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God of War
by yo go re

You can tell that the first generation of nerds to be directly catered to are getting old, because we're seeing more and more big nerd stories where the hero is a middle-aged father reminiscing about his glory days. 2017 saw five of the best superhero movies ever made (also Justice League), and one of the best among them was Logan, where he gets tasked with raising a daughter while both metaphorically and not-metaphorically contending with the man he used to be. Videogames, in particular, have really embraced the trend of the Action Dad, putting players in the "parent" role in games like Last of Us, Uncharted 4 and, of course, today's subject.

His vengeance against the gods of Olympus far behind him, Kratos now lives as a man in the lands of Norse Gods and monsters. It is in this harsh, unforgiving world that he must fight to survive - and teach his son to do the same.

See that? "His son"? How is it that NECA has released a Kratos without also releasing a BOY? The game is literally called Dad of Boy [it is literally not called that --ed.], and yet we only get one of the two titular characters. Kratos without BOY is not the Dad of Boy, he is just "Dad of." And being a "Dad of" is nothing! BOY sticks to Kratos like Elizabeth sticks to Booker DeWitt, but here we are, with a sad, BOYless Dad. And now that we've said both "dad" and "boy" enough times that the words have lost all sense and meaning, let us continue on with the review.

The most noticable difference between Kratos-as-God-of-War and Kratos-as-Dad-of-War is that Daddy Kratos has grown a big, bushy beard instead of a pointy goatee. He's still bald, like the existing Kratoi, so either he shaves his head now, or he shaved his face then. You can tell he's scowling beneath the beard, because that's his default expression, and he retains the scar over his eye.

Being a dad has clearly not given Kratos a dad bod, because he's still exactly as jacked as he was in his Grecian days. He does wear more clothing now, because The North is cold, but that just means he's got pants on under his skirt. There's also an armored pad strapped on his shoulder, but that's for protection, not warmth. Kratos was sculpted by Neobauhaus Studios, the same source as Ultimate Kratos, so you know he's going to look good. The shoulder pad has fur underneath, and he's still wearing the tattered remnants of his strappy Spartan skirt between his pants and his leather loincloth. There are a few pouches, a knife sheath and a horn hanging off the back of his belt, and he wears a bracer on his left arm that features some small metal plates to act as light armor there.

The ashes of Kratos' family are still baked into his skin, so he remains an unearthly white with a red streak beginning over his eye and curling around to end on his shoulder. All his clothing is dark, contrasting with the bare skin, and there are accents of bloody red to match his swirl. His scar is painted pink, and his nipples are darker than that. The body is molded from a dark tan plastic and then painted white - you can tell, because the wrist joint and the pins in his left elbow retain their natural color (you can also see it under his beard).

Back in the day, Kratos was the first NECA figure to have plentiful articulation, and he's not backtracking now - in fact, he's getting even better! The figure has a balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders, double-hinged elbows, balljointed waist, swivel/hinge/swivel wrists, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, swivel/hinged ankles, and hinged toes. It's not as huge a leap forward as other Kratos toys have been, but it's good, and will take almost any warrior pose you want to give him.

His accessories include the Leviathan axe, the game's new signature weapon, as well as a tiny dagger and his big shield. The axe, like the armor he's wearing, is in its starting state, not featuring any of the upgrades - a choice that makes sense, since NECA couldn't predict what specific add-ons you'd picked while you were playing the game. The dagger isn't anything he uses extensively, but it fits in the sheath on his belt if you don't want him to hold it. The axe handle splits so you can get it in his hand, or it can hang in the clip on his back, just like it does in the game. If, however, you choose to throw it across the room, it won't recall to his hand like Mjolnir.

The shield is really neat. It's got a nice pattern, and some red paint on the back, but it would never be able to accurately duplicate the in-game item, because that thing somehow appears out of nowhere, spinning around to form a complete barrier when it's needed. It also seems mounted directly to his arm somehow, rather than being strapped on or otherwise carried. So how does NECA manage that? They have the shield plug straight into the arm. But they do it in an exceeedingly clever way: rather than leaving a gaping hole in the arm when the shield's not there, they made one of the metal bars on the glove removable; so pull that out (don't lose it!), and you've got a slot perfectly sized for the shield. Outstanding!

We rarely mention toy packaging here on OAFE, unless it's truly something to behold - after all, most boxes or cards are fundamentally identical across a line, so there's really no point in bothering. We do want to take a brief moment to talk Kratos' box, however - not because it's especially good, but because of what's wrong with it.

The box is mainly blue on the front, showing Dad and BOY in their boat above the game's logo (which trades the Ω of previous games for a coiled Midgaard Serpent, which is a smart touch on Santa Monica Studio's part). The sides are a dark red, and the back is divided between blue on top (with a picture of Dad and BOY fighting a troll) and dark red on the bottom (with a photo of the figure). The backdrop behind the figure is a frosty blue. Again, nice. However, the plastic window on the front of the box has two pure cyan bands of intertwined lines running down it. Thematically appropriate, perhaps, but they block the view of the contents and at first glance they just look like a printer's error. It's an odd choice.

Of course, no choice is as odd as releasing Dad of Boy without BOY. Normally we'd say that NECA was holding that back for a two-pack, gauging interest in the game before committing to a toy of a human child - after all, remember why Newt had to be an SDCC exclusive - but with the closure of Toys Я Us, where would that two-pack go? Online? Do you want to trust the kind of paint apps you'll get, sight-unseen? Of course, if you've played the game, then you know a set of Dad and BOY could also include... some other accessories that wouldn't have been... accurate to include with this version of Kratos. But hey, we're only a few weeks away from SDCC, so maybe they'll reveal something there. I hope so, because otherwise this Kratos will always be incomplete.

-- 06/09/18

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