When it debuted in 1992, Mortal Kombat was little more than a low-rent Street Fighter clone. Instead of actually designing characters, the designers just took pictures of their friends in silly hats. But thanks to free publicity generated by reactionary dimwits in Congress, the game was a hit and has been spawning sequels for more than a decade. Through all that, the game's unofficial "mascot" has been Scorpion.
In his former life, Scorpion enjoyed happiness with his wife and child - but that life was cut drastically short. He was destroyed by the unmerciful ninja Sub-Zero, who was working for the Lin Kuei (a rare clan of ninja assassins). Scorpion's true name and origin are now unknown. He was reincarnated as a specter and granted, as many believe, the opportunity to avenge his destruction. Will his thirst for revenge be quenched by the blood of his opponents? Or will he again be destroyed? This time in Mortal Kombat!
Scorpion was a last-minute addition to the game, part of a bid to build in two characters when there was only enough memory left for one. Midway's answer, like Mario and Luigi, was one character design in two different colors. Blue for Sub-Zero, yellow for Scorpion. The characters were both ninjas, wore matching clothes and had similar moves - identical cousins, you could say.
Jazwares, the company best known for releasing knock-off Street Fighter figs based on SOTA's molds, has also acquired the Mortal Kombat: Deception license, and debuted their figures at SDCC '05 with two exclusives based on characters' special moves: Cold Snap Sub-Zero and Skull Head Scorpion.
The game's free governmental publicity came about because of its violent content; at the end of the match, the victor was offered the chance to perfrom a fatality, a move that destroyed your fallen opponent. The most famous was Sub-Zero's spine-ripping finisher, but everyone had their own unique moves. Scorpion's hinted at his true origins: he'd remove his mask to reveal not a human face, but a skull, and breathe fire on his foes, leaving nothing but a charred skeleton.
When the original Mortal Kombat shipped, the characters really only had the most basic of storylines - Scorpion just had a skull head because it looked cool, not because the designers actually knew where they were going to go with him. However, because of that, this figure looks cool, too.
Scorpion is in the same 6" scale as Jazwares' SF figs, which means he's just a tiny bit smaller than your SOTA SF collection. However, the level of detail and playability is surprisingly high. The once-repetitious ninjas have diversified over the years, so Scorp's costume is pretty specifically his, now. He's got patterned shoulder pads, an intricate dragon plate at his throat, a skull on his stomach, and a belt with a raised diamond pattern. His boots are rather like thick sandals, and even the gloves on his right and left arms are different.
All the official publicity photos of these figures have quite obviously been Photoshopped, to no obvious end - the pics have been squashed horizontally, making the figures look taller, leaner, and completely disproportionate. The figure looks better in person than even the picture on the box would have you believe.
The paint apps are decent, if not great - Scorpion's got more of a paint wash than a Mattel figure, but not it's not as good as what you'd get from ToyBiz. He's less yellow, now, and more golden. The figure moves at the neck, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists, waist, hips and knees. It's weird not to find thigh, boot or ankle articulation in a figure like this, and the arms pop off the shoulders far too easily.
Scorpion has a few nice accessories, not counting the removable skull head. First he's got two swords, either of which can be held in his left hand or stored in its scabbard. The problem is, there's no way to attach the scabbards to the figure - at best, you can tuck them into his yellow vest, which is a separate, floating piece above a generic black torso.
The other accessory is based on Scorp's most famous attack in the game: hit back, back, punch and with a hearty "get over here!" he'd launch a spear out of his palm, impale his opponent and drag them across the screen for a follow-up attack.
It made him pretty well unbeatable, if you had the right timing. To re-create this, the figure includes 3/4" spearhead tied by a black string to a small eyelet. The ball on the eyelet fits into a socket on Scorpion's palm, though it's very loose. It also would have been better if they had given us something poseable rather than simple string.
As a preview figure, Skull Head Scorpion is a good indication of how this line is going to be - okay, but not great. It's certainly better than you'd expect from Jazwares, but not as good as it could be. Street Fighter still reigns supreme.
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