That does not mean that I would refuse publishing guest reviews of
these figures, however. Doing so might seem to conflict with what I
just said, but the point of guest reviews has always been to give
anyone out there the chance to be heard by a wider audience, without
censure or edit from me. That doesn't mean I'd accept a guest review
from an obvious company shill (or someone with nothing but an axe to grind), but they're usually pretty easy to spot
since they have all seem to have the same issues with grammar and
In that vein, here's a guest review of one of the Indie Spotlight wave
1 figures - The Maxx. YoNoSe is a huge Maxx fan, and is a regular on
many boards. Take it away, Yo!
Thanks to Michael for giving me the opportunity to write this review! Huzzah!
it wasn’t for writer/artist Sam Kieth (along with swell dialogue from
Bill Messner-Loebs) and his indefinable Maxx I probably would have
little appreciation for many of the books and artists I hold dear
today. In the 90s, when the comic book covers were shinier than
Hershey’s Kiss wrappers and the female characters were not so much
beautiful as horrifically deformed, a few absurdities snuck under the
radar and found a following. Such was Maxx - a former plumber named
Dave whose reality has been whammied by the shattered
subconscious of sex-crime victim Julie Winters. He now believes himself
a superhero who must protect Julie from the evil Mr. Gone and his army
of nasty isz. Not really one for the kids!
The Maxx was published
by Image comics but it was really a Vertigo title in spirit. It gave
Sam Kieth a public forum to use ink, paint, toast and pez to challenge
the superhero ideal and the feminist cliché. Take that, Rob Liefield!
picked up the first issue of Maxx when I was 17 and have had a strong
affinity for the big guy ever since. It was the first book that showed
me a comic book world outside of the Dynamic Anatomy school, where
creativity was sometimes insanely unbound. My comic palette was never
the same again.
Maxx’s career as a collectible has included a
full sized statue, porcelain bust, Christmas ornament, Mcfarlane action
figure and now a brand new action figure from Shocker Toys. Indie
Spotlight Series 1 represents Shocker’s first foray into the
articulated 6” realm. The other characters include Katchoo from
Strangers in Paradise, SCUD the Disposable Assassin (and a variant),
Shadowhawk (and variant), and Kabuki. A mail away Mr. Gone figure, for
those who purchase the whole series, is scheduled for later this year.
has been a great deal of controversy surrounding these figures and the
company itself. I’ve been blissfully ignorant to most of it but I was
acutely aware of the very long wait for a new Maxx figure.Was it worth the wait for this Maxxhead?
Maxx comes in a plastic bubble on a sturdy cardboard backer. The bubble
is slotted so that the card slides into it and is held in place with a
few pieces of clear tape rather than the usual glue. Because of the
high gloss surface of the card the tape comes off easily. Good news for
those that treasure the packaging as Maxx can be repackaged quite
easily. The figures and accessories are held in place in a plastic tray
with no twisties.
are nice, if a bit redundant. It says The Maxx three times on the front
of the package alone! Maxx’s purple costume does pop nicely against the
The back of the card has a small “file card” type bio of Maxx, which I always like to see in a series like this.
Sculpting - **3/4
Can I even do a ¾ star? Well, I just did.
This is a hard category because I really like most of the sculpt but there are a couple of issues that cannot be ignored.
is a tough cookie to visually nail down. Sam Kieth’s style could range
from simplicity of nearly smiley-faced sketches to intense
illustrations depicting every hair on a muscled arm. Shocker clearly
went for a simpler approach in order to accommodate the articulation.
The face and teeth have sharp, defined lines and Maxx’s exaggerated
physique is conveyed with just enough detail to look impressive with a
cartoony superhero vibe. The articulation is unique and varied and the
sculpt works well with it.
That’s not to say it’s perfect. There
are two areas in particular that suffer from a bit of an amateurish
look. First, the feet. They look pretty great at a glance but upon
closer inspection we get a bit of that “clayish” look. Maxx’s feet are
sort of his trademark – gigantic and seemingly wrapped in cloth with
whatever garbage was around wrapped up along with it. The general
shapes do suggest cloth but there is no texture – just a lot of thin
lines that are a bit too random and sloppy looking.
other problem area is the hands. In sharp contrast to the simplicity of
the body, the hands are very harshly etched out and the sculpts are
ROUGH. There’s almost no standard size among the fingers and a couple
are just plain misshapen. Worst of all is the gap where the middle
finger, now a claw, would rest. The space appears to have been dug out
with a sharp tool and no attempt was made to smooth it out.
Paint - **
There is not a lot of paint work going on here. The high point would
definitely be the head. The yellow stripe is vibrant and solid, the
black lines sharp. The teeth seem to have a light shadow between them
that looks great. Likewise, the “flame” effect on the forearms is
sharply executed. There’s also a light black wash around the muscles of
the torso that adds a bit of definition..
disappointing that the feathers on the headdress were only given a
light white wash. Some bright colors would have really helped since the
headdress itself is quite large and monotone.
The feet look
decent – two shades of brown give the sculpt some depth. The silver
color of the metal bits does not work as well. I’m not sure if it’s
rubbed off in a few places or the brown was sloppily applied but the
result is a bit cheap looking.
But the big issue is, once
again, the hands. First of all, the bright yellow base color does not
cover the color of the plastic underneath and this results in a
greenish hue. On top of that there is an orange wash that is unevenly
applied, effectively making my figures hands two different colors.
I’m not sure where else to mention this I’ll do it here – the figure’s
upper body is made of a hollow vinyl while the lower body is more
traditional plastic. These two materials have been about as well
matched color-wise as they could be. It may seem glaring in the pics
but in person it’s not as noticeable.
Due to the size of Maxx’s chest and arms I think this is a good compromise to keep him from being too top heavy.
Articulation - ***1/2
This is where this figure really shines. Maxx is tons of fun to pose! I
was fairly amazed at the poses he could support. Some of it is
unorthodox so I’m going to do my best to break it down:
at the top Maxx’s headdress is attached to the head with what I can
only describe as a dumbbell ball joint – a short post with a ball
on each end. I never wouldhave expected an articulated headdress, and
don’t move it often, but it’s nice to know it’s there.
the neck joint. There is a large ball inside the chest that the neck
attaches to. Maxx comes with two heads and they can be swapped out
fairly easily but I would recommend a dip in some warm water first as
the soft vinyl material tends to bend and warp as you pull the head
off. The range of motion is excellent – I was able to make Maxx look in
any direction regardless of whether he was hunched over or standing
The shoulders are straight pin joints that rotate 360
degrees. Below them is another dumbbell connecting shoulder to bicep.
This allows for some side-to-side movement as well as rotation. The
elbow is sculpted to a ball at the end that fits into the cup of the
forearm. The range of this swivel is also excellent. At the wrist is
another dumbbell that connects the hands. The hands can tilt and rotate
just about any way you like.
Mid torso – another dumbbell! Maxx can examine his shoelaces or limbo as you like.
hips are a challenge to describe. There are sculpted balls on either
side that fit into a cup at the top of the thigh. This cup, however, is
a separate piece that attaches via a pin joint to the actual thigh.
This allows for a great range of mobility. The knees are standard
double pin joints and the feet are ball jointed.
variety and amount of articulation is great, but are the joints tight?
Some of them are. Some, not so much. The wrists in particular have an
annoying tendency to pop off. But despite this, every joint holds
poses. That’s where the decision to make the upper body hollow
and light comes in. A few loose joints or not, you will not be able to
find many poses Maxx can’t achieve and hold for good amount of time.
Accessories - ****
Each Indie Spotlight figure from Series 1 comes with one isz – the evil
henchbeasties of Mr. Gone. Except for The Maxx, who comes with three!
You get one black isz, one white, and one “fairy” isz from the later
part of the comic series. These figures are not articulated but the
sculpts are excellent and the paint apps sharp. Add to them the extra
head and you have pretty much everything you could want with Maxx.
Fun Factor - ***1/2
I literally cannot put him down. The only thing keeping him from a 4 here is the annoying pop-off hands.
Value - **1/2
I paid $24 including shipping from Shocker Toys direct sales store.
Considering that Maxx is 9” tall and the general quality and
accessories I feel I paid a fair price. No bargain, for sure, but I
don’t regret a penny of it.
As I stated in my intro, I am not familiar with the controversy
surrounding Shocker Toys. Deserved or underserved, all I know is I have
a great new Maxx figure out of it. He’s definitely got some issues. The
hand sculpts are pretty ugly and the paint could be improved. Also of
note, he is out of scale for a 6” figure line. Maxx is a beefy guy but
he isn’t a giant. That’s not an issue for me as it just further
distinguishes him from my other Maxx items, but it should be considered.
only other major gripe is that I don’t want to buy the rest of these
characters for the mailaway Mr. Gone! But based on The Maxx I would not
hesitate to buy another character that I was interested in from the
Indie Spotlight line.
So thanks again to Michael, and hopefully
this review reaches some old Maxxheads who may not have been aware that
big purple is back!
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - **3/4
Paint - **
Articulation - ***1/2
Accessories - ****
Fun Factor - ***1/2
Value - **1/2
Overall - ***