REVIEW: DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS "COLLECT-AND-CONNECT" KILOWOG
On the one hand, I haven't been a "completist" with Mattel's "Collect-and-Connect" figures that are part of each series of their DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS action figure line. I'll admit I wasn't all that interested in Chemo, for example. There are others that I'm still trying to complete, and others that I already have, or am looking forward to.
Any number of action figure lines have adopted this practice, ever since Toy Biz started it with "Build-A-Figure" in their Marvel Legends line, later carried on by Hasbro. I still think that Toy Biz's Galactus is an absolutely astounding piece of work. Hasbro gave us "Droid Factory" in their Star Wars line, and there's an awful lot of Astromechs I'd like to round up someday. Even Jakks Pacific got in on the act with their "Build-n-Brawl" line, where you could build wrestling rings and other equipment for their 4" WWE figures.
On the one hand, some see it as a way of getting collectors to buy an entire assortment of individuals whom they might not otherwise have an interest in in its entirety. That's a valid comment. The flip side of that, is that it can also be a cool way to get an additional figure that for one reason or another -- more often than not sheer size -- would have been nearly impossible to offer as a complete individual on his or her own. I doubt we would've seen the likes of Atom Smasher or Giganta by any other means.
And there was no way I was going to pass up Series 11's "Collect-and-Connect", either, not when it amounted to one of the biggest Green Lanterns of all -- KILOWOG!
Well, okay, there's that sentient planet called Mogo that they let into the Green Lantern Corps, but let's be reasonable. I don't think most of us would be able to accommodate a "Collect and Connect" as big as "Spaceship Earth" from Walt Disney World's Epcot Center and still not be to scale.
And, at least Kilowog is humanoid, although he's hardly human. He's one of the many alien Green Lanterns in the Corps, and has quite a history within the Corps, and among Earth's heroes. Let's see what Wikipedia has to say about him.
Kilowog is a member of the Green Lantern Corps. His first appearance was in Green Lantern Corps # 201 (June 1986) .
A towering alien with a brutish and somewhat porcine appearance, Kilowog is renowned throughout the Green Lantern Corps as the primary trainer of the Corps' newest recruits.
The Guardians of the Universe recruited Kilowog, a gifted genetic scientist, from the planet Bolovax Vik, located in Space Sector 674. Kilowog was trained by Lantern Ermey, who would often use the word "Poozer", which meant "useless rookies" (A word Kilowog would later adopt, albeit in a friendlier way).
In the middle of a particularly arduous training regiment, Ermey had Kilowog and his fellow rookies help stop an attack on a group of Lanterns, one of whom was the future renegade Sinestro. Ermey, fatally wounded in battle, commended Kilowog on his abilities, telling him that he had the makings of a great leader.
In addition to serving with distinction as the Green Lantern of that sector, Kilowog also began to spend extensive periods of time on the Green Lantern Corps' home planet of Oa instructing new recruits on how to handle and best utilize their power rings. In this capacity, Kilowog acted as the first trainer to a young Hal Jordan, the ring-recruited successor to the slain Abin Sur of Ungara, the Green Lantern of Space Sector 2814. Kilowog and his new recruit helped the Guardians confront Abin Sur's murderer, the hive mind interstellar malefactor known as Legion.
During the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Bolovax Vik was destroyed. This was a powerful blow to the giant Green Lantern, as his race lived a highly communal lifestyle, and to be alone was one of the worst things imaginable. Owing somehow to this genetic similarity to and affinity for each other that all Bolovax Vikians possessed, Kilowog was able to rescue the entire population of his homeworld (billions of beings) by storing their collective life essences within his ring upon that world's annihilation.
The Crisis saw the immortal Guardians ethically divided (a faction of six Guardians broke away from the majority, deciding to follow the example of their estranged brethren The Controllers and create their own Green Lanterns to directly combat the Anti-Monitor, but five of them were killed shortly after they chose their first and only recruit, Guy Gardner of Earth) and their ranks depleted for the first time in millions of years (only 22 of the 36 Guardians survived). The Corps as well suffered hundreds of casualties.
The Guardians then decided to end their direct leadership of the Corps, and left for another dimension with their former mates, the Zamarons.
Before leaving, the Guardians informed the remaining GLs that the Corps was now theirs to administer; they were no longer bound by their former assignment to one particular Space Sector and could deploy themselves as they saw fit. Adrift following the destruction of his Sector and the end of his role training new GLs for the Guardians, Kilowog relocated to Earth with his former pupil Jordan and the group of GLs that had decided to make their base there.
They ultimately became the Green Lantern Corps of Earth. While his appearance at first frightened most humans, Kilowog briefly became a celebrity following his defeat of the villain Black Hand on live television in a battle over Anaheim Stadium.
Later, Kilowog was approached by a KGB agent and invited to live in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, as the society of Bolovax Vik was somewhat similar to a communist system. During his time in the USSR, Kilowog was instrumental in the creation of the Soviet Union's first super-powered force, the Rocket Red Brigade. Kilowog ultimately became disenchanted with the USSR and the flawed communist nations of Earth.
While adventuring with the GLC of Earth, Kilowog found a world in Space Sector 872 which would make a suitable "Bolovax Vik II". Moved to action, he tapped into his ring and reconstituted the entire population of his world, some 16 billion beings. No sooner had he done this, though, than the world was obliterated by the renegade Green Lantern Sinestro, and all 16 billion Bolovax Vikians were permanently killed. The trauma of this drove Kilowog temporarily insane, but he was helped back to his senses by fellow GL Arisia, to whom he confessed his love. He was also supported by other Green Lanterns, who made an effort to be near him, as they knew Kilowog's race enjoyed being in crowds.
Shortly after this adventure, the Corps was destroyed when they voted as a body to execute the captured Sinestro for crimes against the universe; this set in motion a chain of events that led to the dissolution of almost all power rings and the near-extinguishment of the Great Power Battery of Oa.
Kilowog returned to Earth with Jordan and wound up working with Maxwell Lord's Justice League International as a handyman/repairman. He tended to construct many amazing devices and/or security systems in an astonishingly small amount of time.
When the Corps began to expand again, Kilowog returned to Oa to train the new generation of Green Lanterns. During the Emerald Twilight arc, numerous Green Lanterns were sent to stop the supposedly insane Hal Jordan. The very last GL to oppose Jordan was Kilowog himself, on Oa. He attempted to prevent his old pupil from entering and absorbing the power of the Great Battery itself, which destroyed the Corps. Kilowog was disintegrated with a blast by Jordan's ring, leaving nothing but a seared skull and ashes, and a shaken but undeterred Jordan stole the energies of the Great Battery and slew all but one of the Guardians.
Sometime later, an enigmatic being known as Dark Lantern appeared on the scene. He seemed strangely familiar to those closely acquainted with the legacy of the Green Lantern Corps when he first made his presence known on Earth.
He was created by some of the remaining Green Lanterns who had lost their rings when Hal Jordan went mad. Based on Xudar, they called themselves the "Brotherhood of the Cold Flame". Boodikka was one of their number. They tapped into arcane forces and based on the unusual nature of the Bolovax Vik afterlife, they converted the soul of Kilowog into the Dark Lantern in order to send him after Jordan.
When Jordan became the Spectre, he convinced his old friend Tom Kalmaku to help correct his sins against the Green Lantern Corps. Kalmaku used Hal's old power ring to rebuild Oa and the Great Battery as shown in Green Lantern Legacy: The Last Will and Testament of Hal Jordan. This allowed the vengeful spirit of Kilowog to rest. Soon after this, though, his spirit was recalled to life by Kyle Rayner and Ganthet
Recently the Guardians were reconstituted, and reformed the Corps in the wake of Hal Jordan's rebirth.
Currently Kilowog maintains the role of Green Lantern drill sergeant, training new recruits (or "poozers" as he often refers to them) for the newest incarnation of the Green Lantern Corps, once again in the service of the Guardians of the Universe. In the Infinite Crisis storyline, Kilowog played a key role in the Rann-Thanagar War and its aftermath.
During the Sinestro Corps War, Kilowog was on the front line during the battle of Mogo. When the conflict moved to Earth, Kilowog battled his Sinestro Corps counterpart, Arkillo. Kilowog defeated the villain and removed his ring. After the war's climax, Kilowog was seen on Mogo, eating dinner with energy constructs of his family members.
As a Green Lantern, Kilowog possesses the same power ring and power battery used by all GLs. The Great Power Battery, located on Oa, is the repository for billions of years' worth of willpower in energy form. This energy has been harnessed and focused by the Guardians and is tapped by each GL's power battery. This in turns feeds it to their individual power rings. By applying willpower and concentration, the ring is literally able to accomplish anything of which the wielder can conceive, and is therefore as limited or limitless in abilities as the wielder. In Kilowog's case, he has shown an affinity for creating astoundingly complex machinery using the ring. In terms of combat, Kilowog tends to eschew the "giant boxing glove" fighting style of Hal Jordan and mainly uses his ring to fly and to absorb any enemy's attacks long enough for him to get close enough to batter them into unconsciousness.
According to the 2005 miniseries Green Lantern: Rebirth, Kilowog's ring is the only one that Hal Jordan knows of that makes a sound when being used.
In addition to his power ring, Kilowog possesses the natural super strength and durability of his species, as well as a powerful intellect that surpasses many of his fellow corpsmen. Once, Kilowog even managed to combine all of these abilities to hold his own against Superman.
Kilowog has appeared in a few episodes of the Justice League animated series, voiced by Dennis Haysbert. This portrayal of Kilowog casts him in a more jovial light, although at no loss of his significant competence as a Lantern. Michael Madsen voices Kilowog on Warner Premiere animated feature Green Lantern: First Flight. Kilowog is initially distrustful of Hal Jordan, even demanding that he return Abin Sur's ring to him. Kilowog is later shown to be upset that the Guardians assigned Sinestro to train Jordan, since the job usually went to Kilowog. After Sinestro uses the yellow battery to destroy the green battery, the now powerless Green Lanterns are ordered to give up their rings. Kilowog refuses and Sinestro holds Kilowog in front of the yellow battery saying that Kilowog "wasn't going to survive this anyway". However, Jordan saves Kilowog from Sinestro. After Jordan knocks Sinestro back to the surface, Kilowog crushes his hand and ring. Kilowog discovers that his ring still has some power left, saves Jordan from a free-fall.
So -- how's the figure? Well, he's -- BIG. Kilowog stands roughly 9-1/2 inches in height. This for a line where a typical "normal-sized" make hero stands about 6-3/4". Kilowog's height puts him on a par with Atom Smasher, but he's actually considerably more massive.
Atom Smasher weighs about 5-1/2 ounces. Kilowog doubles that, weighing in at about 11 ounces. What's the difference? Sheer muscular bulk.
Whereas Atom Smasher has, despite his height, a fairly normal human muscular physique, Kilowog is far bulkier die to his alien origin. His overall proportions are somewhat different, in that he has distinctly longer arms, and somewhat shorter legs. His entire body, however, is much broader and thicker than normal human proportions. It almost resembles that of the Hulk to some degree.
Mattel has done a remarkable job crafting this figure -- all due credit to the Four Horsemen sculpting and design team. Technically, except for his very alien head, Kilowog is humanoid, and his basic muscular design is similar to that of human beings. It's just that he's so broad and massive.
Unlike Atom Smasher, where the designers were able to take the basic elements of the human male hero body that they had designed at the standard size, and recreate them in the larger size pretty much "as is", Kilowog required substantially more modification, and yet the musculature needed to be maintained and carried over. Unlike other "Collect and Connect" figures, such as Solomon Grundy or Imperiex, who had loose-fitting clothing or armor to conceal some aspects of their musculature, Kilowog wears a Green Lantern costume very similar to Hal Jordan's. His entire musculature, as such, as on display, and needed to be worked out accordingly.
Considerable credit to the sculptors here, they did an amazing job. It's not impossible to take a standard DC Universe Classics figure, and compare the basic musculature to Kilowog's gigantic frame, and see how it all pretty well fits. The overall detail on Kilowog's body is, as one would expect, superb.
As I said, Kilowog's uniform is almost identical to Hal Jordan's own. This means that Kilowog is dressed in a predominantly green uniform, with black sleeves and legs, green boots, white gloves, and the Green Lantern emblem in the center of the chest.
Kilowog does have one notable variance from human structure other than his head, which I will be discussing shortly. He has only three fingers (and a thumb) per hand, and those fingers are as big around as the average wrist of any standard DC Universe Classics figure. So -- you can guess what the power ring on the second finger of his right hand looks like. Like everything else about Kilowog, it's huge.
There have been, to date, four Green Lanterns in the DC Universe Classics series, counting Kilowog. The others are Hal Jordan, John Stewart, and Katma Tui, the latter two of which are also part of Series 11. The power ring on Hal Jordan's finger measures about 1/16 of an inch, and since he came well before any of the others in the series, is also the least detailed. I know Jordan has been re-released into the line here and there. I wonder if it would be too much to ask for a new right hand? They could use Stewart's and just mold it in the white glove color.
Katma Tui's is very slightly larger. Call it 3/32" of an inch. John Stewart's ring is almost 1/8" of an inch. Tui's and Stewart's very clearly are designed like the Green Lantern emblem.
So is Kilowog's, but his ring, very nicely painted in metallic green (as are the others), is 7/16 of an inch -- that's almost half an inch -- and need it be said is impossible to miss. You know, I find it curious that of all the Green Lantern figures, only Hal Jordan came with an actual Lantern. If the others have to share, I hope they all get a turn to charge their rings before Kilowog steps up. That lantern is going to need some serious recharge time.
Of course, we must discuss the head. Wikipedia describes Kilowog as having a "porcine" appearance. And okay, yeah, there's some validity to that. But he doesn't exactly look like one of Star Trek's Tellarites. The only other "porcine" aliens that even come close would be the Gamorrean Guards from Star Wars, and I'm pretty sure Kilowog would mop up the floor with them. There is a mild resemblance, though...
Kilowog's skin has tended to be colored with a somewhat pinkish hue, and that's been carried over into the figure with a dark reddish pink that's been given a detail wash of a darker color. Normally I don't approve of that, but it works pretty well here. Kilowog has a sloping skill and a thick brow over deepset, reddish eyes. The eyes are taking a bit of a liberty, since they're not always drawn like this in the comics. His nose is perhaps the most "porcine" feature, other than the two, small pointed ears near the back of his head on the sides. The nose is pushed in and upturned.
Not at all porcine, however, is the massive jaw, with two jutting protrusions from the upper lip, and two even larger ones emerging from the lower jaw and somewhat out to the side.
The head sits atop a massive neck of rather wrinkled skin that extends out to almost the shoulders. Contrary to a lot of Green Lantern uniforms, Kilowog's outfit has a very open neck.
The sculpt cannot have been easy. There's virtually nothing human about it, and the jaw and mouth is a complicated piece of business with little in the way of precedent to work from. Again, I must commend the sculptors for bringing Kilowog to three-dimensional life as effectively as they have.
Somewhat curiously, the head is actually made from a very flexible, almost rubbery plastic. I'm not sure what the reasoning behind this was, given that the rest of the figure is made from more rigid plastic. It's not a big deal, although I sort of wonder what the long-term effects might be, if any.
Of course, Kilowog is superbly articulated, as one would expect any DC Universe Classics figure to be. He is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, knees, and ankles. He does not have the upper-leg swivel common to most other figures, but this isn't that big of a deal in my consideration.
Any complaints? Minimal. One elbow seems to be stuck. Hopefully I can free it. The limbs are so thick that at least I don't think I have to worry about breaking it. There's a bit of clear gloss around the nose and mouth. Doubtless this was someone's idea to enhance detail. Unfortunately, it just makes Kilowog look like he's having allergy trouble. Ironically, the same effect was used for the Gamorrean Guards in the Star Wars movie.
And the feet are not quite level with the ground. The legs do not quite want to point straight down. There is a swivel in there, but it doesn't quite want to work. Nevertheless, Kilowog is so massive that he stands up perfectly fine regardless. I regard all of these issues as relatively minor on an otherwise excellent figure.
So, what's my final word? Any longtime fan of the Green Lantern Corps will want to add Kilowog to their collection. This is technically the second Kilowog figure from Mattel, but, as cool as the one from the Justice League Unlimited line is, this one is absolutely amazing. His big, he's bad, and he's got a big power ring.
Granted, the conventional way to get him is to round up most of Wave 11 of DC Universe Classics. However, this to me is no great hardship, as it nets you two other Green Lanterns -- John Stewart and Katma Tui -- as well as the Sinestro Corps version of the Cyborg Superman, so there's a lot of Green Lantern influence already there. The rest of the wave also features the first Fans' Choice figure -- The Question -- as well as an admittedly obscure villain known as Shark, and Deadman. The seventh figure in the assortment, Steppenwolf, doesn't include a Kilowog part (he comes with a display stand), but he's cool to have as well.
And it wouldn't surprise me to learn there are some complete Kilowog's on the "secondary market". But, however you may acquire him, the DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS "COLLECT AND CONNECT" figure of GREEN LANTERN KILOWOG definitely has my highest recommendation!