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Here we go again.

There was something a little off with the recent Conan head that was designed to go with Kaustic Plastik's Masterclass Warrior set (reviewed HERE). Apart from some possibly questionable choices in the paint, the most obvious problem was the sculpted hair. While it was decently (not super finely) sculpted, it looked like molded plastic (which is admittedly what it was). Mr Toys had just released their own Conan set (reviewed HERE) which, while largely based on earlier work by Kaustic Plastik, broke new ground by offering us a Conan with "real" hair. Between this and my earlier attempts to create an Arnold Schwarzenegger-as-Conan head sculpt (using one of the Hot Toys Terminator heads), and my recent modification to the Hot Toys Jason Momoa Aquaman head sculpt (replacing the sculpted hair with "real" hair -- see HERE), the next step was obvious. But this was going to be a slightly more ambitious project, because it involved not only removing the plastic hair and replacing it with "real" hair, but also filling in and repainting likely or potentially visible grooves in the head sculpt, detaching, modifying, and repainting the headgear (so it would be both screen accurate and removable, not to mention so that I could put in the hair properly), and also partly modifying, repainting, and remounting the necklace ornaments on a more sensible string that would allow the necklace to hang about right.

This time I took more photos to illustrate more of the steps, in case someone finds this helpful for modifying this or a different sculpt.

Just in case I did something horribly wrong, I managed to get myself an extra Kaustic Plastik Conan head (1). As I had noticed before, the hair was made of soft plastic, and divided into sections (two side locks and a larger back piece, separated by the headband from the crown of the head hairpiece, which last was actually part of the head sculpt), just like Hot Toys' Aquaman head. So, I heated up the head sculpt a little with a hair dryer (not much was actually needed), and gently pried off the large hair piece covering the back of the head (2).

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Then I proceeded to dislodge the headband, which was (if I recall) divided at the back of the head on one end of the sculpted strings holding the two parts together. I heated and gently pried off the headband from the head, into which it was ensconced by virtue of several sections fitting into indented grooves that were parts of the head sculpt (3a-5). One of them was right in the middle of the forehead (4-5).

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With the headband off, I gently pried off and removed the two side locks of hair (4-5).

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With the headband and all detachable hairpieces removed, it was necessary to remove almost all of the molded hair that was an integral part of the head sculpt at the crown of the head (4a-4d). I left in place a little hair over the forehead, since that can be a challenging transition between sculpted face and "real" hair.

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After a failed experiment with Vallejo acrylic putty, I filled the visible grooves in the forehead and temples with Kneadatite Blue/Yellow Epoxy Putty (the kind that comes in a tape and you mash and knead it together into a malleable green substance for sculpting and filling -- a skill I learned from members of OneSixthFigures) (5). It was my first experience with this material, but I think it worked reasonably well. Someone with greater skill and patience, would have done more in the way of sculpting bone and flesh structure and gotten the filling to sit completely flush and seamless (with filing down). Since this was going to be obscured most of the time by the headband (for the classic look), I didn't worry about it too much, though I wanted it to look ok even when exposed. Once the Kneadatite had cured overnight, I painted it with Vallejo Acrylics, trying to get as close as possible to the head's skin tone (which is perhaps not ideal itself, but I didn't want to repaint the whole thing -- which might actually have been the way to do it); I also took the opportunity to fix the hairline and darken the eyebrows. As far as painting the head, that was it (6).

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Then came my "favorite" part (I'm being sarcastic), the application of the hair. I picked a warmish milk chocolate brown, because that is pretty close to Arnold's appearance on the screen during the film. Using as a basic guide the technique outlined by Morezmore (HERE), but also taking some shortcuts and utilizing superglue, I basically went in rings around the back and sides of the head, starting with a level above the edge of the head sculpt's neck and making my way upwards (7-9b).

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Having gently removed as many loose strands of hair as I could, I gently rinsed it with water, gathered it backwards, and let it dry (10a-10c).

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After this I cut the hair to approximate Conan's appearance in Conan the Destroyer (since that is where we see the matching outfit and accessories) -- I didn't cut as short as I should, just in case I made a mistake -- and filled up any visible "holes" (there were surprisingly few) with either more hair or acrylic marker (11). Then it was time to add the headband and the necklace and complete the modification (12).

I had shaved down the inside of the headband (especially the parts that were designed to protrude so that they could fit into the grooves in the head sculpt) to make it thinner, so that it would fit more easily around the modified head; I glued it shut at the back, and when the glue had cured, it fit the head like a charm. I had also repainted the pyramidal ornaments on the head band in brass, to match the film appearance. The ornaments on the necklace were all correct (except for the color of the "sun" or "wheel" pendant), but the necklace did not work at all. I had to remove each ornament and glue it onto a thin leather string which could hang a little more naturally (it is also malleable, if needed). I made sure to place the fangs correctly (both for appearance and so that they no longer attempted to bite into the body), and glued their now purely decorative fastenings in place. Similarly, I made sure the pendant sat ("hung") correctly, glued on a couple of pieces of string to match the screen appearance, and repainted it in brass, for the same reason (12).

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Here are a couple of comparisons: with the unaltered KP head and necklace, and...

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with the Mr Toys head (the necklace for that set has the wrong pendant).

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I don't know if I would call it perfect, but I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. There are some additional things that can be done, for example a shampoo+conditioner treatment to create more waviness in the hair. For this shot I put the modified head, headband, and necklace on the rest of the KP set, but that would require some additional minor modifications to be completely movie accurate. I suppose it is a work in progress.

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What do you think?

#custom #kitbash #modification #arnoldschwarzenegger #conan #barbarian #destroyer #film #fiction #fantasy #kausticplastik #kp #head #headsculpt #hair #male #tbleague #phicen #body
Search in: General Talk  Topic: Converting Arnold Schwarzenegger KP Conan Head  Replies: 23  Views: 377
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Introduction
Hot on the heels of the Mr Toys set depicting the same character and actor, Kaustic Plastik has released its Masterclass set based on Arnold Schwarzenegger's role as Conan the Barbarian (and, more to the point, Conan the Destroyer). Both of these recent sets are partly a reprise of the old fantasy barbarian warrior sets by Kaustic Plastik, although both improve, for the most part, what had already been offered (even if providing a more limited selection of items). I will be making frequent reference to the Mr Toys set for comparison purposes, so HERE is the link to my recent review. Since this is not a complete set (it does not come with the recommended TBLeague M35 body included), I am not assigning point values to the various categories. The head for the set is sold separately, but it is also included in this review.

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Packaging
The set comes in a transparent plastic lid and trey on a card. The head comes in a typical sixth-scale head sculpt box, well-protected inside foam. Everything is safe and collector friendly, except of course for having to tear the plastic trey off the card.

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Sculpting
The sculpted detail on the head and other sculpted or die-cast pieces seems to be generally very good. This is true for the tiny details on the ornate belt and on the imposing sword, but also on the headband, which is a more detailed and accurate rendition of what we saw in the film than its Mr Toys counterpart; the latter, however, had the advantage of being removable. Similarly, the head intended for this set features sculpted/molded plastic hair, whereas the Mr Toys head had "real" hair. Hair this long should never be sculpted, and this applies here. While the detail on the hair is decent, it is nowhere as fine as the gold standard set by Hot Toys and emulated quite successfully by others. The hair and headband appear to be made as separate pieces out of softer plastic glued onto the head proper, just like the recent Hot Toys Aquaman; I feel a custom modification coming up...

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Paint
While the head sculpt appears to be exactly what we see on the promotional images, the paint job on it does not appear as sharp, striking, or attractive (compare HERE). I suppose this is a fairly common problem, but disappointing nonetheless. What we get is still decent, and works well enough with the recommended M35 body, even if it is a little darker than the latter. The eyes are glossy, the cheeks are rosy, the sword finally gets its proper gold-color on the ornate detail. But there are also errors or shortcuts -- the gold color on the sun (or "wheel") pendant appears rather dark, as does the the corresponding color on the sword; more obviously, the decorative elements lining the head band are all painted silverish, whereas they are supposed to alternate between silver and gold (in that respect the Mr Toys set is more accurate).

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Articulation
The recommended TBLeague M35 body is not significantly inhibited in its articulation by either of the two basic clothing options contained in the set, including the long pants, sleeveless leather shirt, and leather armor. Unlike Mr Toys, Kaustic Plastik did not provide an integral foot in the boots, so you will have to improvise: the TBLeague male feet are too big to fit easily in this type of footwear and I had to help myself to some bendy-toe feet from a random base body I happened to have lying around. They fit, but such makeshift solutions always result in less stability, and the top-heavy M35 is often a challenge even for its own feet and ankles; otherwise, the boots allow for excellent range of motion.

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Accessories
The set includes a dagger, a sword, their respective leather-like scabbards which can fit onto a belt or baldric, said baldric with a functional buckle, and various other elements that I will cover under Outfit below. The headband, which seems to be as much decorative as functional (protective), is permanently attached to the head sculpt (unlike what we got with the Mr Toys set). The dagger and sword are done in beautiful detail, and look realistic and worn, although the weathering is minimal. They do fit well into their scabbards, but the fit is very tight. The baldric is really intended for the sword scabbard, if you want your character to carry the sword on his back. As a result of good design, both the dagger and sword can hang correctly and realistically, unlike what we have had with earlier versions of the character (for example, the Mr Toys sword will sit too high if you try to "suspend" it from the side of the belt). Finally, there is the sun (or "wheel") pendant, reproduced for the very first time commercially in this scale (to the best of my knowledge). In the movie it hands from a string, centered between two pairs of fangs. The Mr Toys set attempted this, but used the wrong pendant (copying Kaustic Plastik's earlier release) which was also featured in the Conan films but was not hung alongside fangs, and used underscaled and improperly spaced fangs. All this was corrected by Kaustic Plastik in the promotional images (with the correct pendant and nicely scaled and spaced fangs), even if there it was mounted on a thicker leather strap rather than a cord. What we get, however, not only uses this thicker leather strap, but is not correctly mounted to work. The whole piece wants to ride up, the fangs want to sink into the flesh, and the pendant does not quite hang correctly. If you looked carefully at the promotional images, you might realize that what you see there was an ad hoc mock-up that looked about right; what we get in the actual set was their attempt to actually make it work -- but it does not. They should have used a cord, not a band/strap. I can feel another custom coming up... Perhaps it can be expected that one set would not include everything that was included in the two old Kaustic Plastik sets -- for example additional weapons, pendants, pouches...

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Outfit
The set contains enough in the way of outfit to re-create two (or more) different looks from the film -- though one of them cannot be quite right. The most iconic version would be Conan wearing his boots, fur kilt, leather or fabric codpiece, ornate belt, vambraces, and sun pendant and fangs necklace; this look can be reproduced very well indeed with the items that come with the present set. Then there is Conan wearing his boots, pants, leather sleeveless shirt (nice, but lighter than I remember it from the film), and vambraces, paired with either the ornate belt or with a fur kilt, but never (I think) both at the same time. Here we run into a problem, as the new Kaustic Plastik set departs from precedent by combining the codpiece and the belt into a single item. The codpiece is indeed more screen-accurate (it has no identical back side, just attaches to the back of the belt somehow with a strap), but it should not be permanently attached to the belt. It should be noted, that in some scenes different portions of the two basic outfits are swapped into new configurations -- for example pants added to the shirtless look. The smaller fur kilt that comes with the set is the one to be paired with the pants; there are also some tattered barbarian shorts that I do not remember on screen.

A minor problem is that in some scenes Conan appears wearing identical brown leather vambraces with darker straps wound over them. The set features only one of these (for the left arm), the other vambrace is intended to portray the one (for the right arm) covered with a myriad tiny gold-colored spikes. This is poorly recreated with a little leather piece covered rather sparsely by slightly oversized almost flat circular caps. To be screen-accurate, they should have been smaller, pointier, lighter in color, and there should have been many more of them. The present solution does not improve on Kaustic Plastik's old sets, or on the Mr Toys version, all of which are essentially the same. The added problem here is that at least three of the caps flaked off during handling before my very eyes -- and I was being relatively careful, fully expecting this problem. I should note that, aside from this, the set was remarkably free from the usual concerns with flimsy quality that accompany many of the more delicate items included in Kaustic Plastik sets. For the challenge posed by the boots, see above.

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Fun Factor
In principle, this could be as fun as any Conan set, with the added advantage of swappable outfits or elements. I was, however, repeatedly annoyed by the poorly-put-together necklace and the weak ankles resulting from the empty foot-type footwear requiring the substitution of non-TBLeague feet.

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Value
When I purchased this, it cost me about $120 for the set and another $50 for the head (USD). A fine, detailed and complex head sculpt like this is not cheap but still not unreasonable at that price. If memory serves, the price of the set is about $40 above the prices of the old Kaustic Plastik sets from several years ago. Even allowing for inflation, we don't get that much more here -- although what we get seems to be better quality, judging by my experience. If this was your only Conan or even one of two (if you get the Mr Toys one), it is still not a huge drain at $170. However, there is a good chance that you can now only find it on eBay for well over $200; without a body, that seems rather much.

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Things to watch out for
Apparently less than with many other Kaustic Plastik sets. I unbuckled and buckled the ornate belt several times, and it is still in good shape. Nothing has come unglued or broken, other than the expected flaking off of caps from the vambrace for the right arm. I would still advise treating this set carefully, especially as you are likely to have a somewhat top-heavy and unstable figure when you kit it out.

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Overall
I am divided on this set: there is plenty I like and plenty that disappoints me. The better quality and greater attention to detail are definite improvements; the head sculpt is nicely sculpted (though some of it should not have been sculpted) but perhaps not quite as nicely painted (even if not actually bad); the right vambrace is the only thing that is really poorly done, for the third or fourth time. We get accurate details (like the pendant), though not quite accurately mounted and not necessarily usable without further customization. I don't have a problem having to supply a body from elsewhere, but wish they would have thought of the balance and stability issue. And while they did pay attention to plenty of details, they could have gotten the outfit (belt and codpiece ensemble) right, to take proper advantage of the intended versatility of the set. To make the most of this set, you should be ready to do some customizing and/or combining with items from other sets.

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Where to buy
Most places that pre-ordered this set have long sold out, but you can still find it on eBay or here:
Hobby Galaxy for $157.

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For the Mr Toys set, see HERE.
I hope this has been useful. What do you think?

#kausticplastik #kp #masterclass #set #conan #barbarian #film #fantasy #warrior #premodern #tbleague #male
Update: for the new Kaustic Plastik Conan Masterclass set, see HERE.

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Introduction
It seems like this is ancient/fantasy action figure review week, what with the Rome Imperial Army Legionary (HERE) and Centurion (HERE) figure reviews posted earlier, and now my Conan the Barbarian set from Mr Toys finally arrived yesterday. As a fan, it was not something I could easily pass up, although I already own the two fantasy barbarian warrior sets from Kaustic Plastik and was also going to pick up Kaustic Plastik's new Conan set, which is essentially an upgrade on their previous work and a variation of the Mr Toys set. In fact, Mr Toys seems to have redone a version of Kaustic Plastik's old sets with a selection of the items and some new additions, basically trying to replicate Conan's iconic look from Conan the Destroyer (by far the worse of the two Conan Arnold Schwarzenegger films, in my book). The Mr Toys set is available in two variants, one without (A) and one with (B) the TBLeague (Phicen) M35 seamless action figure body. Since I had M35 bodies to spare, I ordered the smaller, less expensive set A. Because this is not a complete action figure set, I am going to simplify the review and not assign point values, while providing as many images as usual. For the M35 body itself, you can check out my detailed review and a zillion images HERE.

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Packaging
The set I ordered (without the M35 body) comes in a tidy black rectangular cardboard box with a slip-on cover showing off the product, the Mr Toys logo, and product number. Inside the box there are two black foam treys (always appreciated) with the various items that come in the set stored safely and easy to access. Nothing mind-blowing but certainly neat and collector-friendly.
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Sculpting
This category includes a number of items, but of course the most focal one is the head sculpt. Mr Toys appears to have used a head sculpt of Arnold Schwarzenegger that seems just a little more youthful than what we usually see, and is therefore appropriate for the film-based character; nevertheless, it features a sufficiently stern expression. This is the first "real" hair Conan head sculpt we have gotten, and that is a big plus in my book. The sculpting on the head appears to be of excellent quality. It is also very well done on the remainder of the sculpted elements: from the soft plastic headband with its ornaments, to the two pendants, to the ornamented over belt, the utilitarian dagger, and the ornately decorated sword. This category leaves nothing to be desired, and although many of the pieces appear to have been copied directly from the old Kaustic Plastik sets, there are also improvements -- including quality (especially durability -- nothing fell apart as I was handling it), the "real" hair head sculpt, the removable head band, the teeth added to one of the necklaces (although they actually go with another pendant that Kaustic Plastike had not yet produced and was therefore substituted with one that they had made, but didn't go with the teeth).

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Paint
In terms of quality, the paint work appears to be excellent. The face looks realistic, the eyes are precisely painted and glossy, the metallic elements -- whether actual metal or painted plastic -- are convincing and precisely executed. Accuracy is a slightly different matter: for example, parts of the sword should have been given a gold or bronze coloring, but like the old Kaustic Plastik set we get the same clean steel look; the leather strings wound round the boots and fur leggins should have been black. There is little in the way of weathering here, except perhaps on the dagger, the buckle on the back of the ornate belt, and the metal pendant. More weathering would have lent the figure's appearance added realism.

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Articulation
Technically, since my set was the version that came without a body, there is none; the recommended M35 body (HERE, although M34 would probably work just as well) has pretty much all the articulation you could possibly expect and the rather skimpy outfit does not get in the way much. The boots allow for excellent ankle articulation, making wide stances easy to achieve. It is great that the boots include feet (or perhaps they are integral to them), and these fit well onto the TBLeague body. Nevertheless, the stainless steel plus silicone body is heavy and with a high center of gravity, meaning it is not going to be overly steady on its ankles. Take precautions against the figure toppling over, and perhaps stuff something in to tighten the fit of the ankle peg into the hole inside the boot.

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Accessories
The set includes the following accessories: the metal pendant on a string with four teeth or fangs (inaccurate, both because of their placement and because they were paired with a different, golden sun pendant that is not provided here); the green stone snake cult pendant; the decorated battle (?) headgear with "noseguard", which is tied with string at the back of the head; the dagger which fits into a sheath attached to the belt (it fits well, but perhaps a little too high); the long sword which comes with its own sheath with imprinted design and has a couple of hooks on its back, allowing it to hang from either the decorated belt (again, rather too high) or to attach to a leather-like belt that goes across the chest and back and is buckled on the front. There are several other items, but I am keeping covering them under Outfit below. The accessories are of high quality in terms of durability and execution, but again not always entirely accurate (most notably the pendant paired with the teeth/fangs necklace or the lack of gold treatment on the decoration of the sword).

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Outfit
The outfit is minimal, but that is the look we saw on screen for most of Conan the Destroyer. There is a furry (wolf- or bear-skin?) kilt, held in place by leather thongs (called "leather pants" in the product description), over which goes the wide belt decorated with "metal" strips and a dragon crest in the middle; all this is very well executed. The lower arms are protected by a couple of vambraces. On the right lower arm there is a brown leather vambrace with gold- or bronze-colored round studs (which represents the much more numerous and more closely set spikes in the film -- the simplification is carried over the old Kaustic Plastik set). On the left lower arm there is a black leather vambrace with thongs, held together by velcro (I'm not sure it should have been quite black as opposed to dark brown, except perhaps for the thongs wound over it; and it should have been made a little wider to allow a more comfortable fit). Finally, there are the brown leather boots with grey fur trim on the top, and brown leather straps (should have been black or much darker brown leather) wound around both boot and trim. These constantly move out of place and require some futzing to get halfway right; nevertheless they do not fall apart like those in the original Kaustic Plastik set, which is a relief.

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Fun Factor
The absence of other character from the Conan films does not help, but nevertheless, the fairly complete outfit and accessories makes this a fun set. This is augmented by the excellent articulation potential and by the quality and durability of the items included in the set. Still, not something you would want careless children to mess around with.

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Value
The set I bought, without the M35 body included, retails for anywhere between around $85 and $100 (USD), often with shipping included, if you're buying on eBay from China. This is not exactly cheap, but it is not horrendously more than the price of the old Kaustic Plastik sets from years back, partly reprized by Mr Toys. If you are buying the set with the M35 body included, the price jumps to closer to $180, but that includes the $80+ for the body. Overall, the price is not inconsiderable, but also not horribly exaggerated compared to earlier and similar practice. But of course if you are buying multiples, or also looking forward to picking up Mr Toys' He-Man set and Kaustic Plastik's new and improved Conan set, the costs will add up.

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Things to watch out for
If you are treating the figure with the usual amount of care appropriate for high-end collectibles of this type, there should be little or nothing to worry about. As I mentioned, the figure can be a bit top-heavy and lose its balance, so take precautions about that. I do worry that the little round metallic studs on the leather vambrace on the right hand might fall off, as they did with the Kaustic Plastik version, but on the whole the quality seems to be better, so perhaps it should less of a concern.

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Overall
All told, this is a very good set. It is not perfect (occasional mistakes with the pairing and painting of accessories, etc), but it is fairly complete as far as what we can associate with this look of the character, and it is durable and beautifully executed. Don't get me wrong: I love the old Kaustic Plastik stuff, and between their two sets, you do get more than you get here; however, I am weary and wary of everything I touch coming apart in my hands, and Mr Toys' set is like a breadth of fresh air in that respect. Moreover, with the new head sculpt, the "real" hair, and the removable headband, we get some real and unprecedented improvements in terms of the selection, functionality, and appearance of the items making up the set. I am very pleased overall, and I think most others who go for this set will be too. One should note that it looks like the new Kaustic Plastik set will correct some of their earlier mistakes and omissions (including some carried over into the Mr Toys set) -- but the new Kaustic Plastik set is much more expensive, does not include a body, and features a beautiful but one-piece sculpted head (the hair and headband are part of the head sculpt).

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Where to buy?
This is a tough one. Most outfits carrying these here in the States have long sold out their pre-orders, although it is to be expected that they might get some additional sets. I don't like to pre-order, but when I saw so many venues sold out, bit the bullet and pre-ordered from GianToy (you can do so directly or via eBay). If you want one and haven't pre-ordered it, check where you would usually check (just in case), or look on eBay.

For comparison purposes, here are a couple of photos of this set alongside my custom Conan the Barbarian (also based on the appearance in Conan the Destroyer) and the much more loosely-inspired "Conanesque" figure.

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I hope you found this useful. What do you think?

Update: for the new Kaustic Plastik Conan Masterclass set, see HERE.

#conan #barbarian #arnold #schwarzenegger #mrtoys #film #fiction #fantasy #warrior #male #productreview #review
Search in: General Talk  Topic: Conan the Barbarian Set A by Mr Toys (MT2018-02) review  Replies: 31  Views: 555
Update 1: for additional figures, see post 20.

Update 2: for additional figures, see post 33.

Someone asked elsewhere whether the Coomodel Vikings gear would fit on Phicen's M34 or M35. Although I suspected I knew the answer, I gave it a try with some of the extra parted-out parts I had picked up (I was not about to mess with the fully-kitted-out boxed set figures). In the end, with the help of my extra customized Conan head and a couple of pieces from the Barbarian Fantasy Warrior sets by Kaustic Plastik, it became a spontaneous kitbash. I also repainted and "furred" the helmet. It is loosely inspired by a couple of different Conan looks; consider it Conan's Alter Ego... or long-lost twin... or just something Conanesque. So here he is, in the last photo also sizing up the real Conan...

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Considering it was basically an accidental kitbash, I think it turned out ok. What do you think?

#conan #barbarian #fantasy #warrior #kitbash #custom #m35 #coomodel #vikings #male
Search in: General Talk  Topic: Conanesque: A Fantasy Warrior Kitbash (updated again)  Replies: 40  Views: 952

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