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Indie Spotlight
by yo go re

When Indie Spotlight Series 1 was announced (way back in 2006), there was one figure I was looking forward to more than any: Scud, the Disposable Assassin.

Scud comes from a world in which you can buy weapons out of vending machines, the most popular of which are intelligent robots that destroy a specified target and then self-destruct. Scud, an average Heart Breaker Series 1373 model on his first mission is sent to destroy Jeff, a rampaging female mutant with mousetraps for hands, an electrical plug for a head, and a squid for a belt. During his first mission, Scud glances in a mirror and sees the warning label on his back explaining how he will explode upon completion of his mission. Realizing that he doesn't want to explode, Scud wounds Jeff then takes her to a hospital placing her on life support, ensuring their mutual survival. Scud then begins a career as a freelance assassin working to pay Jeff's medical bills.

Rob Schrab's Scud was part of the '90s indie comics boom. Bone, Strangers in Paradise, Castle Waiting... this was the crowd Scud ran with. The book had a very trippy kind of cool - hell, just read the description of Jeff in the bio up above. Does that sound normal? I even made a custom Scud myself from a Robocop toy, but it was pretty crappy - getting a real Scud was exciting.

Even the haters who thought Shocker Toys was going to deliver ugly, sub-par sculpts on these figures had to admit that Scud was probably the safest bet in the bunch. He's a robot, after all, so his shapes are less organic, and thus easier to sculpt properly. Of course, this isn't a case like McFarlane's Terminator Endoskeleton, where the in-progress sculpt was just a bunch of geometric shapes waiting to be assembled - Schrab's art is fluid and unusual, much like Jhonen Vasquez's, so Shocker's sculptors still had real work to do. The general effect is someone wearing a t-shirt and shorts.

Scud is just a bit below 6" tall to the top of his thin, tubey head. He has balljoints at the neck, shoulders, chest, wrists and hips, swivels at the biceps, waist, hip, thighs and ankles, and hinges at the elbows, knees and ankles. There have been some issues with breakage on Scud, but not as many as, say, the average Mattel DCU figure. The particular bone of contention seems to be the figure's hips, but the odds are good that you won't have any problems. Scud is excellently poseable.

It may not seem like there's much to talk about with the paint - Scud is just red and yellow, with a few black details, right? Well, yeah, but Shocker did more than they had to. Yes, Scud is red and yellow, bit there's an orange shading on the yellow to give it some depth and keep the toy from looking cheap. The black detailing inside his joints doesn't ride up the sides at all, and the hash marks on his shins are crisp. The Heart Breaker Series logo on his chest is tampographed nicely, but the most impressive thing is the fully detailed warning label on his back, the one that kicked off the entire plot of the book.

Scud comes with an Is, as all the Indie Spotlight Series 1 toys do. His is the same happy white one that came with the ShadowHawk variant. The red paint on his gums is a bit sloppy, but you really have to get down into his teeth to notice it. Beyond that, Scud has two pairs of hands: one set is empty, but holding his fingers in the classic Scud pose (ie, pinkies perpetually extended, because he's classy), while the other is clutching a pair of guns that are each larger than Scud's own head. Good choice making the guns a molded part of the hands, to keep him from dropping them all the time. The hands just pop on and off at the wrist, thanks to the balljoint. Switching them is easy, but they stay on securely.

Like ShadowHawk, Scud is one of the figures in IS1 to get a variant figure. His depicts Sol, another model of Disposable Assassin created by ScudCo. The Solaris series is pretty much the replacement for the Heart Breakers, which ScudCo. is phasing out. This one is SN-1169, according to the label on his back.

While Scud is a peppy yellow and red, Sol is an oppressive black. The interiors of his joints are white, so they'll still stand out - ditto for the lines on his shins. He has a sun logo on his chest, with green white and blue stripes next to it. Really, it looks like something that came off a bad '80s Hawaii souvenir shirt. Sol's head is a new sculpt, since his eyes (the only feature on the assassins' faces) are different from Scud's: they're circular, and set in a white stripe.

Sol has the same accessories as Scud: empty hands and gun hands. Same deal. They attach to balljoints, so swapping is a snap. Well, a pop. Not a crackle, though, that would be silly. And yes, he has an Is - following the plan laid out by the two ShadowHawks, this one is the angry black Is, with a fangy frown. And once again, credit to Shocker for making the Isz different sculpts: it would have been easy to just repaint one mold; easy, but incorrect.

There's also a translucent yellow Scud available, originally sold at NYCC '09. No paint on that one at all - not even on the included Is, which is molded in the same yellow plastic as Scud. That raises the question: are the Isz gang-molded with the figures, then just painted the appropriate color, or did Shocker make a special run to include with the exclusve? The hips on my clear Scud were slightly mis-assembled: the balljoints are both on a single peg that runs all the way through the crotch; on mine, that peg was a bit off-center, so one leg continually popped off, and the other hip broke. Of course, clear plastic is notoriously brittle, so that may have played a part.

The only thing about Scud I'd change is the packaging. The figures come in the same collector-friendly resealable packs as all the other Indie Spotlight toys, so no surprise there. But Shocker made a Scud statue for the 2008 New York Comic Con, and the packaging for that looked like a ScudCo. vending machine. Brilliant! I really wish the toy could have had the same. Heck, even if it was just a printed cardboard accessory, like NECA's Chucky figure got. It would have bumped Scud up to Toy of the Year.

Scud the Disposable Assassin ran from 1994-1998, when issue #20 ended on a cliffhanger - but issue #21 didn't show up the next month. Or the month after that. Or in any of the subsequent 116 months. Scud #21 finally released in February 2008, nearly a full decade after #20. Why the delay? Well, Schrab simply got sick of the book. He moved to Hollywood, wrote Monster House, directed The Sarah Silverman Program and generally did everything he wanted to with his life. So why'd he finally come back and finish the story? Turns out that Shocker Toys making this figure drummed up a lot of attention for the property and inspired him. If not for this toy, the book would still be incomplete - how about that!

-- 11/15/09

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