Movie toys are often pretty awful representations of cool characters. They usually seem to be produced as an after-thought or a last minute marketing decision. Occasionally though, action figures can have a more significant presence than the originating film ever did. I feel that this is the case with toys produced for the 1997 Chinese-American Children's Action movie Warriors of Virtue. I was in college working at a video store when this movie was released and I remember it being very popular with kids. I never tried to watch it until recently (in preparation for this review in fact) and I just was not a fan. The movie seems to take elements from lots of different successful kid's properties (Neverending Story, Power Rangers, TMNT, etc) but blends them together in a cheesy, generic, too-much-going-on kind of way. The basic plot surrounds a young boy on Earth who is given a "magic manuscript" from the owner of a local Chinese restaurant - before long he's transported to the land of Tao where his adventures begin.
In this magical land, there is small group of anthropomorphic Kangaroos (each with a unique elemental power) who want to learn the secrets of his manuscript. There are bad guys, too, who are seeking eternal youth (?) and in general causing problems for the Warriors.
The toys for this line aren't phenomenal, but they always caught my eye. And I especially like the Barbarocious figure as a stereotypical evil sorceress. I picked them up super cheap on ebay and it was a good purchase in my opinion.
The first figure I will review will be Elysia. Here is the info from her cardback:
Elysia is a beautiful golden-haired orphan raised by Master Chung. Elysia grew up headstrong and graceful. A formidable kung-fu fighter herself, she dutifully assisted Master Chung as he trained the Warrior Roos. It was Elysia who discovered Ryan in the forest and brought him to the village and Master Chung.
While her hair may have a funny sculpt to it, the details in the outfit make up for it in spades. She would make great custom fodder for an ancient Roman character.. Or maybe even someone from Themyscira... hmmm.
Elysia has basic 1990s 5-point articulation, with the exception that she has a waist swivel instead of a neck swivel.
This next character is a figure I do not own. Honestly, I never realized she was female until this week. Tsun is one of the five (anthropomorphic kangaroo) Warriors of Virtue. Her elemental power is Earth.
Virtue of Loyalty - Security of Earth
Tsun embodies the security of Earth. She is a resourceful fighter. She absorbs blows from her opponents and redirects the force back against themselves. Tsun arms herself with a sword of stone which she can slam into an enemy like an avalanche. Tsun is the first female Warrior. A tomboy from an old and distinguished family, she left her aristocratic life to train with Master Chung. She uses the knowledge of plants and minerals found beneath the ground to heal and nurture the inhabitants of Tao. Her faith and selfless dedication is the bond that holds the Warriors of virtue together.
Last up is Barbarocious from Komodo's evil clan.
Barbarocious is the most mysterious and deadly assassin in Komodo's service. She is invisible until the moment she attacks. Instantly, she traps and poisons her victims with sharp, venomous claws, draining them of life. Few have survived to witness an attack by the lethal Barbarocious. Those who have say she has a dark, hypnotic beauty that ensnares her victims, leaving them helpless in her grasp. Barbarocious gives new meaning to the phrase "drop-dead gorgeous."
I love this character. There's no doubt that she's one of the bad guys. The heavy makeup, black wardrobe, and spider motif are just classic.
Her translucent cape is very cool (and yes, she had really bold-looking spiderweb patterns in the movie, too)
Speaking of the movie, I found it impossible to find an image of Barbarocious from the film online. So here are a bunch of very blurry screengrabs I made myself from YouTube clips.
See the Spiderwebs? Barbarocious' scenes in the movie are very "Power Rangers." They are pretty much all blurry fast action scenes with fancy camerawork.
Barbarocious also has 5 points of articulation, but unlike Elysia, she has a solid waist and a neck pivot.
Before I wrap this up, I thought I'd share some information about Play'em! Toys. I think this may have been their only toyline to make it to market, which is a shame because I actually really like the quality of these toys. When you think of other movie-based figures of the 90s, companies like Kenner, Mattel, Hasbro, and Bandai dominated the market. Yeah, these companies are all awesome now, but back then the bar was much lower. In that perspective, these Play'Em products are really great.
That said, I really like this little blurb on the cardbacks:
Play'em! LLC is proud to bring you the ultimate in quality action-figures. Each Warrior of Virtue character was originally hand-sculpted on location at the movie production set by an artist watching the real characters in action! Molds were made from these sculptures utilizing the latest technology, achieving nearly exact reproductions. The action-figure you now own has been engineered under the strictest standards. Much of the manufacturing process at Play'em! LLC is done by hand, piece by piece. Your action-figure is not only of the finest quality.. it's a piece of art!
Oh yeah, I should have mentioned that their scale is a really unique 5.5-6"