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by yo go re

McFarlane Toys has... history... with making werewolf toys. Some were good, but others were ill-conceived abominations and an affront to a loving God. Come to think of it, most of them have been lackluster at best. But thanks to Fortnite, they're getting another chance.

Leader of the pack.

This skin, "Dire," was introduced during Season 6. To get it, you had to buy the season's Battle Pass (using fake money that you bought with real money); then you had max out your level within the Battle Pass system (something that would take about 75-150 hours of playing), because this skin was the Level 100 reward; at the same time, you unlocked the Dire Challenges, which required you to earn set amounts of XP to change the skin's appearance (similar to what happened with Drift-sama-sensei-senpai-san-sama... kun). Dire started out as a plain human guy, then turned into a half-wolf at 30,000 xp and a full werewolf at 70,000 (further changing the color of his fur at 120k, 180k, and 250k). You had from September 27th to December 5th, 2018, to accomplish all this. Yeah, it's much easier to just buy this toy.

Generic white boy Dire was wearing sneakers, jeans, a zip-up red shirt, a grey and white jacket, and a red headband. He kind of looked like an extra in a breakdancing movie. By Stage 2, his clothes had started to rip, and by Stage 3, they'd pretty much exploded off his body, leaving this figure wearing what amounts to a vest and shorts. The body is all new molds, not using any of the standard design pieces: it's tall and lean, with sculpted fur everywhere and digitigrade legs. The ends of his bandana trail down his back, and while he's still wearing one of his gloves, the right hand and forearm now have some metal armor strapped on. His clothes are tattered and uneven, making it clear these are the remnants of larger, more intact garments, and at some point he found a pair of nunchucks that he carries by looping them over his belt.

His head isn't just a human who's a little fuzzy, it's a total wolf head: long snout, pointy ears, all that. Not many wolves wear bandanas to accentuate their mohawks - I assume. I mean, I'm not a... wolf scientist? [wildlife biologist with a lupine concentration --ed.] Tufts of fur are used to exaggerate his chin and cheeks, and his flews are pulled back to reveal his sharp teeth.

Sadly, the jaw isn't hinged - probably because the game character doesn't open his mouth, so why should the toy? The articulation still manages to be above-average for the line, however, because in addition to all the usual stuff, he's got extra thigh swivels at the ends of his pantlegs. Why? Good question. There really shouldn't be a hinge in the foot, because with digitigrade legs, the quote/unquote "ankle" is actually the toe joints. Go ahead, stand on the balls of your feet; now try to flex your toes up even more than they already are. Could you do it? If so, you're some kind of freak and could proabably make good money on a fetish site. Give us a cut. We're your managers now. The balljoints for the torso and waist were very stiff when I opened the figure, to the point where I was afraid one or the other of them would snap, but they've loosened up a little now. And while there are balljoints at the top and bottom of the neck, the thickness of the fur means he can't raise his head to howl at the night sky.

If you managed to top out your Dire skin, you got the exclusive "Wolfpack" Back Bling. It's not a backpack like most of them, it's just a katana in its scabbard. And for some reason, the peg has been molded too small, meaning the accessory won't stay in place in the back. Way to go. His ranged weapon is the "Franchi SPAS-12"-ish Pump Shotgun, while his Harvesting Tool is the Tenderizer, which was only available to Twitch Prime subscribers. It's a big hammer with a crowbar on the end. There had to be better options, didn't there? How about the Tree Splitter, the Close Shave, or the Batsickle? Lots of things would have worked, though honestly fixing the dang sword would be our first priority.

Other than the backpack problems, Dire's pretty good. By McFarlane standards, he's outstanding! Since the skin has its design set by Stage 2 and only changes color thereafter, we're honestly a bit surprised Todd didn't take this opportunity to make a chase variant in different colors. But myabe they're planning to do those as future releases, getting more mileage out of unique molds. Heck, make the Stage 1 half-wolf, too! But what we really need now is Fable, the Little Red Riding Hood to go with this Big Bad Wolf.

-- 10/09/19

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