6 Inch Scale
By: McFarlane Toys
In the mid to late 1990’s, Todd McFarlane began to change the toy industry. As we celebrate the 31 Days of Halloween, what better way to pay tribute to Todd than look at his classic figure with “16 POINTS OF ARTICULATED EVIL”! It’s the nastier brother of the Violator, known by Shane Helms finishing move, the Vertebreaker.
As one of the Phlebiac brothers, Vertebreaker has only one role in the afterlife, to make sure that his brother, Violator, doesn’t fail in defeating Spawn. Unlike the Violator, Vertebreaker has four arms, all of which have a deadly drip and claw-like pinchers. He is one of Malebogia’s most powerful soldiers in the battle between good and evil.
That’s pretty heavy stuff for a figure from 1995. Now that this figure is fifteen years old, does it still pack enough punch to be considered scary? Beyond that, is it even a good figure at all?
The packaging for the Spawn line wasn’t ever very impressive. It did do a few things that changed the industry, though. There is a heavy focus on how collectible the line is and how it features various points of articulation. Prior to Todd McFarlane, there wasn’t much in the way of a push for these things. McFarlane made sure his packages told you that this toy was packed with features, and by proxy, value.
I love the sticker that says “16 points of articulated evil” because it not only drives home the point that this guy has a ton of articulation, (16 points in 1995? Pretty good!) but also that it’s a nasty, mean toy. This would appeal to kids as well as collectors.
The back of the package does everything right by showing off the other figures in the line, as well as giving us a bio card. That said, it’s a really ugly back of the package. Plus all these figures on the back are prototypes and don’t always accurately reflect the final pieces.
Violator had a really cool design that seemed to have some Manga influence. It was one of the things that made McFarlane’s work really stand out. He took a lot of the stuff that he had used to make Venom cool and turned it into a neat design. Vertebreaker is essentially Violator… If he was even more evil and more Manga.
Inside the package this guy looks fearsome and it would seem like he would be even moreso out of the package. When taking him out though, you’ll find that he has an extra set of “legs” which allows him to be on all fours. It’s a strange look that doesn’t quite work.
He can stand on two legs and you can push those extra legs up as hands. That’s a better look, but it doesn’t work real well either. The legs on my Vertebreaker were a bit warped. Granted, they had been in the package for more than a decade.
The real problem seems to be the stumpy little front legs. I say stumpy, because one of the legs is bent up very far. The other leg however, is partly outstretched, which means he essentially has one sort of long leg and one very short leg. It limits his posing to essentially one pose, that itself doesn’t look very good.
He is a hideous beast and if you want a real nasty monster in your collection, this guy is it. The paint is unique, with some blue washes that look a bit sloppy by today’s standard and a fleck paint all over it. It definitely looks rustic, but I think this guy might have looked more horrific in some sort of translucent color. The brown makes him look like, I dunno, a bundle of sticks monster.
He definitely works as a neat background creature in your Hellboy display, or if you’d rather, Spawn. Of course he’d look good in a Halloween display too. Like many Spawn figures of the time, though, as cool as he looks, he’s not very useful in function. A shame too, because this looks like it could have been a helluva monster toy.
There is a big push about the number of articulation points on this beastie. Unfortunately, most of them are pretty useless.
Of course, McFarlane wanted you to know this guy was highly articulated. He included a paper insert breaking down some of the play value articulation. It doesn’t show everything, but it shows several points.
Although the tongue is supposedly on a swivel, I couldn’t get it to turn for the life of me. The other real problem is the lack of ball joints. I have to imagine if this guy could have had ball joints, he would have been a real winner. Of course this was 1995, so the lack of ball joints is more a time period issue, than anything.
The problem then becomes, why were the back legs articulated at the knees but not the front? Had the front legs been articulated, this figure would have greatly improved. There’s also some issues with random cuts and hinges. It almost feels like the parts that need cuts and hinges don’t have them and the parts that do, don’t need them. For 16 points of articulation, this guy is largely immobile.
A lot of Spawn figures did come with accessories, but not this one. I suppose you could make the case that this was an oversized figure and didn’t need one. Of course, Malebolgia was 100X bigger than Vertebreaker here and came with an accessory, so who knows.
At the time $6-$7 was pretty expensive for an action figure. A lot of these guys ended up in comic shops for a lot more, as scalpers really first went to the Spawn line. It was a pretty good value back then and you can find this guy for about as much now. He’s got a litany of issues, but if you’re looking for something that just looks cool, this figure isn’t too bad.
Packaging – 6
Sculpting – 6
Articulation – 6
Accessories – N/A
Value – 6
Overall – 6 out of 10
All sixes? Clearly a sign of the devil. I had high hopes for Vertebreaker, but while the sculpt is an interesting looking creature there was too much emphasis on the needless instead of the needed. When a figure boasts 16 points of articulated evil, I expect those articulation points to be useful. Evil? Indeed.