Avast, ye scurvy dogs! There be no question that pirates, those masterless wanderers of the briny blue, are undergoing a wee bit of a boom right now. Not the kind of boom found at the bottom of the sail or at the end of a cannon, but in the sense of a right proper renaissance, as the land-lubbers say. They're big. They're popular. They're hotter than the Bermuda sun when you're lodged in the doldrums. Thanks to the poncy prancing of that Gilbert Grape kid, pirates be hip again, and there be any number of freebooters ready to make a quick coin off the trend. Look to the horizon, to the works of Mezco Toyz.
Mezco is a solid, reliable company, that has always kept an even keel: they sail the calm seas of their big money-making properties, but they also brave the stormy waters of the more obscure stuff. 20000 Leagues Under the Sea, Popeye the Sailor... it's enough to make even the saltiest old pirate smile. But just like sailing around the Cape of Good Hope, sometimes these seas get too rough for safe passage. So when the toy sellers felt the squeeze of rising prices and tighter budgets, Mezco was among the first they turned their guns upon.
Yarr, but brave Captain Mez didn't let his ship sink. He's doing his best to weather this storm, to keep the treasure coming. Which is why, when pirates got big, Mezco was ready to sail. They had an entire series of Pirate Mez-Itz ready and waiting for the new demand.
Mez-Itz, in case ye've been too long at sea and don't know, are Mezco's own brand of block figure, though in this case, "block" may be overstating things a bit. Mez-Itz are 3" tall figures built around a generic, egg-shaped body. Unlike Minimates or Shockinis, Mez-Itz are rounded and have more distorted proportions, and their likenesses are more caricatures than strict representations. There are four three-packs in this series: are they worth your doubloons? Lash yerself to the mast and read on to find out!
It's a little-known secret of the pirates that the captain actually did very little commanding once the crew was at sea. Now, he was a great fighter, capable of leading and repelling raids, but for day-to-day operations of the ship? Yarr, that be the worry of the quartermaster,
who oversaw the crew and made important decisions. Still, if it's the cap'n ye be wantin', Set 1 is for you.
Captain Garrot certainly looks the part. He dresses in nicer finery than most of his crew, with a blue coat and a non-removable black hat. A big, bushy beard grows beneath his gappy smile, and there be bags beneath his eyes - the result of time baking the Caribbean sun, no doubt. As a warrior chief, he'll need his sword to hold his position. Even his parrot's had it rough: the poor beastie's got an eyepatch and a peg leg. Captain Garrot is is wearing thick black boots, and has a polka dot bandana under his hat.
Our first actual crewmember is Fish-Eye Jim, who lives up t' his name. Is it really smart t' give the ship's rifle to someone with eyes this bad? When they point different directions, how can he aim? Fish-Eye Jim is wearing a right smart stocking cap and a blue vest, and has a peg-leg: obviously he's willing to lay his flesh on the line for his crew! His remaining leg pokes out of a pair of ragged pants, and there are tattoos on both his arms. He's got a bit of stubble on his bulbous chin, and a long moustache reaches down to his jaw.
Po Gye looks to have joined the crew in the Orient. He carries a leather mallet and wears a leathor apron, though he can remove it for those days when he just wants to get some sun. He could stand to spend some more time above deck, because his skin's turned a right palid batrachian tone. Even the blue tattoos on his arms and forehead cannot disguise it. Po Gye has seen rough times, ye can be sure, for his nose look t've been bit clean off. Perhaps he lost it to a Turk in a grog-house fight. And no fancy metal prosthetics for him, like that poncy Danish stargazer, no sir! There's just a rotten, yellowing nub there. Yarr, it be harsh to sit across from Po Gye at chow time.
If there was one thing ye could always say about pirates, it's that they was never one to shut someone out. When "civilized" society was still buying and selling people based on the color o' their skin, pirate crews were more interracial than an Atlana high school prom. Any hand who could do the work was welcome, and a number of escaped slaves found freedom in a life before the mast. Shiver me timbers! Set 2 plays to that, offering us two black men and one white.
Willie One-Eye is the fanicest pirate in this set, wearing a fancy purple and gold jacket he plundered somewhere. A yellow sash is tied around his waist, and he's wearing green pants. Though he be balding, his remaining hair is coiled into dreadlocks what spill down over his shoulders. Too long he's been at sea, for his teeth are crooked and rotten. The eyepatch and the deep scar running down his cheek show that he's not afraid to stand up and use the cutlass he comes with. I've heard tale that certain land lubbers think Willie One-Eye looks a bit like some bloke named Dave Chappelle, but only as a character he might play, not the man hisself. Yarr.
Petey Stripes be next, and a right vicious pirate be he. There's not a lot of laundry to be done on the open ocean, so Petey can be identified by the red and black shirt he wears most every day. Now, old Petey Stripes, he's getting on in years - his long hair's gone grey and is starting to fall out, and one eye is covered by a fog no sunshine will burn off. An anchor is tattooed on his left arm, and a fresh wound is visible on his right. They really shouldn't let him wander about the ship with that bloody axe in his hand - especially not if he's been drinking what's found in that green bottle. And where'd he get that bag of loot?
It was on an uncharted island where we found Zugbinnie, and 'tis truth that he still be more wild than civil, even among this crew of buccaneers. He wears no shirt, showing off his dark brown skin and them strange black tattoos of his. He's got a red sash holding up his tattered blue pants, and he goes barefoot. Barefoot, not barefeet, because he's lost his leg in service of the ship. At least they outfitted him with a fine wooden leg. Zugbinnie's hair be pulled up in a topknot, and he's got a few metal rings looped through that prominent bottom lip. His weapon of choice is a jagged flint dagger with a simple handle, and ye can be sure he's sunk it into many a pale, fleshy belly. Cross him and he'll gut ye in yer sleep.
Mezco's pirates be quite impressive in their variety. Between 12 figures, there is almost no duplication, and this is from the same company that thought nine Hellboys made for a balanced movie line. Arr! However, the one set that offers the most re-use is Set 3, with two figures ye might be content plundering from other sets.
If Goldmouth looks familiar to ye, maybe ye've just been staring at the sun for too long. Some men might say he's nothing but a repainted version of Willie One-Eye, what with them sharing the same head, but those men be nothing more than the filthiest bilge rats! Aye, the head be the same, but that be all: his hair is bleached blonde by the sun, and his teeth are as gold as ye'd think. He's wearing a threadbare red shirt beneath a black leather bandolier. He's wearing big thick boots, and carries an axe. Since he's used to operating with just one eye, he's also got a telescope, to man the lookout post.
There's more to being a pirate than swords and sabers, as Claude Kross can attest. His weapons of choice are twin flintlocks, so he doesn't have to wade into the fray. A red rag is tied around his head, and his maroon jacket has green edging. A look at him suggests he's picked up the pox from some buxom beauty - one eye is gone all milky, he's got bumps on his face and his chin is rougher than the sea during a full nor'easter. Ye can bet that large handlebar moustache hides some dirty secrets, as well. Dead hair tells no tales!
Rummy Joe looks like he's been sneaking grog from the galley - his big belly pokes out from the fur lining his vest, and he's got the look of a mean drunk in his eyes. There's dark hair on his arms, but his thin beard is blonde. He seems to be missing some teeth, too; that grin is quite lopsided, says I. That sword he's carrying isn't just for show - the scars on his chest and stomach bear testament to the wounds he's taken for his ship. He's also the only figure in this set not wearing boots - if ye've lost yer boots again, Rummy Joe, it's the plank for ye! Only trustworthy mates allowed on this crew, ye thieving dog! He's got his hair tied up in a black bandana - probably because that's easier than washing it.
Now, a ship can't have two captains any more than a galley can have two cooks. One man, one command, that's the way of the sea. So why is it that Set 4 has what looks like our second captain mixed among the hands? Are the Pirate Mez-Itz divided into two crews? Is one the master and the other the commander? Is it a short-term alignment, simple passage or a mutiny in the making? If there are two captains on board when the ship sails out of port, how many will be there when it sails back in?
It's a safe bet that Red Jack earned his name not for the color of his coat, but for the enemies left behind him. He's a mad captain, t'be sure, with one wild eye and a mighty laugh on his lips. His big beard is twisted into two points, and his right hand has been lost and replaced with a hook, but he still hasn't lost his grip on that bag of loot. His sword is as fancy as his clothes, with an ornate handguard capped by a skull. Red Jack's hat is removable, but don't try giving it to anyone else, or Jack'll run them through.
The first crewmember in this set might look familiar, but there's a reason for that. Why, pray tell, does this bloke look like the spittin' image o' Claude Kross? Because he's Pepe Kross, Claude's brother. Both of them found a life at sea, mateys, so it makes sense they look alike. All the colors are different, though, and Pepe's still got both eyes. Like his brother, he carries a pistol, but his hair is blonde instead of black. He's got the same poxy look about him, but his bumpy chin looks like a goatee, since it almost matches the color of his hair.
Finally, we've got another islander, Skull Tom, who takes his name from the tattoo on his chest. If ye need an enforcer, someone hard t'watch yer back, then Skull Tom is yer man. A wicked scowl has creased his face, and his eyes are cast downward to look at a fallen foe. If his sword doesn't do them in, then the small bottle of poison he carries surely will. Skull Tom has thick rings in his ears, and his beard is tied up with a red strand. His skin is nearly gray, but the tattoos on his chest and face stand out nicely.
There's a bonus available to any sea-dog crafty enough to hire on the entire crew at once: purchase all four sets through Mezco's online store and you'll receive a free 13th Mez-Itz, Scabby Joe. There's a little poem on Scabby Joe's bag, but it's god-awful, so we'll spare ye.
Scabby Joe is a zombie pirate. Wonder where they got that idea? His skin is a sickly green, and his skeletal face peeks out from under a black cloth. He's got one evil red eye staring out, and the tattered remains of a white shirt cling to his body. The real bonus, though, is Scabby Joe's treasure. Ye'll find a working treasure chest with a hinged lid, and so much booty that ye'll barely be able to close the lid. Gold, gems, ingots, statues... Scabby Joe collected quite the treasure before he died, so he's probably going to be none too happy about giving it up now. Beware!
The packaging is just as good as the toys. For one thing, it's still a blister and not a stupid clamshell, that idiotic plastic tomb that deserves to be sent t' Davy Jones' locker. The three pirates in the set are in an oval blister, with the entire crew pictured across the top. The background is an old map, and that theme carries over to the back of the cards as well.
Despite the few instances of re-used heads and a few shirts, the Pirate Mez-Itz be a right diverse crew, by god. Mezco has put more into these Mez-Itz than any series before. The peg-legs are new, and so are the boots. Every figure has a rubber torso piece of some sort, even those who are bare-chested. A few re-used heads? Ye'll never notice. We said that the Zizzle Black Pearl had uses even if ye didn't collect that line - it may look nice under Captain Jack Sparrow, but it looks even better under Captain Garrot and the Pirate Mez-Itz.
As ye know, people love pirates again, which is why these Mez-Itz, which have been out for months, have just now started to show up at places like Hot Topic. When buyers went looking for pirate merchandise to stock their stores, Mezco's cannons were loaded and ready to fire. So let's hear it for good luck and timing, for that's what landed these scurvy souls back in the real stores, where more people can see them. Buy up, lads, while ye can - these pirates are worth it.
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