Humans beware! Everyday we do as we please: living in the world, taking advantage of all that nature has given us. But lately, there has been a rumbling in the natural world. The animals aren't pleased with what we've done to their habitat and what started with a Grizzly Bear and his sniper rifle scaring a few drunken hunters, turned into a full fledged war of beast vs. man over habitat and disrespect. To add to the carnage, Rocketworld has just recruited three new troops to the I.nsurgent W.ilderness G.ruppo ranks.
With these pieces the army has gained another water based fighter with Desmond the dolphin. Astrid the jaguar, a covert nighttime attacker, joins and some much needed aerial support is added by Irra the burrowing owl. Of course, each comes with their own weapon and distinct characteristics, but let's talk generalities for a moment. Each figure is limited to a run of 500. This gives them a nice collectible pull, but there are still enough that you should be able to find them... for a bit anyway. Each is numbered to ensure authenticity. The vinyl doesn't seem as solid as the first few pieces (Titus particularly), but still, each is made of a quality vinyl that is nice and sturdy. I still wouldn't let the neighbor's kid play with them though!
This jaguar has joined the G.ruppo because she is dedicated to regaining land lost to cattle ranchers and protecting the rainforests where she prowls. Striking from the shadows, she prefers to use her claws for hand to hand combat, but if need be, she will be quick to draw her .45 caliber automatic pistol. The sculpt on this feline is nice. It reminds me a bit of Odysseus in its form, but is a bit more slender and taller. The face has a definite feline feel to it with the lips cut and the features all sculpted (nose, eyes, inner ear, claws) She has the signature Rocketworld eyes (one is bigger than the other) which is more subtle on this piece, but still present. Also, her arms are in different positions: one open, one ready for the pistol: adding to the asymmetry of her look. She sports six points of articulation: head, arms, legs, and tail. I saved the most interesting aspect of Astrid for last: her spots! The pattern on her body is very intricate. While it seems to not be hand painted (which would have taken forever!), it looks very nice. There are a few smudges on my piece, but I'm sure that's not the case on every one. She has a very special marking on her back: a skull shaped spot. Very nice touch! Still not cool enough? Well check this out! STRANGEco is carrying a limited black colorway of Astrid named Huey. And get this! He has UV sensitive markings on his back! Better hurry before that one's gone!
I have to admit that after seeing Desmond at Toy Fair I wasn't really as excited for him as the others. Even Patrick Ma, the series creator, hinted at the same. But the people at the event were really drawn to him and now that I have him and can really get a good look at the guy, I must eat my words. There's something about dolphins (I mean, they are the only other animal to have sex for fun, right?); maybe it's those old Flipper episodes I saw as a kid. What ever the reason, I found affection for this tuna boat-sinking mammal I didn't know I'd have. Desmond patrols the seas using his Navy trained explosive mastery, sinking boats that use drag fishing techniques which kill many sea mammals. This figure has no articulation, and that's a bit disappointing but understandable. A joint to make the fin flip or the mouth open would need a very obvious hinge that would detract from the toy's otherwise clean look. Asymmetry is found with the difference in the eyes' size (yes I love asymmetry). He comes with a sea mine which really helps with display. This is a very nice, clean figure. [Ed note: Does it float in the bath tub?]
Irra is a fantastic toy. This burrowing owl is concerned about her land being lost by over development and pesticides killing her friends. The sculpt is very clean with the eyes and beak protruding. The face is a bit raised, and thin ridge around her belly adds to the detail. The wings are articulated to give a twist but not flap. Like in Desmond, a hinge would be needed; taking away from the piece's clean design. I love how the face is subtlety asymmetrical. No, I'm not going to mention the eyes again...but I could. No, if you look closely, the toy's left "horn" is a bit taller than the right. Little things like this raise the toy up a notch in my book. Irra really ups the ante with her weapon. She has a freakin' laser guided missile! This is by far the nicest (and most violent) weapon the I.W.G. has shown. It actually has a working red LED light in the front for guidance! Also, she can perch right on the side of the missile with handy pegs. But don't worry, if you don't like your owls being so violent she can stand on your shelf too.
Sadly, this is the end of the line for the I.nsurgent W.ilderness G.ruppo's first series and it still stands as my top pick of continuing toy linesDesigner or Mainstream. Not only are the toys top notch in design and execution, but the fact that they put a fun twist on a topic that needs attention is really great. Also, it's an issue I believe in so that's got an extra pull. Not only do these raise awareness, they are actually doing something to make a difference. A portion of the sales are donated to non-profit organizations fighting for animal rights. Does that mean they can count as a tax write off?
Yes it's true that we must say goodbye to the beasts of the I.W.G. for now, but many more things are coming down the pipe from Rocketworld and STRANGEco (who helped produce the toys). Minis, Astral Overseers, and Series Two are all on the horizon. We'll be sure to keep you up to date on new developments as they arise.
Rocketworld's site has a sick new flash animation of the I.W.G.s origin. Plus lots of other great things (like the opportunity to purchase these and the rest of the family).
STRANGEco keeps the hits coming. Check out their site for all the news you need to know.
If you like the looks of these guys check out our I.W.G. coverage page of the rest of the family: Titus, Affonso, Hannibal, Moly, Odysseus, and Ocho.
Swing by kidrobot where you can get a ton of great vinyl.