X-MEN (TOY BIZ)
“Gambit has the mutant ability to take the energy of any object and put it to his own use. That use usually means turning the object into a deadly weapon. Gambit is a martial arts expert with a lightning-fast karate kick. When battling multiple attackers, Gambit relies on his Techno Battle Staff for additional assault power.”
As someone whose primary introduction to the X-Men came from their ’90s cartoon, I have an almost unhealthy appreciation for their resident Cajun sleazeball, one Remy LaBeau, aka Gambit. I am, of course, not at all alone in this, which has helped to keep him relatively high on the action figure count. Today, I’m jumping back to the beginning, and taking a look at his very first figure (more or less).
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Gambit was initially released in the second series of Toy Biz’s X-Men line. Following the success of the cartoon, he was subsequently re-released in the “Classics” assortment a few years later. The figure reviewed here is technically the later release, though the only actual difference between the two is the accessory selection. This figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 9 points of articulation. Gambit’s sculpt is fairly typical of an early Toy Biz figure, meaning he’s a little more rudimentary than later offerings would be. He’s slightly scrawny, and the details are a little softer. This is definitely a kinder, friendlier looking Gambit than you usually see. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s definitely different than other Gambits. His trench coat seems to have thrown Toy Biz for a bit of a loop, as well. Rather than sculpting it onto him, they opted for a removable piece…mostly, anyway. The bulk of the jacket is just a thin plastic get-up, not unlike the capes from the old Kenner Star Wars figures. It’s not terribly sturdy, and isn’t really the sort of thing we ever saw again from them. It looks alright, but certainly limits his playability when in place. What’s slightly odd is the decision to make the collar of this jacket a sculpted element, which is part of the figure’s torso. This means it’s always there, even when the coat is off of the figure. Why not just leave the collar as part of the coat? Who knows. Well, someone at Toy Biz probably knew, I guess. Gambit’s paintwork is alright. It’s pretty basic, and gets the general gist of the character down. There’s a lot of pink, which is really the most important thing when you get right down to it. It does get a handful of details wrong, though, such as keeping the sleeves of the shirt pink (rather than matching with the pants as they did in the comics), and the pink squares on the sides of his legs are a different pattern than usually seen. The original release of Gambit included his staff, while the re-release included the bandolier and knives (presumably meant to stand in for his playing cards) from Longshot. Gambit has an action feature, a kicking action, which is an interesting choice for the character. It’s also not implemented incredibly well, because it’s default state is actually with the leg extended, meaning the latch is in a constant state of strain when he’s in a basic standing pose. The end result is a figure that you will commonly find with his leg forever stuck at a 90 degree angle. Fortunately, this isn’t the case with my figure, but I’ve seen my fair share of figures that weren’t so lucky.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
I don’t recall exactly where I got Gambit, but I know I was with my parents, and it was very early into my collecting because it was before we moved into the house that they’ve been in since I was four. So, somewhere in late ’95? Anyway, despite how harsh I may have been on this figure in the actual review segment, it’s worth noting that this remains my very favorite Gambit figure to date, and just one of my favorite X-Men figures in general.