There aren't a lot of original properties out there in the toy market. Companies are more willing to take a chance on (and stores are more likely to carry) a toy line that is tied in to a proven brand than something dreamt up whole cloth. But still, there are a few companies that will take the risk.
One such company is Mezco. They ventured into unlicensed territory with their Monster Mez-Itz, and that line's going back for a second series. Now they're expanding, going native with their new line of TikiMon.
Inspired by ancient tikis, the TikiMon are "designed for the new millennium with a hip, cool attitude." Basically, they're little living tiki masks with arms and legs, which is indeed pretty cool. Each one's got a different expression and body type.
At the 2004 San Diego Comic Con, Mezco offered an exclusive preview Voodoo Ungowa TikiMon. Apparently this little guy has found himself on the business end of some zombie dust and is now all voodoo'd up, but he turned out very well. He's got an inverted bell-shaped body and a look of concentration on his face. His mouth is open slightly, either in a whistle or a long "oooooooo" sound, and his black eyes are X'ed out in the classic cartoon shorthand for death.
Ungowa is a wood tiki, and the sculptural detailing is nice, with carved grain all over. He's got a ridge of blocks that look like they've been screwed into place around his head and a horseshoe-shaped symbol on his forehead - could it be a "U" for "Ungowa?" His cheeks are painted a bright red, and they actually help make him look more skeletal. He's flashing peace signs with both hands, and if you turn him around you'll see he's even got a little tiki butt.
The figure is only 4 3/8" tall but has 10 points of articulation: balljointed shoulders, plus peg joints at the elbows, wrists, hips and knees; enough to give him a nice range of posing possibilities. While the regular TikiMon are supposed to come with lots of accessories, this exclusive does not.
This is a repaint of one of the regular TikiMon figures - he's mainly a pale gray with a few red and black highlights. He looks very skeletal, which suits the "Voodoo" theme well. There was also a "sun blast" variant available at the con, painted in green and orange. The TikiMon exclusive was sold in solid blue baggies, so you didn't know which one you were getting until you tore open the plastic to find out.
It seems, from their press releases, that Mezco is keeping kids in mind for this line, hoping to create a set of figures that's collectible not just because of potential value, but also because they appeal to the sort of "gotta get 'em all" mentality that drove so many recent kids' properties. Personally, I hope it works - if the Voodoo exclusive is any indication, these are going to be some really fun little toys.
Think you'll buy any TikiMon? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.