Hey Everyone! Live has been amazing over here on my side of things, as I welcomed my newborn son in to the World this past Saturday! As you would imagine, I haven’t had much time to bring you the latest news, but thankfully, one of our most prized agents in the field, Mr. Ed Hellman, has us covered!
In case you weren’t aware, Fresh Monkey Fiction made a handful of upcoming Eagle Force Returns R.I.O.T. Commandos available to backers. Ed has received his figure and has put together a very thorough and rather awesome review. I present it to you without interruption below. I’ll catch you at the end, check it out –
A fan’s review of Fresh Monkey Fiction’s R.I.O.T. Commando figure
by Ed Hellman
It’s an interesting time to be a 1:18 scale collector. The big brands have refocused their energy towards larger scales and Hasbro doesn’t quite know what to do with G.I. Joe as a property (nor does IDW Publishing, for that matter). The Collector’s Club is gone (taking Joe Con to hell with it), and they went out proclaiming the official “death of the line”.
And yet, I find myself more excited as a collector than I have been in many years. Kickstarter toy lines have filled the void and — due to their targeted audiences and smaller production runs — are creating some of the most detailed, unique, and varied figures imaginable.
Confession time: while I grew up collecting 3 3/4 figures, I had a dark period where I dabbled in 6-inch and 7-inch toys. Due to my small New York apartment size, there was a moment where I prepared to sell my entire G.I. Joe collection.
As I boxed everything up, I saw photos of Marauder Task Force’s Valkyries line. On a whim, I purchased enough parts to make a Lady Jaye figure, and then went back to organizing my precious Marvel Legends.
When I received my order, it became very apparent that it would not be my Joes that I’d be selling. This was the Lady Jaye that I’d always wanted, and the ability to so easily customize characters blew me away. Needless to say, I flushed every single Marvel Legends figure down my toilet. Or sold them. I don’t remember.
As Boss Fight Studios and Marauder grow in popularity, other collector, sculptor, and customizer created companies have sprouted up. Fresh Monkey Fiction has been around the block for a while, but Eagle Force Returns will be their big splash into the highly articulated 1:18 scale market.
Their Kickstarter launched in August, 2016, but production was stalled due to a scaling issue. Backers weighed in and asked that this issue be fixed so that the figures could fit in with brands like BFS, Zombie Lab, Dime Novel Legends, Hell Screamerz, etc. Following this decision, delivery was pushed back significantly, and the figures are due to be released in 2019 (partially due to ongoing factory frustrations).
As a member of the online collecting community, I’ve heard people question whether these figures will ever be released. When discussing Eagle Force Returns, people always seem to remember the Kickstarter being longer ago than it really was. Some say 4 years, some say 5 — I’ve heard 6 even. I think we can all agree it happened sometime between Lindsay Lohan’s and Amanda Bynes’ mental breakdowns.
As a gesture of good will — and to help restore faith in the brand — FMF has offered up a limited quantity of factory samples of their upcoming R.I.O.T. Commando. These are unpainted but offer the same quality and sculpting of the figures due out next year.
I received my figure in the mail this morning and holy moly. This figure is all kinds of awesome. I’ll break down the pros and cons, but overall I’m in love with this little dude.
The R.I.O.T. Commandos are updates of evil troopers from the original Eagle Force line, but have been redesigned to resemble the Thule Kommandos from Bill Murphy and Sean Rourke’s Midnight Men comic (which is worth checking out). FMF has integrated elements of Midnight Men into their other continuities (with their two best characters, Jurassic Sam and Mr Legacy, due to appear in Amazing Heroes and Monster Force). The integration works, and the R.I.O.T. Commando has a sort of Stormtrooper meets Helghast appearance that is downright awesome.
The R.I.O.T. Commando stands 3 3/4 inches tall and stands shoulder to shoulder with BFS and MTF figures. The construction is a mix of the two with some clever differences. A BFS neck joint connects the ball jointed head, while the torso foregoes the ab joint to closer resemble MTF. The arms connect like MTF and the lower arms appear to plug in like any MTF lower arm would.
The waist connects to the torso like MTF but with a slightly larger ball joint, and the leg pegs are slightly different — though you can easily swap MTF legs on and off this figure. The leg peg piece is part of the bottom of the waist, but this not noticeable once everything is snapped together. The legs are in proportion to MTF vs the slightly longer BFS style.
From a customizing standpoint, I’d say one could swap out MTF arms, legs, and heads, but would need to add a bit of padding to get an Eagle Force torso on MTF waist. Similarly, an MTF torso could fit on an Eagle Force waist if the peg were shaved down.
The figure comes with one large gun, a handgun with working holster, and a removable vest. The factory samples have their vests glued shut, but the final versions won’t. I was tempted to pry the vest open and later re-glue it for this review, but sorry, nah. I can’t bear to mess this baby up.
I found that the figure can hold a number of awesome poses without a stand and both weapons fit snugly in its hands.
BFS is known for including multiple hands and that would benefit these guys’ playability, but it also isn’t something I miss all that much. If anything, a pointing hand would have been fun for when they are infiltrating Eagle Force headquarters.
The weapons themselves are slightly thin — perhaps more inline with MTF than Hasbro weapons — but not unrealistic. I’d personally have preferred more futuristic weapons to fit the trooper’s design.
Speaking of the design, I can only say that the figure looks and feels great even unpainted. The head sculpt is a lot of fun and feels both sinister and oddly cute? As a customizer, I can see a dozen uses for the helmet (General Blitz’s I.R.O.N. Stormtroopers, Action Force SAS Commandos, etc). The body is full of little details and feel on par with what collectors expect now — much nicer than what Hasbro was making or whatever the hell the Collector’s Club has been churning out. The knee pads are sculpted on the joint and won’t fall off like some of the 50th Anniversary Joes. The pieces all snap together tightly and the plastic is sturdy. Nothing feels brittle.
The helmet is large but appropriate to the scale, and the figure feels very real world. We have here a stylized design that has been sculpted realistically. Spero Studios had a successful Kickstarter but I was a bit turned off by the cartoonish sculpt. Just my personal taste (and I hear the figures are great), but these fit in better with MTF.
Obviously the figure isn’t painted but it’s still a lot of fun since no flesh is shown. He works as a black ops trooper. A recent update from the Kickstarter showed backers the paint samples sent from the factory. While there were several things to correct (inconsistently glossy paint for one), I can tell these will look nice with even minimal paint.
Part of what has kept me excited for these figures throughout the wait has been FMF’s consistent world-building approach to its properties. I’m a big fan of BFS and MTF, but I collect them solely for customizing purposes.
Admittedly, my initial excitement for these figures was as a customizer, but FMF excels in storytelling and, due to Christopher Irving’s pulp novellas, their card sets, and Justin Bell’s comic, I am now just as excited to get Eagle Force characters like Thule and the Cat as I am to collect terrific toys.
Eagle Force Returns stands out as a line I’m itching to have in large due to how much I’ve grown as a fan of the characters. I was born in 1983 so missed the original toy line, but through FMF’s other Kickstarters (which all delivered seamlessly), I’m now well versed in the Eagle Force history.
Yes, it’s been a while since the Kickstarter, but if the final production run is anywhere close to this sample, trust me: it will be worth the wait. Backing Kickstarters is a bit of a leap of faith, and perhaps a lesson here is that creating figures this good isn’t a simple thing. I’m grateful to add this to my collection, and would be shocked if fans don’t enjoy the final figures.
One can hope that future Kickstarters will benefit from the production delays and FMF has learned from this process, because the concept art for their Amazing Heroes and Monster Force lines look exceptionally creative. After seeing this and having followed their increased communication with fans, I, for one, will be along for the ride.
I wasn’t kidding when I noted that Ed put together an amazingly thorough and thoughtful review. Needless to say, Eagle Force Returns is going to be absolutely amazing when in hand!