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Los Illuminados Monks

Resident Evil 4
by yo go re

After years of trouble with the Racoon City Police Department, Leon Kennedy was probably looking forward to some peace and quiet. Something nice and simple, like rescuing the president's kidnapped daughter. Compared to what he'd seen before, that should have been a cakewalk in the tea park. But no, nothing is ever easy: she'd been kidnapped to a rural village in Spain where all the villagers are members of the Los Illuminados cult.

A mysterious cult of unknown origin, their haunting chants echo through the halls of Salazar Castle.

After blasting your way through hordes of parasite-infested villagers, you finally reach the castle that overlooks the tiny hamlet. And then you have to blast your way through hordes of parasite-infested monks. Maybe there's something in the water.

The monks dress in typical medieval-style robes, with simple rope belts. There are four monks available in this series, and for the most part, they all use the same body (with a few minor differences). The sculpt is good, with the rough cloth of the robes falling into large, thick wrinkles around the belt and over the body inside. The Resident Evil figures are pretty inarticulate, but the monks fair better than most of the line. They've got peg jointed ankles, peg jointed waists, balljointed wrists, peg elbows, balljointed shoulders and balljointed heads. You can get a few different poses out of them, but they really are intended to stick to their prescribed stance.

The first monk is the simplest, in both appearance and weaponry. His brown robes are the plainest, with just a little bit of decoration around the collar. His pale skin makes him look almost like an albino, and he has no hair. It's not just that he's bald - he doesn't even have eyebrows. His mouth is open, but his teeth are gritted. This is one angry guy. His weapon of choice is a scythe, which he can use to lop off Leon's head in a single stroke. Duck and cover, Leon! Duck and cover.

Sometimes when you blow off someone's head in the game, their Plaga parasite will pop out to take a swing at you. Baldy's head can be removed and replaced with a centipede-like plaga. The plaga has squinty little eyes, a big three-part mouth (perfect for biting your head off) and five hooked legs. Its body has a rough texture and many visible veins. Creepy little beast. Switching the heads is insanely difficult: getting the human head off is frustrating, and the balljoint doesn't want to pop into the plaga easily. Personally, I ended up carving away some of the plastic to make it easier. I took off a bunch, and yet the heads are still as tight and poseable as ever; not good design.

The next member of the order gets a little fancier. His robe has a narrow tabard hanging down the front and back, and a hooded shawl on his shoulders. His skin is just as pale as his brother's, but he has crimson lesions on his head. Some people mistake these for tattoos in the game, but no: open sores. He's carrying a morningstar flail with a 3½" chain, and hiding behind a large wooden shield with a metal frame, angled spikes and the Los Illuminados symbol in the center.

The third monk still has a tabard, but he's replaced the hood with a helmet and a thick collar. The helmet is an ornate deal, with a golden skull mask covering his face. The monks who wear this helmet are protected against headshots, so you have to do enough damage to their body before they'll lay down quietly. And just so you can't get in close, this guy is armed with a handheld crossbow. It's got a wooden body with metal mechanics, and a bolt glued on top.

Now, those were all low-ranking monks, as evidenced by their brown vestments. Those higher in the order, such as our last monk, wear red. He carries the same kind of crossbow as the skull-headed monk, and he also has a tabard, though his has a different pattern than his underlings'. There's a cloth hood draped over his face like Cobra Commander, and a nicely detailed goat skull rests on top of his head. It's glued in place on the figure, but I don't know how it's attached to the real character. The off-white of the bone contrasts well against the crimson robes, and the horns are a darker brown. You can see the monk's eyes through the holes in his mask, but the goat skull really makes him look unearthly.

The distribution on these figures was a little bit wonky at first - cases were arriving with only one or two of the monks, so you had to search all over to complete the set. That was eventually fixed, so you could snag the entire brotherhood in one fell swoop, if you hit the stores at the right time. And yes, you'll want all four of them. Even if you're not a fan of RE4, how can you not like an army of murderous monks swarming on your toy display? Think how awesome they'd look with Hellboy punching their faces in, or summoning the upcoming Cthulhu. Or both.

-- 10/23/06

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