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by yo go re

A legendary hero needs a legendary enemy.

Certain aspects of his life are well known. By 1916, Rasputin had attracted numerous enemies. It was time to allow his own assassination. His Machiavellian influence and his legendary, prolonged assassination are in public record. These and other factual events are of little or no interest to us. Over the ensuing years of darkness, Rasputin learned calm - and he saw the future. His ashes were at last recovered by Hilter's elite corps. A ceremony brought forth his renewed self. He emerged full-grown as the true power behind the Third Reich. In 1944, a successful portal generator brought forth the Scarlet Beast... Hellboy! And Rasputin waited in the darkness for a sign - and a chance to come back to finish his work.

Man, poor Rasputin. In real life he was a sincerely devoted, pious man, but in every piece of fiction he's always a villain. Even the story of his death is fake: he was shot twice in the back and once in the head, nothing more (Prince Yusupov, the man who did the deed, had a habit of "remembering" new details whenever his personal finances got low). His only fault was that he was born in the countryside, and had country manners - they killed him because he was rude.

Rasputin was played in the movie by Karel Roden, who has played a lot of different roles in his native Czechoslovakia, but usually ends up being the sinister foreign villain in American films. For whatever reason, Mike Mignola chose to make his version of Rasputin bald, and so the movie followed suit. Mezco, despite their reputation for "cartoony" sculpts, did an excellent job making a realistic likeness here.

This Rasputin is taken from the movie's World War II prologue, so this is how he dressed on Tarmagant Island: he's barechested and wearing plain black trousers beneath his ornate red robe. The robe is sculpted with the ornate embroidery around the shoulders, and a bit of fur trim on the high collar (which is so high that it comes up above his head). It's molded from soft PVC, but still has a definite shape to it: the right arm is held up, while the left hangs down.

The Hellboy figures were done in a surprisingly large scale, so Rasputin stands nearly 7½" tall. He has a balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders, hinged elbows, swivel forearms, a balljointed torso, swivel/hinge hips, sivel thighs, hinged knees, and maybe some sort of ankles. It's hard to tell - they may be stuck after all these years in storage, or they may just be glued into his pantlegs. As you'd imagine, he moves better sans robe, but taking it off him makes him look like an old-timey bareknuckle boxer.

He comes with his portal glove, the ornate machanical device he used to open the way to the Ogdru Jahad. It's very nicely detailed, with almost all the fancy little bits seen on the real prop. For real screen-accuracy, the ring around the wrist should be able to spin, but it's a solid piece here. Surprisingly though, the little hatch on the back of the hand has a hinged lid, and when you open it, you'll see a tiny arachnid inside (it's meant to be a scorpion, but the detail isn't quite good enough to make that out here). The glove fits over his fist with no trouble.

Just in case there was any remaining question of when in the story this figure is taken from, he comes with another chronal indicator: Hellbaby, the infant demon Professor Bruttenholm correctly predicted would have come through the open portal.

Breaking the 4" mark, Hellbaby is about twice the size he should be - in the movie, he was a bit larger than an infant, but here he come up to the top of Rasputin's leg. Of course, that's because the movie was able to cheat things in a way that an action figure can't: his stone right hand is the same size throughout his life, so this figure uses the same mold as the normal figure, and the body was made proportional to that; however, the film's CGI model could be scaled up or down as needed, which is how Professor Bruttenholm was able to cradle the baby in one arm.

Hellbaby has gigantic eyes, to make him look young. He has little horn-nubs on his forehead, and is already sporting the start of sideburns. The curling scars on his shoulders are here, as are his cloven hooves. He has swivel/hinge shoulders and a balljointed neck. No other joints - in order to keep him standing, you'll want to rest his hand on the ground.

Rasputin wears several interesting outfits through the movie, so it's a shame this is the only figure they made of him. Imagine him after his (latest) resurrection, sporting sunglasses and looking for all the world like Cypher from The Matrix; or when he's wounded, and his dark gods begin emerging from his body. Lots of potential, even beyond Yankee Sullivan here. The real Rasputin may have gotten a raw deal from history, but the fictional version is a great foe for Hellboy.

-- 10/31/15

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