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Mongrel Man Workshop Toys, 2003

Mongrel Man Review Capsule
A fine freebie or cheap thrill, but odds are yet another feral monkeyman of sorts won't float your boat. It's a nicely made piece for the price, though, but it's hard to imagine it genuinely exciting anybody. A worthwhile purchase if you're in to this sort of thing.

Introduction

Every now and again an item just falls in one's lap. It may not be good, but it's cheap, and it's available, and that's why it gets attention. Mongrel Man is not a great toy, nor is it an especially good toy. It is not attractive, but it is tied in to a mildly anticipated piece of software from LucasArts entitled Gladius.

Despite having a decent paint job, two good accessories, and a surprising amount of articulation, it fails to excite.

Figure

Because it's from an as of yet unreleased videogame, it's hard to say how faithful it is to the original design. On the package, we're treated to a somewhat muddy image of the character, and as such it's easy to declare this an improvement just because it's sharper looking.

Articulated at the biceps, shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist, and neck, it's nice to see that the figure wasn't shorted on articulation just because he was intended to be a preorder bonus. The elbows have a somewhat common trait, namely that if you move them there's a large Pac-Man-esque gap that appears between the pieces. While the joint was a nice thought, the cost to the toy's aesthetics from employing such movement seems like a bad idea.

It's easy to see the person responsible for the design spent a lot of time on making the detail show up, even if it's a particularly mediocre concept. The character is covered in bandages, bandoliers, bracelets, and bones from previous battles, which one would assume makes this guy seem like a tough character. Of course, he also has a scuncii in his hair, and as a result the bones don't quite carry the same threat to an opponent as they might otherwise have. Some nicely sculpted and painted shoulder armor seems a little out of place, as does the kind of white paint used around the fur on the face.

Despite seeming quite angry, he comes off feeling a little lifeless. Perhaps the mouth is open just a little too wide, or the eyes aren't quite expressive enough... the resulting head looks like little more than a mask which, in a way, is neat. Assuming you like that sort of thing. There's a lot in the way of facial hair, which, again, is neat if you like this sort of thing.

This figure is fairly large, roughly in scale with the recent relaunch of Masters of the Universe, roughly six inches tall. Above, you can see him about to enter battle with a far superior warrior, Keldor.

Mongrel Man does what it should be able to do without a hitch, and that's to stand up on a desk. And maybe get beaten to a pulp by He-Man. His big feet are disgustingly detailed with all sorts of grime and nastiness to please even the biggest fan of gross-out toys aged four through eleven, and they were designed to allow the figure to be posed a variety of ways without toppling over. While it may not sound like a lot, few toy companies seem to go out of their way to guarantee a figure stands properly and this sort of thing is always a welcome sight.

Accessories & Gimmicks

This figure includes a scythe that looks more like a can, and a grossly oversized arrowhead.

While bloody accessories are nothing new, this arrowhead is a bit on the comical side. Some nice battle damage combined with the blood resulted in a fairly nice looking weapon, even if the size was a little on the large side. Despite these goofy observations, the execution shows a lot of promise.

Not to be outdone is the scythe. It's puny. The handle is quite long, with a fairly small blade that might scare a small dog. It doesn't look menacing or imposing, but maybe that was the decision in design. Then again, if making the big weapon smaller and the small weapon bigger wasn't the point of this, and this was just assumed to look cool as is, well, it doesn't.

Both weapons are made from a fairly flexible yet sturdy plastic. These are better than many of the weapons that have been released as of late in terms of production quality.

Packaging

Most promotional figures have lackluster packaging, and while this certainly doesn't amaze, it is excellent for a freebie.

Of course, that isn't to say it isn't utterly disposable. There's really no reason to save this other than the appearance of future Gladius product. Which, I'm sure, the market is clamoring for as you read this.

Fin

If you're the kind of person that gets excited by cheap and free toys, this one's for you. It's hard to imagine any real reason to get excited over such a thing, as other finer simians have been made over the years, from Cy-Gor to Dr. Zaius. This one is pretty generic and has super-thin upper arms that make the forearms virtually Popeye-like by comparison.

It's nice to see toys for games as pre-order bonuses, but usually if it's a game you'd actually go and buy toys for, an entire line is usually in the works. As my interest in the game is low, it's hard to imagine a use for this toy beyond being a victim for my other, better toys. Still, for what it is, the execution seems right on the mark and the manufacturer did a fine job of hiding the articulation. Aside from the mouth, there's actually very little I could suggest to change it for improvement, but this is, of course, keeping in mind that one must accept it for what it is.

So this is the best darned Mongrel Man ever. It's no transforming robot, nor does it look as good as the toy on the back of the box, but it's OK. To Workshop Toys, I say you're on the right track, here's hoping you'll have more to work with next time.

Reviewed and photographed by Adam Pawlus
Sample purchased from a Scottsdale Sam Goody store for $0.01 on November 3, 2003
Reviewed on November 4, 2003.

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