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Shock Berserker

by Shocka

Now, normally I have nothing but praise for Xevoz, being in love with basically everything about them. But occasionally even the greats have a misstep, and while Shock Berzerker isn't really what anyone would call "bad," this second-series entry doesn't quite hold up to the high standards set by these terrific toys.

Most powerful of Hyperfuries, known for their shocking behavior and manners. Ancient alchemists created them by binding chain lightning into human form. Most are highly unstable characters with a tendency to talk a lightning streak of hyper-kinetic gibberish. All are vulnerable to the grounding effects of water.

Just as the Inferno Fury represented the physical manifestation of a "fire" monster, the Shock Berzerker is electricity. Just as I admired the seemingly-mystical metal rings that contained the flame that was Inferno Fury's body, Shock Berzerker's electrical body is held together with dark metal shackles. It's actually really cool - these dark metal painted pieces bookend the yellow-green transluscent plastic electricity, molded as lightning-like branched pieces that make up the entirety of his body. His arms, wrists, neck, even hair are shocking-out from his body and they look terrific. His feet are round metal clamp-like pieces, reminding of all manner a science fiction story, and that's awesome. These designs are really smart, and give the toy the perfect aesthetic, perhaps even atmosphere of the design.

Shock Berzerker includes the usual interchangeable parts, including very neat, shocking electrical paws, that would make for terrific weapons, as well as an actual electrical staff, like a beefier version of a cattle prod with a neat bit of yellow lightning (or a big cartoony magnet) emerging from the end. He also gets a lightning sword, a plate of armor for his chest, and big gauntlets that have electricity arcing from them. It's all very great stuff, and of the high standard we can expect from this line.

But unfortunately there is a big negative about this figure, and it's a little unavoidable. Think of lightning from the sky, and it has the kind of jagged 2D look we imagine. Now try to imagine this in 3D - it's a fair bit more difficult, because of how we think about lightning, how we usually see it. And it's much more difficult to create this kind of electrical effect in toys - think of how goofy Star Wars force lightning looks - it's difficult, nay impossible to make this look anything but cheap. And thus we come to the core problem with Shock Berzerker, and what takes him down a peg from his Xevoz brethren - he's very cheap looking.

It's hard to tell from these pictures - he photographs very well - but he looks like a much cheaper toy, one much too cartoonish to mix with other action figures, unlike the majority of the Xevoz line. One way to really cop a load of this is to have all of his pieces flat out, where he looks completely ridiculous. It's because lightning, as we know it, is very thin, and it's impossible to create this effect with plastic in 3D - his branching lightning pieces are large and cartoonish.

Like all the Xevoz, the Shock Berserker comes with a sheet of stickers that allow you to customise him in various ways - including circuit capacitors, power gauges, or just wild sparks. A map in the instruction pamphlet shows how the decals go onto the body, though there are two that were designed for an accessory that no longer exists. At the prototype phase, there was an additional round piece that had three balljoint sockets for lightning bolts. It likely was intended for the tip of the staff, and would have been nice to get. The two sticker in the lower left hand corner of the sheet are obviously meant to cover this non-existent piece.

The Shock Berserker has two heads: one is a metal dome with green eyes, and a notch on top where an electrical mohawk can stick out; and the other a fully electrical head with three lightning bolt spikes sticking off the top and a big wide smile. The design of the "electric" head is hampered by the fact that the socket for the neck joint is so high in the head: the lower jaw bumps against the figure's chest, which leaves it permanently titled back.

Now, this isn't to say he doesn't have excellent poses - he can be quite threatening with his limbs twisted together, clutching he electric staff, but it's just not up to scratch with the other Xevoz. It's a shame, and not one I can figure out how to fix. There's already so much design ingenuity in him - for example, bookending the electrical pieces with metal sections to hold them together, and having the feet as domed so he can stand a lot easier - that it's a bummer that it just doesn't quite come together because of this. And so Shock Berzerker is the runt of the Xevoz line. He's far from bad, but he just can't stand alongside his superior kin, and that's kind of a bummer.

-- 05/04/14

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