Combatants’ Branthoc "Devilfish"
By Hervé St-Louis
January 11, 2022 - 20:47
Branthoc is a Germanic gambler and alcoholic who got into debt and thus became the gladiator known as Devilfish for the Marcellus lanista, so that he could repay what he owned. He casts his net on his enemies in the arena. Although he had never defeated the champion of Pompei, he took a chance to do so in Rome where several other top gladiators would meet to attempt to dethrone the reigning champion.
Branthoc is part of the first series of Combatants action figures by XesRay Studio released in 2020. Combatant is a line of authentic gladiator 1:12 action figures based on the old Roman culture. The line reuses the same bodies for most gladiators and with new bodies for the upcoming gladiatrix in wave three. Many collectors have combined the Combatants with the Mythic Legions fantasy action figures by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, even though XesRay's line is much more historically based. Branthoc was meant to represent the typical Nordic warrior who would enter the gladiatorial combats of the Roman Empire.
Combatants are an original intellectual property that is not supported by a media series. The mythology is self-contained with the action figures. However, it is highly inspired on historical records of the gladiatorial age. This the armour, the clothing, the weapons used by Branthoc are based on historical records.
Branthoc is a retiarius type of gladiator. That means that he is at the lowest level of gladiator ranks, whose trident, net, and dagger mimics a fisherman. The only protection of retiarii was an arm and shoulder guard. Retiarii were not the best armed and were often defeated. Because of their rank, they were often assumed to be effeminate (or I guess, the equivalent of homosexual) gladiators. They wore tunics and often shin guards.
Branthoc looks like a classic retiarius gladiator and the colour of his tunic, the belt he wears and the arm guard is very reminiscent of such types of combatants. I would argue that Branthoc is probably too muscular for a retiarius, considering he is supposed to be of lower skills and lower survival rates. However, since all Combatants action figures use the same body mould, he comes in the standard build used for the line.
Branthoc is also a perfect base for a Kratos custom action figure from the God of War video game series. He has the right look and build. He only needs a few accessories and a lot of paint.
The base figure is muscular and bulky. But Branthoc, like other Combatants have tiny heads designed for helmets. The ideal 1:7 scale for heads to body is smaller here at about 1:8. Branthoc’s hands are almost as large as his head. His feet are also very large, but they support his weight and do look right next to the bulky figure. Branthoc’s face is great too, although, as mentioned, too tiny.
The articulations on Branthoc are well hidden. I like how there is little gaps on the back of his neck and skull. Aligning the head and the neck does make him look like his hunching. There are gaps in his shoulder blades and arms, and his diaphragm, when his torso is bent up. I dislike the ball joints at the wrists, but they are well hidden in the wrist guards.
The shoulder armour and the shin guards have sculpted details featuring soldiers, animals, wreathes and other garnishes.
The paint on Branthoc is not uniform with all figures. XesRay allows the painters to just paint the figures a bit randomly in terms of the wash that they have. For example, my Branthoc has dirt in his hands. Branthoc, like other Combatants, is tanned, which is odd. However, his gear is nicely painted, and the paint is thick enough to hide the plastic underneath.
Branthoc is a good fit with the other Combatants but a bit shorter, even though he is supposed to be using the same base build. He is slightly shorter than Marcus Marius Avitus and Ambillus "Beetle" from wave two. However, he is slightly taller than the Heavy Artillery Roadblock and towers over the other released G.I. Joe Classified figures. He is also taller than most Marvel Legends and of course, much taller than all Star Wars Black Series figures.
Branthoc looks next to other similar action figures from Masters of the Universe and Mythic Legion. Branthoc’s armour and it’s detailing is in finer proportions than Mythic Legions and of course Masters of the Universe action figures. Branthoc does not look as gimmicky and toy-like as a Mythic Legions action figure.
Branthoc is very stable and has not fallen although he is top heavy, and his ankles appear a bit weak. He is easy to pose in different ways while keeping his balance. I’m impressed.
The head is on a ball joint and can swivel and rock. His shoulders are on ball joints with a simulated but limited butterfly joint. He has single articulations at the elbows where the forearms can swivel at the base. His wrists are on ball joints giving him full rotation and swivel capabilities. There is a diaphragm articulation but none at the waist. He can bend down a lot and extend his back too.
The thighs are on ball joints and can lift up well, although the tunic gets in the way. He can do a good split. He has limited swivels at the hips too and double knee articulations. The articulations are smooth and sturdy. His ankles are a bit more complicated. He has swivels at the lower shins and then his feet are on ball joints that can rock, bend, or curl.
The base plastic is his skin colour which is tanned. His tan is lighter than other Combatants through. The plastic is tough. The gear and props are in lighter PVC plastic. Some collectors mention that prepping the figure in hot water or using a blow dryer on him will loosen the joints and avoid having them breaking. I don’t like the plain colour of the body’s joints which clashes with the washed limbs.
Branthoc comes with a trident, a net, and a dagger (also called pugio) that he can store in a sheath on his back. The props and the gear he wears are easily swappable with other Combatants figures. That’s a plus.
The packaging for Combatants is like Mythic Legion. It is a backing board that can be removed from a plastic bubble. While it allows the figure to be stored easily without destroying the package, it also means that the package can be opened and later claimed to be sealed. Branthoc has a full biography on his package.
Combatants action figures are expensive, especially the first wave which is no longer restocked by XesRay Studio. Originally, Branthoc cost around $69.99 USD and $74,99 CAD. On the secondary market, he can be found for much more than $100 USD. I paid for $79.99 CAD for Branthoc from an auction site. He is the price of two regular G.I. Joe Classified or Marvel Legends. Combatants are significantly costlier than many other action figure lines. They are close in price the Mythic Legions action figures.
Finding Branthoc is not difficult, although there are not much original stock around. There are some at BigBadToyStore on order, but who knows about how much they are ordering. Most other stores have run out of stock. Of course, Branthoc is sold almost exclusively in collectible stores like comic book stores, or online toy stores. They can be found in auction sites too. I like this figure a lot and am going to buy a few more of the newer Combatants. They price, however, can be detrimental to collecting them all.
Rating: 9 /10
Last Updated: January 24, 2022 - 10:57