Ultima Online Blackthorn Juggernaut

I’ve never been much of an RPG player (KotoR aside), but was always at least peripherally aware of Origin’s popular “Ultima” series. The MMORPG version – “Ultima Online” – was launched in 1997 and was followed by a number of expansions, including 2002’s “Lord Blackthorn’s Revenge”. This particular add-on spawned a small range of figures from McFarlane toys (no doubt in part thanks to Todd McFarlane having designed a number of creatures for the game), one of which is the Blackthorn Juggernaut. I really liked the ugly, boxy, man-tank look of the thing, which is why I bought one even though I’ve never played the game.

Subservient to the evil Lord Blackthorn, Juggernauts are humans combined with arcane magic and eldritch mechanics to create large, armoured villains. Apparently quite slow in the game, they have a stun attack that momentarily stops the player in their tracks allowing for some good ol’ fashion up-close-n’-personal whomping.

Packaging

The figure originally came in a large clamshell with the “Ultima Online” symbol and a photo of the Juggernaut’s face on the front, and images of the other figures in the line on the back. It has long since been disposed of, so no photos unfortunately. (Most collectors will agree that opening clamshells can be a real mission. The easiest method I’ve found is to use a pair of sharp scissors to completely cut around the edge, then pop the two halves open. This is much safer than using a knife, and so far hasn’t resulted in any blood loss).

Sculpting

I quite like the off-balance design with a huge central wheel and a small outrigger, but this means this guy can’t stand on his own and needs the included stand for balance. Although lost a bit under the hood, the face sculpt is rather good. It has a somewhat grim expression and lots of scar-like texture. A skull-cap tops it off with a pair of wires leading into the rest of the body. The hull is a slab of a thing made up from flat panels, most of which have a rough cast texture trimmed with rivets. A searchlight with a separate wire lead sits on the right shoulder. The left shoulder features what looks like a hasty patch riveted onto it, possibly to cover some battle damage.

Ultima Online Blackthorn Juggernaut figure review

A mish-mash of pipes and technological doodads add details where the arms join the body. The arms have some of the best detail on the figure, with different textures, panels, hinges and rivets gadding to the overall industrial robot look. The right arm ends in a pincer, while the left arm is fitted with a worn looking drill – probably chipped thanks to drilling through the armour of assorted hapless heroic types. Both wheels have plastic hubs and include a fair bit of detail, but most of it is hidden under the hull or by the wheel cover. Both tyres are rubber, and include a tread pattern and studs.

Ultima Online Blackthorn Juggernaut figure review

A down-side of the figure is the very prominent screw holes in the chassis. I suppose you could get away with saying they’re part of the design, but I’d prefer if they were better hidden. If I ever decide to work on the paint, the screw heads will get a bit of grime to blend them in.

Articulation

Ultima Online Blackthorn Juggernaut figure review

Overall articulation is rather limited. Both wheels rotate, but sadly due to the off-set design there’s no way you’re going to have this guy scooting along the carpet to do battle with the forces of good. The head doesn’t move at all. The arms have reasonable articulation. The right arm rotates around its axis, and has an elbow swivel. The claws can open and close, as well as move up and down. The left arm has more movement options, but is restricted by all the pipes attached to it. It can rotate at the shoulder and elbow, and features a working piston. The drill can rotate, but only by manually twisting it.

Paint

Ultima Online Blackthorn Juggernaut figure review

The paint apps are neatly applied, if not massively exciting. The face is quite good with grey zombie-like flesh and red eyes. The main body has an even green coverage, but the sprayed on rusty grime is a bit simplistic for my taste. Each rivet is picked out in silver, as are the tyre studs. The exposed mechanical parts are black with silver, copper, and grey highlights to bring out all the fine detail.

Accessories

No extras here, unless you count the clear plastic stand that stops this guy from faceplanting.

Overall

It’s big, it’s ugly, and I rather like it. It may not be up to the standards of newer figures in terms of articulation, and it has that whole falling-over-without-support issue, but it was one of the first figures I bought when I started collecting seriously, and it looks great where it resides on my desk at work.

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