#1998: Sabretooth

SABRETOOTH

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Sabretooth is Wolverine’s greatest enemy. Both are products of the Top-Secret Weapon X program. But instead of using his super-sharp claws and fighting abilities for good, Sabretooth became the Evil Mutants’ master assassin! Sabretooth has the same powers as Wolverine, including a mutant healing ability. What makes Sabretooth so dangerous is the fact that he’s even more savage in battle than Wolverine! When the two of them fight, it’s anyone’s guess who will win.”

Despite his connection to Wolverine, Victor Creed, better known as Sabretooth, first appeared as a foe to Iron Fist.  Like fellow X-foe Mystique, he was an example of long-time X-scribe Chris Claremont spreading the love so to speak, and introducing characters he intended to use in X-Men in some of his other books.   Whatever his source, he’s been an enduring foe for Wolverine and the X-Men, and was at the height of his popularity alongside them in the ’90s, when he got his first action figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Sabretooth was released in Series 2 of Toy Biz’s X-Men line.  He’s based on Sabretooth’s original John Byrne-designed costume, which, interestingly enough, Sabretooth had just ditched in the comics at the time of this figure’s release.  The early line was kind of plagued with things like this, which is why characters had a tendency to show up a second time pretty quickly (Sabretooth’s second figure would arrive just three series later).  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 8 points of articulation.  Sabretooth lacked neck articulation, a surprisingly common phenomenon in the early years of the line.  Unlike other figures this happened to, Sabretooth doesn’t really have any specific gimmicks preventing a neck joint from being added, so I guess it was just a design thing.  Whatever the case, it’s a bit limiting on posing.  Sabretooth’s sculpt was unique to him.  It’s okay, but not really anything to write home about.  It leans closer to the weaker of the Series 1 sculpts than it does the stronger Series 2 sculpts.  The details are rather soft, especially on the face, the hair is rather oddly shaped, and the proportions are really on the scrawny side for a Sabretooth figure.  His paintwork is pretty basic; the standard colors are all handled decently.  The two shades of yellow for the fur and his hair are kind of close to each other, meaning they kind of blend together and look kind of odd.  Sabretooth was packed with this weird sort of claw thing to hold.  He also had an action feature, where the front plate of his stomach could be flipped back and forth.  One side is clean, while the other has claw marks, thereby simulating his healing factor.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

By the time I was collecting, this figure had vanished from shelves, replaced by his more cartoon-indicative second figure, so that was the one I had.  I picked this one up a couple of years ago second hand.  Part of his appeal was being the first copy of this guy I’d seen without horrible paint scraping on the eyes.  He’s not really a great figure…or even a particularly good figure.  I guess if you really like his original costume, that’s a plus, but it’s not even the best version of that costume on the market.

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#1983: Phoenix

PHOENIX

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“The embodiment of the life force of the universe itself, the mysterious Phoenix Entity merged with the telekinetic X-Man named Jean Grey, transforming her into Phoenix! As Phoenix, Jean possessed nearly unlimited telepathic and telekinetic abilities – but the scope of her powers overwhelmed, corrupted and eventually consumed her. But, in the manner of her namesake, Jean later rose from the ashes of her demise, alive once again!”

Jean Grey’s spot in the X-Men has long been a tricky one.  She was a founding member of the team, and stuck with them until the “All-New, All-Different” team took over in Giant-Size X-Men #1.  Jean only actually departed for four issues, before returning for a rematch with the Sentinels that ended in her gaining the powers of the Phoenix Force.  She then remained a major player until “The Dark Phoenix Saga” ended with Jean sacrificing herself to save the day…from herself.  Then, like some sort of mythological bird that I can’t remember the name of, she rose from the ashes a few years later.  From that point forward, she was still a prominent member of the team, but never quite seemed in phase with the rest of them.  This kind of reared its head in tie-in materials as well.  For the ’90s X-Men toyline, it took three years to get a single Jean Grey figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Phoenix was the central figure of the “Phoenix Saga” assortment, the eighth series of Toy Biz’s X-Men line.  The assortment was designed to tie-in with the cartoon’s re-telling of the “Phoenix Saga,” and as such featured a number of pivotal players from it (and also Warstar, but we’ll talk about him later), and would not only be the first assortment to abandon a strict numbering system for assortments, but also has the notoriety of being both the last assortment to be released on the slimmer character specific card backs and the first to be released on the newer generic cards, via two separate releases.  This was not only Jean’s first figure in the line, but also her very first action figure in general, which was a pretty big deal.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 8 points of articulation.  Like a good number of this line’s early figures, she lacks any sort of neck articulation, due to a light-up feature in the hair.  Of course, given the shaping of said hair, it’s unlikely that she would have had much movement going on anyway.  Jean’s sculpt was new to her, but would see an inevitable re-use for a Dark Phoenix figure (pictured with Wilson 4) in 1996 as part of the KB Toys-exclusive Marvel Universe line.  It’s really not a bad sculpt, especially for the time.  The proportions are decently balanced, and not terribly unrealistic, and kind of breaking from a lot of female figures for the time, she’s not hideous or horribly distorted, which was a pretty big deal.  Compared to the Rogue figure from the assortment prior, she’s definitely superior, and she blows the Series 1 Storm figure completely away.  There have been better Phoenix sculpts since, but it took them a good long while.  The paintwork is fairly basic stuff; the colors are bright and fairly eye-catching.  The green could maybe stand to be a little darker to better contrast with the yellow, but it’s not terrible.  The clear plastic for the hair actually works pretty well, especially when you have the right lighting.  The Dark Phoenix figure is pretty much the same paint, but palette-swapped.  The yellow parts are now gold, which was an interesting choice, but perhaps not the wisest, as it again leaves the two parts of the costume without much contrast.  Phoenix was packed with a launcher stand, re-used from the X-Force line’s Cannonball (yes, Cannonball had a figure before Jean Grey; try not to dwell on it).  It’s not the most thrilling extra, nor is it super specific, which is probably why the Dark Phoenix figure dropped it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Jean Grey has been my Dad’s favorite member of the X-Men pretty much since he started reading X-Men.  After discovering the Iron Man line on that fateful trip to Service Merchandise, he discovered the X-Men line via this figure (well, his copy of this figure, anyway), which he found at a dealer’s table at a con for the total insane crazy no one would ever pay this much for an action figure price of $20.  But hey, it was Jean Grey’s first figure, and he wasn’t going to pass it up, so he did not. …And then KB Toys did their buyout of Toy Biz figures, and you could get pretty much everyone in the line for under $5.  Not one to dwell on such things, my dad get me a Phoenix of my own, which I got alongside a Blackbird for the rest of my figures, if I recall correctly.  She was amongst 23 X-Men figures of mine that went missing for a few years during my high school/college days, but was discovered during “The Find” and has been on active display since then, because she’s just genuinely my favorite Jean Grey in my collection.

#1941: Colossus

COLOSSUS

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“The strongest of the X-Men, Colossus has the awesome mutant ability to turn his body into living steel! When he is in his living steel form, Colossus can lift as many as forty cars at once. His steel body is so hard that not even a bomb blast can hurt him! Normally Colossus is a quiet and gentle man, but when an evil mutant attacks, Colossus can be as fearsome a foe as any X-Man!”

Okay, so, umm, I was doing this thing where I was trying to work through Toy Biz’s X-Men line series by series.  And I was doing pretty good.  And then I was double checking things and realized I jumped the gun going to Series 2, so I have to do just the tiniest bit of back-tracking and take a look at the team’s resident metal bruiser, Colossus!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Colossus is the final figure in Series 1 of Toy Biz’s X-Men line.  At the time of this figure’s release, Piotr had been on the team pretty consistently since his introduction in the ’70s, so he was a natural choice for the line-up.  He’s seen here in his classic costume, which he had just returned to at the time of the figure’s release.  The figure stands 5 1/4 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  All of the figures in the set were originally designed with the lessened articulation, but most of them had it upgraded by the time they hit stores.  Colossus, for whatever reason, was one of two exceptions to this rule.  His sculpt is definitely scrawnier than later Colossi, but honestly he’s not that bad, especially in comparison to the rest of the assortment.  He’s actually a lot more proportionately balanced than most of them, so he looks pretty decent.  He’s rather pre-posed, in order facilitate his action feature.  What is this amazing action feature, you ask?  Well, there’s this lever on his back, and when you pull it down, his arms lift upward, in a weight-lifting sort of action.  I don’t know that it’s really worth the investment the figure gives it, but it’s not the worst.  The paintwork on Colossus is clean and bright.  It’s pretty basic, but it works.  Colossus is packed with a large weight, in order to help sell that weight lifting feature.  It’s a little tricky to keep him standing with it, but it’s doable.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Colossus was not part of my collection growing up.  He was, however, part of my brother’s collection.  And as of late, my brother’s been purging a lot of his old figures, and Colossus was the only one I was missing, so, hey, that worked out pretty alright.  There have been better Colossus figures, but as far as 5-inch figures go, he actually still brings quite a bit to the table.

#1907: Magneto

MAGNETO

X-MEN: DELUXE EDITION (TOY BIZ)

“After his interment in a concentration camp, Erik Lehnsherr realized that the only way mutants could survive would be to dominate mankind. Turning his complete control of magnetism to his newfound cause, Lehnsherr became the mutant terorrist Magneto, determined to win freedom from oppression for his fellow mutants, no matter what the cost. His mad dream has only been kept in check thanks to the ever-vigilant actions of the X-Men!”

For Day 6 of the Post Christmas reviews, I’m keeping that 10-inch Marvel thing going.  After a more broad Marvel Universe look with Nick Fury, I’m heading over to the ’90s commercial juggernaut that was X-Men.  Today’s focus is on the X-Men’s very first baddie, Magneto.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Magneto was released in the second “Deluxe Edition” series of the X-Men line, which preceded the larger Marvel Universe line by a couple of years.  The figure stands 10 inches tall and has 8 points of articulation.  For whatever reason, he doesn’t have a joint on his right elbow.  Left one’s still there, and the smaller counterpart figure has both of them, but this guy doesn’t.  I have no clue why, and I don’t know if anyone really does, but there it is.  The figure is patterned on the Magneto II figure from the 5-inch line, though, as with a number of these figures, the larger version allows for a much better formed sculpt.  In particular, he has less of the odd pin-headed nature that the smaller figure possessed, which makes the figure much more appealing.  The arms are still a touch stubby, but that’s a minor complaint.  Overall, though, it’s a really strong classic Magneto sculpt, unmarred by the action features that sort of held back the smaller figure.  Even his paintwork is a fair bit better.  The colors are brighter, the application is cleaner, and the use of molded flesh tone instead of painted makes him look far more lifelike.  Magneto was packed with a blaster pistol, because that was just how you did with these figures in the ’90s.  Hey, at least it wasn’t a wooden gun, right?  That would just break his mind right in two.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Magneto never got a reissue in any of the later lines, unlike a lot of the others, and as one of the more prominent characters released, he never really hung around all that much.  As such, I don’t believe I ever saw one in person.  Like Fury, this figure was a stocking stuffer from my parents.  I actually really like him, and I think he’s one of the line’s nicest offerings.  Its kind of a shame he didn’t get any reissues.

#1906: Nick Fury

NICK FURY

MARVEL UNIVERSE 10-INCH (TOY BIZ)

“When a military robot from World War II is accidentally reactivated in the present, chaos sets in! Resuming its 50-year-old mission to destroy London, the robot begins smashing its way through the crowded city streets. Called in to stop the giant steel behemoth are Wolverine, Britain’s own Union Jack and Nick Fury agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.! With Fury using his advanced S.H.I.E.L.D. technology, Wolverine striking out with unbreakable adamantium claws and Union Jack relying on sheer cunning, the three heroes successfully neutralize the robot and leave it looking like scrap metal.”

For my fifth day of Post-Christmas reviews, I’m returning to a very comfortable ground, and looking back at one of my earliest collecting sources: Toy Biz’s run with the Marvel license.  While their 5-inch line was the real star of the ‘90s, running in tandem with it was a line of double-sized figures which proved pretty popular with the younger audience.  And in the ‘90s, the “younger audience” definitely included me.  Through creative parts re-use, Toy Biz racked up quite an impressive roster for the scale, and today I’m looking at Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Nick was one of the larger scale Marvel Universe line’s 1998 offerings, hitting in an assortment that contained the Union Jack and a fairly standard Wolverine variant mentioned in the figure’s bio up there.  I’m always quite amused by this line’s way of creating a playable story from the seemingly off the wall character choices.  This one is admittedly one the most plausible of the ones I’ve found.  This figure stands 10 inches tall and he has 9 points of articulation.  While Nick had a 5-inch figure with its own unique sculpt, this figure was released after the 10-inch line was almost entirely in repaint territory, so that sculpt was never actually sized up.  Instead, Nick is a repaint of the Spider-Man line’s Punisher.  I looked the the 5-inch release of that sculpt a little while back.  The designs of the two characters are similar enough that it’s really not much of a stretch I suppose.  It’s a nice enough sculpt, especially for its time of release, so there are no complaints there.  The larger version of the sculpt has the removable shoulder holster of the smaller figure permanently affixed, but this actually works out even better for Nick, since the shoulder piece is a pretty consistent element of his design.  The main change is the addition of his eye-patch, with is a soft-goods piece that’s been glued in place over his eye.  It’s a reasonable, cost effective way of handling the design change.  Nick’s paint gives him a more SHIELD appropriate color scheme of blue and white.  It ends up adding some details where there aren’t any on the sculpt, as well as overlooking some details that *are* on the sculpt, but that’s about par for the line.  The coolest work is definitely on his hair, which is actually a black base with the brown dry brushed over, giving it a neat layered appearance.  Pretty nifty!  Nick was originally packed with a rather larger gun piece, which my figure lacks.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Nick was a stocking stuffer from my parents, and what a stocking stuffer he was!  Obviously, I didn’t have this guy growing up.  In fact, I remember seeing him only one time as a kid, and not even at a regular retail store.  The nature of the line by the time Nick hit was really one of get as many different figures out as you can and don’t look back, so there are a large number of them whose existence is really only known to the people who happened upon them for the window the figures were available.  Nick was definitely one such figure.  The Punisher mold’s a good fit for the character, and is perhaps an even better mold than his 5-inch figure had.  While he’s certainly on the goofy side by today’s standards, Nick’s still a lot of fun.

#1895: Spider-Man & Mary Jane

SPIDER-MAN & MARY JANE

SPIDER-MAN: HOLIDAY SPECIAL (TOY BIZ)

“Peter Parker spends a lot of the tome swinging from building to building, patrolling the streets as Spider-Man.  But when the holidays come around, Spidey makes sure he’s home in time to spend them with his wife, Mary Jane.  Spider-Man and Mary Jane celebrate the holidays like any normal couple, except that Spidey delivers the holiday gifts by swinging in through their apartment window!”

It’s once more that time of year; another Christmas day, a therefore another Christmas-y review!  I’ve covered all sorts of different topics over the course of the last five Christmas reviews, from basic Christmas concepts (Santa and a Gingerbread Man), to classic holiday specials (Hermie from Rudolph and Charlie Brown from…well, A Charlie Brown Christmas), to one of my favorite Christmas movies (White Christmas).  This year, I’m actually playing it a lot closer to the sorts of things I review on this site from day to day, and taking a look at Spider-Man and Mary Jane…albeit a slightly more festive take on the characters.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Spidey and MJ were released in 1999 as part of a seasonal “Holiday Special” pack, which was an extension of the Spider-Man: Animated Series line that was still running at the time, as well as a more festive take on the Famous Couple’s pairing of these two from the same year.  It included the two figures, as well as a Christmas-themed magnet featuring the two of them.

SPIDER-MAN

Headlining the pack is our main man Spider-Man.  Spider-Man takes his usual look, and adds a Santa hat, belt, and boots.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 11 points of articulation.  He uses the Spidey-sculpt first introduced with Octo-Spider-Man, which would be one of Toy Biz’s favorite sculpts to re-use during their 5-inch days.  It’s not the most posable take on the character, but it worked well enough.  The new parts, with the exception of his belt buckle, are all cloth parts.  It works best for the hat (which, it should be noted, is glued in place), and the belt is decent enough.  The boots, however, are kind of odd, and make keeping him standing a little tricky.  They’re removable if you so choose, though, so you have your options there.  The paintwork is mostly standard, though it’s worth noting that he gets a metallic blue in place of the classic blue.  Not entirely sure why the change was made; perhaps metallic blue is more festive?  Spidey actually does get an accessory; it’s a cloth bag, with a little printed cardboard insert with some presents on it.  It’s a little finicky to get him holding it, but it’s a decent addition.

MARY JANE

Both of Mary Jane’s figures during the Toy Biz run came in 1999, and they were built from the same base figure.  I mean, I guess that’s pretty sensible, right?  She stands 5 inches tall and has 9 points of articulation (though the neck is, as always with this mold, very restricted).  Like her Famous Couples release, this Mary Jane is a repainted Invisible Woman from the Fantastic Four line.  It’s  decent sculpt in its own right, though it’s slightly hindered for this release, by virtue of all the cloth and such she’s got glued to her.  The hat’s okay, and the skirt’s workable, but the fake fur on the arms, legs, and especially the torso end up looking really goofy.  She’s just not particularly playable as a figure, nor is she particularly appealing to look at.  She’s definitely the weak link of the set.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I remember seeing this set a good number of times at various stores back when it was new, but I never got around to actually buying one.  As regular readers will have no doubt noticed, I’ve actually had to outsource a couple of my Christmas review items in recent years, but last year, right before the holiday, I actually came across this set at Gidget’s Gadgets, and while I couldn’t get it done last year, I was able to ear-mark it for this round.  It’s goofy, and hokey, and totally without use outside of the holiday season, but the pair does have something of its own charm.

#1892: Wolverine II

WOLVERINE II

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“His super-sharp adamantium claws can slash through steel. His mutant healing ability can mend even the worst wounds in minutes. He’s Wolverine, the best at what he does and what he does best is fight Evil Mutants! With his keen senses of sight, smell and hearing, and his frighteningly fierce fighting style, enemies claim Wolverine is more animal than mutant. But his fellow X-Men know that he’s the best friend they have, especially when the going gets deadly dangerous!”

Did you know that wolverines use snow as refrigerators to keep their food fresh?  That’s your fun FiQ fact for today…’s Tiger Stripe Wolverine review.  You guys thought I was going to forget about the running gag, didn’t you?  Well, I didn’t!  Okay, let’s just take a look at the figure, shall we?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Wolverine, or “Wolverine II” as he is referred to on all of the packaging, is part of the second series of Toy Biz’s X-Men line. The first series had used Wolverine’s then-current brown costume, but Logan had reverted back to an approximation of his classic look not too long after that figure’s release, so Toy Biz followed suit with this figure.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 10 points of articulation.  Wolverine’s sculpt was new to him, and would serve as the basis for a number of figures that would follow, including when it was up-scaled for the 10-inch Deluxe Edition figure (reviewed here).  While the smaller scale doesn’t quite serve the sculpt quite as well as the larger, but all of the basics are still there, and it’s still a pretty strong offering for the character.  He’s a little on the tall side for a proper Logan, but that was the trend of the time, and he’s certainly not as bad as some of the figures that would follow.  The primary differences between this figure and the larger one are to do with his claws and the raised lever on his back to allow for an “action feature” when spinning his torso.  The claws are an interesting choice.  They’re spring loaded, but since there’s no locking mechanism, they just pop right back into place.  Also, they’re stubby and curved, and the spring feature makes his forearms really boxy, so I’m not really sure it’s worth the tradeoff.  Wolverine’s paintwork is decent enough.  Fairly basic, and not without some slop, especially around the edges of the blue parts of the costume.  The black details also seem to extend a bit further into the rest of the costume than they traditionally do in the comics, but that’s rather minor.  Wolverine was packed with a gun, because, when you get down to it, isn’t that really Wolverine’s defining trait?  Having a gun?  Well, not my Wolverine, because his gun is missing.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, this figure was *not* my first Wolverine.  That would be the Battle-Ravaged Wolverine from the Invasion Series, which was the current figure of Wolverine when I got into collecting.  The trouble with that figure, as cool as it is, arose when I got the Black Bird, which the larger Battle-Ravaged figure couldn’t actually fit inside of, meaning I really needed a smaller figure.  Around the time I got my Black Bird, my parents were in the process of buying a new house, and my dad was going back and forth many days getting things ready to move in.  I accompanied on many of those trips, Black Bird in tow, with only my Series 1 Cyclops in it, since he was the only one who actually fit.  On one of those days, my dad had to go and pick up carpet from the mall, where there was also a KB Toys.  In exchange for accompanying, my Dad bought me this guy (he also bought himself a Ch’od figure, because him also getting a figure was part of the ritual) to go with my Black Bird.  He stuck with me for the whole move in process at the new house.  Is he the best Wolverine ever?  Maybe not, but I do still really like him.

#1878: Gambit

GAMBIT

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Gambit has the mutant ability to take the energy of any object and put it to his own use. That use usually means turning the object into a deadly weapon. Gambit is a martial arts expert with a lightning-fast karate kick. When battling multiple attackers, Gambit relies on his Techno Battle Staff for additional assault power.”

As someone whose primary introduction to the X-Men came from their ’90s cartoon, I have an almost unhealthy appreciation for their resident Cajun sleazeball, one Remy LaBeau, aka Gambit.  I am, of course, not at all alone in this, which has helped to keep him relatively high on the action figure count.  Today, I’m jumping back to the beginning, and taking a look at his very first figure (more or less).

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Gambit was initially released in the second series of Toy Biz’s X-Men line.  Following the success of the cartoon, he was subsequently re-released in the “Classics” assortment a few years later.  The figure reviewed here is technically the later release, though the only actual difference between the two is the accessory selection.  This figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 9 points of articulation.  Gambit’s sculpt is fairly typical of an early Toy Biz figure, meaning he’s a little more rudimentary than later offerings would be.  He’s slightly scrawny, and the details are a little softer.  This is definitely a kinder, friendlier looking Gambit than you usually see.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s definitely different than other Gambits.  His trench coat seems to have thrown Toy Biz for a bit of a loop, as well.  Rather than sculpting it onto him, they opted for a removable piece…mostly, anyway.  The bulk of the jacket is just a thin plastic get-up, not unlike the capes from the old Kenner Star Wars figures.  It’s not terribly sturdy, and isn’t really the sort of thing we ever saw again from them.  It looks alright, but certainly limits his playability when in place.  What’s slightly odd is the decision to make the collar of this jacket a sculpted element, which is part of the figure’s torso.  This means it’s always there, even when the coat is off of the figure.  Why not just leave the collar as part of the coat?  Who knows.  Well, someone at Toy Biz probably knew, I guess.  Gambit’s paintwork is alright.  It’s pretty basic, and gets the general gist of the character down.  There’s a lot of pink, which is really the most important thing when you get right down to it.  It does get a handful of details wrong, though, such as keeping the sleeves of the shirt pink (rather than matching with the pants as they did in the comics), and the pink squares on the sides of his legs are a different pattern than usually seen.  The original release of Gambit included his staff, while the re-release included the bandolier and knives (presumably meant to stand in for his playing cards) from Longshot.  Gambit has an action feature, a kicking action, which is an interesting choice for the character.  It’s also not implemented incredibly well, because it’s default state is actually with the leg extended, meaning the latch is in a constant state of strain when he’s in a basic standing pose.  The end result is a figure that you will commonly find with his leg forever stuck at a 90 degree angle.  Fortunately, this isn’t the case with my figure, but I’ve seen my fair share of figures that weren’t so lucky.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I don’t recall exactly where I got Gambit, but I know I was with my parents, and it was very early into my collecting because it was before we moved into the house that they’ve been in since I was four.  So, somewhere in late ’95?  Anyway, despite how harsh I may have been on this figure in the actual review segment, it’s worth noting that this remains my very favorite Gambit figure to date, and just one of my favorite X-Men figures in general.

#1864: Forge

FORGE

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Forge is the X-Men’s brilliant high-tech weapons inventor. Not only can he custom design a deadly arsenal in almost no time… he’s ready to jump straight into action and use it! In fact Forge is such a fierce fighter that when he straps on his weapons and activates his amazing bionic leg, he becomes a one-man army!”

The ‘90s X-Men line was the most expansive selection of the characters ever put to plastic, offering up main, supporting, and minor characters from all throughout the franchise’s history.  It definitely took a heavy lean towards the ‘90s, of course, and paramount to the line’s early days was getting collectors a complete line-up of the X-Men of the X-Men #1 era.  Included amongst that line-up was relatively new addition (at the time) Forge!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Forge was released in Series 2 of Toy Biz’s X-Men line, and was sporting his strike-team uniformed look, which is, by far, Forge’s most prominent design.  Also, his current design at the time, so it made a lot of sense.  Apart from some repaints of this same figure, this would be the only Forge figure we’d get from Toy Biz, so, hey, they better have made it count.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 9 points of articulation.  Sculpt-wise, Forge is fairly typical of the early line figures.  He’s definitely got a more refined sculpt than a lot of his Series 1 counterparts, but compared to later-run figures from Toy Biz, he’s definitely on the scrawny side.  Though, for a character like Forge, the scrawnier nature isn’t too terrible, especially if your a fan of the tech-geek take on the character seen in the likes of X-Men: Evolution and Wolverine and the X-Men.  Some of the details, especially the pouches and his boots, are far more simplistic than they’d be on more current offerings, but on the plus side, the details on the head sculpt are actually pretty sharp.  Forge’s gun is molded into his hand. Ostensibly, it’s to aid with the figure’s quick-draw action feature, though I can’t say I understand why it had to actually be molded in place for that.  It ends up rather restricting what you can do with the figure.  The paintwork on Forge is about par for the course on this line.  Application’s clean and fairly basic, and the colors are bright.  I quite like the clear molded plastic for his artificial arm and leg; it’s a nice touch.  Like a number of the early Toy Biz figures, there were two minor paint variants on Forge, concerning the color of his holster.  The initial figures were brown, but it was changed mid-production to yellow, which is the one seen here.  Yay?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up Forge a few years back, during my first resurgence of 5-inch X-Men collecting, just after my freshmen year of college.  I ended up finding him loose from Yesterday’s fun.  Forge has never been a particular favorite of mine, and the figure doesn’t really do much to change that, being more or less middle of the road, but he’s certainly passable.

#1825: Red Skull

RED SKULL

MARVEL LEGENDS (TOY BIZ)

“Trained by the black-hearted Adolf Hitler himself, the Red Skull and his fearsome visage were intended as a symbol of Nazi supremacy. During World War II, his unparalleled evil genius only could be matched by his arch-foe: the star-spangled Super-Soldier called Captain America. After failing to tip the wartime balance of power in favor of the forces of tyranny, the Red Skull spent decades in suspended animation – awakening in present day to enslave humanity and resurrect the power of the Third Reich!”

Nazis.  I hate these guys.

Back in 2014, when I was only 11 reviews in on Marvel Legends, I looked at the then-most-recent-version of Red Skull.  Now, four and a half years and 270 Legends reviews later, I’m going all the way back to the beginning, and taking a look at Johan’s very first Legends treatment.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Red Skull was released in Series 5 of Toy Biz’s Marvel Legends.  After three series of the “chase” figure being a variant of a main figure from the line-up, they’d introduced the concept of a secret, separate character chase figure with Series 4’s Goliath.  But, while that figure was just a simple repaint of the Marvel Collector’s Editions Giant-Man, their next go, Red Skull, would be a brand-new character with a “new” sculpt.  Why the quotes?  I’ll get to that.  As the “chase” figure, Red Skull wasn’t actually advertised at all on any of the packaging, making him an unknown offering to a great number of collectors, I’m sure.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and has 18 points of articulation.  Now, right off the bat, we run into the issue of articulation.  Toy Biz Legends were regularly boasting upwards of 30 points of articulation, so the Skull being below 20 is definitely notable.  What’s more, the distribution is really whacked out; 10 of those points are in the legs. Heck, he’s got toe joints, but no double joints on the knees and elbows, and even just cut joints on the shoulders and hips.  Why such odd articulation choices?  Re-used parts.  Red Skull is made up of a combination of the upper half of the X-Men: Movie Series Professor X and the Legends Series 3 Daredevil.  The Xavier body was three years old by this point, and from a line that was comparatively under-scaled.  And while the DD parts might have been a genuine Legends release, even the original felt out of place at the time of his release, and the parts also feel out of place for the Skull.  Red Skull also had a new head and hands, an add-on piece for his coat, and the Dr Doom holster stuck to his right leg, all in the name of separating him further from the figures that birthed him.  Unfortunately, even the new pieces don’t quite seem at home.  The head is too large for the body, and has no real neck to speak of.  The jacket piece, conversely, seems to sit too high on his body, leaving a good portion of his awkwardly designed hip joints still exposed, further exaggerating the largeness of the head, and the mix-and-match nature of the body.  On the plus side, the paint’s kind of decent, I guess.  The head in particular makes out pretty well.  Going for something other than a straight red seems to have worked out nicely.  Red Skull was packed with his peak cap, a pistol (borrowed from Dr. Doom), and the same display stand that was included with Cap, but in a different color scheme.  He also included a reprint of Captain America #16.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Series 5 is around the time that the magic of Marvel Legends was starting to wear off for me, thanks in no small part to this crazy “chases” thing that they introduced.  I was lucky with Red Skull.  My dad was at a comic show, and happened to find him for a somewhat reasonable price from a dealer.  Even new, he wasn’t great.  Toy Biz definitely made a lot of missteps on this one.  He’s a reminder that, as great as some of those figures were, Toy Biz’s Legends had some real stinkers.  Also, behold the start of the trend of crappy Red Skull Legends that perpetuates to this day.