I've been following the progress of Kaustic Plastic's figures on Onesixth Warriors Forum. It's a small company, based in Rome, Italy (their manufacturing is done in China, of course). The head of the company, Fabio, answers every question posted on the forum. He goes out of his way to make KP a customer focused company.
Their specialty is boxed sets of historically accurate figures of the Roman era. The first two releases are gladiators, using the KP01 body. By historically accurate, Fabio consults with museums, and academia in the design of the figures' clothing and weapons. This has had a direct impact on the design of his figures, as many of the materials used are made of metal and wood. A fully decked out warrior is quite heavy.
KP01A incorporates a few refinements over the two gladiators, and uses a unique head sculpt. The first thing that impressed me in a huge way when I lifted him is his weight. The materials, assembly and finish of the figure conveys quality. Nothing floppy, not a loose joint, very nicely painted.
Fabio says that he likes veins, and the figure reflects this. Many of the larger ones actually have a tint to them; they carry blood. There is a trend in action figures right now to make "muscle bodies", and this new guy would fall in that group, but as you can see, he looks more like an athletic guy with a normal build. He's also a tad shorter than current action figures. Fabio says that people of that era were shorter than today, and that gladiators seldom had massive frames- they were actually vegetarians. I'm assuming the emphasis was on endurance and agility (I can relate to that, I'm a distance runner).
What might look a bit odd about this figure are the way his hips are attached. Fabio explained that the hips support most of the weight of the figue, and this figure is designed to support quite a bit of weight. This need to support weight is a good thing for those of us who won't use him as a gladiator: his joints are tight, and move with a positive precision. Another aspect of this figure that is unique is how incredibly balanced he is:
Some of my other figures can stand on one leg, but none of them can kick at such a high angle, and with normal sized feet.
A huge draw for me is how well sculpted the figure is, with accuracy and attention to detail.
The only area where I can see cost may have had a role is in the screws that hold the lower half together. I would've preferred to see these halves fused, but 2 seconds in photo editing will remove them:
You can also see from the above photo that they didn't go nuts on sculpting his back; there's some contouring, but nothing crazy.
Another feature of Kaustic Plastic bodies, is they are designed to be compatible with Hot Toys (and similar) body parts; hands and feet can be interchanged.
So what's he like to pose? Well, first of all, his arms and knees will only bend to 90 degrees:
There is a simple fix for this, that I have yet to try. Fabio says the lower arm can be pulled out a bit, which will allow for a few more degrees of movement. He says for even more range of motion, a bit of the lower part of the bicep can be removed. The same applies to the knees.
The knees have been criticized by some; the feeling is they should've allowed for much more range of motion. Not only that, they sort of look like the masculine equivalent of Fashion Royalty knees:
One area that shows a lot of thought is his upper torso. It's made out of a flexible ABS. What this does is allow for range of motion in the shoulders without having the shoulder mechanism exposed. This allows him to pose in a "firing stance" quite well:
This is one of the few figures I own that has effective articulation of the upper torso. They used it to good effect on this figure:
His neck might look a bit thick, but it doesn't impede articulation:
Despite the limitations of knee and arm range of motion, he can still pose very naturally, thanks to the design of the other joints. He can even sit patiently:
Dressing him is quite simple; he can fit in most clothes other action figures can wear. I tried to use clothes from various manufacturers: shirt is from ACI, shoes and belt are Barbie Basics Ken Accessory Pack, and I can't remember who made the jeans:
For me, here at the end of 2011, I've found my "figure of the year". Kaustic Plastic really surprised me with this figure; he's a lot of fun to pose, he's easy to dress, and has a body with a unique design, and innovative materials. He raises the bar in terms of quality and price (under $40).
One last note: KP is about to introduce yet another body (KP02), that is a taller, more muscled figure. It will use double jointed knees and elbows, and because of his size, the hips look a little more normal. He is selling for under $40 also, but without a head sculpt.