Plan-B Toys is one of the undersung heroes of the action figure industry. Formed by former employees of the once-great company Resaurus, Plan-B took one of Resaurus's last successful lines - Special Forces - and has been continuing to produce excellent figures ever since. While Special Forces is their flagship line, they also do a lot of sculpting work for other companies.
One such project was WizKids' Shadowrun: Duels line. This was an attempt by WizKids to capitalize on their success with their Heroclix game by creating a game based around 6" action figures, centered around the popular paper-and-pencil roleplaying game Shadowrun. Shadowrun is sort of a cross between fantasy and cyberpunk, where dwarves run around with shotguns and trolls serve as mob goons.
The figure I'll be reviewing today is Karkhov, a "Street Samurai." The Street Samurai is (to my knowledge) the brainchild of William Gibson, whose novel Neuromancer featured the first street samurai, Molly, a "razorgirl." A street samurai is a warrior, usually with cybernetic enhancements, who is as happy wielding a katana blade as a pistol.
Gregori Karkhov was a legendary ganger in his youth. A thrill gang veteran with the now-extinct Tukwila Vipers, he lost most of his fellow go-gangers in the crossfire of a war between the Blood Mountain Boys and the Night Hunters gangs. Karkhov was in a bar when a fight broke out between a former Yakuza warrior and some of the Blood Mountain Boys. Seeking revenge for his dead fellows, he joined in the brawl, and he and the Yakuza put the go-gangers to flight. Since that time, Karkhov has been making a name for himself in the area south of downtown Seattle, embodying the bushido codes that the older warrior taught him.
The figure features the usual impressive Plan-B sculpting. Unlike their Special Forces lines, Karkhov features detail almost on pair with McFarlane Toys, from the texture of his clothes to the detailing on his weapons.
The accessories, as always, are where Plan-B really shines. Karkhov has both a katana (the traditional samurai sword) and its shorter cousin, the wakazashi - and scabbards for both. He also comes with a pistol and a pair of computer-enhanced binoculars. He also comes with a removable bulletproof vest.
I'm guessing WizKids had specific demands for the articulation on these figures. Karkhov, who was part of the second wave, has slightly more than most of the first wave, with balljointed shoulders, pin-joint elbows and knees, wrist joints, and peg joints at the neck, waist and hips. This isn't bad, but more leg articulation - particularly balljointed hips and ankle joints - would have greatly improved this figure.
Since Karkhov is part of the Shadowrun Duels line, he includes a giant base that is intended to be used for the game. I have no idea how the game works, so see yo's review of Kellan Colt for a better explanation.
Plan-B is one of the most underrated, overlooked companies in the industry. Many people don't even know that some of their favorite toys are Plan-B's work. Smaller companies are where the real revolution is happening in the toy industry, and Plan-B is one of the best examples of it.
What's your favorite Plan-B contract work? Tell us on our messageboard, The Loafing Lounge.