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Kratos & Atreus

God of War
by yo go re

"BOY! Read this."

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.

There's nothing more annoying than a company releasing a figure, then re-releaing that same figure in a two-pack with another character you wanted. [I'll see you and raise you "that exact same thing, but it's also a rare store exclusive --ed.] In this case, we already had NECA's God of War 4 Kratos by himself - "Dad of Boy" with no BOY to go with him. Then came a set that featured a nearly identical Kratos, paired with the Atreus everyone desired from the start. Clearly that's going to be a winner, but is Dad and BOY worth it if you already had Dad? Let's learn!

Well, for one thing, this Kratos has more than one expression. The figure still comes with the same staid face as before, but there's an alternate head in the package, too: one with the mouth open in a mighty yell. The eyebrows aren't as strongly knitted as you might expect, so he looks more "upset" than "furious," but it's still a good thing for a Kratos to come with.

Most of the body is the same, and the few changes that have been made are kind of spoilers for the game? Is that why we've waited so long to review him? No, I'm just bad at this. To begin with, the bracers he wears now have the chains for the Blades of Chaos wrapped around them. Yep, that's what we were referring to near the end of the last review, the "other accessories" that wouldn't have been accurate to include yet. You're a while into the game before he sadly has to return to his old weapons, so including them with that figure would have given things away too soon.

Additionally, the horn that was hanging from his belt has been replaced with the severed head of Mimir, making this technically a three-pack instead of a two-pack. Mimir, "the smartest man alive," was not smart enough to avoid spending a century imprisoned in an indestructible tree on Midgaard's highest peak. Kratos and BOY needed Mimir's help, and Mimir wanted to be free of the tree, so out came the axe and off came the head!

Mimir's head may be permanently attached to Kratos' belt, but it's also fully detailed. This isn't some flat half-head, but the complete thing. He's molded with his long grey beard and short golden horns, and his right eye is painted golden to show that it's actually a Bifrost crystal - his left is missing. There are runes inked on his scalp. NECA has chosen not to sculpt the stump of his neck in a realistic manner, but the fact they included him at all is awesome. You may think it's odd that a Norse god wiuld have a Scottish accent, but if you let him talk long enough, you'll eventually learn that, like Kratos, he originated somewhere else and just eventually made his way north. If you pay attention (and know your Shakespeare) you'll even learn specifically who he used to be.

The last Kratos had some paint issues, but they show improvement here: namely, the pins in his elbow joints now match the color around them, rather than being unpainted tan plastic. The red stripe that spirals around his body is a little blurry at the edges, but I was never really clear on how perfectly crisp that was supposed to be, anyway.

Since the body is the same, the articulation is, too: 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. The hips on mine are a little loose, but he still stands up fine. There are people out there who insist NECA product is badly made, that it's constantly breaking, and to them we say: what the hell are you doing to your toys? Can you not tell the difference between a collector figure and a Tonka truck? Yeah, sometimes things don't work right, but 1) that's every company, and 2) it's the exception, not the rule. My last NECA figure I can remember having joint issues was in 2016; my last Hasbro figure with joint issues was in November.

The figure still has his Leviathan Axe and Guardian Shield, plus the small dagger that doesn't actually feature in the game in any significant way. But that's not where this set stops. For one thing, this time we also get the collapsed version of the shield, a little bar that plugs into Kratos' arm. Then there are the Blades of Chaos, of course, but actually two sets of them: the basic pair, which he starts with, and the fully upgraded set he gets after letting Brok and Sindri work their magic on them a few times! The upgraded ones feature chains, while the plain ones do not. The chains plug into his forearms, near the wrists, but only if you can find the holes: they're concealed very well by the sculpt, even if you know exactly where they are. The Blades' handles pull out so you can get them into his hands.

If all that weren't enough, we get some energy effects: a blue swoop of ice for the axe, an orange flame to go on a Blade of Chaos, and two fireballs for his fists to show his Spartan Rage power. These are the kind of extras that can make or break a figure, and Kratos' case they make him look awesome! The packaging refers to the one for the blade as a "Chaos Flame," but that's a different item in the game (one used to upgrade the Blades of Chaos, true, but not a flame effect in themselves).

Finally we get to the new part of the set, the boy who put the "BOY" in "Dad of Boy": Boy. ...er, I mean, Atreus. That's not what his mother wanted to call him, but Kratos insisted: he was named after a Spartan his father had grown up with, one who was always cheerful and good-natured, inspiring hope in his comrades; Kratos wanted to honor his friend's memory (and express his own hope that his days of being a machine of war were behind him).

Kratos is a father again. As mentor and protector to Atreus, a son determined to earn his respect, his is forced to deal with and control the rage that las long defined him while out in a very dangerous world with his son.

Kratos and Atreus did not have a good relationship growing up. Given Kratos' history with his own father, he was terrified of messing up his new child in the same ways - so his solution was to retreat emotionally, leaving Atreus' mother Faye to provide most of that support (his prayer, when she dies, is begging her to come back because he doesn't want to be left with no one but the father he thinks resents him). Add to that the fact that Atreus was a slight, sickly child who didn't have many interests in common with his father, and the two were basically roommates more than family. The story is about them coming to terms with each other - and since Kratos is our POV character, it's about him coming to terms with himself as well, so he can begin demonstrate the love he's always felt for his son. The game's writing is truly excellent, and the changes both characters go through are both subtle and smart.

Like Kratos, this Atreus seems to be from later in the game - he's not as sickly pale as he was in the early stages, though he's still not looking too healthy. The colors are darker on the toy than they are in the game - like, there's a lot more blue in the tint here, as evidenced by Atreus' red hair coming out closer to brown.

BOY definitely dresses like a little viking, wearing lots of furs and leaving very little skin exposed. The bit of skirt hanging down over his legs feels similar to his dad's Grecian dress, with little strips hanging down from the weave. Strings wrap around his shins to tie his boots on, and his belt has a pouch and a sheath for his knife. Since he can't fight the same way his father does, Atreus is a ranged threat - he uses a bow and arrows. The quiver is permanently attached to his back, with its strap sculpted around his chest. Also, his shirt apparently has a hood, though he never seems to use it. Guess he's used to the cold.

Atreus isn't even 5½" tall, but he still gets lots of articulation: balljointed ankles, swivel/hinged knees, swivel thighs, swivel/hinge/swivel wrists, double-hinged elbows, swivel biceps, swivel/hinge shoulders, and a balljointed neck and head. Oddly, while the head's balljoint tips very well, it doesn't want to turn - I can feel the plastic stressing when I try. So you know what I do? I be careful moving it so it doesn't break! Because I'm not a senseless lummox! Seriously, people out here acting like taking care of your things is some monumental task. Frigging babies. Yes, not every toy works great right out of the package, and yes, sometimes they break, but at some point "my toys are constantly falling apart" is more about the "my" than the "toys."

BOY's accessories include his small knife, his bow, four arrows, and an alternate left fist. He's apparently a lefty, because the quiver points over his left shoulder, his left hand is molded with the two fingers curled to draw the bow, and his right arm is the one with the forearm covered for protection. The bow is sculpted like a rough tree branch, rather than a smooth, finished item, and its string is real instead of plastic. You can upgrade it in the game, but this fits better with the intended aesthetic.

The packaging for this Ultimate set is way better than the solo Kratos. It's designed like one of the game's Jötnar Shrines, with two panels that open on the front to reveal the contents. The left side of the box shows Kratos and lists all his accessories, and the right shows BOY. The back even has a little more promotional copy:

"The truth. I am a god, boy. From another land far from here. When I came to these shores, I chose to live as a man. But the truth is... I was born a god. And so were you."

It does have the same problem a lot of NECA's Ultimate figures do, where the velcro dots holding the flap closed are ridiculously strong, so the glue peels off before the halves come apart. At least in this case the cardboard isn't ripping.

When the first Dad of Boy figure came out, we were sad he didn't have a BOY to go with him; now that there's a set of both Dad and BOY, we're sad that's where the line ended. Wouldn't you have loved the Witch of the Woods, or the dirty meth-head Super Saiyan? Even if it's all we get, this set is absolutely a nice upgrade, even if you have the original. But it also means you don't need to get that original if you have this set.

-- 01/14/21

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