Thursday, June 21, 2007

Kinnikuman Skull Brain by Secret Base

I have held out on Secret Base toys for quite some time now. That is saying quite a lot for me seeing as I am one of the more impulsive people around when it comes to buying shit. The Skullman/Skullmerry figures were the first Secret Base toys to catch my eye, but the pricetag on it all kept me away.

I just couldn't see the allure in 5-inch tall figures that cost an arm and a leg. It is annoying to me that there are dozens and dozens of 5 or so basic sculpts that fans gush over when they are offered a new color scheme. Nothing like having 600 of the same toy in all different colors!! That practice of collecting is lost on me to this day. There is so much out there that is different. I guess I am not enough of a completist.

Months later comes the Artoyz Obake figure. I thought I would try my first SB figure because maybe my opinion would change once I got one in hand. I got a decent deal on it from a boardmember at, but when I got it in hand, I have to admit it was quite a let down. I'm not sure what it is about it... maybe the color or the fact that I can't take the little sheet off with ease... but this is all a matter for another rambling blog entry.

What it took as my gateway drug into the Secret Base haze was a little familiar background with me.

Enter the Kinnikuman Skull Brain.

The Kinnikuman line of toys, games, comics, cartoons, etc. is one very dear to me. It goes back to the M.U.S.C.L.E. toyline made by Mattel in the mid-80s. I was absolutely obsessed with these little pink guys when I was a kid. I had no idea at the time that the figures were tied to something much larger in Japan, and I often had names for the mysterious little wrestlers.

I became more familiar with Kinnikuman as I got older, reading much of the early comics and collecting some of the Japanese-exclusive toys that came in the line.

So when a boardmember at skullbrain put up the Kinnikuman Skull Brain for sale I was instantly intrigued. I could not for the life of me figure out why this guy would be called Kinnikuman. So i quickly started digging through my brain for any Kinnikuman characters that looked like this... particularly the red scarf as this is the only Secret Base figure I have seen with something like that.

Since I am a geek, it didn't take me long to figure out the tie.... Kinkotsuman!! The red scarf helped me out

It literally means Bones and Tendons Man. He was a goofy character from the Kinnikuman series who was supposed to be the polar opposite of the main character Kinnikuman (which means Meat Man or Muscle Man). Honestly not one of my favorite M.U.S.C.L.E.s, but he was my World Champ in my imaginary wrestling federation. My name for him was The Shocker and his finishing move was called the Horrorshock which was kind of a Stinger Splash is anyone remembers Sting.

The actual Kinkotsuman character didn't even have wrestling moves and would just interfere in matches and like to use a pistol.

Anyway, on to the Skull Brain!

Sculpt (2.5 out of 5): Secret Base figures are largely similar in that they are fight figures. For the most part they have very short legs, long arms, and hands ready for grappling or boxing gloves. I'm still not entirely sold on Secret Base figures because of some of their leaning to an insect theme in my eyes... I seem to prefer the actual monsters of Godzilla/Ultraman lore or wrestling themed toys. I really do not like Secret Base's Skull Bee which are very popular, nor do i care for the two-headed mantis.

The ghost figures in the line are OK, but not really my cup of tea either.

I do like the Madball figures, and will find one some day... Madballs were another favorite toy of mine as a kid!!

As for the Skull Brain in particular, I don't really mind the sculpt. There is not much detail to it, and it is a pretty unique design.... in particular the brain with skull theme. I like the softer brain on top of the head, and I believe it can be removed to reveal a small insect/skull type head underneath. I like the facial expression that is created by the differently shaped eye sockets.

The hands and feet seem to be bug-like which would match the head theme. I would like to see more of a skeleton theme here, but that would require changing the sculpt which Secret Base evidently does not like to go.

There is not much detail on the figure, but the implied ribs on the chest are a nice touch and I actually do like the segmented fingers and E.T.-like toes on the feet.
Due to the short, squat legs, the figure balances with no problems, and there is something alluring to me about the exaggerated long arms. I prefer the hands in grapple pose here thanks to my wrestling bias (many Skull Brains are boxers... meh)

Paint (2.5 out of 5): This helps this figure despite an average score. While not an outstanding paint job in my eyes, the color scheme on the limited Secret Base pallate to make it recognizable as a humorous Kinnikuman character.

It seems there is hand painting/masked painting as well as airbrushing, but the application is a little suspect. It makes sense to hand paint/mask the ribs as they are a small detail that add to the figure's appearance, as do the pelvic bones. Detail here in important.

It also makes sense to airbrush the eye sockets on the brain... the brain being contoured and softer. The softer paint application adds to the appearance, but the airbrushed paint is a little off, hitting the bottom of the eye socket and just looking a little sloppy. This also happens above the feet where the black paint from the pants is sprayed onto the red feet. I think a clean application there would look much nicer... and it would match the clean lines around the wrists leading to the red hands.

Coolness (4 out of 5): This is what makes the figure for me. This figure has not changed my mind much about Secret Base, but the background and theme of it make it very cool in my eyes. Despite its limited color pallete, it is an eye catching piece, and the fact that I know its story really adds to the figure. It is very cool to me that it has a scarf as well

Value (1.5 out of 5): Secret Base figures like this is going to suffer in the value category. I value it as part of a unique wrestling themed figure collection, but the price is definitely not indicative of quality or size... just limited run and I imagine popularity. There are fans out there that will pretty much buy anything released by this company. While I do not regret my purchase, I do feel I have gotten better money's worth from other pieces in my small collection.

Overall (3.5 out of 5)
Positives: I like the colors, Kinkotsuman relationship, poses well for photos

Negatives: Pricey, lazy paint application

There are probably better Skull Brains out there, but the personal connection makes this one preferable for me.

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