Sabyr - Realm of the Claw

Stan Winston, long time (really long time!) special effects guru and monster maker for the movies, got involved in the toy biz last year with Stan Winston Creations.  The first series, Creature Features, were based on a series of very low budget horror flicks.

The second series is now at Toys R Us, and is called Realm of the Claw.  It involves a race of cat people, both male and female.  These are exclusive to Toys R Us, and you're likely to find them on the same end cap as the Creature Feature figures.  As was the previous line, these are $14.99 each.

There are six figures in this series: Sabyr (reviewed here), Tswana, Tare, Nakura, and two ladies, Kaela and Zynda.  The background story on these are pretty weak, at least from the card backs.  You can log on to the web site for Stan Winston Creations and they have additional info, including a pretty cool origin comic book on-line.

Packaging - **1/2
The packages aren't bad, and they certainly serve the basic purposes.  I think the best word to describe them is uninspired.  While the graphics aren't too bad, the photos of the line on the back are bland, and the overall design isn't particularly eye catching.  And of course it's not collector friendly, with tons of twisties.

On the plus side, they do a nice job of showing of the included trading card, and I like it when they credit those folks involved in the figure design and creation. 

Paint - ****
The paint apps on Sabyr are extremely good, with lots of excellent use of color and contrast.  The detail work on the face is excellent, as you can see in the close ups above.

This is great to see, because one of my greatest concerns with the first series was the boring paint ops, and lack of color contrast.

Sculpting - ***1/2
The previous series was based on several movies, and having seen the movies I had something to compare the sculpts against.  They came up pretty short.

This time, we're dealing with a new idea from the mind of Stan Winston, so there isn't any source material to compare the look of these characters too.  Therefore you have to assume they look just the way they were intended.

And this time there is a much greater level of detail in the sculpting as well.  The most obvious is the head sculpts, all of which show plenty of fine detail work.

But the bodies and accessories are also loaded up with precision work, and I certainly can't complain this time.

The only reason Sabyr lost a half star is due to the design of his feet.  Here you have a figure with fairly decent articulation, yet he can't stand with out using the supplied base.  He's feet are simply too small (and have a weird pigeon toed thing going on) to allow him to stand on his own.

Articulation - ***
Another major flaw of the first series was the almost complete lack of articulation.  What was there was pretty much useless.

This time around we've been given quite a bit more, and most of it works well.  There's a decent neck joint, ball jointed shoulders and hips, cut wrists, a bicep cut on the left arm, waist, ball jointed chest, and cut ankles.

The ball jointed hips don't work as well as you'd think, and the left leg has very limited motion.  The cut joints don't make up for a lack of elbow and knee joints though, but the joints are well hidden.

This is certainly an improvement over the previous series, and you have to give Stan credit for listening to the complaints.

Accessories - ****
Each figure comes with two or three weapons, a nicely detailed base, an extra head, and a trading card.

The quality of the heads varied a bit from figure to figure.  I thought that both heads that came with Sabyr were terrific, but some of the 'roaring' heads of the others were somewhat weak.

The weapons are all very well done.  Sabyr comes with a dagger and spear, both designed to fit in his hands.  He also has a human skull, which I bet makes sense if you read through the comic and get more info on this particular character.

Sabyr's base includes a bendy snake with menacing headsculpt.  There's a chain on the snake that you can place in Sabyr's hand, indicating his control.  The snake was a little difficult to get into a good position, but with some work I found a couple that worked well.

The accessories fit in his hands well, and the heads were fairly easy to switch.

Each figure also comes with a nice little trading card.  On the back of these cards is a code that you can enter to see a 'behind the scenes' type presentation, similar to the CD-ROM that was included with the first series.  I'm glad they've gone this route and dropped the unnecessary disk.

Value - **
Here's where this line takes the big hit.  They are simply overpriced, and even the French skating judge could figure that one out.  They need to drop these at least three dollars, and the demand would be much greater.

Overall - ***
If the price was in the $10-12 range, these would be easy ***1/2 figures, damn close to ****.  The sculpting is great, the articulation decent, and the accessories cool.  These are certainly worth the $15 more so than some other overpriced figures currently on the market, like DC Direct, but without any licensing costs, they really need to come down at least $3.  They'd sell through so many more at that price range.

Where to Buy
Toys R Us is where you'll find these with little trouble.  At $15 each they won't be flying off the pegs, and there is a fairly large commitment between Stan Winston Creations and TRU with this line.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford

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