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Thunder Shaman

by Shocka

Pop culture has a long history of great big apes. The DC Universe has Gorilla Grodd and Monsieur Mallah, Spawn has Cy-Gor, Nintendo has Donkey Kong, and now Xevoz has the Thunder Shaman.

Strong and just tribal leaders, keepers of healing magic. Among the wisest of all the Meta-Beast warriors. Known for: 1) "Sixth Sense" ability to see into the minds of enemies; 2) Extremely firm handshake. Beware of his magical mojo.

As with the other Xevoz, you can strip this guy right down to his basics and you end up with a big, amazing super-articulated monkey action figure. This guy is big, standing over 5" tall, and with a terrifically stylised sculpt: his lower body is thin, with large feet to keep him standing, then his upper body is thick and muscular, with thin upper arms that support his massive gorilla hands ("Bone Crusher").

These gorilla hands feature jointed fingers, by the way, so they can be balled up in monkey fists or open to slap Mario in the face. This is a bulky figure but not a top-heavy one, and with his large feet he can stay standing with plenty of poses. Plus, he has a neck joint so his head can be on top of his shoulders or in front of them. His stock face is appropriately simian-like, with an excellent ape expression, and his interchangeable heads are great too, but we'll get to that in a moment.

Because he's a "Thunder Shaman" instead of just a big awesome ape, he includes appropriately "mystical" voodoo garb including a yellow loincloth, a tiki mask, and a ceremonial staff with two hanging skull piles. (These can be taken off to be used as skull clubs!) But that's just the beginning of his massive bounty of accessories! He also features numerous weapons, including a bladed staff ("Mojo Spear"), a boomerang and a big knifey bladey thing! And a backpack that holds all of his weapons! Then he has two extra heads, including an angry mandrill with a hinged jaw, and a chimp face with a red fez! Fezzes are cool! And he's even got a terrific banana peel, for your other toys to slip on!! Plus stickers! So many stickers!

The swirly black symbol painted on the banana peel ("Slippery Ground") marks it as a special piece in the game. Near the end of the line, an addition was made to the standard rules: drain attacks. If you win a Drain Attack battle, you attach your Drain Attack piece to your enemy's figure; then as long as it's attached, whenever you win a round, you lop off an extra piece, killing them faster! The end caps on his Battle Helix are the same yellow as the peel, while the Power Glyphs are the usual Meta-Beast pink.

This all sounds amazing, and it is, but there's a point where the review becomes contentious, and it's this point here. Avert your eyes, children - Thunder Shaman has an action feature!! Argh, run away! Now, while I'm a big fan of action features, I am well aware that many collectors do not, and when it comes to stuff getting in the way of sculpt and articulation I completely understand. The the later Xevoz releases did have action features, but I feel they were pretty successful in form and execution, and Thunder Shaman is no different.

His forearms feature a telescoping feature termed a "Thunder Punch," wherein you press the tuft of fur near his elbow and the wrists punch out via spring loaded shaft. I don't think it's terrible, but it's far from the best action feature ever, and it is a bit touchy. It also means that his big arms are a bit hollow, which is a mixed blessing - although it means he isn't so top-heavy, these don't feel as sturdy as other more-solid Xevoz do. Ultimately, it's a mixed bag feature that I don't mind.

It certainly doesn't get in the way of Thunder Shaman being another great entry into the Xevoz series. If you're a fan of the series, or of big monkeys in general, this guy comes highly recommended!

-- 08/02/14

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