MARVEL ELECTRONIC TALKING SUPER HEROES
Today is, amongst other things, the day I graduate from college. It’s been a long road, but it looks like I’m finally done with this whole school thing (for now, anyway…). Graduating is kind of an interesting experience: it’s sort of an all new thing, but at the same time it makes me rather nostalgic of all the time I’ve spent in school. So, I’m going to acknowledge my college graduation the way I acknowledge everything else in my life: with action figures.
Fitting the theme of nostalgia, I’m taking a step back to one of the earliest lines I ever collected: Toy Biz’s X-Men line from the ‘90s. The line was no stranger to gimmicks, and one of the more popular gimmicks of the early ‘90s was action figures that talked. For some reason, that was an area lots of toy makers saw a need to fill, Toy Biz included. They put together a line-up of seven of Marvel’s more popular characters, all making use of this particular feature. There were three X-Men characters represented, including today’s focus figure, Cyclops.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Cyclops was released in the first (and only) series of Marvel Electronic Talking Super Heroes and X-Men. Yes, the “and X-Men” is actually on the card. Guess they don’t count as Super Heroes. The assortment was released in 1991, alongside the first series of the X-Men line and Series 1 and 2 of the Marvel Super Heroes line. As such, the talking figures have a fair bit in common with their non-talking variations from those lines. In fact, the prototypes on the packaging are just the regular release figures with the talking boxes attached. Cyclops has a lot in common with the X-Men Series 1 Cyclops, but he actually has a few notable differences. The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 7 points of articulation. While he loses the elbow movement from the X-Men Cyclops, he also loses the light-up feature, meaning he gets neck articulation. That would be a feature unique to this figure for several years. Aside from the slight changes in articulation, the sculpt is more or less the same. There’s no denying that this is a slightly dated sculpt, but it’s a step up from what Mattel offered 7 years before. Honestly, I think the neck movement does a lot to help make the sculpt look a little less unnatural, since the head looks far less stiff. The paint is, in theory, the same as that of the X-Factor version of the Series 1 Cyclops. In theory. In practice it’s noticeably sloppier. Like, a lot sloppier. From afar, he’s not atrocious, and I don’t think the figure’s ruined, but there’s no denying that this guy isn’t Toy Biz’s finest work. The talking portion of this figure is handled via a giant red backpack, which plugs right into his back (and stays there really securely. I almost thought it wasn’t coming back off). The figure has three different sounds: “Let’s Go, X-Men,” “Optic Blast Fire,” and a laser blast sound effect. The sound quality is a little muffled, but otherwise not bad. In addition to the talking box, he also includes a gun because… reasons? Maybe it’s because he’s the father of Cable? Yeah, I don’t know, but there it is.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
Despite having grown up in the ‘90s, when these things were all over the place, Cyclops is actually a very recent addition to my collection. Two weekends ago, I was in Rehoboth, and one of my favorite stores, Gidgets Gadgets, had just gotten in a large collection of ‘90s figures. They had just about every figure from this set. I was fairly drawn to this guy, for whatever reason. My dad told me he was buying it for me because “How often is it that I get to buy you a Cyclops action figure anymore?” Yes, the figure’s super goofy. There’s no denying that. But he’s also pretty nifty, and plays into my nostalgia pretty hardcore.