MARVEL SUPER HEROES: SECRET WARS (MATTEL)
Mattel’s Marvel Super Heroes: Secret Wars is a strange beast. It’s one of the earliest examples of true cross-media promotion when it came to action figures and comics, since Marvel essentially created a giant cross-over event out of whole cloth simply to give Mattel a slightly easier time of marketing the toys. But then, Mattel, being Mattel, went and made some really odd choices. Despite Marvel purposely filling the comic with many of their heaviest hitting heroes and villains, and wrapping them in a neat and tidy package with a bow, Mattel’s character choices for the series are beyond odd. Sure, there are the clear hits like Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man and Wolverine, but Marvel mainstays like the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and the Hulk were absent, while many minor and in some cases rather recent additions to the Marvel ‘verse were released, despite playing no part in the actual comic Mattel specifically requested to have as a tie-in. One such character was Baron Helmut Zemo. The character was not a part of the Secret Wars event, and though he had appeared back in 1973, he had only taken on the Baron Zemo identity seen here in ’82, just two years prior to this figure’s release. He wouldn’t even truly become a major player in the Marvel universe until three years later, during The Avengers “Under Siege” story arc. An odd choice. Still, he got the figure, and now, 33 years later, it feels a little less odd to have a Zemo figure.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Baron Zemo was released in the second series of the Marvel Super Heroes: Secret Wars line. As noted above and like everyone else in the series (barring the Black Costumed Spider-Man), he played no part in the Secret Wars maxi-series. Interestingly, though this figure is clearly meant to be Helmut, the second Baron Zemo, and the back of the package lists his identity as such, the short comic on the back of the box presents a Zemo that far more resembles Heinrich, Helmut’s father. This was hardly the only discrepancy of this nature in this line, of course. The figure stands about 4 1/2 inches tall and has 5 points of articulation. Unlike Daredevil and Spider-Man, who’s presence in this line-up seems to have mostly been due to the low number of new parts needed, Zemo actually got an impressive selection of new parts. The torso is the same basic piece seen on several of the other figures I’ve looked at, but the arms, legs, head, and belt add-on were all unique to this figure. The new pieces of course are all still victim to the very simplistic style of this line, but Zemo looks passable enough. There’s some mild texturing on the fur bits, and the folds on the sleeves are rather believable. The head looks to just bee a slightly re-worked Spider-Man head, but that’s actually not an unfair re-tooling. A basic masked head is a basic masked head. In terms of paintwork, I suppose Mattel can have points for effort on this guy, but that’s as far as I’m willing to go. The colors are okay, but the contrast between the mask and the jumpsuit is not as drastic as it should be. There’s quite a bit of slot, and fuzzy lines all over the place. Similar to what we saw on Daredevil, the black detail lines seem to start and stop wherever they please, with little regard to aesthetics. His neck, for instance, has no details, making for a jarring break from the face and the shoulders. Likewise, the lines have a clear break above his headpiece, which has the unintended effect of making him look like he’s got a bit of a receding hairline. For accessories, Zemo was given one of the blasters included with Dr. Doom, as well as, what else, a goofy lenticular shield, like the ones included with every other figure in the line.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
You know how I keep claiming I never intended to really collect this line? I think I’ve officially lost the battle, because this is the first figure I’ve bought with no real rationalization. I got Iron Man because it was the only way to get the classic armor at the time. Wolverine was $1. Cap was because I like the character, and wanted him to go with Tony. Doom and Kang were cheap. Daredevil and Spider-Man were gifts. Zemo? I bought Zemo because I wanted to buy Zemo. I picked him up from Yesterday’s Fun during the holiday season. He’s the most I’ve ever personally spent on a Secret Wars figure (which, to be fair, was still a lot less than I’ve paid for most of my Super Powers figures). Zemo’s what I’ve come to expect from this line: a slightly sub-par figure with a disproportionate amount of charm. The average collector might not get a lot out of him, but to a hardcore collector like myself, there’s some nice history.