Whoa, since when does Zach do toy reviews? Since he got the action figure he's been waiting for for years, that's when. I'm talking about the Indie Spotlight figures -- specifically The Maxx -- by Shocker Toys. And when I said I've been waiting for this figure for years, I don't just mean "any Maxx action figure, as long as it's better than the McFarlane version." No, I mean this specific figure, which has been in the works for a while. A highly poseable, super-articulated Maxx with interchangeable heads for city and jungle living, so I can re-create my favorite memories from the Image comic book and the MTV cartoon. Shocker totally nailed the sculpt, and the articulation allows for a bunch of great poses, even ones outside the traditional "I'm squatting and giving you the middle fingers" school of thought, although that was certainly comic artist Sam Keith's old stand-by.
The scale seems pretty good to me. He may be a little large for some fans -- even crouching, he's the same size as Big Daddy from Body Bags, and I imagine he similarly dwarfs Colossus (a lot of my Marvel Legends and Legendary Comic Book Heroes are in storage, sadly). So if you always thought of him as a homeless guy in a suit, you might be put off by his sheer size, but if you saw him as a magnificent guardian of the world of dreams, you probably won't care. (I certainly don't.) As I mentioned before, he comes with his alternate, lion's-maned head, the one from the dream jungle, and it looks like the paint has changed from the promo pics, but it's for the better, in my opinion. The bright orange wasn't working for me, and this feels more natural, although I haven't exactly been scouring the web for comparison art. Other accessories include a black Isz, a white Isz and a pink, floating girl Isz that I don't remember and, frankly, am perfectly happy to have missed. She's creepy.
The articulation, as I said, is great. His massive feet have a couple of layers to them, so they level out nicely, and the knees are double-jointed. To deal with what would probably have been annoying top-heaviness issues, the head, arms and torso have been rotocast, so they're hollow and therefore incredibly light. The transition is seamless, and the top actually features some of the best articulation of the figure. The ball-jointed neck allows the head almost an entire hemisphere of movement, and the torso can twist nicely. The head is, of course, removable, but so are the rest of the parts on the top half -- some easier than others. Some may lament the impermanence of some of the joints, but it's a small price to pay for a well-balanced figure. I've paid a lot more for vinyl toys that do the same thing, and I love the feel of it.
Shadowhawk -- actually, Shadowhawk II, since I got the variant version, which wears the outfit of Shadowhawk's successor -- isn't as deluxe as The Maxx, but he's certainly well-articulated. The new hip joints Shocker is using are seamless and smooth, and poseability is overall very good. Ball-and-socket joints are used in place of hinges wherever possible, and while it doesn't give you the widest range of movement, you can certainly capture all of Shadowhawk's "look at me, I'm edgy" touchstones. His torso is surprisingly flexible -- think some of the more poseable Spider-Man toys over the years. A joint may pop out once in a while, but I'd rather have to pop a joint back in than have it snap off clean, like on some other lines I can mention. Ditto the clean paint job, which has no real problems that I can see. My photography is weak, but he comes with a clip-on wrist-launcher accessory, with a grappling hook captured mid-launch, and a single white Isz to go with the Maxx's three.
All in all, the Maxx is definitely worth the price of purchase over at the Shocker Toys store. Shadowhawk, too, as long as you love the character and were as disappointed by McFarlane's offerings as I was. They both fit into my collection of roughly-6-or-7-inch superheroes pretty well, and I can't wait to get Scud and Kabuki, although it looks like I'll have to wait until the new shipment arrives in June to snag them. Hopefully, Series 2 won't keep us waiting as long as Series 1 did.