Hellboy 2 The Golden Army
Hellboy, Liz and Johann


"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."

The always interesting and often controversial BigGuido is back tonight with a look at Hellboy, Liz and Johann from the new Hellboy 2 line!  Take it away, BG...

These are interesting times to be a toy collector…especially to those collectors who fall into the category of action figure collecting. I began collecting action figures as an adult around 1989 with the first Kenner Batman movie line and the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys. I truly began a full-blown collector in 1992 when Batman Returns and the Playmates Star Trek line hit the market. I was encouraged to pursue my interest by my wife as she was a Star Trek fan as well and it gave us something to do together as a young couple. The rest, as they say, is history.

As the close of my second decade of collecting action figures nears, I feel somewhat fortunate to have lived through a major time of innovation in the action figure industry. Mass-market action figures were rather crude and simple toys back in the late 80s and early 90s and articulation was pretty much restricted to a basic 5 to 9 points. The idea of a mass-market action figure sporting 40+ points of articulation and a sculpt that would be on par with a studio maquette would have been laughed at. But yet, here we are nearly 20 years later and we've been there and done that. I liken it to the race for the moon back in the 1960's. It really is amazing what can happen when a group of talented people get together with a unique vision and mutual goal and simply say, "why not?" to the naysayers.

Granted, bringing innovation to the action figure market isn't on par with the accomplishment of landing a man on the moon, but folks like Bandai, Playmates, Resaurus, McFarlane, Mezco, NECA, Palisades, SOTA, Toy Biz, Trendmasters, and many others produced some really great toys that brought kids and collectors alike many hours of happiness and pleasure. They made our lives a little bit brighter while at the same time making or wallets all that much lighter.

Several of the companies I mentioned are no longer in business. The toy industry is a cutthroat market that is very unforgiving. Many smaller independent companies failed due to making one or two poor business decisions regarding a major toy line and that was it – bankruptcy! Another major factor over the last few years has been the dwindling number of brick and mortar retailers to carry their collectors' specialty market targeted products. Online retailers are now becoming the major venue for collector action figures and it doesn't look like that's going to change anytime soon. Actually, with the rising cost of gasoline, I have decided to just bite the bullet and order my action figure fixes online. So far I have been quite pleased and if I gang-up my orders, I can realize some definite savings when it comes to shipping.

My latest acquisition via mail order is the first series of 7" scale action figures based on characters from the son to be release Hellboy II: the Golden Army by Mezco Toyz. One of the very first action figure reviews I ever did was for the first line of Hellboy figures that Mez did for the original Hellboy movie way back in 2004. As such, I feel compelled to review these as well. Instead of single reviews as I have done in the past, I am going to review these in groups of three ala Captain Toy hisself, Michael Crawford.

First up for review will be Hellboy, Liz Sherman and Johann Kraus – or "Krauss" as it is spelled on the packaging. I'm not sure if this is a typo or just another example of director Guillermo Del Toro putting his personal stamp on one of Mike Mignola's characters. The spelling is consistent across all of the packaging, so your guess is as good as mine. That being said, let's move onto the review portion of our program…

Packaging: **1/2
Once again, clamshells are the order of the day for Hellboy, but these are quite different from the style we saw for the earlier Mez co movie and comic book lines – heck, even the Gentle Giant Animated and movie figure sported the same clamshell design. These are definitely a step towards a slimmer, more environmentally friendly clamshell. There is very little wasted space; this is especially true of the larger figures such as Hellboy and those that come with larger accessories like Johann. Liz has quite a bit of extra room in her clamshell, but hey, she is a girl, you know. Now don't give me that crap about a girl accessorizing! When you have a quirky pyrotechnic ability like Liz's you probably make it a point not to get too attached to material possessions, let alone family members and friends.

The graphics are rather nice, with a nice close-up of HB's crimson mug and the BPRD logo as the backer card art. The backside of the card is generic to all 6 figures in the series with zippo character specific info – just a paragraph of text describing the basic setting and plot of the movie and the character names. There is the mandatory "collect them all" photos of all six figures from series 1 as well…nothing to set the world afire here.

The one curiosity here is the lack of the full Hellboy II Logo and no mention of the Golden Army. Only the initials HB and the roman number II (2) appear. I can only guess that this was done to accommodate the smaller package or as compliance to a request from Toys 'R Us to keep the word HELL from screaming off of their toy pegs. I was pleased to hear that TRU was going to be carrying this line at the mass-market level, but I had no illusions about being able to get a Wink or Liz figure at either of the two close to me here in Kansas City. The scalpers are dug in so deep at those two stores; they might as well be management.

All in all, I am very glad we got the clamshell packaging even if the graphics are somewhat uninspired. 2 ½ stars.

Sculpt: Hellboy: ** 1/2 Liz: *** Johann: ***1/2
The sculpting for this line is quite good and I would probably give Hellboy higher marks if he weren't just a somewhat retooled version of the same figure we got back in 2004. The real bummer for me is that I got the cigar smoking version of Ol' Red instead of the one of him with his pie hole open and big ol' pearly-white dentures hangin' out. You know, the one that we've seen in all of the promotional and convention shots of this figure. This is one of the downfalls of buying figures online. If there are any common head variants, you might just get the one you don't want. As a matter of fact I believe that the odds are dead on that you will get the wrong one. I'm batting 1000 in this area!

My only other area of complaint with HB's sculpt is his upper right arm. This may belong in the articulation part of the review, but I'm going to address it here. I had really hoped that Mez would give us a articulated right elbow in this version of trench coat Hellboy, but once again, even thought this right arm is a new sculpt, it still lacks elbow articulation. This time, the right arm is bent at a permanent right angle to help accommodate Hellboy holding the Big Baby shotgun he comes packaged with (shotgun? It looks more like a rotary grenade launcher to me). It just looks damn weird when he posed without the shotgun. He kind reminds me of former Senator Bob Dole when I met him in person. Senator Dole has a paralyzed right arm that he got back in WWII that is kinda crooked the same way. All I need to do is give HB a pen to hold in that big ol' Right mitt of his and he'll be ready to be Ron Paul's running mate. This and the basic refurbing of an old sculpt cause a major loss for HB in the sculpting category. ** 1/2 Stars

Liz is better, but not enough to get her anything more than 3 stars. I think the face sculpt does indeed look something like Selma Blair, but the paint apps on her eyes are just not working and pretty much hides what might be a genuinely goo facial sculpt of Selma as Liz. This paint killing sculpt issue seems to hold true for the Claire Bennet figure from Mez's Heroes line. The rest of the figure is nicely detailed and looks to capture all the proportions of Selma's petite body. *** Stars

Johann comes out on top so far as sculpt is concerned. He is quite a visually interesting character and was definitely inspired by Del Toro's love of all things Steam Punk. This figure has great potential for being used to make 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea custom aquanaut figures with little to no effort on the part of the customizer. All that is really needed is the helmet and tank/harness assembly. Maybe Mez will do an exclusive Capt. Nemo in diving gear based off of this figure – one can always hope! *** ½ Stars

Paint: **1/2
I'm really scratching my head over this one. The paint on all of Mez's Hellboy figures has been above par for the most part, but these figures aren't up to Mez's usual standard. My guess is that it may be a cheaper vendor and there may have been some paint apps dropped due to cost considerations. The overall application just isn't as nice as the previous lines as well. On my set of figures it appears that the majority of them were packaged before the paint could really dry/cure completely. As such there was quite a bit of paint that stuck to the blister tray or onto other parts of the figure that was in contact with the uncured paint. This was especially true of Hellboy's rubbery trench coat

There are paint color consistency issues across parts of all three figures. Color breaks are not nearly as clean as they were on previous lines and Liz's facial paints really do a disservice to the facial sculpt, making the figure looking very generic as opposed to Selma Blair. The washes that were applied to Johann's containment suit are quite heavy handed with obvious brush strokes. It looks like something from Toy Biz's earlier days. Hellboy has some odd applications of a high gloss lacquer being applied to his coat's leather collar and his gun holster. The lacquer is way too glossy and makes the leather look slimy instead of polished. Eeewwwww!

Articulation - Hellboy: *** Liz & Johann: **
Here's the articulation break out:
Hellboy: 26 points by my count and they are as follows:
Neck: Ball joint = 1
Shoulders: ML style ball joint = 4
Biceps: Swivel = 2
Left Elbow: Single pin = 1
Left Wrist: Cut swivel = 1
Right Hand of Doom: Forearm swivel & ball jointed wrist = 2
Chest: Ball joint = 1
Waist: Cut swivel = 1
Hips: Marvel Legends Showdown ball-in-socket type = 4
Knees: Single pin = 2
Ankles: Single pin with side to side pivot = 4
Tail: Cut joints = 3

Liz: 18 points by my count and they are as follows:
Neck: Ball joint = 1
Shoulders: Pin and swivel ball joint = 4
Elbows: Single pin = 2
Forearms: Cut swivels = 2
Waist: Cut swivel = 1
Hips: Ball-in-socket type = 2
Knees: Single pin = 2
Ankles: Single pin with side to side pivot = 4

Johann: 16 points by my count and they are as follows:
Neck: Ball joint = 1
Shoulders: Pin and swivel ball joint = 4
Elbows: Single pin = 2
Wrists: Cut swivels = 2
Waist: Cut swivel = 1
Hips: Ball-in-socket type = 2
Knees: Single pin = 2
Ankles: Single pin = 2

Articulation…it is the love of as many action figure collectors as it is the bane of others. There appears to be two camps when it comes to the issue of articulation: Posability and Sculpt. As many of you already know Guido falls into the ranks of the Posability Camp. There has been many a finely sculpted action figure that has come down the pike that I've left on the peg due to its lack of articulation. Nerd Hummels are just not my bag. I love a great sculpt, but I like "action" in my action figures and I'm pleased to say that Mez's Hellboy figures continue to be a terrific blend of both posability and sculpt, making them an appealing compromise to members of both camps. However, there is also a trend here that Guido finds alarming. The trend I speak of is what I like to call Action Figure Devolution or "AFD" for short. AFD is the systematic reduction of articulation points in direct contrast to an ever-increasing price point. The prime example of this devolution is Hasbro's version of Marvel Legends and Marvel related movie figures. I don't know of a single ML collector on the boards that can say that the Marvel license is better off under the 'Bro than it was under Toy Biz. I'll take Toy Biz's products with their screwy case mixes and 19th century distribution system over the craptastic plastic that Hasbro brings to market any day.

Devolution appears to be spreading from the mass market and into the specialty market. This has happened to a number of the figures in this first series of Hellboy figures from Mezco. Liz and Johann are victims of AFD. Both figures are missing bicep cuts and thigh swivels that quite frankly are to be expected in a line like this and at the price point Mez is asking. $15.00 a pop for these is a 50% rise in the price point of the original movie figures and yet, we are getting less and less articulation for our hard-earned coinage. I blame OPEC, the U.S. Congress and the likes of AlGore more than I do Mez and company - though I'll never give the 'Bro such a pass.

The good news is that Hellboy retained the majority of his articulation points from the first movie's figure. I'm still p.o.ed about the crappy lack of right elbow articulation that I mentioned up in the sculpt section, but then again the original trench coat Hellboy was sans this articulation point as well.

The only real change for Hellboy this time around is the type of hip joints that were used. This is a plus and a minus. The plus is that his hips have a greater range of motion that the previous ML style ball joints, but he suffers from the same problems as ML Showdowns and Takara Microman figures: hip dislocation. Simply put, his stinkin' legs pop off every time I go to pose him. This new joint system is really loose and the legs pop off way too easy. This is problem exists across all of the figures in the series. This type of joint may be cheaper to manufacture and offer a little more range of motion, but I like my figures to not fall apart every time I move there legs. Guido thinks Mez needs to sit down with his manufacturing vendor and see what can be done to put less "pop" into these hip joints - either that or promote the joints on the package as an "Easy Dismemberment" action feature.

All told, due to severe cases of AFD and the Easy Dismemberment action feature, everybody takes a hit in the articulation department. Liz and Johann lose 2 stars whilst Hellboy loses 1.

Accessories: Hellboy: ***1/2 Johann: *** Liz: *
Ah, accessories…something that is becoming more and more of a rarity in 6 inch and up scale figures. Damn you, OPEC! I am happy to say that the Hellboy figures buck this trend by actually giving us some cool accessories with out figures. Hellboy comes with his trusty Samaritan pistol and a new weapon, the Big Baby shotgun. The Samaritan is the same one that came with the figures from the first movie and retains the hinged breach that was oh-so-cool the first time around. Mez didn't skimp on Big Baby either. It has an opening breach too so you can pose HB in process of reloading it. These accessories are nice, but I still wish we had got some of HB's boogum fighting equipment and talismans to sling on his belt. The funky boogum finder goggles he's wearing in the previews would've been cool as well. Maybe those will make it into series 2 along with another removable pleather coat Hellboy with an even better facial sculpt of Ron Perlman as Ol' Red. 3 ½ stars

Johann comes with a set of interchangeable hands with protoplasmic clouds of goo squirting out of his fingertips as well as an interchangeable busted dome for his noggin. Though the misty goo looks better this time around than the snotty slime that cane with the comic book version of Johann, it doesn't look so much like a protoplasmic apparition as it does puffs of steam or foam. Once they're attached, Johann looks like his steam punk inspired suit has sprung a leak or that he's trying to put out a grease fire during his stint as a night manager for Wendy's. The cracked dome is a nice touch, but I doubt I will use it much. Perhaps if I dig up some of my old Kenner Aliens face huggers…By the way, you may want to forego swapping the domes altogether as my dome was pretty well stuck to the neck piece's paint and I had to work it loose to get it off. Now it is kind of loose and I am a bit concerned about losing it over the long haul. 3 Stars.

Liz comes with a lone set of interchangeable hands. Normally, I would be just jake with this, but Mez went ahead and committed a cardinal sin: a molded gun hand!!! GAAAAAHHHHH!!!! I hate it when toy companies do this! I want my weapons to be stand-alone accessories – NOT MOLDED as part of the figure's mitt! I don't mind the molded flame hand so much, but the gun hand is completely unacceptable – especially when the existing right hand appears to be molded to accommodate holding a pistol. GAAAAAHHHHH!!!

I am giving Mez only one lonely star here because of this indiscretion. I would give him bupkis, but he did at least include something with Liz. 1 Star.

Fun factor- ***
All complaints and nit-picks aside, these are fairly fun figures with plenty of play value regardless of the package saying that the figures are for kids ages 15 and up I think that kids would have a lot of fun with these. I would suggest permanently gluing Johann's noggin dome on though to avoid it being quickly lost by a youngster. Hellboy's gun and the Big Baby are somewhat fragile and would probably break unless they were glued shut as well.

Value: ***
At $15.00 a pop U.S. these are pretty much an average value for a specialty market figure. I really miss the days of the $9.95 original Hellboy movie figures – now those were a great value!

Things to Watch Out For -
Check the paint out on these, as the quality isn't up to Mez's usual standards.

Overall: ***
What it comes down to is happiness. Am I happy that I own these figures and have added them to the ever-growing heap of toys cluttering up my basement and adding to my wife's chagrin? I would have to say a most definite "yes"! I really like the 6" and 7" scale for action figures. It is the best compromise between 3.75", which I feel are a tad small, and 12" figures that are just too big and expensive for the amount of room that I have to display them and the amount of room I have in my budget to purchase them. I think we can all relate to the last point. There is plenty of rumbling going on in the industry that 3.75" figures are the way of the future for mass market action figures and I would have to agree. Mom and Dad are having a hard time justifying dropping a Hamilton so that little Billy can have that Iron Man figure. Prices are going through the roof for everything due to the cost of oil. I don't know about you folks, but I didn't get a 35% raise last year to keep up with inflationary trends and it doesn't look too promising for the future either. Man, if the Iraq war was all about getting cheap oil, why am I paying $60+ at the pump to fill up my gas guzzler? Some analysts are predicting $7.00 a gallon for gasoline within the next 18 months. If that happens, the last thing I'm going to be concerned with is collecting action figures. But for now, I am happy to have HB and the gang under my roof, though I may be force to burn them for firewood a couple of winters from now.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ** 1/2
Sculpt - Hellboy: ** 1/2 Liz: *** Johann: ***1/2
Paint - Hellboy, Liz and Johann: **1/2
Articulation - Hellboy: *** Liz & Johann: **
Accessories - Hellboy: ***1/2 Johann: *** Liz: *
Fun Factor - ***
Value - ***
Overall - ***

Where to Buy -
Lots of Sponsor options:

- CornerStoreComics has the set of six for $83, or the singles for $16 each.

- Things From Another World doesn't have all six in stock right now, but they have a great price on the singles they do have at just $13.50 each.

- Alter Ego Comics has the set of six for $92.

- Urban Collector has a case for $174.

- YouBuyNow has the singles at $17 each, or the set for $93 for the set of 6.

- for the UK collectors, you can find them at Forbidden Planet for 12 pounds a piece

- for Australians, you can search (an ebay family site).

- or search ebay using


Figure from the collection of BigGuido.

This page copyright 2000 - 2008, Michael Crawford. All rights reserved. Hosted by 1 Hour