Final Battle Kroenen

Hellboy isn't the finest comic book movie ever made, but it's certainly miles away from the worst. And it has garnered a tremendous amount of interest in any and all toys based on the film.

The Mezco 8" figures are impossible to find at this point, especially any Hellboy version. Their 18" figures also flew off the shelves, even at a high price point. And now, Sideshow Toys is shipping their highly anticipated 12" versions.

Hellboy himself has been hitting for a couple weeks now. I received my 'exclusive' version back a ways, but haven't reviewed it because it has a unique head sculpt. Most Sideshow exclusives simply add in additional accessories, and so doing a review of them isn't too far off from the larger run regular releases. However, with Hellboy having a completely different head sculpt, that would make the whole 'sculpting' category not applicable to the figure 90% of collectors will buy. I should be getting the regular version soon, and when I do, he'll get the treatment.

You could say the same thing about tonight's review of the Final Battle Kroenen, because his head sculpt is very different as well. Okay, so sue me - I couldn't wait any longer to review one of these! The head sculpt isn't that far off from the other version, and once my regular Kroenen hits, I'll give him a second go around.

If you're looking for lots of great info on all Sideshow products, check out Sideshow Collectors.  They have a great set of message boards, and Sideshow folks stop by to post regularly.

Packaging - ****
Another stunning box in the Sideshow series. The cover graphic is fantastic, and there's a reasonable amount of text covering the film and characters. It's also completely collector friendly, as long as you save your few twisty ties. The included stand is in the tray, rather than attached to the cardboard insert.

I also like how Sideshow takes the MIBers into account with the little details like the color of the twisties. The two around the wrists and one around the neck are black, so they blend in with the color of the body suit. There's also a special twisty, designed to hold the mask tightly together. This twisty is silver, again to blend in.

If there's one packaging issue, it's with the shipper boxes.  I didn't have any problem with mine being crushed, but I've heard others that have had this issue, and I've had it in the past as well.

Sculpting - ****
This version has the scarred face from the film, with a sculpted helmet on the back half of the head. Only the front half of the helmet is removable, and there's a couple pegs at the top that hold it together. These pegs could work better, and there could be a couple more further down the helmet. With only the top pegs, the helmet tends to separate at the bottom.

The gruesome head sculpt underneath the mask is the real show stealer though, and matches the source material far better than the earlier, smaller Mezco figure. Here you can see the self imposed abuse in all its gory detail.

The hand sculpts are basic gloves, but designed to hold any of the weapons perfectly. Overall, this is one of the nicest sculpting jobs I've seen from Sideshow in the last few months.

Paint - ****
When I write reviews, I go over them several times. My readers that catch my grammar and spelling mistakes every week probably don't believe it, but I really do. When I first scored this category, it was ***1/2 stars. Then I played around with the figure some more, checking out the face, accessories, and body armor more closely. Second impressions can make a difference, and this time they boosted the score a half star.

The paint ops are extremely clean, especially on his dead, self scarred visage. It's tremendously realistic, with a nice use of both matte and gloss paints to differentiate between layers of flesh and bone. This is a guy so ugly even his mother doesn't love him.

The hands are basic black, and the masks are silver. The colors are clean, especially the 'normal' silver mask, where any inconsistency in color or thickness would be very obvious. Overall, it's a great job.

Articulation - ****
Kroenen sports the usual Sideshow male body. There's all the articulation you expect - neck, ball jointed shoulders and hips, cut biceps and thighs, double jointed elbows and knees, chest, waist, wrists, and ankles - and the tight body suit means they are all very useful. Okay, not quite all - the big boots tend to remove the usefulness of the ankles - but for the most part, all the joints have a great range of motion.

They are also very tight, a concern for many folks with the regular Hellboy. Nothing sloppy here, and his knees and hips are extremely tight and can hold just about any pose.

Accessories - ***1/2
Kroenen comes with a nice assortment of accessories, and a higher number than the usual Sideshow release.

He has four bladed weapons - two knives that fit into his body holster on the arms, and two bladed batons that fit into the 'holsters' on his waist. They look great, and as I mentioned earlier, fit perfectly in the hands. They also fit perfectly in their sheaths, but be very careful! They are made from a stiff plastic, which means no flop, but also means they are very easy to break, especially the tips.

He also has the usual Sideshow display base, with the Hellboy logo. You won't need it though, since his joints are so tight.

Finally, this exclusive version comes with the extra battle damaged helmet. I've mentioned the paint and sculpt areas for both helmets, and that additional pegs on the bottom would make both helmets fit better. The damaged helmet doesn't fit as nicely as the regular version, due to the damage - it's that way on purpose. But if he's laying on his back getting his face pummeled by Hellboy, it will stay on just fine.

Outfit - ***1/2
Kroenen's outfit starts out with his basic lycra body suit. This is works extremely well, and I think the shiny look works well with matching up with the film version. It fits nice and tight, and doesn't bag at the gloves or boots.

Over this is what I'm calling his body armor/holster. Actually, the chest piece was all part of his elaborate life support system. The sculpt detail is extremely good, especially considering the soft nature of the plastic. Had they used a stiffer plastic, the sculpt could have been even more detailed, but then it wouldn't have fit his body as tightly. They've made a good compromise between fit and sculpt.

My only issue here is that there was some discoloration on one of the sheaths for the bladed batons. It looks like a factory boo-boo that's probably very specific to my figure.

Overall, the normal helmet looks solid. It's not perfect, and does seem too deep from front to back.  Looking at it from the side makes it appear a bit odd.  Also, the eyes seem a tad too far apart, certainly farther apart than the eyes of the face underneath.  These aren't major issues, but the hold the figure back from an otherwise perfect score.

The final outfit piece is his boots. This is a great sculpt in soft rubber, and they fit and look terrific. Such large boots are definitely a crucial part of the look of his overall outfit, and it was critical to capture their appearance perfectly.

Fun Factor - **1/2
If you have kids that love Hellboy, they'll love this figure. The big problem here is the pointy, sharp and easily breakable weapons. This isn't something you want to give a six year old, but tweens will enjoy it. And of course, dad will love it, if he's a big Hellboy fan.

Value - **1/2
Sideshow prices have been tough for collectors to handle this year, but this figure offers up not only a complex outfit and more accessories than usual, but it's an expensive license to boot. Rather than a public domain figure like Vlad, these figures have that extra cut for the movie studio and creator, so getting them in the $40 range isn't unexpected. Considering that many on-line stores have them for $35 or less, it's certainly an easy **1/2 star value.

Overall - ***1/2
This figure has me really looking forward to the Abe Sapian. While I'm not a huge Hellboy fan, these figures manage to capture the characters perfectly in sixth scale form. And unlike most of the other 'exclusives', both the Hellboy and Kroenen were very different from the regular production versions.

If your a fan of the film, I highly recommend picking these up. Obviously, you also have to like sixth scale figures - if you think they're 'dolls', and you're too manly for that, then these aren't for you. But for those of us confident in our personal levels of testosterone, these are just what the Doctor Ken ordered.

On a side note, I'd also like to commend Sideshow on their character choices. Obviously they were going to have to do a Hellboy, but they could have easily done a Rasputin, Liz or even Professor Broom, they wisely went with the three most visually exciting characters first. I'm extremely hopeful that we'll still get a Kroenen in his Nazi uniform, and while Liz is important in the film, I'd much rather see Ilsa first. With a Hellboy 2 in the works, and these first figures selling like mad, we're sure to see further figures in the series.

Where to Buy - 
Sideshow deals predominately through on-line stores, although your local comic or pop culture store might get these in. On-line options include:

- Sideshow themselves of course. The exclusive version is still available, but with a run of only 750, not for long. They still have the regular Kroenen as well. With just a run of 4000 though, it's not likely they'll last long.

- Alter Ego Comics has him for $32. This is the regular version.

- Aisle Sniper has him up for preorder for $35. This is also the regular version.

- Southern Island has the regular version in stock for $35.

- Killer Toys has the pre-order up for the regular version at $35.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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