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by yo go re

Finally, a build-it-yourself figure of a build-it-yourself character.

Not the brightest bulbs in the box, but watch out when they blow a fuse. Known to travel in small bands, wielding guitars and subjecting innocent bystanders to deafening monster mosh-fests. Assembled from Franken'Punker a gruesome collection of spare parts, these super-charged eyesores pack a million megawatt wallop. The only thing that keeps them from being completely undefeatable is their wee little brains, which are about the size and weight of a honey roasted cashew. Some experts theorize that the brains of Franken'Punker warriors have actually been fried to a crisp by the sizzling bolts of lightning used to animate these guys for battle. Others believe that they are outfitted with sub-standard cranial specimens on purpose, so that their electrifying power can be controlled by a master. Though hundreds of Franken'Punkers are rumored to toil as warrior slaves in the service of powerful lords, only a rare and dangerous few escape bondage to form their own rebel bands.

The Franken'Punker is one of the Unnatural, the race of monsters, ghosts and goblins that hail from the cheerfully named Tombstone Island. There's definitely a lot more "franken" than "punker" in his design, but that's okay - especially when what we've gotten looks so good.

His feet are simply huge, duplicating that "Boris Karloff"-y look. The ultra-thick soles of his boots have a deep angular pattern, and his shins have big metal plates all the way up to the knee. By contrast, his upper legs and hips look tiny, even spindly.

At the Franken'Punker's waist is a thick band of metal, though the design implies that it's there not to hold his pants up, but to cinch his torso shut and keep his purloined organs from falling out. His skin is blue, and large chunks of his body look to have been stapled in place. He's got a spiked collar, and a metal cap sealing his left shoulder.

Frankie's arms have the same piecemeal look as his center mass, though they get an extra paint app that turns some of the chunks gray. His right shoulder has a large access hatch and his left wrist is shackled. His right forearm looks like a piece of electrical equipment, and he's got an extra upper arm to match. You even get a choice of hands.

The Franken'Punker has three heads, each with a different expression, so you can choose how you want him to look. For a mysterious creature, use the head with the black executioner's hood. To make him sinister, the skeletal face with the black eyes is your best bet. If you think your creation is best served as a slightly dumb, misunderstood beast, then the two-part head with the Beavis-worthy underbite is the one for you.

What really make the Xevoz fun are the accessories included that let you customize your figure however you like. The Franken'Punker has a giant pad that fits on his right shoulder and a two-gear contraption that fits over his heart. He's got a backpack that doubles as a power plant, and it's really detailed nicely; there's a pressure gauge and a vent, and a Jacob's ladder with a green arc of electricity.

A series of green tubes can plug into the backpack and into the slots on the figure's body, making it look like they're what's animating him. My favorite feature on the backpack is a very minor one: it's a power switch, one of those big up/down numbers that the movies would have you believe are the main power switch in any large system or device. If you don't use the electrical coil upper arm on your figure, it fits on the pack for an added bit of technological heft.

Now, that was just the stuff he wears. Franken'Punker has a nice selection of weapons, too, ranging from the brute - a twisted steel girder, a monkey wrench - to the advanced - an axe and... an axe? That's one axe for wood, one axe for rock: for the "punker," part of his name, he's got a nice guitar. Flying V style. Frank can hold any of the four weapons in either clenching hand.

Final accessory is a two-parter. Reusing a chain we already got with a previous set, you can link the peg on the figure's left wrist to a chunk of stone, to make it look like he had been shackled but has torn a section of wall out in his escape. Now he can wale on his captors with the remaining chunk. And of course, he has his his sheet of stickers.

The Franken'Punker is a tremendously fun figure, and a perfect example of why we all loved Xevoz so much. The design is great, the accessories are both useful and inventive, and you can build him to be whatever you want. It's a shame that the first series of this line was so over-ordered: though all the later assortments sold quickly, retailers who still had Razorclaws and Alpha Rangers couldn't be convinced to pick up the 'Punker and his friends.

-- 10/23/05

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