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The Demoman

Team Fortress 2
by yo go re

"Boom Boom Baby."

Tavish is the latest in a long line of demolitions expert DeGroots, whose family traditions include blowing up things for money, maintaining fearlessness on the job at all times by being too drunk to understand the risks, and losing eyeballs. (No demoman worth his sulfur in Clan DeGroot has ever had an eye in his head past thirty.) Eager to capitalize on his prime eye-having earning years, Tavish nonetheless adheres to a strict moral code when choosing which jobs to take: one, that he be paid for it; and two, that that he be paid embarrassingly large sums of money for it.

Perhaps no character better shows off the smart design work of Team Fortress 2 than the Demoman. As you may be able to tell by the fact that his real name is "Tavish DeGroot," he's a typical angry Scotsman. And throughout most of the design process, he looked like a typical angry Scotsman: pale skin, red hair, all that. He was basically Groundskeeper Willie with explosives. But they wanted something more inventive and less stereotyped, so they decided to change his ethnicity. Like he says himself, "I'm a black Scottish cyclops. They've got more fecking sea monsters in the great Lochett Ness than they've got the likes of me!"

Despite his knit cap and his great blocky big sideburns, the fact that he's a black guy with an eyepatch makes him look like Nick Fury. Well, Nick Fury by way of Pixar, thanks to TF2's design aesthetic. Oh wait, we know exactly what Sam Jackson would look like through the Pixar lens, thanks to Frozone in The Incredibles! Pretty much like this.

TF2 gives all its characters unique silhouettes, so you can distinguish them quickly at a distance. The Demoman is actually about the same size as the Soldier, but his upper body is larger because of the big vest he wears. There are three grenades on each side of his chest, a pouch in the front, and two more on the sides. A flap hangs down in front of his groin, meant to protect him from shrapnel (and yes, if you lift it to have him doing his taunt, there's a wee smiley face taped [well, sculpted like it's taped] under there). His pants are tucked into his boots, and he has a bit of armor around his ankles. His BLU uniform stops at the elbows, but he's wearing some kind of long-sleeved white shirt underneath.

The sculpt of the figure is true to the game. The Demo's clothes aren't as baggy as the Pyro's, so that means fewer wrinkles and smaller folds. The paint seems simple, but there's more complexity than you'll notice at first glance. Yes, his outfit is bright blue, but there's darker paint applied around the elbows and boot tops, making them look burnt or sooty. His vest is dark grey, but the straps on it are black, so they stand out slightly. The Demoman's "sticky bomb" icon is tampoed on his shoulders.

His articulation is more than enough to get all the poses out of him you could possibly want. He has hinged toes, swivel/hinge ankles, Revoltech-style swivel/hinge/swivel knees, swivel thighs, balljointed hips, balljointed torsom swivel/hinge wrists, swivel/hinge elbows, swivel/hinge shoulders, a balljointed neck, and a swivel/hinge head. All the joints move well, and don't feel like they're going to break. Plus, you can tell what everything is. His spindly little ankles make it hard to keep him standing for long, but it can be done. We still wish the figures came with capture point bases, though.

What the Demoman does come with, however, are his three starting weapons: the Grenade Launcher, the Stickybomb Launcher, and the Bottle. Yes, he's Scottish: his melee weapon is a bottle of hooch. It's permanently attached to one of three alternate left hands the figure includes. The other two are open to different extents in order to help hold the launchers: one open wide, so it can cradle the underside of the grenade launcher, the other closed to clutch the fore-grip on the sticky launcher. The figure's hands are molded from blue plastic, and just from putting the sticky launcher into the left hand twice, paint is already rubbing off his fingertips, revealing the bare plastic beneath. It's also disappointing that we didn't get any loose grenades - or especially sticky bombs, since those can stay in place forever, and don't blow up until you want them too.

Of course, that may be corrected by the time all is said and done. See, NECA is releasing these figures two at a time: the first series was the Pyro and Demo (in both RED and BLU colors), and the second will be the Soldier and the Heavy. So, two figures at a time, but there are nine characters - that leaves us one short. So maybe NECA's planning to round out the final assortment with an accessory pack, giving us all the accessories that got left out of the normal releases.

The set also includes a card (reproducing the Demo poster art) that has a special code you can redeem for a free in-game item. Yes, everybody gets the same item. And since this is Team Fortress 2, the item is a hat. Specifically, the Scotsman's Stove Pipe, a fancy top hat befitting his status as the last member of an ancient Scottish clan with their own ancestral castle!

The Team Fortress 2 figures cost between $20 and $25, depending on where you find them - or, if you're like me and ordered online, they cost between $20 and $25 plus shipping, which is a super-hard pill to swallow. That's an awful lot of scratch to drop on a figure that's less than 7" tall (even if the hat you're getting for free sells for $5 in the game), but as long as the releases are spread out far enough, they're worth it.

-- 06/15/13

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