First off, I’d like to thank the Four Horsemen for sending this figure along for review. I only asked for samples of the Power Soldier and Elite Soldier (since I’d missed the sale), so his inclusion in the package was a pleasant surprise. –PG
Revell’s Power Lords were memorable for three things: great designs, ahead-of-its-time articulation, and gimmicks. In bringing the Power Lords back for modern collectors, Four Horsemen Studios has (so far) chosen to do away with the gimmicks. For example, the upper torso of the vintage Adam Power spun around to reveal the otherwise staid Adam in all his blue-skinned, red-veined, bare-chested alien glory. The Four Horsemen plan to offer an interchangeable, fully-sculpted upper torso.
Ordinarily I’m all for getting rid of action features, which often ruin an otherwise great action figure. But sometimes the “gimmick” isn’t really a gimmick, and actually might be a desirable feature. A case in point is today’s figure, Ggrapptikk.
Ggrapptikk is a “pre-paint” of Ggripptogg, an evil alien character from the original line. The Ggrapptikk “grunt” is (I’m guessing here) a soldier who serves Ggripptogg (or rather Arkus – see below). But in terms of everything except color and name, this is Gripptogg. For a full review of the vintage Ggripptogg figure, check out The Enthusiast’s review at CollectionDX. I actually recommend you head over there and at least skim it, because it will help make this review more enlightening.
Anyway, for fun, here’s the vintage Ggripptogg’s bio:
Ggripptogg is a fearsome brute whose four war-arms and double faced head hold entire planets in the grip of fear. His empire stretched from one end of the galaxy to the other until Arkus captured it from him. He now exists as a mindless yet hateful follower of the Evil Dictator.
Oof, that bites. So, like Mer-Man, he was an overlord in his own right who’s been subjugated by the Big Bad (in this case, Arkus).
Of course, this isn’t Ggripptogg per se. The Four Horsemen referred to them as “Ggrapptikk Grunts.” I’m not clear on whether his personal name is Ggrapptikk, or whether that’s his title, job description, or species. As someone who’s obsessed with this sort of detail, it bothers me that I’m not clear on his place in the Power Lords universe. Does he work for Ggripptogg? More importantly, is his flesh actually supposed to be pink? Is this colorway canonical to the Power Lords universe, or is that true only for the fully-painted versions inspired by the vintage toys? These are the questions that haunt me when I wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat.
But I digress.
Packaging: He comes in a plastic bag. The one I received didn’t even have a Power Lords sticker on it, as some of the other figures I’ve ordered have. So far all the Power Lords figures have come in bags. If I had to guess, I would suspect the “standard” versions of the characters (fully-painted in colors inspired by the vintage figures) might come on cardboard backings, but I doubt any of the exclusives, repaints or pre-paints will. Evidently the Four Horsemen are trying to keep production costs as low as possible for now.
Design & Sculpt: As always, there’s no faulting the Four Horsemen’s sculpting. The original Ggripptogg was fairly well sculpted for its time, but the 4H have updated it to modern standards. Ggrapptikk has plenty of details but not too many – it’s just right for the scale.
It’s worth noting that Ggrapptikk’s head is sculpted wearing a helmet, while the vintage Ggripptogg wore no helmet, but had not one but two alternate faces (yes, the Power Lords line was really fond of that spin-around gimmick). The Horsemen have sculpted and produced both heads (and maybe a fourth variant I’m not sure about), but so far they have only been handed out as gifts to customers who received figures with duplicated parts (see the Quality Control section below).
As I discussed in my review of the Power Lords Soldier and Elite, these figures are in a roughly 4″ scale. This was done to cut down on costs while allowing the 4H to produce all the characters at the proper size in relation to one another (as Horseman Eric “Cornboy” Mayse explained in this podcast). The Power Soldier and the Elite are a tad tall for Star Wars figures, but since Ggrapptikk isn’t humanoid he looks fine next to them.
Of course, these figures are also fully compatible with Glyos. In fact, Ggrapptikk was in a few pieces when he arrived, and I had some trouble getting his abdomen to connect to his lower torso tightly – it kept falling off. Eventually I was able to get it connected properly and now it’s fairly secure.
I didn’t take an “exploded” photo of Ggrapptikk in parts. I’m not sure yet just how useful the Fit Function aspect of these figures is going to be – due to their design, with all the balljoints and sunken crevices for the balljoints to connect realistically, I think these figures will offer more interchangeability among themselves than with other Glyos-compatible lines.
Plastic & Paint: So far, all of the Four Horsemen’s Power Lords releases have been coordinated with the colorways of Onell Design’s releases. This is no doubt done to save money – by sharing the plastic colors, it brings everyone’s costs down. This figure (and its reverse-colors mate) were no doubt produced with Onell’s “Neo Gatekeeper” drop from September. (The colors for that drop were inspired by the rare Major Matt Mason figure Scorpio.)
While I’m fond of the figure, I’m not fond of these colors. They don’t look realistic to me, and I don’t like how they look alongside other figures – even the Power Soldier/Elite. The colors remind me of the C.U.T.I.E. figurines my sister had as a kid.
There are no paint applications aside from his eyes (black) and a few bits of black paint on the box attached to the sash across Ggrapptikk’s torso. That also contributes to the figure’s very toyish look.
Articulation: Ggrapptikk features a balljointed head, balljointed shoulders, balljointed elbows, swivels at all four wrists, a swivel waist (one on either side of the “belt”), swivel hips, and side-to-side swivels at the “knees.” The lack of balljointed hips remains a mild disappointment on this line, although it’s not out of line with most modern Star Wars figures of the same scale (and besides, without thigh swivels and ankles with rocker motion, balljointed hips just aren’t that effective, especially in this scale). In all honesty, I’m satisfied with the articulation, with one exception.
I mentioned the lack of a gimmick earlier. The vintage Ggripptog’s forearms were articulated. Oddly enough for a character with “grip” in his name, they didn’t actually clamp together, but rather moved up and down parallel to one another. But either way, it’s disappointing Ggrapptikk’s forearms aren’t articulated at all. Between this and the Adam Power decision, it’s clear the Four Horsemen are focusing on the aesthetic pleasures of this line – the Wayne Barlowe designs – rather than the “toy” aspects of the vintage line.
And I can understand that, but the lack of any forearm articulation on a character like Ggripptogg still seems like a wasted opportunity to me.
Accessories: The Ggrapptikk Grunt comes with what the Four Horsemen call a “Mega-Mace” but the vintage packaging referred to as “the Super Mace.” I think both names neglect the much cooler “Space Mace.” The head of the mace is rather heavy, and the black plastic used for the shaft isn’t quite strong enough to prevent a bit of bending, depending on how you pose the mace in his hands. The mace can be removed from the shaft via a Fit Function joint.
Prototype images of the 4H’s Ggripptogg showed a much shorter shaft based on the vintage figure, so this longer shaft, which makes this weapon really more of a staff than a mace, is evidently exclusive to the Ggrapptikks, at least for now.
Quality Control: My understanding is that there are four different hand sculpts for Ggrapptikk. The hands can be matched to the arms via the veins on the back of the hands and the forearms. Evidently, it’s not unusual to get duplicates of the hands. But I’m not 100% sure that there are actually four different hand sculpts, and I’m definitely not 100% sure whether I have any duplicate hands. I can say definitely that it’s not something I care much about, but as they say, your mileage may vary. You can do more research on this topic over at the Source Horsemen forums.
Overall: Ggrapptikk cost $13 at New York Comic Con, which isn’t a bad price for an independently-produced action figure of this size, particularly when you consider the added value of the Glyos Fit Function compatibility.
The sculpt is fantastic, and while I find the lack of double-articulated elbows disappointing, I’m otherwise satisfied with the articulation. I like the design of this figure and can’t wait for the official “regular” painted version. It’s not clear if and when we’re going to see those, although I’ve heard “late spring 2014″ bandied about.
I’m not very fond of the colors for this figure, and I may skip future releases unless they seem sufficiently “realistic.” The good news is that the Four Horsemen are already moving in that direction – their next Ggrapptikk releases will feature more muted tones and more paint applications. Those should be up for sale sometime in the next couple of months, so keep an eye on SourceHorsemen.com for the latest news and StoreHorsemen.com once the figures go on sale.