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FANtastic Exclusive Scarabus - the variants
Four Horsemen

Scarabus Fantastic Exclusive action figures by the Four Horsemen


Last review I looked at the first three figures in the ten figure set of Scarabus. This wave is from the Four Horsemen's Gothitropolis series, part of their FANtastic Exclusive project.

I've gone over the concept and origination of the FANtastic Exclusive in past reviews, but in a nutshell the Four Horsemen decided several years ago to do their own original concept action figures but with the input of their fans. They set up periods where you could vote all American Idol-like for your favorite overall concept, then character, then package and accessories, etc. etc. etc. It is a unique idea, but we've come to expect no less from the talented guys at FH.

This particular wave was originally intended to release in 2008, but one issue piled on top of another, and Scabbie kept getting pushed back. Fans are definitely thrilled that he's finally winging his way to them, and if you attend San Diego Comic-Con next week, you should be able to pick some up in person and chat with the Four Horsemen while you're at it.

Since these figures are very much like the previous three I reviewed earlier this week, much of what I have to say tonight is going to be a rehash. I'll do what I can to stick to only new stuff and just brush lightly on the repeats.

These figures aren't cheap, coming in at $30 each, but if you pony up for the full set of ten you can get a little better deal. The edition sizes on any of the FANtastic Exclusives are always low, and I'm betting this particular set sells through pretty quickly, especially with next week's Comic-Con.
Scarabus Fantastic Exclusive action figures by the Four Horsemen
Scarabus Fantastic Exclusive action figures by the Four Horsemen
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Scarabus Fantastic Exclusive action figures by the Four Horsemen
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Scarabus Fantastic Exclusive action figures by the Four Horsemen
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Scarabus Fantastic Exclusive action figures by the Four Horsemen
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Scarabus Fantastic Exclusive action figures by the Four Horsemen
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Scarabus Fantastic Exclusive action figures by the Four Horsemen
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Scarabus Fantastic Exclusive action figures by the Four Horsemen
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Scarabus Fantastic Exclusive action figures by the Four Horsemen
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Scarabus Fantastic Exclusive action figures by the Four Horsemen
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Scarabus Fantastic Exclusive action figures by the Four Horsemen
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Scarabus Fantastic Exclusive action figures by the Four Horsemen
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Scarabus Fantastic Exclusive action figures by the Four Horsemen
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Scarabus Fantastic Exclusive action figures by the Four Horsemen
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Scarabus Fantastic Exclusive action figures by the Four Horsemen
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Before we get into the review, a quick note about the photos. I tried to keep things in some sort of order to make it easier for you to match up fire balls, various heads, and actual figures.

The very first photo shows the line up of figures, from left to right: Anubos (the Egyptian dog), Nergall (the red demon), Horos (the short beak bird), Melchom (the blue demon), Thothos (the long beak bird), Azazel (the red goat), and Haures (the black ram). The first set of seven animal face close ups are also in this order. The next two photos show the Scarabus heads or face plates for each, also in this same order as well as the various colors of their energy balls, again in the same order. 

Hopefully that will help sort things out, but if you have any questions about what color goes with what figure, etc. just drop me a line.


Packaging - ***1/2

I skipped the photo of the package this time, but you can always jump back to the previous review if you'd like to see what it looks like.

The package is collector friendly, which is a huge plus when it comes to figures in this scale. By 'collector friendly', I mean that you can remove the figure and the accessories without destroying anything, allowing you to put it all back for storage, display or sale later.

That sort of packaging has become the norm for large scale high end collectible figures, but for figures in this 7" scale it's pretty rare. Here, there's a twisty holding the figure in the tray, and you'll have to cut a few pieces of tape, but the bubble and cardback are not sealed with the traditional heat/glue method. You can take it all apart pretty easily, with no need for ripping or tearing.

I did dock them a half star though, because there are no instructions of any kind. With this many accessories, especially this many that swap around, it would have been a good idea. Getting the fireballs just right takes a little practice (the one with two actual holes goes on the right hand, while the one with one full hole goes on the left), and folks that don't know about or own the previous Timekeeper figures will be puzzled by the extra armor pieces.

Sculpting - ****
When we get to the accessories section, I'll go over each of the unique heads individually, but let me just say here that the amount of detail and texturing is just outstanding.

The attention to detail amazes me - look at the 'eyebrows' on the hawk-like bird Horos, or the small dimples or dots on the forehead of the blue demon Melchom, or the striations on the bony ram's horns on the black furred Haures. We rarely get treated to this level of detail on a 7" scale plastic action figure, and it's a real visual treat.

The detail work doesn't stop there of course, and the armor and soft rubber outfit is just as amazing. It's also designed to restrict the highly articulated body as little as possible, always a big plus.

I don't think I mentioned this before, but these guys also have a cool little tail - yes, a tail. It's not obtrusive or in the way, but it is another nifty little design feature that takes these to the next level. You can see it poking out in the full body photo of Anubus.

Another detail worth mentioning is the cloven hooves, and the finely stranded fur covering the ankle and hoof. Certain color combinations show off the detail work better than others (I think Anubos is best for that), but they look amazing on every variant.

Everybody stands great on their own in lots of cool poses, and the hand sculpts work extremely well with the accessories.

Paint - ****
One of the key attributes that differentiates these figures from each other is the paint work. Each has their own very unique color combination, right down to the translucent gems and energy balls.

The quality of the paint ops is top notch too, with almost no slop. Occasionally I found a smudge or fuzzy cut line, or maybe a spot were there was a little bleed, but these issues were surprisingly few and far between.

Not only is the quality of the paint work great, the color combinations are beautiful. They've matched together colors that complement each other, and better than that - they've matched colors to the unique head sculpts that match the theme perfectly.

There's also a ton of paint operations, more than we normally see in even much higher end collectibles. The color of even the smallest detail varies from figure to figure.

But they didn't just use color to differentiate the figures - they used finish. But mixing things up with gloss, semi-gloss and matte finishes, they added another weapon to their arsenal in the fight against boring. I particularly love the high gloss black, and it's not over used or gratuitous. Outstanding!

Articulation - ***1/2
All the joints I mentioned previously are here - some variation of ball joint for the neck, shoulders, ankles and wrists, hinge hips, cut waist, biceps and thighs - everything you need to create natural, flowing poses.

I did have the same issue with one of these seven that I had with one of the first three - the left leg is glued to the left skirt. Actually, both legs are glued to the skirt, and this is a good thing, because it allows the skirt to stay in place in even deep stances. But on the left leg, it's glued down low enough on the hip that some of the glue got into the cut thigh joint, rendering it useless. Pay attention to yours, because if that's the case you could tear the thigh trying to loosen it up.

Other than that issue, I had NO quality problems with any of the joints. There's no looseness, there's no weak pins, and there's none of the problems that we occasionally saw on releases from years past.

Accessories - ****
These guys have all the same goodies as the previous three, but instead of the sorta-kinda human face plates, they have extra animal/demon faces.

Let's start with the common items. There are the additional two sets of hands, one fisted and one set designed to hold the staff. The pair he comes wearing are the gesturing set, intended to be used with the fireballs. These all pop on and off cleanly, and the posts are very sturdy.

Then there's the fireballs, each set in their own unique color. As mentioned previously, I included a photo of one from each set lined up all rainbowy. The one with two complete holes is designed to work with the right hand, while the one with one complete hole and a half hole is designed to work with the left.

There's also the staff with two heads - one more ornamental with a large colored ball, one more deadly with a spear tip. These look fantastic, and they swap easily as well.

Whether the crab-like appendages that attach to their back are accessories or not is a judgment call, but all seven come with a set. You can leave them on or off, just like the removable cloak, another item that I consider an accessory - but your mileage may vary. The cloak is engineered to fit tightly but not get in the way of the neck articulation.

Finally, there's the Timekeeper armor. Each set is done in a color that more or less matches the color scheme of the larger figure. This is a nice addition for those who picked up the smaller minions, and ties them all together on the shelf.

The first three Scarabi came with small, swappable face plates that had minor sculpting differences. This time we get much larger face plates - or completely new heads - each done in a very distinctive style.

Anubos has the dog face plate, done in the expected Egyptian style. It's quite large, and even includes a second set of smaller horns that match the larger versions and add a second layer. The Stargate fans should love this guy.

Nergall has a completely new head, with a more demon/monster look and large 'ears' that are similar to the bronze Timekeeper's. He looks like he has a little of the Predator DNA in him too...

Horos has a bird-like face plate, with the shorter, rounded beak of a predator bird like a hawk or eagle. I love the detail work on his 'eyebrows'!

The other demon-like character is next, Melchom. Don't let the baby blue color fool you - he has an expression that says he's not to be messed with. He is most similar in style to the other Scarabus, but he is a complete head swap, with smaller horns.

Next is Thothos, another bird and another face plate. Unlike Horos, he has a long, slender beak, more like a water feeding bird.

Azazel is another complete head swap, and even comes with a second piece to cover the neck with fur. He has long, black horns (or antlers, but I suspect he doesn't shed them - just a guess) and a very goat-like face.

That goat-like face is also evident on Haures, the black ram, but he lacks the billy goat beard and funky goat ears of Azazel. His curving ram's horns are perfectly textured, and he also comes with the fur piece to cover the neck.

I included the one photo showing all seven original heads in this same order. As you can see, they are all pretty much color variations on the standard Scarabus head/ face plate, but some of them are pretty eye catching, especially with the high gloss black horns.

Fun Factor - ****
The best action figures currently being made by Mattel are based on the designs and sculpts of the Four Horsemen. When I say 'best', I don't simply mean best sculpts or best collectibles, although that would apply. I mean best TOYS, because of the play value inherent in their designs.

It's no small wonder then that a line completely controlled by the Four Horsemen (with input from the fans as well) are great toys first and foremost. These designs require no license, no cartoon, no movie...give any one of these to an 8 year old and the first thing he'll say is "awesome!".

Value - **1/2
At $30, there's no doubt that these are on the expensive side. With the first three figures, I docked them a half star off an average value, because even with the number of accessories and overall quality, $30 is steep. While it's easy to forget how much re-use is going on here because of the Four Horsemen's uncanny ability to mix and match parts, it's still a big factor in cost.

However, I bumped these 7 that extra half star because of the additional 'head'. While three of these are just face plates, they are much larger face plates, and the additional sculpting and uniqueness brings these in line a bit better with the price tag.

Things to Watch Out For -
Out of the seven, I had that one figure with a glued tight right thigh cut joint, but that was it.

Overall - ****
It was pretty easy for me to pick a favorite out of the first three (Demon Fire, if you don't remember), but this time it was next to impossible.

All seven of these have something great going for them, either in the color combination or the non-Scarabus head. Every one of them has some feature that I love, making it mighty tough to call one out as my fav.

But if you put a gun to my head, I'd go with Melchom. There's something about the baby blue beast that really sparks - and I even get a bit of a Game of Thrones vibe off the lighter color combination of the armor.

Even if he is my favorite though, all the others are well worth the investment. While I had expected the Scarabus heads to be pretty throw away, I think that the three with the gloss black horns all have potential, especially the one with the matte black face plate. That's the one that comes with Haures, and as much as I like his ram head, I think I might end up sticking with the Scarabus version instead. Or you could always just break down and pick up a second one of any you want to display with both heads.

I've liked quite a few lines this year, but right now these guys are top contenders for best series of the year in the under 12" category. If you're looking for something cool with a side of awesome sauce, these are just the ticket.

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

Where to Buy -
The Four Horsemen sell these figures direct through their site, called the Store Horsemen. See what they did there?You can pick them up in different ways: You can pick up any single figure for $30, there are a couple 3 packs for $90, or get a deal on the full 10 pack for $275. There are also unique low edition (100 each) variants in black and white that cost $50 each.

Related Links -
I've covered many of the past FANtastic Exclusive releases. Just this week I looked at the first three Scarabus variations, and long ago, there was the Timekeepers, Ssejjhhorr, Xetheus, and Vaskhh. More recent, we had Allux and Izzy and the rest of the cat ladies, as well as the mutants from the same series.

Discussion:
Want to chat about this review?  Try out one of these terrific forums where I'll be discussing it!

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Scarabus Fantastic Exclusive action figures by the Four Horsemen


This product was provided free for the review by the manufacturer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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