Body Bags - Panda and Clownface

While all the big name, mainstream superheroes and heroines have been immortalized in plastic enough times to suck a Texas oil field dry, the independent comic characters have been largely ignored. We've gotten a few Marvs or Bone figures, sure, but for the most part, the fans of independent comic book characters have had to live without little plastic idols to worship.

And then Marvel Toys came along, and decided to change all that. Their Legendary Comic Book Heroes line covers the indie scene nicely, bringing to 3 dimensions many of the most popular - and not so popular - cool characters of the smaller publishers. And it does it with the quality, style and care that Marvel Toys (formerly Toybiz) is known for.

The second 'twin pack' is from the Dark Horse comic Body Bags, and is Panda and Clownface. Body Bags was often marketed as the "most controversial comic of the 90's" largely because of Panda, an extremely well endowed 14 year old girl. Clownface is actually her father, a contract killer, and Panda is coming up in the business. Yep, I can't imagine any controversy around that. The fact that Marvel Toys seems to have gotten figures like these into mass market outlets is a testament to their savvy. One of the problems with bringing independent comic characters to the masses is that most are going to have controversial aspects.

This set is shipping with the Conan/Wrarrl two pack, although it appears to be shorted in the cases right now. I picked it up at a Meijers for $15, but we should see them cropping up in other stores soon.

Packaging - ***
The two packs sport enough personalization to indicate who these particular characters are, plus they show off the other figures in the line on the back. The style of cardback/bubble works pretty well, and in fact it's *almost* collector friendly. Most of the bubble is held to the cardback with tape, rather than heat sealed. You can cut away the tape and remove the bubble...except for the top edge. I suspect though that if you were careful, you could get the figures out without damaging the cardback, but I haven't taken the time to try it yet.

Sculpting - ***1/2
Both sculpts look terrific, if slightly more 'cartoony' than I recall from what little I've seen of the books. Actually, Clownface looks more accurate to the comic, but Panda seems a little more anime than the art style I recall from Dark Horse.

Both align with comic book proportions, and if you think you've seen action figures that are top heavy before, you haven't seen nothin' yet. Panda appears to have two choices as an adult - breast reduction surgery or back surgery.

Her head sculpt is terrific, and she's going to be on my short list as best female action figure of the year because of just how great she looks. She has a couple other issues further down the list, but her sculpt isn't one of them.

Clownface has a great sculpt, especially the head. I love how deeply the eyes are set inside the mask, giving him a much more realistic appearance. Well, it's as realistic looking as you can get with a comic book character.

Panda stands about 5 inches tall, while her pops is just a hair over 7. They fit in pretty well scale-wise with the rest of the line up and with other Marvel based figures that are in a 6" scale. Both also stand great on their own, which was a bit of a surprise - I kept expecting poor Panda to topple over.

Oh - and that chain on Clownface is real metal.  Always nice to see them use metal where possible.

Paint - Clownface ***1/2; Panda ***
Both figures have costumes that are predominately black, which can be a tricky color to get consistent. Adding to the complexity is the finish, which is high gloss. I'm not just talking shiny here, I'm talking HIGH gloss, especially the shirt on Clownface. They did a great job getting that finish to be consistent, with the minor exception of the slabs inside the joints, which are slightly less glossy. Still, both of these figures make for a striking appearance on the shelf, since this type of reflective high gloss paint work is fairly uncommon.

Both figures also sport a nice palette of colors. While black might be the predominate theme for their costumes, the inclusion of light brown, white, yellow and red make them really pop. Fortunately, most of this work is done without much slop and with a consistent coverage.

Panda does suffer from a few places where poor cuts and bleed are problematic. For example, there's some issues around the giant "P" on her chest, and the white on her shoes, where the cut line between the white and black is less than even and straight. She's a bit closer to average for a mass market figure, but still better than most of the stuff on the pegs at the local store.

And just because I know you're dying to find out, she's not going commando.

Articulation - Clownface ***; Panda **1/2
Marvel Toys is known for their articulation, which is why I was a bit surprised when it came to this category.

Clownface has some decent articulation though, considering his bulk and style. There's a pin neck that allows the head to turn and move forward and back, ball jointed shoulders (jointed only at the torso), pin elbows and wrists (confined because of the sculpt and style), pin fingers (which move independently), ball jointed hips (with a joint at both the torso and thigh), and pin knees and ankles (again, both restricted somewhat by the style and sculpt). There's also the usual cut waist and pin chest joint.

While a lot of his articulation is hindered by the sculpt, I'm not complaining too much. They did give him enough articulation to get some good poses, and they still maintained an excellent appearance.

Panda is a mix of good and bad for me. The ball joints used for the hips and shoulders were a very pleasant surprise. Remember the kind of ball joints we saw Palisades use on the very small 3 3/4" figures? The ball pops onto a post that comes out of the torso, and allows for quite a bit of movement. These take that basic idea, and go one step further, adding a joint to the other side of this ball, at the bicep and thigh. The ball that pops onto the torso peg has a peg of it's own that goes into the limb, allowing it to turn there as well. This really gives the figure quite a bit of movement at the shoulder and hip, and really gave Panda a lot more leg poses than I had expected.

She also has a pin knee and ball jointed ankle, and when these leg joints are used together, you can get quite a large number of poses. Like I said, it was a very pleasant surprise.

Unfortunately, the arms aren't so lucky. They have cut wrists, but no elbow articulation. This isn't a huge deal for the left arm, but the right arm is holding a gun stiff armed, and this really limits the ways she looks good holding it. I was really surprised (and this time not in a good way) that they'd decided to drop this joint.

She does have the pin neck joint, but the hair makes it a tad less useful. She also has the cut waist and the chest joint, although it ends up more of a mid-riff joint because of her rather well endowed chest.

Accessories - Clownface **1/2; Panda Bupkis;
This is the one category that I felt a tad let down. The gun in Panda's hand is sculpted there, and there is no swappable right hand, so she'll always be carrying it. Without the elbow articulation, that means she's either pointing it at someone, or holding it rather awkwardly toward the floor. There are no accessories for her.

Clownface comes with his two trademark knives, which fit nicely in the double sheaths he has on the front of his belt. It's not a lot, but at least it makes sense for the character.

Fun Factor - Clownface ***1/2; Panda ***;
Panda's lack of elbow articulation makes her a slightly less 'fun' figure, but both are still better than usual. Kids would have no idea who these characters are, but I can see them still be drawn to them, especially Clownface.

Value - ***
I wish we had a bit more in the accessory department with this set, but I have to admit that getting two well done indie comic figures for less than $8 each is a pretty good deal on the current market.

Things to Watch Out For - 
If you can watch those paint ops, especially on Panda, when picking your set out, you'll be in better shape. Otherwise, you're smooth.

Overall - Clownface ***1/2; Panda ***
I'm not quite as happy with Panda as I'd expected, but she's still an awfully good looking figure. She might have her minor issues, but I still expect her to be very high on my personal picks come January.

Clownface is on par with the Conan/Wrarrl two pack, and makes a terrific looking figure on the shelf. But more importantly, these two look great together, since (much like Monkeyman and O'Brien), they really need to be together to make any sense.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpt -  ***1/2
Paint - Clownface ***1/2; Panda ***
Articulation - Clownface ***; Panda **1/2
Accessories - Clownface **1/2; Panda Bupkis;
Fun Factor - Clownface ***1/2; Panda ***;
Value -  ***
Overall - Clownface ***1/2; Panda ***

Where to Buy -
As I mentioned, Meijers is the first brick and mortar store to have these. Wal-marts has been getting in the regular series figures. Online options include:

- CornerStoreComics has this two pack at $17, or both sets for $32.

- Amazing Toyz is sold out of this one, but still has the pair of two packs for $32.

- for the U.K. readers, Forbidden Planet has this two pack for 16 GBP.

Related Links -
I've already covered the other twin pack of Conan and Wrarrl, and will be doing the first series soon.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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