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Stone Armor Goliath

Disney's Gargoyles
by yo go re

The mid '90s were a great time for tv animation. The first rush of licensed properties had faded, and stations were tired of just showing '60s and '70s reruns. The big three broadcast channels still had their Saturday morning cartoon blocks, but as cable expanded, syndication and dedicated networks became a breeding ground for some truly great shows: for social satire, we had Beavis & Butt-Head and The Simpsons; for straight comedy, Ren & Stimpy and Rocko's Modern Life; and when it came to action, afternoons belonged to Batman: The Animated Series and Gargoyles.

One thousand years ago, superstition and the sword ruled. It was a time of darkness. It was a world of fear. It was the age of gargoyles. Stone by day, warriors by night, they were betrayed by the humans they had sworn to protect, frozen in stone by a magic spell for a thousand years. Now, in Manhattan, the spell is broken, and they live again! They are defenders of the night. They are Gargoyles!

Disney's Gargoyles was a remarkably mature show, blending medieval history and world mythology with complex character arcs and intense drama. For kids who had grown up watching GI Joe and Cobra fire primary-colored lasers at one another and never hit anything, it was pretty shocking to see one of the Gargoyles characters get shot (off-screen) and hospitalized with a bullet wound.

The leader of the gargoyle clan and the star of the show was Goliath - "the prism through which the universe was re-created," according to series creator Greg Weisman. He was in all but three episodes, and the majority of the storylines revolved directly around his attempts to adapt to life a thousand years removed from what he once knew. Consequently, when Kenner released a Gargoyles tie-in toyline, we got more variations of Goliath than anyone else.

This is Stone Armor Goliath, the most vanilla Goliath you could buy. As was typical for a '90s toyline, most of the figures had some kind of ridiculous extras sculpted on - in this case, it was mostly some kind of armor that the characters never wore. Stone Armor Goliath, however, has nothing stupid sculpted on him. This is just the plain purple beast we saw every day on the cartoon. He's got the crooked dog legs, the little horns on his forehead and the giant belt buckle holding his loincloth in place. The face is a bit too happy and cartoony, but it is true to the show - though the later episodes were among the first to bring anime stylings to the US, there were a few at the beginning that were average Disney fare.

Goliath is in the 6" range - his head is a little below that, his wings are a little above - and moves at the Big Five. He's got a tail joint, but it just wiggles a little, really. His wings move, but only via action feature: squeeze his legs together for flapping action. His head won't turn very far because of his mighty medieval mullet. Despite the action feature, the hips move fine.

The gargoyles were flesh and blood by night, but turned into solid stone when the sun rose. Every day at sunset, they'd wake and shatter the rock shell that clung to their skin, and that's what Stone Armor Goliath depicts. He's got three snap-on bits of stone that cover the majority of the front of the figure. Now, the picture on the back of the card distinctly showed that the stone armor closed completely around the figure, but that's not the case. This isn't Goliath at high noon, this is about 30 seconds past sunset, when everything has started to flake away - he's one strong flex away from sending bits of pebble spilling onto the ground beneath him.

The three "armor" pieces cover the head and right arm, the left arm and stomach, and the legs. The detailing is nice, but the pieces don't really line up with the body beneath. It probably would have been better if Kenner had gone with a big, hollow, two-piece shell that fit around the entire figure, like Transformers Pretenders, or even a one-sider like the Inhumanoids. Stone Armor Goliath also had some spear/halbard thing (that he never used in the show), but no one was buying him for that.

The paint is good, even by today's standards. The stone bits have a wash on them to create some shadows, his gold armband is crisp, and Goliath is just the right shade of purple - which, given the production standards of the line, is no small feat. The gargoyles on the show had a set, specific color scheme, but Kenner didn't have any qualms with deviating from that at the drop of a hat. The gargoyles came in a dizzying array of hues and shades, from the dead-on accurate to terrible day-glo. The simple lavendar here is another fine reason to pick him over any others.

Gargoyles has started to come out on DVD, but right now sales are slow - so slow, in fact, that the third set might not see release. If that happened, it would be a damn shame. The show was one of the best things on the air in the '90s, and proved that Disney could still be relevant in a world that many thought had passed it by. Gargoyles was a landmark series and deserves respect today. Hopefully the next nostalgia cycle will see some updated toys, but for now, Stone Armor Goliath is the one to get.

-- 10/27/06

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