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Tuesday, March 18, 2008


A while ago I decided to declare a moratorium on collecting any more FIST OF THE NORTH STAR items with the exception of the new films, figuring that the various licensees had put out toys and figures depicting damned near every character found in the series' twenty-seven collected volumes, but I nonetheless still peek in on eBay just to see what new and cool goodies crop up from time to time.

Since its gore-drenched debut in 1983, FIST OF THE NORTH STAR has seen mountains of merchandise produced from its imagery, some of which is among the shoddiest toy store detritus ever unleashed, but within the past decade, coupled with a resurgence of interest in the property, companies like the exceptional Kaiyodo have crafted a variety of figures of uniformly high quality that are pretty much guaranteed to make the rabid FOTNS fan willingly shell out the sometimes high amounts of import fee cash to possess their latest offering. Within the past four years I've obtained many of Kaiyodo's FOTNS wares, the most impressive of which are figures of two of the series' protagonists with a crazy amount of articulation points, and the series of busts depicting Kenshiro — the protagonist — and his brothers, and after all of that stuff I just said "no" and merely observed from a distance.

That is until they put out a mini-statue of Ryuken, adoptive father of the four North Star brothers and 63rd Grand Master of their fighting art, Hokuto Shinken.

Kaiyodo's outstanding rendition of Ryuken.

A lynchpin in the early portions of the FOTNS saga, Ryuken was seen in flashbacks thanks to his shameful death at the hands of one of his sons, but his teachings and wisdom lived on in his pupils and lead many fans of the series to wish there had been more written about his ascension to his rank as grandmaster and successor to the Hokuto Shinken style. A wise and serene presence, Ryuken was the FOTNS equivalent to Obi-Wan Kenobi, and some of his esoteric skills and psychedelic effects put even the respected Jedi master to shame. And so, attracted a I am to such characters, when the toy of Ryuken turned up on eBay I simply had to have it.

Paired with a figure of the North Star family's blackest of black sheep, Raoh — a character of whom I have at least seven toys, almost all of which came in different pairings with other characters — Ryuken set me back by about thirty bucks, including postage and handling, but I had to get him, choosing to sacrifice a week's worth of purchases at the comics shop. And now the 63rd Grand Master of Hokuto Shinken presides over the other toys that adorn my workspace (including Green Lantern John Stewart, Fantastic Four stalwart Ben Grimm, and a great likeness of meditating samurai Goemon Ichikawa from LUPIN III), but I think I'll leave him in the box he came in lest he kick my ass.

Ryuken in plastic. Ah, bliss...

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