#2418: Wolverines (and friends)

WOLVERINE — MODERN AGE/BATTLE RAVAGED/POWER SLAMMER, LADY DEATHSTRIKE, & SABRETOOTH

X-MEN/MODERN AGE (TOY BIZ)

Alright, let’s wrap this bad boy up, bub! When I was divvying up the figures for these reviews, I was doing it by the year of release, and in the process, I actually erroneously listed one of today’s offerings as being from ’99, rather than ’97, as it should be.  With the ’97 review as crowded as it already was, I’m just going to give myself a slight break on that, and group it in here.  It fits better here anyway, since none of today’s figures are truly from the X-Men line proper.  It’s gonna get a little bit complicated, so I might as well jump right in, I suppose.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

“His past shrouded in mystery, the man known simply as Logan was once a Canadian secret agent.  As Wolverine, Logan is a deadly, living weapon.  Besides being a master of a myriad of both armed and unarmed combat, Wolverine’s senses are superhumanly acute and rival many animals, making him a superior tracker and hunter.  Wolverine’s skeleton is laced with an unbreakable metal known as adamantium.  Wolverine is also equipped with foot-long adamantium claws that retract into his hand and can slice through nearly anything.  Coupled with a mutant healing factor that automatically regenerates any damaged or destroyed cells in his body, Wolverine’s ferocity in combat makes him a virtually unstoppable opponent.” 

I’ve delved once before (and rather recently) into Toy Biz’s Modern Age line, which was a direct market line of figures dropped in ’99.  Obviously, Wolverine is a far less obscure entry than Captain Britain, and far less in need of yet another figure, but he was very likely the figure that actually got retailers to support such a venture in the first place.  In that regard, he’s actually a valid comics variant, being a new take on the Brown Costume, which hadn’t actually seen an update since the very first series of X-Men back in 1991.  An update was probably a good idea, though whether this update was an improvement is perhaps more up for debate.  The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  Structurally, there’s not anything new to this guy.  He’s the Ninja Wolverine with the forearms and lower legs of the Water Wars Wolverine.  It all meshes together well enough, I suppose, but it means the figure is as much a caricature of Wolverine as the Ninja figure was.  With the unmasked appearance, they’re clearly aiming to capture his appearance from the cover of his first solo series, but these parts are pretty far from that look stylistically.  I’m also just not a huge fan of this particular head.  He’s got some major underbite going on there.  Wolverine’s packed with a sword and dagger…and, well, I mean, I think they’re meant to tie into his being based on the miniseries, wherein Logan travels to Japan and makes use of such things.  Trouble is, they’re re-used from the Hercules and Xena lines respectively, so they don’t look even vaguely Japanese in origin.  On the plus side, this guy does bring the trading card back.  Nifty!

“Flying at each other with berserker rage and vengeance are Lady Deathstrike and Wolverine.  Each possessing claws infused with the super-strong metal adamantium, Wolverine and Lady Deathstrike are sworn archenemies.  Believing Wolverine to be the key to unlocking the secrets of her father’s research, Lady Deathstrike will stop at nothing until she has defeated the mutant X-Man.  With a rivalry sure to explode when they next meet, Wolverine and Lady Deathstrike are headed for trouble.”

We now enter into the realm that makes up the rest of this review: two-packs.  Toy Biz was rather fond of them, especially later in the 5-inch run, as they were a pretty quick and easy way to turn around some “new” product with a small, concise theme.  It was also a way to get slightly harder to find figures back out in a way that assured a sale of two figures instead of just one.  The “Greatest __” set-up was a popular one for the two-packs, and this particular set, made up of Wolverine and Lady Deathstrike, was dubbed “Greatest Archenemies,” and hit shelves in 1997 (yes, this is the offending item that broke my whole yearly break down).  I’m a little skeptical about Deathstrike being Logan’s greatest archenemy, but whatever.  The Wolverine included in this pack was a re-deco of the Invasion Series’ Battle-Ravaged Wolverine, which is honestly a pretty solid figure.  He stands 5 1/4 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  Again, he’s quite tall for Wolverine.  And just kind of large in general, really.  This sculpt is one I’m fairly nostalgic about, the original release being my first Wolverine figure, and I do think it overall holds up pretty well.  The paint for this guy is rather drastically different, with it being a metallic paint scheme in contrast to the flat colors of the original.  This one also dials up the battle damage throughout, in contrast to the nature of the sculpt.  It’s not terrible, but I feel the coloring on the original is far superior to this release.  He was also given the weird armor from Patch, which isn’t a good fit for the body, or particularly great just as an accessory, but it sure is here.

Pairing off with this Wolverine was another go at Lady Deathstrike, previously seen in the Battle Brigade assortment.  She had two different decos there, but gets yet another here.  She stands 5 1/4 inches tall and has 7 points of articulation.  Her sculpt’s, uh, well, her sculpt’s not great.  I mean, I guess it’s not terrible, but it’s definitely not great.  I mean, all the important details are there, but the proportions are kinda wonky, and it’s really stiff.  It’s got those v-hips, and that’s pretty much never any fun for anyone.  For some reason, her forearms and hands are really soft and rubbery as well, and I’ve got no clue as to why.  Perhaps they were a safety hazard if cast in hard plastic?  She’s also got a radically changed color scheme, and I’m not really sure what it’s going for.  She’s pretty much only had the one color scheme in the comics, so this is an odd choice.  It’s also not very cleanly applied, and still feels kind of tacky in a number of places.  She gets the infrared headset and forearm cannon from the original Deathstrike release, but loses out on the big gross claw.  Also included in this set is a metal X-Men ring, if that’s the sort of thing you’re into.

In 2000, things began winding down for the 5-inch line.  To somewhat tie-in with the X-Men movie and the subsequent re-runs of the cartoon on Fox, Toy Biz put together a brief line of repaints and re-issues for the 5-inch figures.  There were three series of single-packed figures, and three different two-packs as well.  Wolverine and Sabretooth, whose rivalry was highlighted in the film, paired off for one of the sets.  The Wolverine figure in this set is essentially just a straight re-issue of the Wolverine included in the Power Slammers Series, one of the two Wolvies released in 1998 (a year I’ve pretty much skipped today). The figure stands just shy of 5 inches tall and he has 10 points of articulation.  While the Rogue and Gambit figures that accompanied this Wolverine figure in his original series were based on the Shi’ar attire they were wearing in the comics at the time, Wolverine had no such attire, so Toy Biz just sort of made up something to loosely match them, I suppose.  It’s not one of my favorite designs, and looks more like a snowboarding suit than something Wolverine would wear.  The sculpt is at least a relatively decent one, with a fair bit of detailing mixed in and a reasonable set of prioportions.  They even kept the pre-posing to a minimum.  It’s really just the costume design that’s whacky.  The original release came with a power slammer contraption, but this one instead gets the splitting door accessory from the Battle Ravaged Wolverine figure.

Packed in with Wolvie was a variant of Sabretooth.  Like Wolverine, the core figure is essentially the same as a prior figure, specifically the Sabretooth from 1997’s Ninja Series.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 9 points of articulation.  His sculpt is suitably large and imposing, something prior Sabretooths hadn’t quite gotten down.  He’s also fairly well articulated, and generally looked as being the best general Sabretooth sculpt of the 5-inch days, despite being such a non-standard design.  He gets him some Wolverine hair (making it a little surprising that this figure was never repainted into Logan), and sort of a onesie.  It’s perhaps not as intimidating a look as his sheer size would tend to hint at, but then again, Sabretooth has never really had much of a sense of fashion.  This figure’s paint is largely unchanged from his single-pack, but he did get white boots in place of the original silver ones.  He gets the two pieces of clip-on armor from the Ninja release, but lacks that figure’s mask and tunic.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Honestly, this last round of figures is pretty much all made up of figures that were on the chopping block when I was briefly considering *not* getting every figure I didn’t have from the collection at All Time.  I of course then came to my senses and realized how silly I was being not just filling in the set outright.  That said, this is definitely the weakest selection, with some kind of uninspired repaints, some really goofy toy-original designs that just don’t quite land, and a strangely not artist-specific take on an artist-specific concept.  Nothing here’s as terrible as, say Battle Blasters Wolverine, but none of its as fun as Unleashed or Missile Flyers.

Thanks to All Time Toys for setting me up with these guys to review.  If you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

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