Regardless of how you felt about the movie, practically everyone loved Mezco's 8" line of Hellboy action figures. They successfully combined the quality of sculpt and paint apps seen in companies like McFarlane with useful articulation near the level of ToyBiz, creating figures with a little something for everyone. While the first series gave us a decent selection of characters from the film, there were many characters and costume variations that fans still wanted to see in the 8" scale. Mezco responded with Hellboy Wave 1.5, which didn't give us any new characters (cough cough, Liz, ahem), but did give us plenty of movie costume variations, most involving Hb himself.
In addition to these new Hellboys (and one completely superfluous Abe Sapien), Mezco treated fans to one of the most highly requested figures, one almost as in demand as "Anung un Rama" Hellboy and Liz Sherman. That figure was "Officer" Kroenen, more commonly known as Nazi Kroenen. Nazi Kroenen has been seen in figure form before, first as a mini-figure in Mezco's line of Hellboy Mez-Itz, and then as an exclusive 12" figure from Sideshow, but Wave 1.5 is the first time we're seeing him as a traditional "action figure."
The character of Karl Ruprecht Kroenen got a serious revamp in Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy film. Something of a minor villain in the comics, del Toro resurrected the Kroenen as an undead Nazi ninja who wears all sorts of Vader-esque gas masks while wielding blades with all the grace of a certain martial artist/commando from a certain military toy line who shares Kroenen's affinity for black costumes and the silent treatment... and he climbs up walls like Spider-Man, to boot. While it's clear that Kroenen features a number of outside influences, he was still one of the most visually interesting creations from the movie.
Mezco had already produced a figure of Kroenen as he appeared through most of the film for the first wave of Hb figs, so this particular version represents the way the character looked during the prologue of the film, set on a rainy night during World War II. Fittingly, Officer Kroenen is decked out in full Nazi regalia and a pleather trenchcoat. The coat is definitely the best I've seen in this scale and it fits as realistically as it can over the body, but you don't really appreciate this figure fully until you get that sucker off.
Like all of the Wave 1.5 figures, Officer Kroenen features some re-use, although he's clearly got the most new parts. The torso, arms, and thighs are new, while the head, neck, waist, hips, knees, lower legs, and feet seem to be re-used from the Wave 1 Kroenen. Nevertheless, the combination of parts is seamless and the figure looks excellent. The folds and creases in his uniform look great, and there are straps, buttons and buckles everywhere. There's a slight gray wash over the flat black plastic, and the paint on the buttons and buckles looks appropriately aged and rustic (and yes, there are Nazi sigils on the uniform).
Mezco is taking a pretty big risk here by incorporating imagery like the swastika on an action figure that can be found in most shopping malls. Producing a figure of a Nazi (even a fictional one), is always a touchy issue; Toy Biz shied away from including Nazi sigils on their Marvel Legends Red Skull figure, and it's suspected that his affiliation is what caused him to be a chase figure. Did Wal*Mart really want a figure of Hitler's disciple warming its pegs? Plan B Toys also took a great deal of heat in Canada for producing a historically accurate action figure of a German Nazi soldier. Nevertheless, in a rare move, Mezco opted for accuracy over sensitivity, and Kroenen's swastikas and iron crosses remain intact.
His face is the same mangled corpse we saw under the mask in Wave 1, but it looks to be painted a bit better this time around. Over this face fits his gas mask, which is the same mask that came with the first Kroenen figure, but this time it's finished in matte black instead of gloss, and the accents are painted silver rather than gold. Atop his head fits a cap that's sculpted nicely, although it could be painted better. The hat sticks fairly securely through friction, with no need of a magnet. In addition to the hat, the mask and the coat, Kroenen also features two sets of hands (bladed and un-bladed), and a German pistol that fits either in his right un-bladed hand or in a holster on the figure's belt.
The fit can be a little tight in the holster, though, so be careful that it doesn't unglue itself from the belt when you tuck the gun away. The sheer number of accessories included with this toy leaves me wondering why Mezco didn't include more accessories with their first Kroenen like, say, uhm... more masks, maybe?! But the volume of accessories isn't the only way Officer Kroenen puts the original to shame. The blades on his hands are infinitely better than the thin, brittle things that came with the first figure.
Though the prologue of the film only lasted for a few minutes, Kroenen saw plenty of action, and this figure is fitted with enough articulation to recreate most of it. He has balljoints at the top and bottom of his neck, balljointed shoulders, peg biceps, hinged elbows, peg wrists, peg waist, balljointed hips, peg joints at the thigs, double-hinged knees, hinged elbows, and a mid-foot joint that allows for balance in those wide stances. He lacks the torso balljoint of the original Kroenen figure, but there are still plenty of poses this guy can hold nicely.
While this figure may offend some people who find it difficult to distinguish fact from fiction, it's definitely one of the best figures in an entire line of extremely well-made toys. Not to mention, it would make an amazing base for a custom Red Skull figure.
What's it going to take for Mezco to make a damn Liz, already? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.