Okay, serious apology time, I thought I had uploaded this review THREE MONTHS AGO. Whoopsie! Since I have the brain span of a hal-dead squirrel, I might as well mention that Who Goes There? SERIES 2 is already out, and Series 1 is probably gonna sell out… sorry.
Who Goes There? is a toy line by the folks at Unbox Industries. It’s a blind-boxed line of vinyl art toys with a decidedly dark, disturbing tone. Now, you should see the immediate disadvantage, so we’ll get it out of the way: These are blind-boxed figures that you have to order, which will take between one and two weeks to arrive. It’s not very easy to collect a whole set for that reason (although I really lucked out), and you have to know this caveat before you buy. However – and I mean HOWEVER – if you pass them up you will be missing out on some of the coolest, strangest, most visually interesting toys of 2019! Seriously, these things are fascinating. Series 1 has ten figures created by multiple artists – The Last Zectron, David Arshawsky, Vilesore, and Retroband Studios. These guys are all pretty good names in the Indy toy industry – I’ve had some pieces by The Last Zectron for years, and as for David Arshawsky… well, let’s just say you probably grew up with his toys and you don’t even know it.
These figures are dark. Surreal. Insane. Like adorable little pieces of your nightmares. And I’ve got an Unboxing video, plus photos of the rest of Series 1! There are chase color variants, which you will not see here because although I lucked out in variety, I never saw a rare. The praise for Series 1 very much applies to the brand-new Series 2, although that set is recent enough that I don’t even know the names of all the Series 2 figures! Anyway, back to the topic of Series 1, let’s look at a video, and then some pictures!
Seriously, these guys have a place of prominence on the toy shelf in my room. I know that I tend to gush about toys here (well, not everything. I have like five negative reviews), but I buy what I like. And apparently, what I like is insanity.
Hot Wired Head by David Arshawsky is possibly my favorite of the line. It’s a gigantic head, wreathed in flames, suspended on motorcycle wheels, and being ridden/driven by ants. Repeat that description to yourself out loud. Hot Wired Head demonstrates the kind of insane surreality that this line is about. Is it sci-fi? Fantasy? Horror? A fever dream? Who cares!
The Baby Sailor by David Arshawsky is possibly stranger than Hot Wired Head. Take a baby doll head, put it on a Viking longboat, and… uh, texture it. The surface of the baby’s head is like an old map, with pseudo-topographical art and landmarks – from dragons to whales to mountains to craters, and even a Moai head! It’s fascinating, and clearly the most complexly-sculpted figure in the lot. The head can detatch from the boat or swivel around at your leisure.
The Toy Pooper is the third David Arshawsky figure. And yes, there seems to be some goop coming from his posterior, though it’s surprisingly small. Other than that, this dude is acyborg demon – or maybe just a demon wearing a VR headset and fiddling with the controls. it’s hard to say, but he just looks so gleeful that you have to wonder what’s going on besides mere pooping.
The Stick Up by The Last Zectron is certainly less surreal than some others in this line, but by no means is he less cool. A skull-faced gravedigger, he’s pointing his revolver directly at you! Better pay up, or he’ll dig your own grave. This figure is expertly made, whether it’s the realistic skull or surprisingly detailed gun. It’s a great example of the differing styles in Who Goes There, and the surprsing cohesion despite that detail.
Oga Oni may seem to stand out even more – he’s not surreal or bloody at all! But he is a fantastic Oni. Zectron’s figures are monster archetypes – two out of the three are Japanese, and Oga Oni is no different. This one is another fan favorite, with Jimmy Rommel of ironhaus Productions citing it as his favorite thing that The Last Zectron has ever made!
The Last Zectron’s third figure is The Girl With Knives. This is in actuality Kuchisake-Onna, the Split-Faced Woman of Japanese folklore. She wears a surgical mask over her face, and asks unwary passers by if they think she’s pretty. Then she lowers her mask, revealing a scarred glasgow smile. She asks again, and… well, if you say “yes,” she follows you home and kills you. if you say “no,” she kills you right there. if you say “Eh, I’m not sure,” she gets confused and you can run. This gal has some impressively clean sculpting, including that split-mouthed smile. Nice, nice work.
The Cannibal by Vilesore could be mistaken for a type of cannibal Yokai, albeit with sort of a punk art motif. This is another positively creepy design, as there’s just something about those eyes or that eager, slavering grin. He’s gonna eat ya. HE’S GONNA EAT YA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Melting Head by Vilesore is… exactly what it sounds like! This poor fellow is melting, caught in an expression of absolute despair. Quite a gory figure, Vilesore has nevertheless given it a fantastic level of detail – this isn’t just sloppy mess, it makes sense! Melting Head is a little shorter than the other figures in this line, but it’s still just as good.
The Spider is Vilesore’s third figure. With a gory, furry texture, multiple limbs, and quite the expression on its face, you can tell that it’s from the same artist as Melting Head, and yet it is completey unique. There is sort of a savage hunger in that facial expression which gives the Spider a personality all its own!
And finally, we have Rotgut, Retroband Studio’s sole contribution to Series 1. He has more figures in Series 2, though – my understanding is that each artist submitted multiple figures to be divided among the three sets. Rotgut is a very tall mummy, and clearly a juicy ne, telling from those maggots. Much ike the Baby Sailor, his head is articulated and can be removed, with the intention of making it swappable among the other Retroband offerings (such as the ones in Series 2). Although he’s kind of the odd figure out in this line, Rotgut is certainly no less creepy or grisly!
Series 1 of Who Goes There is a nightmarish fever dream, and Series 2 looks even more wild! I can’t wait to complete both sets and display the insanity, and I highly recommend these figures to any fans of the macabre or strange.
So, when there’s a knock at your door in the middle of the night, are you going to ask who goes there?