|Alpha Phase Metamorpho In Brief|
| Metamorpho is the first modern release of the character from the old Colorforms Aliens line, this time as an action figure. Limited somewhere between 300 and 500 pieces, this glow-in-the-dark Alpha Phase "prepaint" features about 12 meaningful points of articulation, Man-E-Faces style face changing, and swappable arms. Fun enough to be worth the $10, but you won't get it that cheap.|
There are few toy lines that are the stuff of collector legend, but The Outer Space Men make the cut. Figures like Metamorpho were birthed in response to Mattel's Major Matt Mason, as a "plays with" product line similar to The Corps today. (Except Metamorpho was part of an even more legendary second series of Outer Space Men that never saw release.) A tiny quantity of the original 1960s figures survived, creating quite a bit of hype and demand for an otherwise forgotten, but awesome, range of toy figures.
These new Alpha Phase figures were developed as Comic-Con and Store Horsemen web shop exclusives. Standing about 3 3/4-inch tall, this figure is similarly sized to most current Hasbro action figure lines. In terms of how they move and play, though, the line is far closer in spirit and playability to the original 1978-1985 Kenner Star Wars line. These figures can sit and stand, which are two things modern action figure cannot always do well.
Metamorpho's articulation is quite good, if primitive. Packed with swivel joints, the figure is mobile at the neck, waist, shoulders, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles. Each of these joints represents a place to tear the figure apart, and there are even holes on his feet to plug in extra pieces. It's really quite amazing as figure construction goes, and it's a blast to swap parts with other figures.
Since they all wear similar space suits, most of The Outer Space Men share body parts. Metamorpho shares numerous parts with Inferno, with the exceptions of the head, feet, and chest ornament. The legs and parts of the body are shared with the initial four figures. Due to the coloring and the ability to repaint the figure, odds are you won't notice the reuse of parts-- a space suit can look quite different with just a few minor changes.
The decision for accordion-like elbows and shoulders comes out of the original designs from the 1960s figures, which had these for their joints. The style was replicated here, but the range of motion has changed. It's a great look, as it reads as "retro-futuristic space suit," and that's something we need more of these days.
Stylistically, The Four Horsemen made a figure that's quite conservative, not adding too much to the original character designs. Metamorpho looks quite similar to the original toy, which is quite refreshing in this age of extreme ball joints, blistering detail, and high prices. It's simple, it's beautiful, and it's fun to play with-- in short, it's a winner.
Rather than elbow joints, separate arms are included which can be swapped out. Note this one is bent slightly so he can raise his pistols at enemy combatants.
This "Alpha Phase" figure is may sound like a glorified test shot. Molded in glow-in-the-dark plastic except for some eye paint, it's a pretty simple design. As such it may look cheap, but as a first-glimpse into a new and seemingly anticipated toy line, it's really quite a treat. Also, I love things that glow in the dark, so really, you can't go wrong.
Metamorpho has many faces, like Man-E-Faces. Turn the knob, get a different head. Due to the glow-in-the-dark plastic, the detail is hard to photograph and sadly, it's hard to see in person. It goes to show that certain plastics and paints can drastically alter how a character is represented, regardless of the sculptor's intent. Thankfully, his unique eyes shine through so you can tell he does in fact have three distinct faces.
The knob turns fairly smoothly. The first head is supposedly robotic, the second is a beast, and the third is reptilian. (I think.) It's simple, but it works-- which is a great way to describe our play time with the line as a whole. The "head" consists of three pieces-- a spinning head, an outer helmet, and a clear yellow knob.
Metamorpho includes a pair of ray guns, all the parts needed to build the figure, and additional "bent arms" in case you'd like to have his arms posed differently. It's a clever way around adding articulation, plus it looks nicer.
The one on the right is clearly a gun. My research says the ice cream cone thing on the left is also a gun, but it's pretty non-traditional as "Ray Guns" go.
All figures in this line can swap limbs and accessories. They're also able to mix it up with existing Glyos product, which means that if you have a few bucks you can essentially have one of the most fun toy boxes ever.
Left two images: parts swapped with Alpha Phase Astro-Nautilus. Right two images: parts swapped with Onell Design Glyos Buildman Gendrone Gray and Gray Phase Arm Set.
The figure may be completely dismantled, and his parts can be swapped with all (or at least most) Glyos-compatible figures. I would suggest buying some random figures just for kicks as it is a ton of fun to play around with.
Packaging & Co-Sells
Metamorpho was packaged with Astro-Nautilus at Comic-Con International 2010, and each were sold in little plastic bags with a hand-stapled card topper. Interestingly, the cardboard at the top features the final figure paint masters, and each figure includes his companion on the back. So if you unstable Metamorpho's card, the back side is a full-color card for Astro-Nautilus.
It's simple, durable, and space-friendly. We were told this style of packaging will likely be limited to these figures, and the standard, fully-painted releases will come blister-carded like most other action figures.
I've had so much fun with this line, it's sick. The figures fit in Star Wars vehicles, are simple, and are hard to put down. Between swapping the limbs and generally futzing with them, this may be my favorite new action figure line of the year. Fans of Xevoz and space-race toys should jump on these when the normal editions see production. Since the original The Outer Space Men toys go for hundreds to thousands of dollars, this newer and cheaper line is more up my alley. Barring a lack of availability (which seems to be the case with these initial four releases), I'd suggest picking up the entire line. As long as they don't do another run this limited, I will gladly pick up every figure I can from this range. Horsemen, you've got yourselves a loyal customer.
Reviewed and photographed by Adam Pawlus
Sample purchased at Comic-Con International in July 2010 for $20.00 (including Astro-Nautilus)
Reviewed on August 4, 2010.