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The Monarch

The Venture Bros.
by yo go re

And so we continue our deadly game of cat and also-cat!

The mighty Monarch is Dr. Venture's nemesis. He thwarts him at garage sales, kidnaps his children, and has leagues of henchmen at his beck and call. He's also got a hot girlfriend!

Technically that's a hot wife, not a hot girlfriend anymore (although if Bif Bang Pow wants to release a Dr. Girlfriend/​Dr. Fiancee figure, we certainly wouldn't object). The Monarch was originally meant to be a one-shot villain for the pilot, not necessarily killed by Brock, but definitely removed from the story from that point forward. That he's come back to be the arch villain of the series shows that sometimes making stuff up on the fly can work out for the best.

Monarch may wear a black and yellow spandex suit with giant butterfly wings, but the dominating feature of his design is his giant eyebrows. They hover off his face like The Book of Biff, and are re-created excellently here. They (and his beard) are separate pieces glued to the face, for maximum reality. His eyes are a bit crooked, but the sculpt of his face, with its goofy, lop-sided sneer, is great. It looks like it came straight out of the cartoon!

As we said, Monarch has a black and yellow costume. Like Dr. Venture, he's a scrawny guy - he's not as muscular as Phantom Limb, but he does have some surprisingly well defined abs! His chest armor is sculpted to look like it's a separate piece of apparel, his dart-launchers are right there around his wrists, and they perfectly captured his silly boots, with their curly elf-toes and the high heels. The Monarch's logo - a stylized representation of his own head, with his eyebrows forming butterfly wings - is painted on his chest, and his tall, four-pronged crown perches delicately on the back of his head (as part of the mold, not a loose accessory).

Naturally, he has his wings, as well. They're cast in semi-opaque orange plastic, and are painted with black and white details around the edges. The four wings - two small, two large - are attached to a large peg that goes into the figure's back, so they can swivel up. Unfortunately, the entire assembly seems to be glued in place, so when I tried to move the wings, the peg sheared off and one of the wings snapped. Yay. I'll be sending it back to Entertainment Earth for a replacement, and the next one will get some freezer time or some boiling water before I move anything. Be careful.

Other than the broken peg, the Monarch's articulation is identical to the other characters': swivel neck, shoulders, waist and hips, and hinged elbows and knees. The waist and the left hip were stuck at first, but since the wings were already broken, I was fine with just using force to get them moving. This is a figure that really would have benefitted from swivel/hinge shoulders, so he could get into appropriately melodramatic poses. He needs to waise his arms and spread them wide, and point at his underlings! Swivel wrists would be nice for "dart shooting" action, too.

Look, I love The Venture Bros. It's a superb cartoon, and it deserves toys. Real toys, not just the Mego knockoff dolls. I said as much the other week. So when these figures were announced, I was totally hyped for them. The final product is only on the high side of mediocre, but I still want them all, based on the strength of the cartoon. Even with the Monarch's breakage, I'm sending him back for a replacement, not a refund. I want these figures to work. I want them to succeed. I want the line to keep going, so we get a bigger, more complete cast. I don't want the Monarch to be the last release, because he may not be great, but he's still better than most of the licensed tie-in action figures that came out since last summer.

-- 01/09/14

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