Blood and Iron Hellboy


"The following is a guest review.  The review and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the guest author."

Poe Ghostal checks in with a great review of a very interesting new figure for the Hellboy fans - tell them all about it, Poe!

For an independent comic book character with the word "Hell" in his name, Hellboy has become a fantastically successful property. He originated in a convention sketch drawn by artist Mike Mignola in the early nineties; the sketch showed an odd, somewhat silly-looking demon with the words "Hell Boy" written on his belt buckle. The name made Mignola laugh, and later, when he got the chance to create his own comic book, he decided to make Hellboy his main character, a demon raised by the U.S. military to fight supernatural threats as a member of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD).

One of the reasons Hellboy has been so successful is that the concept has attracted talented people, devoted to remaining true to Mignola's unique vision. While Guillermo Del Toro's 2004 film was a fair departure from the comic story-wise, the characters were there, and there's little question that Ron Perlman was the physical embodiment of Mignola's big red boy. Since Perlman was already a well-established cartoon voice actor, it came as no surprise when he was cast as the voice of the animated Hellboy as well.

There have been two animated Hellboy movies so far. Both of them premiered on the Cartoon Network and were subsequently released to DVD, with the second one, Blood & Iron, coming to DVD this week. It was announced last year that Gentle Giant had scored the license to make action figures and other items based on the animated Hellboy series (Mezco finishes up their comic-based line with an Abe Sapien exclusive figure this summer). Until now, Gentle Giant has focused primarily on creating busts, statues, and importing toys from Japan; this line represents Gentle Giant's first real foray into the action figure arena. EDITOR'S NOTE:  Yes, they also did the Death Jr. figures, but now I'm just getting picky.

The first wave of Gentle Giant's Hellboy action figures will include Hellboy and Abe Sapien in the animated style, plus a bonus figure of Hellboy based on his movie appearance (no doubt intended to whet fans' appetite for next year's Hellboy 2: The Golden Army). The line won't be out until October, but to help promote the release of Blood & Iron, Best Buy is offering an exclusive bundle that includes a Hellboy action figure (with a variant head). Only 10,000 were produced. The sales of the Blood & Iron DVD will determine whether there will be a third animated Hellboy film.

Packaging - **
The bundle comes in an attractive clear window box, with the figure presented front-and-center. The DVD, hidden behind the figure, almost looks like an afterthought. There's a label in front of the figure that runs along the bottom of the box. The box is nice and open, allowing a good view of the figure.

The figure is tightly secured in the box with a tray and plenty of twisties.

Sculpting - ***1/2
Gentle Giant is known for the dead-on likenesses on its statues and busts, thanks to its Real Scan technology. But the animated Hellboy, of course, is a 2D drawing they have to render into three dimensions.

Mike Mignola requested that the animated Hellboy not be based on his distinctive art style, choosing a more exaggerated, somewhat Bruce Timm-esque design submitted by freelance artist John Galloway. The result was an outsized Hellboy with an enormous torso and arms and tiny legs--like a caricature of a football player. It was as distinctive as both the comic and movie versions, and Gentle Giant's sculptors have perfectly captured the design here.

The figures' lines are smooth and strong, capturing the style of the cartoon. The skin has a slightly rough texture that I really like; it doesn't reflect the light the way most figures do, giving the figure a high-quality feel. The detailing on the Right Hand of Doom is great too. Hellboy is chomping a cigar and has an amusingly skeptical expression on his face. This is a variant head. The regular version of the figure, due in October, will not have the cigar (though for all I know, they may pack the cigar-head as a variant).

Gentle Giant's website says the figures are in a 7" scale, but Hellboy is only about 6" tall, and since the character stands 7' in "real life," that makes this figure a bit smaller than 1/12 scale. Both the Mezco comic and movie figures are a bit larger, closer to a true 7" scale.

Paint - ***1/2
As Michael often points out, a bad paint application can ruin a fantastic sculpt. Fortunately, that didn't happen here. GG has put a nice, low-key dark wash over Hellboy's rough textured skin. There is a tiny amount of splotching here and there, but it's hardly noticeable, and for the most part the wash does a great job of highlighting the figure's muscles. Since the creators of the animated movies have worked hard to paint Hellboy in a rich diversity of shades depending on the scene, it's great that GG has given this figure the same loving care.

For the most part the paint is sharp and the lines are clean. My only gripe, other than the minor splotching mentioned above, is a tiny bit of yellow on my HB's chin, presumably from the paint used on his eyes.

Articulation - ***1/2
I knew Gentle Giant had said these figures would have 20-25 points of articulation, but that didn't hit home until I had the thing in my hands. Hellboy has a ball-jointed head, ball-jointed shoulders and hips, and a hinged peg Right Hand of Doom (it has almost all the motion of a ball joint). He has hinge joints at the torso, elbows, knees, wrists, ankles and toes(!), and swivels at the bicep, wrists, hips, shins, and three swivels in his tail.

But all this articulation comes with a price: he just can't stand on those tiny legs (unless you use his tail as a prop). You could probably fiddle with him long enough to get him in a non-propped pose that balanced, but I'm guessing he'd eventually topple every time. Fortunately, GG has provided a stand (see below).

Accessories - ***1/2
Here's where I was pleasantly surprised. Hellboy comes with a display stand, his trademark pistol and four, count 'em, four interchangeable hands.

The display stand is pretty straightforward--a black disc with a logo and a clear rod.

The pistol is more or less the same gun we've been seeing with every Hellboy action figure: a gigantic revolver. In keeping with the cartoon's exaggerated style, this gun is truly huge, even bigger than the 7" comic Hellboy's pistol. It has a long hollow barrel, which is a nice touch, and a good metallic paint job. It fits in the holster at his waist, which even has a small snap to keep it closed.

But what I really liked are the hands. There's an open left hand that fits Hellboy's pistol and a left fist. There's also an open Right Hand of Doom and a Fist of Doom. All the hands snap in and out easily.

Fun Factor - ****
This is a great toy, hands down. While it's great-looking and will make for a fantastic display piece, it's also something you can get for that wee little Hellfan in your life. The cartoony design might appeal more to youngsters than the blocky comic style. And while his legs are small, the figure itself is hefty and solid, and will probably be able to handle some rough play. My only concern might be the rubber holster tearing off.

Value - ****
I pre-ordered this from for $22, which included shipping. For that, I got a DVD and an action figure with four accessories, including two interchangeable hands. In today's market that's a great value, hands-down.

Even better, the bundle will be on sale at Best Buy for only $18 this week. After that (if there are any left), it may get bumped up to the MSRP of $25, but even that's a steal for this set.

Things to Watch Out For -
The stand's rod seems to be a little tall, so he tends to hover above the disk a little bit. And as I mentioned above, he's going to fall over unless you use the stand or prop him up on his tail.

Overall - ***1/2
Again, $20 or even $25 for a figure of this quality is a fantastic deal.

And the movie is great too, a clear improvement over the first animated film. Blood & Iron gets Hellboy back to his roots and features vampires, werewolves, and even a familiar foe from the comics. Along with Perlman, it features Selma Blair reprising her role from the movie as Liz Sherman, and John Hurt as Professor Bruttenholm.

While Best Buy is the only place you can get the figure bundle, there are a number of other exclusive bundles being offered at other stores--some with comics, some with an exclusive Bust-Up. Go here to check them out.

Packaging - **
Sculpting - ***1/2
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - ***1/2
Accessories - ***1/2
Fun factor - ****
Value - ****
Overal - ***1/2

Where to Buy - 
This is a Best Buy exclusive. For the time being, you can order it off their website while supplies last. Or you can just walk to your local Best Buy and pick it up. Once they sell out, it's off to eBay with you.

Figure from the collection of Poe Ghostal.

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