Friday, December 13, 2013

McFarlane Toys 1996 Tremor II

If I had a dollar for every figure McFarlane Toys made that I'd never heard of, I'd have.. well, let's just say that this would be a much fancier website. Today, I'm taking a look at Tremor II, a figure that was released in 1996 while McFarlane Toys was still on a meteoric rise and embracing action features. You know, for kids! Who is Tremor II? You've got me on that one. Hey, sue me.. the guy was just really cheap.

The Four Horsemen are a pretty well-known name in the toy community.. certainly for those with more than a passing interest, like me. They met when they were sculptors for McFarlane Toys, and contributed to the sculpting renaissance that started in the mid nineties. I've talked before about how McFarlane toys "changed everything" but I haven't really highlighted all of the figures that really personified that fact. It's time I change that. Tremor II is a great example of the strength of the sculpting, as is the 12" version of the original Angela figure, which I'll be taking a look at in the near future.

One of the strengths of the Four Horsemen is in giving personality to their sculpts, and expressionistic faces. Tremor has an undeniable smirk on his face, and is pre-posed in a hunched posture, still managing to have excellent balance thanks to the large feet and heavy plastic. He has very limited articulation, which was standard for McFarlane Toys, with swivel shoulders, wrists and waist, as well as a wrist that can pull out, revealing technological aspects. That's it. That's the articulation. No head movement, no leg movement. Just the bare basics. The problem is that at the time, they were being pitched as "Ultra Action Figures" which doesn't really work when the figures can barely move. Alas.
You've likely noticed the gigantic pump attached to his shoulder. It's kind of hard to miss. This was the action feature, and to say that it gets in the way of the sculpt is like saying that billionaires have a little bit of money. It's an understatement of an understatement. It might be tolerable if it worked, but it's a very short-sighted action feature. See, it's supposed to pump red liquid through the clear tubes and through the body. I saw it in action in 1996, and I can say that it definitely worked. Now, however, all we are left with is small blobs of fluid that haven't quite evaporated completely away. It's entirely non-functional. On the plus side, it's managed to avoid being completely disgusting, as other action features can devolve into, but it's definitely just a giant, useless pump on his shoulder now.
You'll notice the veins and wrinkles that run along the body underneath the skin. A technique, by the way, called illusionism when used in paintings. Thank me when that comes up in Art History - a class that any toy love should consider in college. Trust me. This level of realism adds not only to the visual appeal of the figure, but also the overall impression of strength that the character would have.
The technological elements don't skimp on details, either. I have no idea what they are supposed to do, but the way it is integrated into the figure is great. It flows in and out of the skin, and the different pain and sculpting techniques makes it clear which is which. I definitely applaud the sculptor for making what is essentially a plastic statue looking so dynamic and exciting.
I got this figure from Big Bad Toy Store for about $3.00, which is a price point that I'm an absolute sucker for. There are all kinds of things I'd spend three bucks on, and this is definitely one of the better investments. Positioned on a shelf next to Badrock, the two figures complement each other really well with both color and style. The two bright yellow hoses can be removable, but otherwise there aren't any accessories to worry about. If you want a dynamic, but ultimately immobile, figure that will get attention on the shelf, this is definitely a great, cheap alternative. It's easy to find and inexpensive to buy, which certainly makes what could be a mediocre figure much more appealing.


LEon on December 14, 2013 at 3:13 AM said...

For the price it was selling then it was totally worth it. IF this was made now, it will cost a bomb.

Wes Grogan on December 14, 2013 at 5:58 AM said...

That's totally true, LEon. I really love that it's one of the benefits of vintage toys that they can be so very affordable, and often weigh about a ton in plastic!

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