Sunday, 5 March 2017

Creatureplica Louisiana Rougarou

So way back at the end of 2014, I interviewed legendary action figure sculptor Jean St Jean about his then-upcoming Creatureplica range of action figures. Centred around various cryptids, I knew this would be a must-buy. Flash forward more than 2 years, and my Louisiana Rougarou has finally arrived!

Despite having read books on the “unexplained” fairly extensively over the years, I have to say I’d never heard of the Rougarou specifically. Presumably a corruption of the French word loup-garou, there are all manner of Cajun and Native American folk tales about the beast. Most of them are simple morality stories, as folklore and fairy tales often tend to be, but it’s an interesting and oft-overlooked piece of werewolf mythology in our era, which tends to be dominated by a more Twilight or Underworld-esque view.

And this boy is magnificent. More Dog Soldiers than Wolfman, this is a HUGE figure; not just because of its height, but also in chunkiness. Designed to fit in with a 7” scale, he’d also work with plenty of 6” lines too. The detailed sculpting on the fur is incredible; it’s obvious that this project is a real labour of love for Jean St Jean, and it’s an excellent showcase of the skills he’s picked up during his decades in the industry.  

Jean St Jean has worked for pretty much everyone, but these days he’s probably best known for his work with Diamond Select. Additionally, this series is distributed by Diamond Select over in the US, so it’s not altogether surprising that the figure adopts a very Universal Monsters Select articulation scheme – fortunately of the more modern variety, rather than the old limited articulation. Here’s the breakdown, from head to toe:

*swivel ears
*hinged jaw
*double barbell head/neck, providing a balljoint-like effect
*balljointed shoulders
*swivel biceps
*hinged elbows
*cut forearms
*hinged wrists
*cut abs
*cut waist
*swivel-hinged hips
*cut thighs
*ratcheted knees
*ratcheted calf
*ratcheted rocker ankles

The ratcheted joints are a particularly good inclusion, given that this guy is big, and would probably topple over without them. The sculpted fur restricts movement a little around the shoulders, but not excessively, and the only joint I actually had a problem with was the right wrist which appears to be a little bit stuck. Though there are other articulation schemes on the market which might have blended with the sculpt slightly better, it’s overall a good compromise and of a much higher standard than many mass-produced figures that I have bought.

Similarly, paint is of a very high standard. No doubt customisers can and will do a lot with it, but as a factory-painted figure it looks excellent on the shelf and also blends nicely with similarly sized lines such as the aforementioned Universal Monsters. The green eyes with white highlights/pupils are also an excellent touch.

"Do you even swamp bro?"
Louie here comes with four accessories – three shirt scraps and a display base. I didn’t think much of the shirt scraps on initial purchase; they’re held on by friction and fall off pretty easily, but now that I have it on display I quite like the look of them. They add a nice little bit of detail, and break up the grey-brown colour scheme without distracting the eye too much.

The display base is particularly good, and will definitely remain part of my display. It’s a swampy, bayou-esque mix of plant life and mud, with three foot pegs to support the Rougarou. Topping it off are a skull and ribcage with shredded shirt; these have excellent detailing, but they do seem a little large, even allowing for the 7” scale. Nonetheless, they evoke eerie and sinister voodoo connotations, which seems entirely appropriate for the figure.

Creatureplica’s figures are somewhat more expensive than their more mainstream Diamond Select counterparts, which is understandable given the lower production runs and (generally) greater articulation. I did have a few difficulties tracking one down; while US and Canadian purchases can apparently be made direct from the site, overseas orders need to be placed via email. I won’t go into all the details, but suffice to say that I’d suggest contacting them via their Facebook page instead.

Nonetheless, now that I have it in hand I’m thrilled with the final product. To be quite honest. I've been a little burnt out on action figures of late. I don't buy many these days; I'm trying to be a little more discerning, and with the sheer number of releases coming out across licenses I like it can be a little fatiguing. It's a first-world complaint if ever there was one, don't get me wrong, but this is the first figure in a long time that I've come across which has made me truly excited about the hobby, rather than "merely" pleased. 

The Louisiana Rougarou is an essential purchase for any werewolf or horror fan, and a shining example of how licenses don’t need to drive a high standard of product in the action figure market. Here’s hoping to getting a series 2 in the near future!

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