REVIEW: HASBRO MORTAL KOMBAT "EXPANDED"
Right after Hasbro gained the rights to turn out a series of figures based on Capcom's mega-popular STREET FIGHTER series of video games, based on G.I.Joe action figure molds, they snapped up the rights to do a similar series based on Midway's equally popular series of video games, MORTAL KOMBAT!
Most of the figures in both series were based on existing molds. Most had new heads, of course, but only in extreme cases, where the body molds simply did not exist to even come close to a reasonable likeness of the character, were new molds created. Such was the case with such characters as Dhalsim, Sagat, and of course, E.Honda from Street Fighter, and the massive, four-armed GORO from Mortal Kombat.
Unfortunately, both lines were rather short lived, and in fact, Mortal Kombat's toy line was ended right after the first live-action movie, and the character line-up in the figure series didn't extend beyond characters who had appeared in the first game, despite the fact that both MORTAL KOMBAT II and MORTAL KOMBAT 3 existed by this time.
So what's a Mortal Kombat fan to do? Well, if he has sufficient imagination and skill -- if Hasbro won't make 'em -- I will! The end result was no less then ELEVEN new Mortal Kombat figures joining the line-up. Some were easier than others, but I'm pleased with the results on all of them, Let's take a look, shall we?
THE NINJAS - NOOB SAIBOT, ERMAC, and RAIN
These were relatively easy. Just take either Scorpion or Sub-Zero and repaint the facemask, vest and boots. There was the minor problem that since these were based on G.I.Joe Ninja Force figures, they could not be disassembled. But this wasn't too hard to work around since the parts that needed to be repainted, except for the vest, didn't come into direct contact with any other parts of the figure. As for the vest, one just had to paint very carefully.
Noob Saibot was the easiest. Basically I just spray painted a ninja black. The name, for those who don't know, is taken from reversals of the last names of the game's creators -- Ed Boon and John Tobias. I did have a little fun here -- the eyes glow in the dark.
Ermac is a redone Scorpion, painted with orange details. Originally, no one was entirely sure if Ermac was an actual character in the game. It was thought that the name was a shortening of the computer phrase "Error Macro". But sure enough, Ermac turned up as a full-fledged ninhja by Mortal Kombat 3.
Rain is a redone Sub-Zero. In both his and Ermac's case, I wanted to stick fairly close to the original colors. It's a lot easier to turn Scorpion's yellow to orange, and Sub-Zero's blue to purple, than it would've been to do it the other way around. The toughest thing about Rain was finding a decent shade of purple. It doesn't really exist in model kit enamel paints, so I had to resort to acrylic in his case.
The end result -- a substantially expanded ninja cast, featuring not only the Hasbro made Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Reptile, and Smoke, but my Noob Saibot, Ermac, and Rain!
THE LADY NINJAS - KITANA, MILEENA, AND JADE
Nothing too hard here from figure selection -- Chun-Li from the Street Fighter line would work just fine. I removed the little "bows" from the side of her head, and added the ninja face mask. Then it was just a matter of painting the figures in the proper color schemes -- blues for Kitana, purples for Mileena, and greens for Jade.
THE CYBER-NINJAS - CYRAX, SEKTOR, AND SMOKE
The rule of thumb when it came to Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat for Hasbro seemed to be "getting close enough" with the appearance of the figure, using existing molds whenever possible. Such was the rule that I applied when I decided to do the three cyber-ninjas that appeared in Mortal Kombat 3. And I knew just the parts I wanted to use.
The head of BIG BOA, a Cobra trainer release din 1987, looked a whole lot like the helmet for the cyber-ninjas. And the body of the CRIMSON GUARD IMMORTAL, a very popular figure released in 1991, had the necessary "armored passing" for the rest of the outfit. At least to get in the same realm of "close enough" as the Hasbro-made figures.
(My rule of thumb with any custom figure is this -- I want it to look like something the company made. I want to be able to stand my customs alongside "existing" figures, and have someone who perhaps has a passing knowledge of the line, but not expert enough to know that my custom figure was never made by the company, look at the group and not be certain which is which.)
The hardest part here was rounding up the figures. Neither Big Boa nor the Crimson Guard Immortal had been available for years, and the Crimson Guard Immortal was a notably popular figure. Finally, I tracked down three of each, and set to work.
I spray painted the bodies black. Then I went over the "armored" areas in white. Some parts would stay white, but those that needed to be either red, yellow, or grey, were then properly colored. I spray-painted the heads white, and then went in with the necessary color details. The toughest part, need it be said, were the eyes, but I am very pleased with the results. Cyrax, Sektor, and Smoke are probably among my favorite all- time customs.
There's always been something about this fang-mouthed claw-armed mutant that I found interesting. But could I customize him? One of the Johnny Cage figures had a uniform that, if somewhat repainted, came close enough, but Johnny Cage does not look like Baraka. This required a lot of resculpting with modeling putty. In fact, as you look at the figure, the only elements of the original face that show through are the nose and the eyes, which are repainted from Johnny Cage's sunglasses. I used toothpick pieces for the arm claws, and I'll admit he's got a bad case of "Popeye arms" here. He's probably not the most top-of-the-line of my MK customs, but I'm pleased enough with him.
This tiger-striped counterpart to Goro was somebody I knew I had to try to make. Obviously, the only way to do this was to customize a Goro figure. The basic principle wasn't especially hard. Snip off the topknot, use some modeling putty to give the face somewhat more feline features, and then repaint the figure.
This wasn't too bad in he ling run. Neither was it all that easy. The stripes took quite a while, if nothing else. But I am, on the whole, pleased with the results. I realize that Kintaro is not wearing his straps or spiked shoulder pads, but I couldn't think of a decent way to do that, and I hated to cover up any of the intricate stripe work.
So there you have it! The world of Mortal Kombat is a much more complex and ornate place than it was when I made these figures. The most recent game, MORTAL KOMBAT DECEPTIONS, has a level of detail to the characters that is truly amazing. And as I write this, JazWares is planning what looks to be a very impressive series of action figures based on these designs. But for longtime Mortal Kombat fans such as myself, I have no complaints about Hasbro's line, and I was pleased to be able to add to it as I was able. I hope you've enjoyed this Custom Review!