Ah, the Vikings... like pirates these rogues have captured popular imagination and been turned into exciting and adventurous heroes, with little regard to the fact that their modern admirers would be quite miffed, to say the least, if a Viking warband landed on their shores and made off with their televisions, DVD/blu-ray players, i-pads, computers, cars, books, money, children, collectibles, and maybe lives... and yet modern revisionist historians have been busily asserting that Vikings were not the stereotypical bloodthirsty barbarians portrayed in the sources (tell that to their victims)... but I digress...
There have been all sorts of Vikings (though technically the term is specific to the raiders of Scandinavian origin that plagued their settled neighbors -- and each other -- in the Early Middle Ages)...
and (using items from the Ignite Viking sets)
but today I am offering up a review of a recent pair of
produced recently by Coomodel. I am reviewing the Warlord and Berserker set, which comes with two additional items that you would not get if you were buying each figure separately. Additionally, there is a diorama environment of the prow of a Viking ship that you could get for your figures, but I have not purchased and am not including in this review (for it, see HERE). Update: I have now reviewed the Viking Ship HERE.
Packaging: 4/4 stars
The set of Vikings comes in a large box stored within a decorated shipper, which is impressive in and of itself (my retailer was kind enough to place that in an external box, which may or may not be the case if you purchase it from somewhere else). On the shipper and the box the word "Vikings" is misspelled "Vikihgs" -- a small but embarrassing slip.
The box proper has a nice color closeup image of the two figures fully kitted out in action poses.
The box is sturdy and in fact somewhat difficult to open, and contains two black foam trays that keep everything safe and sound, yet easy to access. The upper tray holds the figure, sword, and most of the extra hands, while most of the weapons, the shields, display stands, and other accessories are in the lower tray. Everything is collector-friendly and safe, and I very much appreciate the foam trays (instead of plastic).
Sculpting: 4/4 stars
These are not, to the best of my knowledge based on specific actors, so it is difficult to argue with the accuracy of the head sculpts and it is somewhat easier to get a high score in this category than it might have been otherwise. Both look sufficiently like what we would expect from Vikings, sporting bald and mostly shaved heads, the latter with a sculpted braid hanging from the back; on both head sculpts the mustaches are sculpted, but the beards are made of "real" hair in a matching color. The transition from sculpted to "real" facial hair is as good as can be expected, and given that it is a novel and ambitious technique, I will not split hairs over its quality (see what I did there?). The braided Warlord is portrayed with a relatively young appearance and neutral expression, while the bald Berserker is shown as more aged (grizzled?) and shouting out commands or threats or curses. The overly-emotive expression of the Berserker gives it a slightly more cartoonish aspect, but not overly so.
Overall, I find the head sculpts excellent. My only annoyance was that the "real" hair beards have a tendency to jut out over the chest, and even after a water treatment they took plenty of futzing to look about right. Perhaps I should have used product on them.
There is of course plenty of sculpting on other items that come in this set, from the armor to the shields and weapons. As you will see from the photos, these are all very good, especially the detailed work on the axes, which really conveys the ornate styles of the high-end Scandinavian (and more generally northern European) art of the Viking Age. The largely fantasy plate armor elements are given slightly less fine detail and the helmets fall somewhere in-between, but everything is sculpted very well.
Paint: 4/4 stars
The paint work seems to be nice and sharp throughout, though I thought there might have been a little more contrast in the sculpted hair -- then again, since these guys are not based on anyone real, I am not going to worry about this perceived issue. The Berserker's yelling mouth gives us opportunity for looking at more detail, and it appears pretty convincing at any reasonable distance.
The quality of paint carries over to the accessories, and looks just right: the partly carved horn, the decorated wine-skin, the wooden shields, etc. If I have any misgivings about the paint, it is that we do not see any "gold" or "brass" on what is supposed to be the most impressive piece, the exclusive great horned helm.
Articulation: 3/4 stars
I am assuming the underlying body is Coomodel's, and I have very little experience with it. The body can probably achieve and maintain most desired poses in regular circumstances, but here is it weighed down -- literally -- by several layers of clothing and armor and heavy die-cast-metal weapons. It is unlikely you will get more than a 90 degree angle at the elbow and knees, and I was impressed the figures could be made to sit naturally. The arms have some trouble supporting the heavier weaponry when stretched out or raised, due to the weight of these accessories and the somewhat loose joints (which would probably have worked just fine with lighter, plastic accessories). The arms also cannot easily reach straight up, due to the shoulder armor of one figure, and the layers of armor and fur on the other. All of this is understandable, yet still rather annoying. I appreciate the two-piece boots, which allow for some ankle movement. Due to the weight of clothing, armor, and accessories, the figures are a bit top heavy and sometimes overwhelm said ankles in a propensity to falling on their faces (or backs) -- which should make you appreciate the included display stands.
These are arguably the greatest thing about the set. You might like or dislike the head sculpts on the basis of personal taste, you might accept or object to the armor on the basis of historicity. But the weapons and accessories that come with these figures are executed in excellent detail and (at least for the most part) can pass for historically accurate (I am rather dubious about the double-headed axe, although it certainly a beautiful piece).
One problem I had with the set is determining what was supposed to go with which figure, although I suppose the beauty of getting both is that you can mix and match to your taste. I tried to determine this on the basis of the promotional images for the separate figures and arranged them accordingly in the photos below, but note that the instruction sheets actually appear to swap the accessories between the two figures (unless they simply mislabeled the Warlord and Berserker).
According to the promotional materials, the Warlord comes with the more historically-accurate hornless helmet, the large shield, the horn and wine-skin, the smallest axe, and the fine sword and scabbard; the Berserker comes with the small-horned helmet, the two larger axes, and the knife with scabbard. Each figure comes with a belt to which are to be attached a bag and a pouch; one belt is supposed to get two, the other one additional suspension rings. The Warlord also has an additional finer belt with a decorated boss on it. Each figure comes with a raised circular-base black display stand. In terms of extra body parts, the selection is the same for each figure: in addition to the sword grip hands that come on the body, there are pairs of fist hands, semi-relaxed hands, spread-fingered hands, and alternative sword-grip hands (for larger shafts like the large axes?).
As noted above, the sculpt and paint job on the weaponry and accessories is beautifully done. The axe-heads and sword and knife blades are die-cast metal, as are the three helmets (for the most part -- they also include "horn," "cloth," and "leather" elements, and the cheek pieces on one helmet are made of plastic). The sword has an etched inscription in futhark characters, but as far as I can tell they are gibberish.
Speaking of three helmets, I should note that the third helmet, a great horned helm, is an exclusive for the two-figure set, as is the small shield or buckler.
Overall, the accessories are excellent in both quality and selection. Note that the metal pieces can make them heavier than their plastic counterparts and, as noted, that could be a challenge for some weaker joints (one more reason why I am not uniformly elated with die-cast-metal use in this scale, but I know I am in the minority). Also note that the helmets are actually fairly small, designed to look about right in this scale and to take advantage of the bald (or almost bald) heads of these specific figures. Trying to put them on your other head sculpts could be a challenging and possibly damaging endeavor.
Outfit: 4/4 stars
Remembering that these are fantasy figures intended to appeal to our popular imagination of Vikings rather than actual historical Vikings, the outfit is detailed, fitting, and very good indeed. Both figures feature cloth, plastic, leather (pleather?), fur (faux fur?) elements in their outfits, combined and intertwined in an effective manner (for example the leather straps wrapped around the upper parts of the boots). The chain mail is a type of fabric, while the Berserker also wears a fine coat of scale armor -- look at the photo of the box, because on the figure it is almost completely obscured by all that fur. The most fantastical (i.e., fanciful) elements are perhaps plate shoulder armor on the Warlord, the plate shoulder and upper right arm armor on the Berserker, and the vambraces on both.
Also fantastical are the horns on the helmets, which are a feature of the way that Scandinavians and other ancient Germanic tribes imagined their gods and supernatural beings; apart from some stylized metal horns on Bronze-Age (ceremonial?) helmets (see the first photos above), these do not seem to have been found on actual, functional Viking helmets. Apart from the horns, the helmets look fairly close to what was actually fashionable in Dark-Age northern Europe (even among the Anglo-Saxons, who would later be among the famous victims of Viking raids).
The bulky outfit (in part due to the multiple layers) causes some restriction to the articulation, but that was covered above.
Fun Factor: 3/4 stars
This is hard to gauge, as it depends on each individual's tastes, imagination, and the remainder of their collection. Getting both figures rather than just one automatically ups the score in this category, as you can pose them together in a variety of poses or scenes. If you were to get the Viking ship diorama as well, you might have even more fun with them -- or less, as you might feel constrained to put them aboard and leave it at that. The heaviness of the figures and their accessories and, to a lesser extent, the limitations of the articulation imposed by the outfit, are a cause of some concern -- you would do well to make sure to use the included stands (or other stands of your choice), as these will topple as readily as real Vikings would put their greedy paws on monastic treasure or screaming virgins.
Value: 2/4 stars
In the United States the set retails at about $390. That is about $195 per figure, which is only slightly better than getting each figure for about $200, although you do get the two exclusive pieces with the set (the great horned helm and the small shield). High end companies have pushed the price of sixth-scale action figures well past $200 in the last few years, especially where we are dealing with licensed collectibles. Coomodel's product is high end (what with the attention to detail and the plethora of accessories), though it is not, to the base of my knowledge, part of a license. For that reason, I give it a middling score in this category.
Things to watch out for
Not much, other than the propensity for your figures to fall on their face. Hands swap reasonably easily, but as always I advise heating them up with a hair dryer (or hot water). The metal rings holding some of the accessories together could become loose, so keep track of the small parts and try to close any opening with pliers.
Overall: 3.5 stars
When these were first advertised, I flinched at the price and at the fantastical (i.e., unhistorical) aspects. They also reminded me of the stylized villains we had seen in Pathfinder. But when they were released and I started seeing them parted out, I came to appreciate the excellence of the product more fully. There were so many pieces I wanted to get, and the parted-out prices for them were still rather high, so I ended up getting the whole two-figure set. And I do not regret it. The product is of excellent quality and lends itself to various uses in and of itself, or in combination with others. I hope this review has been helpful and informative for you.
Where to buy:
Big Bad Toy Store
#vikings #coomodel #productreview #male #historical #fantasy #warrior