SDCC Convention Exclusive
WW II Nazi Kroenen

Every year we see our share of new movie villains. Some, like Sharon Stone's Laurel Hedare (Catwoman) or John Travolta's Howard Saint (The Punisher) drift into bad guy obscurity. Others though stick with us much longer, and one of this year's best was Kroenen, the wacky self mutilating ninja dust bunny from Hellboy.

We saw Kroenen in several outfits through out the film, and we've been treated to three different versions so far from two different companies. There's the 7" version from Mezco, in the costume he wore most of the time, and two 12" versions of Kroenen from Sideshow - Final Battle (reviewed here) and 'regular'. Mezco has since announced that in series 2 they would be producing the 'nazi' version. This version is in his World War II garb from early in the film.

Not to be out done, Sideshow has just released a Nazi Kroenen themselves in the sixth scale arena. By using the word 'nazi' multiple times in this review, I've now managed to get myself on several government watch lists.

The Sideshow version was an exclusive for the San Diego Comic Con. As you might imagine, doing this particular character as an exclusive was quite controversial. It's definitely the most popular outfit, and they only produced 1000 of them. Many fans were disappointed, and the message boards were buzzing for weeks over the decision.

As bad as that decision might have been, how they handled dispersing them was brilliant. Rather than make Con attendees line up, get raffle tickets, or hop on one leg at the show, they sold them in advance on their website. Buy them early, and pick them up in person at the show. While I'm sure some folks who aren't net-savvy still missed out, and you still had to attend the con to get your figure, this method greatly reduced the heartache and pain for convention attendees.

Kroenen was $45, but is now only available on the secondary market. He will be one of the exclusives I have available in my big August giveaway though, so check back next week for more details!

Packaging - ****
Once again, Sideshow does an outstanding job. I love the cover photo, and there's a reasonable amount of explaining text as well. None of the occasional annoyances are present either - no weird dental floss or string, nothing sealed to the interior cardboard tray, completelly collector friendly.

Sculpting - ***
This sculpting score predominately revolves around the head and hands, as the other items are covered in other sections.

The head sculpt takes a slight hit, because they did such an amazing job on the Final Battle version. This version has all the same appearance, just less depth. It's a softer sculpt, and the paint ops don't do as good of a job bringing out what depth there is.

Personally, had this not been such a low run exclusive, I think they should have gone with a sculpted helmet head. Let's face it, we never saw the scarred face in this outfit, and going with the sculpted helmet would have allowed them to make the overall head appear smaller than it does here.

Obviously though, when you only produce 1000 figures, you can't cost justify a whole new head sculpt, and what they went with here is certainly acceptable. The hands are sculpted to hold the accessories, and are wearing gloves, similar to Spike.

One other area worth mentioning is scale.  Because all the 'normal' (i.e. not enormously tall) characters that Sideshow does use the same body, Kroenen is just as tall as Hellboy.  Sure, the boots on Hellboy makes him taller in reality, but then Kroenen's mask/hat combination makes up for most of the difference. That throws things off a bit, and I'm hoping we see a bigger, bulkier body from Sideshow soon for those characters in between someone like Kroenen, and someone like the James Bond Jaws.

Paint - ***
As I mentioned above, the paint ops here aren't as bright, defined and striking here as they were on the Final Battle version. Here they all seem slightly faded, and the red is in particular less vibrant and less painful appearing.

The basic quality is solid however, with no slop outside of any lines, no overspray, and a nice consistent coverage and tone. The silver of the blades does have a tendency to mark the back of the gloves, but that was the only quality issue I had.

Articulation - ***1/2
Do you like Sideshow bodies? Then you'll be happy here. Again, he has all those points of articulation that you expect in the modern sixth scale market - neck, ball jointed shoulders and hips, cut biceps and thighs, double jointed elbows and knees, chest, waist, ankles, wrists...and I'm probably missing some.

I had no trouble getting him to stand on his own, and all the joints were nice and tight. Getting him to hold some cool poses isn't restricted by the articulation, but is a bit by the very tight fitting clothes.

Accessories - ***
There are three accessories in total - the usual Sideshow stand with the Hellboy name emblazoned on the front, a Luger, and the blades that attach to both arms.

The stand works fine, looks just like you'd expect, but really isn't necessary. Still, this isn't a figure you really want diving off the shelf, since the blades could get broken.

Speaking of the blades, they work and look excellent. The design is very simple - there are two bands on the end that snap tightly around the forearms. The blades come out of the sleeves next to the glove, and look pretty seamless. They are also a very hard plastic, so there's no bend, wobble or flop to worry about. On the flip side, this means you could snap them in two if you're not careful.

The last accessory is the gun, and the sculpt and scale are excellent. It might look a little small at first, but remember, these weren't huge guns. The sculpt is very detailed and impressive, and it fits nicely in his right hand.

The only downside is that the gun can't be placed in the holster, at least not on my figure. It looks like the buckle should pop out and allow you to open the holster flap, but it looks glued in on mine. I didn't want to tear it trying to find out.

Outfit - ****
Easily the most amazing thing about this figure, and what everyone was anticipating, is the outfit. It consists of his boots, hat, mask, overcoat, jacket, riding pants, shirt and tie.

The jacket, overcoat and pants are all made from pleather. It takes a little getting used to, and tends to be thicker than regular material, but looks great here. You might not be thrilled with the riding pants in general, but that is what he was wearing in the film. The flappy things on the pants tend to stick out a little funny, but I never did understand why anyone wore these things anyway.  On one side mine wants to stick out, and on the other it wants to fold over. They fit snugly in the boots though, and there's no annoying bunching up of the material.

The overcoat could use an inner lining, but it's well tailored and hemmed. The pearl buttons look great, and he looks excellent with it or without it, and it's not too tough to take off or put on. While the jacket sleeves can also cover the blades, they really look best on his arms when he's wearing the overcoat.

The jacket is a work of art. Some folks were worried that Sideshow would wuss out on the insignia, but fear not. It's all here, from the iron cross on his neck to the swastika on his belt and chest. Even the SS lightening bolts are present on the collar. All of them are done with amazing detail, and the tailoring on this uniform is really impressive.

There's also a series of belts on the jacket, and while you could probably fight your way to get them all off to remove the jacket, I wouldn't recommend it. I know there's a shirt and a tie under there because I can see them peaking out, but I wasn't about to mess with trying to remove the jacket itself. It looks great just the way it is, and I didn't think I'd ever get it back in quite the same shape.

Now before you get all excited and think there's nothing wrong, I'll point out a couple minor nits. First, the hat isn't quite as nice as the rest of the outfit. It's a softer material, and that allows it to fit the head a little better, but that also means the sculpt isn't quite as detailed and sharp.

Then there's the mask I mentioned earlier in the sculpting section. Unlike the masks that came with the Final Battle version, this one is a softer rubber, which works well with the hat, but doesn't look quite as realistic and detailed. It is also only the front half, with an elastic band that holds it on the head. The head is then covered with a spandex hood to hide the bald back. This works fine as far as I'm concerned, and was a smart move to avoid making the hat any bigger. If you have (or have seen) the regular Kroenen, you know what I'm talking about.

Value - **1/2
Most companies charge quite a bit more for a convention exclusive than a regular figure. A Batman that costs $8 at retail costs $20 as a Con exclusive. A Muppet that costs $10 at retail, costs $15 as an exclusive. That's due to two things - a much smaller production run, and a much greater demand.

Since Sideshow is charging $50 for the exclusive, they manage to maintain their usual ranking. The Final Battle and regular versions were $40 at the site, and a $10 increase isn't bad considering the exclusivity.

Overall - ***1/2
You can divide this figure right at the neck - from the neck up, it didn't blow me away, and had the entire figure been of the same quality, it would have been closer to three stars. That's because we've seen this head before, it's not as nice as the Final Battle sculpt, and the hat and mask aren't quite as cool as I'd hoped.

But then there's from the neck down, and that's some really amazing work. Lots of intricate detail, and excellent overall costume, and really fantastic tailoring make up for any failings. It's a pity that a figure this cool was a con exclusive, but I do have to say that I loved the way they handled the distribution at the con. Hopefully more companies will come up with creative ways to get the exclusives to the fans next year, to avoid the long lottery lines.

Where to Buy - 
If you didn't attend the con, or have a understanding friend buy one for you at the con, you're left to the secondary market. Right now this figure is pulling in $75 - $120 on ebay.

But I'll be giving away the chance to get one next month! Unfortunately, I'm not rich enough to buy him and just give him away, but I will give folks the chance to buy him at the show cost of $50. I only have one though, so pay attention for my big August giveaway starting next week!

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

This page copyright 2003, Michael Crawford. All rights reserved. Hosted by 1 Hour