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Spawn Series 22: The Viking Age
by Shocka

From the latest in McFarlane Toys' Spawn line, Series 22: The Viking Age, comes the enormous Skullsplitter, a monsterous demon of a figure. Because Poe has already done an exhaustive historical rundown on the inaccuracies of Jorvak the Skullsplitter, I'll skip that and get down to the figure.

The name of the game in action figure manufacturing is re-use: you mold something once, then milk it for all it's worth. McFarlane Toys can't really do that, though, since all their sculpts are so complex and unique. So a few years ago, they found a way around that. Beginning with Series 17, they introduced the R3 concept: Resculpted, Repainted, Revisited. Basically, it was the same figure with the same mold, just given enough tweaks that we can be suckered into buying the same toy again. It wasn't used for every series - 18 and 19 skipped it, but 20 partook, and now 22. Every figure in the Viking Age gets an R3 version, including the mighty Skullsplitter!

Skullsplitter is a horridly big monster of a figure, towering over your other pitiful victim figures at a solid 8" tall. This is a big figure, from his gritty shining metal boots to his demonic horns, he's a big'un, and his detail highlights his overpowering energy which will intimidate all.

The sculpt is the same brilliance as we've come to expect from McToys - the entire body of Skullsplitter is covered in thick, detailed and often poseable armor. His boots are painted of thick chainmail, leading up to his demon-sculpted kneepads. Going up his body, he has real fur underneath his shoulder- and leg-pads, which are detailed with (supposedly) viking insignea, up to his heavily armored torso.

He sports a huge belt (which looks kind of like a WWE championship belt, bizarrely enough) with a material robe hanging from the golden skull center. The armor over his neck and shoulder supports a long black cape hanging over his back which looks spectacular against his chainmail color scheme, and hangs over his right arm. Both arms have wonderfully authentic-looking gauntlets, the left arm with spikes.

R3 Skullsplitter's paint has been redesigned, so he's much darker now, but his new sculpt is all about the head. Gone is the beautifully demented creation with its added deformities. This one is wearing an ornate war helmet with bat-style wings sprouting from the eyebrows and running back over the ears. The ridge running back over the top of the head is a spine, so it's like he's got a tiny dragon skeleton perched on his forehead. There's a mask covering the rest of his face, and it makes him look like some kind of a dog. There's fur trim under his neck, which the first didn't have.

Further, the paint and detail are applied flawlessly. No splotches or mistakes, no overspill, it's the excellence we've come to expect from McToys. Having mentioned the coolness of the face, if the detail and paint was bad, it may well break the figure - fortunately, the detail is exquisite, and it makes the Skullsplitter look wonderful. He's fairly dark on the front, but on the back is a bright white stripe and blue-green detailing.

On accessories, Skullsplitter is just as impressive - this Skullsplitter is armed with an awesome 6" golden sword, which he can hold in one or both hands, intricately detailed with non-viking runes up the blade, and an unscrewing ball at the end of the handle so you can place the long handle in his hands. It's nicely contructed and beautifully detailed, complimenting the figure. Skullsplitter's shield isn't quite as good - although lovingly detailed in a thick armored demon-face, it is delicate and the handle broke off quickly. When fixed with some superglue, Skullsplitter holds it in his left hand and it looks great. He also includes two interchangable hands, which aren't as useful as they could be - even with four hands, Skullsplitter can still only hold his sword in his right hand, which is disappointing.

Despite having a big bundle of it, Skullsplitter's articulation is a mixed bag - weighing in with 20 spots of articulation, he's plenty able to attack, kill, bend over, dance and massacre, but there are some major issues with his articulation. One is his arm articulation: given that only his right hand can hold the sword, his arm should be as poseable and playable as possible, right? Not as it seems! His arm is held back by the robe/shoulderpad and isn't nearly as poseable as it should be. This is even more annoying than it sounds - after the impressive Spawn the Bloodaxe from this same line having unbelievably good arm movement, even with shoulderpads, I expected more.

Further, the joints in Skullsplitter seem to loosen up easily, leading to Skullsplitter toppling from his weak leg joints - luckily, the sculptors at McToys seemed to notice this and provided the robe that hangs from Skullsplitter's back to be a third leg, which will hold your Skullsplitter up if he looks to fall.

Something which I must note here is that Series 22 marks to return of the holes in the feet of Spawn toys, which can be used to hold them up on one of the popular McToy bases which have a peg to hold the figure standing - this helps the problem of Skullsplitter's legs. Aside from these complaints, I must say that like Poe, I am impressed with the articulation of this figure - compared to earlier Spawn and McToys, the Vikings are very impressive, and lots of fun to play with, despite the issues I've mentioned.

Overall, Skullsplitter is a very nice figure, despite the flaws, but I still think I like the original better than the R3. Innovatively combining demon with viking and armor, McToys has created a wonderfully big and scary monster to serve as the main villian in this new Spawn line - a much better creation than the poor assasins in the earlier Samurai Spawn line. Despite my gripes, this is a great figure and I much recommend him.

-- 09/28/02

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