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Phantom Limb

The Venture Bros.
by yo go re

There's something about this guy, but I just can't put my finger on it.

You can't see his arms, but he can see everything! Former lover of Queen Etheria, art thief, and one-time head of the Guild of Calamitous Intent, Phantom Limb has armies of criminals at his disposal. He'll take every chance he gets for revenge... even starting the Revenge Society!

Few characters better embody the brilliant depths of The Venture Bros. than Phantom Limb. At first blush, the name just refers to his invisible apendages and to the pain, and that's where most joke villains would stop. Then we learn his real name is Hamilton Fantomos, and that he's a descendant of the famous villain Fantomas. So now he's got an inherited role and a purple suit, which brings to mind The Phantom. And his first name could come from Gil Hamilton, who lost his arm in an accident and discovered he had a psychic remnant of the limb that he could use like the real thing. So what seems like a throwaway gag has unexpected layers - Venture Bros. in a nutshell!

The face is excellent. He's got a deep scowl, sunken cheeks, and that prominent Roman nose. There's even a sculpted wrinkle on his forehead! His tiny mustache is painted cleanly, and they gave his odd, bifurcated domino mask the two-tone paint that it deserves. His eyes are painted so he's looking up - a look of anger and revenge.

When this figure was in development, they considered several different ways of depicting his powers - including a hover stand that would have plugged into his back. The final figure goes the traditional route of casting the limbs in clear plastic, which is mildly disappointing - we'd been hoping for the first Phantom Limb to use the "hover" idea, and then a variation later with clear limbs like this, but painted with electric veins to suggest his "death touch" ability. So it goes. There's a molding error on the inside of the left arm on my figure; it makes the plastic bulge out, and leaves a big, visible bubble inside the arm.

The details of the costume are sculpted on, not just painted - all those thin golden lines you see? They're 3D elements. It would be a fairly impressive feat, if not for one minor issue: this is the wrong costume. His "modern" costume is two-tone purple, with golden circles at the corners of the squarish trim on his costume; this one, however, is a single shade of purple, with more rounded trim and no circles. The cowl seems to be a blend of the two: like the old one, there are two golden lines running over the top; like the modern one, it doesn't connect to his mask. For comparison, imagine if Hasbro released a figure wearing Anakin's Jedi robes and Darth Vader's helmet. And imagine if the odds were good it was the only Vader they'd ever get to release.

Phantom Limb is nearly 4⅛" tall, and moves at the neck, shoulders, elbows, waist, hips and knees. The hinges work fine for now - remember, clear plastic is notoriously brittle and prone to breaking over time - but the swivel joints (neck, shoulders, hips and waist) were all stuck when I opened the figure. It didn't take anything other than a little stress to get them moving, however; no freezer time or anything, and yet they move fine now. The articulation is fine, considering that he has no accessories and we're supposed to pretend we can't see his arms and legs anyway.

When the Venture Bros. action figures were first announced, Phantom Limb was just concept art, not even a rough sculpt. The final product (which I ordered sight unseen) turned out as well as could be expected, definitely on par with the other Venture Bros. toys. Now we just need a Queen Etheria to go with him. And maybe a David Bowie.

-- 07/21/13

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