5 3/4 Inch scale
What better way to celebrate Earth Day, than with a barbarian that’s from the salt of the Earth?! It’s the mighty HERCULES! Okay Hercules isn’t really a barbarian, but let’s not let the facts get in the way of a good story. The truth is, Hercules is a legendary figure with roots dating back into ancient mythology. He’s also the central hero in Wave 1 of the Realm of the Underworld toy line.
So just what is Hercules story in ROTU? Well, in a nutshell, Hercules is everything you would imagine him to be. Incredibly strong, heroic and always out for adventure. His father Zeus sends him to retrieve the “Sword of Heroes”, which holds great power. Using that sword, Hercules must battle the evil Hades and his minions of the underworld.
Realm of the Underworld is a new “retro” toy line in the same style as the classic Remco lines of yesteryear. A lot of people will immediately compare this toy to vintage Masters of the Universe, but this toy line is much more. It’s an epic love letter to the incredible work that Remco did on their various toy lines in this style and it’s an homage to a time when toys were simpler, but flat out cool.
It’s sort of strange that there would even be a market for figures that were essentially knock-offs when they were created way back when. And yet, there is! The real question of course, is can a toy line made in the modern era with modern prices, be a worthy investment if it’s an emulation of toys from 20+ years ago? Realm of the Underworld week kicks off with a bang as we examine the Mighty Hercules and discover what’s really at the heart of ROTU.
Brilliant. Perfect. Classic. You might look at this packaging and think to yourself that Realm of the Underworld’s style is a little underwhelming. However, I would tell you the exact opposite. But Newt, you’d say, the art is a little rough, the design is basic and the back doesn’t even have color.
That’s all true, but the magnificence of this packaging is in those very elements. Again, look to Remco. This package perfectly represents the toys that Remco created in the 80s. Right down to the mention of how this “plays with all other 5 3/4” lines. Every aesthetic choice here is an intentional one. It’s just a beautiful card.
The only issues with the card is that the stock is a tad thinner than I would like (but certainly fits the era that it’s trying to replicate) and that the bubble has to pulled off. I almost wish there was a way to pull these guys off the card without having to damage the card back. Of course, I was very careful with mine and it slipped off fairly easily, so that’s a positive.
Hercules started his life as a barbarian. Not just any barbarian, but Nord the Barbarian. Early versions of this character were an almost perfect recreation of the classic and rare, AWA figure. When ROTU underwent some retooling, Nord (then called Dron) also had some cosmetic changes. The end result will likely upset those who were hoping to use him to fill in gaps in their AWA collection, but he is ultimately probably a stronger figure.
Hercules has a simple sculpt that is comprised of recreation parts from the various Remco lines. Instead of just being a retread of Nord, he’s a mishmash of parts that shows the true genius of what Remco had going on back then and also shows that Zoloworld knows how to recreate these iconic images while embarking on a journey of creativity all their own. He has parts from three or four different vintage lines. Remember of course, these are all new parts, simply remade in that style.
The sculpting is all simple, but well done. I suppose if you have no connection to the vintage figures you might be less impressed, but I was immediately taken back to my childhood when I had this guy in hand. You see, when I was a kid, Remco was king. Sure I had MOTU figures, but I rarely ever played He-Man. Instead I took my Remcos, Sun Golds, Masters and a variety of other bootlegs and did big barbarian battles. My storylines were more from Conan than they were Masters of the Universe. So this style of figure is exactly the kind I grew up with and the details are just as sharp as they ever were.
Certain aspects aren’t all that detailed at all, while other parts have lots of little intricate touches. It’s definitely something you have to understand to appreciate. The paint is consistent, but I should note that the whole body is painted. He’s not molded in this color. That actually makes the paint job a bit more impressive, truthfully, as there’s very little bleed overall. However it would be nice if there was more of a combination of molded and painted.
His face is probably the only area that suffers a bit as there’s just less detail there to be brought to life. His eyes represent a strange choice, with a piercing blue dot serving as his eye. He does have the typical style eye that a vintage figure of this type would have, but the blue makes for an interesting choice. It gives Hercules a little something extra. You would imagine that Hercules would have something that would strike you as making him “godly”.
His skin tone will also be another slightly controversial choice. Zoloworld said they were going for a dark olive skin color, to represent a true Greek character, but Hercules certainly seems more black than anything. Part of me wanted a white version, if only to represent Nord, but this is a good choice too. A bold choice even. It’s rare you see a title hero be anything other than a cracker.
Hercules has retro articulation, just as all the ROTU figures do. However that doesn’t necessarily mean he can’t be posed. Sometimes simple is best. In this case, it’s pretty damn good. Hercules sports a swivel at the neck, waist and arms. He has ball joint legs. Those are true ball joints, with a socket and a ball.
The articulation in the legs works really well. A lot of these style figures in the 80’s had rubber bands that connected them. Zoloworld has brought a reinforced core to the mix, making sure everything is strengthened plastic inside. This also allows for much more ease in parts swapping. The arms, legs and head can be popped off to mix and match figures.
My only complaint is that I do sort of wish these had been modernized just a tad. I think swivels at the wrist would have added a huge amount of play value to these and it’s a cut that would be simple to do. I understand why they opted not to do that of course, as they didn’t have those originally… But it’d be nice to be able to turn the swords for better combat.
Another note on the articulation is how well this guy stands! I know that seems like an odd compliment, but you can stand this guy up and pose him about without worrying that he’ll fall over. Stand a MOTUC next to a ROTU on the shelf for a week and I can pretty much guarantee that the ROTU will be there long after the MOTUC has hit the floor. Vintage figures in this style often had problems standing, so it’s nice to see that Zoloworld has solved that issue for these releases.
The accessories really make Hercules. He’s got a crap ton of fun stuff that really makes you feel like you’re getting a value here. In fact, of all the ROTU figures, he’s offering the most bang for your buck in this department.
First up, you get his fur pelt. This is a really nice quality and it’s immediately what sets ROTU apart from anything else on the market and also gives this line it’s own signature stamp. Remco didn’t really use fur in their lines, aside from a tiny bit here or there. The quality on this is off the hook and you can wear it in a bunch of styles. There’s even a spot in there to hold his sword!
It drapes over his body and can be used to create so many different looks. I am hopeful that Zoloworld keeps doing these fur pelts with future Realm of the Underworld figures. It’s a nice touch that truly raises the bar.
Of course there’s also the big “sword of heroes” that’s one of the nicer swords in the whole collection. In fact, it is the nicest weapon in Wave 1. My only critique would be that I suspect the paint will eventually chip off the handle. Still, it’s a fun big broadsword that captures the essence of the type of character that Hercules is.
This is where a lot of people are going to hop off the ROTU train… At $23, you’re paying almost as much for Hercules as you would a new He-Man figure in the Masters of the Universe Classics line. However, there are some caveats here. First, and foremost, the only other people doing anything even remotely comparable to this are charging upwards of $100 for their figures! These are easily the finest retro barbarian toy line figures on the market today and they’re the cheapest. Second, these are very low run, even moreso than MOTUC, so you’re paying for a limited edition here. Third, Zoloworld is a very small company in comparison to Hasbro, Mattel, heck, even compared to Remco!
That all adds up to being a relatively reasonable price. These are not mass market toys. They’re specialties for fans of this genre. Likewise, if you get in on these early, Zoloworld does special pricing and certain other retailers offer them at slight discounts. Even in the $25 range, these guys are a lot of fun. You can’t even buy many of the vintage figures off Ebay for that price. Yes, this is essentially the same type of figure that sold for under $5 in the 80’s, but it’s not the 80’s anymore and there’s nothing comparable on the shelves.
Packaging – 9
Sculpt/Paint – 7
Articulation – 7
Accessories – 9
Value – 7
I’m bumping Hercules up to a 9 out 10, because I absolutely love this guy. I am not kidding here when I say that these ROTU toys have been some of my favorite toys to enter my grubby little hands in recent months. This line is everything that MOTUC isn’t, but in a good way. When I get this guy in my hand, the imagination that has long since been dead inside my soul, suddenly comes alive. My carpet becomes the plains of the barbarian kingdom and my house is now the Realm of the Underworld! You can’t buy that kind of nostalgic fun… Wait, actually with ROTU, you can!
I really appreciate Zoloworld letting me get Hercules and they’ve created a fan in us here at Infinite Hollywood. This is a solidly crafted, old school figure that screams nostalgia and may warm the Remco cockles of your heart… But it also brings some great new fun as well. These guys are so good you’ll be shocked that Remco isn’t back in business.