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Temple Guardian

Articulated Icons
by yo go re

A while back, Shocka asked why Transformers is the only property with any kind of substantial "third party" presence. We didn't come up with any good answers, but then here come the Articulated Icons, with their Hand Ninja and their Ogun and their Silver Samurai.

Timeless and unblinking, the Temple Guardians of the Shogunate maintain a selfless vigil against the extraordinary manifestations of evil that plague the feudal landscape. Through countless hours of training and meditation, through hardships that temper the body and steel the mind, the Temple Guardians are forged into perfect warriors. Utilizing ancient, secret methods, the Guardians are taught to see that which lies beyond ordinary human perception. For each generation, only a handful of devoted warriors are able to withstand the terrors that pass unseen by mortal eyes: the gokai, the oni, the obake and countless others. With the rise of the Ninja threat, the Temple Guardians have become the last line of defense between the Shogunate and these near-supernatural foes. Relinquishing all notions of self, nameless and faceless, poised on the precipice between the physical and the metaphysical, the Temple Guardians straddle a narrow line that few could walk. With each day they must be vigilant that they do not become that which they guard against.

This may "not" be the Silver Samurai, wink-wink, but it's a samurai and it's silver; no one was going to release this without knowing how it would be interpreted. There were, at one point, tentative plans to make a Marvel Legends Silver Samurai, but that was a decade ago and Hasbro still hasn't made one, so we'll take what we can get.

The underlying body is the same as the ninjas, with all the armor done as separate pieces slipped over the existing molds. Since the bodyparts are removable, you can take a lot of the armor off. The most difficult part is the shirt - you can pop the arms out at the shoulders, but you still have to slide the piece up over the torso, and it's a tight fit. Most of the armor is plain horizontal bands, though on the gauntlets and greaves it's instead vertical, and looks more like painted wood than metal. His haidate thigh armor appears to be angular scale plates. The entire thing is topped off by a thick red belt. His feet are new, molded with sandals

All the armor bulks up the body just enough to make the head look comically small on the body - at least, when his mask and helmet are off. The Guardian is bald, with the removable topknot the Deluxe Ninja had. His lower face is concealed by a red bandana which, combined with the bald head, seems him feel similar to the 2007 Cobra Troopers. The eyes are painted slightly crooked, but it's easy to look past.

He wears a full-face somen mask that's shaped to fit against the toy's nose and cheeks. It has large eyes and a gaping frown, and it's stylized to look like a human face, not a demon or anything. There are two flaps at the edges of the mask that fit against grooves on the inside of his helmet, and the helmet itself has a peg that fits into the hole where his hair goes. The forehead crest is a separate piece that plugs in - there are four samurai in this first series, and all of them have different maedate so they can look unique. (The others get multiples, for customizing purposes, but the Temple Guardians are all meant to look like one uniform army.)

Since all the armor is done as separate pieces, the Temple Guardian's only accessories are a katana, wakizashi, and the scabbards to store them in. The belt loop plugs into the left side of his waist, so he can reach them to draw them easily.

The armor doesn't impede the articulation too badly: the figure has a balljointed head, hinged neck, swivel/hinged shoulders, swivel biceps, double-hinged elbows, swivel/hinged wrists, balljointed hands, a swivel/hinge torso, swivel waist, balljointed hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, swivel shins, and swivel/hinge ankles, and really only the chest joint gets blocked at all - partially because the paint had gotten stuck to the body.

Behind the shin guards, the Temple Guardian must have new lower legs, because while the ninjas were reliably 6", this toy is not; out of his helmet, he's about ⅛" shorter than that. So if you want to use him as a stand-in for the non-existant Marvel Legends Kenuichio Harada, he's going to be a little undersized. Which might work, considering how short Wolverine is, but it's still too small to be perfect. Of course, there are other things keeping this silver samurai just on the defensible side of legal, as well; but until such time as Hasbro decides to make one themselves, this is a fine third party replacement.

-- 08/23/17


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