Dog Soldiers Viking

Dog Soldiers is a unique company.  Pretty much a one man shop, they've produced some very nice sixth scale figures, with no signs of stopping soon.  The initial figures centered around the American West, with the release of the Apache and Cheyenne warriors, and then the Buffalo Soldier.  Now they've expanded to another historical figure, the Norse Viking.

One of the keys to their success is their historical accuracy.  They take great pride in producing figures that carry accurate weapons, wear appropriate uniforms and clothing, and can teach at the same time they look good.

You can order the Viking directly from Dog Soldiers for $32 plus s/h.  Be sure to check out the other site for their individual sixth scale accessories, heads and uniforms, especially if you're looking for Native American or Calvary gear.  You can even download a PDF version of their full catalog off the site.

There's no way to review this figure without some comparisons to the Ignite Viking which also came out this year.  I'll mention key differences and similarities as I go along.

Packaging - ***1/2
With each release, Dog Soldiers have improved their packaging.  For such a small company, this really is an impressive effort.  There's a ton of great, informational text on the back, with useful illustrations, and the box is very sturdy.  It's not super collector friendly, as there are a ton of twisties, but it would be possible to put him back in the box if you wanted to spend a little effort.  Overall the packaging looks great, is very sturdy, and a very solid effort from such a small company.

Sculpting - ***
The head sculpt is fairly generic, but the look is somewhat blank.  A slightly more intense or personal look would go a long way to improving the head.  However, there's no technical fault here, but more of an issue of design and feel.

He has rooted red hair, a nice change of pace from the traditional blonde Norsemen, but a sculpted beard.  I don't mind the contrast of the two types of hair, but I'm betting some folks will have an issue with it.  He also suffers from VPB - Viking Pattern Baldness - but I'm surprised they had any scalp left at all wearing these helmets.  The beard has a very historical style to it, once again proving how wacky men have been with their facial hair through the years.

The hands are a hard plastic, sculpted to handle the accessories well.  One is more open than the other and better designed to hold the shield.

In comparing with with the Ignite version, I'd say that this head sculpt isn't quite as attractive, and lacks the quiet intensity of the Ahnold sculpt they used, but is clearly far more historically accurate in it's appearance. 

You'll also notice in comparing the two just how varied 'sixth scale' can be.  This figure is a good half-head shorter than the Ignite version.

Paint - ***1/2
The majority of the paint ops are on the face and accessories.  In both cases, they are extremely well done.

The definition between the beard and face is very clean, as is the edge of the eyebrows.  The eyes are well centered and straight, and the skin tone looks realistic, with no sign of the 'zombie' look.

All of the detail work on the accessories looks great, and is clean and even.  The use of silver paint on the weapons instead of real metal is never quite as convincing of course, but they do a decent job with it.

Again, comparing to Ignite's version, the paint ops are close but not quite as good.  It's not a major difference, but worth noting.

Articulation - **1/2
The Dog Soldiers bodies fall below those used by many of the top end companies like Sideshow or bbi, but that's not surprising considering the comparable cost and size of the operation.

For the person looking for a historically accurate figure though, who may not consider articulation their top priority, there's probably enough.  With neck, ball jointed shoulders, elbows, wrists,  waist, ball jointed hips, knees and ankles.  The knees are clickers, which helps give them more strength than other lines.  In fact, all the joints are nice and tight, and I had no trouble keeping him standing.

Accessories - ***1/2
There's no shortage of accessories here, and the quality and accuracy is excellent.

There is the helmet, with a strap to hold it on, spear, axe, knife with scabbard, sword with scabbard, shield, and amulet.  All these accessories are molded plastic.

The shield fits nicely in his left hand, and looks great painted in red and black.  All the other weapons except the knife fit nicely in one of his hands.  The knife and sword also look great in the sheath or scabbard on the belt, and there's a ton of detail work in the sculpting of the axe and spear.

For a thirty dollar sixth scale figure, you're getting a very good assortment of well sculpted, nicely painted and well designed accessories.  No, they aren't the real metal accessories that Ignite provides, but they don't cost nearly as much either.

Outfit - ***
This score is *this* close to another half star.  If Ignite's stuff didn't exist, I'm betting it would have made it.

There's the pants, cloth wrap boots, shirt, 'chain mail' tunic, and belt.  The quality of the materials is all very good, and the tailoring is well done.  The material used for the chain mail isn't as heavy or realistic as what was used by Ignite, and the edges aren't hemmed, but in comparing to lines OTHER than Ignite, these fair very well.

There's also a cape included with a nice snap.  The cape is hemmed, and made from heavy material.  It looks great, and works fine.  While Ignite had more layers to their clothing, including a pleather tunic under the mail tunic, they didn't have the cape.

My only disappointment in the costume was the boots.  The wrapped material didn't look quite as good as I'd hoped.

Value - ***
At thirty bucks, this figure is a solid value.  It's not a steal, but you can't expect to get a steal from a small company producing a limited number of figures.  In fact, that Dog Soldiers can do these at this price is a testament to their savvy.

Ignite barely managed a three star score here, but there's no doubt that these deserve at least three stars.

Overall - ***
This was a tough call, and this figure is awfully close to making that jump to ***1/2.  Had the head sculpt been slightly more impressive, or the quality of the mail tunic just a little more like the Ignite version, it would have made that extra half star.

Still, if you're not interested in spending $50 - $60 on the Ignite version, this is a more than adequate substitute.  You're getting a solid value here, and he looks great on the shelf.  He'll hold his own with your other figures including those by bbi and Dragon, and add a little variety.

Where to Buy - 
I picked him up directly from the company off the website - that's your best bet!

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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