Way back in yesteryear–all the way back to February, when it was still all good to travel from place to place and interact with other humans, I had the chance to work at Toyfair in New York City. There, I ran into a booth featuring the fine folks at Boss Fight Studios. That will be the impetus for today’s article:
Chad Still Plays with Toys: Boss Fight Studios Review! Part 1!
I was able to step inside the booth for a minute where I got a chance to see their lineups of their own Vitruvian H.A.C.K.S. line, their Legends of Lucha Libre, Sam and Max, Bucky O’Hare and most impressively–their new licensed Hero H.A.C.K.S. line. That’s where their takes on Flash Gordon (both movie and comic), the Phantom, Zorro, and Tarzan are set to make their debut. I’m super excited about the Hero H.A.C.K.S. because I’m a sucker for the old timey characters like Zorro and Tarzan, and my podcastin’ pal Andy’s love of Flash Gordon has made me appreciate him, too.
It really re-energized me as far as Boss Fight Studios toys are concerned as well. For those unfamiliar with the backstory, much of Boss Fight formerly worked at Hasbro, especially during the heyday of the Marvel Universe and articulated Star Wars 4 inch scale lines. They were keenly aware of the active customizing communities at the time, and when the opportunity presented itself, they set off to make the types of toys they thought customizers could make the most of. They started with their Blanks–solid colored male and female figures in a wide variety of colors– and also developed their own toy line featuring Spartan Warriors, Snake Ladies and a whole Greek theme. That begat blind bag mini kits, accessory packs, and a host of other cool products you can find at their shop www.bossfightshop.com. I’ve been ordering products from them for the last four years or so–but it had been a minute since I placed an order. Seeing their work up close, however, really planted the seed in my brain to get back on the BFS bandwagon.
In the interest of full disclosure, Boss Fight Studios was generous enough to give me a few products for free at the show that I’ll be using for this review. Some of the products I paid for–some years ago through their site, and some hurriedly as they were packing up the last of their show boxes. I was that annoying guy with cash in hand at the last possible moment asking, “what haven’t you packed up yet?”
I was excited to pick up a few of their Vitruvian figures because I never really got behind that particular part of their line, except for a snake lady back in the day–and that wasn’t as much for their exciting take on the character, I just thought it was neat they made snake ladies. You’ll have to hold off for that part of my review, however. It turns out that I have too much for one article (this one’s double-sized as is), so I’ll get to their pre-built figures next time.
Traditionally, my interest in Boss Fight started and stopped at their blanks and other kits. So let’s start there at their bread and butter–the parts designed for action figure customizers.
When it comes to customizing, I’m primarily known as a “kitbasher.” What a kitbasher does is take pre-existing parts and combine them in different ways to create new characters. You see this all the time in popular toylines. Many lines will take a character who was originally blond, paint the hair brown, and then combine that new head with the torso from this guy, the legs from that guy, the backpack from this dude, and voila–new character! To give a classic example, think back to everyone’s beloved He-Man and the Masters of the Universe line. Did you know that Stinkor was a repainted Merman with the same chestplate that eventually would go to Mekaneck? Sure, there was some patchouli oil thrown into the plastic, but everything else there was kitbashed! Or did you know that Beast Man was “flocked” and turned into Moss Man? Craziness! In the glory days of G.I. Joe, I would take my little eyeglass screwdriver and swap out arms, legs, and heads to make character combinations of my own– just like the people who made they toys I love did at Hasbro. I even tried some repaints or two along the way, too. The factory paint jobs always had the edge, there. Still, making my own toys was an extra creative in for my imatination and interest.
Fast forward to my grown up years, kitbashing became a lot of fun. They made so many different Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and G.I. Joes with interchangeable parts–I started to enjoy making figures as much as collecting them.
Cue http://www.bossfightshop.com and their wide array of customizing awesomeness! Boss Fight Studios makes blank figure kits and accessories that you can combine to make your own characters.
There are male and female Blanks. Both feature super hero athletic bodies and cost $16.99. The sculpts have great, muscular details, and they offer a wide range of articulation. Wrists have hinges in addition to pegs for extra motion. Because they’re built to be taken apart and put together again, they’re not as sturdy as your standard action figure in that they might have a joint pop out if you move something too much. It pops right back in easily, but it could be dangerous for little kids. For that reason, they’re aimed at older collectors. Still, they can hold poses very well and can stand up to actual play.
Let’s look at their female “Bio Blue” Blank. The toy comes with four heads–one bald, one short haired, one ponytailed, and one masked. The ponytail moves, by the way. It also comes with 3 different pairs of feet capable of swiveling side to side and up and down–bare-foot, sandals, and flat shoes. Parts pop in and out easily enough. They fit back snuggly once they are back in. They also give you an extra set of hands and a stand along with the figure that has close to the maximum of articulation for this scale. Hinged wrists, swivel ankles, double jointed knees, torso articulation and a cut at the waist, too–they’re all there with your standard ball joint neck, t-crotch, and arm and elbow articulation, too. If I’m counting right, I’ve got 18 points of articulation on the female blanks.
The male blanks come with a similar set of articulation, but they have a hinged peg at the foot/ankle, which results in slightly less poseability than their female counterparts. That’s really my only complaint with the blanks–the male feet aren’t as moveable and they tend to fall out easily. I wasn’t able to procure a new male blank at the show, but I have a chrome one I used a few years back for a Silver Surfer custom. The males come with the same amount of accessories as the females. I may have misplaced a few of the extras over the years for the male toy, so they are not pictured. Whoops! Both genders of blanks are available on their site in a wide variety of colors–some see through, some chromed, some solid color plastic. You can see all the extras there!
Compare the Marvel Universe Surfer to the Boss-Fight-enhanced Surfer, and you can easily see which is the cooler toy. The MU Silver Surfer was one of the first toys in the line, so his articulation didn’t match the later, superior figures. He was repainted and re-issued multiple times before the Marvel Universe series concluded. He fits a certain style of Surfer, I’m thinking the leaner Marshall Rodgers version. but Personally I’ve always leaned more towards the chromed out and bulkier look of a Rom Lim style Silver Surfer. That’s why I had to buy that chrome blank from Boss Fight Studios! Of course, the Boss-Fight figure took the head from a Fantastic 4 2 movie statue and needs to borrow the board from the Marvel Universe Surfer, so in the long run, he’s a much more expensive toy, but did I mention he looks way cooler?
The blanks match the best figures on the market in tens of articulation, and their sculpt is much more defined than the cartoonier Fortnite or Spinmaster DC figures. The new, revised Surfer has pretty much the highest level of articulation achieved by the later Marvel Universe figures–except for those ankles. They did eventually get the roller-style articulation the female blanks have eventually in the MU line. Those would have made my new Surfer even better–but he’s still really awesome. He’s also an example of my favorite style of kitbash–no painting, no fuss, just pop on a new head and some new accessories, and BAM! Awesome toy!
Speaking of no painting, let’s look at their premium line of accessories that come pre-painted and very detailed. The fine folks at Boss Fight handed me one of their Gladiators Deluxe Accessory Kits at the show. These are the pre-painted add ons for figures that correspond to that Greek theme of their own figure line. They sell these for $19.99 on their site. Initially, I wasn’t all that jazzed as I was never so big on the Greek theme. Under normal circumstances, I don’t think that I would pay $20 for Greek accessories. And as fun as accessories are, how cool could a box of extra parts without figures be? But if someone was going to hand them to me, I wasn’t going to say no.
Then, I opened the box and saw the parts there. Allow me to walk you through my thought process:
There were neat looking masked heads one is a mask, the other is a full head by itself. I don’t really need ‘em, so they’ll live in the parts bin until I find a use for them. If they’re a reference to something, I didn’t pick up on it. There’s a golden Trident, and a hook hand. Cool, but pass into the parts bin as well– until maybe Aquaman needs them down the line. There’s a male and female armored arm–interesting. I already had my Surfer figure out and that reminded me of something. Let me take that arm, the crooked sword, the shin guards, the waist covering and the chest straps–I’ll need all those. For the female side, once I saw the metal bikini, it was easy to know where those pieces were going, too. I’ll put the sword and that shield in that pile. The armored lady arm gets shuffled into the parts bin. The net is cool, too, and will most likely come into play down the line, but for now I’m going to shuffle that off into the parts bag. What I had remaining were a pile of male accessories and a pile of female accessories and a plan. At this point, I would need to bring in some of my own extra pieces into the mix.
With the female based parts, all I really needed to add was a base figure, in this case a Marvel Universe Shanna the She Devil. I busted out my canary red paints for a quick hair dye job, added the pre-painted sword, shield, and two piece metal-kini, and may I present to you… Red Sonja!
With the other half of the pieces, I went back to my Silver Surfer custom from years ago. Since he was built off of their Blank kitbuilding system, his arm pops out easily away for easy swapping. A new hand from the leftover pieces goes onto the armor arm; the torso pops off easily to add the tunic. Feet pop off easily–maybe too easily sometimes–but it makes putting the shin guards on a piece of cake. I added an extra sword from who knows where because I thought this figure needed a sword. Oh yeah, I also put the leather straps on top, and voila–after everything was snapped back into place, for fans of the Planet Hulk storyline, may I present—The Silver Savage!
So out of that $20 accessory kit, I was able to create two awesome toys that will be permanent additions to my toy shelves! I was skeptical at first, but I was really impressed with the outcome. Plus, as a bonus, because there was minimal painting, these toys will readily stand up to the rigors of actual play. I won’t need to worry about paint rubbing off of joints or pieces mismatching. And I can’t stress how cool they look in hand!
Of course, now I’m going to have to buy another chrome blank to get a regular chromed out Surfer again. I could easily swap out the Savage and regular Surfer parts–it’s really the difference of swapping out an arm and taking off accessories, but I want to have both versions! I’m sure I have a few other boards hidden in the parts bin–that’ll make room for the new parts that will end up there.
So now let’s look at another accessory-based Boss Fight offering–their Mini-Kits. These are sold blind bagged and come in different waves. Here’s a picture of what you could get from their first wave. The mini-kits are $5.99, and they’re available in bulk as well.
Here’s a closer look at the various options from the first wave.
They’re simultaneously really great and really frustrating!
When they work, they really work. For instance, I got a Mini-Kit containing pieces for “the Old One” all in black. The kits all come made out of solid colored plastic. It can be a bit intimidating at first. But fortune favors the bold, and so does the ultimate evil! So I slapped a coat of green, a quick black paint wash, and then reddened the eyes. I took my pieces and popped them on a Jazwares Fortnite Inferno figure body, and voila–Big Business Cthulhu! Would Cthuluhu wear a business suit? I don’t know, but that’s one of the creative problems these kits make you solve.
From the red Crustacean kit, a black paint wash, and the body of a DC Multiverse Black Mask figure I tried to paint a while back already–and voila, BBC’s sidekick, the Crabby Capitalist! There was an additional crab head that was cool, but only one set of crabby hands, so the extra head went back in the bin. Now I have a whole oceanic corporate takeover theme waiting to happen!
Next, two mini kits combined with some leftover Marvel Universe figs allowed for the match of the century–”The Defender of the American Dream” Captain America and “Defender of Primarily Just the Second Amendment” Punisher! These kits, in addition to the helmets and gloves, also came with ankle boot coverings and shoes for full boxing gear, but they weren’t compatible with my super hero toys, so in the bin they stayed.
You also might notice the cool belt in the background–here’s where the Mini Kits can be frustrating–that belt came from the wave 2 Luchadore Mini Kit I was able to pick up as a display freebie from the show. That kit also came with two Lucha Libre-style heads and elbow pads–I picked up a set in both green and black. The problem is that those heads are way too detailed and intricate for my limited painting skills.
The belts I did OK with, but no way was I going to make the heads believable. That’s frustrating, but that’s my fault.
The other frustrating thing is that because these Mini-Kits are blind-bagged, customers don’t get a choice of which ones they’re getting. In the first round of kits, I really wanted the Anubis set and The Evil One. I bought a handful of kits direct from Bossfight but never got the Anubis or big bad. I was happy that I got two different color boxing sets–but I have another red set floating around in my parts bin as well that I didn’t really need. At $6 a pop, a little transparency would be nice—with the kit, not the plastic. Although transparent Cthulhu could be boss! Plus, because Boss Fight Studios is primarlily an internet-based operation, that means that you can’t go to a store and feel the bags or shake the boxes to figure out what’s inside. You get what they send you. You wanted Cthulhu? Tough, you spent $6 on parts to make Rocky instead.
I know some folks dig the blind bag process, and part of the fun is the challenge of dealing with what you get, but I am a fuddy duddy, and I want to know what I’m paying for.
Fortunately at one point, I ran into a vendor at a convention who was selling the kits for a slight premium, but that’s how I was able to get my Cthulhu eventually. Out of six or seven sets, I never did get the Anubis that I originally wanted–until I saw the Boss Fight guys and gals at the show! I told them my tale of woe, and they generously pointed me towards a display kit they let me have. So finally, I was able to combine the white set with some white paint and an extra female white blank I had stored in the basement for my Anubis figure!
I liked the all-white version, but my kiddo was less impressed.
The kiddo waned more color, so I robbed a golden chestplate and gauntlets from a different figure and some gold paint for the highlights. I was still too chicken to paint the eyes of the figure, but allow me to present my golden Anubis!
So, let’s dole out grades for part one.
The Male Blank- A effort. Great sculpt, solid articulation. The only downside is the feet. They pop out too easily and don’t have the best range of motion. Everything else is top notch. The Blanks are great to have on hand to really get the most out of the other offerings, and they’re a great base to build your customs from. They’re pricey, but you get plenty of extras and a premium toy as a result.
The Female Blank- A+. Sculpt and articulation points are there, and they have the awesome feet articulation! Everything I said for the male kit applies, but the female is the superior version because of those roller-ankled feet.
The Gladiator Deluxe Accessory Kit: A+ I had enough parts for two awesome figures and some left over. Seeing this set in hand really made me appreciate how cool it is. I might even be warming up to that Greek theme, too. Which is good for next week! This was a surprise hit for me personally!
The Mini-Kits: A- Cthulhu is easily my favorite of the bunch, as I think he turned out the best. The reason it’s not a top grade is that painting is hard, and some kits I couldn’t get the most out of because of my skill level. And the whole blind bag/blind box thing, too, docks them some points as well.
Still, at the end of the day, I was able to get something cool out of each of the mini-kits. Sometimes it was as little as a wrestling belt. Other times, practically the whole kit came into play. As I said earlier, when it worked, it worked. So I would say the Mini Kits are hit-and-miss. There are more hits than misses, but your mileage may vary. I think they’re worth the risk and will definitely be getting some of the next wave.
Whew, that’s a lot. We haven’t even started into their premade Vitruvian kits, and I might have accidentally placed a new order while I was playing with these toys–so stay tuned for part 2 of my Boss Fight Studios review soon! If you want to get in on the action, visit www.bossfightshop.com and check out their wide array of blanks, mini-kits, accessories and more. It’ll give you a creative way to stay busy!
Until next time, I’ll be piecing out superheroes and getting paint on all my clothes!