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Hellboy & Golden Army Soldier

Hellboy 2 BPRD Buddies
by yo go re

Sometimes, you just wish toy companies would bite the bullet and admit when they're copying each other. Art Asylum gets a big hit with Marvel Minimates, and instead of joining that action, DC Direct introduces the terrible Pocket Superheroes. People seem to like Hasbro's Mighty Muggs, but DC gives us Uniformz (and Blammoids, I guess). At least when Mattel introduced the preschool Super Friends toys, it was a shameless aping of ToyBiz's already-successful Spider-Man & Friends line. The "Heroes-scale" toys are selling like gangbusters, but what do DC fans get? Imaginext and Batman: Brave & the Bold Minis. Lame. One company, at least, is smart enough to deliver what the fans want, and that's Mezco.

Mezco's done really great with their Hellboy toys so far. They've done movie and comic toys, both as normal figures and their fun little Mez-Itz. While there aren't any Mez-Itz for the second movie, there is something new: BPRD Buddies. Sold in two-packs and styled almost exactly like the successful Hasbro Heroes (or whatever you want to call those), it's clear they want to court the same markets. Me? I say more power to 'em!

The first series of Buddies comprises four pairs of figures, and three of those pairs include a Hellboy - or "Red," as he's cleverly known on the packaging. He's Red, the property's HBII, and uptight parents can't complain about seeing offensive things on the shelf at Toys Я Us. Everybody wins!

If you're just looking to get one Hellboy, this is the one to get: he's wearing his familiar trenchcoat and he's armed with the Samaritan. His pose is definitely more extreme than the other two Hellboys, but that just makes him more dynamic. Think about it this way: what's more fun, a Spider-Man who's standing upright, or one who's doing something interesting? Hellboy's crouching, maybe getting up off the floor after being knocked down (as is his wont), using the Right Hand of Doom to balance while he points his gun out in front of him. It's a very stable presentation.

Articulation is surprisingly light. Red moves at the neck, tail and both wrists - swivels all. It looks like his shoulders should move, but they don't. Plus, it was really difficult to get the joints going. The plastic has a lot of friction with itself. That said, the sculpt of the figure is adorable. Hb's got a cool grin on his face, and the figure really does look like an SD version of Ron Perlman.

One of the things recommending this Hellboy over any of the others is the fact that he's the only one to come with an enemy (the others are packaged with Abe and Johann, for the record). You want to have a fight? Then this set's Golden Army Soldier is ready to throw down.

To be truly movie-accurate, you'll need to buy 49,000 sets: that's how many soldiers were in the Golden Army, after all; this is just a solitary representative. He stands half again as tall as Hellboy - 3" to Hb's 2" - which isn't quite big enough, but they had to fit him on the same card as everyone else; there aren't any Fin Fang Foom/Sentinel-sized toys in this line so far.

He may be small (relatively speaking), but the Golden Army Soldier is detailed well. The egg-shaped body works well in the cartoonish style, and although the soldier's articulation is even more limited than Hellboy's (just swivel shoulders and nothing else), he still has great detailing. The internal gears look like they should spin, the elven symbols on the armor alternate between being sunken or raised elements, and the joints on his limbs are sculpted to look like real mechanical features. Normally we'd call it stupid: sculpting a soild piece to merely look like a working joint, when making a working joint would accomplish the same function? But at this scale, in this style, it's acceptable. Not ideal, but acceptable.

You really have to commend Mezco for geting their BPRD Buddies into TRU stores. The toys are fun, and will fit perfectly into the collection of anyone who enjoys Galactic Heroes, Robot Heroes, Superhero Squad and the rest. It's just another nice way to have your own little crossovers, like we said in the V entry for our Toy Alphabet of Cool. But more importantly, by being in a real store, these will sell to people who wouldn't even give them a second look if they were only available through online retailers or the Previews catalog. Someday non-traditional outlets like those might take over, but for now, sales in a "real" store matter more. And when the toys are this good, they deserve the attention.

-- 06/26/09

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