GAMBIT & BISHOP
X-MEN: STEEL MUTANTS
The 90s were a fantastic time for toy collecting. Admittedly, I’m a little biased, having begun my collection during that decade, but even without the bias, it was a pretty good time to get into things. Star Wars toys came back, virtually every cartoon got at least some sort of tie-in, and super heroes found themselves with a consistent presence on toy shelves. Toy Biz had the Marvel license (it was still just a license then. They hadn’t yet become a sub-division of Marvel), and they were offering the Marvel characters in just about every scale imaginable, with lots of different mediums, presumably to see what stuck. One of their more short-lived experiments were smaller scale, metal figures. They offered figures from several Marvel properties, but the X-Men definitely got the main focus, with their line of Steel Mutants. Now, let’s take a look at Gambit and Bishop, two characters who are very, very 90s.
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
Gambit and Bishop were part of the second series of X-Men: Steel Mutants. While they function fine as figures from the comics of the time, they were definitely meant to be based on the cartoon of the time.
Hey! It’s everyone’s favorite sleezy, disreputable mutant, Gambit! Or is it Channing Tatum? Well, turns out they’re kind of the same thing now. Yay. Gambit is presented here in his 80s/90s costume, which is definitely his most Gambit-y costume to date. Also the only one he’d had at the time this figure was made, so not a shock. It’s a totally hideous design, but I love it so much. The figure stands 2 ½ inches tall and has 4-ish points of articulation. I say “ish” because the waist and neck are both fairly limited by the design of the costume. It should be noted that Gambit, like all of the Steel Mutants, is not totally metal. His torso and legs are diecast, but the arms and head are plastic. Metal isn’t the easiest thing to get fine detailing into, especially at a smaller scale, so the torso and legs are a little more simplified in terms of sculpt, really only getting the most basic details. He doesn’t even have the rippling chest muscles that were a signature of all the other X-Men of the time. Guy really needs to get back to his bowflex! Gambit is posed in a mid-step sort of thing (prevalent to this line) which looks like it should make him impossible to stand, but he actually is incredibly well-balanced, so kudos to Toy Biz there. The plastic parts have a bit more detailing, though not so much as to make them look out of place with the metal parts. He’s sculpted holding a charged card, which is permanently affixed to his hand. The paint work on Gambit is thickly applied, in pretty basic colors. There’s a fair bit of bleed over, but that’s more forgivable at this scale. The colors are, at the very least, nice and vibrant, which is a definite plus.
Bishop. Because the X-Men just weren’t content with only one overly muscled, big gun toting, anti-hero from the future. We totally needed more of those. Bishop is also presented here in his 90s costume. Once again, not a huge surprise. It’s a less hideous design than Gambit’s I suppose, but I have less of a nostalgic tie to it. Bishop is roughly the same height as Gambit and has the same articulation. He’s got a bit more movement in the waist, but the neck is even more limited, due to the hair. The metal to plastic ratio is the same here as well. The metal parts seem a little more detailed here, though, and he definitely makes up for those rippling muscles Gambit lacked. He’s in an even deeper stance than Gambit, with looks a little dopey, but he’s still well-balanced, so I can’t really complain. The details on the head and arms are definitely a lot more involved on this guy, which certainly fits how the character was always portrayed. Paint-wise, he does seem to get better application that Gambit, overall. There’s noticeably less bleed over this time around. The colors are still nice and vibrant, as well. While Gambit had no extras, Bishop actually does get an accessory: a big gun. He’d hardly be complete without it, so it’s a good inclusion. As an added plus, he can even hold in either hand. Yay for ambidextrousness!
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
This set’s actually been on the review docket for a while, just waiting for a good spot. I got it back in May, while at Balticon. I had spotted it at the table of a dealer whom I bought quite a few other things from, but decided to pass at the moment. Super Awesome Girlfriend (who could just as easily be called Super Attentive Girlfriend) took note of this and while I was doing a performance on stage she ran up and bought the set for me to present me with after the show.
Growing up, I only actually had a few of the Toy Biz Metal figures, mostly from the non-X-Men lines. My dad, however, had a nearly complete set of the X-Men ones, which he let me play with. Gambit was always one of my favorites, so I’m happy to have one of my own! Bishop’s not a bad figure, but I’m just not much of a fan of the character. Anyway, these are definitely a weird little item, but they possess a lot of charm.