NECA "Gargoyles" Ultimate Armored Xanatos review

Fearing he's lost his "edge," Xanatos dons armor that transforms him into one of his gargoyle robots. Cunningly, he begins a campaign of terror all across Manhattan that makes everyone in the city believe that gargoyles exist.

Have you ever wanted more info on the trading cards we keep cribbing these bios from? It's the 1995 Skybox Gargoyles set, and that text came from card #51, "Xanatos as a Robot." It would be more useful if NECA published info on the backs of the boxes, but maybe Disney is insisting on it being this way. And hey, if nothing else, it means we have something to take up space in this review.

In a move that should surprise no one, other than the hose running over the shoulders from the new box on the chest, this figure is mostly the same as the Steel Clan Robot, just with red paint instead of grey and teal. That's fine, that's what this design was on the original TV show, too. Same good sculpt, same good articulation (that gets weird around the wings), same pop-up blasters that swap into the forearms, same jet effects. And the same hands, which we told you before was a problem and promised to explain later. Well, it's later now.

In "The Edge," the episode of the show where Xanatos' armor debuted, him being inside it was a surprise. The Steel Clan Robots had been around for a while by then, and the Gargoyles didn't have a ton of trouble outsmarting them with a few basic tricks. But now, all of a sudden, there was a new model, with its distinctive appearance, that seemed to be an upgrade and was commanding the lesser ones in battle. It was treated as just another robot, albeit a smarter one. It was only at the end of the episode that we learned Xanatos was piloting it himself, but there had been a clue all along: the red robot had four fingers on each hand, while the rank-and-file robots only had three. I'm sure it would have been expensive (and frankly kind of wasteful) for NECA to mold different hands for these two toys, but the Steel Clan having four-fingered hands was still an error.

The robot's head and neck can be removed, and swapped for a version revealing Xanatos' face. This is the same snarling head the plain figure came with, which is why we were willing to guess at who sculpted that: the Steel Clan packaging credits Marty Henley and David Giraud, while this packaging credits Marty Henley, David Giraud, and Tomasz Rozejowski; thus, it stands to reason Tomasz did the head here, and therefore also did the heads on normal Xanatos. Logic puzzle! Unfortunately, human Xanatos is much smaller than a robotic gargoyle, so the head ends up looking small on the body, and the fact this is the same mold meant to work with his suit jacket means there's no accommodation for the thickness of the armor when it comes to his ponytail. At least we get a little collar piece to help hide the transition between skin and metal?

Xanatos in his power armor was one of the few figures I got from the vintage line, so it's nice to get an update that is so very much superior. But it's also funny that, like that old version, it's hard to pose this one's wings the way you want to.

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