Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Conan Series 1

For years I have had an ambivalent attitude to Conan the Barbarian, greatest creation of Robert E. Howard, Texas' native son and most renowned "fantasist." (Neil Hancock and immigrant Michael Moorcock are poor seconds.) I came to him through the black-and-white comic mag "The Savage Sword of Conan" in the late 70's. I tried to read a few of Howard's novels and short stories, but never really liked his prose style; in a strange way his mythology was greater than the actual working out of his stories. Then the 1982 movie came out and I was even more conflicted.

For all the cheese factor, I find I can't just give up on the Hyborian Age. It is indefensible, philosophically despicable, mythopoetically puerile, but on some deep gut level powerfully compelling. I bought eight volumes of Howard's work (admittedly at extremely reduced prices) that I find very hard to read, but I feel I must have them because Howard is such a giant influence in a certain area of my interest (imaginative lit, see my profile).

Anyhow, here I am with at least three incarnations of Conan in action figure form. I have Conan as he appears in Frank Frazetta's cover paintings, by MacFarlane Toys. I have Conan as he appears in Marvel Comics. And now I have Conan as he appeared in the movies, played by Arnold Schwarzeneggar, by NECA Reel Toys. It's Conan as he is in the beginning of the film, as a pit-fighter owned by the Vanir. There is another version (shown in the insert above) of Conan in camouflage as he was when infiltrating Thulsa Doom's cult.

I bought it at Hasting's for $16.99. The sculpt looks particularly accurate for something that must have been done by hand rather than computer scan; Arnold's expression of stultified brutality is very well captured. The figure comes with a base, a Vanir standard, and two hand axes.

1 comment:

AlanDP said...

I think I have a few Conan books, and I may have read one of them. And then I have that collection of his "weird tale" shorts with Cthulhu on the cover.

But I was going to say, they did an excellent job on his face.