Sol Commander

I'll admit that I've been keeping one eye on the Acid Rain product ever since it first starting appearing online, but not both eyes. There was definitely a price point issue in my mind, and while I love the concept of "boutique" action figure lines that don't pull any punches so they don't have to appeal to mainstream retail (and can sell at higher prices), there's a difference between loving the concept and being willing to start ponying up cash to buy them. When it came to Acid Rain, I did like the apocalyptic storyline, and the weathering on the figures (and vehicles) was certainly exceptional, but I still wasn't sold, especially on the figures.

I don't have issues with stylized design, but the paint work on the figures looked hyper real while the sculpting and design was exagerrated, with elongated arms, a bit of a hunched over look and some old school armor sculpting. But the more I looked at it, the more I understood and appreciated the design aesthetic. The moody dark, muddled colors, and the combination of vintage and futuristic design elements bridge some different eras quite effectively. The basic concept of "Acid Rain" is that World War II ended with simultaneous atomic bomb drops. Not just on Japan, but also on the United States, and the resulting toxic fall out has doomed a large chunk of the world to deadly acid rain, and while corporations have taken over control of the United States, there remains significant in-fighting and battle over agricultural resources.

The main selling point for these figures goes beyond the overall design to me, though. Beyond being complements to the vehicles (which are the real highlights, in my opinion), the figures were focused around articulation. Simply, these are some of the most articulated figures I have ever gotten my hands on. Some folks might think this enhanced articulation impacts the overall appeal of the figure look. I might agree with that, since my initial negative reaction to the proportions almost did color my overall opinions on the figure. Thankfully, though, faithful GeneralsJoes reader Daniel volunteered to send me some figures to review. Without getting my hands on them, I might have never discovered how much potential this line has.

First of all, I feel need to mention the material of the figure. It feels much softer and more "rubber" like than other figures by major manufacturers. This isn't a major problem, and doesn't impact articulation too much, but the softer joints do make it a bit tougher to hold some poses. For instance, during shooting of the "firing" pose, the arm kept drooping because the softer joints couldn't hold the arm up. But this is a very specific hang up on my part and shouldn't be considered any kind of condemnation here. In fact, in many cases, the rubber is better, as it makes the armor easier to remove, and in the event that you want to swap a head, it comes off easily. It also doesn't feel like joints are going to be frozen or broken, at least from the waist up.

From the waist down, while the legs do feel a bit soft still, the knee joint almost seems like a two-part "ratchet" system which works really well. The two joints are built around the knee pad a bit differently than I've seen before, allowing for pretty enhanced movement above and below that pad. Some poses can look a bit weird as the true "knee joint" is off center, but with a little positioning, it works really, really nicely.

The ankles feature more enhancement. With the G.I. Joe line, we either got "rocker ankles" or "swivel ankles". Acid Rain features both. The best of both worlds, really, as the ankle pivots forward and back, swivels, and also rocks, allowing for great poses of all kinds.

One final improvement is the amazing construction around the neck and head. There is "collarbone" joint that allows for some great range of motion, and the neck ball helps, too, allowing these figures to achieve great sniper poses and other dramatic angles.

If I have any complaints, it would be that I'm definitely a "character based" collector, and to date, the Sol Commander is really the only "character". I'm also a bit confused about him being a "Commander" when there are no real troops to "Command" (yet) and through the first two sets I now have, there are three "Commanders". I wonder if he's supposed to be a "Commando"?

For weapons, he comes with a removable helmet, removable armor, and a great looking rifle that bears resemblance to real world weaponry to be sure.

While to me the main draw of Acid Rain continues to be the vehicles, and I'm in big hopes that I can share a vehicle based review here soon. But I will say while I originally thought the figures were just kind of an afterthought, my opinion on that has changed dramatically with my first "in hand" experience. These are pretty great figures with awesome range of motion. If you want to read up more on the Acid Rain universe, definitely checkout the Acid Rain World blog, which is maintained by the guy doing the toy design. There is also a great discussion group on Facebook. Also make sure to keep hitting Big Bad Toy Store to buy these things. I think they're worth dipping your toes into.