FANTASTIC FOUR (TOY BIZ)
“Ace test pilot Ben Grimm found his life was forever changed after a fateful trip on an untried spacecraft. Exposure to cosmic rays caused Grimm to evolve into a hulking, brutally strong creature, with a thick, orange, rock-like hide. Dubbing himself The Thing, Grimm, along with Mr. Fantastic, the Human Torch, and the Invisible Woman, decided to make the most of his transformation and aid humanity by becoming a valued member of the Fantastic Four. His unbelievable strength and endurance, combined with his bravery, loyalty and innate kindness make The Thing one of the most heroic humans ever to walk the Earth!”
Almost exactly four years ago, I spent several of my earliest reviews on this site looking at six of the seven figures in the first series of Toy Biz’s Fantastic Four line from the ’90s. I didn’t review the seventh because he was the only one I didn’t own. Now I own him, and so now, after four years, I’m completing my reviews of Fantastic Four Series 1. Let’s look at Benjamin J Grimm, aka the ever-lovin’-blue-eyed-Thing!
THE FIGURE ITSELF
As touched on in the intro, the Thing is one of the seven figures in Series 1 of Toy Biz’s Fantastic Four line, based on the cartoon from the mid-90s. Ben, like the rest of the titular team, is wearing a variant of his John Byrne-designed costume from the ’80s. It’s a standard look, and was his main look in the cartoon, so it made sense here. The figure stands about 5 1/4 inches tall and he has 10 points of articulation. This version of Ben was sporting an all-new sculpt, which was only ever used for this one figure (barring a few direct re-releases). Unlike later Thing figures from this line, this guy wasn’t directly based on the cartoon, and as such presents a slightly more detailed take on the character. I think this may be the best sculpted Thing figure that Toy Biz ever released, quite frankly. It’s really very good. There’s a ton of detailing on his rocky skin, he’s got just the right build, and they even managed to very nicely convey Ben’s attitude on the face. What’s more, the belt on his shorts even has little wrinkles and some stretching, which is an awesome touch. Comparing this figure to something like Mole Man, who is from the very same series as this figure mind you, is like night and day. Whoever sculpted this guy had a fun time. Now, I’m not going to say that the paint ruins this figure, because it certainly doesn’t, but there’s a definite step down from the sculpt to the paint. There’s paint for the eyes, the belt, and the shorts. That’s it. The rest is all the same shade of molded orange plastic. That was Toy Biz’s style at the time. That was the style of action figures in general at the time. And it doesn’t ruin the figure. But this sculpt would look a ton better with even the tiniest bit of accent work. The Thing included no accessories, but he does have a “Clobberin’ Time Punh” action feature: when you turn him at the waist, his arms swing up and down. Fairly standard for this era of figures, but I like that it adds a little something to the figure without risk of ruining the sculpt or posability.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
Growing up, my main version of Ben was the trench coat-wearing variant from Series 3, so I never had this one. I’ve been on the lookout for one for a few years now, but it was never a really a search I put a ton of effort into. This year at Shore Leave, one of the vendors I buy from pretty regularly had gotten in a stock of new loose figures, and thrown some of the more beaten-up figures into the dollar bin. I was mostly happy meal toys, knock-offs, and the like, but I did dig this guy out. He was covered in god-knows-what, but I figured it was worth it to grab him and see what sort of condition he was in. So, I got him home, and I sat down with my cleaning supplies, and after about a half an hour or so, I had a Thing figure that was in pretty great shape. And now my Series 1 set is complete. For a dollar. Not bad.