To fill the gap between the first and second Hellboy movies, Mike Mignola and Guillermo del Toro turned to Tad Stones to produce animated movies. The first, Sword of Storms, debuted on Cartoon Network in time for Halloween in 2006, and Gentle Giant picked up the license to make toys and statues based upon it. Their first release has just shown up in April 2007, and they went with their strong suit: Bust-Ups.
Bust-Ups are small, affordable plastic statues that you assemble yourself,
usually from about 4-10 pieces. Originally blind-boxed, they now come in identifiying packages, though often with a surprise variant (or two) in the line. They're cool little things, and well designed, but that's not why we're here today. With the Hellboy Bust-Ups, Gentle Giant jumped on the BAF bandwagon. Buy all five Bust-Ups, and you can assemble yourself a nice little bonus. Or, well, not so little.
Wandering through the spirit realm on a quest to return a magical sword to its rightful place, Hellboy must face many mystical threats, but none so imposing as the Graveyard Skeleton.
By this point in the movie, Hellboy's fought off all kinds of yokai monsters, and is in the middle of a seemingly endless graveyard. In true Hb style, he says "enough of this" and calls the bad guys out - which worked a little too well. In addition to all the reanimated corpses, the entire ground shook as an unspeakably massive skeleton rose from beneath the earth, pulling a mound of gravestones with it.
The Graveyard Skeleton BAF is, surprisingly, a true action figure, not just a large Bust-Up (or a "Build-Up," as GG calls it). Gentle Giant has made figures before, but they were pretty much ignored. Because they were pretty much crap. The Graveyard Skeleton is anything but.
Fully assembled, the figure is huge; he's a good 8" tall, which means that none of the Bust-Ups are in scale with him. Hell, I can't think of a single figure that would be in scale with this giant. The design isn't entirely anatomically correct, but it's close enough that anyone except the most uptight forensic anthropologist would instantly accept it for what it's supposed to be. You look at it, you see "skeleton."
There isn't a lot of texture on the bones,
but there are some nicely placed cracks that give this big boy some character. The mound of graveyard dirt that's clumped on his back is really nice, and the headstones stick out at odd angles - just like they would if the ground beneath them had shifted suddenly. Which is did, after all. The paint brings out the details nicely, from the muddy, mossy grave dirt to the slight wash that gives the bones life. So to speak.
The beautiful surprise of this figure is the articulation.
The Graveyard Skeleton has 27 points of articulation, and moves beautifully. I never expected a showing like this. The head, shoulders and hips are balljointed; the elbows, knees, ankles and toes are hinged, as is the jaw; the wrists have both a swivel and a hinge, and there's a mid-foot swivel for balancing purposes; and finally, on top of all that, he has individually balljointed vertebrae! Holy crap! That's never been done before. It leaves him a little wobbly, but not so much that you can't get him to stand, securely, with some work. It's not the entire spine - just the lumbar and cervical regions - but it's enough.
The weight of the figure's upper body makes him want to pitch forward at the waist, so to counter that, Gentle Giant included a specialied display stand as part of the BAF pieces. It's a three-piece prong on a disc base, and it holds the skeleton well. The graveyard on his back is a single, removable piece, leaving you with a completely plain skeleton - something any collection could use. The closest we've come before was the Final Fantasy VIII Forbidden figure, and even that falls way short compared to this.
The Hellboy Bust-Ups cost about $6 each,
so buying all five to get this BAF will cost you approximately $30. Considering that the regular Hb figures cost about $15 apiece, that's not such a terrible price. All the Bust-Ups in the series are nice, so it's not like you're just paying for the Graveyard Skeleton. For the price, you also get Hellboy, Hellboy in Kimono, Hellboy vs. the Batgod, and the brothers, Thunder and Lightning. Or possibly Thunder and Lightning's clear blue variants. In any case, do yourself a favor and buy a complete set - the Skeleton is awesome enough to be worth it.
Do you like Bust-Ups? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.