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The Thetan - Architects of Fear
The Outer Limits - X-Play

Architects of Fear Outer Limits alien action figure by X-Play


While The Twilight Zone gets all the accolades, sci-fi fans shouldn't overlook it's lesser cousin, The Outer Limits. The writing was never quite up to the level that was present on TZ, but there were some outstanding episodes - and a lot more cool monsters.

One of those is the Thetan from the episode Architects of Fear. In this episode, a small group of concerned scientists decide that the only way to save the world from nuclear annihilation is to create a new enemy, a common alien enemy that would bring the nations of the world together. They drew straws, and the loser underwent painful operations and transplants to transform him into a fully alien being, designed for the atmosphere and conditions on the planet Theta. Things don't go as planned of course - they never do.

If the concept sounds familiar, that's because it's almost identical to the background plot of the Watchmen by Alan Moore. Moore claimed that he had never heard or seen the episode until just before the book's release - his editor claimed otherwise, saying it was the direct influence. Either way, I think the ending used in the movie adaptation makes a lot more sense.

This figure is supposed to be part of an Outer Limits series from X-Play, and you can pick him up for around $75. They had a second listed for pre-order for awhile - the Ichthyosaurus - but it was canceled.

Packaging - ***
He comes in a large box, and other than a few twisties, it's very collector friendly. There's some good info on the back of the box, as well as some nice graphics. Boxes are great for the MIBers too - easy to store, easy to display.
Click on the photo below for a life size version
Architects of Fear Outer Limits alien action figure by X-Play
Architects of Fear Outer Limits alien action figure by X-Play
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Architects of Fear Outer Limits alien action figure by X-Play
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Architects of Fear Outer Limits alien action figure by X-Play
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Architects of Fear Outer Limits alien action figure by X-Play
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Sculpting - ***1/2
I've never been shy about my love for monsters that are pretty much just guys in funky suits. Predator, Alien, Creature from the Black Lagoon - some of the best are just that.

The weird, funky looking Thetan was different than most of the monsters on screen at the time. He had a more gruesome, deformed appearance, without any real earth counterpart.

In fact, some ABC affiliates felt that the creature was so terrifying that they censored the episode. Some didn't show it until after 11pm - others put a big black box over him (sort of like Mohammad in South Park) hiding his visage from the audience.

X-play has captured the lumpy, deformed, grotesque appearance quite well, even though I don't think we ever clearly saw the entire beast (they used shadows quite effectively). I think they had to extrapolate some of the look, but the critical features, like the face, head, and elongated arms, look terrific.

The textures are what really sell the look, from the stone shaped bumps to the plant-like veins.

This is a fairly large vinyl figure, coming in at about 10" tall. Whether you can display him with your other sixth scale Twilight Zone and Outer Limits figures is up to you - I'm going to, even though he is a little too short. In my memory he was shorter than a normal human, but that might be my brain playing tricks, so I'll reserve final judgment until I can re-watch the episode in its entirety.

The claw feet look great and allow him to stand fine on his own, and the right hand is sculpted to hold the weapon.

Paint - ***
The paint is fairly clean, if a bit cartoonish, especially in the eyes. I can cut them a bit of slack here, because the eyes looked pretty goofy on the show.

There's some intentional slop, but there's a bit of the unintentional as well. The brown colors complement the earthy features of the sculpt (stone and plant), and the silver clothes and breathing tank stand out against the duller background quite well.

I would have liked to see a few more smaller details worked into the paint scheme, particularly at this price point, but the overall quality is a solid B.

Articulation - **1/2
As a vinyl figure, he's not super articulated, but there's a fair number of joints. He has a cut neck, cut shoulders, cut hips, and cut ankles. Some additional articulation in the arms would have been nice, particularly with the bent right arm (a  cut wrist or elbow would allow for more poses without hurting the sculpt), but it's a minor quibble.

Accessories - **1/2
The figure comes with two accessories - his rather boxy and plain ray gun, and a clear plastic display stand.

You won't need the stand - the large feet allow him to stay upright on his own even in an earthquake, but it's a nice add.

The blaster is screen accurate for the most part, and fairly basic. The lines are clean, and the paint, while limited, is well done.

Fun Factor - ***
For fans of classic sci-fi, this is a terrific figure, with a reasonable amount of posablity and one of those cool back stories that makes for a fun discussion. Adults find fun in other ways with action figures - one of them is discussing how the characters influenced modern writers and filmmakers. This guy is the perfect spark to start just such a conversation.

Value - **
Good vinyl figures aren't cheap, and this guy is fairly large...and articulated. But at $75 he still seems a tad too expensive, and that cost is probably hurting the chances for the less well known Outer Limits characters to see the light of day.

Things to Watch Out For -
Not much. My neck joint was painted stuck, but it popped loose with just a little pressure.

Overall - ***
I loved the Outer Limits not so much for its storytelling, but for the very cool monsters that were almost always a part of the show. If you haven't watched the old episodes recently, go back and give them a look - they were a lot of fun.

I'd be up for a full line of these, but I suspect that demand just isn't there for the lesser known characters. That's too bad, because they really did have some truly unique designs.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - ***1/2
Paint - ***
Articulation - **1/2
Accessories - **1/2
Fun Factor - ***
Value - **
Overall - ***

Where to Buy -
Online options include these site sponsors:

- Alter Ego Comics has him at $73.

- Big Bad Toy Store is also at $75.

- Entertainment Earth has it for $75.

- or you can search ebay for a bargain.

Related Links -
Other Outer Limits goodies include Andros and the Helosian, Ikar and one of the soldiers, and Gwyllum and the Ebonite Interrogator.

Discussion:
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Architects of Fear Outer Limits alien action figure by X-Play


This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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