Mortal Kombat Klassics - Cyber Ninjas
following is a guest review. The review
and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford
or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the
|Ridureyu checks in with a look
at some nifty ninjas - take it away, R!
Did you know that Mortal Kombat started out as a vehicle for
Jean-Claude Van Damme? It was planned out as a video game mixture
between Bloodsport and Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon, but when JCVD said
no, the Mortal Kombat team managed to fill in without him. This
is why Johnny Cage is a movie star with the initials J.C., who does the
splits as his specialty. For the rest of it, they played up the
Enter the Dragon connection (did anybody ever notice how similar Goro
is to Bolo?), and then added some pseudo-Chinese mysticism straight out
of Big Trouble in Little China (hence a lightning-wielding man in a
dinner-plate hat, and a shape-shifting sorcerer at the end). They
also cranked up the gore now that Jean-Claude was gone, as nobody had
to worry about harming his image.
Now, for ANOTHER "did you
know," most of the actor costumes were red! This was so they
would contrast properly with the green screen - for example, all the
palette-swapped ninjas have always been performed by a man in a red
ninja suit. It would then be re-colored accordingly - in the first
game, with blue or yellow or green. Occasionally, there was a
rare glitch in the arcade version that displayed certain character
graphics without applying the appropriate palette, thus producing a red
ninja. And another glitch caused an error message - "Error
Macro," which the game text would shorten to "ErMac." By the
third game, Ermac was an actual character - a red-clad ninja, of
course. Ha ha, very funny.
And now, the THIRD random
trivia-dump (and the last before getting to the actual figures):
The cyber-ninjas in Mortal Kombat 3 were the last characters to be
named, and had the longest gap between character creation and
naming. Cyrax and Sektor's placeholder names were Mustard and
Ketchup, respectively. Their final names are "the ones we hated
the least." Personally, I would have been fine with Ketchup and
Mustard. they would have fit with Smoke, at any rate. All
three are members of Sub-Zero's clan of Lin Kuei ninjas (Sub-Zero,
Smoke, Cyrax, Sektor), who are not to be mistaken for all the identical
ninjas not part of the clan (Scorpion, Reptile, Ermac, Rain, Noob
Saibot). At some point, the Lin Kuei decided that they should convert
all their members into cyborgs, and in the main games, Cyrax and Sektor
volunteered, whereas Smoke was transformed against his will and
Sub-Zero escaped. In the new game's new timeline, Sub-Zero was
converted and Smoke escaped. This figure set shows the original
three robo-ninjas as they were in Mortal Kombat 3.
|Jazwares has the license for Mortal Kombat, and as is the trend right
now, they've started making figures in the 3 3/4" scale. Currently, the
"mortal Kombat Klassics" line contains one boxed set of normal ninjas
and one of the cyborgs. It's a nice first attempt for the line,
although it's not the first time Mortal Kombat has seen this scale -
just like Street Fighter's early appearance as a G.I. Joe spinoff,
Mortal Kombat toys first appeared as pseudo-G.I. Joes. I even still own
the Goro from back then! As these are not made up of reused parts from
another toyline, they are already superior. But that's comparing them
with twenty-year-old toys. How do they hold up right now?
first glance, the packaging seems great. But after looking at it
for a bit, something just seems off. Despite being a boxed set,
the cardboard is rather thin, and mine was already pretty bashed-up
when I got it. This is not going to be good for
MOC-collectors. Or should I say MOK-Kollektors? The
packaging states that it's part of the Mortal Kombat Klassics line, and
gives the names of all three cyborgs, although without accompanying
pictures - any kid buying these will not know who is who. The art
on the back is a blurry screenshot of the Mortal Kombat 1 select
screen, which is rather odd. Both boxed sets are clearly from
Mortal Kombat 3. It comes off feeling like a dollar-store bootleg
package, which isn't a very good first impression. At least it
gives a great look at the three figures inside.
Sculpting - ****
part where these figures shine, and where most of their positive press
has come, is the sculpt. All three of them share the exact same
body, and it would have been pretty blatant if anything went
wrong. All three ninjas eventually gained their own designs in
future games, but in their first appearance, it was all one costume.
in the Mortal Kombat universe look kind of like the Power Rangers if
they played Paintball. It is very, very '90s, but kind of
endearing for that. They have bulky plastic armor, masks with no
visibility, and even Predator dreadlocks (which are probably USB
cables). The sculpt captures these details pretty well, and as a
nice touch, is clearly based on the actual actor's costume and in-game
graphics, not the drawn character art from the game manuals and
guides. There are very few differences between the two, but they
are there, particularly around the ankles. The sculpts are good
not just for this scale, but for the characters in general.
Ideally, they would look exactly the same in a larger scale. My
only complaints surface under articulation and accessories, actually.
- Smoke: **1/2, Everybody Else: ***1/2
colors are fine, with one exception. Smoke is slightly lighter
here than he was in the game - periwinkle instead of purple, although
the difference is kind of subtle. Still, it is different,
unfortunately. Cyrax is the appropriate yellow and Sektor is the
appropriate red, and the silver and black bits are where they should
be. All three of my figures suffer from some degree of paint
slop, whether it's little black and silver marks on their chest pieces,
or slop all over Smoke's ponytails. I also suspect that their
upper-arm paint is likely to scrape off against the shoulders.
Smoke's color itself is worth a star for the character, and the paint
slop takes off half a star for everybody else.
low score here is kind of hard to explain. On one side, the
figures all have pretty good articulation, virtually identical to
Marvel Universe (although with no swivel thighs or biceps). On
the other side, everything is either too stiff or too loose. It's
ALMOST perfect, but fails in just enough ways to become mediocre by
today's standards. The arm movement is inhibited somewhat by the
figures' shoulders, which is rather strange considering that they don't
have big shoulders to speak of. Likewise, some more swivels would
have greatly helped in posing them. The original characters only
posed in ways that a human in a costume could, and you can certainly
replicate some, like the mortal Kombat stock uppercut or high
kick. But they can't crouch, and they can't do many up-close
moves, as knee or elbow strikes look oddly awkward. What there is
can work fairly well, but posing these guys takes a little bit of
Another problem is that the joints go loose very,
very easily. Cyrax's left arm practically falls free, Smoke's
hips are loose, but my Sektor is still okay for now. You can feel
the joints loosening up after a little bit of posing, although they do
tighten up again if you leave them. My Smoke also has a bad left
knee - part of the joint is warped, and the knee nearly pops out when
The last problem with the articulation involves their
dreadlocks, or rather the lack of articulation there. They turn
straight down, and cannot be posed with the ninjas. Their plastic
also feels a little stiff, which makes them feel rather unfortunately
And yes, their ball-jointed heads are quite removable.
is a genuine problem. Yes, it's true that Mortal Kombat
characters generally fight barehanded, and "weapons" only became part
of the games starting with the fourth one. However, the
cyber-ninjas always used them. Cyrax had little spherical bombs
and a net, Sektor had missiles and a trash compactor in his chest, and
Smoke had a three-pronged harpoon. Ideally, we would have gotten
some or all of these, and an opening panel in the cyber-ninjas'
chests. Swap "ideally" with "If Hasbro made these."
However, we get none- not even a single round bomb! Another idea
would have been open hands - the three robots have their hands closed
in fists, l and all three of them had open hands for quite a few poses
- including Cyrax and Smoke's neutral standing pose!
Really, it's too bad that they came with nothing, because there is a lot that they could have used to add value to this set.
the final and most important one: No figure stands! Their feet do
not even have holes for generic pegs. There is nothing to help
the ninjas stand, which is bound to frustrate many people when they
pose the cyber-ninjas. The more dramatic poses in this review's
accompanying pictures are not likely to last long without support,
which is rather sad, and severely hurts the figure.
for money - ***
is the suggested retail price for these figures, which sounds about
right. It's roughly equal to a Hasbro 3-pack, although these
ninjas come with less than one of those. It's not the worst
value, though, and I have no real complaints about it.
some very glaring problems, these figures are fairly fun overall, and
it's nice to have cyborg ninjas. They could stand in among G.I.
Joe or Star Wars, or just jump into a crossover with the recent 4-inch
Street Fighter figures. However, aside from that factor, they are
disappointing. Sloppy paint, problematic articulation, and a lack
of accessories (especially stands!) hurts them a lot. What tipped
this from two and a half stars to three is the general cool factor, as
they do look all right when posed.
Where to buy
Toys R Us and Amazon have them on-line, as well as all of the regular
toy resellers. I'd opt for the first few, as retail price will be
better than anything you can get on the secondary market.
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This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer.
Photos and text by Rideruyi.