And now, Scary-Crayon presents...
Kong Discounted Action Figures (Part Two)
by: Wes

It's been a little while since last time, but we're finally back to finish the King Kong discounted action figure review! Although their numbers may have dwindled thanks to the "buy three, get the fourth free" sale that KB Toys has been running on super value items, you should still be able to find many of the Playmates Kong figures at your local KB. In fact, the two featured in this installment are easily the least popular of the bunch -- I've even seen stores that only have the Kong vs Piranhadon set left in stock -- so they may be your best bet if you're looking for inexpensive 6-inch Kong lovin'. The 15-inch Deluxe Kong from Mezco, however, is much harder to locate at discount prices. I got lucky and found mine at Spencer's for roughly $20, but I only saw these guys at one store -- and I imagine the only reason they stuck around was that they were placed on the highest shelf (one of the employees had to get a ladder to retrieve one for me) and therefore probably escaped the notice of most customers. You might be able to find them a little cheaper than the original retail price at many web-based retailers. Of course, the shipping will probably bump Deluxe Kong back up to full price, but that's one of the unfortunate drawbacks of online shopping. Anyway, that'll do it for the introductory remarks: let's quit monkeying around (I know, I know) and get on with the review! And don't forget -- if you want to view a larger version of any of the images below, all you have to do is click. ;)

Kong vs Terapusmordax

EXTREME Kong arm-swinging ACTION! Not.

Of the 6" Kongs, the star of the Kong vs Terapusmordax set is probably the weakest. He looks decent, but he's sculpted primarily so that he looks good fighting the flying Terapusmordax -- meaning that he has awkward arm articulation (in particular, despite being a swivel-hinge joint, the right shoulder's movement is so limited that the arm is always outstretched), has hinged hands that look naked unless they're grasping something, and is always glancing slightly towards the sky. (If you can deal with the upward gaze, though, the head sculpt is otherwise pretty good.) Making matters worse, this Kong's action feature sucks. Whereas the Venatosaurus Kong's power slam really was extreme -- painfully so! -- Terapusmordax Kong's "extreme" arm-swinging action takes place in what seems like slow motion. I'm not even sure how Playmates managed to screw this feature up, as Mattel all but perfected the spring-loaded waist with the original 1980s He-Man figures. Whereas those ancient toys could land some pretty respectable hooks, Kong's girly arm-swinging feature has only one virtue: the fact that it locks and is activated by pressing a button on the monkey's butt. This doesn't make the feature itself any better, mind you, but it does mean that you can sort of use the waist joint for posing. Unfortunately, while I appreciate the presence of hinged knees in addition to the swivel-hinged hips here, they don't quite add as much to the posing options as one would hope. At least you can use them to lean Kong forward a little so that he doesn't appear to be too much of a dreamer.

And then there are the included Terapusmordax creatures. They're not articulated, but they're appropriately ugly and sport a dark pink wash that highlights their detail nicely against the lighter pink skin -- in short, they're more than adequate additions when compared to the cheap and unpainted accessories that often come with gimmicky figures aimed at children. If there's a problem with them, it's that the joints in Kong's hands are too weak for him to hold them up in the manner of the image on the cardback. You can get him into a workable pose with a lot of effort, but Kong will drop the Terapusmordax promptly if you so much as breathe nearby. Since this means that the 8th wonder of the world will no longer be holding them by the time your finger even gets close to the button to activate the pitiful arm-swinging action, the feature becomes even more useless.

On the plus side, I did think that the Terapusmordax Kong's flaws made him ideal for my Monsieur Mallah repaint. He looks relatively natural holding guns (and can do so with ease because they're much lighter than the included Terapusmordax), and the upward gaze makes him look cautious and alert. (Mallah's still got a ways to go, but here's the work in progress alongside the included Terapusmordax.) Given the way the right arm is permanently extended, Kong would look pretty good carrying either a briefcase or another comparable accessory if one angled it downward and took advantage of the hinged elbow. So while I don't recommend Terapusmordax Kong as a Kong, he could work quite well as a simian soldier or gorilla gumshoe of sorts. With the multitude of intelligent gorillas populating the DC Comics universe, I'm almost certain that there's one moonlighting as a private eye. If there isn't, there darn well should be.

Kong vs Piranhadon

Even the fishies cannot escape KONG!If this were a demon fish, it could say ''uncle'' in Hebrew.

At first glance, the Kong vs Piranhadon two-pack looks pretty lame -- which is probably why it's apparently the least popular of the Kong figure sets. This Kong's generic roaring expression does little to distinguish it from several of the others, and the body sculpt is noticeably flawed with such details as an undersized right fist. Given that Kong's position in the package makes him look more like he's about to scratch his armpit, it's difficult to gauge how or how well the "power punch" feature works. And perhaps most damning of all: whereas the other figures come with dinosaurs and freaky bat creatures or and even Ann Darrow, this Kong comes with a fish -- a fish that didn't even appear in the theatrical cut of the film. The packaging also makes it difficult to get a decent look at the Piranhadon, though once you get him out I admit that he is pretty cool, what with an excellent sculpt and great paint and even a rubbery body that's a nice touch given the slippery eel-like look of the creature. He even bites! The V-Rex from the Kong vs Juvenile V-Rex is tough to beat, but fishy here definitely wins the silver medal when it comes to Kong's included opponents.

Another thing you can't fully appreciate until you've got this Kong in hand is the power punching action feature. Admittedly, it does limit Kong's already scant articulation -- both swivel-hinged shoulders are spring-loaded, and aside from those he only has a cut neck, hinged elbows, a fairly useless cut wrist and hinged hand on the left arm, and disappointingly limited swivel-hinged hips -- but it's also fairly neat. Whereas Kong's left arm works as a clasp that automatically holds objects close to his body, the right arm strikes downward at an angle when one operates the lever on his back. If that doesn't sound cool, imagine Kong beating the crap out of any other toy he can clutch in his monkey mitts. Forget having him take on the likes of Superman and Wolverine: why not have supernanny Kong bust some misbehaving baby skull? Remember that scene in the original Mighty Joe Young where Joe gets drunk, breaks free, and breaks out a can of whoop ass on a group of lions? Take that, Simba! And yes, if you want, you can have Kong whomp on the poor Piranhadon as well. The power punch is a simple enough feature, but its applications are both delightful and limitless.

Sure, unless one plans to display him in perpetual fightin' mode, this isn't the Kong for collectors. When he's not holding an unfortunate victim, he's either got kind of an awkward, Bushwhacker thing going on or is signaling to his British chess partner that victory may be close at hand. It's not an entirely unappealing look, but it probably won't do anything for you unless you have exceedingly fond memories of Luke and Butch. One arm also looks larger than the other. But if you're looking for a Kong to play with and a fun feature that never gets old -- not to mention a neat little fishy accessory -- I highly recommend the Kong vs Piranhadon set.

15'' Deluxe Kong

15'' Kong: large and in charge.Knuckle-walking for the win.

Now this is a Kong. Yeah, the Kong 15-inch Deluxe Figure from Mezco has the size thing down -- that's a given, though one could legitimately lament the fact that he's not even bigger. (That said, he's almost perfectly in scale with your 3.75-inch figures. If we assume that 3.75 inches are equal to 6 feet, our 15-inch Kong would be 24 feet tall -- his exact height on Skull Island in the 1933 movie and just one foot shy of his height in Peter Jackson's epic.) But unlike the other figures we've reviewed -- particularly last time's Roaring Kong and his cheap gorilla costume likeness -- this one really does look like King Kong as he appeared in the unfortunate three-hour film. The figure was originally released in three different incarnations -- fierce (featured in this review; it was all Spencer's had left), rampaging (Michael Crawford did a pretty thorough review of this one way back when), and somber (as far as I know, nobody bought this one; who wants a sad Kong?) -- and all of them are spot on. With the minor exception of the paint on the lips, which makes my fierce Kong look less like he's in dire need of chapstick and more like he's been eating delicious strawberry cream, I've got nothing bad to say about this bruiser's looks. Granted, he should look great -- what with being a collector's figure that originally retailed at $40-50 -- but that's beside the point. This is one mighty fine monkey that easily takes the top spot among all of the King Kong figures in my collection.

The articulation here is also something special. Despite the fact that Kong only moves in nine places, you can get a handful of pretty neat poses out of this guy's swivel-hinged neck, cut hips, ball shoulders, and limited ball wrists and ankles. For example, with the exception of the Supreme Kong figure from Playmates, this is the only Kong designed to look good in a knuckle-walking pose as well as a standing position. (In fact, you'll likely want to display him with his left knuckles touching the ground, as he's much more likely to topple off of your shelf when standing upright due to his top heaviness and somewhat unreliable ankle and hip joints. Luckily, if your Kong does succumb to gravity -- like mine did -- he's a sturdy dude and should survive the fall to the floor unscathed.) This is probably the reason that I'm most impressed with this Kong, as his simple cut hips, ball ankles, and more efficient sculpt enable him to do so much more than other Kongs are capable of with swivel-hinged hips and hinged knees. And he may lack elbow joints or articulated fingers, but the slight bend of the right arm and grasping sculpt of the hand mean that he'll have little problem latching onto smaller figures and hoisting them into the air. Since the wrist turns on the ball joint, any potential gravity issues can be counterbalanced by having the smaller figure rest in the palm of his hand.

Given the similarities of the hip and leg articulation -- not to mention hands sculpted such that they could either be gripping something or balancing on the knuckles -- it almost looks like the Four Horsemen were going for something like this with the the DC Universe Classics Gorilla Grodd. But where they failed to give Grodd much posing variety despite his numerical point of articulation advantage, Mezco succeeded quite well with less. I'm not sure this Kong is worth the original $40-50 asking price -- I'm not sure any "toy" is really worth that much. Heck, I'm not even sure he's worth $20, though that's an excellent and comparable value for figures of this size. But I do know that whereas I've been largely dissatisfied with my toy purchases that went beyond the $20 mark, I can't help but smile at the 15-inch Deluxe Kong every time I walk past him.

Bonus: Circus Animals Gorilla

Everybody loves knuckle-walking.He's even held in place by a twisty tie!Also makes a great Planet of the Apes soldier.

Okay, the subject of this bonus review isn't a King Kong figure, but consider the Circus Animals Gorilla a distant relative or something. I really don't have too much to say about him -- hence including him as a bonus here rather than giving him his own article. I'm not sure he's even a gorilla, since it doesn't note his species anywhere on the package and he looks quite a bit like a tailless chimpanzee. Still, he's the only gorilla-like dollar store toy I've ever seen with four points of articulation (cut shoulders and hips), and that fact alone makes him worth snagging from your local Dollar Tree if you happen to come across him and are a fan of gorillas. He even has an action feature -- if you push the rather obvious button on the top of his head, he'll raise both of his arms up to about waist level. Is he making fun of other gorillas for being so fat whereas he is slim and trim? Is he raising his fists in preparation for a bout with a rogue Rock 'Em Sock 'Em robot? Has his ability to lift his arms higher been hindered due to him spending five years as a prisoner of war? I have no idea. But he can sort of knuckle-walk, which is more than I can say for most articulated toy gorillas. Ultimately, whether you want to use him as a more affordable substitute for Gorilla Grodd amidst your JLU figures (I can't be the only person who wasn't willing to shell out $30 for that box of repaints just to get Grodd, right?) or a tiny Grodd-bot sent to distract the 6-inch Leaguers while the real Grodd implements his master plan elsewhere -- or accomplish some other task that requires a cheap articulated 5-inch black-and-grey monkey -- the Circus Animals Gorilla (now that I think about it, he's probably a Bobobo) is the right plastic primate for the job.

That'll do it for the King Kong discounted figure review, then, though I have no doubt our super-sized simian friend will once again return to Scary-Crayon whenever I figure out the logistics for reviewing the Supreme Kong from Playmates Toys. (He's at least as large as Deluxe Kong, and I'd want to see about filming his knuckle-walking -- yes! -- action feature. Perhaps a trip to the great outdoors is in order?) But before we go, I'd like to comment on something curious I noticed while handling and observing these figures: that the injury pattern on each is more/less identical. Even the 15" Deluxe Kong from Mezco exhibits the same gashes and cuts that mar the smaller Playmates toys, though the larger size, better sculpting, and less vibrant red paint on the former somewhat mutes the overall visual effect. Perhaps this isn't terribly surprising, but it amuses me to think that, somewhere, there is a piece of paper that precisely details the shape and placement of scars and open wounds on a fictional giant gorilla. I can't think of a more appealing memo.

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