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by yo go re

Nobody ask John Byrne to write a Gargoyles story, or he'll reveal Bronx is actually a normal Gargoyle who just looks weird.

Bronx gives "bad dog" a whole new meaning. In a fight, this Gargoyle beast has jaws and claws powerful enough to rip anything apart. And if it means defending his master, Goliath, Bronx will do it. But even though Bronx can be vicious when provoked, underneath his tough hide he's a Gargoyle's best friend.

Thanks, 1995 Skybox trading cards, for providing the biography NECA's packaging didn't! Before it became the adventure cartoon we all know and love, Gargoyles was originally going to be a comedy, similar to Disney's Gummi Bears. The character who became Bronx was present way back then, just as a big dope rather than a fiercely loyal guard dog. The design remained pretty consistent, though.

While most of the Gargoyles are human-shaped - upright posture, two arms, two legs - Bronx is more animalistic. He walks around on all fours, and doesn't have any wings; whenever the clan is flying somewhere, somebody has to carry him. Instead of a long tail that drags on the ground, he's got a little nub that's not really any longer than the three spikes along his spine. He's not even one of those vaguely sapient animals like Scooby-Doo, meaning he can't talk. This is just the Gargoyles' pet dog, plain and simple.

Djordje Djokovic sculpts all NECA's Garoyles, so they have a unified style. The cartoon wasn't quite as smooth and stylized as Batman: The Animated Series, but it was still fairly simple. NECA's toys don't aim for an "animated" look, instead going for something that could pass for realistic. Well, exaggerated realistic; comicbook realistic. Bronx has thick, corded muscles in his legs, and a strong back. Look at his belly, and you can make out where the ribcage would be. The cartoon never bothered with that much detail.

The figure includes two heads: one calm, the other with the mouth wide open to attack. Both have the same features (heavy eyebrow ridges that turn into spikes out at the edges, a fairly normal nose over a split muzzle, a prominent underbite, ears that look like Etrigan's and, in the original comedy pitch, he would have flapped to hover slightly above the ground), but the roaring head is permanently in that pose, while the calmer head gets the addition of a hinged jaw, so it can open to a less extreme extent.

The paint work is beautiful. Bronx is a dark cornflower blue, fading to a much lighter shade for his jaw, underside, and the pads of his big paws. Shadows are airbrushed around his muscles, helping accentuate them, and the same goes for the brow ridges. The interior of his mouth is dark, even the exposed tongue, and that makes the contrast with his pure white teeth really pop. Unlike the "human" Gargoyles, gargoyle beasts never have pupils in their eyes - they're blank (white for boys, red for girls) whether they're emotional or not, so both heads get the same treatment here.

Because Bronx has a different body, his articulation has been changed slightly. He has swivel/hinges for the fingers, hands, elbows, shoulders, knees, ankles, and toes; the previously mentioned hinged jaw; swivel thighs; and balljoints for his head, neck, hips, and tail. There's also some sort of joint for the "waist," but it's hidden inside a PVC sleeve that covers the entire torso, so it's easy to miss. It definitely moves side-to-side, so it may just be a big hinge, but it's possible it's supposed to go up and down as well, and the skin just doesn't let it. This honestly seems like an unnecessary effort; a normal balljoint in the chest would have been fine. You have to lift the head up to have any room for the jaw hinge to open, but that's easy enough to figure out.

As a dog, Bronx doesn't need any guns or books, like the other toys have had, so his only accessory is a big chunk of meat. It looks like a log until you notice the ends are marbled. It can technically fit in either mouth, though the articulated one just makes it look like he's gingerly carrying it in his teeth, and the open one is in danger of falling out if you bump it.

As promised when this line started, Bronx includes one more accessory, but it's not for him: the plan is for the "smaller" figures to include things meant to share, so behind Bronx in the tray is a pair of folded wings for Goliath. They're made from a softer PVC than the brittle wings he originally came with, because they're meant to hang like a cape, not stick into the air. They look nice in place, and even have stubby pegs to make sure they stay in place in his back.

Because the 1990s Gargoyles line was made by Kenner, that meant a lot of crazy colors and wild variations. Bronx did get a toy back then, but he was sculpted wearing a golden harness that a hang-glider plugged into; not exactly cartoon-accurate. NECA's isn't prefectly re-creating the show, either, but their way of doing it - increasing the level of detail while keeping the body shapes the same - is far preferable, and makes for the kind of toys we wanted back then.

-- 03/05/23

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