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Hellboy with Japanese Heads

by yo go re

One of the most anticipated toylines of 2005 was Mezco's comic-based Hellboy. The toys looked great and were built well, but there were definite problems. Even leaving aside the financially necessary (yet still terrible) case packs, there was one fault that drove the fans nuts: Hellboy didn't have his trenchcoat! Sure, he doesn't wear it all the time, but would you release a figure of Superman without his cape?

Mezco offered an exclusive Hb through their Collector's Club, and he did have the coat. They also took the opportunity to release a comic-accurate version of Nazi madman Herman von Klempt. Well, apparently there's something about the idea of an exclusive, coat-wearing Hellboy that simply demands a severed head, because Mezco's done it again, just in advance of the long-awaited release of Series 2.

The Hellboy figure is the same as the three that were in the first series and the exclusive, which means this is the fifth iteration of this same body. Luckily for us, it's really damn good. Mignola always draws Hb as a decrepit wreck, about to fall over under the weight of the damage he's accumulated over the years, and the sculpt really conveys that. His skin is cracked and pitted, and he just looks like he's been through hell. Of course, all that fine detail wouldn't mean squat if the underlying structure was wrong, but no worries: in broad strokes, the figure is sculpted with the same sort of blocky, choppy lines that Mignola's expressionist-influenced art displays. The only error is his feet - those hooves are supposed to poke out of little boot things, not blend smoothly. Oh well.

Paint is simple, but good. When making a Hellboy toy, the most important thing is to find the right shade of red for his body; you do that and you're golden. Mez seems to have gotten it right, giving us a nice solid red that runs a little heavy on the yellow and has just a bit of cyan to keep it dark. There's even a shadowy wash over it to grab all the details and help sell the angles. Gotta love that. His hair is grey, rather than pure black, and his eyes are orange. To make up for the flub with the foot sculpt, we get a paint differential, with a lighter color for the hooves than the boots.

To help Hellboy fight all those supernatural threats, he's articulated at the head, shoulders, biceps, elbows, forearms, wrists, chest, waist, hips and knees, plus thee joints in his crooked tail. The chest joint is one of those pseudo-balljoints that the earliest Marvel Legends had, but unlike those, this one actually works. It's got a good range of motion and slides securely, and the blocky nature of the sculpt means the joint is pretty much invisible. He carries his arms out from his sides a little, helping to sell his muscular bulk - have you ever seen a body builder who could sufficiently put their arms down at their sides? His left wrist is a simple hinge, while the Right Hand of Doom gets a balljoint. Hb is a rather top-heavy figure, so the fact that sub-waist joints are kept to a minimum keeps him standing.

The count of Hellboy's accessories will depend on whether you count non-removeable items or not. Is his big coat an accessory? Is his utility belt? They're both very nice, but they're permanently in place - the jacket lacks the cool little buckles of the movie's Extended Features Hellboy, so you can't fit it over his arm. There's a BPRD patch on the arm, and a three-leaf(?) clover tucked into the rolled-up sleeve. The coolest thing about the belt is the little rosary hanging on the left: it's a loose piece, with a real metal chain that's soldered shut in the back. So if you pry the belt off the figure and undo the looped knot holding the chain in place, you could give it to another figure.

In the realm of actual accessories, Hb has a horseshoe and his comically oversized gun. The gun doesn't open, like the movie figures' did, but it's still a cool piece and looks great in the figure's hand. It can fit tightly in the holster on the utility belt, but it seems to lean the wrong way - shouldn't the handle point toward his left side, not his right? It's like all those He-Man figures who had to draw their right-handed weapons from a left-handed scabbard. Poor guys. The horseshoe is made from a softer plastic, but still detailed nicely. There's nowhere on his belt to hold it, but you can tuck it inside the rolled-up sleeve of his coat if you don't want it to get lost.

Now, there's more in the clamshell with Hellboy, but I'd say the rest is a pack-in, not an accessory. Hellboy has often found himself inserted into classic fables, yarns, folktales and ghost stories, as in the short story "Heads." In that story, the BPRD has sent Hb to Japan to investigate a supposedly haunted house - no one would live near it, and the village that once surrounded it has been abandonned and fallen into disrepair, but still the evil house stands.

The story's titular cabezas are included with this exclusive,
and they look great. The six of them have unique sculpts, and they're all based directly on Mike Mignola's artwork. He's said that "Heads" is his favorite Hallboy story, but was also the hardest to draw, because he didn't know anything about Japan. Well, whatever resource he used to educate himself must have worked, because these six melons have a definite classical Japanese look about them. They all have their mouths open to reveal their little fangs. Evil heads! Because the heads didn't just bounce around on the ground, but instead floated in the air, they have their own display stands to help them hover. You get six clear tubes of varying height and six black discs to hold them erect. You can put whichever head you like on whichever post, for a bit of variety in your display. Make them swarm Hellboy in new and interesting ways!

Hellboy with Japanese Heads is a good exclusive. It's much more of a must-have than last year's Ghost of Lobster Johnson, and has more to offer than the previous Trenchcoat Hellboy. And although this was an SDCC exclusive, Mezco again offered him through their website, for those of us who couldn't make the pilgrimage to San Diego. Yes, it costs a bit more than the average figures in the line, but you get an increase in value to go with it. If you want a Hellboy, get this one while you can.

-- 09/04/06

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