Blood Wolves

Stan Winston Creatures.  This is a name associated with several less than successful action figure lines.  They jumped into the market with an exclusive deal with Toys R Us, and put out several lines of 8" action figures including Creature Features, Realm of the Claw, Extreme Gargoyles, and Mutant Earth.  The figures sported solid sculpting and paint ops, were based on Winston's own designs, and included detailed bases or dioramas.  Unfortunately, there were also $5 - $7 more expensive than anything else on the market at the time.

Not surprisingly, they never sold well.  New lines went on hiatus while they pondered what to do, and now Blood Wolves, their newest release, is an attempt to get things right.

This series is tied in with the Mutant Earth story line, and also includes a Trakk figure.  Trakk is an immortal good guy set out to defend the world against the evil forces.  Most people aren't going to care about the background though - they're just looking for some decent werewolves to add to the display.

These are being distributed by NECA, and are retailing for the much more buyer friendly price of around $10.  That's far more in line with other current lines, and now we'll see if the consumers respond favorably. 

Packaging - **1/2
The packaging is fairly straight forward bubble/cardback style work.  The graphics are good, with some limited text, and you can see the figure and accessories well.  It's not outstanding though, simply passing the basic requirements.

Sculpting - ***
If you've checked out the previous Stan Winston lines, you will see the same type of detailed sculpting here.  While they aren't quite Mcfarlane quality, they are still quite detailed and stylish.

The detailing on the fur, musculature and clothing is all quite good.  There is plenty of realism, but the lack of asymmetry hurts what otherwise could have been a great figure.  If this were a McToys sculpt, they would have gone out of their way to avoid symmetry on the figure - one ear would have had a gouge, a tooth on one side would have been chipped, one arm or leg would have had a very different appearance from the other.  Instead, either side of this figure is very similar, right down to a similar cuff and chain on each wrist.  This doesn't make the figure look less realistic, but by having some lack of symmetry it can be perceived as even more realistic.

One other complaint that relates to the sculpting - the mold lines are clearly visible in some areas, particularly on the face.  There's no way this can be a four star sculpt with such an obvious issue.

Paint - **1/2
The only area on this figure that really disappointed me was the paint application. It's not terrible in the QA sense, but lacks the detail and wash that we saw in the prototype pictures.

The colors are fairly basic, and there is some darker brown used in the wrinkles of the face particularly to bring out the detail.  But the prototype photos showed a darker brown overall, and the body and rib cage had a wash that gave the figure a less cartoonish appearance.  He needed a little something extra to make him less Red Riding Hood and more rip your face off and it it for lunch.

Articulation - ***
The original Winston figures were known for their lack of articulation, but it looks like they are changing in that area as well.  Actually, they were starting to improve by the later releases already.

Wulv has a great ball jointed neck, that allows for lots of up and down positioning, ball jointed shoulders, a cut elbow on the right arm, wrists, waist and hips.  A little more articulation in the legs or the left elbow would have been nice and boosted this score, but there's enough here to make some posing possible.

Accessories - ***
There are four accessories - his small base, three loose bones of his victim, and a trading card.

The bones are all different sculpts, covered in a bloody wash.  They look terrific, and fit nicely in his hands.  They also match the bloody rib cage on the base.

The base works okay, but not perfectly.  I had a little trouble getting the feet to fit properly, and when I did, it was tough getting him to hold too many positions.  I preferred not using it, and had little trouble getting him to stand on his own.

The trading card is...well...a trading card.  I have no interest in this type of accessory, and think they are pretty much worthless.

Value - ***
At $15 each, Stan Winston's figures were completely out of wack.  At $10, they are much closer to the usual McToys, NECA, or Mezco release, companies they'll be competing with directly for your dollars.  They aren't an exceptional value at this price, but they match up fairly well with the rest of the market.

Overall - ***
This was a tough overall score.  In some ways, I really wanted to drop this figure another half star.  I was disappointed, as the figure didn't really live up to the prototype.

However, it is a solid looking werewolf, even if it didn't turn out as amazing as I'd hoped.  They have to get some credit for dropping the price, and for getting these out in the same scale as previous lines.

I had no interest in Trakk, and the Lycon looked even more cartoony than Wulv.  Vereticus has some possibilities though, and I may just end up picking him up as well at some point.

Where to Buy - 
I don't know if any retail stores will be carrying these, although I'm sure NECA tried to get them into places like Tower Records or Sam Goody.  I bought mine on-line:

- from Killer Toys.  They have the figures available individually for $10 each.


Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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