#1367: Falcon

THE FALCON

MARVEL SUPER HEROES: SECRET WARS (MATTEL)

“Transported to a strange planet by a force from beyond the universe, earth’s deadliest villains try to destroy the Marvel Super Heroes – as they fight the Secret Wars through the use of secret messages!”

Before Toy Biz came along and gave us just about every single Marvel character under the sun in the ‘90s, there was a very eclectic selection of Marvel characters available in toy format.  Major characters went completely figureless for years.  And yet, in the chaos of pre-Toy Biz Marvel stuff, somehow The Falcon, a relatively minor character until very recently, wound up with not one, but two whole figures.  I’ll be looking at the second of those, courtesy of Mattel’s Secret Wars line.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Falcon was released in the second series of Marvel Super Heroes: Secret Wars, alongside the previously reviewed Daredevil, Black Costume Spider-Man, and Baron Zemo.  As with DD and Zemo, Falcon is another character in the line who wasn’t present in the maxi-series at all.  Not sure why they went with so many non-series stars, but if it gets me a Falcon figure, I won’t complain.  The figure stands about 4 1/2 inches tall and has 7 points of articulation, counting the wings.  He’s built on the same basic body as most of the line, at least for the torso and legs, anyway.  His arms are from Captain America, and his head was an all-new sculpt.  The head is sort of iffy.  I think part of the problem is that he’s the only Secret Wars figure to incorporate hair, and Mattel clearly wasn’t up to hair in terms of sculpting prowess.  He’s also rather wide, and somewhat nondescript.  The standard torso’s been tweaked slightly to allow for the attachment of his wings.  The wings don’t really follow the usual layout for Falcon; his wings have classically been attached to his arms, but these are purely attached to his back, sticking straight out like Angel or Hawkman’s wings.  I find it doesn’t look as cool as his traditional look, but doing them the right way wouldn’t have really been possible given the constraints of the base body.  The paint on Falcon is about on par with the rest of the line, which is to say it’s passable, but far from stellar.  The colors sort of run together, I find, and for whatever reason his shoes are the same color as his skin.  He’s also missing any detailing on the eyes, which comes across as incredibly cheap and lazy in my opinion.  Also, like all of the other figures I’ve looked at, this guy’s exhibiting some rather noticeable paint wear, a symptom of the lower quality paint that was used.  The worst of it’s the missing spot on the nose, which is a little frustrating, but far from horrible.  He was originally packed with his sidekick Redwing, as well as one of the goofy lenticular shields.  Mine has neither, but I can’t really say I’m hurting for either piece.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Falcon is a figure that’s eluded me for quite some time.  Cosmic Comix got one in about a decade ago, which I wanted to get, but decided to come back for later.  Sadly, he was gone when I got back, and not long after I discovered that he’s actually one of the rarer releases from the line.  I was able to finally track him down, courtesy of Heywood Comics in Asheville, NC.  He’s not in perfect condition, but he’s decent enough that I’m happy with him.  The figure’s not one of Mattel’s stronger offerings, but I can’t say he’s out of place with this line.  He could be worse.

#1231: Baron Zemo

BARON ZEMO

MARVEL SUPER HEROES: SECRET WARS (MATTEL)

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Mattel’s Marvel Super Heroes: Secret Wars is a strange beast.  It’s one of the earliest examples of true cross-media promotion when it came to action figures and comics, since Marvel essentially created a giant cross-over event out of whole cloth simply to give Mattel a slightly easier time of marketing the toys.  But then, Mattel, being Mattel, went and made some really odd choices.  Despite Marvel purposely filling the comic with many of their heaviest hitting heroes and villains, and wrapping them in a neat and tidy package with a bow, Mattel’s character choices for the series are beyond odd.  Sure, there are the clear hits like Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man and Wolverine, but Marvel mainstays like the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and the Hulk were absent, while many minor and in some cases rather recent additions to the Marvel ‘verse were released, despite playing no part in the actual comic Mattel specifically requested to have as a tie-in.  One such character was Baron Helmut Zemo.  The character was not a part of the Secret Wars event, and though he had appeared back in 1973, he had only taken on the Baron Zemo identity seen here in ’82, just two years prior to this figure’s release.  He wouldn’t even truly become a major player in the Marvel universe until three years later, during The Avengers “Under Siege” story arc.  An odd choice.  Still, he got the figure, and now, 33 years later, it feels a little less odd to have a Zemo figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

zemosw2Baron Zemo was released in the second series of the Marvel Super Heroes: Secret Wars line.  As noted above and like everyone else in the series (barring the Black Costumed Spider-Man), he played no part in the Secret Wars maxi-series.  Interestingly, though this figure is clearly meant to be Helmut, the second Baron Zemo, and the back of the package lists his identity as such, the short comic on the back of the box presents a Zemo that far more resembles Heinrich, Helmut’s father.  This was hardly the only discrepancy of this nature in this line, of course.  The figure stands about 4 1/2 inches tall and has 5 points of articulation.  Unlike Daredevil and Spider-Man, who’s presence in this line-up seems to have mostly been due to the low number of new parts needed, Zemo actually got an impressive selection of new parts.  The torso is the same basic piece seen on several of the other figures I’ve looked at, but the arms, legs, head, and belt add-on were all unique to this figure.  The new pieces of course are all still victim to the very simplistic style of this line, but Zemo looks passable enough.  There’s some mild texturing on the fur bits, and the folds on the sleeves are rather believable.  The head looks to just bee a slightly re-worked Spider-Man head, but that’s actually not an unfair re-tooling.  A basic masked head is a basic masked head.  In terms of paintwork, I suppose Mattel can have points for effort on this guy, but that’s as far as I’m willing to go.  The colors are okay, but the contrast between the mask and the jumpsuit is not as drastic as it should be.  There’s quite a bit of slot, and fuzzy lines all over the place.  Similar to what we saw on Daredevil, the black detail lines seem to start and stop wherever they please, with little regard to aesthetics.  His neck, for instance, has no details, making for a jarring break from the face and the shoulders.  Likewise, the lines have a clear break above his headpiece, which has the unintended effect of making him look like he’s got a bit of a receding hairline.  For accessories, Zemo was given one of the blasters included with Dr. Doom, as well as, what else, a goofy lenticular shield, like the ones included with every other figure in the line.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

You know how I keep claiming I never intended to really collect this line?  I think I’ve officially lost the battle, because this is the first figure I’ve bought with no real rationalization.  I got Iron Man because it was the only way to get the classic armor at the time.  Wolverine was $1.  Cap was because I like the character, and wanted him to go with Tony.  Doom and Kang were cheap.  Daredevil and Spider-Man were gifts.  Zemo?  I bought Zemo because I wanted to buy Zemo.  I picked him up from Yesterday’s Fun during the holiday season.  He’s the most I’ve ever personally spent on a Secret Wars figure (which, to be fair, was still a lot less than I’ve paid for most of my Super Powers figures).  Zemo’s what I’ve come to expect from this line: a slightly sub-par figure with a disproportionate amount of charm.  The average collector might not get a lot out of him, but to a hardcore collector like myself, there’s some nice history. 

#1138: Daredevil

DAREDEVIL

MARVEL SUPER HEROES: SECRET WARS (MATTEL)

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When you’re talking Marvel Super Heroes action figures (or really action figures from the big two in general.  Or even just licensed action figures in general), the first major blip on the radar was Mego’s World’s Greatest Super Heroes line.  That line gave us our first figures of a number of Marvel’s best known characters.  However, there were a number of characters who found themselves left out of the whole action figure thing until the second blip on the Marvel action figures radar, Mattel’s Secret Wars line.  One such character was Daredevil, a character who has recently come into a fair bit of popularity on his own.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

ddsw2Daredevil was released in Series 2 of the Marvel Super Heroes: Secret Wars line.  This was his very first action figure, but it’s kind of amusing to see him crop up in this line, given that he wasn’t present for the actual comic series it was based on (don’t worry, he was in good company; none of the Series 2 figures but the Symbiote Spider-Man were from the comic).  One presumes that his presence in the line over any of the many characters who were actually there has more to do with his relative lack of new pieces than anything else.  The figure is roughly 4 1/2 inches tall and has the same 5 points of articulation that all of the other Secret Wars figures had.  Daredevil uses the standard male body, with only a unique head sculpt to set him apart from the rest of the line.  It’s a pretty good sculpt, though the neck does seem just a touch too long for the body.  Still, the actual head is a pretty good rendition of ol’ Hornhead, so I can’t really complain.  Also, like Spider-Man, Daredevil’s already rather simple design means he’s not a bad fit for the admittedly doughy base body.  Daredevil, like so many of the other figures in this line, relied heavily on paint, and, just like all those other figures, he’s also rather letdown by said paint.  I mean, it’s not awful.  They molded him in a decent red, and what’s there is pretty sharp.  The problem is, what’s there isn’t all that much.  He gets the logo, his lower face, and then the front third of his belt, the front quarter of each boot, and the outward quarter of each glove (which is inexplicably up at his elbow).  Why they only gave him part of each glove and boot is beyond me, and it ends up looking really strange.  Couldn’t they just finish those lines?  Or, if they were really being that cheap, just leave those lines off entirely?  Also, just like his companions, Daredevil’s paint is very prone to wearing off, as you can tell by the state of my figure’s nose.  Daredevil was packed with his usual billy club, and, of course, the weird holographic shield thing that every figure in the line had.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Geez Ethan, for someone who swears he’s not trying to collect this line, you do seem to have quite a lot of them, don’t you?  Yeah, weird voice in my head, I do.  This one’s not my fault, though, I swear.  This is another addition to my collection courtesy of my Super Awesome Girlfriend, who bought him for me from Yesterday’s Fun over the summer.  I gotta say, as many issues as there are with this figure, I really find myself liking him.  And really this line in general.  Yep, I think I’m gonna end up with this whole line.  Crap.

#1125: Spider-Man – Black Costume

SPIDER-MAN – BLACK COSTUME

MARVEL SUPER HEROES: SECRET WARS (MATTEL)

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It’s a rare occasion for a character to have not one, but two of the best known looks in comics under his belt, but that’s the case with everyone’s favorite web-head, Spider-Man.  His original design is clearly his best known, and the one that most people will associate with him.  But, in 1984, Marvel decided to give him a new design.  Coming out of their (toyline tie-in) Secret Wars maxi-series, they introduced a new, black and white costume.*  Obviously, it was never going to replace the original, but it did stick around for a surprising amount of time.  It’s also made quite a few reappearances in comics and other media adaptations, and even gotten spun off into a totally new character, because, let’s face it, it’s a badass design.  Due to the aforementioned badassery of the design, it’s also shown up more than a few times in action figure form.  Today, I’ll be looking at the very first one ever released.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

symbiotespideysw2Spider-Man was released as part of the second series of Mattel’s Marvel Super Heroes: Secret Wars line.  He was the second version of Spider-Man in the line (following Series 1’s standard Spidey), and it should be noted, he’s the only repeat character that the line produced.  The figure stands about 4 1/2 inches tall and has 5 points of articulation.  Structurally speaking, he’s the exact same figure as his Series 1 counterpart, which in turn means he’s very similar to just about every other figure in the line, for good or for bad.  This means the general quality of the sculpt is rather on the soft side.  In their defense on this particular figure (oh my gosh, I’m defending Mattel.  Kill me now), it’s not like the are a lot of really sharp details that should be present.  A generally smooth sculpt is the way to go.  Why Spider-Man is sporting the same build as Captain America and Iron Man is a different question entirely, though.  Spidey gets his own set of legs. You can tell because there’s sort of a pre-posed nature to them. He’s doing some sort of brisk walk or maybe a lunge.  I’m not really sure.  Also, his right arm seems a bit longer than the left.  It’s weird.  All that being said, the overall appearance of the figure’s not bad.  Even his paint’s not awful, although that’s mostly by virtue of the design being rather simple.  It’s worth noting that he’s missing the white blocks on the backs of his hands, admittedly a minor detail, but missing nonetheless.  Also, his logo rather abruptly stops for about 1/4 of an inch on his sides before starting on the back, which is a little weird looking.  And, as with so many Secret Wars figures, the paint is incredibly prone to wear.  Spidey’s only accessory was the big, goofy lenticular shield that every figure included.  His was bright red, because why bother to match the figure, right?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Okay, you know how I kick off this section of every Secret Wars review by swearing up and down that I’m not trying to collect this line?  Yeah, you can scratch that on this guy.  He’s a figure I’ve been eying up for some time, mostly due to the coolness factor of the costume.  He ended up being purchased for me by my Super Awesome Girlfriend, who picked him up this summer from Yesterday’s Fun.  I know I’m down on Mattel, and I’ve never been particularly kind to their Secret Wars figures, but this guy is very possibly the strongest entry from the line.  Yeah, he still showcases many of the same problems that plagued pretty much every single figure in the line, but if you view him as his own, standalone figure, he’s not awful.  He’s almost kind of charming.

#0957: Kang

KANG

MARVEL SUPER HEROES SECRET WARS (MATTEL)

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Yesterday, I said that Doctor Doom was the greatest comicbook villain of all time. But, what about the second greatest comicbook villain? If I’m honest, I’d probably go with the focus of today’s review, Kang the Conqueror. Now, I’m sure at least some of my readers aren’t super familiar with Kang. Kang’s an old-school Avengers villain. He’s a guy from the future, who went all the way back to ancient Egypt, then decided to come to the present, and then eventually went back to the future, so that he could then come back to the present. It’s a little complicated. In his past he was both Rama Tut and Iron Lad, and in the future he becomes Immortus (another Avengers villain). The point is, he’s a lot of fun. He’s managed to get a surprising number of action figures over the years, but today I’ll be looking at his very first.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

KangSW2Kang is another figure from the first series of Mattel’s Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars line. He’s kind of an odd choice, truth be told. He’s not one of Marvel’s better known villains, and plays a very minor role in the tie-in comics. Still,I’m hardly going to complain about getting a Kang figure! He stands 4 ½ inches tall and has 5 points of articulation. Kang was built on the basic body for the line, with the arms from Iron Man (and Doctor Doom) and a unique head. The head is goofy, but not a terrible translation of his design from the comics. It’s not quite as good as some of the later Kang figures, but it doesn’t totally suck. It’s a little flat. The Iron Man arms are actually a pretty good fit, though Kang is usually depicted in a loose-fitting shirt in the comics. Kang also has an add-on piece for his belt/suspender thing, which works pretty decently for what it’s supposed to be. Kang’s paintwork isn’t super exciting. I mean, it’s accurate to his design, more or less, but it doesn’t do a whole lot to make it very exciting. The purple and green are both very dark and sort of run together. Also, the face is just straight light blue, with no variation, which looks kind of lazy. Kang included a blaster and yet another goofy lenticular shield.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got Kang at the same time as Doom (and, by extension, Bane), from a dealer at Balticon. My Dad actually bought a Kang about 15 years ago at a flea market, and I’ve sort of wanted my own ever since, though not enough to do any serious searching. But, for $2, he was definitely worth picking up. There have been better Kangs since this one, but this one’s still not bad!

#0956: Doctor Doom

DOCTOR DOOM

MARVEL SUPER HEROES SECRET WARS (MATTEL)

DoomSW1

If you asked me who I though the greatest super hero in comics was, I probably wouldn’t be able to give you a single answer. Maybe I could give like a list of five or so, but that’s the best I can do. The best super VILLAIN in comics, though? That’s easy. It’s Doctor Doom. No question. He’s as good as it gets, mostly because he doesn’t shy away from being an absurd comicbook caricature. He’s ridiculous, his plans are over the top and needlessly complicated, and he likes to speak in the third person a lot. He’s just a very fun character. Of course, movie makers decided that they could “improve” on that, resulting in two rather terrible live-action takes on the character, but I digress. Despite being the number one foe of the Fantasic Four, who were all represented in Mego’s World’s Greatest Super Heroes line, Victor Von Doom wouldn’t get his first action figure for another decade. I’ll be looking at that figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

DoomSW2Doctor Doom was released in the first series of Mattel’s Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars line. Doctor Doom has an interesting place in the line. He had a rather prominent role in the tie-in comic series produced by Marvel, but it’s worth noting that three of the four members of the Fantastic Four were also prominent in the series, yet Doom is the only FF-related character that the line released. Slightly odd if you ask me, but given how much of this line relied on using the same basic pieces for every figure, I guess Mattel just didn’t want to justify the costs of new molds for the likes of Sue or Ben.  Anyway, this figure stands 4 ½ inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation. Rather than going with the classic Doctor Doom design (because, hey, it had only been around for 20 years. Nobody was attached to it or anything), this figure gets a Mattel original design. It keeps a lot of the same basic cues as the usual Doom look, but gives him a more generic battle armor sort of look. To be fair, the design did appear in the comic tie-in towards the end, but I feel that was more to tie-in with the toy than working the other way around. Despite the line being mostly built on the same basic body, Doom actually uses none of the standard parts. That’s not to say he’s totally unique; he shares his arms and legs with Iron Man. Though Doom’s armor is usually not as sleek as Iron Man’s, but they’re close enough that it works alright. The right leg has been slightly tweaked to add a leg strap (apparently Doom was ahead of the ‘90s pouch craze), which works well enough. Doom has a unique head and torso, which are…decent? They don’t suck. There are even some fun little details, such as the jetpack on the back of the torso and the little rivets on the faceplate. Individually, they really aren’t bad, but they don’t work very together. The weirdest thing is the head, which has Doom’s signature hood, which ends rather abruptly. It’s almost as if it was sculpted to rest on top of some sort of cape piece, but no such piece was included. At one time, Doctor Doom had a rather complicated paint scheme on the torso, but Secret Wars figures are notorious for their paint wear, and this figure was no exception. As it stands, my figure’s only paint is on the head, for the eyes and mask, which are basic, but pretty well handled. Doctor Doom originally included two blasters and one of the wonky lenticular shields that all of the line’s figures had.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up Doctor Doom last weekend at Balticon. I got him from the same vendor’s table where I got Bane, so he was another $2 figure. Secret Wars really isn’t a line I saw myself getting very invested in, but I keep finding them for pretty good deals. Doom is probably the weakest figure I’ve looked at so far. He really shows off a lot of the line’s flaws, especially with the toy-original design. Still, he’s not the worst figure I’ve ever owned, and I like having him for the novelty.

#0939: Captain America

CAPTAIN AMERICA

MARVEL SUPER HEROES SECRET WARS (MATTEL)

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For about a decade now, Hasbro has held the Marvel license. At the same time, Mattel has held the DC license. However, for a short period of time, the licenses were actually reversed. Well, sort of. In the ‘80s, Kenner Toys (who were later purchased by Hasbro) held the DC license and produced the popular DC Super Powers line. At about the same time, Mattel was given the Marvel license, and produced the Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars line. It was nowhere near as successful as Super Powers, but it did manage to produce a few Marvel mainstays, including Captain America, who I’ll be looking at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

CapSW2Captain America was part of Series 1 of the Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars line. As noted in my Wolverine review, the line was designed to tie-in with the Secret Wars maxi-series being published by Marvel Comics (a series that was itself being published because Mattel had requested a comic they could more easily produce a tie-in for). Cap was one of three Avengers produced by the line, with the other two slots being filled by Iron Man and Falcon. The figure is about 4 ½ inches tall and he’s got 5 points of articulation. The Secret Wars line was built pretty heavily on parts re-use, but Cap only used the standard torso. His head, arms, and legs were all unique pieces (though the legs would later be used for the Europe-exclusive Iceman figure). They do a decent enough job of capturing Cap’s look, though, like just about every figure in the line, he’s rather devoid of detail. The Secret Wars figures had a physique that, to quote my friend Jill, “looks like dough.” On the plus side, the gloves and boots do showcase a bit more detail than was often seen in this line. Cap’s face is also appropriately heroic. I do have to wonder where his ears have gotten to, though. Cap’s paintwork is certainly bold, with all the proper colors. It’s not particularly exciting, if I’m honest. There’s not much beyond the most basic work, and even then, some areas still feel a bit phoned in: the belt is only present at the very front, and he only gets two red stripes on each side. There are also sloppy edges all over the place, and all of the painted details are notoriously prone to paint wear. Cap’s lone accessory was a shield. That might seem appropriate, but it’s not; rather than give him his actual shield, Mattel instead gave him a wonky lenticular shield, with the same secret identity revealing gimmick as seen with the rest of the line. Yes, Mattel actually made a figure of Captain America and didn’t give him his mighty shield. They went there.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Despite being an older figure, Cap is a relatively new acquisition. I found him at a rather cool antique store that I went to with my parents, just two weeks ago. Secret Wars has never been my thing, but there are a few figures I have an appreciation for, and Cap was one of them. Is he a fantastic figure? No, he’s really not. He’s kinda dopey, and he’s several steps behind what Kenner was doing at the same time with Super Powers. However, I must admit having an affinity for sort of dopey figures, so I find myself quite liking this guy.

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#0820: Wolverine

WOLVERINE

MARVEL SUPER HEROES SECRET WARS (MATTEL)

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I’ve no doubt that a number of people looked at yesterday’s review of the All-New, All-Different X-Men and thought to themselves: “Where’s Wolverine?” Well, the answer to that question is that Wolverine action figures were all over the place in the ‘90s, so Toy Biz felt he didn’t need to also be part of the set. But, who am I to ruin everyone’s fun? Let’s look at a Wolverine figure. In fact, let’s look at the very first Wolverine figure, from all the way back in 1984!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

WolverineSW2Wolverine was released as part of the first series of Mattel’s Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars line. The line was, of course, designed to tie-in with the Marvel’s Secret Wars comic (the first one!).  However, it was kind of a round-a-bout sort of tie-in, since the comic was actually published at Mattel’s request, because they wanted their toys to have a more direct tie-in. Thanks Mattel. Anyway, Wolverine was in the comic. So was the whole current roster of X-Men at the time, but he was the only one to get a figure from it. This was the true start of the “Wolverine publicity,” I suppose. Since it was 1984, Wolverine was sporting his spiffy brown costume, instead of his usually more known yellow and blue get-up. The figure stands 4 ½ inches tall and has 5 points of articulation. Like pretty much every Mattel line ever, Secret Wars was built on a hefty sum of parts re-use. Wolverine uses the basic arms and legs of the line, along with a unique head and a slightly larger torso piece, which he shared with Doctor Octopus and Hobgoblin. In general, the sculpt is rather on the soft side, with the exception of the soles of his boots, which are oddly well-defined. Of course, they’re only defined right at the base, so the tops don’t stick out from the sides like they should. The head isn’t anything particularly amazing, but it’s a decent enough likeness of Wolverine, and it certainly fits in with the rest of the body sculpt. The general proportions of the figure are fairly decent; the torso’s a bit on the flat side, but not terribly so. Most of this figure is carried by the paint job, since that’s where most of the character-specific elements come in. The paintwork is decent enough, and the colors are nice and bold (even if they did make him brown and yellow, instead of the proper brown and orange). There are some fuzzy edges, but nothing too bad. Wolverine was originally packed with a pair of snap-on claws (which came in either silver or black), and a lenticular shield thingy. Mine has neither of these, though.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, clearly I didn’t pick this figure up when it was new. Truth be told, Secret Wars was never a line I really thought about trying to track down, due to them lacking a lot of the quality of their contemporary, DC Super Powers, of which I am quite a fan. However, while at a small nick-knack shop on Small Business Saturday, my brother told me there was “some Wolverine figure” on one of the low-sitting shelves. It ended up being this guy, who was marked $1.99. For that price, I certainly wasn’t going to pass on a vintage figure in decent shape. There’s no denying that this figure is far from the quality of other lines from the same time period, but he’s a cool piece of history, and I’m happy to have him.