#2245: Damaged Spider-Man, Black Spider-Man & Venom

DAMAGED SPIDER-MAN, BLACK SPIDER-MAN, & VENOM

MARVEL MINIMATES

After a slightly more off-kilter theme for Series 1, Marvel Minimates went a little more straight-forward for their second assortment, centering it on Marvel’s #1 super hero, Spider-Man.  We got three prominent Spidey baddies, as well as a whole handful of Spidey variants.  In a world where Marvel Minimates wrapped with Series 3, this assortment would have made for a satisfying Spidey sub-set.  Today, I’ll be taking a look at a slightly worse for wear Spidey as he faces off against his dark reflection, Venom, as well as perhaps the most popular Spidey costume variant ever.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Damaged Spider-Man and Venom were released in Series 2 of Marvel Minimates as one of the standard sets, with the one-per-case Black Spider-Man swapping out for Damaged in each case.  Both Damaged Spidey and Venom would also see release as singles and in the TRU boxed sets as well, but this would remain the only way to get this specific Black Spidey.

DAMAGED SPIDER-MAN

A battle-damaged Spidey is a pretty long-standing tradition for toylines, and this particular figure would himself start the trend of battle-damaged figures within this particular line, particularly in the earlier days.  He’s just using the basic ‘mate body, albeit that wonky long-footed old style release.  Everything else is paint, and the paint was never really better than on these earliest Spider-Men.  This one uses the standard Spidey from this same assortment as a starting point, but adds in several tears to the costume, with a bit of exposed skin.  The coolest bit is definitely that little bit of Peter’s face we can see; that teeth-clenched expression really sells the severity of whatever situation he’s in.  His one accessory was a simple grey webline, which would be the go-to accessory for Spidey sets going forward.

BLACK SPIDER-MAN

Swapping out for Damaged Spidey is perhaps one of the most controversial choices for a limited variant release, Spidey in his black costume.  This figure, unlike his fellow Series 1 and Series 3 variants, showcases a “we’re not gonna get more than three series” mentality, because without that in place, it makes absolutely no sense to make the most popular costume variant for Spidey a supremely limited release.  It’s not a huge shock that DST would eventually release several additional versions of this costume, since he was going for mad money for a good long while.  This one uses the same layout as the Damaged, with just the standard body, no add-ons.  His painted details are sparser, befitting the costume’s simpler design, but it honestly ends up working seriously in the figure’s favor.  Straight black and white’s a very good look.

VENOM

After Peter ditched the alien symbiote, it moved onto Eddie Brock, and the two became Venom, one of Spidey’s definitive foes.  Venom has no shortage of ‘mates, but this is certainly the most basic.  The majority of it’s actually identical to the Black Spidey from above, but he does get a unique set of clawed hands, and a different head.  The head seen here is actually the one with the uniquely sculpted tongue, but there’s an important note on that.  Originally, Venom was meant to include two heads, one with tongue, and one without.  All of the standard US release Venoms from the first year were actually shipped out missing the second head with the tongue, so DST offered to send the piece out to customers who bought the earlier release.  LAter releases would add the missing piece back in.  In a turn of fate, my figure is actually missing the head without the tongue.  Of course, I see no situation where I would display that head, so I’m not worried about it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Unsurprisingly, given how popular the costume is, the Black Spidey was very hard to find when these hit.  I wanted that one, and didn’t really have much interest in the damaged version, so I ultimately ended up getting none of them when they were new.  When All Time got in a very large Minimate collection a few months ago, Black Spidey was at the top of my list of wants, and the other two just sort of came along with him.

#2244: Grey Hulk

GREY HULK

MARVEL LEGENDS: VINTAGE (HASBRO)

“Accidentally exposed to gamma radiation, scientist Bruce Banner gains super strength, stamina, and invulnerability…at the cost of his genius!  Dubbed “Hulk,” Banner first transforms only at night before realizing that it’s actually his anger that gives him his super abilities.”

Did you know that the Hulk is only green-skinned because of poor quality print techniques?  If you’re at all familiar with common place comics trivia, then you probably did.  Congratulations, you don’t need me anymore.  But I’m not writing reviews for you, so ah-ha, I’m gonna keep writing anyway.  You can’t stop me!  …Where was I?  Grey Hulk.  Right.  So, Hulk was originally grey, but the comics printing techniques of the ’60s being what they were, getting a consistent grey was very hard to attain, and the end result was a main character that shifted colors multiple times throughout his first appearance.  To avoid further issue, he was made green.  Well, at least until printing techniques improved enough to bring Grey Hulk back  in the ’80s.  Yay, second life for Grey Hulk!  And now he’s an easy action figure variant, hence the coverage here today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Grey Hulk is a standalone “80 Years of Marvel” Marvel Legends release, originally intended to be con exclusive (the counterpart to the Retro carded Green Hulk from SDCC), but ultimately re-purposed as another Fan Channel exclusive.  This marks our third Legends Grey Hulk, and the first one since the Fin Fang Foom Series in ’08.  The figure stands 8 inches tall and has 30 points of articulation.  He uses the same body as the other 80 Years of Marvel Hulk, which isn’t really much of a surprise, since Hasbro generally likes to get some mileage out of a new sculpt.  It helps that it’s a really strong body, and I liked it a lot the first time I looked at it.  This one gets an all-new head, though, since Grey Hulk never sported the lengthy ’70s locks of the prior release, and also tended to have a far more pronounced brow than later incarnations.  It doesn’t make for a very pretty looking figure, but I guess that’s appropriate for someone belted by gamma rays.  Ain’t he unglamorous?  Glamorous or not, it’s certainly a sharp sculpt, and well-suited to the body.  He includes the same torn shirt piece as the prior figure, which is the same set-up as before; it’s not super securely held in place or anything, but looks decent, and can be easily taken off if it’s not your speed.  In my review of the last Hulk, I remarked that his paintwork was surprisingly nuanced.  This figure is a step up even from that.  The skin tone still has some subtle variation to it, but he also gets some very impressive work on his pants, which have that proper broken-in denim appearance to them.  Hulk is armed with a crushed pipe, a fact that package proudly proclaims.  It’s admittedly a pretty fun piece.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When he was still rumored for a con-exclusive release, I didn’t pay this guy much mind, and I certainly wasn’t planning to jump through any hoops to get him.  When he made the shift to Fan Channel, and therefore became far easier to acquire, I was a much easier mark.  I went in with no real expectations, since he was never going to be my primary Hulk, but he’s honestly a pretty fun figure, and does some cool stuff that the prior release didn’t.

I picked up this guy from my friends All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2240: Wolverine – Street Clothes

WOLVERINE — STREET CLOTHES

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Outside of the X-Men, Wolverine often escapes form the pressure of being a super hero by slipping into his secret identity, Logan. Unfortunately, trouble always seems to find Wolverine even when he’s out of costume! Still, uniform or not, with his six adamantium claws and one bad attitude, Wolverine has a way of taking care of just about any problem which comes his way!”

Two years into Toy Biz’s X-Men line, getting a new Wolverine was practically a clockwork affair.  Marvel made Toy Biz’s job fairly easy at first, since he had a whole assortment of reasonable costume changes to take advantage of.  By Series 6, they were definitely running thin on valid variants, though (hence that assortment’s Wolverine technically not being a Wolverine).  Fortunately, they did still manage to squeeze out a few more sensible variants before descending into completely made-up nonsense.  Today’s figure is one of those “sensible variants,” depicting Logan in civilian attire, as he was frequently seen in the comics.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Street Clothes Wolverine was released in Series 7 of Toy Biz’s X-Men line, and was proudly marked as the “7th Edition” of Wolverine.  The figure stands just over 5 inches tall and he has 8 points of articulation.  He misses out on the usual elbow articulation due to his action feature, which I’ll touch on in just a moment.  Wolverine’s sculpt was all-new to him and would remain unique, never being used for any other figures.  And that’s really the best thing to be said about it, that it was never used again, because boy is it not one of Toy Biz’s stronger offerings.  By this point in the line, Toy Biz was actually starting to get the hang of that whole sculpting thing, so the fact that this Wolverine ends up so rudimentary and backwards is a little bit of a surprise.  This guy was in the same assortment as Ch’od!  That sculpt was awesome and fairly naturally posed.  This one?  Well, natural certainly doesn’t describe how he looks.  Let’s start with the head.  Of all the unmasked Wolverines that Toy Biz produced, this one’s got to be one of the least intimidating takes they presented.  He just ends up looking a little lost and bemused.  He’s also got those dopey looking super straight arms.  The illustration on the back of the box shows the arms having a slight bend to them, but there’s nothing of the sort on the final product, which makes the whole upper torso feel rather stiff.  The arms are of course like this thanks to the claw-popping feature.  We had last seen in on Wolverine I, where it honestly worked a fair bit better.  This just really didn’t hold to it.  Even the detailing on this figure seems rather soft compared to others in the same set, with most of the figure being very smooth and without texture.  Comparing the jacket on this figure to the one on the Rogue from the same assortment is like night and day.  Hers looks sleek and sharp and cool; his just looks puffy.  His paint work is alright, I guess.  Nothing amazing, but they did manage to keep his usual colors in the mix, and he doesn’t look any more awful than the sculpt already has him looking.  Street Clothes Wolverine included no accessories.  What, not even a goofy, out of place gun?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As a kid, I didn’t have this figure, but my cousin did.  It wasn’t one of my favorites.  Or one of his favorites.  Or one of anyone’s favorites, I’d wager.  Mine was fished out of a bin of loose figures a few years ago, alongside some other X-Men figures.  He’s not great.  That’s about the most I can muster.  Like, he’s not actively bad, so I can’t really say I hate him, but boy is he just uninspiring.

#2234: Bullseye

BULLSEYE

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“A former soldier with perfect aim, Bullseye never misses his mark. From the early days of his career as a costumed criminal, the ruthless assassin has set his sights most often on a single target – Daredevil, the Man Without Fear. Any object – be it pencil, playing card or paper clip – becomes a deadly weapon in the skilled hands of the man who could be the world’s greatest assassin!”

Daredevil has a wonky history with villains.  His most prominent foe, the Kingpin, wasn’t even his villain to start with.  On the flipside, a lot of foes originally introduced in his book would end up getting grabbed by other heroes in the Marvel universe.  He just doesn’t get true claim to anything!  Well, he actually does get full claim to today’s entry, Bullseye, who first appeared in Daredevil’s book in ’76, and has remained attached to the character ever since.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Bullseye was released in the 9th Series of Marvel Legends from Toy Biz, a series notable for being the first ever Build-A-Figure centered series of Legends.  Bullseye was one of the two figures in the line-up to get a variant release as well.  The standard release was sporting a pouty closed mouth look, while his variant had a mad grin.  It was…an odd choice, especially given the more drastically different variant from the same series.  The figure stands just over 6 inches tall and he has 48 points of articulation.  That’s a very high count of articulation, and includes individually articulated fingers.  Toy Biz was definitely articulation mad at this point.  Bullseye was the first figure to use his mold, but he would be far from the last; Toy Biz quickly retooled it into a base body, and it was still in use by Hasbro as late as 2015’s Allfather Series Iron Fist. A decade of use isn’t a bad run.  While it wound up looking rather dated by the end of its run, it was one of Toy Biz’s stronger sculpts…at least the base body, anyway.  The Bullseye-specific parts were a little more of a mixed bag.  The boots and gloves are pretty solid sculpts, but the head on both versions of the figure ended up being too large to properly scale with the rest of the body.  The prototype shots looked fine, so it was clearly some sort of error that cropped up during production.  It’s a shame, because he ends up looking a little goofier than intended because of it.  The two versions of Bullseye had divergent paint schemes, which both had their pluses and minuses.  The standard is a more strict white and black scheme, with just a little bit of accenting to make some parts pop.  However, they slightly messed up the gloves, Leaving the top stripe black instead of white, despite how it’s sculpted.  The variant fixed this issue, but swap out the white and black for a light grey and a gunmetal grey, which, while not a *terrible* look, isn’t nearly as striking as the standard scheme.  Unfortunately, due to the size of the included BaF parts for this line-up, the individual figures went without any figure-specific extras.  He included the left leg of Galactus, as well as a reprinted copy of Daredevil #132, Bullseye’s first appearance.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Both versions of Bullseye were a little tricky to get at first.  I got the standard first, courtesy of finding an untouched case of figures at the local KB Toys.  I was all content to just have that version, but in a bit of luck a few months later happened to find a whole pile of both Series 9 variants hidden at my nearby Walmart.  I like both figures for different reasons, but

#2231: Daredevil & Kingpin

DAREDEVIL & KINGPIN

MARVEL MINIMATES

Despite the general “lower tier” nature of the first series of Marvel Minimates‘ character selection, at least in terms of the corners of the universe they chose to focus on, there’s no denying that within the theme itself, they did go for a pretty heavy-hitter assortment.  We got both halves of the Hulk persona, plus Daredevil with perhaps his two best know supporting cast members.  Elektra was packed with DD’s first costume, but his standard reds were packed with long-time foe Wilson Fisk, aka the Kingpin!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Daredevil and Kingpin were the final two-pack in Series 1 of Marvel Minimates.  Kingpin would remain exclusive to the specialty pack-outs (at least for the first year of the line), while Daredevil was available in TRU’s Boxed Sets assortment, as well as by himself in the Shop-Ko-exclusive singles assortment.

DAREDEVIL

Daredevil’s all-red attire fairly quickly replaced his somewhat gawdy yellow number, and quickly became his go-to look for quite a few years.  By 2003, there had been an attempt to replace it, but it was back to being his main look once again.  The figure uses the original Marvel base-body (long feet and all), so he’s 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  From a construction standpoint, he and the Yellow Daredevil are identical, both using the same mask and belt add-on pieces.  They were definitely solid pieces, especially for the more simplified aesthetic of early ‘mates.  Red DD’s paint work is comparatively far less complex, since he’s mostly just molded in the appropriate red.  They do mix things up a little bit by giving him at least some cursory detailing on the boots and gloves, and he’s got the same full face under the mask.  He includes the same billy clubs as Yellow, but in red this time around.

KINGPIN

Beginning as a Spider-Man foe before being adopted as Daredevil’s arch-nemesis, Kingpin was a pretty natural inclusion here, and ended up as the only version of the character in the line for almost a decade.  Of all the ‘mates at launch, he’s probably the one that strays the furthest from the standard Minimate form, getting a rather large add-on piece for his torso, in order to properly capture his size.  This means that he ends up far more properly scaled than Hulk from the same assortment, and is probably one of the main things that kept him acceptable for mixing with later ‘mates for quite so long.  In addition to the torso, he also got a unique pair of hands.  The right holds a cigar, while the second is sporting an impressive gold ring.  The paintwork on Fisk is surprisingly involved, with by far the most detailed face of the first series, plus actual pin-stripes on his legs.  Kingpin was packed with a curved cane, which seems a little simpler than Fisk’s usual fare, but is a cool extra nonetheless.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Though I got the other two sets when they were brand new, it was another five or six years before I finally added this pair to my collection, courtesy of a friend who found them while she was doing some cleanout of her house.  I don’t really know why it took me as long as it did to get them, but I was happy to finally have them at the time.  Ultimately, there are improved versions of both figures in this set, so neither is truly essential.  That said, they do round out the collection nicely, and cap off the first series of the line very well.

#2229: Punisher War Machine

PUNISHER WAR MACHINE

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“After the fall of War Machine, Frank Castle acquires the highly-weaponized armor and makes it his own.”

Hey, that’s actually a pretty succinct summation of the character in that bio.  Good for Hasbro!  Punisher War Machine is a pretty straight forward concept: you put Frank Castle in the War Machine armor, and boom, there it is.  It’s not like you need a ton of explanation, and quite frankly, it was one of the less out there change-ups to the Punisher status quo.  Guy’s been a freaking Frankenstien; this is nothing.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  It’s not “nothing,” it’s actually a pretty great marketing opportunity, as well as a pretty easy variant for toy makers.  On the high end, we’ve got a Hot Toys version on the way, and on the low end we’ve also got the Legends treatment.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Punisher War Machine is another Fan Channel-exclusive Marvel Legends offering, and is in fact the second version of Frank Castle to be offered in this assortment of figures.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 31 points of articulation.  After getting a few new pieces, even though they may have been minor, this Punisher returns to the straight repaint style for the line-up.  He’s a straight repaint of the surprisingly under-utilized Mk003 War Machine mold from Civil War.  Previously, the mold only got released in a Target-exclusive two-pack, which is a bit surprising given that it was all-new at the time.  The armor isn’t a perfect match for the armor Frank grabbed in the comics; that one was more patterned on the design from IM2, with maybe a bit of AoU thrown in.  I’d guess that it came down to mold availability; the IM2 molds are probably hard to access at this point, and I doubt if anyone really wants a fourth release of the Mk002 mold.  This one is close enough, and honestly one of Hasbro’s best WM molds, at least prior to the Endgame release.  There’s a little bit of limitation to what you can do with the articulation, and the guns, baton, and cannon don’t stay in place quite as securely as I’d like.  Also, he’s from before they got on board with standardizing neck pegs, so his joint’s too small to work with any of the Frank Castle heads (the one I shot for this review is just resting in place).   Overall, though, he’s a very workable figure.  It’s definitely the  slickest War Machine sculpt Hasbro’s produced, and it holds up well even a few years later.  The paintwork on this figure is, of course, where all of the actual changes are.  He’s not terribly far removed from the standard War Machine layout, but gets Frank’s usual skull insignia on the front, plus a few other skulls littered throughout the armor as a kill count.  He also has a little more wear and tear represented than the prior release, showing how hard on the armor Frank’s been.  The only real complaint I have is that they’ve left the helmet pretty much alone, when it should really be sporting a white skull motif on the face plate.  It does undersell the Punisher bit a little.  This figure has the same accessories as the last release of the mold, so he gets a fully engaged version of the baton and an extra set of hands in gripping poses.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like I said in my review of the Endgame War Machine, I never picked up the Civil War figure, and I was always a little regretful of that.  So, I was pretty happy when I found out that this figure would be using the mold, thereby allowing me to add it to my collection.  I’m not the world’s biggest Punisher fan or the world’s biggest War Machine fan, but I can appreciate a lot about this figure.  Ultimately, I’m pretty happy with him.

Punisher War Machine was purchased from my sponsors over at All Time Toys.  If your looking for other Legends or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2228: X-Force Deathlok

X-FORCE DEATHLOK

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“The X-Force joins forces with a rogue Deathlok unit to face an army of Deathlok cyborgs.”

Hasbro’s Fan Channel exclusives for Legends began as a few one-off figures and quickly evolved into what essentially is a series of its own, just split up into single releases.  The defining element amongst them is relying heavily on parts re-use, which has certainly led to some eclectic choices.  Who would have thought that we would one day be able to say you could choose between three different Marvel Legends Deathlok figures?  Certainly not me, but hey, here we are.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

X-Force Deathlok is one of the later announcements for the Fan Channel-exclusive Legends releases, and is probably the most odd-ball and out there.  Others were either heavy hitter characters or tweaks of difficult to acquire figures from earlier in the line.  Deathlok is neither of those, being c-list at best, and with a figure released just over a year ago that’s hardly difficult to come by.  Whatever the case, he got another figure.  I guess it’s that X-Force tie; it makes everything easier to sell.  Whatever the case, this figure is based on “Deathlok Prime” from Rick Remender’s run on X-Force, who is apparently a distinct-ish character from previous Deathloks.  How about that?  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and has 32 points of articulation.  Structurally, this figure is about 99% identical to the previous Deathlok.  The only change between the two is a slight re-working on the upper torso to change the flag on the original to the X-logo seen here.  Beyond that, the two figures are the same.  Honestly, that’s not a bad thing, because it was a great sculpt then, and it’s still a great sculpt now.  The paint marks the real change-ups for this figure.  He goes from the slightly more colorful classic Deathlok to the standard stealthy X-Force colors, but also improves a some of the apps on the exposed skin of the face, giving him a more proper zombified appearance.  Deathlok gets the same two guns as his prior release, pretty much the same in deco, apart from the ammo belt becoming a translucent yellow.  He also gets the shotgun-style rifle from Bishop, which is a solid addition to his arsenal.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I really liked the first release of the mold, and I do dig the X-Force sub-set we’ve been getting throughout the last year.  I like having another chance to appreciate this guy, and he’s honestly pretty fun, even if there’s not a lot new going on with him.

Deathlok came from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for other Legends, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2217: Bruce Banner & Hulk

BRUCE BANNER & HULK

MARVEL MINIMATES

The very first assortment of Marvel Minimates is perhaps a bit odd-ball when looking back on things.  No Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, or even X-Men.  Nope, it’s two sets of Daredevil and one set of Hulk.  Why this particular line-up for the debut?  Well, the first series of Marvel Minimates hit in the summer of 2003.  Do you know what else hit in 2003?  Movies for both Daredevil and Hulk, and though those films may not be looked back on particularly fondly these days, they did make their title characters recognizable to a general audience, thereby making them a moderately reasonable starting point.  Today, I’m looking at the slight outlier of the line-up, the one Hulk pack in the lot, pairing off both the Hulk and his human alter-ego, Bruce Banner.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Bruce Banner and Hulk were, as noted above, part of the first series of Marvel Minimates.  It’s worth noting that the numbering was really little more than clerical on the first three series of the line, with all of them hitting pretty much at the same time, but nevertheless, these guys were technically among the first.

BRUCE BANNER

Alter-egos were popular fodder for the early ‘mates, with Hulk, Spider-Man, and Wolverine all getting their civilian counterparts right out of the gate.  Banner makes the most sense, I suppose, though, since he’s so visually different, and the internal struggle between the two halves is so important to the story.  While Bruce has had a lot of different appearances over the years, this one opts for something more in line with how he looked on the cover of his first appearance, with glasses and a lab coat.  It’s certainly a bit more visually interesting than just plain civilian clothes.  The figure uses the old-style ‘mate body, complete with long feet, so he stands roughly 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  He’s got two add-on pieces: one for his hair/glasses, and one for his jacket.  The hair/glasses combo is different from how things would be handled later, since glasses tend to just be printed on the faces now.  Additionally, the glasses are opaque, which gives him a very different, far more stylized appearance than later figures.  I myself have always been a pretty big fan of this look.  The jacket’s a little on the bulky side, but if you don’t like it, the shirt and the arms are both white, so you can remove it without it looking too weird.  Banner’s paintwork is rather simple, with some detailing for his face, his tie on his shirt (complete with tie clip), and a belt buckle on his pelvis.  Banner included no accessories.

HULK

Definitely the selling point of this set, and honestly the more dated of the two offerings.  Hulk represents the old style of doing things, back when ‘mates were still firmly planted on the philosophy of using the least amount of extra parts possible for each figure.  For larger characters, such as Hulk and Venom, this left them looking…kinda small.  Compared to Hulk, puny Banner wasn’t very puny.  Hulk’s only add-on was his hair piece, which is a decent enough part, although it does come off a lot, since the pegs weren’t implemented until Series 8 of the line.  It’s simple, but feels classically Hulk.  His paint is a little more involved than Banner, with detailing on the front and back of his torso, as well as remnants of his torn shirt running all along the sides of his pelvis, and torn legs to his pants running along the shins.  The feet and lower legs are painted green, rather than molded, which looks noticeably of a different shade.  Also, for some reason, the shade of purple on the pants is different between Hulk and Banner, something I never really understood.  Like Banner, Hulk had no accessories.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When my dad brought home the Yellow Daredevil and Elektra set for me back in 2003, he also brought with him a Hulk and Banner set for my younger brother, which gave me a taste of the set.  I would eventually get a pack of my own as a birthday present from some family friends that same year.  I still have those two, but they’re a little worse for wear these days, so I actually picked up a replacement set when All Time got in a Minimate collection a few months ago.  If I’m honest, the Hulk in this set never did a lot for me, but conversely the Banner has always been one of my favorites from the early line up.

#2213: Bishop

BISHOP

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Accidentally wrenched back through several decades by the time-twisting evil mutant named Fitzroy, Bishop arrived in our era from one of Earth’s many possible futures. Bishop survived the battle that followed, thanks to his mutant ability to absorb the energy attacks of others and turn that power back against his foes. Stranded in our time, Bishop has added his might to that of the present-day X-Men by joining their Gold Team!”

The X-Men really just became a haven for displaced time-travelers, didn’t they?  Also guys with vague, unrelated “cool” names that were just common place words, and whose abilities translated to “has a gun”.  All of these things nicely describe Bishop, an uber ’90s character, who could only be more ’90s if he wore a leather jacket and had shoulder pads.  I suppose he got off easy in that regard.  Bishop was prominent enough in the ’90s to feature on X-Men: The Animated Series, and by extension find his way into Toy Biz’s line of X-Men figures from the same period, getting what would be his very first action figure.  I’ll be taking a look at that figure today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Bishop was initially released as part of Series 4 of the X-Men line, and would see subsequent re-release in the Marvel Universe line and as part of a multi-pack with Wolverine and Gambit.  All three releases of the figure are functionally identical, but it’s worth noting that mine is a Series 4 release.  Bishop is sporting his primary look from the ’90s, which was the only one he had at the time of the figure’s release.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 9 points of articulation.  Though he’s rocking a waist swivel, he loses movement in his neck, presumably due to his hair.  Curiously, though, the Deluxe 10-inch figure and 2 1/2-inch Steel Mutants figure that are both patterned on the same sculpt both had a neck joint, so why it was missing from this guy is anyone’s guess.  Beyond that, the sculpt is fairly typical for the time.  He’s super bulky, but that’s just Bishop.  I will say that they were starting to run into the limits of this slightly simpler style of elbow joint they used, since it’s a little small for such a large arm.  It works overall, though.  The detailing on the hair is pretty nice, and definitely does his very dated hair cut proud.  Bishop’s paintwork is fairly basic, and a little bit messy on my figure.  There’s a lot of fuzzy edges, and the yellow sections are definitely prone to some serious bleedover.  In 1996, Bishop was also re-issued as part of the “Flashback” assortment, which was all repaints.  For that release, his blue was swapped for grey and black, and his yellow for gold, and his skintone was made somewhat lighter.  There was a second, predominantly red deco also shown, but it never hit shelves.  Whatever the case, the paint is a little cleaner on that release, but of course the trade off is that he’s not in his classic colors any more.  Whichever release you get, Bishop included two large blaster rifles in black, and features a “Quick-Draw Weapon Release” action feature.  Press the button on his back and his right arm swings upward.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t have Bishop as a kid, largely because his episodes of the cartoon were some of my least favorite, so I never formed much of an enjoyment of the character.  That said, I really dig the ’90s X-Men line and I’m slowly working through building a complete collection, which meant getting this guy at some point, right?  I found both versions of Bishop at a toy show a while back, allowing me to close off that corner of the X-Mythos in one fell swoop, I suppose.  He’s not really one of the better Toy Biz X-Men, but then he’s far from the worst.  He fills in the roster pretty nicely.

#2211: Punisher

PUNISHER

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Frank Castle takes to the streets and delivers brutal vigilante justice as The Punisher.”

I haven’t reviewed a Punisher figure in over a year, which on one hand seems a little weird, but on the other hand is surprisingly frequent for a character I owned exactly one figure of for the first 20 years of my collecting.  Classically, I wasn’t much of a fan of the character.  It wasn’t until he was introduced in Netflix’s Daredevil show that I truly started to appreciate the character. Since then, I’ve gotten quite a few more Punishers, including today’s offering, another Marvel Legends release.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Punisher is another Fan Channel-exclusive Marvel Legends release.  Interestingly, it’s one of two Frank Castles to be included in the Fan Channel line-up of figures, the other being the Punisher War Machine. This one goes for a more gritty, urban look for the character.  Not being super familiar with the character’s comic exploits, I don’t know if it’s a reference to a specific look, or just a slightly more real-world adaptation of his usual design.  It’s a cool look whatever it is.  The figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 30 points of articulation.  While the previous Fan Channel figure have been pretty straight re-decos, Punisher mixes things up a little bit, not by being a new figure, but rather by being a mix of a number of prior figures.  He uses the torso and legs of the Netfilx Punisher, the arms from Scourge, the heads from the Walgreens Punisher, and the vest from the RoML Ultimate Captain America.  It all adds up to a fairly tactical looking take on Frank, especially depending on which head you opt to go with.  I personally feel that if you ditch the vest and give him the head with the headband, he looks a bit like he’s going for a Solid Snake cosplay, which I have no issues with at all.  The paintwork for this guy is rather involved, with camo on the pants, and a rather distressed skull on the torso.  The two heads also get two very different paint schemes.  The slicked back hair head gets skull-styled face paint to match the torso, which is fun, while the headband head gets some serious bags under his eyes, and some pretty intense scruff, making it look like he’s been going for a while.  Of the two I prefer the headband myself, but I love having two diverse options.  In addition to having the two different heads, Punisher is also packed with an assault rifle, a handgun, and a sniper rifle.  All of them are re-used, but they’re pretty nice, and he actually has an easier time holding his weapons than a lot of prior figures.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

In a similar fashion to yesterday’s Wolverine, I wasn’t really sure I needed to get this figure when he was first shown off.  The other Fan Channel figures are a little more on the exciting side, and this guy also had the misfortune of arriving alongside Havok, who definitely got most of the attention.  That being said, I did still like the concept on this guy, and the exectution’s definitely a lot of fun.  I’ve still got a soft spot for that spandex look, but there’s no denying that this is a cool look for Frank.

I picked up this guy from my friends All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.