#1509: Incredible Hulk

INCREDIBLE HULK

MARVEL SUPER HEROES (TOY BIZ)

“When the Incredible Hulk gets angry he can effortlessly bend steel bars, crush boulders and cause criminals to head for the hills as fast as they can! To demonstrate the Incredible Hulk’s awesome might, place the steel bar or boulder in his hands, press the lever in his back and watch the bar bend almost double and the boulder break apart.”

The Hulk, unlike his other MCU compatriots, hasn’t only recently come to fame.  In fact, he’s one of Marvel’s earlier success stories, thanks in no small part to the Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno led live action series from the ‘70s.  Despite the success of his first foray into media outside of comics, he’s had something of a rough time since then.  Nevertheless, he’s remained a major Marvel player for most of Marvel’s time in the spot light.  Today, I’ll be looking at one of his earlier action figures, and his very first by long-time Marvel toy producers, Toy Biz!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Hulk was released in the very first series of Toy Biz’s Marvel Super Heroes line.  The figure’s a bit smaller for a Hulk figure, standing right at 5 inches tall.  He’s got 7-ish points of articulation, depending on how you count the shoulder joints.  Theoretically, there’s some extra movement granted by the action feature, but you can’t really get them to stay in any given position.  This Hulk is definitely most inspired by the Hulk of the ‘70s; his hair is the real give-away there.  The sculpt is actually one of the better Hulks put out by Toy Biz.  The proportions are more balanced than a lot of Hulks, and the details, especially on the head, are nice and sharp.  I also find myself really liking the hands, and if you can get me to notice the quality of the hands, that’s a good sign.  Hulk’s paintwork is fairly standard.  He’s mostly just molded in the appropriate shade of green.  It’s a little bright for my taste, but not terribly so.  The rest of the work is fairly straight forward, but it’s pretty clean overall.  I do wish there was at least some accenting going on with the pants and stuff, but it all works.  Hulk included a “metal” bar to hold and bend with his action feature, a piece which my figure is missing.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This is a figure I always admired on the hardbacks of my various Toy Biz figures and the like.  I always wanted one, but his release was just before I started collecting, so I never saw him in person.  I finally ended up getting him just over this past summer, loose from Yesterday’s Fun.  He’s slightly goofy, just like the rest of the Marvel Super Heroes figures, but I still really, really like him.  I’m happy to have finally added him to my collection.  Possibly my favorite Hulk, despite his rather humble nature.

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#1456: Annihilus

ANNIHILUS

MARVEL SUPER HEROES (TOY BIZ)

“Power mad is the only word that can describe the flying nightmare known as Annihilus. He’s not satisfied being the merciless ruler of his own dimension, the bizarre Negative Zone – he wants to be the tyrant of Earth’s universe too! And because he carries the near-limitless force of the awesome Cosmic Control Rod on his chest, he has the power to make his wicked dream a reality! Only the Fantastic Four have been able to block his nightmarish plans of conquest.”

The foes of the Fantastic Four don’t ever seem to get much respect.  Beyond Doctor Doom and Galactus, it’s like they don’t exist.  And that’s a shame, because the FF have a lot of really fun villains.  One such villain is Annihilus, the ruler of the Phantom Zone.  Annihilus has had a few different figures over the years, but he got his very first in 1992, in what was effectively luck of the draw.  I’ll be looking at that figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Annihilus was released in Series 3 of Toy Biz’s Marvel Super Heroes line.  Series 3 included Toy Biz’s first versions of the Fantastic Four, and they needed a villain to go along with them.  However, Doctor Doom had already been released in Series 1, meaning TB needed another villain.  Why they chose Annihilus is anyone’s guess.  Perhaps they just thought he had the coolest design?  Who knows?  Annihilus is seen here sporting his classic design, which I believe was still the only one he had at the time of this figure’s release.  The figure stands about 5 inches tall and he has 10 points of articulation.  Like most of the others from this line, Annihilus’s sculpt is rather dated, and looks a little out of place with more modern items, or even figures from just a few years later in TB’s run.  The details are a little more simplified, and, most noticeably, he’s really scrawny.  This was a recurring issue, after Toy Biz moved away from the slightly stockier figures of the first two series, where everyone went too far the other direction.  I don’t believe Annihilus has ever been quite this small.  It should be noted, though, that this is still not a bad sculpt.  There’s some nice work on some of the smaller details, especially on the head, which looks good for the time, if perhaps a little goofy in this day and age.  Though jiust how they’d be handled on later figures would vary, the wings on this Annihilus are permanently affixed to the figure, and much like the original Toy Biz Archangel, there’s a wing-flapping action feature that’s operated by the little lever on the back.  It doesn’t offer a ton of motion, and the wings are sort of small and silly, but it’s a mildly amusing little feature.  Paint on Annihilus is fairly simple.  Mostly, he’s just molded in the proper colors, with only a few actual painted details, which are all just straight colors.  It’s hardly inaccurate to his original design, though, so it’s hard to really complain.  Perhaps some metallics would have added some flair, but beyond that, this feels decent enough. Annihilus included no accessories, but he’s got the wings, so that’s at least something.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t have this figure growing up.  Instead, I had the later one from the main Fantastic Four line.  Unfortunately, that one had a removable head, and I lost mine, so I’ve been without a proper Annihilus for a little while.  I’m slowly working my way to getting a complete run of Toy Biz 5-inch figures, so I grabbed this guy at the Dave Hart Toy Show this past summer, in an effort to get one step closer to my goal. He’s sort of a goofy little figure. There’s no denying that.  But, he’s still entertaining, and that’s really all I look for in an action figure.

#1430: Thor

THOR

MARVEL SUPER HEROES (TOY BIZ)

“Thor, the legendary Norse God of Thunder, is the most powerful Marvel Super Hero. With his amazing hammer, Mjolnir, Thor can fly, smash through any obstacle and create and control the mightiest storms – even tornadoes and hurricanes. Though Thor’s home is Asgard, where all the Norse gods live, Thor spends most of his time on Earth with his friends Iron Man and Captain America helping them fight the forces of evil and injustice that threaten the world.”

Happy Thorsday everyone!  …She already did this bit earlier, didn’t she?  *sigh* This is what I get for letting other people write for the site.  Well, there goes my intro.  Anyway, I’m also looking at a Thor figure today, but I’m looking at the original, Odinson variety of Thor.  This one hails from the ‘90s, which was actually a pretty barren time for Thor figures, believe it or not.  There were only three figures of him in the space of the decade, and today I look at the first of those three.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Thor was released in the second series of Toy Biz’s Marvel Super Heroes line, alongside fellow Avenger and previous subject of review Iron Man.  The figure stands about 5 inches tall and has 7 points of articulation.  He’s ostensibly based on Thor’s classic design, though he’s a bit removed from how he usually looks.  See how he doesn’t have a cape?  There’s no missing piece there; he just never had a cape.  They left it out, for whatever reason.  Your guess is as good as mine.  Maybe they were actually basing him on Thor from Adventures in Babysitting?  I mean, he doesn’t look *unlike* Vincent D’Onofrio.  Maybe I’m onto something here.  Thor’s sculpt was unique to him, and follows the style seen with the likes of Cap, Iron Man, and Silver Surfer.  There’s a definite Super Powers sort of aesthetic, albeit a slightly dumbed down version.  It’s not quite as strong a sculpt as Series 1’s Captain America (which is probably my favorite in the line), but it’s certainly an improvement over the really goofy Iron Man sculpt.  Still, he’s kind of oddly proportioned, and the hair just sort of looks weird suddenly stopping the way it does.  Thor’s paintwork follows the sculpt in its strange lack of cohesion to his usual design.  Instead of the usual black for the tunic, this guy’s got the same blue used on his pants.  It makes for a slightly less bold look, and means he looks a little blander than usual.  It probably that doesn’t help that the little chest circles are light blue instead of silver, and the helmet is just a straight white.  The paint definitely seams a bit lax on this guy.  Thor was originally packed with his hammer Mjolnir, which mine is missing.  He also has a hammer swinging action feature built into his right arm.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Marvel Super Heroes Series 2 was pretty much entirely gone from retail when I started collecting, so I went quite a while without a Thor (all I had was the rather lackluster Marvel Masterpiece boxed set version).  I ended up getting this guy over the summer, via Yesterday’s Fun.  He’s okay, I guess.  Not anything amazing, but he fits well enough with the rest of the set of Marvel Super Heroes Avengers.

#1394: Iron Man

IRON MAN

MARVEL SUPER HEROES (TOY BIZ)

“Iron Man is the world’s greatest high-tech hero. Iron Man’s armor is made of space-age alloys and is virtually indestructible. Not only that, but the armor is filled with an awesome arsenal including energy blasting repulsor rays, a navigational computer and rocket-powered boots that can fly him at a top speed of 960 miles an hour! Iron Man is really the millionaire inventor and industrialist, Tony Stark. When he’s not wearing his armor and helping his friends Thor and Captain America save mankind from super-powered enemies, Tony’s in his lab creating a new invention to save lives or clean the environment.”

You can’t go anywhere these days without tripping over like 50 Iron Man figures, but that wasn’t always the case.  When Toy Biz took over the Marvel license back in the early ‘90s, there were only two prior Iron Man figures.  They eventually released a whole line of Iron Men, but their first figure of the character was released as part of their early Marvel Super Heroes line.  He’s kinda goofy and I’m looking at him today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Iron Man was released in the second series of Marvel Super Heroes.  Along with that series’ Thor figure, he completes the “Avengers” set started in Series 1 with Cap and Hulk.  He’s based on the Neo-Classic armor, which is more rare amongst action figures.  This was actually its first time in plastic form, and would remain its only appearance until the Marvel Legends Showdown line more than a decade later.  The figure stands about 5 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  These earlier figures kind of mimicked the Super Powers aesthetic, albeit in a slightly lower quality way.  This figure’s sculpt is…interesting.  It’s not the worst thing ever, but it’s not as nice as, say, the Captain America figure.  A lot of the figure’s issues come from the rather primitive snap-on armor.  While later Iron Men would place the focus on getting a decent starting figure and then enhancing them with extra armored bits, this figure goes for a combo Iron Man/Tony Stark.  The problem is that the end result is an Iron Man and a Tony Stark that are both off.  The armor is really bulky and has obvious clips (which are rather difficult to work with), and the underlying Tony Stark is just…odd.  Really, really odd.  I mean, just look at him.  That ain’t right.  The paint work on this guy is okay overall, but his armor is lacking a few of the yellow details.  Maybe they were working from a classic Iron Man image?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This figure slightly pre-dates me getting into collecting…and me existing…so I didn’t get it new.  I did eye it up a few times over the years, but it’s not the most common figure, and it was never high enough priority for me to actually go and track him down.  I ended up finding this guy at the most recent Dave Hart Toy Show back in July, for a pretty decent price.  He’s…strange?  I guess that’s the word.  I find him intriguing as sort of a pre-formed version of the later Toy Biz Iron Men, but as his own figure, he’s not Toy Biz’s strongest offering.

#0986: Captain America

CAPTAIN AMERICA

MARVEL SUPER HEROES (TOY BIZ)

CapMSH1

“When Captain America throws his mighty shield! All Foes who chose to oppose his shield must yield!”

Captain America Theme Song

My first introduction to Captain America was through VHS copies of the ‘60s cartoon. As cheesy as they are, I loved every minute of them. Sadly, in the mid-90s, when I was becoming so fond of Cap as a character, he was more or less absent from toy shelves. I eventually got the Spider-Man: The Animated Series version when it was finally released, but the figure I always wanted was Toy Biz’s first version of the character, which I’ll be looking at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

CapMSH2Captain America was released in Series 1 of Toy Biz’s Marvel Super Heroes line. This Cap stands just under 5 inches tall and has 7 points of articulation. This figure predates elbow articulation becoming a standard for Toy Biz’s Marvel stuff, as they were still very much aping the Kenner Super Powers style, and none of those had elbow movement. Really, this whole figure in general feels like a Captain America figure done to fit with Super Powers (well, aside from size, since he’s taller than any figure Kenner put out), which is far from a bad thing. Rather than the more ‘90s-esc proportions of which Toy Biz would later become so fond, Cap is pretty subdued, and looks more or less like a real person. His torso features some awesome detailing for the scale-mail, and I love the way they’ve sculpted the star logo so as to make it pop a bit more. Figures of Captain America have the unfortunate tendency to miss the mark on the good Captain’s face. I guess he’s just one of those characters where it has to be just right. I think this figure’s the closest anyone’s ever gotten to my ideal Captain America, at least from a comic-based perspective. It’s a little round by today’s standards, but I really like the overall style present here.  There’s just a certain sincerity to it that lots of Caps lack. Cap’s paintwork is quite nicely handled, especially for the time. The colors are all nice and bold, and he really sells the whole patriotic super hero thing. His eyes are admittedly a little wonky, and it would have been nice for his belt buckle to be something other than the unpainted blue plastic, but those are relatively minor complaints. Cap was packed with his mighty shield, as well as a weird launching device for it. However, my figure sadly lacks these pieces.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I noted in the intro, this was a figure I really wanted growing up. Unfortunately, he was released before I got into collecting, and wasn’t very easy to find after the fact. So, I had to settle for the US Agent repaint from a few series later. In fact, my dad, as awesome as he was, even bought me an extra US Agent and we painted him up in proper Cap colors, which held me over quite nicely. This particular figure ended up being one of the fifteen figures I picked up at the last Balticon. I’m glad to finally have the official version, and he’s aged a bit better than a lot of Toy Biz’s output from the same time period.

CapMSH3

#0978: Venom

VENOM

MARVEL SUPER HEROES (TOY BIZ)

VenomMSH1

Venom, Venom, Venom. For as many Venom figures as I’ve reviewed on this site, there’s not actually a whole lot to this guy. He’s a pretty simple concept, taking the main hero and creating a “dark reflection” of said hero to serve as a villain. Of course, it was the late ‘80s, so he was also super huge (and he got huger as time went on). In the early ‘90s, when Toy Biz started up with the Marvel license, Venom was, amazingly enough, not in their first assortment of figures. Clearly they felt bad about that, because they then turned around and released three of him in the space of a year. Today, I’ll be looking at the last of those.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

VenomMSH2Venom was released in Series 3 of Toy Biz’s Marvel Super Heroes line. He was the second version of the character released in the main line (after the one released in Series 2) and the third in the overall scheme of things (following the Talking Heroes version). The figure stands just shy of 5 ½ inches tall and he has 8 points of articulation. He has no neck movement due to his action feature, which is quite limiting, but he is otherwise decently posable. The prior Venom figures had focused on bulk over all else. This figure, on the other hand, focused on making Venom tall (he’s a good ¾ of an inch taller than the Spider-Man from the same line), but not quite as bulky. The end result is a figure that looks not unlike Venom in his earliest appearances, before he had become quite as monstrous. The sculpt us actually pretty decent. It’s somewhat stylized, but not incredibly so, and he has a nice, subdued look about him, which is refreshing to see in a Venom figure. Venom’s paint is rather simple: it’s exclusively white paint on black plastic. The detailing doesn’t look too bad, though, as you can see from my figure, the paint wasn’t the most durable. Still, the pure black and white has a nice stark contrast about it, something that a lot of later Venom figures would miss out on by adding unnecessary blue highlights. Venom originally included a clip on torso piece, simulating the symbiote wrapping around him. He also had the previously mentioned action feature, which allowed for Venom to stick his tongue out when the lever on his back was pulled. It’s rather a goofy feature, but it’s also really in keeping with the character, so I guess it made sense.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Venom is the 11th of the 15 figures I got at Balticon this year. Amazingly enough, prior to this figure I did not own a single 5-inch Venom figure. This one’s not bad, and the quality of his sculpt, especially when compared to last week’s Silver Surfer figure, shows how incredibly fast Toy Biz was taking steps forward in that department.

Also, not related to me, but worth noting: this figure has become one of Super Awesome Girlfriend’s favorites. She constantly picks it up so that she can make it stick its tongue out at me. I’ve ensnared another action figure geek!

VenomMSH3

#0970: Silver Surfer

SILVER SURFER

MARVEL SUPER HEROES (TOY BIZ)

SilverSurferMSH1

Though they were best known for their 15 year run with the Marvel license, Toy Biz’s first work of note was actual doing toys based on Marvel’s Distinguished Competition. Toy Biz’s DC action figures were little more than knock-offs of Kenner’s Super Powers line. When Toy Biz was granted the Marvel license, their initial offerings were rather similar to what they had done for DC. They offered a rather broadly ranging line, covering the major corners of the Marvel Universe (barring the X-Men, who got their own line). Today, I’ll be taking a look at one of that line’s versions of the Silver Surfer!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

SilverSurferMSH2Silver Surfer was released in the third series of Toy Biz’s Marvel Super Heroes line. The figure stands about 5 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation. That’s actually a pretty low articulation count for a Toy Biz figure, and it’s even a bit low for this particular line. This figure is mostly the same sculpt as his Series 1 counterpart. The only difference between the two is the lack of neck articulation. It’s an odd choice, and it definitely limits what can be done with the figure, but I’d guess it had something to do with the vac metalizing. The sculpt isn’t terrible, but it’s not particularly great either. He’s similar in style to the Toy Biz Green Lantern, in that his proportions feel rather off, and the level of detail is very low. Also, his head is just very oddly shaped. It’s definitely too small, and the face (which is very ill-defined) sits too high. In fact, the head in general sits too high on the neck, and the whole construction there just looks weird. As far as paint goes, this particular Surfer doesn’t really have any, he’s just vac metalized. Later Surfer’s would at least get detailing on the eyes, but that’s not the case with this guy. Just the straight up and down silver for him. Silver Surfer originally included his surfboard, done up to match him. Unlike other versions of the board, this one was really thick, and it had wheels on the bottom. So, he’s not actually the Silver Surfer, he’s the Silver Skateboarder. Radical.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Surfer is the eighth of the 15 figures that I picked up from a vendor at this past Balticon. I…I’m not really sure how I feel about him. I mean, the chrome look is certainly cool, but the actual figure’s kind of a bit lame. Toy Biz definitely improved in leaps and bounds over the years, but this guy’s a disappointment even compared to the figures from the same line. I hate to be this down on a figure, but this guy, well, he’s not great.