Conan the Barbarian is a big, inexplicable blind spot in my geekery and my general pop cultural awareness. I have never read any of the Conan comic books or prose stories, and while I was a child of the 1980s, I never saw the live-action Conan films. Sure, I could pick Conan out of a lineup, and there are names I associate with the character (the way one might associate Cthulhu with Lovecraft despite having never read any tales of The Old Ones): Robert E. Howard, Frank Frazetta, Arnold Schwarzenegger. But for all intents and purposes, Mezco’s One:12 Collective Conan the Barbarian action figure has served as my introduction to the character.
But if the character has managed to elude me for forty-plus years, why am I reviewing (indeed, endorsing) this toy? It’s simple: if an action figure is sufficiently artful, one’s level of familiarity with its franchise is irrelevant, and Mezco’s One:12 Collective Conan the Barbarian is unquestionably a work of art. By Crom, what a gorgeous figure!
Conan is one of those figures that is sculpted so well, it arguably crosses the line from impressive to creepy — studying his veins and scars in-hand is legitimately unsettling. He includes two “portraits,” or head sculpts, one stoic and the other gritting his teeth—and even the teeth are impeccably sculpted!
Conan’s articulation is fluid and intuitive; his long hair admittedly gets in the way of his neck articulation somewhat, but he is nonetheless capable of many naturalistic poses, and the articulation is incorporated into the sculpt so that the joints are not distracting. Honestly, the joints would perhaps be more glaring if his skin was not such a tapestry of scars; they help to obscure the cuts at the elbows, shoulders and knees, looking instead for all the world like more scars amongst many.
I admire Mezco’s craft, but I have also been critical of the company at times. (Although never where their customer service is concerned — they are second to none in that category, if my experience is any indication.) However, one thing even the most stubborn critic must concede is that Mezco is consistently generous with accessories, and Conan’s allotment of accessories is not merely generous, but indeed overwhelming. There are several pieces I never even utilized in these photos! (I should also note that two of the accessories seen in this review are not Conan’s: the large, spiky skull and the small dragon skull, both of which are old McFarlane Toys pieces.)
In addition to his two heads, Conan includes eight hands, a removable necklace (it’s gorgeous, but it tends to float above his torso if his hair hits it just so, therefore I kept it off), a harness, a cape, two loincloths, a scimitar, a broadsword, a dagger, an axe, and a shield, plus a display base emblazoned with artwork from Frank Frazetta. (The same painting also adorns the front of the packaging.) This ample assortment of gear represents an almost unprecedented value, which makes it somewhat more palatable to pay ninety dollars for a six-inch action figure.
Conan is already sold out, although you can join the Wait List on Mezco’s website and hope Crom has mercy on you. In the meantime, the cost of Conan is quickly skyrocketing on the secondary market, with some sellers asking Hot Toys prices even though he’s only a six-inch figure, so if you are a fan of this fierce barbarian, make haste. Hell, I don’t know the first thing about Conan, and I still had a blast photographing him.
With that said, if you want to see some truly astounding portraits of Mezco’s Conan action figure, check out crackhead9000 on Instagram; as of this writing, only three of his photos are portraits of Conan, but they are stunning and gorgeous and creative! And if you would like a second opinion about Mezco’s Conan figure, Michael Crawford’s review is predictably thorough and professional.
In conclusion, I would like to note that Conan is a sturdy and durable toy; most collectors will simply pose an action figure a few times and then place it on a shelf for safekeeping, but I tossed Conan into a plastic tote and took him on several hikes and posed him on rocks and muddy embankments and along sandy shores to capture these photos, and he is none the worse for wear. Mezco’s quality control in this instance is excellent.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!