The Four Horsemen (three now) are some of the best toy sculptors in the industry. Every few years, they produce a small miniline of their own as a showcase of their ability. They’ve done minotaurs, elephants, women, demons… and now birds! That sounds odd. But look, it works. This year, it’s the Ravens – or rather, two ravens and an assortment of other avian creatures. It ran from a Kickstarter line in 2013, and I picked up four, including the flagship character – Decimus Hrabban, the raven!
The Horsemen release their figures in a bunch of mini toylines. Gothitropolis, home of the Ravens, was previously used for Lord Scarabus, the evilest evil guy ever, who even gets some focus in the (massive) bio text on the packaging! The battle birds are meant to be his enemies, you see. Unfortunately, only the white and black ravens get specific text on the box, though you can guess that they are all part of the same squad.
EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK OF ATELLUS CHAPTER 13:
Vampires, zombies and werewolves do not exist – at least not in the ways that we have been told. There are indeed very dark things that lurk in the shadows, though, just out of our line of sight.
After a bold entrance into our world in ancient days, Scarabus and his kind have quietly lived in the dark corners of our world for ages. It is only now in the year 2332 that Scarabus has lead [sic] his people into the open to build a great city that can harness his blasphemous power. Many are dedicated to hunting and eradicating Scarabus, but only the Daemothyr family and the Order of Lunogoth possess the true tools to stop him. If he is not stopped soon we must all fear for what will happen. If his evil plan comes to fruition we must all pray that he never brings to life his abysmal city – his Gothitropolis!
DECIMUS HRABBAN: RELIC MASTER AND PROTECTOR
Demons have been crossing over into our world for centuries, fighting an eternal battle over how to exist on our earthly plane. Brothers Decimus and Nonus Hrabban are known to have crossed over to our world at the same time as Scarabus, and are the first members of the Daemothyr family. As founding members of the Order of Lunagoth, Decimus and Nonus are sworn protectors of the Daemothyr children and their family’s ancient relic weapons. The brothers’ sacrifice has been great, with Nonus losing his life defending the Order’s citadel from Scarabus and his minions. Today Decimus relies on his aerial fighting prowess and enchanted scythe to ward off Scarabus and his growing army of evil followers, while still protecting the Daemothyrs and their collection of powerful relics and weapons. Nonus can also be found alongside the Daemothyrs, often taking the form of a ghostly white bird atop Atheria Daemothyr’s shoulder.
And that’s Decimus’s bakstory and role. He’s the guy keeping all the nasties and creatures of the night from breaking through, albeit with the help of a flock of other birds. Since his name means “ten” and his brother was “nine,” one must wonder about one through eight. Ah, well. Let’s look at the figure!
The Ravens come in a special, collector-friendly blister pack – the cardboard slides in and out with no worries, and the tray keeps the figure secure without twisty-ties. It also has that fantastic amount of text on the back!
The ravens are all essentially headswaps of one another, which means that Decimus’s face is the make-or-break unique part of the figure. And man, he’s photorealistic. He isn’t a cartoon raven, or an “extreme” exaggerated creature. He could probably sub for Malphas, but that’s another story. This is an incredible sculpt, and Decimus even seems to have sort of a serene, determined expression on his face. Notably, you can buy a second, screaming head for him, but that comes in an alternate pack.
The raven armor is insanely good. It’s ornate and busy in the way that modern fantasy designs are these days, though thankfully it lacks random spikes and baubles that would make it confusing. Every square inch of his armor is covered in crests, insignia, talons, feathers, and even a cityscape over his stomach (Seriously. A whole cityscape). He’s got a tiny pair of decorative wings on his back, which can be swapped out for the bonus wings you can buy for a little more money. The bird also comes with a special belt, containing a horn, bone picks, a hand relic (Hand of Glory?), a pouch, and a green roll of rope or string (or maybe a hand grenade). If you want, you can remove the belt fairly easily by disconnecting him at the waist.
The remaining bird parts are also just as good, even if this guy has a hilarious case of Feather Fingers. His taloned feet look like actual bird feet – and trust me, that’s not as easy to get right as it seems. Each individual feather has the kind of attention to detail that you would expect from a Horsemen project, which helps serve these figures. They are supposed to be a showcase, after all – deonstrating the Horsemen’s skill to any prospective clients.
Decimus’s paint is exactly the same as on the prototype, which pretty much makes this one of the best mass-produced figures (at this price point) out there. Even though black is the dominant color, there is an extremely light wash over his feathers, matching both their naturl sheen and a little bit of a dusty haze. His armor is purple and silver, with some incredibly intricate workmanship, and even his feet are unique, with gray washed over the black in exactly the same way it is with a real raven. The only potential criticism about his paint is that the plastic’s base color is white, so any scuffs or chips will be extremely visible.
Decimus has a ball-jointed head, ball-and-socket shoulders, ankles, wrists, shins, and hips, double-hinged elbows and knees, and swivel biceps, chest, and waist. Cockitrus has an insane range of motion that’s actually a little better than it looks. The Horsemen have demonstrated more than just their sculpting ability with this figure, and have even included a few bonuses – for example, it comes apart very easily at the waist, thus making it a simple matter to swap out the belt if you so desire.
Well… the figures shipped with a warning from the Horsemen not to force any joints, and to be careful in case the figures break. That said, my roster is perfectly fine. Nothing was stuck, and nothing broke. I’ve heard reports of a few stuck joints, but they generally loosen up without too much trouble. To be honest, the QC issues don’t sound any worse than, say, a NECA figure.
Decimus comes with only one weapon, but he is the only bird to get a unique one – insted of the gold spear-mace every other bird carries, he has his enchanted scythe. Or rather, a detachable double weapon with a scythe on one end and a morning star on the other. HE HAS EVERY WEAPON! The scythe is a gorgeous crescent moon inscribed with runes (and the Roman numeral X, signifying that this really is Decimus’s personal weapon), and looks utterly fantastic. It’s gorgeous. Totally gorgeous.
The mace end is unique, sporting a chain, a hook halfway down the shaft, and a peg to plug in the spiked ball. Decimus can wield it in so many absolutely photogenic ways that it really is a godsend for any toy photographer. Or hey, you can play with it, too. Seriously, his weapon is incredible. Or weapons, considering that you can split it into two. Sure, Decimus would look great with a sword, but this is fantastic. You can get a sword in a separate add-on pack if you want, or just hand him one from another toy – but again, why? His scythe is incredible on its own.
Decimus also comes with something I’ve never really seen – spare feet! One pair of feet is set in a half-grasp, open pose, as if he were flying or raking thrm at an enemy. Those feet are really good, even including the tiny little bulge of flesh by the bird’s thumb (so sue me, I forgot what it’s called). Of course, you’d need a proper flight stand for this, as well as wings – extra wing packs are also available.
Finally, Decimus comes with a pair of gripping feet. You can’t quite use them to let him perch on his weapon, as the pole is too narrow, but he can grip it in an amusing fight pose, or potentially cling to a thicker pole. The prehensile feet are a great little detail, and demonstrate more of the immense care that the Horsemen put into their toys.
This figure will cost you about $30 if you can get it straight from the source. It was a little less on Kickstarter, but that was in 2013. But for the price, you’re getting something that looks and feels pretty high-end.
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
Some of the figures got cast in brittle plastic. Not all, but some – My Decimus isn’t bad, as his PVC is a litle flexible, but I have heard of some shattering. Likewise, watch the joints, and if they feel stuck, be careful. Despite the hype that potential breakage had, though, it seems that the actual figures are generally pretty sturdy.
WHERE TO BUY:
Oh, man. I don’t know if or when the Horsemen are going to put more of these guys up for sale, but they’re your best bet. Eventually, some will trickle into the secondary market, though.
Decimus Hrabban, the Raven, is fantastic. He alone could sell me on the Gothitropolis line, much less his buddies. It’s hard to tell whether these count as 2014 or 2015 toys, but regardless, they’ve put themselves in the running for best of the year. The Ravens were worth the wait from the Kickstarter, and I can’t wait to show off more!