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Legendary Heroes
by yo go re

When the seven founders of Image left Marvel to form their own company, they probably should have had the forethought to take some writers with them, as well. While a couple of the guys, Erik Larsen and Jim Valentino, came up with new characters, most everyone else ended up doing pale imitations of whatever they'd been doing before. Spawn? Spider-Man. WildCATs? X-Men. Youngblood? X-Force. In a few cases, they didn't even try to hide it.

Orphaned in his youth, Robert Bearclaw was raised by the Shaman of his tribe and taught through ritual how to enter another plane of existence, allowing, among other things, for visions of the past, present, and future. Robert's life was changed forever when captured by the evil Cyberdata Corporation, whose experiments bonded Robert's body with cybernetic implants based on alien technology, giving rise to the hero known as Ripclaw. Now Robert's innate ability to assume animalistic attributes at will, coupled with the alien cybernetic replacements of his hands, which he can now transform into razor sharp claws, are a force to be reckoned with. After breaking free of the yoke of Cyberdata's control, Robert joined the ragtag group of heroes known as Cyberforce where Robert's fierce beliefs are put to the test in the life or death struggle to protect the human race.

Seriously, look at that guy. It's like someone asked what would happen if Wolverine and Lobo had a baby. Has ever a character been so obviously calculated to be "kewl"? Ripclaw isn't a character, he's a marketing attempt brought to life.

Standing 6⅜" tall thanks to his topknot ponytail, Ripclaw moves at the toes, ankles, boots, knees, thighs, hips, waist, torso, neck, fingers, wrists, forearms, elbows, biceps and shoulders. The fact that the big bladed fingers move individually is nice, but unneccessary. Pretend you have claws like this - how would you use them to fight? By keeping your fingers right next to each other, or by spreading them out? Once again, we say for Ripclaw what we always say for Wolverine: removable hands. You want to give us articulated fingers? Fine. But then give us a second hand with the fingers spead wide and fixed in place.

Though his chest and legs come from the Black Panther body, there's still a lot of new sculpt on Ripclaw. The boots have never been seen before, and they go all the way up to his knees. Everything from the shoulders do to the fingers is new, as well, since they needed to have a mixture of skin, cybernetics and cloth. He's even wearing a utility belt that can out-Batman Batman. The wraps around his biceps are a lot like the loose sleeves on Lady Deathstrike, so people will probably complain about these just like they did those.

You really have to watch out for the paint on this figure. The white body has a blue wash that gets a little too heavy, but it's still better than similar efforts on ToyBiz's Marvel Legends. Getting all those red tattoos to line up is a problem, too, but what you really need to check is the face and body - most samples of the figure are showing up with blatant dirty smudges all over the place. You must see this one in person before you buy, to make sure you're not getting shafted.

Each of the LH1 figures come with a piece of Pitt, this series' BAF. Ripclaw has the right arm, a piece which has some pretty impressive claws of its own. The arm is nearly 7" long, with the fingers extended, and has 11 points of aticulation - one elbow, one forearm, one wrist and eight knuckles. The shadows painted on the arm are too dark, but they get much better on the hand itself. The chains wrapped around the wristare brushed with silver to make the links stand out.

Ripclaw isn't a bad figure, any more than he's a bad characer - in both cases, he just doesn't have anything that makes him stand out. He's a prime example of '90s artistic excess, but the figure's stock should rise as we get some more members of his team, CyberForce. This is definitely a better figure than the McFarlane Toys version - even though that one had proper claws - but if it wasn't for the BAF piece, this would be one you could leave at the store.

-- 09/27/07

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