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Seventh Kingdom
by yo go re

Since the 2006 FANtastic Exclusive turned out to be such a huge success, the Four Horsemen decided to do it again in 2007. Once again they let the fans vote on every facet of production, beginning with which original property we wanted our toy to be from. The fans stuck with The Seventh Kingdom, and once again chose the representative from the animal kingdom, Ramathorr, captain of the Anitherian Guard.

In the beast kingdom of Animynthus the voice of the people carries significant weight. Although the kingdom is justly ruled by the Great Mother Endromedda, it is the council of Anitheres that voices the Animythean citizen's interests. Ambassadors Ramathorr from each of the kingdom's cities gather to bring their peoples' concerns to light. The great influence and responsibility associated with representing the people also carries the burden of considerable danger. Because of this inherent danger, each ambassador has his or her own council guards.

Ramathorr is the captain of the council guards. Equipped with a myriad of blades and an unmatched skill in wielding them, Ramathorr not only leads his guards, but also trains them to become unstoppable warriors. The Anitherian guards are more than just protectors of ambassadors, they represent protection for the people of Animynthus. Because of their great skill and power the council guards are all too often the target of the mutant king Malagorr. The mighty guards are ideal subjects for Malagorr's unnatural mutations. These once noble warriors now stand hunched and broken, mutated into grotesque distortions of Malagorr's own hideous image.

Like Xetheus, everything about Ramathorr was decided by the fans - the Horsemen provided the character design, but we got to pick the size, the articulation, the accessories he'd come with... everything! The figure was supposed to be available in time for SDCC '07 but, well, they had a few problems with that, as you're probably aware. The figures have finally arrived (just eight months late), and the wait seems to have been worth it.

Ramathorr's sculpt is monumentally grand. Where Xetheus had a fine coat of fur, Ramathorr has thick, cracked skin, and it wrinkles realistically around his joints. His beady little eyes rest under heavy brows, and his long trunk is properly ridged. His tusks have thick ridges where they emerge from his mouth, but the texture smooths out about halfway down, leaving just a few big rough notches - it's very nice, and very natural. His ears are long and pointy, and adorned with lots of jewelry - from simple rings and studs near the tips to big gauges at the bottom of the lobes. It's a very regal look, and Ramathorr really does look like a captain. His feet have been cheated a little bit away from a realistic elephant look, but only to improve stability - they still have three large toenails, and the soles are fully sculpted (though you can tell where the holes to accommodate footpegs were repositioned).

The armor Ramathorr wears has a distinctly Indian look - particularly the big curved pauldrons protecting his upper arms and shoulders. He's wearing golden ornamental headgear with a purple fob, and matching armor over his shoulders. His stomach is wrapped up in red cloth, and he's wearing a chainmail skirt. A plate of armor covers his hips and tailbone, and it has the same general design as the shoulders, with rosettes, points and radial lines. His skirt in the front is diamond-shaped armor plates, with a belt and loincloth above that. The loincloth is a series of square blocks with designs in the center, and a row of beads with golden arrow points below that. The armor's motifs are carried over to his wristbands and greaves, as well, so the entire ensemble hangs together well.

Round Three of the FANtastic voting allowed fans to choose what size they wanted Ramathorr to be - the three choices were 8"-9", 10-11", and 12" plus. Each had different specifics for construction and articulation, which is why the size had to be decided before Round Four - that's when we got to pick where Rammy would move. Well, the top of his ears reach the 10½" mark, which means he stands an even 9" tall. The fans chose hinged rocker ankles, hinged knees, thigh swivels, balljointed hips, swivel waist, torso, balljointed wrists, hinged elbows, bicep swivels, balljointed shoulders and a balljointed neck. Oh, and can't forget the swivel joints in his tail and trunk. Awww! must be hard to sit down in all that Though it seems like both the waist and torso are plain swivels, the upper one is actually a balljoint: it's stuck pretty tightly, and the range of motion is minimal, but take some time to carefully wiggle it around and soon your Ramathorr will be tilting his chest slightly.

The figure's paint highlights the sculpt beautifully. His skin, rather than being just tones of grey, has a tan drybrushing to create highlights. The red, gold and purple of the armor is applied crisply, for the most part, though there are several spots where the edges don't quite line up. His loincloth thing is golden, but there's a nice red wash that makes the edges and the symbols stand out. His toenails are slightly orange, and his tusks fade from that same color to a pale ivory near the tips - how appropriate!

When it came to accessories, the Four Horsemen again turned the reins over to the fans, offering them eight choices for the big guy's secondary weapon. The inexplicable winner (by a large margin) was the "Buster Sword," a 10¾" behemoth with a ridiculous blade. On the plus side, the sword hilt pays tribute to some of Ramathorr's ancestors: the guard looks like jawbones, while the grip is a single tusk, intricately carved with a pattern. Still, this was hardly the best choice of the eight weapons, yet it got more than twice as many votes as the nearest competitor. His main weapons are a matched pair of 5½" hooked swords with runes running down both sides of the blade. The figure can hold any of the weapons in his hands, and all three can be stored nicely on his back. They're made from soft plastic, so they may get warped in the package, but it's nothing terrible.

Ramathorr is an excellent followup to 2006's Xetheus and the Mynothecean Six. Yes, he cost five dollars more, but he's also bigger, and the sculpt is just as detailed, even if it doesn't have Easter Eggs hidden all over. There are some flaws with the figure - strange articulation, warped plastic, imperfect paint - but those are all things fans accept from other companies, so it would be hypocritical to tear the Horsemen down for them. Especially since they're all fairly minor. We had to wait a bit longer than usual to get Ramathorr, but he's definitely one you should own.

-- 05/18/08

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