I had intended to write up a basic introduction to Glyos before writing this review, but life gets busy and for one reason or another, I was never able to get around to it. Mea culpa. You’ll recall I did a two-part interview (part 1, part 2) with Onell Design founder and Glyos creator Matt Doughty a few months back, after the announcement of the Four Horsemen‘s acquiring of the Outer Space Men license and the news that the figures would incorporate Onell Design’s “Fit Function” joint system, making them entirely compatible with all Glyos figures.
So I didn’t get around to that introduction to Glyos, but as often seems to happen these days, NoisyDVL5 over at ItsAllTrue.net took the initiative. Check out his article to find out what Glyos is all about, then come on back for my review.
The Horsemen have yet to announce an official sale date for the regular versions of the first two waves of Outer Space Men (though they did spill the beans that there will be NYCC exclusives). The Horsemen dubbed these exclusives “The Alpha Phase Waves,” which is definitely in the spirit of the many various Glyos releases, all of which have whimsical names.
The figures were sold in two sets. Alpha Phase 1 features Astro-Nautilus – the Man from Neptune (purple octopus guy) and Metamorpho – the Man from Alpha Centauri (white astronaut guy).* Phase 2 consists of Inferno, the Flame Man from Mercury (red guy) and Xodiac, the Man from Saturn (yellow guy). Each pair cost $20, and were sold both on Store Horsemen and at SDCC. They’re now sold out–and those Glyos fans don’t mess around–so if you really want them after reading this review, be prepared to pay a king’s ransom on eBay.
Packaging: While the regular releases will come on blister cards inspired by the original 1960s figures, the SDCC exclusives came in small zipper bags that included cardboard cards and toppers. The primitive, guerrilla-style packaging evokes their kinship with Glyos (whose collectors share a lot in common, and a lot of crossover, with the urban vinyl crowd). But it’s still appealing, and the Colorforms-like Four Horsemen logo is the icing on the cake. (All credit to NoisyDVL5 for that observation.)
Design & Sculpt: The sculpts are based very closely on the original figures; essentially these are those bendy figures made into more modern action figures (not dissimilar from the process of turning a vintage MOTU character into a Classics figure). So those looking for a Horsemen-ized interpretation of the original toys, a la Millennium MOTU, will be disappointed. But if, like me, you’re a fan of the original figures’ very retro-futuristic look, then you’ll like these.
The most intriguing sculpt is obviously Astro-Nautilus, whose tentacles represent a great new limb option for Glyos fans. The detailing on the tentacles is particularly eye-catching and should look even better on the painted releases. Meanwhile, Metamorpho’s helmet features a three-face spinning head feature that is identical to that of Man-E-Faces (perhaps the design of MEF had owned Metamorpho once?).
Each of the original Outer Space Men had entirely unique sculpts. As a cost-cutting measure, the Four Horsemen have introduced as number of generic, interchangeable parts among the OSM. Therefore, Inferno and Metamorpho share the same torso and abdomen, and both share upper and lower legs with Xodiac, who also shares feet with Metamorpho. But since the original sculpts were relatively soft (having been done in the 1960s, and on bendy figures no less), the shared parts do not noticeably affect the iconic look of the characters. The (relatively) extensive paint work on the regular release should hide the re-use further.
Of course, these being compatible with Glyos, they can be taken almost entirely apart, and the parts swapped between every figure. I did some very minor swapping in one of the pics at right, but that was due to time constraints–there is obviously no limit to what you can do with these figures once you start bringing in Glyos parts.
Standing about 4″ tall, the OSM are not quite in scale with Glyos, nor with Glyos’ cousin Callgrim; as you can see from the final photo, the OSM are significantly taller than either figure.
Plastic & Paint: Each figure is molded in solid plastic, with no paint except for the eyes. The translucent colors are definitely eye-catching, and they’re obviously a good choice for an exclusive like this.
But the solid colors do wash out almost all the details on these figures (especially in photos), giving the figures a strong toyish feel (and making them look a bit like delicious, delicious candy).**
Articulation: Articulation varies by figure, but for the most part you can be sure of swivels at the head, shoulders, wrists, hips, and feet. Astro-Nautilus obviously has a lot of extra articulation. The “Fit Function” currently does not feature ball joints or hinge joints (though that may be changing–sort of), so the OSM have basically the same articulation as a 1980s Star Wars figure.
Whether that’s more or less than the original bendy toys is a philosophical question I don’t dare to address, lest my brain, in the parlance of the hipper geeks, “asplode.”
Accessories: Each figure comes with at least one accessory. Metamorpho comes with a gun and a…thing. I really have no idea what it is and I’m terrified to speculate, lest my brain go to some very, very naughty places.
Inferno has a wicked-looking gun, Astro-Nautilus has a trident, and Xodiac has both a gun and a pretty cool staff. Astro-Nautilus’s trident can be a bit tricky to fit onto his tentacles, but I eventually got it.
In messing around with these I found they don’t really fit in Glyos’ figures hands, which is surprising and a bit of a disappointment.
Quality Control: No problems.
Overall: The secret truth about the Outer Space Men is this: their value is increased tremendously if you’re a fan of Glyos. If you are, the exotic sculpts and detailing of the OSM open up a whole new world of customizing. That goes double for these exclusives; due to their solid colors, as part of an OSM collection they can be viewed more as collectibles than toys, but match them up with some Glyos figures and they quickly revert to full toyishness. Does that make any sense?
* FUN FACT – The reason Mattel had to call Metamorpho “Rex Mason” on the DCUC Wave 1 (review) packaging was because the trademark to the name is owned by the OSM trademark holders, creator Mel Birnkrant and Gary Schaeffer.
** FUN FACT: Repeating certain adjectives, when done in the proper context, is comedy gold.