AVENGERS: UNITED THEY STAND (TOY BIZ)
“As the leader of the Avengers, Dr. Hank Pym is Ant-Man! Ant-Man blends brilliant battlefield strategies with a guide-by-example bravery to unite Earth’s mightiest heroes against the forces of evil. The symbol on his chest means Ant-Man will always heed the call, ‘Avengers Assemble!'”
In 1999, after the massive success of their Spider-Man and X-Men animated series (and in light of the at least moderate success of Iron Man, Fantastic Four, and The Incredible Hulk), Marvel tried to bank on a few more cartoons. From the “big team of colorful heroes” angle, we got Avengers: United They Stand, an ill-fated attempt at getting Earth’s Mightiest Heroes out to a wider audience before the MCU would do so far more successfully. I’m an unashamed fan of the show, but it didn’t really hit with most people, and has generally been seen as a black mark on the team’s reputation in larger media terms. Something notable about the show was its shift away from the big names in favor of focusing on the lower tier mainstays of the team. In accordance with that, for the purposes of the show, the team’s leader wasn’t Captain America or Iron Man, but rather Ant-Man, specifically of the Hank Pym variety.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Ant-Man was released in the first series of Toy Biz’s tie-in line for Avengers: United They Stand, not that it was anything other than a clerical numbering, since all of the figures from both assortments shipped at the same time. The figure stands about 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 16 points of articulation. He’s remarkably posable for this era of figures, which certainly makes him a very playable figure. Ant-Man had an all-new sculpt, based on his design from the show. The show gave a good portion of the cast some rather radically different designs, Ant-Man included. He got a whole armored appearance within the show, removing him quite a bit from his classic attire. In retrospect, it’s not quite as crazy different, though, since elements of it would make their way into Scott Lang’s early ’00s re-design, and likewise would become part of the character’s MCU design. He’s actually closer to the MCU Ant-Man than the classic is in many ways, making him a fair bit more recognizable. I guess that’s an unintended bonus. The sculpt does a respectable job of capturing the style of the show’s animation and translating into a working figure. It honestly ends up looking pretty darn good, and may even be the best of the sculpts this line produced. Heck, it’s just one of Toy Biz’s best 5-inch Marvel sculpts. He’s even got a fully removable helmet, which was pretty great at the time. The only slight oddity to the sculpt is his “action feature”; in order to simulate his ability to grow into Giant-Man in the show, they gave him extending limbs. It’s not the worst concept in theory, but it doesn’t really give the intended effect; he just looks like he’s really stretchy. Fortunately, it doesn’t at all impede the figure’s function at normal scale. His paint work’s not bad for the era. It’s a lot of base work, and it’s pretty cleanly applied. There’s a little bit of wear on the hair on mine, but it’s otherwise held up pretty well in the two decades I’ve owned it, so I’ll consider that a win. Ant-Man was packed with his removable helmet, a miniature version of himself, and the mini-ship he would ride around in on the show. The ship could be placed on his back, like on the show, and could be fully deployed by using the magnet on his forearm to unlock it. I’ve lost half of mini Ant-Man, because he was literally an inch tall and I was 7, as well as the hatch for the vehicle, because, again, 7, so, you know, that’s how it works.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
I absolutely love this figure. He’s probably my favorite figure from this line. He just really works. Despite that, he’s one of the very last figures I actually got from the line. The line was rather scarce at launch, so finding multiples of figures wasn’t super likely. Because of this, my dad and I wound up sharing most of the line, at least at first. He wound up getting the first Ant-Man. However, as the line began to become more plentiful, I started getting more of them, and Ant-Man was one of the last three I had left to get. I mentioned this to my Grandmother, and she asked for a list of the three I was missing. The next week, when I went over to their house, she pulled this guy out for me, having bought him in the mean time, and he very quickly became one of my favorites. He holds up remarkably well, and I still really like him.