Tired of seeing other companies reproducing his creations, Stan Winston decided to form a toy company of his own. The man behind the Terminator, the Predator, Pumpkinhead and the alien queen decided he'd been on the sidelines for too long. His first series was, in short, a massive failure. And that's being generous.
His second line was only slightly better. The price was still high, but at least the figures had some articulation and a cohesive backstory this time. Stan Winston had created a wild jungle kingdom that existed in a time before man, the Realm of the Claw.
A continuing battle between light and dark, the Realm of the Claw line offered six figures split between good and evil. The point men for the warring factions were actually women: Kaela and Zynda.
As a master scout, Kaela has explored unknown regions of the Kingdom. Her knowledge is vital to Tswana and his quest for order.
Every good line needs its token female(s) - Stan Winston just proved he was better than most by not making them shortpacks. Kaela is a cheetah, so she looks quite sleek and speedy. Her outfit is the most ornate of the cats, with lots of plates and details and whorls. This is what Cheetarah would be if the Thundercats were aimed at an older audience.
Kaela has a pair of spears and a dagger that hangs from a sheath on her thigh, all of which are just as detailed as the rest of the figure. The attention to detail continues up onto her face(s), as both the calm and angry heads have their markings in the same spots, even the dark lines that run down from her eyes.
The cats move more than these kittens: head, neck, shoulders, biceps/elbows, wrists, waist, hips and ankles, yes, but no torso joint and no balljoints in the shoulders, so Kaela isn't quite as dynamic as a cheetah might be.
Each of the Realm of the Claw figures comes with a detailed display base that represents a part of their jungle home. Fitting with her status as a scout, Kaela isn't in the jungle - her base is a drying patch of mud with a few dead limbs breaking forth.
Zynda fights with Tare on the side of darkness. She is the chief spy of Tare's inner circle.
Girl fight! Everybody in this line is paired off, so of course there's got to be a bad girl. Zynda is a lynx, which isn't the most traditionally feminine feline, but Stan Winston made it work. Those big lynxy tufts of cheek fur really add a lot of motion to the angry face, and her outfit is much more reserved than Kaela's.
Zynda arms herself with more short-range weaponry than her opponent: she's got a dagger on her hip and two swords on her back. The swords fit through big loops that hang from Zynda's shoulders, which is pretty cool.
Zynda's base is much less organic than Kaela's - perhaps a commentary on their competing natures. Rather than a selection of flora, Zynda has a stone archway, crowned by a sabretoothed cat's head statue. The Realm of the Claw sigil is on the ground in the doorway, which suggests that this might be some sort of temple dedicated to the big cats.
My love of anthropomorphic toys has been well documented, so there was no way I wouldn't like the Realm of the Claw figures. In a discussion with Rustin, I commented that Relam of the Claw might just be the most narrowly focused targeted marketing ever, since these toys might as well have been made just for me. I love all six of them, but the $15 pricetag was just way too much.