Lord Commander Coleman Stryker

In a year where toy companies are pulling a buffalo left and right, it's no surprise that very few newcomers are entering the scene.  It's going to be a tough year (I talked about it quite a bit over at the Poop this week), and in a market that's tough for any new company, this year will prove especially hard.  There's a few of course, but it should be no shock when some of these don't make it.

But there's one that shows real promise - Southern Island.  They have picked up several licenses, and their first action figure is now ready to hit the market.  Based on the game Warmachine, it's Lord Commander Coleman Stryker.  This is an early review, and these figures should start hitting retailers in the next couple weeks or so.  Expect to pay around $20.

Now on to the full disclosure - Southern Island is a sponsor of this site.  Generally, my sponsors are toy sellers, not toy makers, but SI is an exception. They originally sold toys, and that's when they initially became sponsors.  Even after switching to endeavoring to make their own toys, they remained a loyal sponsor.

I feel that's important to disclose to avoid anyone asking about it later.  Of course, I have no intention of cutting them any slack because of it, but you'll have to decide if I'm being too easy or too hard.

Packaging -  ***
The industry standard has become clamshells, so it's no surprise to see them here.  The insert card is heavy board instead of thin paper, and has some very well done artwork of the character.  A shot of the actual toy would have been nice as well, along with any additional planned figures, but that's an extremely minor complaint.

Sculpting - ***1/2
This was a very difficult category to grade - there are aspects of this figure's sculpt that are extremely nice, and others that make it obvious that this is a first time attempt.

If you have been paying attention to the creation of this figure on the SI website, then you saw the early prototype head sculpt.  The good news is that all the detail and sharpness of the prototype survived in the translation to production.  The head sculpt is very impressive, especially with the first figure from a new company.

The body work isn't quite as nice, but still certainly above average.  There's not quite as much fine, sharp detail, and the overall body sculpt seems a little softer.  The armor looks good though, and I love how they handled the crystal canisters on his back.

All the canisters - the two large ones on either shoulder blade, and the six smaller ones on his mid-back - have clear blue plastic interiors that look great inside the copper colored exteriors.  This is a touch you'd expect on higher end figures, not something in this style and scale, and it's a very nice addition.

The 'cape', which is a whole lot more like a skirt, flows out to one side, as though blown by the wind.  I generally don't like the wind blown appearance (especially with hair, but with clothes as well), but here it works nicely.

I did have a few issues with the length of the silver tubes running from his back to his arms.  These are too short to actually allow a full range of movement in the arms, especially with the ball jointed shoulders.  Mine do pop out of the back though, so that I didn't have to fear snapping them if I went too far.

He stands fine on his own, even when holding the extra large sword.  The tight ankle articulation goes a long way in helping here.

I knew these would be in a six inch scale, but I've grown so accustomed to the 7 - 8" scale these days, that he seems much smaller than I expected.

Paint - ***
The paint ops are nicely done, with only a few nits to pick here and there.

The head is again the finest work on the entire figure, with very clean work, especially around the eyes and hairline.

The body has a few issues, particularly with the battle damage on the white, and the wash on some areas.  For example, the wash on the blue armor is a bit heavy, and detracts from the sculpt rather than enhancing it.  The silver damage on the white uniform doesn't really work either, instead appearing to just be some sort of odd pattern.  It's much too consistent and uniform.

Articulation - **1/2
When it comes to the articulation, I can certainly see that they tried.  Unfortunately, some weirdness in the joints hurt the attempt.

He has a cut neck, and this is one of those rare cases where a ball joint wouldn't have done much good.  The armor simply obscures to much of the face to have made it useful, so the cut joint was a fine choice.

Both shoulders are ball jointed, and these have a decent range of movement (ignoring the aforementioned issue with the tubes).  There's also cut biceps and cut wrists.

The elbows are single pin, and here's where some of the weirdness settles in.  The sculpt on the forearms allows for 'points' to come up from the forearm toward the elbow.  These points obstruct the full range of movement of the pin joint.  On top of that, the pin is fairly soft, and reminds me of the joints on the recent Mortal Kombat figures.

There's nothing weird with the knees or ankles, both of which work well.  The knees are double jointed, while the ankles are single pin.  There's no sort of cut joint in the leg though, at either the hip or ankle, so the legs must remain straight.

That's a problem because of the second area of weirdness - the hips.  They aren't really weird I suppose, just your basic T joint.  That means there's no lateral movement in the hips though, only forward (and almost none backward due to the sculpt).  He can sit just great, but he's not going to be taking any fighting stances.  That's too bad, since the softer rubber skirt would actually allow for it.

Overall, the quality and 'feel' of the joints strike me as early work from a new company, something that neither the paint or sculpt do.

Accessories - ***
There are a fair number here, more than I had expected.

The skirt...oh, sorry, cape, is soft rubber and easily removable.  There's a peg on the right side (his left) that pops in and out.  Once you pop it out however, it's quite the trick to pop it back in.  The skirt looks great though, with very nice paint ops, and it hides those funky hips.

There's also a 'magnum' pistol, which fits tightly in a holster on the skirt.  It fits easily in his left hand as well.

Stryker wouldn't be complete without his big honkin' sword of death, known to his friends as Quicksilver and to his enemies as Get The Hell Out Of Here.  He can hold the sword in one hand or two, and stand while doing it in most positions.

Finally, he has his Cygnar flag and base, or as it's called on the package, battle standard.  This is a three piece arrangement, and the flag fits on the top of the pole, which then fits into the base.  This looks terrific, and the sand bag base works well.

Value - *1/2
Unfortunately, the figure takes a hit in the value category.  It's not surprising of course, since this is an initial figure from a fledgling company, where money is tight and margins even tighter.  But at $15, this would be **, and it's really competing with other figures from bigger companies in the $12 range.

Fun Factor - **1/2
I'm not sure if the figure is as fun as the game, but for fans looking for larger versions of their favorite characters, they'll enjoy these. The articulation limits how much of a 'toy' they are however, and kids are unlikely to have much interest in the character.

Things to watch out for - 
While those tubes do pop out of the back, I'd still be careful with them.  I might have got lucky and have one that's just not glued in, and you might snap yours moving the arm too much.

Overall -  ***
This was a tough overall.  I waffled back and forth a bit between **1/2 and ***, and convinced myself either way several times.

The big draw towards the **1/2 score was the price.  At $20, you're paying about 25% more (at least) than most figures in this current market.  That has to be tempered a bit by the simple fact that the current market is dying though, and what we'll see happen to both prices overall and general availability of figures is yet to be seen.

The draw toward the *** score is based on the sculpt and paint.  The articulation is fairly average, and while the accessories are nice, they weren't quite enough to offset the price.  But the quality of sculpt and paint is impressive for a first time attempt, and finely convinced me to cut them a little slack.

I do hope that they'll look to improving the elbows and hips though.  That addition would go a long way to improving the overall figure, and would have made the *** score an easier pick.

Packaging - ***
Sculpt - ***1/2
Paint - ***
Articulation - **1/2
Accessories - ***
Fun Factor - **1/2
Value - *1/2
Overall -  ***

Where to Buy -
The only place I've seen him for sale at this point is direct from Southern Island.

Related Links:
Check out Southern Island's site for further info on this line and their Full Metal Alchemy line.  They'll have prototypes to show off at next week's Toy Fair.  Also, Privateer Press are the creators of the game, and have tons of info on their site.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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