Produced by Hasbro | Released February 2014
As you may recall, last month we took our first tentative steps into the joint worlds of Kre-O and the new Dungeons & Dragons ''Army Builder'' blind-bag figures with our Review of the Orc Beastmaster. Today it's the turn of his wave-mate, the equally ferocious Orc Axeman.
The Orc Axeman
The Orc Axeman (although technically, shouldn't that be Axeorc?) is one of the 12 figures available in this first wave of Army Builders. (And while we're on the subject, I like the idea of the Army Builder packs, but I do wish they included a spare accessory or two, as it would be great to be able to really mix things up and add a unique element to your duplicates.) Retailing at around the $3, the pack includes the figure and an assortment of accessories/augmentation parts, plus a few other treats - which we'll come to in a moment.
Sculpt & Design
The Orc Axeman - unsurprisingly - is based on the standard Kreon buck, with a new head and chest tampo, plus a few accessories to augment his look. That's not to sound dismissive - far from it, Hasbro has actually done a great job injecting character into these core figures - but rather simply explaining how the Kre-O system - like the LEGO Minifigure - is based around the concept of an adaptable basic figure to which new accessories and details are added.
Like the Orc Beastmaster, the figure's prime ''defining accessory'' is his helmet, an open-faced, almost ''fanged'' look that's sculpted with some nice angularity and a very aggressive look. It's not quite as awesome as the Beastmaster's hood but as I imagine the Axeman is supposed to be some kind of whirling berserker, it makes sense for him to wear such a protective helmet.
As his name suggests, he uses axes in battle and so, as they're a pretty integral part of his design, I'll quickly discuss them. The axes are of an individual design, the smaller of which is probably familiar to anybody who's ever bought the Kre-O Cityville sets, as it's used by firefighters in those packs. The larger of the two is actually assembled from a haft and blade. It's a nice, sturdy-looking weapon but unfortunately the shaft piece is marginally too narrow to sit properly in the hands of the figure and - unless you're relying on some smart balancing - the only way he'll hold it properly is in a two-handed pose (as seen above.) That would be fine if the figure included some kind of clip or storage slot for his other axe but unfortunately that's not the case. It's a minor quibble in an otherwise cool design but I would have really enjoyed some kind of back-mounted ''gripper'' for the spare axe when not in use.
The base Kreon articulation is, overall, pretty good, with the use of ball-joints (rather than simple twist joints) on the hips and shoulders and the twist waist adding an extra dimension above that seen with such figures as the LEGO Minifigures.
The joints themselves move nicely but it's easy - especially when posing the Axeman with his two-handed axe - to force-pop them out of the sockets. That's not a negative for some people (as it means you can further modify and kitbash your figures) but it can be a little frustrating when you're trying to pose him with the larger axe.
As mentioned above, the Orc Axeman comes with tampo detail, in this case on his face (single sided only, sadly), chest and legs. In addition his arms use the figure's colorway - cast in plastic - to add additional detail.
The overall effect is good but I do wish they'd extend the chest detailing to the sides of his torso and back, as the Kreons can look a little bare when viewed from behind. But the coloring is nicely muted and dirty without looking dull and the tampos are all very well applied and there's some great close-up detail, like the nose ring and leather strapping on his armor.
Extras & Accessories
The Orc Axeman - as his name suggests - sports a pair of axes, which we've already mentioned above. Of the two, I prefer the longer axe, as the use of brown and grey plastic gives it a more realistic (and tribal) look compared to the solid grey of the other axe.
The figure also comes with the Kre-O ''display'' brick base and a green ''gaming'' base, plus a gaming stat card, instructions (which also serve as a wave checklist) and a $3 coupon, redeemable against Kre-O sets priced above $15.
The Orc Axeman delivers pretty much on what you'd expect from an Army Builder figure. The design is strong but generic enough to pass off as a ''nameless grunt'' and the provided accessories do a good job of selling the character's role.
There are, however, a couple of problems: for starters, the two-handed axe has a haft that's just too thin to grip. Yes, it fits in his hand without any problems but it's just so slim as to allow it to move, something you'll notice when the axe head is attached (as this tends to throw the balance off and cause it to ''droop'' in his hand.) There's really no excuse for this. Secondly (and I'll concede this is more a wish than a complaint) the character comes with two weapons but nowhere to store either of them. As I said, some kind of back ''grip'' would have been a great addition, as it would have added so much to the figure's pose potential.
I also wish Hasbro would include an extra weapon or accessory, just to allow a little more variation among identical figures. I suppose the idea is you just buy a whole bunch of figures and mix and match weapons with others from the line but it does seem a missed opportunity. But again, this is me just playing Armchair Toy Designer.
Minor quibbles aside though, this is another fun, good-looking addition to the Kre-O D&D line and I'll certainly be on the look out for more of these toys in the near future.