Dog Soldiers Viking
In an ideal world every possible historical group would get their due as an action figure (and since it's perfect they would all be the same scale, have 135 points of articulation and cost $2). You'd see police and firemen share space with American Indians, Knights and Zulu Warriors. Since we live in an imperfect world, certain groups seem to be left out of the mix more often than not, even if they'd make ultra cool toys. Two of these groups are getting cool 1:6 scale figures, pirates with Blackbeard from Sideshow Collectibles, and the Vikings from Dog Soldiers.
When the term Viking is mentioned there are probably three things that come to mind. First is a group of giant blond-haired and blue-eyed pirates ready to pillage the nearest village. The second thing might be the 'purple people eaters' that play football in Minnesota with their horned visage on the sides of the helmets. And the last just could be a comic strip where Hagar the Horrible has to deal with the lighter side of pillage and plunder. Some of the space geeks will recall the Viking landers on Mars in the 1970's, but we'll stick with the first three to keep the paragraph opening accurate.
Most of the Vikings were Danes and Norwegians, but their culture was dynamic and very open to adapting to new ideas and absorbing other cultures into their own. One result is that the Vikings would be ethnically diverse as they conquered other people and assimilated them as slaves. They were often raiders of other villages, but this was more their means of survival rather than malice. They were certainly ruthless warriors, but they were also unmatched explorers.
As Scandinavia grew crowded in the 8th century, many Viking Chieftains decided to get together with bands and head out for more space and the promise of adventure and riches. The bands might easily equate to fraternity houses gone wild, with young men ready to have fun, drink, find women and basically take whatever wealth they wanted - all these usually by force. Their first choices were undefended towns and religious outposts (like monasteries) because they could get in, steal plenty of wealth, and get out quick without much fuss. They believed that they needed objects for their next life in Valhalla (their version of the afterlife), so they spent their time gathering things. This sounds awfully similar to modern capitalism...
While they carried plenty of weapons (especially this action figure), it was the longboat that was their greatest. It let them slip in and out of harbor quickly during their attacks, and it served as the means of spreading themselves across the globe. Their boats were strong and light, so they could be run on shore and then pushed off again after their fund-raising drives ended. The interesting historical footnote is that the nautical term starboard comes from the Vikings, who had a 'steer-board' on the right side of the ship to steer it. No don't say we never taught you anything you could use as a bar bet!
The boats were used as they moved out from Scandinavia through Europe, and even across the Atlantic where the Vikings were the first Europeans to land on North America, called Vinland because of the wild grapes growing there. Yep, they named it after booze. Columbus just had much better press, and his sponsors still have people around. The Viking culture eventually died out, though not before leaving the Icelandic Sagas, which told tales of their explorations and conquests. If only they stuck around, we'd have more toys of them. And guys named Gunnar and Thor.
If you visit Washington, D.C., be sure to visit the Smithsonian Viking Exhibit to learn more about the Vikings. For a less educational Viking experience, adjust check the sound on your speakers and visit the Viking Kittens page.
The Viking action figure has rooted red hair with a small braid on one side, but he's got a bald spot on his head that is covered when his helmet is on. You could see the same thing on the Famous Covers Thor, so either Norsemen have genetic male pattern baldness or it's much easier to keep a helmet on a toy with a bald spot. We're thinking the latter. Unlike Thor and the typical picture of Vikings, this one has reddish hair not blond. This is more in line with the belief that Vikings were a diverse group.
Being a 1/6 scale figure means a highly articulated body with a cloth outfit over it, and that's exactly what you see here. While not being the most articulated body on the market, there's still plenty to ensure that you'll be free to pose your Norse Raider in lots of embarrassing or cool poses, depending on your taste. The articulation for the body follows:
- Neck (ball joint)
- Shoulders (ball joints)
- Elbows (bends and twists)
- Wrists (bends and twists)
- Waist (bend and twist)
- Thighs (ball joints)
- Knees (bends and twists)
- Ankles (bends and twists)
The clothing from Dog Soldiers has been consistently top quality, better than some larger companies. The trend continues here with a great use of different materials. The boots are a leather-like material with leggings apart from the actual shoes, so it doesn't hamper any articulation. The same material is used for the belts and straps. The tunic has trim pieces sewn in with a Norse pattern and the chainmail shirt is a material similar to the same shirts on Sideshow's Monty Python knights. The cloak has a nice felt texture on the inner surface and a rougher feel for the outside with a metal snap to keep it closed. The outfit looks great with no loose threads, but be warned that it doesn't have VelcroŽ or snaps to make taking it off easy. Swords cuts will loosen the threads, and often the bowels, when in fights.
Okay, this guy can move and he has some cool threads, so what else do you need to rule the ancient world? Weapons, and lots of them. This Viking is ready to rock and roll and he's packing a plethora of pointy pokers and puissant protection. On the protective side, you have the fully removable Spanganhelm iron helmet with a nice elastic chinstrap to keep it on even during high winds. To ward off attacks from hostile warriors or bad-tempered wenches is a huge shield, painted and detailed on both sides with an easy to grab handle. Another little bit of protection would be the cloak mentioned above. It's just cloth, but it does have a nifty thistle brooch. The last line of defense may have been the most powerful - faith. Vikings had their own gods to worship and Thor was popular not only with Marvel Comics fans but most of the Viking Warriors. To keep the thunder god close by, a tasteful Thor's Hammer pendant is worn.
The offensive side of the Vikings usually had a point and/or a blade, with which he would normally stab first and ask questions later. The Norse Battle Axe is one weapon that could be thrown or used close range. He's also carrying a sword that fits into a decorative sheath on his belt, where there also resides in yet another decorated sheath a Scramsaex knife. The swords the Vikings carried were long and light, and very sharp. However, if this guy can get you from a distance with his huge spear (about 13" long), he'll get you there. The figure can hold all the weapons though the left hand is best suited to the shield and the right the weapons. The knife doesn't fit well into either hand, but you get the feeling he doesn't have to worry about using it too much with all the other gear he's carrying.
Dog Soldiers is a 1:6 scale company that marches to a different drum than other 1:6 companies and has chosen to focus exclusively on historical figures rather than current modern soldiers. They also produce American Indians (Northern Cheyenne and Chiricahua Apache), Civil War Soldiers (10th Cavalry Buffalo Soldier) as well as uniform sets, accessories and several 1:6 scale heads.
More pictures of the Viking
|Where to buy the Viking: The Viking action figure (along with other figures from Dog Soldiers) is available on the on the Dog Soldiers site, for around $32 USD.|