Weta’s Victorious Mongoose – Miniature Version – Toy Review

Last week we talked about the Righteous Bison Invisible Particle Smasher, the latest full-sized raygun in the Weta Original’s Dr. Grordbort’s line of infallible aether oscillators. This week, Weta has provided us with the Righteous Bison’s little cousin, the miniaturized version of the Victorious Mongoose.


If you are not familiar with Weta’s miniature rayguns, they are essentially the same pieces available in the pricier $700 (USD) line, but scaled down to roughly one quarter scale. It’s not quite as small as the houses and landmarks you might see in a model town, but smaller that the scaled down playing cards you’d find playing Poker DK. It’s tiny – but then, that’s half the appeal. Fans of the Weta podcasts have probably heard joking references to a particular shop where full-sized ray guns are put through a miniaturization process to create the diminutive versions. With an impressive level of detail carrying over could one could almost believe some sort of “miniaturization” ray was used.

As the fifth ray gun in the miniature line, the Victorious Mongoose is a unique. Whereas the majority of the other pieces are designed as massive weapons, this is more of a Derringer pistol. Designed by Greg Broadmore and modeled by Greg Tremont, the level of detail is exquisite considering the raygun’s roughly 3-inch size. While at the same time, it has an appropriate level of proportion and design elements to it. This is a concealable raygun after all; the design rightly does not include the fins and projections that decorate the rest of Dr. Grordbort’s arsenal.

In discussing other rayguns I have often commented on how they have a believable feel about them. Cast in what Weta describes as “confoundedly weighty metal,” the Victorious Mongoose has this in common with the others of its pedigree.


The paint application on this piece could be described as minimalist. No energy was wasted in colorizing parts that don’t need it. In doing so Weta has cast the illusion of a weapon whose intended purpose is dirty work, not for show.  There is a lot of charm to that. Sure, they tapped into the Weta penchant for using paint and color to make the piece look worn and slightly rusted where appropriate, but there are no frills to this raygun.

Because of these factors, when you hold the Mongoose in your palm you can envision how a card player in Dr. Grordbort’s world would employ it. One could easily see it armed in a spring-loaded wrist rig of a man who sits patiently, pith helmet is cocked back at a rakish angle, waiting for the Venusian across from him to call his inside straight an act of roguishness.


Like the previous miniatures in the line, the Victorious Mongoose comes in a heavy, illustration covered, cardboard box. The raygun and it’s accompanying stand are held securely in a form-fitting mold. The lid of the box opens to the side like a book binding.  The combination of these factors is handsome enough that you could display the raygun in the box.

Overall Impressions

With a retail price of $49 (USD), the Victorious Mongoose is equivalent to the cost of around ten craft beers at your favorite brew pub.  I would certainly consider this a worthy trade-off. This is a great little collectible and I have become at least as much a fan of the miniaturized rayguns as I am of the full sized versions.

The miniaturized rayguns are such good representations of the full scale versions that only size (obviously) and cost separate them. The standard rayguns run around $700 and are typically around a foot long (the 45 inch Unnatural Selector Ray Blunderbus notwithstanding). The original Victorious Mongoose itself runs $550 more then the miniature and is six inches longer. If you are a collector of more modest means, such as this writer, you can more easily afford, and have space for, a complete collection of miniatures.  The complete line of full scale rayguns would require an additional room built onto your house and probably an over-priced divorce attorney to go with it.

Clearly, the Victorious Mongoose comes highly recommended by this reviewer. This raygun would be either a great addition to your own collection or an excellent gift to the discerning man or woman of adventure in your life.

Read more musings by Robert Alpi Jr.: International Man of Mystery at his blog, Legends Ink.

Weta’s “Righteous Bison” Raygun – A Toy Review

“What the…” exclaimed my 6 year-old neighbor as he and my son helped me open up the box I had just received from Weta. In his fascination, Noah pressed closer as I extracted the Righteous Bison Indivisible Particle Smasher from it’s box. “That is so cool! What movie does it come from?” When I explained that it wasn’t from a movie, he wouldn’t believe me.

Some years ago, when I first heard of Weta’s original Dr. Grordbort’s line of “infallible aether oscillators,” I immediately thought there was obviously a movie tie-in. After all, who had the stones to roll out a range of vintage sci fi / steampunk rayguns without there being a feature film behind it? Luckily for fans, when Weta designer Greg Broadmore brought his idea for the rayguns to geek czar Richard Taylor, he saw not only the potential of the concept, but freedom from having to pay someone else for licensing.

So, what exactly are Dr. Grordbort’s creations? Think 1900’s, pith helmets and ray guns that atomize Venusians. It is classic sci fi from an age before Cylons could look like humans or even before Queen rocked Flash Gordon as he skewered Ming the Merciless. It is pure fun with a touch of whimsy and perhaps the most innovative thing to hit the collectibles market in some time.  The latest addition to the Dr. Grordbort’s catalog is the Righteous Bison and it packs a surprise or two.

Righteous Bison


When closely examining the Righteous Bison I am reminded that, first and foremost, Weta is known for making movie magic. You can see the legacy of attention to detail that went into creating arms and armor for Lord of the Rings carried through in this piece. There is a flow and symmetry to the overall design. You can trace the Bison’s brass tubing, examine the ambidextrous thumb selector, ponder the red zone of the gauges and through it all you can imagine how it would all work.

The combination of these elements give the impression that the raygun could possibly be real, but the true test of my movie magic metaphor comes from simply picking up the Bison for the first time. I knew that the previous offerings were heavier pieces, crafted from metal and glass. An early addition to the line, the Manmelter 3600ZX Sub-atomic Disintegrator Pistol, weighed in at 7.5 pounds. As I loosed the Righteous Bison from it’s packaging I nearly threw it through the ceiling. For the first time, this 2.6 pound ray gun is made from “imitation metal,” a substance that has a remarkable similarity to plastic. I challenge anyone to tell me that this collectible is not cast in conventional metal upon first glance.

Another aspect of the sculpt worthy of mention is how Weta has crafted the piece to look worn. As you look over the gun you will see not only the detail of the rivets, you will also see nicks, cuts and scratches. These are details that make the piece as both realistic and perfectly aged.


Paint and Color

The application of the paints and the chosen colors are the other elements that contribute to the illusion of the Bison being crafted from true gunmetal. These colors, especially on the main body, give the raygun the feel of rust-flecked metal. There are even areas where you can’t tell if the “metal” is pitted until you run your finger over it.  Overall, the paint makes this piece completely believable. From the hue of the tubing to the gold of the top fin, it is this subtle coloration that gives the impression that the raygun is made of a variety of strange and foreign metals.



The packaging is the second departure from previous Dr. Grordbort’s rayguns. Previous pieces in the line all included a custom case. The Righteous Bison comes in what Weta refers to as “light weight materials,” or what modern man might call “cardboard.” While this is not a cushioned form-fitting leather satchel, it isn’t Wal-Mart packaging either. The box is well outfitted with artwork and designed to protect the raygun within. It comes with a top opening flap where other rayguns from the line are displayed and a clear plastic cut out to reveal the Bison.

While I suppose it would make a decent display for those possessing the strength of will to resist the desire to open and hold the gun, I would rather digest the materials on the case and cast it out with the recycling. While there is nothing at all wrong with the packaging, there this is not an item to purchase on the strength of its box.

Overall Impressions

I am an unabashed fan of the Dr. Grordbort’s line and I truly enjoy the Righteous Bison. With a retail price of $99 (US), this is easily the most accessible full-sized raygun Weta has released to date.  The change in material and packaging allows for them to be able to sell this piece for about $600 less then it’s predecessors. With this raygun in a stand and displayed on a shelf, no one would know that is was plastic until they picked it up.

The only hesitation I have in giving my complete stamp of approval is that I don’t want the metal Dr. Grordbort’s original rayguns to go away and the $100 versions to become the norm. Sure, there is no way my marriage would survive the purchase of $700 raygun, but there needs to be something to strive for.

Overall, the Righteous Bison is indeed a worthy addition to the collection of both the discriminating gentleman and indiscriminate rouge alike. Get yours today, impress your friends and smash the particles of your enemies.

Enjoy more of Robert Alpi’s wordsmithing at his blog, Legends Ink.


And, coming soon… The Adventures of Captain Redgoat & Commodore del Negro in the 19th&1/2 Century! Arr, there be Martians!

Halo Wars: The Cole Protocol – Book Review

Halo Wars: The Cole Protocol by Tobias S. Buckell

In the interest of complete disclosure, I have never played Halo. I am a married father of three, so gaming is something I remember wistfully along with running a five minute mile and wearing pants with a 32 inch waist. That said, I am a still a card carrying geek and as such am at least familiar with the premise of the game and the fact that the Master Chief is just flat out cool. With images of havoc wrecking Spartans, I approached the book Halo Wars: The Cole Protocol by Tobias S. Buckell with great curiosity. A novelization of a video game was something I had not read. 

Considering that writing books on a role playing game (I still have a box of old Dragonlance books somewhere) turned out pretty well I was certainly willing to reserve judgment…

Continue reading Halo Wars: The Cole Protocol — Book Review