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Jon Talbain & Baby Bonnie Hood

Darkstalkers 3
by yo go re

In the late '90s, ToyBiz had several lines that all fell under the "Video Game Super Stars" banner: Resident Evil, X-Men vs. Street Fighter, stuff like that. One of the lines was based on Capcom's supernatural fighting game, Darkstalkers. And since Dakstalkers has a werewolf among its competitors, you can probably guess where this review is going.

Born in England in 1940, Jon Talbain discovered that his bloodline was cursed. During the full moon, Jon undergoes a transformation from man to werewolf. He is a brave and virtuous warrior with a pure soul trapped in the lethal body of a swift and brutal beast. To protect society from his horrendous transformations, Jon retreated into the woods where he spent his days channeling his rage lest he give in completely to the bestial side of his nature. The only way to regain his humanity and lift his curse is to exceed his own limits by defeating the other Darkstalkers.

Well that's nice, he's got a good reason to want to win the tournament - he's not just looking to make the world into his hunting grounds or something. The unwilling wolfman is not a new trope - in fact, werewolves who are happy with their fate are the exception, not the rule. Vampires revel in their curse; werewolves hate it.

Jon is not just a Universal-style wolf man, with an underbite and a little bit of extra hair on his face; no, he's a full-on anthropomorphic wolf. Long snout, big pointy ears, all that. His flews (that's the proper term for a dog's lips: "flews") are pulled back in a rippling snarl, and his eyes, painted with human pupils, point vaguely forward.

Like Street Fighter, Darkstalkers had a stylized, anime-influenced look to the characters, and the toy manages to capture that. His hands and feet are oversized, and he has an extreme, hunched pose. The way he stands on the tips of his toes would make it almost impossible to get him to stand, if his giant tail didn't also touch the ground and turn him into a nice stable tripod. His right hand is curled to hold an accessory, while the left is open with the claws ready to slash anyone who gets within arm's reach.

The Darkstalkers toys were made in the 5" scale ToyBiz used for everything back then, so he's not going to be big enough to mingle with Marvel Legends or SOTA's various Street Fighters. The articulation is quite dated, as well: swivel head, hinged jaw, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel elbows, swivel waist, T-crotch and hinged knees. Oh, and his tail swivels, as well. The joints in the legs don't do much for the poseability, since you need to keep his feet level on the ground.

Jon comes with two accessories: a pair of nunchucks and a small blue dachshund. The nunchucks are part of his moveset, because why not? He's an English kung-fu werewolf! The dachshund is actually a reference to one of the special moves from the game, but not his: the giant mummy Anakaris has something called the Pharaoh's Curse, which turns his opponent into a small, helpless form, capable of nothing but running away until it wears off. The angry dog is Jon Talbain's cursed form.

The Darkstalkers toys were sold in two-packs, generally featuring one large character and one glorified accessory. The second one in this set is B.B. Hood.

Baby Bonnie Hood is a Dark Hunter - she stalks Darkstalkers for profit. She packs a picnic basket full of automatic weapons and with her deadly arsenal she seeks to rid the world of every last Darkstalker. Although she appears as an innocent young girl, she is in face a fearless fighter who goes into battle for the sheer thrill and will stop at nothing until all Darkstalkers are defeated.

Yep - in the videogame populated with werewolves, vampires, zombies, Japanese demons and world-devouring alien entities, this is the most dangerous psycho. It's that kind of series. "Dark Hunters" are humans who take it upon themselves to kill the monsters of the world - whether for vengeance, for protection, or maybe just for their blood, bile and sweetbreads. And yes, one of the most accomplished of these killers is a pre-teen girl.

Baby Bonnie Hood is clearly cut from the Little Red Riding Hood cloth. She's young, she carries a basket full of goodies, and even wears a red, hooded cape. The face has an undeniable anime style, what with the giant eyes and the ski-slope nose. She looks so sweet and innocent - if you didn't know the truth, you could almost be excused for underestimating her.

Since she's the secondary figure in this set, BB has even less articulation than Jon. Her neck, shoulders and waist (kind of) are swivels, and that's it: no elbows, no knees, no hips. She just stands there with her arms in slightly different positions. Her hood and cape are removable separately, but while the skirt/apron piece is the same PVC, it's on there for good. She's got giant bloomers on beneath it, if you were wondering. And if you notice, this figure came out in 1999, and ToyBiz was already doing that "big blue smears = shadows on white" thing that annoys us so much.

Bonnie comes with a stunningly detailed picnic basket, one that's actually sculpted to look like woven straps of wicker or whatever. It really is impressive, and only its glossy colors give away its age as an accessory. She also has a fully detailed Uzi, painted in two-tone gray. Her hand is molded a little too small to grip the handle easily, but the basket hangs from her left arm nicely. She also comes with her dog Henry, and a Pharaoh's Curse form - hers is a tiny doll.

SOTA had plans to make Darkstalkers toys, but the company collapsed before that could happen. If you want figures of the game that's been described as "Street Fighter in a Halloween costume," it's ToyBiz or nothing. They're not bad toys, but they definitely show their age.

-- 10/20/12

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