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Garruk Wildspeaker

Magic the Gathering
by yo go re

So, what, Magic has football players, now?

Garruk Wildspeaker is a Planeswalker who wields green magic. His specialty is creature magic: spells that coax abundant mana from the land, summon wild beasts, and unleash the ferocity and power of his summoned creatures. But since being cursed by the Chain Veil, his nature spells have been tainted by black magic.

Garruk has always been a skilled hunter, and his calling has been a plane-spanning hunt for the hugest and most powerful creatures in the Multiverse. But now his chosen quarry is a fellow Planeswalker: the death-witch Liliana Vess. At their last meeting, Liliana used the power of the Chain Veil artifact to curse Garruk, corrupting his power to summon wild beasts. As the curse takes hold and Garruk's fierce predator-companions become sickly fiends, he finds that he's gaining new, chilling powers of death. This only enrages him more.

Liliana still carries the shadowy Chain Veil, and Garruk won't stop until he's cured of his intolerable death-tainted state. After failing to corner and defeat Liliana Vess on Innistrad, Garruk was captured by a commander of the Gavony Riders named Odric. Accused of a crime he did not commit, Garruk became enraged and escaped his captors. The Curse of the Veil had taken hold.

Wow, I never would have guessed this guy is supposed to be a Green magician. Sure, if you look at his original "Garruk Wildspeaker" card it's apparent, but this figure isn't based on that card. As you can see in the art to the left, this is "Garruk, Apex Predator," when he'd started hunting Planeswalkers for fun.

Garruk wears a very distinctive helmet - it used to belong to the sheriff who tried to conscript him into a child army when he was only 10. "Used to." In the art it has two spikes that appear to be tusks tied to it, likelyto make Garruk look more like the wild baloths that raised him (horned animals about the size of a small house). On this toy, they're the same grey as the rest of the helmet, suggesting they're metal, and permanently a part of it. The toy's helmet is a separate PVC piece glued on the head, but only for the illusion of depth - it's not removable.

Garruk is a giant - 7½" tall - and his skin is a deathly white. He's always had the brown tattoos, but the dark veins are a symptom of the forces corrupting him. He's wearing a fur cape with large black spikes errupting from his shoulders, as well as some very mis-matched clothes. Nothing about his outfit is the same from one side to the other: different boots, different armor on the shins, one bare thigh... you get the idea. It all appears cobbled together from whatever he could scavenge, which makes sense for this pseudo-barbarian. A large portion of his clothes are meant to be chainmail, but end up looking more like waffle weave here. He has belts and straps holding everything together, and he wears a necklace of fangs. His beard is pulled into three small braids.

There does seem to be a sculptural or design mistake, however. There's a bit on his leg that is clearly meant to be armor for his knee, except it's attached to the side, rather than the front. That's not where armor goes. If you look at Tyler Jacobson's painting, which inspired this toy, you'll see that, yes, the armor is pointing to the side, rather than straight ahead. However, Garruk is also standing knee-deep in a swamp; we can't see his feet at all. It's more likely that the piece was meant to represent him turning to the side and leaning over than that the armor was really intended to protect the wrong part of his leg. If you need to make an excuse for it, though? Just say that after living in the wild for so long, he was unclear about the best way to wear it.

Garruk comes with two weapons, but only one is an accessory. The most obvious is his big, straightforward axe, which is taller than most 6" figures and features the same angular white pattern seen on Garruk's clothes. It's sculpted with a wooden haft, a ring on the end, and a red wrap tied all around it. His second weapon is the wicked cestus he wears on his right arm. It has a single large spike, for piercing whatever he punches with it, but the top has a series of small, backward-facing hooks, to cause worse injuries when it's pulled free. Scary stuff! Plus, there's a broken sword hanging behind his waist - surely it must represent something real? And naturally, he has the articulation to use his stuff well: balljointed neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, balljointed torso, balljointed hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, and swivel/hinge ankles. His bulky costume makes moving many of the joints difficult, unfortunately.

When he was first introduced, Garruk's gimmick was that he'd summon wild beasts to fight for him; once Liliana corrupted him, he started summoning sickly zombie versions, like Black Lantern Aquaman calling up his undead sharks. Plus, every time he taps into the curse for a power boost, it grows stronger and he grows weaker - that's why he's the big bad of the latest Duels of the Planeswalkers videogame. Garruk wasn't born to be a villain, but it certainly suits him.

-- 11/15/14


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