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Shadow Blade vs. Bone Cutter

by Shocka

Before I even knew what Xevoz was, I'd seen the first amazing two-pack advertised online, and they looked awesome. What could be better than a ninja fighting an enormous killer grasshopper? Not much!

Shadow Blade warriors are masters of a martial art called Kira Skiro, or "walking shadow." This ancient craft allows them to become nearly invisible to their enemies. These solitary stealth fighters are trained from early childhood in the hidden temples of the Janu mountains, where they learn to harness the winds to generate attacks of legendary power and create the small particle storms that allow them to vanish at will. Shadow Blade fighters are legendary for their mastery of the lethal Molecule Blade, an ancient weapon of extreme force and mystic power.

Let's start with Shadow Blade, arguably the best Snake-Eyes action figure ever made. The Xevoz ninja is a joy to behold, standing about 5" tall complete with very-stereotypically ninja garb hanging from his slim, lethal body. The Xevoz seem to have a specific color palette for each character, and Shadow Blade favors black, grey and green. Black and grey make sense for a ninja, who lives to be stealthy, but the green is a neat bonus that gives him a sci-fi look. Because Xevoz are completely customisable, there's no reason why he can't be a regular Snake-Eyes ninja or a cyborg, and that's part of the joy - his accessories and plug in parts allow for both, and anything else you might want. His main swords are bright green, which suggest lightsabers, but there's no reason he isn't just a ninja who favors green swords, or alternatively nothing to stop you giving him a sword from another Xevoz.

Accessories are the name of the game for Xevoz, and Shadow Blade is endowed with what appears to be nunchucks as well as flippers and goggles, which allow him to go diving. Sure, why not? These are great not just for him, but for other Xevoz as well. Why not have your space marine go for a swim? Alternatively, the goggles might be night-vision goggles. It's all up to you! And it's freaking sweet!

The "Battle Helix" (the thing that serves as the die for the built-in game Hasbro used to help these sell) gives names for many of his parts and pieces (or at least for the moves he performs with those parts and pieces): his sword is the Molecule Blade (naturally), his nunchaku are the Spinning Strike, his dagger is Blade Block, his hand is Iron Fist, his foot is Blinding Kick, his chest has Warrior's Spirit, and his goggles are the Hypno-Trance. And of course, like all the Xevoz, he comes with a sheet of stickers that let you decorate him up however you feel like. You can make him a techno-samurai, a more traditional style, or even a diamond/harlequin pattern. You can buy three sets and make them all look different!

An army of Bonecutter warriors is a grim sight to behold, and the clicking of their claws before battle is enough to make anyone's skin crawl. These rank-and-file grunts bear up the heavy artillery of the great Hive army. Their segmented eyes give them enhanced telescopic and microscopic vision, as well as the ability to see from several angles at once. Bonecutters usually travel in small attack cells, but when their armies attack in formation they form a huge, buzzing cloud that can block out the sun for hours or days. All are zealously devoted to the queen, but they tend to work better in groups than alone.

Then we come to Bone-Cutter, one of my fav action figures of all time. This giant mutant (probably) grasshopper stands well over 6" tall, and even taller when posed back to attack, and taller again with his wings. Far from being a scientifically accurate giant mutant killer grasshopper, he's the amalgamation of every insect nightmare you've ever had into one amazing toy! He features balljoints at the leg, knee and foot of all four of his legs, and then two joints at his midsection enabling him to loom high above his prey, and then complete articulation on his arms, which can lunge horrifically with the sharp scythes at the end. He features two heads, both with two parts that can be mixed and matched, as well as a beetle-shaped shield and a dragonfly-shaped axe, plus two claw hands that can replace the scythes.

Like the Inferno Fury, his wings make him even more impressive, with balljoints connected to his back giving him lots of movement. Moreso than perhaps any other Xevoz I can think of, there's more detail here with different colors of green and yellow adorning his body. Like the fluoro-green of Shadow Blade's swords, his eyes are terrifyingly green that stands out from the rest of his body. It's got such an amazing and impressive effect, and it matches the neatly shaded green wings, that start out fluoro and become black at the end, all molded with a slight transluscence to simulate that of real insects.

Even his decals get in the action! He's got stickers that go on his wings to create large, angry eye-spots (a common style of insect camouflage), and four different styles of eyes. The Battle Helix identifies his attacks as the Poison Bite (head), Armor Skin (chest), Double Slash (leg), Spur Kick (shin), Scratch (foot), Dive Bomb (wings) and Energy Steel (axe). The Sectoid species' Power Glyphs are a golden yellow, and the Bone-Cutter's endcaps are a bright neon green.

As the first two-pack released, Bone-Cutter vs. Shadow Blade introduced something new to the Xevoz game - Battle Terrain. A stiff cardboard playmat that features the homelands of the Sectoids and the Neo Sapiens. Players move around the terrain, trying to warp to a world that's better suited to their species. There are different areas in each world that give bonuses (or weaknesses) to different species, or allow you (and your opponent) to teleport to the other half of the mat, where there would be an entirely different set of bonuses. This particular Battle Terrain includes the Night Attack (a military bunker with warps for the Biomecha, Sectoid and Unnatural, and bonuses for the Hyperfuries, Meta-Beasts and Neo Sapiens) and the Desert Hive (a dusty volcano with warps for the Hyperfuries, Meta-Beasts and Neo Sapiens, and bonuses for the Biomecha, Sectoid and Unnatural).

So this isn't just one of the great Xevoz two-packs, it's one of the best action figure two-packs of all time. Hasbro started this line with a winner - this is an amazing set that is basically flawless, with unlimited appeal to young and old alike. In a line comprised nearly entirely of "the cream of the crop," this set is amongst the best.

-- 04/06/14

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