After reviewing the Vikings Vanquisher Valhalla version two-figure set by Coomodel HERE, I ended up going for the Viking ship (longship, drakkar/drekar) prow diorama piece that was designed to go with them. Here is a brief review, with a baker's dozen of photos. Since there is little here that is comparable to actual action figures, I have foregone the process of assigning specific points to the different categories.
The diorama set comes packaged in two separate boxes, one containing the ship, the other containing the printed background. The ship comes in a large, deep, and surprisingly heavy box. Decorated with a graphic representation of the piece, this box is essentially what we call a "shipper"; there is no interior cardboard box here, and the ship comes nearly packed in a foam container directly inside the shipper box. Everything is safe and collector friendly. The printed background comes in a separate, larger but much shallower box, which has no graphics on it, besides the product's logo/label (still misspelled "Vikihgs").
Sculpting and Accessories
The ship prow appears to be mostly a single sculpted/molded piece, nicely finished to resemble the wooden construction of a Viking longship's prow with overlapping planks nailed together and a carved decoration along the stem. The surface is given enough imperfections and indentations to look like actual wood. The only area where I wish there had been more attention to detail is the upper surface of the "railing," which is quite smooth and bland, and not sculpted to look like a series of interconnected planks; admittedly, you are not likely to notice this unless you are viewing the piece from the "inside" out.
The sculpted dragon's head is a separate piece, which is attached to the top of the main piece -- partly fitting into the opening, partly due to a magnet. The magnet helps hold it in place, but is not strong enough to keep it from falling out if you turned it over. The somewhat stylized dragon's head is very nicely sculpted, with some additional Nordic detail to resemble what would have been carved in wood. With the dragon's head in place, the prow is about 21.5 inches (55 cm) tall. The last photo in the review shows you the relative height of the ship compared to figures standing on the same surface.
The only real accessories in the normal sense of the word are the two ropes, which are nicely scaled and just the sort of thing you would expect to find aboard a ship; you will see them in some of the photos below. (The "simpler" piece, made up of two connected rope hoops, is intended to go over the head of the prow and allow the figures to support themselves by holding onto it, but I forgot to put it there.) If the ship's prow is itself a diorama environment for your figures, it comes with diorama pieces of its own. First, there are the two pieces of sculpted breaking waves, which can be fitted along the sides of the hull. The sculpt is detailed and beautiful, the "water" is the right balance of translucent and opaque, but somehow it does not look quite realistic to me. I was worried that it would come permanently attached to the hull, but was very relieved to see that it was not. So you can easily display the piece with or without the sculpted waves.
In addition to the optional sculpted waves, there is of course the printed background. It is printed on both sides of what appears to be thick stiff cardboard. The background folds into two: one section is wider (about 23.5 inches/60 cm), the other narrower (about 19.66 inches/50 cm); both are 27.5 inches (70 cm) tall. The wider section of the background shows the rest of the ship in a vague and foreshortened perspective, with the unfurled sail bellowing in the wind. The whole scene is depicted as a dark and stormy environment (why is the sail unfurled in all that, I don't know). While not particularly shiny, the printed surface does produce some glare from the light.
The printing on both sides of the background allows you to set up the scene with the ship facing either right or left, and the sail always behind it.
The print has not (yet) creased and torn in the corner fold, though I expect it might eventually, if handled and repositioned often enough; having a corner fold is a bit unfortunate, but I suppose there was little choice when it came to the design (though there may have been a way of attaching a single unfolded printout to the far ends of the background). I still think it works fairly well.
There is relatively little to say about paint when it comes to this piece (not counting the printed background). The molded hull and dragon's head are colored an appropriate dark brown for a wooden ship, especially one that might have been covered with pitch to keep water out. There is some translucent color to the sculpted waves, which is subtle enough to be reasonably realistic for the most part; perhaps the foam on the crests could have been whiter.
By itself, the Viking Ship diorama environment is more a work of art than anything particularly fun. But as long as you have action figures you can pose on or in relation to it, you should have no problem adding fun to its beautiful, yet savage look.
This is rather difficult for me to estimate, since I am in the habit of collecting and reviewing action figures, not dioramas and backgrounds. I got mine from Big Bad Toy Store for about $170 (USD), with a very reasonable $4 economy shipping. Given the size, number of boxes (two), and weight of the product alone, I think this is a very decent deal. My suspicions are confirmed by the palpably and in some cases criminally higher prices the product commands on eBay (ranging from about $250 to $550 -- with shipping included). If you like what you see, you might want to get it while BBTS still has it in stock.
Things to watch out for
Not too much, as the piece is pretty solid and in fact quite hefty. That said, I have not tried dropping it to see if it would shatter or crack (or, perhaps just as likely, cause damage to everything else in its path). Remember that the dragon's head is heavy enough, and if you flipped the ship over, the magnet will not be strong enough to keep it attached. I also noticed that, despite the felt on the bottom of the hull and the sculpted waves, sliding them around or removing them carelessly still scratched my work surface -- you might want to be careful if you are placing them on a something valuable or very visible.
If you like the piece, have the money to spend, and the space to put it (or store it), you will probably be happy with this product. It is large and bulky, but would probably not work as well if it were not. The sculpted pieces and ropes are near perfect. The background is perhaps overly specific (dark stormy night with counter-intuitively unfurled sails), can produce some glare, and has the potentially unsightly corner fold. Nevertheless, it still works fairly well, and we have rarely seen a company go through this much trouble to equip its action figures with such diorama elements. Of course, if this came standard with the figures at no great additional price, it would have been even more impressive, but that does not seem very likely to happen. I am about to move, and this new acquisition is definitely adding up to my anxiety about that process... otherwise, I am very happy with it.
What do you think? Favorite parts? Favorite photos?
Where to Buy?
Big Bad Toy Store $170
Timewalker Toys $170 (wait list)
#vikings #coomodel #productreview #historical #fantasy #ship #longship #diorama