Despite some QC issues, two more Dark Judges make a strong debut in 3A’s 6″ 2000AD toy universe.
When I first ordered 3A’s Judge Death action figure last year, I have to admit I did so with reservations. I had never owned a 3A mixed media action figure in the past, and Death’s slender frame made me question whether the figure could possibly feel sturdy in the same way similar toys like Mezco’s One:12 collective Judge Dredd did. Death surprised me with his great aesthetic, smart use of various materials, and overall playability– this was a figure I felt comfortable posing any way I desired, one that could hold up to multiple hand swaps with no fear of breakage.
Judge Death was such a great release that when I had the opportunity to pick up his fellow Dark Judges, Fear and Mortis, I did so in a heartbeat. While I can’t say I entirely regret the decision, I do feel that 3A might have rushed these figures through production, because despite their great sculpts, both suffer from some serious quality control drawbacks not seen with Death.
Fear is the more interesting of this pair, visually. The figure makes smart reuse of the unnaturally thin, dessicated frame 3A created for Judge Death, but with lots of all new tooling such as Fear’s unique belt (adorned with traps and creepy shrunken heads), badge, shoulder pads, and an all new headsculpt. I think the last is the most striking– Judge Fear wears a demonic helmet complete with bat wings and a grated face mask– and 3A’s sculpt includes the horrific multi-eyed face beneath the mask, which is removable in two halves. The figure also includes alternate mask parts sculpted to be open when attached to the helmet, allowing for multiple display options focused on Fear’s ghastly visage.
This Dark Judge also includes entirely new shoulder pads– modeled after hunting traps, not unlike the trap accessory he comes packed with, an all new belt adorned with shrunken heads, and a tattered cape that adds texture and dynamics to the figure, thanks to the wire sewn into the edges to allow for dramatic posing.
I really dig the Judge Fear figure, but while the sculpted features on his head look great and serve to make him a truly unique toy, he does suffer from some design flaws. I couldn’t even take Fear out of his packaging before one of the wings on his helmet separated from the head. While it slots back in place easy enough, I can’t help but be concerned should this figure ever take a shelf dive, or if I put him in a storage bin. And the mask, an awesome concept to display the figure with his true face hidden or exposed, attaches very loosely to the helmet. It’s simple enough to place the plates in position, but the fit is so weak that when I stood the figure upright, parts of the mask simply fell off on several occasions. Had the figure incorporated an actual hinge on the sides of the helmet to allow the mask to open or close, his overall display appearance would be much more stable and secure.
Mortis is also a mixed bag. I’m not talking about his more simplistic design, as 3A’s retool of the Judge Death base body on this figure is actually great– with subtle rips and tears in the fabric costume, giving way to grotesque bits of rot, decay, and exposed bone underneath– but the quality of these new pieces. Each of Mortis’ alternate hands were covered in tacky paint, including the ones attached to his wrists in package. When I attempted to swap the pre-packed hands off for different poses– less than two minutes after I opened this guy– the wrist peg on one of his arms simply snapped off due to the sticky paint bonding it in place.
It took quite an extensive surgery involving my Dremel and an Xacto knife to re-attach this figure’s hand to his arm. I can only hope my particular Mortis was a dud, and most releases are much more sturdy… but either way, I suggest you remove and attach his alternate hands with great care.
Aside from this problem, Mortis looks pretty cool, if a bit less flashy than Fear. Mortis’ cow skull head is perfectly sculpted, featuring a two-point articulation pattern at the top and bottom of the neck, and he sports a nice skeletal tail which serves to distinguish his profile from the other Dark Judges. And as I mentioned earlier, the tears in Mortis’ uniform are very well rendered, both in terms of the ripped fabric on the figure’s surface and the nastiness on display underneath.
I was very impressed by 3A’s Judge Death, and was glad I set aside my concerns about potential quality control issues to add him to my collection. Sadly, Judges Fear and Mortis contain many of those same design flaws I found myself anxious Death would suffer from, most importantly a brittle and delicate nature that prevents me from posing and playing with the figures comfortably.
Despite these QC issues, I have to admit I really like 3A’s latest releases, and I feel that building out the Dark Judges is a very smart next step in their 2000AD lineup. From the time these figures were first announced, to having them in hand, I have to admit my most burning question is when and if 3A will add Judge Fire to the collection. How they would pull that off, I can’t even say… but having three of the four Dark Judges in toy form makes me hope they’ll figure it out sooner than later… and return to the solid quality on display in Judge Death, as opposed to the more fragile nature of these other Dark Judges.
Judge Fear and Mortis are available now from specialty retailers. If you want to add these or other 2000AD figures to your 3A collection, visit our friends at Mike’s Comics N Stuff.