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Sarah Francis

Mighty Steeds
by yo go re

After their successful "Greeks and Gorgons" Vitruvian HACKS series, Boss Fight Studio did a whole collection of fantasy figures, knights and fairies and demons galore. In 2018, they returned to Kickstarter with a new spin-off, articulated 1:18 scale horses.

The initial offerings were plain enough - white horse, black horse, saddles, etc. - but the available figures when the campaign began included one special Kickster excluisve, Sara Francis the unicorn.

The sculpt is good. I'm no horseyologist, but the anatomy seems accurate. The body is rippling with muscles, perfcet for galloping through fields, trotting through pastures, or even cantoring around glades. Boss Fight did not just try to reproduce a horse from memory, this is as much an effort of research and perfectionism as NECA duplicating every little wrinkle from a movie character's costume.

V-HACKS horses are just as modular as V-HACKS humans, allowing the basic horse body to become a unicorn or a pegasus or an elk with just a simple switch of a few parts. (Sadly, they did not reach their centaur stretch goal, so that will have to come later.) Even the tails and manes can be pulled out and swapped around, for custom horse fun. For instance, the hair here is long and flowing wildly, while the "normal" horses have shorter cuts that hang straight.

This is, as we said, a unicorn. Did you know unicorns are mentioned in the King James Bible multiple times? The original Hebrew word is re'em, which probably referred to a now-extinct ancestor of modern oxen, but an ox is not a unicorn, so why the beautifully unique sparkleponies? Well, that's what you get when your Bible translation was commissioned by a gay man specifically to get the church to stop hassling him about his boyfriend. What do gay people (stereotypically) do? They make drab, boring things fabulous! Exit the aurochs, enter the unicorn. This unicorn's horn is beautifully formed, symmetrical and spiraling from its base to its tip, and with a lock of hair falling down both sides.

The figure's colorscheme is related directly to the name: a white unicorn with rainbow hair? Boss Fight Studio couldn't very well just call it "the 'Lisa Frank' unicorn," now could they? So taking the name "Sarah" from the brilliant mind who suggested it and turning Frank into "Francis," they landed right in the clear! If for some reason you're unfamiliar (maybe you didn't read Ready Player One's Girl Translation), Lisa Frank is the artist behind those neon rainbow explosion folders and Trapper Keepers from the '80s and '90s, which featured kittens or dolphins or, yes, unicorns. The colors in the hair are solid and blocky, rather than trying in vain to blend naturally, and the horn and hooves are golden. The shadows on the underside of the body are a slightly metallic purple, which suits both the mythic creature and its artsy '80s origins. (It's also the reason I didn't get the Pegasus wing add-on pieces: they fit into an alternate chest, and that wouldn't have the same shading.)

The Vitruvian H.O.R.S.E. has a swivel/hinge head, balljointed neck, and swivel/hinge tail. The front legs move at the elbow (seriously: from an anatomical standpoint, the "top" of a horse's visible front leg is an elbow, with the shoulder further up inside the body, closer to the neck), knee, and fetlock; the back legs have the same at the fetlock, hock, stifle, and hips.

The lower joints are swivel/hinges, while the top ones are balljoints. As we expect from Boss Fight, the joints are a little tight when you first move them, but they don't break. The figure includes an oval display base with two support arms to hold it up at various heights: one short for running, one taller for rearing.

Like we declared at the outset, unicorn Sarah Francis was a Kickstarter exclusive - being a backer was the only way to get her. If you're disappointed, however, BFS has a very similar offering, Frankie. Still a white unicorn, still got wild rainbow mane and tail, but what's gold here is silver there, and the (more extensive) shading is powder blue instead of purple. So you can get your Lisa Frank fix, but the early adopters still have something unique. Everybody wins! The Mighty Steeds are really cool little horses, but this fashionable throwback is a standout member of the herd.

-- 03/06/20

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