#1387: Sauron

SAURON

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Sauron is the most terrifying Evil Mutant. Sauron loves to silently swoop down and use his mutant power to hypnotize and drain the energy out of his victim! Then in the blink of an eye, he flies away ready to strike again! The more energy he drains, the more powerful he becomes. Because he can drain the energy from anyone, even another Evil Mutant, even Magneto, the leader of the Evil Mutants, fears him!”

Not to be confused with the evil ruler of Mordor, Sauron is one of the X-Men’s older foes, predating quite a few of the team’s more popular members (including a certain Canadian who goes “snikt”).  Interestingly enough, despite what the bio above may tell you, he’s not a Mutant.  At least not in the same way as the X-Men.  He actually got his powers after being bitten by an Antarctic pteranodon and then being exposed to the mutant energies of Alex Summers, aka Havok.  Yes, really.  Just go with it.  Despite the inherent coolness of a Pterodactyl-man, Sauron himself has only ever gotten a single figure, which I’ll be taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Sauron was released in Series 2 of Toy Biz’s ‘90s X-Men line.  He was one of four villains in the line-up, and he was the most obscure of the set (though that would change in quick fashion).  The figure stands about 5 inches tall and he has 10 points of articulation.  He lacks the elbow and knee movement that were standard at the time, but makes up for it with the addition of not only outward movement on his shoulders and a cut joint at the base of his tail, but also a hinge on his jaw, allowing for his mouth to open and close.  That’s a pretty wizard!  Sauron had a unique sculpt.  It’s a fairly decent sculpt, on par with the rest of the line at the time.  It does a nice enough job of capturing his classic comics design.  The shoulders are a little weak, and prone to tearing under stress.  Also, I’m no 100% sure what he’s supposed to be wearing, though.  Usually, he would wear the tattered remains of Karl Lykos’s pants, or perhaps a loincloth of some sort.  This is neither of those.  It’s some weird conglomeration, I guess.  Still, a solid sculpt overall.  The paint work on Sauron is pretty simple; he’s mostly just molded in a dark green plastic.  There’s a bit of paint for the eyes, the interior of the mouth, and the…whatever it is he’s wearing.  It’s all pretty cleanly applied, and what’s there works.  Less is definitely more on this one.  Sauron was packed with a big ol’ club.  You know, for clubbing stuff.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been looking for a Sauron for a little while. I haven’t been looking particularly hard, but I’ve been keeping an eye out.  The trouble with this guy is the shoulders; loose figures will almost always have one of them broken or about to break, which doesn’t work for me.  Recently, I decided to start working on completing my Toy Biz X-Men collection, and I went to the Dave Hart Toy Show last month with this in mind.  I looked though several bins of loose figures, and put back a handful of broken Saurons, before finally finding a fairly cheap packaged sample and calling that a win.  Not a bad figure overall.  A shame he’s not a touch more durable.

#1385: Raza

RAZA

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“His body rebuilt as a cyborg after a near-fatal accident, the freebooting swashbuckler Raza travels the galaxy in the company of the star-spanning Starjammers, lending his sword and his courage to any battle for freedom and justice!”

The sheer character depth of Toy Biz’s ’90s X-Men line is perhaps its greatest strength.  They took full advantage of the popularity of the X-Men in the ’90s and used that to produce a very large chunk of the major and minor players in the franchise.  Even slightly older characters and groups eventually found their way into plastic form.  One of my favorite teams represented was the Starjammers, the group of space pirates introduced during the Phoenix Saga.  Today, I’ll be looking at one of the more minor Starjammers, Raza!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Raza was released in Series 7 of the X-Men line.  Believe it or not, along with Ch’od, Raza was the first appearance of the Starjammers in this line.  The figure stands a little over 5 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  The sculpt was unique to this figure, and patterned on Dave Cockrum’s illustrations of Raza from the comics.  It’s an okay sculpt; it’s overall decent, but definitely not without issues.  A lot of the issues are to do with posing.  Raza’s pose is a little odd.  He’s a bit pigeon-toed, and his shoulders are oddly thrown back.  And, for whatever reason, his right hand has his palm facing forward.  In addition, the articulation, especially at the shoulders, isn’t well worked into the sculpt at all.  On the plus side, he does fit in pretty well with the rest of the line overall, and there’s plenty of solid work, especially on his head, which really capture’s Raza’s distinctive look.  In terms of paint, he’s pretty decent.  The colors match his colors from the comics, and the application is all pretty clean.  The colors are also nice and vibrant, which is always a nice thing.  Raza was packed with a sword and a pistol, both of which fit quite nicely in his hands (though it’s a shame his right hand doesn’t have an extended trigger finger) and stay pretty well put.  There’s also an action feature, where his arms rock back and forth at the shoulders.  It’s kind of hard to explain, and I’m not 100% sure what it’s supposed to do…

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When I was growing up, my Dad had a Raza figure.  I always thought he was pretty cool.  I almost bought one of my own numerous times over the years, but never got around to it.  In actuality, I kept thinking I already had him for whatever reason.  After verifying I definitely didn’t have him, I eventually ended up getting him at the Dave Hart Toy Show in Timmonium, just about a month ago.  He’s not one of the star figures from this line, but he’s still pretty nifty.  At least he’s better than Ahab, right?

#1383: Cyclops

CYCLOPS

X-MEN PROJECTORS (TOY BIZ)

When it comes to action figures, you know what a lot of adult collectors really despise?  Stupid dumb gimmicks.  You know what I kind of love?  Stupid dumb gimmicks.  Well, to a point, anyway.  As a rule, I like my figures to be fun.  And a well-executed gimmick can be very fun.  Or it can be weird.  Which can also be sort of fun in its own strange way, I guess.  Toy Biz did a lot of the weird gimmicks, including the time that they decided to take all of Marvel’s most popular characters and stick projectors in their torsos.  I’ll be looking at one of those projector-in-torso figures today, specifically Cyclops!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Cyclops was released in the first assortment of Toy Biz’s X-Men Projectors line, hitting in 1994.  The Projector figures were in a totally different scale than the usual line, so this guy stands about 8 inches tall.  He’s also got 5 points of articulation, as well as a hinge on his torso, allowing for placement of the projector discs within the chest.  This figure was patterned on the Cyclops II figure from the main line in terms of style, though it’s important that he’s not an up-scale of that figure; all of the Projector figures were unique sculpts. The quality of the sculpt is actually pretty decent.  There are some slight oddities to it, such as the slightly enlarged torso, but I find the sculpt on this guy to be a far more detailed, and a lot nicer all-around than the smaller-scale figure.  Well, apart from the freaking projector that’s sticking out of the middle of his torso.  That does slightly mar the overall authenticity of him as a straight Cyclops figure a touch.  It’s sort of obvious, but far from the most obtrusive action feature.  Maybe he’s a robo-suit or something.  The paint work on this guy is pretty decent.  Nothing super fancy, but all of the basic color work is nice and clean.  His skin is even a bit more lively and colorful than a lot of the other X-Men figures of the same time, which is quite nice.  In terms of accessories, Cyclops just included the three projector discs, which could be placed in his chest.  There’s a switch on the back which turns on a light in his chest, as well as a knob to allow for the disc to be turned.  My figure has none of the discs, and I haven’t yet tested to see if his electronics still work.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Growing up, I had two of these figures: Magneto and Civilian Wolverine.  I got Magneto because there was no small-scale Magneto readily available when I started collecting, and I think Wolverine was a gift.  I never tracked down any of the others.  I was at 2nd Chance Toyz just last week celebrating my birthday, and I fished this guy out of their dollar bin, and couldn’t bring myself to leave him behind.  He’s goofy, there’s no denying that, but he’s my kind of goofy, and he’s helped to remind me that these were actually pretty nifty figures in their own right.

#1375: Ahab

AHAB

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“A houndmaster from a future timeline in which mutants are hunted down and destroyed, Ahab has time-traveled to the present to continue his mission of eliminating dangerous mutants. Employing advanced Sentinel technology in his powerful cyborg body, Ahab ruthlessly enslaves those mutants he does not kill, transforming them into telepathic hounds which he uses to track down others of their kind. Only the combined powers of the X-Men, X-Factor, the New Mutants and the Fantastic Four were able to put a stop to Ahab’s murderous rampage through our time in the past. Should he reappear, who knows what havoc he might wreak!”

You know how sometimes there’s bad figures of good characters?  Or, on the flip side, good figures of bad characters?  Today represents neither of those things.  Today, I look at what might be one of the very worst figures ever released in Toy Biz’s 5-inch X-Men line.  He’s a little figure by the name of Ahab.  Let’s just get straight to it, shall we?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ahab was released in Series 5 of X-Men.  In a series populated by fan-favorites, he’s…well, he’s not.  He’s an odd choice for the set, and the line in general really.  I mean, I guess he was involved in some semi-important stories in the comics.  But, given that one of the characters completely absent from Toy Biz’s entire run was Rachel Summers, who’s sort of the only reason Ahab matters at all, he feels out of place.  Maybe there’s a big Ahab fanbase out there or something.  I don’t know.  Anyway, the figure stands a little over 5 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  For reasons I’m not entirely sure of, he lacks neck and elbow movement, which makes for a very stiff figure.  Already not the greatest start.  Ahab has what has to be one of the clunkiest sculpts of any figure in this line.  I genuinely don’t know how they managed to mess him up this bad.  I mean, he’s hardly got the greatest design in the comics, but it’s better than this, to be sure.  Everything about this figure is blocky, stiff, and inorganic.  That’s fine for the blocky, stiff, and inorganic parts, but not so much for the parts that aren’t those things. His head is particularly bad, given it’s incredibly thin, tall look, and complete lack of neck.  He’s got this sort of cyborg-zombie-Abraham-Lincoln thing going on, and the sculpt doesn’t seem to be able to decide what’s his hair and what’s his headgear.  They just sort of meld together. He’s also got this look on his face like he just crapped his pants.  Which, in a gross way, leads me to my next complaint: his legs.  Or, more specifically, his hips, which are oddly shaped, not particularly accurate to his comics design, and start a considerable distance after his torso ends.  Ahab’s paintwork is decent enough for what it is. It’s pretty basic, and far from the most appealing color scheme.  Burnt sienna and lavender isn’t exactly an imposing combo.  Also, we get the same issues the sculpt had with the hair/headgear changeover, which just sort of…happens.  The figure was originally packed with a missile launcher and three “harpoons,” which I don’t have.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, if I hate this guy so much, why do I own him?  Is he another gift from a confused family member?  Nope, he’s actually a pretty recent acquisition.  In the last few months, I’ve decided to try and complete my ‘90s X-Men collection.  That meant I was gonna have to get this guy eventually.  I found this one at Yesterday’s Fun for $1, which is really about the cap of how much I’m willing to pay for him.  He’s an awful figure.  Just awful.  But, I like to look at the positives: the collection only improves from here!

#1371: Maverick

MAVERICK

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“A secret agent formerly allied with both Wolverine and Sabretooth, Maverick is as tough a customer as they come! A master strategist and martial artist, Maverick is one of the foremost mercenaries in the world, accepting any assignment… as long as the price is right! With both espionage skills and the mutant ability to absorb kinetic impact, Maverick is a hard man to keep down indeed!”

Maverick is about as ‘90s X-Men as a ‘90s X-Men character can get.  Shoulder pads? Check.  Former ally of Wolverine?  Check.  Sketchy past?  Check.  Single word name picked purely because it sounded cool?  Check.  Vague power set that ultimately translates to “has a big gun”?  That’s a bingo.  Of course, like a lot of uber ‘90s X-Men characters, I have something of a soft-spot for the guy, given his presence in both X-Men: The Animated Series and the corresponding X-Men toyline from Toy Biz.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

As you’ve probably pieced together from the intro, Maverick was released as part of Toy Biz’s ‘90s X-Men line.  There are two versions of Maverick available, and there’s a bit of a saga behind those two figures being released.  The gold and silver Maverick was originally slated for release in Series 5 of the main line, as a replacement for the cancelled Gauntlet/Barrage figure.  However, Maverick himself was cut from the line up rather early on in the process, and bumped to the next series, whose line-up he remained a part of long enough for his prototype to be in the line-up shot that was meant to go on the figure cardbacks.  He was dropped from this assortment as well, and his prototype was hastily cut out of the Series 6 photos (you can actually still see his gun overlapping Morph’s hand on the card backs).  This version would eventually see release alongside Series 6’s Trevor Fitzroy in a KB Toys-exclusive two-pack, but did not see a single-carded release.  The single-carded Maverick is the  blue version seen above, and he was released as part of the “Mutant Genesis” series, two years after he was originally supposed to hit retail.  That seems like a whole lot of trouble to go through for Maverick, but I guess it’s nice he finally made it out.  Both figures share the same mold, and thus both figures stand about 5 1/4 inches tall and have 8 points of articulation.  The sculpt is a pretty decent one, overall.  It’s very similar to the other ’93-’94 X-Men figures stylistically, meaning he’s not quite as large and exaggerated as some of the later figures would become.  He’s a little on the stiff side (which was common to a lot of the figures from this point), which isn’t really helped by his lack of neck articulation.  However, for a character like Maverick, who was usual fairly rigid in his movement, it’s not terrible. The sculpt captures Maverick’s (admittedly rater unattractive) design rather nicely, and offers some rather intricate work on the various small details of the armor.  The cables are a softer material, which I suppose would be cool if he had neck articulation, but since he doesn’t, it’s a nice thought that doesn’t amount to much of anything.  At least they tried?  The rest of the figure is done in a much stiffer plastic, which means that his shoulder pads can break if you’re not careful (you can see this breakage on gold/silver Maverick’s left shoulder).  Paint is, of course, the divergent bit of these two.  The original one was gold and silver, and more or less follows Maverick’s design from the comics.  There are a few spots where paint is obviously missing, but he’s generally a good match for his 2-D counterpart.  The second figure opted to replace the silver parts with blue, for…reasons?  I don’t believe this follows any established look for the character, and it looks a bit off.  It wouldn’t be so bad if the blue were a more subdued shade.  Some of the missing paint from the first figure is corrected here, but a few other bits are lost, making for a pretty equivalent trade.  While the blue color scheme is generally fine as its own thing, the one part I’m not much of a fan of is the hair, which goes from a rather believable dirty blond to some sort of off green/grey sort of thing.  Yuck.  Both figures originally included a gun; silver for the gold/silver figure, and black for the blue figure.  It fits in his right hand, and is worked into his “quick-draw” feature, which swings his arm downward when you press the lever on his back.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Maverick is another more recent purchase.  I always wanted one of these two, but I just never found one in-person.  I ended up finding the blue version at Bobakhan Toys on my way out of Seattle this summer.  At the time, I lamented that they didn’t have the silver one, and then two days later I ended up fishing him out of a $1 bin at Pop Culture Exchange, which was pretty cool.  Even without owning him as a kid, I’ve always had a bit of sentimental attachment to the character, due to his inclusion in the board game X-Men Alert, where he was very frequently on my team.  Neither Maverick figure is perfect, but they’re both still pretty fun, and I’m happy to have been able to add them both to my collection.

#1365: Sunfire

SUNFIRE

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“The champion of Japan, the solar-powered mutant known as Sunfire considers himself a modern-day samurai — and will do nothing to betray his code of personal honor! Possessing the power to fly and to gernerate intensely hot flaming plasma, Sunfire seeks out the enemies of his nation — be they mutant or human — and turns on the heat!”

Sunfire!  Oh it’s sunfire.  I’ve reviewed a surprising number of Sunfire figures on this site.  Of the of the six available Sunfires, I’ve already looked at three.  Not a bad spread, if I do say so myself.  I’m looking at the fourth  of the six figures today.  This one’s actually his first, and unlike the last three, it’s from a slightly different source.  Let’s just get to the review already!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Sunfire was released in the Mutant Genesis Series of Toy Biz’s X-Men line (it was numerically, for those that are curious).  As noted, this was his very first action figure.  He stands about 5 1/4 inches tall and he has 9 points of articulation.  Unlike prior Sunfire figures, which were based on his classic appearance (which is my personal favorite look), this one is based on his, at the time current, ‘90s appearance, which does not possess the same timeless feel as his other look.  It’s super ‘90s, what with the armor, the shoulder pads, and the over designing.  Also, the crap ton of muscles.  Because ‘90s, I guess.  This particular suit was design to amplify his powers and stuff.  And also look less like the Japanese flag, which I guess was a good thing.  Unfortunately, I can’t really say it’s one of the character’s better looks.  Personally, I’ve always found he looked pretty darn goofy.  This figure lives up to that goofy-ness, presenting him with impossibly muscle-y proportions, as well as the really odd and goofy pony tail he was sporting at the time.  I guess it’s an accurate sculpt, and it avoids the scrawniness of TB’s other Sunfire figure, but something feels a little off about it.  To me, this just doesn’t feel like Sunfire, but maybe I’m just picky.  At the very least, I think we can all agree that his face looks a bit silly, right?  His jawbone looks like it could conquer a thousand kingdoms.  I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but there it is.  His paintwork is generally decent enough.  It’s cleanly applied, and follows the design from the comics. Can’t say it’s the most exciting color scheme, but it’s fairly standard for Sunfire, so that’s good, I guess.  Sunfire included a bit of clip-on armor, which goes over his shoulders and has been vac-metalized.  It fits well enough and looks pretty cool, so that’s nice.  He’s also got a shield, which matches the other armor and can be held in his right hand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve held off on this guy for a while.  This is a figure I’ve had my eye on since about the time I was 9 or 10, but never got him because, quite frankly, he just doesn’t look like Sunfire to me.  However, he was at Power Comics, and he was half-off his already low price, and I’m working on completing my Toy Biz X-Men figures, so I kind of needed him.  He’s really weird and goofy and strange, but he’s part of the set, and honestly he feels right at home.  And I can’t really ask for more.

#1364: Juggernaut

JUGGERNAUT

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Virtually unstoppable and possessing super-human strength, the Juggernaut is one of the X-Men’s oldest and most powerful foes! Gaining his power from the mystic Cyttorak gem, the Juggernaut is vulnerable to psychic attack-but only when his helmet is removed! With a jealousy and hatred for his brother Charles Xavier, the Juggernaut will not stop until he has destroyed the X-Men!”

Okay, so two weeks ago I said this month was gonna be really Marvel heavy.  The last two weeks haven’t been as Marvel heavy as I’d initially anticipated, but this week I’m throwing in the towel and just doing a whole week of Marvel.  Strap in, guys. Let’s start the week off with an entry from the behemoth that was Toy Biz’s ‘90s X-Men line.  It’s one of the team’s oldest foes, Cain Marko, better known as the unstoppable Juggernaut!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Juggernaut was released in the “Light-Up Weapons Series” of Toy Biz’s X-Men line; it was the thirteenth series in the line.  This marks Juggernaut’s second figure in the line, following his inclusion in Series 1.  This one marked an improvement in size, detail, and articulation.  The figure stands about 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  The articulation is a bit down from the usual for the line at the time (he loses movement in the arms to allow for the light-up deal), but was actually an improvement over the prior figure.  This guy had an all-new sculpt (which would later be partially re-used for the X-Men vs. Street Fighter version).  It’s not perfect, but it was a solid offering at the time.  He’s suitably bulked up, though the arms are definitely a bit on the long side, and conversely, the legs seem a bit short.  The musculature is rather exaggerated, but it’s the sort of thing that you expect to see with Juggernaut.  The big selling point of this guy was the inclusion of a removable helmet, allowing you to replicate said helmet’s removal at the end of like every fight he’s ever had with the X-Men.  The head under the helmet gives us a rather angry looking Cain Marko, who looks to be patterned after his appearance on the ‘90s animated series. The actual helmet is fairly nicely handled.  It lines up well with the face and it sits tight on his head.  The paint work on this guy is generally pretty decent.  It could have been somewhat drab, but there’s actually a nice bit of variety to the various shades of brown and such to keep it interesting.  That’s definitely a nice touch.  In addition to the removable helmet, Juggernaut also includes a…hammer…thing?  Not 100% sure what it is, but it’s the light-up bit of the figure.  Some of the light-up features made more sense than others.  This one’s nearer the bottom of the list of sensibility.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I originally got this version of Juggernaut at the same time as my first Light-Up Gambit figure; he was a gift from my Grandparents on my mom’s side.  This was the one of the two that I wanted the most, largely due to that awesome removable helmet.  I’m not 100% sure what happened to that figure.  Suffice to say, I needed a replacement, which was one of the handful of figures I grabbed from Bobakhan Toys at the beginning of the summer.  He’s still one of my favorite Juggernaut figures, goofy light-up feature and all.

#1350: Cyclops

CYCLOPS

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“One of the most powerful forces on Earth, Apocalypse has become the greatest villain in the world of the X-Men. Activating the Apocalypse holo-droid, Cyclops helps the X-Men learn how to fight a foe who is as powerful as his is evil. Avoiding blasts from his gattling gun hand, Cyclops, along with Storm and Jubilee, take down the Robot Fighter with a perfectly timed series of attacks!”

Okay, so I’m gonna warn my readers up front: this month is going to be pretty Marvel-heavy.  That’s just what I’ve been picking up a lot of in the last few weeks.  I’ll mix in some other stuff where I can, but there’s a lot of figures to cover.  With that out of the way, I’ll be setting my sights on today’s focus, Cyclops, who hails from Toy Biz’s lengthy X-Men line from the ‘90s.  I know, from the bio, you might have guessed this was an Apocalypse review, but not so.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Cyclops was part of the “Robot Fighters” series of X-Men.  This was the 19th Series Toy Biz put out in the X-Men line and it was after they’d run out of steam with the more “normal” figures and switched to more gimmicky sub-lines that allowed for more variants of the main team.  The figure stands about 4 1/2 inches tall (he’s less hunched than Gambit, but still loses some height to it) and he has 5 points of articulation.  He loses even more articulation than his series-mates, bringing him down to Total Justice levels.  In fact, in more way than one, this guy feels more at home with Kenner’s TJ line than he does with most of the stuff Toy Biz was producing.  Even the design of his costume (which was unique to the figure and had no basis in the comics, apart from being vaguely inspired by his Jim Lee toggs) feels a lot like one of Kenner’s Fractal Armor designs.  As with Gambit, I’m still not certain how the Danger Room-related bios attached to these figures translates to these new, over-designed costumes, but there it is.  While the costume’s not the greatest, the thing that really holds this guy back is the pre-posing.  While Gambit’s deep crouch was workable with the articulation and allowed for a few decent poses, I have no idea what you’re supposed to do with this guy.  What’s he doing?  Is he shouting “come at me, bro?”  That’s all I can figure with the outstretched arms and slightly cocked head.  But it also appears that he’s in mid-squat or something.  Whatever it is, he’s really pissed off by it.  So pissed off that he’s gritted his teeth to the point of his visor engulfing his nose.  Wait, I think I’ve got it!  The Apocalypse hologram must have played a game of “got your nose” while Scott was right in the middle of his daily squat routine, and now Scott’s all pissed because that’s his very favorite nose, and so he’s ready to start something.  It makes perfect sense now.  The paint work on this figure is actually pretty solid, truth be told.  I like the shade of blue they’ve used, and the application’s all pretty clean for the most part.  They’ve even managed to make all of the yellows match pretty well too!  Cyclops was packed with a robotic recreation of Apocalypse, which is super goofy and super gimmicky.  It fires missiles and when you press the “A” the right arm falls off.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I noted when I reviewed Gambit, I remember this series hitting retail, but for whatever reason I never got any of them.  I’m a dyed in the wool Cyclops fan, so I was gonna get this guy eventually.  He’s another item from Bobakhan Toys; I fished him out of one of their loose figure bins.  He’s really goofy.  There’s no getting around that.  And, unfortunately, I don’t find him to be as much fun to play with as the Gambit.  That being said, he’s a goofy, very ‘90s Cyclops, and that’s kind of right up my alley.  I’ll just stick him with my Total Justice figures, where he’s less likely to be judged.

#1336: Astonishing Wolverine

ASTONISHING WOLVERINE

MARVEL LEGENDS (TOY BIZ)

“Little is known about the man known as Logan whose past remains shrouded in mystery. The feral warrior, code-named Wolverine, possesses genetically endowed animal-keen senses of smell, sight, and hearing, as well as a mutant healing factor that can mend almost any wound. His deadliest weapons are his razor-sharp claws and skeleton both made of unbreakable metal alloy called Adamantium. However, with these abilities comes a curse, a bezerker rage that he must forever struggle to control. Now Logan must contain the beast raging within while he battles to protect a world that fears and hates him.”

Though my opinion of it has waned in recent years, at the time of its release, Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men was a serious breath of fresh air.  I was never much impressed by Morrison’s “let’s put everyone in black leather and completely disregard prior character interpretation” New X-Men run that immediately preceded it, so taking the X-Men a bit more back to basics was pretty cool.  I also really liked John Cassidy’s art for the series, as well as his returning of several of the cast to more classically inspired costumes.  While most of the team eventually made it into toy form, it took quite a while.  Unsurprisingly, the first team member to make it into plastic was Wolverine, who I’ll be looking at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Astonishing Wolverine was released in the 12th Series of Toy Biz’s Marvel Legends, also known as the “Apocalypse Series.”  It was the fourth Wolverine in the line, and was at the time his current look. There were both masked and unmasked versions of this guy; the one I’m looking at today is the masked version, obviously.  This figure also served as the inspiration for the larger Marvel Legends Icons version of the character, although he was slightly tweaked to offer an alternate version of this costume.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall (it’s one of the first times they actually got his scale right) and he has 40 points of articulation.  In terms of sculpt, this figure was all-new, and he’s based on Cassidy’s work from the comics, albeit somewhat loosely, since Cassidy’s style doesn’t quite lend itself to super-articulated action figures.  The head’s definitely the best work; there’s a lot of smaller detail work that looks really nice, without being too over-done like a lot of Legends Wolverines.  The rest of the body was good for the time, but doesn’t as much hold up to scrutiny these days.  Once again, there’s a lot detail work that’s really nice on the stitching and the piping.  However, he’s really, really scrawny, which removes some of his intimidation factor.  It’s the worst in the legs, where the precedence clearly went to the joints, resulting in an almost skeletal set of limbs.  And of course, they split the belt in two for the waist articulation.  Why did they do that?  Beats me.  Seems it would have made a lot more sense to go either above or below.  Worst case scenario, you could do the joint where it is currently and have the belt be an add-on.  But splitting it right down the middle just seems lazy to me, like the base body was already sculpted and they added the details later without taking placement into account.  On the plus side of things, he’s probably got the best claws we got on a TB ML Wolverine; they’re well-shaped, unlikely to break off, and resistant to heavy warping.  In terms of paint work, the figure’s decent enough.  The base colors match up pretty well with what was being used on the comics, and most of the application is fairly clean.  The only part that’s a little odd is the arm hair, which really just looks like a bunch of brown tally marks that someone’s drawn on him.  Wolverine included no accessories of his own, but he did come packed with one of the legs of Apocalypse.  So, that’s cool, I guess.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This guy was a Christmas present from my friend Charlie.  He and I shared a love of Marvel Legends, and in particular, we were both on the lookout for the perfect Wolverine.  So, when this series hit, he made sure that I got this guy, which was very nice of him (I repaid the favor a year later when I made sure he got a completed Mojo Build-A-Figure).  He’s definitely got some flaws, but I really do think he was Toy Biz’s best take on Wolverine, and the best Legends version  of the character until Hasbro’s recent Brown Costume figure.  It’s honestly a little surprising that TB never retooled him into a more conventional Wolverine.

#1326: Cyclops

CYCLOPS

MARVEL COMICS FAMOUS COVERS (TOY BIZ)

“Born with the mutant ability to fire powerful optic blast from his eyes, Cyclops is cursed to forever wear a protective Ruby quarts visor to control his uncanny ability. As one of the founding members of the X-Men, Scott Summers help build the team and eventually became a team leader.”

Oh hey, here’s something I haven’t covered before on the site: Famous Covers.  More than a decade before the whole Re-Mego craze started up, Toy Biz attempted their own continuation of Mego’s World’s Greatest Super Heroes line.  The figures were originally meant to be the same scale as Mego’s stuff, but for a number of reasons, they were ultimately scaled up a bit.  Nevertheless, it was certainly an interesting venture, and it gave us a pretty darn fun line of figures, albeit one that was completely independent.  Today, I’ll be looking at one of my favorites from the line, Cyclops!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Cyclops was released in the fifth series of the Marvel Comics Famous Covers line, which was titled “X-Men Classics.”  It was the first of the two purely X-Men-themed series for the line.  Scott is seen here in his Jim Lee attire (which was his current look at the time), which the box proclaims as specifically being based on his appearance on the cover of X-Men #1.  The figure stands about 8 3/4 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  Cyclops was built in the medium male body, a decision that I’ve pretty much always questioned.  I know Scott’s classically a little bigger than Spider-Man, but making him the same size as Thor and Captain America seems to be a bit much.  Scott got a brand-new head sculpt, which is nice enough.  For some reason, Toy Biz was really big on the screaming expressions for the Famous Covers figures.  Scott’s no exception, but at least it doesn’t look too out of place for him.  There’s some solid detail work on the hair and the visor, as well, so that’s a plus.  The head does seem a touch under-scaled for the body, which makes you wonder if he was originally supposed to be on the smaller body.  The costume is a mixed-media effort.  There’s the basic blue jumpsuit and the shorts, which are both tailored pieces.  They fit pretty well, and are surprisingly slim given the scale.  The harness and belt are one sculpted piece, and they fit well enough to the body (a little better than the recent Marvel Legend, truth be told) and replicate the pieces from the comics pretty well.  The gloves and boots are standard pieces for the line.  They’re made out of rubber, so they allow for a little bit of movement from the wrists and ankles, though not much.  They’re really bulky and goofy, and in the case of the gloves, wrong for the costume.  To me, it would have made more sense to just mold the base hands in yellow and do a cuff at the edge of the sleeve (which is a method they used several other times over the course of the line), but it’s not the worst thing ever, I guess.  Cyclops’s paint work is limited to his head and a few spots on the harness, but what’s there is really strong.  Definitely some of the best work Toy Biz did on their Marvel stuff.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I loved me some Famous Covers growing up.  The timing of this series was such that it made for a perfect Christmas present from my parents, so that’s how I got Cyclops.  I remember being really thrilled to get him (and the rest of the set), and he was one of my favorites for a good while.  The figure’s a bit goofy in retrospect, but I still really like him, and I have very fond memories of the line.