The last few years have seen kind of a mini-figure renaissance. Whether it’s failed properties like SLUG Zombies or successes like Trash Pack, or indy projects like OMFG or Universe of Violence, we’re seeing more little rubber guys than we have in a long time. It makes sense, too, if you’re just starting out as an independent toy designer – you can produce and sell them for relatively sane amounts, after all.
I’ve talked about Universe of Violence and Gorewads before, made by the tag-team of Eric Nilla and Jimmy Rommel. Well, now Jimmy is going into business for himself! Along with Gorewads, he’s producing several other new ideas this year, and has started out with another small line, Micro Bastards!
Micro Bastards: 1.5″, rubber figures, to be jerks to all of your other toys…
You know what? I’m just going to scan his business card and put it up at the end of this review. It’s going to be REALLY EASY for you to find where to buy these things – at the moment, his stuff is “Sold Out” in the store, but that probably just means he’s waiting for more supplies. Believe me, when you’re small-scale enough to be a one-man show, that’s how it works.
So, Micro Bastards build a little on concepts from Universe of Violence and Gorewads, probably borrowing more from Gorewads than UoV, though they are totally distinct. Instead of gore, these guys have grime. You are more likely to find humans in the Micro Bastards line, and it’s also got some wild sculpt and size variation already, even in series one! So let’s see how they look…
Your Micro Bastards will come in a small ziploc baggie with a business card. This is the same as Universe of Violence and Gorewads, and… well, most super-indy toys.
Okay, now for the meat and potatoes of this review. There are five Micro Bastards in all – four standard and one “secret” chase figure. They are Grady, Filth, Dirtbag, Coral Golem, and the Micro Bastard Beetle Punk. They’ve all got certain hallmarks of Jimmy Rommel’s sculpting style, which you should be able to identify immediately if you’ve ever seen a Gorewad. Keep in mind, these figures may look a little sloppy when blown up in a high-resolution photo, but understand that they are very tiny, smaller than even MUSCLEs, and Rommel sculpted the originals by hand at that same size. You just don’t see that in toys. They are smaller than MUSCLEs, but just a tiny bit larger than most Gorewads – with the exception of Coral Golem who’s kind of huge. So I won’t give them four stars, but I’m also definitely not giving this line a low rating just because it’s handmade. For what they are, they beat about 99% of the market.
First up is Grady, the “normal human” of the set. He’s actually a figure whose concept goes way, way back to May of last year, in a cancelled idea for a “fighting game”-themed line. So if you really look at this guy, you can see a little of Terry Bogard in him. he’s a big burly guy with spiky blonde hair, a t-shirt and bomber jacket, gloves, jeans, and shoes. Generic outfit or not, he looks great – his hair and face are full of personality, which his slightly SD proportions bring out, and his outfit is surprisingly detailed. I love how his fur collar looks like Frankenstein bolts from the front, but maybe that’s just me. Grady seems like a nice guy. He doesn’t LOOK like a bastard… which is scary, because who knows what he’s into.
Next up is Filth! Filth is the other “human” of the set, though that claim is a little suspect… he’s a burly, hunched, lumpy, deformed troll in a hoodie. Filth’s face is ugly and uneven, but that just makes him look more like an unhygenic weirdo. You know, maybe he’s wearing an open hoodie, or maybe he’s just pulled his t-shirt over his head, who knows? But he does have visible chest hair and a pot belly, thank you very much. His left forearm is also swollen and covered in what looks like pock marks, but I’d rather not ask. The back of Filth’s shirt reads “NO,” and I think there might be a reason for that. Yeah, he’s definitely a bastard.
And then we have Dirtbag, the human rat! Dirtbag’s got a lot going on – aside from his pose, proportions, and fur textures, he’s got two tails, a punisher skull on his chest, a utility belt, and even gloves! Wait… shirtless mouse, belted pants and gloves… Mickey? Anyway, Dirtbag is great, though I have to say that there’s a Gorewad hamster made earlier this year who does look a little better. But hey, this rat really looks lethal – being a bastard isn’t just about being gross, is it?
The fourth figure takes a strange turn with the Coral Golem. This is another sculpt with some history, as Rommel first designed a Coral Golem a long time ago… and then built this new figure as a revamp of that old design! Coral Golem is huge, roughly Universe of Violence-size. He’s insanely lumpy and detailed, even with a skull-like face emerging from the lumpy coral – it shows up better in person than in photographs. Actually, that’s a thing about the golem – it looks way better in person than in any pictures. This giant monstrous hulk of Anthozoa has a claw hand and a club hand, and an evil sneer that just communicates his bastardliness, even if he is made out of coral.
And finally, there’s the rare dude, MB Beetle Punk. The original Beetle Punk was actually a Universe of Violence figure, and I have a comparison photo. Micro Bastard Beetle Punk is his miniature companion, like the Gorewad versions of Deadface and Hell Turtle. He’s bulkier than a Gorewad, though, second only to Coral Golem in size. He’s also got the most detailed of all the sculpts, covered in strange texturing and musculature. Did someone strip off his skin? Who knows! The detail on this guy is insane, though, and much cleaner than, say, Coral Golem – you can even find a few stitches on his body if you look closely enough! MB Beetle Punk has sort of a gas mask nozzle that the original lacked (though there is something similar on his armor), ang angrier eyes than on the original Beetle Punk – he doesn’t feel like a rehash, he’s his own monstrosity. And yes, he absolutely looks like a vicious bastard.
Well, not “paint,” per se, but rubber colors. Jimmy Rommel has been experimenting with colors and color combinations, so these figures are totally different than the stuff we’ve seen in Gorewads or UoV. Note how mine look – Dirtbag is two-tone with added speckles, Beetle Punk is translucent metallic, Grady is flat gray, Coral Golem is black with white feet, and Filth is this crazy combination of peach-orange and dark speckles! This is creativity, and it’s awesome! I also have a spare Filth in almost the same color as Beetle Punk (just a tiny bit lighter), but he’s not in these photos. The Micro Bastards use a surprising amount of translucent plastic, though it’s not immediately obvious – Beetle Punk is not just flat metallic green, after all, and light can shine through Dirtbag’s blue parts. When you focus lighting through Filth, he glows like lava! Even Coral Golem is a little translucent, though not enough for it to show in a photo. Grady is “normal,” but that shade of gray is good for letting details show. Concerning the alternate Filth, he looks the same as Beetle punk – but when lit up, he almost turns blue! Really, this type of color variety is fascinating, and I can’t wait to see what else is coming down the pipeline!
Oh come on, really?
Universe of Violence figures come with accessories, but that’s an amazing miracle, not an industry standard. Seriously, these types of toys don’t come with extra stuff (usually).
A pack of three Micro Bastards costs $13. That’s INCREDIBLE for an Indy toy! Rommel does not have a factory in China. He cannot mass-produce to cut down overhead. He hand-casts each and every figure himself. And you pay barely more than $4 a pop, when you pay almost as much for mass-produced toys.
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
Nil. Maybe sometimes the figures have trouble standing due to their production process (instead of an injection point, the rubber is poured through the feet, which are then dremeled flat), but that’s not common. Other than that? I guess don’t try to swallow them, even if they do look like yummy yummy candy.
WHERE TO BUY:
Go straight to Iron Haus. At the moment, they are “Sold Out,” but that’s not a permanent status. Talk with Jimmy, find out when he’ll have more available, and work out a deal!
Micro Bastards are odd little guys, there’s no denying that. But they are also awesome – words do not express the amount of sheer heart (and spleen) that went into these figures, and just how much fun they are. I’m really interested to see how this tiny line goes in the future – will they standardize their size and style? Will they keep this variety? Will we see more humans or monsters? WHO KNOWS!
Oh yeah, and here’s that business card: