Kudos to Leon of OPEN THE TOY for suggesting the idea of us reviewing this figure back when we met @ STGCC 09', as we both shared the same interest in this particularly dark and brooding figure. You can head down over to his site for some really nice shots of this figure!
On my part, i'd be reviewing and nitpicking the figure as well as imparting as much backstory as i know about Raziel.
Now, where do I begin, with a complex storyline that weaves in and out between perspective time, paradox and reality, this would be a hard tale to tell. Furthermore this videogame story drew heavily upon biblical and angelic imagery.
Raziel, firstborn of Kain's Vampiric lieutenants, and second in command, was cast in the Lake of the Dead an eternal tormenting ground for traitors and weaklings, in what seemed to be an act of treachery for having surpassed his master in the evolutionary process which vampires undergo. Having grown wings before his master, Kain. In his disdain and anger, Kain ripped the fragile cartilage forming the Raziel's Wings.
In Soul Reaver, Vampire's physical wounds are fleeting. Vampire's immortal flesh close upon being cleaved. Vampires need only fear wounds that impale or inflame. Water scorches like acid and sunlight affects vampire fledglings.
So it explains a great deal how and why upon being cast into the lake of the dead, that good ol' Raziel turn up pretty washed up. With his insides, skin and practically almost everything being scorched and melted off. Turning him into the wraith of his former self. From his once pale skin and dark iris, he now possesses glowing eyes and bluish skin. The cape wrapped around his face was all that was left of Raziel's former Vampiric glory, bearing the Razielim clan's symbol of which he was the leader of.
In Soul Reaver 1, much of the plot revolved around Raziel bent on vengeance over his brethren having casted him into the abyss and Kain for the unjust and unwarranted punishment. However as the story unfolds in Soul Reaver 2 and Defiance, Raziel was not always a vampire. He was once, a Safaran Priest, a member of the high order of the human race, bent on exterminating the Vampires who scourged the lands of Nosgoth.
A little narration into the history of Nosgoth was that it was that it was a land of ancient beings, the Hylden and the Vampires. Having their battle waged aeons over the very grounds humans now trod. The noble Vampires and the dreaded Hylden worshipped a Deity, also known as the Elder God who spins the wheel of life, with every soul upon passing into the spectral realm would be spun and reborn into another form.
The great battle of these elder beings was based on the differences of their beliefs on the Elder God. With the Vampires seeing death as a purfication and path to rebirth while the Hylden saw the Elder God as a fraud and but a mere creature, manipulative and deceiving. the battle waged on and it saw the vampires defeating the hylden. And the Hylden were banished from the land, with the Vampires creating the Pillars of Nosgoth. Nine in total, each with a vampiric guardian. This Pillars were the very fabric holding the Hylden in the banished land and preventing them from ever stepping foot into Nosgoth lest they unleash their vengeance. But it came with a price as the Hylden cursed the Vampires with eternal life, sterility and bloodlust. The vampires in their desperation from being cut of from their sacred process of rebirth, resulted many committing suicide.
It is revealed in the end that the Elder God was but a tentacled creature, scheming and manipulating foolish mortals and ancients alike into doing his bidding to keep his insatiable wheel of life turning.
There upon we come with the paradox of the story. Two of them in fact.
The hylden and the vampires had a prophesied champion. With the Hylden champion bearing flaming eyes and a burning sword (the wraith form of the soul reaver). Bluish skin to boot too! whilst the vampiric champion bore with him the SOUL REAVER.
so what is the Soul Reaver? It is the very blade raziel bears but that its wraith form. The original blade, forged by the Vampiric smiths for their prophesied hero. But kain, who wielded it, upon crashing it over Raziel, caused it to shatter, and unleashing a soul within the blade. A ravenous spirit which devoured the souls of its victims on the end of its blade. ( Note how Raziel is a reaver of souls, with his death transforming his blood thirst into a deeper need, the devourer of souls!)
it is revealed that in the traveling across millenniums and eons, that the soul reaver indeed was RAZIEL'S soul. that Raziel was destined to be trapped into the physical forged form of the blade. The strike on him by kain merely shattered the blade as it, as it had its trapped soul and hence could not consume and imprison its own soul twice. unleashing a wraith form of the blade unto raziel which he does not realise at first that it would be his instrument of doom.
Seeking answers and ravaging through the murky past, Raziel realises that having being spared the wheel of life, being destroyed and yet retaining his soul. he was the only being who had free will to choose his destiny and was unbounded, Hence a prime canditate for manipulation by various characters in the story to help them in their own agendas. EG: The elder god.
even the act of casting raziel into the abyss was foreplanned by kain. An act he did to have the last toss of the coin, in hopes that his prediction that Raziel would be returned, once again with the true power to claim his destiny and redeem nosgoth.
If you're confused, here's one last bit of it. Raziel is and has always been both champions. For the Hylden and the Vampires and his power of free will being unbounded to the wheel of life gave him all the power to change the realm. And his misreading of the prophesy murals resulted him into thinking that Kain was the vampiric hero.
Last spoiler: Raziel in his wraith form killed his human form in his travel back in time, which gave Kain the chance to resurrect him as a vampire eons later. =D
Pardon me for blowing your mind.
Pardon me for blowing your mind.
Storyline aside, NECA did a spectacular job with this figure. The sculpt i can say is absolutely spot on and the paintjob deserves nothing short of an A+. With every little detail sculpted and painted out perfectly. From the tone, to the colour. I can't quite sing a higher praise.
This figure is peppered with some rubberized parts ( which i fear may degrade in time) for added realism. Eg. the hair, and the tattered wings. As is the cape drapped over his dissolved jaw.
The sculpt and paintwork is perfect. Look at those clawed feet! STARE and gape at those armored boots!
Material plane Raziel with the Soul reaver (unimbuned)
they even added accessories to boot! open claws and one to hold the torch it came with.
what more can a collector as for?
NECA's Raziel by far scores higher than any other action figure i have in my collection. From paint apps to sculpting, this figure scores and blows past all expectations. A serious must have for die hard fans of the video game to even those who take mild interest in it.
Meanwhile, Happy Halloween and happy birthday to me.