REVIEW: BEN 10 ALIEN FORCE FOUR ARMS V.2 FIGURE
You know, I have a surprising number of four-armed action figures in my collection, or have had in the past, anyway. I wonder what it is that is so fascinating about creating a character that is, to one degree or another, more or less humanoid, but has an extra pair of arms?
Maybe sometimes we wish we were similarly equipped, thinking we could get that much more done. Imagine the one-man piano duets. We might be able to type faster. We could tie both our shoes at the same time. We could type on the computer and text on the cell phone at the same time. We could fold laundry twice as fast. We would have extra arms to carry groceries in from the car. Then we'd have an extra set of arms to apply the medicine to our backs after hurting them from carrying too much weight at once. We could type on a computer and use the mouse simultaneously, and still have one hand left to drink the cup of coffee we'd doubtless need to remain alert enough to successfully work four arms.
I think the first four-armed action figure I ever owned was Antron, a character from the Micronauts line. This bug-headed individual had four arms, each of which ended in a different weapon or tool. Unquestionably my favorite four-armed action figure is Predacon, one of the Lunartix Aliens from G.I. Joe, whose four arms end in otherwise normal-looking human hands. Then, of course, there's Goro from the Mortal Kombat line. I even customized one into the similarly four-armed Kintaro, although there has never been an official figure of him.
One of the earliest alien heroes from the Ben 10 concept was a character named Four Arms. He was a red-skinned alien, basically humanoid, quite muscular, wearing a white T-shirt with a black collar and black stripe down the front and the back, and black trousers. He had powerfully muscular upper arms, and only slightly smaller lower arms.
The name for a recently released figure by the name of FOUR ARMS v.2 is perhaps slightly misleading. It is not, in fact, a different individual, but rather the same character, with slightly different bodily proportions and a different outfit.
Let's consider, briefly, the history of the Ben 10 series, and the character of Four Arms.
Ben 10 is an acclaimed American media franchise created by "Man of Action" (a group consisting of Duncan Rouleau, Joe Casey, Joe Kelly, and Steven T. Seagle), and produced by Cartoon Network Studios. The franchise is about a boy who acquires a watch-like alien device called the Omnitrix (later the Ultimatrix) attached to his wrist that allows him to turn into various alien heroes. In April 2008, Ben 10, the original television series, was succeeded by Ben 10: Alien Force, which itself was succeeded in April 2010 by Ben 10: Ultimate Alien.
In the original series, Ben Tennyson and his cousin Gwen Tennyson shared the same birth date, making them both 10 years old. Later chronologically they turn 11, with Grandpa Max being 59-60. The pilot episode aired on December 27, 2005, as part of a sneak peek of Cartoon Network's Saturday morning lineup. The second episode was shown as a special on Cartoon Network's Fridays on January 13, 2006. The final regular episode aired on April 15, 2008. A total of 52 episodes, spanned across 4 seasons were produced and aired.
Ben 10: Alien Force is the sequel to the original series set five years later, with Ben and Gwen being 15 years old. Kevin, a former villain of Ben and Gwen's now becomes an ally, replacing Grandpa Max when he goes missing. As an indirect result, this series is darker in tone compared to its predecessor. Major villains from the first series including Vilgax, guest star in various episodes. The series premiered on Cartoon Network on April 18, 2008 and ended on March 26, 2010. Unlike the previous series, and the later sequel series, Cartoon Network ordered 3 seasons of the series, with a total of 46 episodes making the whole series.
Another sequel series, Ben 10: Ultimate Alien premiered on April 23, 2010 and takes place 3–4 weeks after the finale of Alien Force. Ben, Gwen, and Kevin have been announced to be aged by 1 year, making both Ben and Gwen age 16, and Kevin age 17. With a total of 20 episodes in its first season, and 32 episodes in its second,, Ben 10: Ultimate Alien has had 52 episodes.
The next Ben 10 series has been named "Omniverse", and will feature a drastic style change in the animation (from what I've seen, it's not an improvement), and will feature the older Ben 10 traveling back in time to team-up with his younger counterpart.
Four Arms is a Tetramand from the desert planet Khoros, the place epitomizes a dystopia, resulting in the strength-oriented Tetramands.
Four Arms is a 12 feet tall powerhouse with armored skin and extremely dense musculature, making him unmatched in pure physical strength, and one of Ben's favorite aliens, and as his name says, has four arms. His strength is such that he can create shockwaves simply by pounding the ground or clapping all four of his hands together, dubbed the "Big Smack", and his leg strength allows him to cross entire city blocks in a single jump. However, all the extra mass of his muscles and heavy skin makes Four Arms relatively slow, and his size likewise makes using things designed for smaller species difficult, especially when enlarging them.
With Four Arms, Ben has a tendency to make puns with arms and has habit of saying he can do something "with three hands tied behind his back". Ben first transformed into Four Arms to fight the giant woolly mammoth that Dr. Animo had reanimated in "Washington B.C.".
Four Arms reappeared in Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, wearing a much different costume and having an appearance reminiscent of a gladiator. He now has more authentic clothes of his original species, with gold bracelets on his wrists and ankles, a ponytail, two gold sashes that cross over his trunk with the Ultimatrix symbol on the center of his chest, and green eyes instead of yellow. Four Arms is regained in "Video Games" in a fight with Ssserpent, and Ben was surprised because he did not know he was still there.
The Ben's 10-year-old version of Four Arms made an appearance in the Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, in the episode "The Forge of Creation". With the exception of the Omnitrix badge on his shoulder changing from white to green, his appearance remained unchanged from the original series.
So, how's the figure? Very impressive, and it's rather interesting to compare him to his original counterpart.
The original Four Arms is slightly taller than the new version. Of course it should be mentioned that the Ben 10 line of action figures is not a "to scale" line. Given the incredible range of sizes of the alien heroes in all of the various series, this would be impossible. You've got diminutive characters like Grey Matter, all the way up to skyscraper-sized behemoths like Way Big, and everything in between. So Bandai wisely made the decision to keep the figures all more or less four inches in height, with a certain amount of give and take.
The original Four Arms figure stands about 4-3/8" in height. The new Four Arms is slightly under 4-1/4". The new Four Arms has, in my opinion, more reasonable body proportions, admittedly not the easiest thing to determine in an action figure based on a non-human cartoon character. However, the original Four Arms has a much more proportionately smaller head, and a somewhat more exaggerated and thicker torso.
The upper arms remain the dominant limbs on both figures. The lower arms are slightly smaller, and the legs are about the size of the lower arms. They're perhaps slightly smaller than this on the new Four Arms, but given that the torso is not quite as disproportionate, it works out overall.
The skin color is slightly different. The original Four Arms is a fairly distinct bright red. The new Four Arms is more subdued, and has a reddish-brown color that I would classify as brick red.
The head is similar but not identical. In both instances, Four arm has four eyes, two on each side of where a nose would be if he had one, one eye on each side above the other. The original's eyes are very small, and yellow. The new version has somewhat larger eyes, and they're bright green, outlined in black.
Both versions of Four arms have a wide black stripe running over the top of the head. However, on the original Four Arms, it continues almost to the top of the mouth. On the new version, it stops on the forehead. The stripe continues on the chin of both versions. The new Four Arms has an added little detail -- what appears to be a small ponytail of hair in the back.
Both versions have small spikes on the lower portions of all four of their arms. However, the new version has three spikes per arm that are all in a row. The original has multiple spikes that seem more randomly placed.
The biggest difference is wardrobe. Gone is the white T-shirt and black trousers, and gone are the fingerless gloves on each hand. Instead, the new Fourarms is wearing a pair of gold straps that cross his chest, with the Omnitrix symbol in the center, black trunks with a gold belt, and gold bands on all four wrists, and both ankles. Honestly, I think it's an improvement.
Articulation is -- interesting, and almost identical for both figures. Both versions of Four Arms have poseable heads, arms, legs, and knees. The upper arms of both versions have articulated elbows, but not the lower arms. One bit of articulation has been removed. The wrists of the lower arms of the original Four Arms could rotate. The wrists of the new Four Arms cannot.
There is a very slight hindrance in the articulation of the lower arms due to the muscular body shape. The arms will only move so far forward and backward. It's not really that big of a deal. Honestly, I think both figures could have had elbow articulation, but with Ben 10 figures, you're never entirely certain what you're going to get, and credit should be given to Bandai for doing as impressive a job with such an unusual line of characters as they do.
One cannot escape the impression that the various alien heroes and other characters of Ben 10 were not specifically designed with action figure production in mind, and that some of these wild characters have even managed to be rendered in three-dimensional articulated plastic is pretty amazing.
Four Arms v.2 comes with an amusing little accessory. It's a small, transparent red statue of himself, that's designed to be used with the "Revolution Ultimatrix" toy. What's amusing about it is that it's rather disproportionate, with a distinctly large head. It rather reminds me of the "super-deformed" motif of some Japanese concepts, even though Ben 10 is not a Japanese anime series.
So, what's my final word? Even if you have the original Four Arms, the new version is still a very cool figure. I'm not saying one's better than the other, but the new one does seem a little better proportioned, and the more "native" wardrobe makes more sense for the character. On the whole, I'm impressed, and if you're a longtime Ben 10 fan, then I think you'll welcome this figure into your collection, as well.
The BEN 10 ALIEN FORCE figure of FOUR ARMS V. 2 definitely has my very enthusiastic recommendation!