Life In Plastic: TOY REVIEW: Sabrewulf (Killer Instinct)

I really played a lot of Killer Instinct in 1995-1999. And yet, sadly, there were no toys. Sadness! Shame! Anyway, Ultimate Source, a new-ish ompany, has begun creating figures based on the new XBox game. For months, you could see their advertisements and pre-orders on their own site, but stuff like this gets promised often, so I wasn’t excited. And then the figures actually came out, I ate some crow, and relived the glory day of the mid-nineties. So let’s start with Sabrewulf, KI’s resident werewolf!

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Having endured agonizing procedures to remove his freakish cybernetic implants, Sabrewulf feels no closer to reclaiming his humanity. Barely clinging to sanity, he nurses an addiction to ancient medicines and artifacts which seem to slow his descent into savagery.
***

Or it would say that if the box included any description. Ha ha ha. Well, let’s look at the figures!

PACKAGING: **

The packaging in this line is a gigantic cardboard box. It’s a lot bigger than the figure, and you can’t see inside. At all. It keeps the toy safe, but no window on the actual figure makes it a gigantic gamble.

SCULPT: ****
The first thing you might notice is that this figure is a lot smaller than the packaging made it seem. Killer Instinct toys are in 6″ scale, and not the exagerrated almost-7″ of Marvel Legends, or such. Sabrewulf stands 6″ tall, although he is hunched over. That’s the scale he is.

However, the sculpting for Sabrewulf is fantastic, matching his CGI model exactly. It’s just as good as anything from a major studio, whether it’s NECA now or McFarlane ten years ago. And that is the figure’s biggest bonus – it looks damn good.

The material is also durable, with a little bit of give rather than the usual fragile collector’s toys plastic, and yet it holds detail just fine (hey, everybody. Take note!). But back to the topic at hand, Sabrewulf really looks good – he’s got all the right exturing, his facial expression matches, and he really looks like a screenshot of his normal standing pose. Great work!

PAINT: ****

Sabrewulf has a surprisingly comple paint job, with multiple layers of blue over his fur, as well as appropriate apps for his costume, eyes, teeth, and… well, you get the picture. The complexity of the fur paint really adds to the figure, and the apps are precise and slop-free enough to almost justify not being able to see the toy in the box. Almost. Okay, not at all.

The paintwork really is a high point about this figure. It’s not just that it’s good, it’s that it matches his CGI model, completely with the slightly odd shading that video game characters get. I treally helps compliment the sculpt, and make this figure look great on the shelf.

ARTICULATION: **

This figure’s articulation is not very good. Sabrewulf has ball-jointed shoulders, swivel wrists and waist, and… that’s it. Theoretically, he moves at the neck, but in practice it’s barely a wobble. He essentially has one pose, and you can fine-tune him a little to keep that pose. He can’t even stand without his base.

To be honest, this is a lot like a McFarlane figure from 2002-2009. Great sculpting, limited articulation with one good pose… even the accessories really match the aesthetic. The terrible articulation might let you down, unless you know what you’re getting into. Sure, it looks great on a shelf, but there aren’t many posing options for this thing. The arms to offer some variety, thankfully.

ACCESSORIES: ****

These figures are blessed with accessories, typically two items and a base. The base is another page taken from the old McFarlane playbook, and something I have sorely missed in recent years (it’s where most of my photography backdrops come from). Sabrewulf comes with a portion of his arena, a chunk of lab floor littered with books, vials, and even part of the grate. It’s really amazing and expertly-painted, something that will likely show up in mad scientist photos from here on out!

The other accessories in this line tend to be cosmetic, matching the costume accessories available in-game. Sabrewulf has a pair of mad scientist goggles, which are one of his costume options (though he also has various shirt and pants items, you just don’t get those). Wanna know what’s cooler than a werewolf? A mad scientist werewolf! The goggles are fairly flexible, and strap securely under his chin.

He also comes with a broken muzzle. Clearly, Sabrewulf’s jaws were too strong for the wire, and now he just wears it because he feels like it. It also straps in securely, and helps Savrewulf look creepy rather than goofy – though yeah, he’s fine without either mask piece.

VALUE: **

These toys are not worth $30. A solid $20, maybe, but the figures really are overpriced.

THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:

Sabrewulf is made from a slightly flexible plastic, which spares him from the fragility issues often endemic in collector figures. Meaning… he’s pretty durable. This is a huge plus.

You can find these figures at Toys R Us.

OVERALL: ***

For twenty years, I wanted Killer Instinct toys. It didn’t help that a Dragon Flyz figure was named “Riptor,” and I misread a catalgue listing. But we finally have them… really late. But hey, no better time than the present, right?

And to be honest, this figure is about ten years too late. It would have been a fantastic mid-00s McFarlane toy, especially with its comparative durability. Everything about these toys – the sculpting, limited articulation, and even scale – hearkens back to that specific era. So, if you don’t mind their pre-posed nature, the Killer Instinct figures are great. But you need to know what you’re getting into for your $30. There are plenty of pluses, and personally, I can’t wait for Glacius, Riptor, and Eyedol to round out my happy nostalgic memories.

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