Commander Argus

The Four Horseman - for the religious, these are four guys you definitely don't want to meet. War, Famine, Pestilence and Death are their names, and as they ride down among us at the Apocalypse, they'll be kicking ass and taking names.

Then there's the other Four Horseman: Eric Treadaway, Eric Mayse, Jim Preziosi, and Chris Dahlberg. These four guys hooked up at Mcfarlane Toys, where they were doing amazing work for Todd. It wasn't long before this quartet figured out they needed to be on their own, and so the Four Horseman were born.

They've done an amazing amount of exceptional work for other companies, especially Mattel. There, they developed the new Masters of the Universe line, several figures for Harry Potter, and quite a few for the Batman comic book line. But these guys are artists, and no artist is entirely happy simply bringing other people's ideas to life - they have their own ideas.

Magma C.O.R.P.S. is the Horseman's first jump into producing their own line of action figures. From concept to product on the peg, it's all them. They debuted the line at the recent San Diego Comic Con with the release of the exclusive version of Commander Argus, and showed off several other figures in the upcoming line. I was very impressed with the variety and design of many of the characters.

A little about the Corps. The story is set on Earth, where a molten substance dubbed Magmakore bubbled up from below. This stuff works wonders on humans, and is a great boon to society. However, some folks have rather bizarre reactions to the medical use of the stuff, gaining powers and abilities. The good guys who have that kind of reaction joint up with the Corps, keeping the bad guys in check.

Argus cost $20 at the con, and there are two versions, the one pictured here and a chase version with the Four Horseman logo on his right arm.

Packaging - **1/2
The card art is cool, but they had a few issues with the package. It seems that the factory screwed up with the inserts/stickers, and placed them in incorrectly. That made them wrinkled and attached poorly to the insert tray, but that's all part of the growing pains when you start out. Considering that this is the first figure of the first line from a company, I'm not surprised. Thank goodness that their biggest problem was with the package!

Sculpting - ***1/2
If you're a big fan of the urban vinyl style, you'll really like this line. Think Gorillaz meets George Jetson. The sculpts are not highly detailed or textured, but smooth with a slightly blocky, chunky feel to them. The designs are simple, with a nice use of very basic geometric shapes, both in the sculpt and paint. They're unique, while using many elements of the current urban vinyl trend.

Argus himself is rotocast, and the articulation works fine with the sculpt. He stands great on his own, holds both his accessories easily in his hands, and can maintain a variety of poses. If you like the style, you'll love these - if you don't, I think you know what that means.

Argus stands just about 6" tall, and these are definitely a 6" scale line. He'll fit in well with stuff like Street Fighter in terms of height. He might also look interesting with the comic based Hellboy stuff, although he'll be shorter. Then again, who is it to say he's not supposed to be shorter?

Paint - ***
Paint ops are solid, although there is some bleed as is often the case with rotocast. I suspect it's the slightly softer plastic that causes this, as the paint tends to 'travel' and bleed a bit more through the pores.

The color scheme is nice and bright, with a wider range than you might expect. There's a little trouble with inconsistency in the finish on some colors - the black boots have both glossy and matte areas, as if they'd gotten something oily on the surface while the paint was still tacky - and there's not much detail work, but the apps match the overal sculpt style nicely.

Articulation - **1/2
Pretty basic stuff here. He has a ball jointed neck, cut shoulders, cut wrists, waist, and hips. That's actually more than the usual vinyl styled figure has though, and these are clearly intended to work both as toys and a collectible line.

The ball jointed neck on Argus is a great touch, and we all know how much I love ball jointed necks. This one tends to pop out a little too easy, so be careful that he doesn't lose his head. It pops back in just as easy though, and manages to hold poses fine.

Accessories - ***
There are two accessories for Argus - his big honkin' gun, and his sword. Both are made from a completely different material than the figure himself.

The gun appears to be polystone. It's very heavy, and you can break it if you were foolish enough to drop it on a tile floor. Trust me on that one. The 'magmakore' innards of the gun are clearly visible, although they are static and painted in there. Having an actual flowing liquid would have been oh so much cooler.

The gun hooks up to two rubber hoses which run to his backpack. The hoses attach and detach easily enough, and he can hold the gun in his right hand. However, the polystone makes it so heavy, that it's pointed at the ground or at the sky - his arm can't support anything in between. I have a suspicion we won't see such a heavy material in the final version.

The sword appears to be metal, or at least the blade. It has some serious heft as well, but he can hold it much easier at various angles. It fits nicely in his left hand, but the blade is a little clunky in appearance, and the silver paint ops are a tad gloppy.

Fun Factor - ***
This almost got another half star, if it weren't for the ability to take out an eye with the sword and shatter the gun on a hard surface.

My four year old son has had a blast with the figure, minus the sword, for the past week, and even took it to bed with him one night. I don't know about you, but when I was a young man I only took things I really liked to bed with me - or I was really drunk.

Value - **
At $20, he's pushing it even for an exclusive. The regular figures should be in the $8 - $10 range to hit the right spot, but I haven't heard what the actual retail price will be yet.

Things to Watch Out for - 
If you can snag the chase version, more power to you, and it's always a good idea to watch for the best paint application possible. But the figure has no other issues to be concerned about, and if some of the hoses have popped free in the package (or even the head!), don't worry since they all pop right back in easily enough.

Overall -  ***
For a first try, Argus isn't bad at all. The character designs are certainly interesting enough, but the success or failure of the line is going to hinge on convincing people that the character personalities are interesting as well. It's still possible to have a successful unlicensed line - McToys does it all the time - but your timing and luck have to both be there for it to work.

Personally, if I were creating a line such as this, I'd include comic book length back stories, similar to what Mcfarlane did with some of the Barker partnered lines. Adding in more of a story adds a whole additional dimension to the characters, and just might bring folks back for more.

Packaging - **1/2
Sculpt - ***1/2
Paint - ***
Articulation - **1/2
Accessories - ***
Fun Factor - ***
Value - **
Overall -  ***

Where to Buy -
Since this was an exclusive at the San Diego and Wizard World cons, that was your best bet. I'm not sure of TFH will have it with them at their next show, so your best bet right now is ebay. You should be able to find them pretty cheap though, paying no more than $15 for the regular version.

Related Links -
You'll want to hit The Four Horseman web site of course, and be sure you check out my coverage of the other figures in the line from SDCC.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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