REVIEW: DC UNIVERSE GREEN LANTERN CLASSICS "COLLECT & CONNECT" ARKILLO
To the best of my recollection, the first time that anyone thought of the idea of offering parts within a given assortment of action figures to construct an additional figure, it was Toy Biz, when they still had the Marvel license, as part of their Marvel Legends line, and they started it off in a big way with their superb take on Galactus!
Since then, to one degree or another, just about everyone has jumped on the bandwagon. Hasbro continued it when they picked up the Marvel license, and also carried it over into Star Wars with various "Droid Factory" figures. Jakks Pacific used it for their WWE "Build 'n' Brawl" line of small figures, whereby you could build rings and other equipment. And certainly Mattel has used it in their DC Universe Classics line, generally providing larger figures such as Atom Smasher, Darkseid, Giganta, and others, that would be impossible to offer individually.
It goes without saying that the practice has been carried over into the Green Lantern Classics spinoff line, as the "Collect and Connect" figure from the first assortment of figures based on the Emerald Warrior's corner of the DC Universe is none other than the monstrous member of the Sinestro Corps (which isn't exactly short on monstrous members) -- ARKILLO!
The first assortment of the Green Lantern Classics line is unusual in that it features one good guy - Kyle Rayner, who is most welcome in that he completes the foursome of Earth-based Green Lanterns, since through other means we already have Hal Jordan, John Stewart, and Guy Gardner - and everybody else in the assortment is a bad guy! Mongul, a Manhunter Robot, Sinestro Corps members Low and Maash, Black Hand, Black Lantern Abin Sur -- and now Arkillo. It's a good thing there are other Green Lantern figures that have been previously released, otherwise Kyle would be in serious trouble!
Among the six individually sold figures (Low and Maash are technically one figure with swappable head and hands), Arkillo is broken down into arms, legs, upper torso, and the head and lower torso. Once you've rounded up all the parts, he snaps together quite readily.
Let's consider a bit of history of the Sinestro Corps, and of Arkillo in particular, with a little assistance from some online research.
Sinestro was once considered the greatest Green Lantern of all, until he abused his power to take control of his homeworld of Korugar, which he ruled with a tyrannical iron hand, believing that order must be the dominant factor of a society, imposed through authority -- in this case his authority.
After Sinestro's behavior was revealed and he was considered a rogue, he was banished by the Guardians of the Universe to Qward in the anti-matter universe. When he returned, he wielded a power ring which used yellow energy. After various encounters with Earth's Green Lantern Hal Jordan, he was imprisoned within the Central Power Battery of the Green Lanterns, on Oa. There he was able to use his ring which harnessed the power of fear, as opposed to the willpower of the Green Lanterns, as a power source, to awaken the imprisoned Parallax, the embodiment of fear, from hibernation. Sinestro and Parallax were able to influence the fall of Hal Jordan and that of the Green Lantern Corps.
Years later, after the Green Lantern Corps was restarted with the return of Hal Jordan, Sinestro began actively recruiting for his new Sinestro Corps. In a very odd aside, the name of the Sinestro Corps and possible even the idea of it might lay with, of all people, Booster Gold, who once encountered Sinestro in the past, and explained that the yellow Legion of Super-Heroes flight ring that he wore was a tribute to Sinestro. When asked what Corps he belonged to, in order to avoid affecting history any more than he already had, Booster replied, "The... Sinestro Corps", a name which clearly pleased Sinestro.
Sinestro began offering yellow power rings and involvement in his new Corps to those who could "instill great fear". Members of the Corps are immediately taken to the planet Qward to be "subjected to psychological and physical reconditioning". Let's face it, a bunch of psychotic nutjobs the likes of which Sinestro recruited aren't going to function well together unless they're given some sense of order.
The members of the Sinestro Corps work in sectors throughout the universe like the Green Lantern Corps. Also, Qward has a huge yellow Central Battery on its surface, just the the green one on Oa. Although the Sinestro Corps use fear and oppose the Green Lantern Corps and the Guardians, Sinestro has stated that their goal is to bring order to the universe, which Sinestro believes can best be done through fear.
There was a prophecy known to the Guardians that after untold millennia, the Weaponers of Qward, Ranx the Sentient City, the Children of the White Lobe, and others would rise united against the Green Lantern Corps. This was largely ignored up until upgraded Manhunter robots started to appear throughout the universe, under the leadership of the Cyborg Superman, Hank Henshaw, who revealed to the Guardians that he somehow knew about the 52 different universes comprising the reconstructed multiverse. After this, the Guardians started taking the prophecies of the Book of Oa more seriously, and it was barely in time.
The Sinestro Corps, accompanied by the Anti-Monitor, Superboy-Prime, and others, launch an all-out assault against the Green Lantern Corps and the universe itself. As the war spreads throughout the cosmos, the Guardians make the grave decision to add a set of ten new laws to the Book of Oa, governing the behavior of the Green Lanterns. The first of these is that the Green Lanterns' power rings can now be used to inflict lethal force against any member of the Sinestro Corps. The Green Lanterns win the Sinestro Corps War -- barely -- and Sinestro is captured. He claims later to Jordan that he has won, since the Lanterns can now use lethal force, and will be feared for it.
In the aftermath of the war, the remaining Sinestro Corps members continue to spread fear in the galaxy, even as the Red Lanterns under Atrocitus begin their plans to destroy them all. This leads to a multi-Corps confrontation, with every color Corps getting involved to some degree, and the dust has barely settled before the events of "Blackest Night" begin, requiring that all of the Corps declare a truce in order to stave off the Black Lanterns and the possibility of every being in the universe being killed.
At the present time, an uneasy truce exists between the Green Lantern Corps and the Sinestro Corps. Neither side will attack the other. Should one do so, the truce is broken.
Some online research reveals quite a considerable list of Sinestro Corps members. Granted not all of them are humanoid, but if Mattel so desired, they could doubtless keep us well supplied in assorted freaks for some time to come.
The first time we encounter Arkillo, it is just as we're starting to hear about the Sinestro Corps, and don't even know all that much about it. His first appearance is roughly two pages within Green Lantern #10, immediately following the Infinite Crisis, during the "One Year Later" event in most DC Comics titles. Green Lantern -- Hal Jordan -- has his own problems, as he's trying to round up an alien criminal who's been located in Russia. The super-armored agents known as Rocket Reds aren't too crazy about someone they consider an American super-hero violating Russian air space -- and the Rocket Reds have had problems with Green Lanterns in the past -- mostly Guy Gardner.
Elsewhere in the cosmos, in Space Sector 674, we 674, we see a massive, humanoid individual with gray skin and a face that I'll do my best to describe over the course of this review. He is dressed rather primitively, wearing a large necklace with jewels and bones on it, a loincloth, and is brandishing a sword with which he has not just defeated an opponent less than half his size, he's pretty well filleted him. He lets out a fearsome roar and then turns his gaze toward other members of his victim's species, who are falling all over each other to retreat.
Just as this massive being decides to make lunch out of the being he has just sliced apart, a voice in a yellow word balloon says -- "Arkillo of the planet Vorn. You have the ability to instill great fear." Hey, no kidding...!
We turn the page to see a full-panel shot of a yellow ring bathing Arkillo in a golden light, as it announces, "Welcome to the Sinestro Corps."
At this point it's back to Earth, and we don't really learn much about the Sinestro Corps for some time, but given this being's nature and actions, if he's what the Sinestro Corps is looking for, it's a fair assumption that they're not a philanthropic fellowship.
Even then, I think that sentence from earlier, "Members of the Corps are immediately taken to the planet Qward to be 'subjected to psychological and physical reconditioning'" would certainly apply here, otherwise I think Sinestro would have to be worried about Arkillo eating anyone in the Sinestro Corps who ticked him off. That'd be bound to make recruitment a problem.
The online research on the Sinestro Corps reveals little about Arkillo, rather providing a list of known members. In Arkillo's case, it states that Arkillo is "Drill sergeant and carnivore." Lovely combination. It adds that Arkillo is one of the Sinestro Corps' first recruits, and that he later fought Mongul for control of the Sinestro Corps in Sinestro's absence. Arkillo lost, having his tongue ripped out and forced to wear it around his neck.
So, how's the figure? Extremely impressive. Arkillo, although more or less humanoid, is far too large to use the standard male body molds created by the Four Horsemen, the way several others, including Romat-Ru, Low, and Maash have. Conversely, Arkillo is most assuredly one of the most prominent members of the Sinestro Corps, and his presence within the collection is certainly desirable.
Fortunately for Mattel, a set of body molds did exist that could be used for most of Arkillo. Geoff Johns, creator of the Sinestro Corps, described Arkillo as the "Kilowog of the Sinestro Corps." Hence Arkillo's designation as "drill sergeant", for that is the function carried out by Kilowog within the Green Lantern Corps.
Anyone who has encountered Kilowog knows this about him -- he's big. He's also become a very popular Green Lantern, and in Series 11 of the DC Universe Classics line, which also included Green Lanterns John Stewart and Katma Tui, as well as Sinestro Corps member Cyborg Superman, the "Collect and Connect" figure was in fact Kilowog.
This is the other cool thing about the Collect and Connect figures. This concept can not only be used to produce larger figures that would be impossible to place on individual cards, but be inference, produce figures that require a distinctive set of molds that, on their own, would be very difficult to work out in a budgetary sense, but split that figure six ways within an entire assortment of figures, and doubtless the numbers are a lot more agreeable. And the end result is that the collector gets a very cool figure that would otherwise have not likely come to pass. Thus we get a popular and very large character like Kilowog. And this we also get a large and prominent individual like Arkillo.
Arkillo has some distinctive parts, however. Although he may be roughly the same size and massive physical build as Kilowog -- if Mattel had the Marvel license as well as the DC license, they could use some of these molds to make the Hulk -- he certainly doesn't look the same. I would describe Kilowog's face as looking like a cross between a pig and a bulldog -- with a mouth and jaw that has some resemblance to the business end of a steam shovel. Arkillo, on the other hand -- wow!
I pondered this one for a while, and I think the best description I can come up with is that Arkillo's face looks like a semi-reptilian version of a cross between a gorilla and a saber-tooth tiger. Arkillo is hairless, and his dark gray skin has a rather leathery look to it. There are three bumps on the top of his head, and his skin is rather considerable wrinkled. This gives him a somewhat reptilian look, although that's speculation. I don't know that Arkillo's species has ever been explained enough to reveal whether Arkillo is reptile, mammal, or something else entirely.
Arkillo has small, forward-facing, rather deep-set yellow eyes, underneath small but prominent brows. He has a small nose, pushed up so it's practically between his eyes. This makes room for a massive, gaping mouth with a set of the nastiest teeth you've seen since the "Jaws" movies. Most of Arkillo's teeth are fairly long and rather jagged-looking, but there are two in his upper jaw that are distinctly larger, and two gargantuan teeth on his lower jaw that are big enough to hang pictures from. And I don't just mean to scale. If I attached the Arkillo figure to a wall -- not that I would -- I could hang a picture from those teeth.
There is an additional unusual feature to Arkillo's mouth, which I realize I'm talking about quite a bit, but it really is his most prominent facial feature. On each side of his mouth are these tendrils that attach to both his upper and lower jaw. There's no real reason for them, except to make him look that much more bizarre. I don't necessarily believe them to be any sort of deformity. It might just be typical for Arkillo's race, whatever that is. To the best of my knowledge, we've never encountered any other of Arkillo's people -- which if they're anything like him, is probably just as well.
Needless to say, Arkillo's mouth has been sculpted wide open, and apparently this is meant to represent Arkillo before his encounter with Mongul, because his tongue is present and accounted for, and in place -- not hanging around his neck. There's an accessory I wouldn't want to see. I suppose it's possible that Arkillo might opt to have some sort of medical procedure to see if the tongue could be reattached, but I wouldn't want to be the doctor asked to try that.
Most of Arkillo's body apart from his head uses the Kilowog body -- with some modifications. The most obvious are the lower arms and hands. The lower arms have the ridged straps around them common to members of the Sinestro Corps, something that Kilowog distinctly lacks. And although both Kilowog and Arkillo have three-fingered hands, that's about as far as the comparison goes. Kilowog's hands, which on the figure are formed into fists, have fairly meaty digits, much like the rest of him. Arkillo's hands, which on the figure are in an open, claw-like position, are far more slender and, yes, frightening-looking, appearing as leathery as the head, and with claw-like fingernails, painted in black.
The overall detail work of the sculpt is extremely impressive, and I get the impression that molding these hands was not necessarily easy. For that matter, I doubt that the head was especially easy, with that very deepset mouth and those strange tendrils. Mattel and the Four Horsemen seem very adept at doing deep mouths every so often. The last time I saw a maw like this it was Gygor from the Masters of the Universe Classics line.
Anyway, Arkillo also has his Sinestro Corps ring, perched on the middle finger of his left hand. Most Green Lantern Corps members wear their rings on their right hands (there's a few out there that don't have hands, so I'm not going to say that they all do). Conversely, Sinestro Corps members -- again, those that have hands -- tend to wear their rings on the left.
The only other major difference between the Arkillo and Kilowog molds is a little more subtle, and it's part of the torso. Kilowog's Green Lantern uniform allows for a particularly broad neck. His wrinkled pink skin is visible almost to the shoulders, and on the figure, this is part of his torso. Conversely, Arkillo's Sinestro Corps uniform comes all the way up to the base of his head, almost. This no doubt required some modification to the Kilowog mold, somehow smoothing out that section. It's been very effectively done, even if I'm not entirely sure how it was done. I personally doubt that an entirely new torso mold was created, since it's a big torso, and that would've been prohibitively expensive.
The only other additional new part on the Arkillo figure that differentiates him from Kilowog is the belt. Sinestro Corps members have a silver belt around their waist, with three ridges in it. On Arkillo, this is a separate piece that was attached to the lower torso. It also has a year mark on the back of it, denoting Arkillo as a 2011 figure. On a side note, I always try to make mention of the first new figure of a new year that I acquire that has that year on it. This year, Arkillo is in a three-way tie with Black Lantern Abin Sur, and Black Hand.
The rest of the Arkillo figure is entirely derived from the Kilowog molds. But that shouldn't be seen as criticism. It works. Let us keep in mind that Arkillo was developed as a character to be the "anti-Kilowog", and he certainly is that. The two are now ready to face off in action figure form as well as the comics.
And there's no denying Arkillo's size. He stands 9" tall in a line where the "average" figure stands about 6-3/4", and his arms are almost as big around as a typical torso. His mouth is big enough to accommodate most figures' heads, something I suspect they're alarmingly well aware of.
The uniform details are different from Kilowog's, of course. This is a matter of painted details, and Arkillo's are superbly done. Most of the uniform is black. There are the sharp triangular lines that emanate from the collar, in almost a "sunburst" configuration on the front, back, and shoulders, painted in yellow. The emblem of the Sinestro Corps is squarely on the chest, as it is also on a yellow armband on Arkillo's upper left arm. The wristbands are painted in a metallic yellow gold, with silver circles. The boots are yellow with yellow gold tops to them. The paintwork on the entire figure is very neatly done.
Of course, Arkillo is extremely well articulated, and is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, knees, and ankles. Curiously, both he and Kilowog do not have the upper leg swivel. I'm really not sure why this was left out. Certainly there's room for it. It's not a major articulation loss, but I do regard it as somewhat unusual.
So, what's my final word? I'm impressed. Arkillo has played a major role in the Green Lantern title since the Sinestro Corps was formed. Getting his tongue yanked out didn't seem to slow him down a bit. He's still around. Granted, you can't just go out and buy Arkillo. You need to round up the entire assortment of Green Lantern Classics wave 1. But for the most part, they're all cool figures in their own right. I wasn't quite as impressed with Black Lantern Abin Sur, for conceptual reasons more than figural, but he's worth it just to be able to complete Arkillo, who is certainly a desirable addition to any DC Universe Classics collection, especially for Green Lantern fans!
The DC UNIVERSE GREEN LANTERN CLASSICS "Collect-and-Connect" figure of ARKILLO definitely has my highest recommendation!