The Four Horsemen (three now) are some of the best toy sculptors in the industry. Every few years, they produce a small mini-line 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. The one I really looked forward to was Iz-Ra Mirrus, the Quetzalcoatl.
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.
Iz-Ra Mirrus is based on Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec feathered serpent god. Iz-Ra got his unique name from Israel Ramirez, the toy designer – he’s been wanting to do this character for a while, and finally got to squeeze him in here. As a god, Quetzalcoatl is all sorts of things. He represents light and justice, protects the innocent, gave maize to mankind, invented books and calendars, and also symbolizes resurrection. Some legends even have him opposed to human sacrifice… and if there’s one thing the Aztec gods wanted, it was sacrifice. Sure, it was bloodthirsty and horrible, but they genuinely believed that if they didn’t sacrifice enough hearts, the gods would die and the world would end. That makes it sad. Also, there really isn’t any evidence that they thought Hernan Cortes was Quetzalcoatl – there is some potential proof that they believed he could have been a divine messenger, but nothing too big. Cortes gets a bad rap, anyway. I mean, sure, he was a bloodthirsty, genocidal murderer, but he’s got nothing on people like Francisco Pizarro. Cortes at least was willing to make alliances and spared some people. Pizarro turned missionaries away because “I don’t want them saved, I want them dead! I can’t take their gold if they convert!” Wonderful fellow.
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 Iz-Ra Mirrus’s face is the make-or-break unique part of the figure. Unlike some of the other figures in this line, he couldn’t exactly be a photorealistic representation of a real bird. But rather than, say, just imitate a snake and put some feathers on it, Iz-Ra Mirrus’s face resembles a Quetzalcoatl idol in Teotihuacan. The shape of his eyes and teeth, his scale patterns, and the crest of feathers behind his head all imitate the types of designs found not only in that one statue but in Aztec art in general, while also keeping just enough realism to look like it could be an actual creature. Most of the other figures in this line resemble real creatures, and thus fantastic ones like Iz-Ra Mirrus need to fit in. And fit in he does! He looks absolutely vicious at first glance, though you could imagine him being a benevolent creature. Or maybe that’s just me and my well-documented monster obsession…
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 Iz-Ra Mirrus 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 – demonstrating the Horsemen’s skill to any prospective clients. And man, they demonstrate pretty well.
Iz-Ra Mirrus’s paint is remarkable. His body is pretty green all over – green scales, green feathers on the arms and legs (which helps them double as scales), but he’s also got yellow eyes and a fringe of red feathers behind his head. As always, there are no real flat colors – his scales and feathers have their own paint washes, making everything look a little more real. His feet are also dark blue, which is reflected in a few actual birds.
Iz-Ra Mirrus’s armor is where things get interesting. His primary color is gold, only in several shades – the city on his torso plate stands out because of that – but then you get to his rainbow wings. Quetzalcoatl has rainbow feathers, which are represented on Iz-Ra Mirrus’s breastplate and on the tiny wings on his back. It’s a great detail, and the effect is gorgeous.
Iz-Ra Mirrus has a ball-jointed head, ball-and-socket shoulders, ankles, wrists, shins, and hips, double-hinged elbows and knees, and swivel biceps, chest, wings, and waist. Iz-Ra Mirrus 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. Also, he can do an air guitar.
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.
Iz-Ra Mirrus comes with a spear-mace combo, which appears to be the “default” weapon for the birds (except for Decimus). It’s a long, golden pole with a (removable) spear head on one end and a mace on the other. The weapon looks far better in person than in pictures, and its length is impressive… but it is kind of plain. It’s odd how the mace is not removable despite clearly being the same piece sas on Decimus’s weapon (which can be taken off). If budget were no issue and I could choose what Iz-Ra Mirrus came with, he would have a heart (like the one in these pictures) and a macuahuitl – an Aztec club/wooden sword embedded with razor-sharp pieces of obsidian. Those weapons were vicious enough to chop off a horse’s head!
Iz-Ra Mirrus also comes with something I’ve never really seen – spare feet! One pair of feet is set in a half-grasping open pose, as if he were flying or raking them 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, Iz-Ra Mirrus 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 Iz-Ra Mirrus isn’t bad, as his PVC is a little 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.
Before I had the figures in-hand, Iz-Ra Mirrus was already my favorite. Now that I have them… this hasn’t changed. He really is fantastic – creepy and interesting in all the right ways – and tickles my love of mythology. He was the first to sell out in the pre-sales and I have no idea if he will ever be made available again, but we can always hope!