus, and that delay meant changes. You may not want the entire assortment of Scarabus and all his variants, but if you have a favorite, you'll find something to love.

-- 11/23/11


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