Animal Warriors of the Kingdom by Spero Studios
The collectible action figure landscape is changing. It may, in fact, have already changed, especially when looking at figures in the 1:18 scale. For a few years now, offerings of quality figures at that scale have shifted out of the retail place and into another realm – Kickstarter. Since Marauder and Boss Fight Studio combined to blow the doors off the 1:18 collectible action figure market on Kickstarter a few years ago, there’s been several other iterations, and so far, Animal Warriors of the Kingdom are among the first of that second generation to deliver.
Considering the potential obstacles and bottle necks, the fact that these figures were turned around in less than a year is truly remarkable. In fact, the target delivery date of the Kickstarter was November, 2018 and here we sit nearly seven months ahead of that target with many folks getting these figures in hand. An impressive first attempt by Jason Bienvenu and Spero Studios.
As for the figures themselves – again, a very impressive introduction to action figure making.
What I love most about this line is its refreshing return to the action figure roots that brought most of us to the table. Brightly colored, vibrant characters, a property completely self-developed and not merely licensed out from the latest multi-million dollar brand, Animal Warriors of the Kingdom is a story with characters completely out of Jason’s mind, and they work exceedingly well. Anyone who has been following GeneralsJoes.com for any period of time knows that I have a weakness for the concept of animal/human hybrids (my first work as a non-G.I. Joe author involved a werewolf military commando for crying out loud). AWOK is simply right up my alley.
Due to costing concerns, the first batch of figures uses the same base body across the board. A sculpted fur “animal on two legs” style kind of figure buck, which is amazingly versatile, able to work for apes, chimps, skunks, raccoons, wolves, tigers and nearly everything in between. Even some creative reuse of head sculpts manages to cross breed borders and bring several different unique species to life.
The base body isn’t 100% perfect, but it is exceptionally well done. There feels like a bit of glitchiness with the knee joints, but it’s a minor issue and the advanced articulation and impressive overall sculpting of the figures overcomes any minor fit issues, in my mind. Each figure also comes with an alternate head that really drives up the army building mentality and provides a ton of awesome flexibility.
Along with repurposed bodies and heads, they use a few different sets of armor, with again, creative color alterations to create a wealth of different styles that bring these characters to life exceptionally well. Everything from a single diagonal bandolier to a fully wrap around torso armor. AWOK doesn’t deal much with those peksy peg-and-hole closing mechanisms for their armor, instead having it sort of “wrap around” the figure and I like that. It stays on quite well and is very easy to swap and remove.
There are gauntlets and leg armor, which aren’t quite as functional, as they tend to shift somewhat when posing and feel a bit loose. A little blue tack or something on the inside resolves that problem nicely, and it’s those sort of things that Spero will use as learning moments and certainly look to resolve minor issues going forward.
The weapons as well are very nicely done. Spears and swords, sais and other curved armaments all combine to provide a wide array of different choices for the figures. The design work is exceptional on some of these (I love the curved short sword and narrow sai-like daggers). All in all, the line does everything it sets out to do, and everyone involved should be incredibly proud of what they’ve accomplished, taking what was essentially an image in their mind and translating it into a fun, colorful, highly articulated and customizable action figure line.
Next I want to look at some of the figures individually:
Pale is the main “hero” character of the AWOK universe, using a unique head sculpt with the same base body as the rest of the line. His cross-torso strap is simple, but looks great, as does the armored belt.
He has red gauntlets and shin armor which contrast really nicely with his light gray base body creating a very cool looking hero figure. He comes with a secondary “wolf” style head sculpt which can be used to create another kind of trooper.
Pale is a really terrific figure with a fantastically unique individualized head sculpt and excellent array of weapons.
The primary villain of the AWOK universe, Baron Kahlee also has a unique head sculpt (two of them in fact!). One featuring his sinister sneering visage, the second with a very cool and unique elaborate ceremonial helmet.
His figure contains very cool variations of blue for the fur and mixes quite nicely with his armor and cross-torso strap. The sculpting on his face is fantastic, looking cocky, sinister, and downright mean, and I really dig his weapons as well. He’s a great, really fun figure for sure. I love the long pony tail sculpt at the back of his head as well, there’s a lot of really cool uniqueness to this figure that lifts it above some of its peers.
As Kahlee’s personal assassins, these creatures are chimps that are very reminiscent of the Baron’s look and feel. Their color schemes are similar, but they have some different heads and armor configurations, giving them some really great uniqueness.
Like the other figures, the base body works really well, giving him the same great fur sculpting and articulation. His shoulder pad his similar to Kahlee’s but less ornamental, but still looks terrific. As I’ve mentioned with a few other figures, the gauntlets and shin armor don’t always stay on perfectly, but again those are minor gripes for what is a really great figure. His two heads offer an eye patch and non-eye patch look, and I find myself truly loving the accessories here. The bow, two sais, simple knife and wicked curved blade are a great combination. Excellent stuff, and one of the cooler figures to be sure.
Standing apart slightly from Kahlee and the Assassins, the Horrid Knights are gibbons (I believe) that are lighter in color, yet still excellent foot soldiers for the Baron’s nasty monkey army.
Unlike Kahlee and the Assassins, the Knights have full blown suits of armor, with a great piece of chest armor and armored belt that look very, very cool. I find myself enjoying the fit and feel of the torso armor especially, which slides over the shoulders and stays secure without the peg/hole system. All decked out, the Horrid Knight looks like a formidable foe indeed with his long sword and nasty spiked club. He comes with both a basic soldier head and the “captain of the guard” head with a really awesome spiked helmet to make him look nice and ornamental.
Like Baron Kahlee has his troops, Pale works with the Chunari, a great looking ape army in and of itself that battles the Horrid Knights at every opportunity. What’s really cool to me is that the Chunari soldier is essentially the same kind of figure as the Horrid Knight, a monkey with armor, yet they manage to make them look so completely different.
The Chunari Soldier has double pieces of armor that goes from shoulder to legs but looks a bit different from the armor that the Horrid Knights have. The effect is a much different looking soldier that looks great battling against the Horrid Knights. I really love the colors on this one, too, with a great shade of brown for the base body, complimented perfectly with yellow and red for the armor. Like the Horrid Knights, two different heads are included, one for a basic soldier and one for a leader-type, only instead of a spiked helmet, this one has an awesome, elongated fin. Great accessories make for another really fun addition to the AWOK tribe.
Ahhh, Crueler. This figure is awesome. As a panther warrior, this guy demonstrates just how flexible this relatively straight forward body type is. Not only does this terrific furred body work for monkeys, but it also works well for cat creatures as well. Crueler has an awesome head sculpt with painted scars, showing an old school fighter who has been through the ringer.
The two head sculpts here represent both Crueler himself as well as a generic “panther trooper” who might follow his lead. He wears the same armor as the Chunari but with the blue and gray color pallet, it looks considerably different. His light purple fur is a really great color scheme as well. For pure character purposes, this one is a winner.
This one might be it. Tiberius might be my absolute favorite figure from the entire first run of Animal Warriors of the Kingdom. Like Crueler, the body here was used to represent a cat creature and did it to near perfection. It’s the colors for Tiberius that really win me over. Obviously he’s a tiger, so he’s got the orange with black stripes, but I also love the pale tan chest and legs, the awesome head which works well for a cat as well as a skunk and a racoon (or a wolf). Complimenting the orange and black excellently is a fantastic, vibrant shade of blue.
Combine this with his great accessories (love the sword and sais) and the alternate head to make generic tiger troopers, and this figure is a home run. Love his shoulder strap and double belt as well.
Another figure another cat creature, and this one is another winner. Based on a lion (I believe) Atreiu is described as a “Wandering Warrior” and takes some evident inspiration from a classic property that many collectors of this line will love.
The tan base body looks great with the brown hair and the teal armor, combining to create a really fun looking and creative figure that manages to pull the aforementioned vintage inspiration, yet also blend seamlessly with the straight AWOK releases.
His alternate head sculpt is terrific and I really dig the axe and long sword as well.
Once again some creative color selections show the versatility and uniqueness possible even with the same base body throughout. Like with Tiberius, the greatness of this figure isn’t necessarily just with the base color choices (black and white to resemble a skunk) but with the complimentary colors. The orange armor looks fantastic on top of the black and white, and the work done on the tattoos is really outstanding as well.
I find myself really enjoying Toxious, and being so pleasantly surprised at how a common head used throughout several figures can manage to work so well for so many different purposes. The two piece armor is great, and I love that he comes with the sais, the curved blade, and the long sword. This is a heck of a nice looking figure, even if he doesn’t smell so hot. 😉
This is one I’ve been waiting for. Although technically Scraps is a racoon (and works really well as one, too) I’ve been looking forward to using him for a personal werewolf project that the parts work well for, too. The overall gray color with the lightly darkened spots around the eyes makes for a really unique looking racoon, and although they couldn’t find a way to make the striped tail work, the results are still very effective.
Again, the complimentary colors (light green, some yellow) work just as well as the primary colors in creating an effective and appealing color pallet. Scraps is just another cool figure in an assortment of them from Animal Warriors of the Kingdom.
Seriously, every step of the way through this review I just grew more and more impressed at what Jason and Spero Studios were able to put together. The base figures used work remarkably well in spite of some minor joint issues in a few spots, and the issues with somewhat loose armor were not significant enough to not warrant my full recommendation. If you’re a fan of 1:18/3 3.4″/4″ figures this is absolutely a line you need to at least test the waters on. The builds are unique, the color pallet is vibrant and exciting, and the property offers a wealth of different cool things that could be coming down the line.
Good, good stuff.