REVIEW: Four Horsemen The Outer Space Men
Infinity Edition Wave 1 & 2 with Alpha Phase Deluxe & Wave 5...
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With the current resurgence of the 3 ¾ inch figure scale, now is the perfect time to get acquainted with the Four Horsemen’s Outer Space Men (if you don’t already know them). First, a bit of history. The original “Outer Space Men” were small scale action figures made by Colorforms at the end of the 1960s, and among those in the know are credited with helping to define the modern “action figure.” Long gone and unfortunately mostly forgotten, Outer Space Men seemingly vanished, never to return... that is until 40 years later the Four Horsemen brought them back! Best known for their sculpting work at Mattel (DC Universe Classics, Masters of the Universe) and their amazing independent figure lines, the Horsemen resurrected the Outer Space Men and transformed what was a lost piece of history into a cool new figure line with high quality sculpts and paint applications, not to mention fun accessories and impressive articulation. Since their initial launch there have been many series and waves of Outer Space Men in different configurations and color schemes. In stock now are re-issues of Infinity Edition Waves 1 & 2, Alpha Phase Wave 5, and Alpha Phase Deluxe 1: the Cyclops!
Outer Space Men represent a corps of “astronauts” from the different planets in our solar system and beyond, each with his own unique look and equipment. The modern figures are based on the Colorforms originals and stick close to their overall design and feel. Each Series and Wave by the Horsemen includes two figures sold together, and there have been several waves of repaints and re-colors for exclusives. The latest releases include the re-issued (and slightly revised) “Infinity Editions” of Waves 1 (Astro-Nautilus and Metamorpho) & 2 (Inferno and Xodiac) along with clear “Alpha Phase” editions of Wave 5 (Orbitron and Gemini) and the special deluxe Cyclops.
As with the previous Outer Space Men releases, the figures of Infinity Edition Waves 1 & 2 come packaged on cool classically-inspired blister cards. Each figure and its accessories are sealed in a heavy-duty rectangular bubble whose plastic extends across the entire front of the card and wraps around its four edges, holding it securely in place. The front of the card recreates the original 1960s packaging with photos of each figure in various scenes, down to the different faces of Metamorpho and the molten lava setting of Inferno’s home. At the top of each card are the figure’s name, homeworld, and a list of the included accessories.
The back of each OSM card is divided into three sections. At the top is a brief history of the Outer Space Men from their origins in 1968 to the current versions, great for those who may be unaware of the classic toys. Next is a biography of the character with appropriately “retro” sci-fi details side by side with a photo of the original version mint on card. Finally, at the bottom of the card are photos of the current lineup: Series 1 and 2.
The Alpha Phase Outer Space Men, on the other hand, come in different packaging. As special variant figures they don’t get the same full blister card treatment. Instead, the Alpha Phase Wave 5 figures come in individual bags with card-backs inserted behind them and card toppers. The Alpha Phase Deluxe figure, Cyclops, comes with his own unique box decorated with the same art you’ve come to expect from this line.
With cool retro styling, the Outer Space Men represent astronaut-types from their various home planets. They’re in the 3 ¾ inch scale with a nice range of sizes: 3 ¼ inch Gemini to 3 ¾ inch Xodiac and Inferno, 4 ¼ inch Orbitron, and the massive 5 inch Cyclops (5 ¼ with helmet). Each Space Man has totally different designs reflecting their in-universe origins which apply both to their physiology and to their technology. And since they’re based on 60’s era ideals of “astronauts” they have unique monstrous creature physiology and lot of weird bubble or bullet-style helmets to protect them in outer space!
Each figure also has unique weaponry that matches its overall design ranging from ray guns to spheres and more. Infinity Edition Wave 1 includes the monstrous squid man Astro-Nautilus (the man from Neptune) and the man of three faces Metamorpho (the man from Alpha Centauri), while Wave 2 has the fiery Inferno (the flame man of Mercury) and the stoic dome-headed Xodiac (the man from Saturn). Meanwhile, Alpha Phase Wave 5 brings you the “brainy” Orbitron (the man from Uranus) and the freaky little Gemini (the man from the twin star Algol). Finally the Alpha Phase deluxe is the mighty Cyclops, the giant from beyond the Milky Way!
As expected from the Four Horsemen, all of the Outer Space Men have really impressive sculpts, especially for figures in their scale. Even better, they are so varied; while most of them have fairly standard humanoid bodies, they all have radically different heads and accoutrements that make them unique. Inferno has a really cool spacesuit design with flame effects and a lightning bolt, and his head appears to be made up of flames.
Astro-Nautilus is probably the most distinctive of all of the Outer Space Men, an alien with a standard torso and legs with a huge nautiloid head (complete with long snout) and four tentacles instead of arms!
The man from Saturn is Xodiac, a serious-looking alien with a humanoid spacesuit body and an odd head with a puffy, beard-like lower face, beady eyes, a wide domed head, and floppy ears.
Metamorpho has plenty of “personality” his chest piece has a prominent button, but the big news is that his head has no fewer than three faces! Turn it around to alternate between a scaly reptilian, a space vampire type complete with widow’s peak, and a demonic alien with pointy teeth and huge bug eyes.
And then there are the Alpha Phase aliens; each one of these has a totally unique sculpt. Creepy little Gemini has tiny legs and arms and a wide torso with a flat top. Set on that are two pointy eared cone heads encased in test tube-like helmets. Orbitron is a classic design highly reminiscent of the Metalunans from This Island Earth with a giant exposed brain, spherical eyes, an emaciated body with intricate designs, and limbs that end in pincers.
Finally, there’s the Cyclops. Not only is this guy huge, but he has a crazy sculpt with tons of detail. He’s like a space gladiator with traditional armor that shows off his huge muscles; his oddly-shaped giant head has one huge eye, a mouth full of vicious teeth, pointed ears, and a horn to top it all off.
As with the sculpted elements, the Outer Space Men are differentiated by their unique color schemes and paint applications. All of the Infinity Edition figures have metallic paint and translucent parts (on accessories if not the figure), while the Alpha Phase figures are almost entirely translucent. The former category all have spacesuits with one or two major colors and a contrasting one at the rubbery joints. Metamorpho has a really spiffy white spacesuit with black joints that looks sophisticated like a tuxedo. The chest button is translucent pink, the same color as the knob on his helmet; meanwhile, his faces are all painted with totally different palettes from the somber black and purple of the “vampire” to the bright red of the “demon” and finally the shiny gold of the reptilian. My good man Xodiac wears shiny metallic blue with purple accents and bright orange joints that match his head (and his chest emblem shows off his home planet). Astro-Nautilus has a gold suit with blue accents and purple joints that match his aquatic skin tone. His chest emblem is orange on blue, and his eyes pop with dark yellow and black slitted pupils.
Finally Inferno has probably the coolest spacesuit of the bunch: silver with gold accents including the lightning bolt across his chest and a translucent orange chest button. The Mercurian’s head is translucent orange with painted flame effects and yellow eyes. Some of their respective weapons and accessories add in even more colors, like Astro-Nautilus’ blue trident and Xodiac’s yellow bubble helmet and translucent pink weapons. On the Alpha Phase side, Orbitron is an overall translucent pink with baby blue eyes and chest button. Gemini is translucent yellow with a series of green discs around his torso; his tiny slitted eyes are deep red. The scary awesome Cyclops is a translucent deep blue while his solitary eye is orange.
Action figure design and construction has come a long way since the 1960’s, when state of the art Outer Space Men had bendy wire limbs. The modern versions are fitted out with good articulation; most of them have joints at the neck, shoulders, wrists, torso, waist, hips, knees, and ankles. Of course, some of the figures with more “unique” body shapes and sizes will have some differences from the standard. The joints on Outer Space Men come from the Onell Design’s Glyos System, combining movement and a high degree of customization. Essentially, all points of articulation are rotating cut joints with interlocking parts that can be separated and re-attached with any others. This is most easily seen in the OSM arm parts; many of the figures come with one set of straight arms and one set that are bent at the elbow. All Glyos joints are interchangeable so you can swap parts between the figures endlessly. Gemini even has Glyos inputs behind his green discs so you can do all sorts of things with him.
Of course, all sci-fi space dudes need accessories, and Outer Space Men do not disappoint in that regard. Each figure comes with at least one weapon, and most have a couple of accessories. Astro-Nautilus has the fewest with just his trident, but it’s obvious that with his additional limbs and huge head he had a higher cost. Thankfully, the trident looks great and can even fit on his tentacle with its double-holed “grip.” Metamorpho has a matching helmet with porthole face and pink knob at the top you can use to rotate his head; he also has two similar accessories in the shape of a pistol and a scepter in white and pink. Xodiac has the aforementioned bubble helmet along with a translucent rippled pistol and saucer-topped staff. Inferno has some of the coolest accessories of the bunch: a jagged silver pistol with orange flame effect, bullet shaped helmet, and a cloak of flames that plugs into his back! The Alpha Phase figures are well equipped too. Orbitron’s accessories are totally unique, a stylized pistol and starburst “shield” with grips that work with his pincer hands. Gemini has head canisters, a retro pistol, and a staff topped with an even tinier head that has its own canister. You can even remove that miniscule head and reattach it elsewhere with the Glyos joints!
Leaving the best for last, again, Cyclops has full torso armor, twin heavy pistols (with three colors) that can be holstered on the armor, a battle helmet, and a massive bubble helmet. The giant also comes with two sets of hands: fists for wielding his pistols and open hands to use his menacing claws.
For those of you who may have older versions of OSM Waves 1 & 2, these Infinity Editions are slightly revised to be closer to the original designs. Inferno has the new clear orange parts that allow light to pass through, while Xodiac also has updated accessory colors. Astro-Nautilus has a new shade of purple on his skin and a deeper blue trident. Metamorpho got the biggest upgrade with a bright white suit, less opaque helmet, and better matching translucent pink elements.
I’m a big fan of the 3 ¾ inch scale and I dig retro sci-fi, so the Outer Space Men are right up my alley. If you’re of a similar mindset you should definitely check them out. They have really interesting designs (no two look alike), solid sculpts, and unique color palettes that further set them apart. They have good articulation (though hinged knees would go a long way) so you can get them in classic attacking poses or have them stand at attention, but with their fun weapons and accessories they’re just asking to be put into battle. The Alpha Phase figures take these design elements another step with their nearly 100% translucent bodies. Unfortunately this obscures their great sculpts, but the figures really do stand out from their fellows. All of the figures seen here are in stock right now at ShopFourHorsemen.com. You can get the Infinity Edition foursome for $50, and the Alpha Phase trio for the same price. Their storefront also has various other Outer Space Men in different colors and decos, so check those out too.
Review and Photos by Scott Rubin
Review Samples Courtesy of Four Horsemen
Last edited by JeffSaylor; 08-29-2012 at 04:21 PM.