On a distant island a long time ago, the story of Gormiti begins...
...And We'll Leave It At That
If you want the whole thing, you can read it here but essentially the - rather convoluted - story behind Gormiti is based around an evil Magma Tribe and four ''elemental'' tribes - Earth, Forest, Air and Sea. When the Lord of the Magma Tribe creates chaos among the previously peaceful elemental tribes, a five-sided war breaks out, with each Tribe battling one another. OK, so it's hardly Shakespeare but it does at least give a reason as to why the Tribes are in conflict. Now on to the Review!
Gormiti - Invincible Lords of Nature!
For those unfamiliar with this toy line, allow me to explain the basics: Gormiti are non-articulated, solid figures sold in multi-packs in the US, with the European toys also available in blind-bagged singles and mystery multi-packs (where one bonus figure is packed blind, a concept initially included in the early waves in the US but later dropped.) Each figure includes his or her own unique card, which gives more details on the character and is used in the battle game (more on that later.)
Figures are produced in standard colourways, which reflect their Tribe (Earth Tribe are yellow and brown, Sea Tribe are dark blue, Forest Tribe are green and brown, Air Tribe are white and blue and Magma Tribe are red and yellow), with special ''chase'' variants - dubbed ''The Atomic Series'' - featuring some very cool special variants (Earth Tribe Atomics for example, glow in the dark and Magma Tribe Atomics change colour in hot water.)
There's also - as mentioned - the battle game, which involves each player lining-up his or her Gormiti to face their opponent's figures and then working along the line, adding the Power value of their figure's card to the number stamped on their foot. Whoever scores the highest, wins. I doubt how many kids would really enjoy the battle game, given that most will probably already know their opponent's values by heart (you know how obsessive kids are about those sorts of things) or will simply select a line-up with the best scores.
Anyway, on to the Review!
The packaging consists of a card-mounted blister-pack, which gives a full view of the figures within. I'm sure many power-mad kids use this to their advantage when making their purchase (the battle card is also visible meaning it should be possible to work-out which Gormiti are ''best'') but for those who just buy for the character designs, the packaging does a good job of showing off each figure.
The rear of the pack (not pictured) includes visual checklists for each Tribe, which is a nice touch. Although some kids may retain the pack for this reference, it's not designed to be resealed and will be damaged as it's opened. Oh well.
First out of the pack is Hypnofrog of the Sea Tribe, or Hypnofrog the Mocker to give him his full title.
The Sea Tribe are a pretty solid bunch and are some of the better figures in my opinion. Maybe it's because their Lord Polypus has a Cthulhu-vibe about him or maybe it's because they tend to have a nice, chunky feel to them. Either way, Hypnofrog is a good example of the Sea Tribe.
Hypnofrog stands at around 2'' tall. Most of the ''regular'' Gormiti are around this height, but the Lords - which are limited to the four-figure packs - have about another half-inch on that. As you can see from the image below, Hawk Silent - although the same approximate height - appears much smaller, due to being a slimmer model.
Cast from a mid-blue plastic, Hypnofrog is accentuated with painted details in darker and lighter hues of blue. The overall effect is pretty good but the paint application is only average to fair in the series, with Hypnofrog being one of the better figures. The details aren't as well applied as they are on, say a Gogo's Crazy Bones piece or even some of the better Marvel Universe figures and the paler blue paint around his mouth and eyes has been applied somewhat haphazardly. What's also odd is his tail is cast from a different shade of plastic. Whether this is deliberate or a production mistake, I don't know.
There's no articulation with the figures in this range (although GP Toys USA have introduced some larger, articulated figures) so you're stuck with whatever pose the figure was sculpted with. Thankfully most are pretty good, with an element of dynamism to each. Hypnofrog, for example, has a leering look about his face and pose, which works nicely given his ''Mocker'' title and hypnotic powers. He also stands very well, with a wide-based stance augmented by his tadpole-like tail.
He's certainly one of the stand-out figures from the range and the fact that he's obviously a ''homage'' to the HYPNOTOAD doesn't hurt, either.
So what about his pack-mate?
Hawk Silent The Earl of the Skies
Hawk Silent - in this pack - is part of the Atomic Series (i.e. chase variant.) As a member of the Air Tribe, that means he's cast with some transparent parts, in this case his wings, head and torso.
Unfortunately what should be an excellent feature is marred by the use of the paint on the figure. I'd much rather have seen the entire figure produced in transparent plastic with some accents (such as eyes and beak) rather than have the transparent plastic painted over. The base coat is applied thickly to hide the transparent plastic, giving him a smudgy, undefined cast. And where the paint his applied for detail, it spoils the effect of the transparency - the purple, what...? spots? on his chest serve no purpose but to block the light and the paint on his beak is sloppily applied. It's a shame, as his transparent wings look superb, especially when backlit.
As for the sculpt itself, like Hypnofrog it's a solid piece with no articulation. The model is fine for what it is (a bird-man hybrid) but it lacks the imagination and detail seen in his pack-mate, something that's quite comment across the Tribes. Personally I find the Earth, Sea and Magma Tribe designs to be way ahead of the Air and Forest ones. Perhaps it's because the latter are simply variations upon birds and trees respectively, whereas the other Tribes have a wider palette to paint from.
Again, Hawk Silent is solid enough (although not as chunky as Hypnofrog) and stands well unsupported. Interestingly his wing-tips don't touch the ground, which I find surprising, as I would have expected them to act as stabilisers.
Overall then, he's a weaker figure than Hypnofrog but as a double-pack it's not a bad pairing and there are worse figures in the range that the pretty cool Hypnofrog could have been lumbered with.
Each figure includes his or her own personalised card, featuring an illustration of the character, their Power Rating and a brief biography for each. On the reverse of each card is a Secret Code that can be entered on the Gormiti website to unlock new areas.
Whilst I like the idea of the biographies on each card, I'd envisage a game where players select random ''Action Cards'' from their deck to augment their Gormiti's rating as being a lot more exciting than simply using the corresponding card. Why not simply make the rating on the figure's foot the total instead of having to add the two values? Are GP Toys trying to make Gormiti educational or claim they help with maths skills? I don't know. Anyway, mini-rant over.
Gormiti aren't a toy line everybody will enjoy. They're not poseable, their production values aren't that impressive and the trade-and-collect element of the range is virtually non-existent, due to the fact that you can simply buy the figures you want.
But at the same time, there's something that appeals about the line, especially the Sea, Earth and Magma Tribe figures. Some of their designs are great and the figures from those Tribes are pleasingly tactile and chunky when handled.
I know I keep talking about it, but I really wish they'd go down the single-figure, blind-bagged route with the range, as their current price - around $5 for two figures - is just not quite attractive enough to make them a justifiable impulse purchase and by showing you what's in the pack, there's no mystery or fun to be had in the purchase. Blind-bagging would make for a more interesting line, given that it adds the thrill of finding rare figures and a social element of trading and swapping.
Perhaps I'm trying to make them into something they're not and that's because they remind me so much of the excellent Monster in My Pocket range of toys, a line I think is well overdue for a revival. But if you can accept them for what they are - slightly overpriced yet solid, pleasingly chunky toys with some interesting designs - then you might enjoy Gormiti toys.