NORTHSTAR & AURORA
ALPHA FLIGHT (TOY BIZ)
“Jean-Paul and Jeanne-Marie Beaubier were not your average set of twins. During their adolescence, they each separately found that they possessed the mutant abilities to fly and travel at superhuman speeds. They have since discovered that whenever they join hands, they produce a radiant strobe effect, often blinding their adversaries into submission! Putting their respective lives as a professional skier and history teacher behind, “Northstar” and “Aurora” joined Alpha Flight, Canada’s very own super heroes.”
The United States doesn’t hold a total monopoly on North American super hero teams. Case in point, today’s pair of figures comes from Canada’s premiere super-team, Alpha Flight, who are sort of a cross between the Avengers and the X-Men, but, you know, in Canada. They’ve never really taken off as a smash success or anything, but the team has something of a cult following. This was enough to get them a short series of figures during Toy Biz’s long-running 5-inch line. The whole series was made up of two-packs, and today’s figures are the ones that make the most sense paired up. Yes, it’s siblings Northstar and Aurora!
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
These two were one of the three two-packs released in the first (and only) series of Alpha Flight, released by Toy Biz in 1998.
Northstar’s probably one of the best known members of Alpha Flight, thanks largely to his affiliation with the X-Men, and thanks also to being one of Marvel’s most prominent gay characters. He’s had a number of different looks over the years, but he’s seen here in his original costume, which I find to be his best. The figure stands a little over 5 inches tall and has 10 points of articulation. The movement on this guy is really odd; he lacks the elbow and knee joints that were fairly standard on 5-inch Marvel figures, but gains extra shoulder and ankle movement, as well as a cut joint on one wrist. Why just one wrist? I have no idea. It’s always bugged me. The sculpt for Northstar was all-new to him. It’s okay, but not really one of Toy Biz’s stronger sculpts from this era. His proportions are kind of odd, and he’s got this strange sort of weird twist to his pose, like he’s trying to pop his back or something. I mean, there are some interesting elements to the sculpt, and it’s far from bad, but it’s just sort of meh. The paintwork on Northstar is passable; pretty straightforward color work for the most part. There’s some slight accenting work on the white sections, which actually looks pretty decent. As you can see, some of the paint hasn’t held up the best over time, but that’s not really on them. There’s a bit of slop around the edges, but nothing super awful.
Though she’s a little lesser known than her brother, Aurora is still pretty well known, even if it’s largely in connection to her brother. She’s had less costumes than Northstar, but they’ve wisely gone with the one that matches her brother’s design, and once again I think it’s her best look, so I’m happy it showed up here. The figure’s about the same height as Northstar and has the same basic articulation, although she has those freaking v-hips that plagued my collecting habits in the ‘90s. The articulation’s still rather weird, but at least it’s consistent with Northstar. The wrist articulation is on the other side this time, allowing for them to touch hands. In general, I find Aurora’s sculpt to be of a higher quality than her brother’s. The proportions are still kind of off, but less so, and the pre-posing is downplayed. The head is definitely my favorite part, and it sports a ton of really awesome detail work, especially on the hair. Her paintwork is fairly similar to Northstar’s, but once again, it’s a slight step up. Things are a bit cleaner, and the accenting on the white parts are a little more noticeable, which I thing looks a bit better.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
I picked this set up new, I’m fairly certain from a Target. I didn’t actually know the characters at the time, and mostly wanted them because they sort of resembled the Wonder Twins. My dad, who bought them for me, also got me the first Essential collection of X-Men around the same time, and had me read Alpha Flight’s first appearance, which was contained there-in, so I knew who they were. I remember getting them pretty fondly. They aren’t Toy Biz’s best or anything, but they were probably the best from this particular series of figures, and I’m still pretty happy with them.
Side bar: I reviewed these figures while at my friend Scott Farquar’s house. He also owns this set of figures, which were actually given to him by me, almost 20 years ago. He wanted me to mention that here. He’s sort of goofy like that.