Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Gothitropolis: Decimus Hrabben the Black Raven by the Four Horsemen

The Raven is one outstanding figure. This was a figure long in the wait, and was possible only through the efforts of many on Kickstarter.
This one one of the earliest Kickstarter efforts that I instantly wanted to support. I had been a fan of the Horsemen's work in earlier lines like the Masters of the Universe line (the more recent ones, not the ones from the 1980s). Early concept work and sculpts looked just stunning, and though I'd loved to have picked up the entire assortment, I opted for upgrading the main featured character, the Raven.

So, let's jump into review of a figure that I had been waiting on since the Kickstarter ended back on August 12, 2013. Was it worth the wait? Read on fellow collectors and niche enthusiasts!

(Left) Front of the packaging. (Center) Close up detail of the concept art and some of the story behind this character. (Right) Full view of the back of the cardback.
The packaging was not like the kind that you tend to find on the shelves of perhaps your local retail stores. It was really designed, it seems, to be able to remove the figure and re-store it back into the blister pack if you wanted to. I never had any notions of leaving it in the box, so aside from some great graphic design done on it, which I always love to see, I only plan on saving the cardback from it all.

As far as shipping was concerned, I got my figure packed up super safe, and with no damage to any of the actual figure packaging. Finally, a company that can ship out things with a fair amount of care taken into consideration. Hopefully some others start to take note of what is good customer service (...digital river/mattel...).

The blister pack size was generous and kept the Raven figure extremely well protected. I only had one issue removing the figure, and had to use a pair of scissors to carefully open up a new slit near the left arm so I could get the figure out.
So my initial take? I was really pleasantly surprised by the insane amount of detail that managed to get put into a figure that is no taller than eight inches.

(Left) The figure is very capable of standing on it's own in it's base configuration. (Center and Right) Insane amounts of gorgeous design and detail abound on this figure's armor and accessories.
The figure came packed with a few extra accessories, two sets of variant feet (which although cool, I didn't attempt to put on), and a really nice staff weapon.

Very nice detail work and textures on the extra feet sets. The staff weapon came in two parts (those of you that collect figures know why) so that it can be assembled into the closed circle of gripped fingers.
I had opted to go for extra accessories which came polybagged. I was a bit worried that they would be bent or broken, but nothing was amiss or damaged.

(Top) The polybagged items, the weapons and add on wings. (Bottom Left and Right) The wings before being attached in various poses.
The helmet and the sword were what I really wanted out of this add on, the screaming head is nice and all, but I rather like the stock stoic looking head that was on the Raven already.
(Left)Three accessories, spare head, sword, and packed helmet, (Top Right) Front of Helmet. (Bottom Right) Rear of helmet.
The details and paint applications on these additional accessories are all executed just as well as the base figure's.

(Left) Close up of the screaming Raven alternate head. (Right) The sword has just enough of a fantasy touch to it, but not so much as it looks unwieldly. As much as it could be I guess for a fantasy figure... :D .
Although I opted not to install the alternate feet or swap out the head, I did want to get the new full sized wings put in. The below images show the little nubby wings that come standard on the Raven figure, and the pegs that go into the back of the figure.

Removing the basic wing nubs is a bit tricky, and so that you don't have any issues putting the new figures in, you can opt to put a small drop of dawn dish soap on your fingers and apply it onto the nubs so you don't snap them off trying to get the new larger wings in. I used a small bit of 303 Space Protectant (which is a product I stumbled across from my car detailing days, and have used with great success to rejuvenate plastics on many older figures and provide a bit of UV protection for them and many of my newer ones. It does amazing jobs of removing dust grime and actually rehydrating the plastics, unlike the other automotive based plastic trim cleaners that use alcohol as a base in them. I plan on doing a review on this product sometime later this next year, because I am still testing what this product will do to other types of plastics used in Lego bricks and so on) to get the wings in.

Details on switching out the figure's stock nub wings with the new larger wings.
The wings and accessories added on, just push this figure over into the area of epic looks. I will say that the staff become necessary to help aid the figure to stand as the wings, especially when extended outward fully, make the figure a bit unbalanced in stances.

Front and back with new wings added on.
So what are my final thoughts on this? It's a great premium figure. One I am proud I picked up. It quickly approaches some of the work you expect to find from Neca or Hot Toys and blowing past much of what else is out there currently. With the add on wings, it comes to about 16 points of articulation I believe. (In the few weeks I've now had it, I have found the joints have loosened up some on their own, especially the rear wings).

It has a crazy amount of articulation for such a detailed figure, though the first couple of times you probably need to run a bit of hot water over some of the joints to loosen them up a bit before cold pivoting them. I know this sounds like something that should not be necessary for a figure like this, but even on my Hot Toys Tony Stark, I found some of the joints to have a bit of heavy resistance to them when I first got him out of the package.

It should not be this fun to take pictures of action figures...
There is honestly nothing bad I can say so far about this figure. The build, the design, the overall experience getting the figure has all been very good. I need to get a good display case going for much of my new additions, as this one would be a hellacious one to clean up once dust starts to settle on it.

As a fan of armor in general, and having made armor back in my SCA days, I love the fanciful but somewhat realistic approach to the armor.
Be sure to check out the site to see the others that are available. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Until next time, cherish the good things in life, keep your hobbies and interests alive, and be kind to your fellow beings. - Mario, the Rogue Hobbyist.

Stats Rating/Information
Item Decimus Hrabben the Black Raven
Made by the Four Horsemen
Rarity Common
Classification Modern - Released in 2014
Condition Excellent
Procured Kickstarter
Worth $45
Investment $45
Further Research http://www.sourcehorsemen.com/
Trivia & Fun Facts Ravens played a huge part in legends and myths all over Europe. In France, people believed ravens were the souls of wicked religious people. In Germany, ravens were the incarnation of damned souls or sometimes Satan himself. In Sweden, ravens that croaked at night were thought to be the souls of murdered people who didn’t have proper Christian burials. And in Denmark, people believed that night ravens were exorcized spirits, and you’d better not look up at them in case there was a hole in the bird’s wing, because you might look through the hole and turn into a raven yourself.

UPDATE 1/1/2015 
One misconception that I had arise from my toy collecting efforts (see recent screenshot below) is that perhaps companies have sent me sample items or that I get things free. Wrong. Read my blog. I show prices, locations, and places I find everything, especially toys, that I review. Part of the challenge is the chase, the research, and the love of trying to collect what I can while making a living as a visual and voice over artist in the Midwest. I've lost out on great deals, had one or two kickstarters not come through, and have never presented anything on this blog as anything more than what it is. A collector that happens to live in KC near a lot of great places that I have opportunities to collect things from.

I can understand frustrations with manufacturers and companies, shipping and waiting, damaged or misplaced items. I've had all that happen. It's unfortunately part of the hobby, and something I plan on raising awareness of. I have had nothing but great dealings with the FourHorsemen's company.

To be quite frank, there is enough insane geek elitism and other bad aspects out there in our various hobbies, and I am a rabid anti favoritism guy. Ask anyone that has met me at art shows I do, or bought art from me. I hope this is the last time I have to bring something like this up, because I do this out of love of the hobby. Nothing more. Especially not for charitable monetary or physical gains.

My Kickstarter Profile: https://www.kickstarter.com/profile/theartisanrogue

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