Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Scud: the Disposable Assassin

Back in high school, a friend of mine was really into Scud. He lent me a bunch of issues - most of the run, if memory serves - and I read through them. I remember really liking it... at first. I felt like it got repetitive pretty fast, though it probably didn't help that I went through them in a single sitting.

But the series had an interesting visual style and was intriguingly twisted. There was something appealing about the concept, even if it was a little light to ground an entire series on.

At any rate, I've known about the toy from Shocker for a while. Right off the back, I was impressed with how well they captured the character. I'd have bought one a while ago, but I was turned off by the price (sixteen to twenty at most comic shops). This is a cool figure, but it's not exactly a large one.

Well, for whatever reason, I stumbled across this at Toys R Us for ten, which seemed more reasonable. I picked him up, in part to get a feel for Shocker as a company. I'm pretty sure this is the first of their action figures I've ever bought, as hard as that is to believe, and I figured $10 was a small price to pay for a cool toy and some research.

I'm really happy I picked him up. The figure includes a bit of shading that really punches up the visual impact. The guns are highly stylized and extremely thin, which works with the overall 'sketched' look they've captured. I'm also happy to report that the self-destruct warning appears on Scud's back, and is legible:

The character design lends itself to including a great deal of articulation, and Shocker took advantage. By my count, Scud has eight ball joints (head, chest, shoulders, hips, and even wrists), six pins (ankles, elbows, and knees), and five cuts (upper arms, upper legs, and waist). With a few exceptions, those joints give you any range of motion you could imagine. His head can tilt almost all the way back, so it's looking up: I wouldn't have expected that.

The only major exception is with the hips, which only give you a little motion to the sides. Honestly, I don't think you'll miss it, though: this has some fantastic articulation. But that's nothing to the balance. Because the figure's so light, he'll retain a huge number of poses. He won't hold this next one forever, but the fact he balanced at all is pretty impressive:

The joints are all fairly loose, and they'll pop out pretty easily. Actually, there's a sense in which Scud feels more like a building set than an action figure, save that he comes pre-assembled.

Stylistically, this is a very different kind of figure than what I'm used to. He almost feels more like a descendant of Stikfas figures than a relation of DC Universe Classics. That's fitting, seeing as Scud isn't exactly a toy Mattel or Hasbro would be likely to make.

In terms of accessories, Scud fares pretty well. He comes with an extra pair of hands, in case you want to display him unarmed. I don't expect many collectors will want to do so, but it's always nice having a few extra hands hanging around.

In addition, he also comes with an Isz from The Maxx, another series I was introduced to by the aforementioned friend from high school. These guys are a little better known than Scud, since The Maxx was produced as an animated series on MTV (which is actually what I know them from). The Isz are basically a cross between piranas and Smurfs. Since I don't have any pirana toys on display, I've put him on the shelf beside my wife's Smurfs. I'm sure they'll get along.

This is a really nice toy. The next time you're in Toys R Us, I recommend keeping an eye out for these. If you find them, at least run them by the price scanners. Though that does tread upon the one warning I'd offer: this is a good toy - maybe even a great one - but it doesn't feel like it should be an expensive one. Ten bucks, in today's market, feels about right. Not cheap, not a bargain, but fair. Any more than that, and it had better be a character you can't live without.

Speaking of which, Shocker has a release of The Tick coming out. I'm definitely going to be keeping my eyes out for that.

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