#2407: Spider-Man – Spider-Sense

SPIDER-MAN — SPIDER-SENSE

SPIDER-MAN (TOY BIZ)

“Perched on a ledge high above the city, Spider-Man’s ‘6th sense’ begins to tingle – providing a split second warning that imminent danger looms behind him. Back-flipping with a speed and precision well beyond an Olympic athlete, Spider-Man turns to see the ledge blasted into airborne shrapnel thanks to the Scorpion’s thrashing tail! For on the day Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider, his life was changed forever. And although he gained super-human strength, amazing agility, and enhanced reflexes – it’s his uncanny spider-sense which alerts Spider-Man to the dangers of his adversaries – and benefits him the most!”

Early in its run, Toy Biz’s 5-inch Spider-Man line actually tried to have some valid variants of its main character.  They weren’t always perfect, and sometimes there were some definite reaches to justify a whole new figure, but they gave it their best shot.  In Spider-Man: The Animated Series, there was this animation gimmick they had every time his spider-sense went off, where he’d get this drastically different, rave-esque color scheme for a few moments.  It was different enough in Toy Biz’s eyes to milk a few figures out of it, the first of which is today’s offering.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Spider-Sense Spider-Man was released in Series 5 of Toy Biz’s Spider-Man line, which hit shelves very late in 1995.  He was one of three Spidey variants in the line-up, with the other two being battle-ravaged and six-armed.  The figure stands just under 5 1/4 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  His articulation scheme is kind of wonky, in that it doesn’t really match with any other figure Toy Biz produced, in this line or any other.  The arms move only at the shoulders, but the legs get all sorts of range at the hips and knees.  He seems to be built with a wall-crawling pose in mind, which makes sense with his built-in action feature, which sort of mimics this with his arms…or at least it did when mine still worked.  It was pretty easily worn out.  It’s a little odd that they didn’t put in a little motion on his neck, since its inability to move the head upwards kinda wrecks the credibility of most crawling poses, but there it is.  The sculpt follows the model of the earlier Spideys from this line, being quite sparse on the sculpted details, opting instead to paint most of them on.  In that respect, the paint’s pretty good.  It’s taken a bit of a beating on my figure, but it’s held up alright, and the color work matches the scheme seen on the cartoon pretty well.  It’s a somewhat unique look, and I can certainly get behind it.  This guy was packed with a web-line, web hook, and a collector’s pin, though none of them really did much for the figure.  But hey, extras are extras, right?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

For Easter when my cousin Rusty and I were four, our grand parents bought both of us one figure from this series.  If you’re thinking this is the one I got, you’re wrong.  My cousin got this guy, and I got Six-Armed Spidey.  I wasn’t happy with that decision as I recall (which seems a but silly to me now, because Six Arm is clearly the better option.  Silly child Ethan), and my parents ended up working out some sort of deal (I’m sure related to cleaning my room or something) in order to take me to the mall and get me this guy for myself.  He’s not bad, but I don’t know how exciting he is, honestly.  I really wanted him, though.

#2359: Captain Britain

CAPTAIN BRITAIN

MODERN AGE (TOY BIZ)

“As a research assistant at Darkmoor Research Centre, Brian Braddock was a typical physics student.  During a botched theft at the facility, Brian was nearly killed in a motorcycle accident he suffered while trying to escape.  The legendary Merlin the Magician saved Brian’s life and bestowed upon him a mystical suit that gives him superhuman powers, transforming him into Captain Britain.  While the suit Captain Britain wears gives him superhuman strength, the ability to fly and erect mystical force shields, he is powerless without it.  As Britain’s honorary protector, keeping the UK safe from peril, Captain Britain is a formidable opponent for any foe.”

At the beginning of their lengthy run with the Marvel license, Toy Biz initially focussed on the Marvel Universe as a whole, before splitting things up into several different lines, most of which were themed around one of the handful of Marvel cartoons which launched during the ’90s.  By the end of the decade, those cartoons were all pretty much wrapped up, but there was still a fair bit of steam in the 5-inch locomotive, so they did several single-assortment series, each with its own theme.  In 1999, they paired two off, a Silver Age and a Modern Age line, covering Marvel’s history through a mix a bigger name and minor characters.  On the more minor side, it was through these assortments that Captain Britain got his first action figure, which I’ll be taking a look at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Captain Britain was among the four figures in the Modern Age line.  As the only character created post-1975, he was probably the best representation of the assortment’s purpose, especially since he was wearing an ’80s era costume.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 9 points of articulation.  Captain Britain was built on the body that began its life as Archangel II, a favorite of Toy Biz’s.  By this point, it had gotten some minor retooling to change-up the posing on the hands and to remove the remains of the wing-flapping mechanism from that figure, meaning he actually looks a bit better than most of the others who used this body.  The head is also re-used, coming from the Iron Man line’s Blacklash figure, though as with the Guardian figure that also used this head, the ponytail has been removed.  While internally its a nice enough assortment of parts, compared to the rest of Toy Biz’s stuff, it did make poor Brian rather small when compared to his comic book incarnation.  This wouldn’t be the last time Toy Biz would make a diminutive Captain Britain, either.  Did no one check the style guide for his height?  His paintwork was really cool…when he was new anyway.  On my figure, it really didn’t hold up to time, and definitely shows a lot more wear and tear than my other figures from the same era.  I have to wonder if it was something to do with the slightly metallic finish?  It certainly looked really nice when he came out of the package.  He’s done up in his Alan Davis-designed costume, which is his best one, really, and certainly the most lasting design.  Like others that use this mold, the details of the costume don’t quite match up to what’s sculpted, but it’s minor here.  Captain Britain was packed with an energy staff (recolored from Gambit) and Lockheed (repacked from Magik), but my figure has neither at this juncture.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got this figure when it was relatively new via a trip to the KB Toys outlet that was near the spot where my family vacationed.  I didn’t know a ton about the character, but I sure thought this figure looked cool.  At the time, I also got an animated Superman, so I recall the two of them facing off a lot during that trip.  Small stature and slightly ratty hold-up of the paint do drag him down a bit, but even in his current state I do really like him and I still have those fond memories!

#2345: Goliath

GOLIATH (w/ ANT-MAN & WASP)

MARVEL LEGENDS (TOY BIZ)

“Hank Pym started small. After shrinking his way to worldwide renown as the super-heroic Ant-Man, founding member of the mighty Avengers, he ascended to even greater glory in the guise of Giant-Man. Now, as Goliath, he continues to prove that size matters: His greatest asset is his big brain and knack for invention! Due to years of exposure to the size-altering properties of Pym Particles, Goliath can increase in stature at will and to a maximum height of 100 feet of shrink to the size of an ant. He grows by drawing additional mass froman extra-dimensional source, to which it returns when he reverts to normal. Goliath can shrink an entire laboratory or an array of firearms to the size of a microchip when not in use. The various compartments of his uniform straps contain a wide variety of miniaturized equipment.”

Toy Biz’s run on Marvel Legends was full of a lot of rather frustrating choices on their part, all in the name of trying to foster some sort of after market value for their figures.  It was…well, it wasn’t the best time to be a collector, but it was a really good time for scalpers.  Yay?  One of their ideas was chase figures, figures that were not advertised on the back of the package and were shipped in very low numbers, and were just short of including a note on the front that said “scalp me.”  The concept only ended up lasting for two assortments, Series 4 and Series 5.  I’ve looked at Red Skull, the chase for Series 5, but now I’m looking at the figure that officially launched it, Goliath!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

As noted in the intro, Goliath was the chase figure for Series 4 of Toy Biz’s Marvel Legends, and was subsequently the one figure in the assortment not listed on the back of the packaging.  He’s officially supposed to be based on Hank’s first Goliath costume, but, well, there’s some caveats to that, which I’ll touch on in a bit. The figure stands 8 1/4 inches tall and he has 12 points of articulation.  That’s a pretty low count for a Legends release, and there’s a good reason for that: he’s not a Legends sculpt.  Instead, he was a wholesale repaint of the Giant-Man figure from their classic Avengers boxed set from the ’90s.  Now, you may recall from my (astoundingly short) review of that figure, that I was pretty fond of the sculpt.  It’s honestly one of he nicest sculpts to come out of their 5-inch days.  That being said, it didn’t really fit all that well stylistically with the Legends Toy Biz was putting out at this time.  I mean, he’ll look okay with the Iron Man and Cap, but beyond that he’s gonna be out of place.  Additionally, the sculpted details of the costume are pretty specific to Giant-Man’s costume, but those don’t line-up with the Goliath costume they opted to go for.  He shouldn’t have the antenna or the circle, and he should have goggles, and a completely different belt.  We wound up getting a couple of more accurate renditions of this costume once Hasbro took over, but for this one, Toy Biz was clearly wanting a cheap extra figure to produce and went with the “close enough” philosophy.  The paint work kind of rolls with the differences of the sculpt, and pretty much makes no attempt to hide them, because, honestly, it’s not like there’s much that can be done.  It’s a pretty nifty color scheme, and I certainly dig the metallic blue used on the body suit.  In order to distract a bit from the re-used mold and the lack of a base sculpt, Goliath was packed with repaints of the Ant-Man and Wasp figures from the same boxed set as Giant-Man.  They work a little better with the Legends aesthetic, though they’re not super-poseable or anything.  The new coat of paint does look nice, though.

 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Despite the somewhat lazy creation, I always wanted this guy when he was new.  Perhaps because I was giving into the very forces that Toy Biz was counting on, or perhaps because I just always liked this Goliath costume.  Whatever the case, I didn’t get one, because the after market for him was stupid expensive for a good long while.  Then the people paying the stupid money for him actually took a closer looked at him, realized how lazy a creation he was, and two much better versions of the costume were released, and now this guy can be had for a much more reasonable sum.  He ended up traded into All Time about a year and a half ago, allowing me to finally add him to my collection.  He’s not anything to write home about, but I can love him for what he is.

#2282: Strong Guy

STRONG GUY

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Strong Guy joined X-Factor for the simplest of reasons–the regular paycheck!  Caring little about the problems between man and mutantkind, he lives instead for the finer things in life–wine, women and song!  And he’s not above using his tremendous mutant strength to put those who would criticize his lifestyle in their place!”

After three assortments of pretty solid team building, the fourth series of Toy Biz’s X-Men line is one of the stranger line-ups the line would produce.  I mean, it doesn’t have the weirdest character choices per se (well, apart from Tusk, because who the heck went “where’s my Tusk action figure?”), but more that it seems generally unfocused and all over the place.  It would be this assortment which introduced off-shoot team X-Factor into the line.  And what character would they use to launch?  Would it be team leader Havok (who had been scrapped from the Series 3 line-up), or even X-universe mainstays Polaris, Multiple Man, or Wolfsbane?  Nope, it was Lila Cheney’s bodyguard Guido, who had just taken the name “Strong Guy,” denoting his status as a…uhh….strong…guy.  Yeah…

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Strong Guy was added to the Toy Biz X-Men  line-up in 1993 as part of the aforementioned Series 4 line-up.  He would see a re-issue in 2000 in ever so slightly different colors as part of the KB-exclusive X-Men line, but beyond that, this was it for Guido, at least until last year’s Minimate and this year’s Legend.  Lucky Guido.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  He’s a little bit on the small side for Strong Guy (though that made him a nice fit with Hasbro’s Marvel Universe a few years later), but he’s got enough of a size difference that it works.  Strong Guy is missing joints at the elbows and knees, I can only assume due to his larger size.  Honestly, he makes out alright without them, so it’s not the end of the world.  Much like Ch’od, who was similarly limited in terms of articulation and also similarly-sized, Strong Guy’s sculpt ends up as a pretty solid offering.  The character’s distinctive proportions are well captured, and there’s a lot of character in the figure’s face, which helps to keep him looking fairly unique.  He also matches up well with the art stylings of the time, honestly in a far better fashion than any of the other X-Factor characters.  Strong Guy’s paint work is pretty solid for the time.  All of the important details are there, and the application is fairly clean.  Technically, there should be a patch of blue on his vest, but honestly the X-Factor art was stylized enough at the time that Toy Biz can be forgiven for not realizing that wasn’t just a harshly shaded patch.  Strong Guy included no accessories (though, like most Toy Biz figures of the time, he has his hands molded to hold *something*), but he did have a “Power Punch” action, which raises his arms up and down when his torso is spun around.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Strong Guy is not a figure I had growing up.  He actually was added to my collection during my post-freshman-year-of-college Toy Biz binge, after finding him at All Time Toys.  He was still packaged, and, for whatever reason, I just never got around to opening him.  He ended up sitting unopened for another 8 years, until I finally cracked him open a month ago in preparation for this review.  I don’t know why I delayed so long, but he’s a pretty fun little figure, truth be told.

#2254: Beast

BEAST

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Blue-furred and boisterous, the Beast’s monstrous exterior conceals the fact that he possesses the mind of an articulate, well-read genius! Ever ready to answer the call should either man or mutant be in peril, the Beast employs both his dexterous digits and his scientific skills as a member of the X-Men.”

The ’90s X-Men line-up was a pretty sizeable, even just going by the cartoon’s more paired down version of the cast, which for a burgeoning toy line can be a slightly daunting prospect.  It took several assortments to make their way through the main cast.  Founding member Beast was a later addition, though certainly not the latest.  I’m taking a look at that figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Beast was released in Series 6 of the Toy Biz X-Men line.  Aside from the cartoon-creation Morph, he was the only X-Man proper in the line-up.  The same figure would subsequently be re-issued as part of the “Classics” line-up which put out all of the main cartoon cast in one assortment, and then again as part of the Marvel Universe line.  The three figures are essentially identical, and it’s worth noting that my figure comes from the “Classics” release.  This figure’s sculpt would also serve as the inspiration for both the 10-inch and Steel Mutants figures.  The figure stands just over 5 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation…in theory.  In reality, it’s more like 7, because his action feature makes the joints at the knees and ankles effectively useless.  Said action feature is dubbed “Mutant Flipping Power” and means that there are springs in his knee and ankle joints, which are supposed to allow him to flip.  In my experience, it was never a very reliable feature and just made it rather hard to keep the figure standing.  Tied into the feature was this weird switch thing on the figure’s back, for which I’ve never figured out the purpose.  His sculpt definitely follows that early ’90s look for the character, at his most bulked up and monstrous.  Nevertheless, he’s still got that sophisticated Henry McCoy expression on his face, as if he’s contemplating the moral quandaries of his current heroic endeavor.  The rest of the sculpt is surprisingly smooth for such a hairy guy, especially when compared to other, similarly textured characters from this and surrounding series.  I can only guess they were going for more of a stylistic thing on Hank.  The figure’s pretty light on the paint front, with most of him being just molded in a light blue.  There’s a bit of paint for his shorts and belt, as well as his eyes and teeth.  For whatever reason, his eyes are solid yellow; he’s gone back and forth between having pupils and pure white eyes, but the yellow’s more of a Nightcrawler thing usually. Beast was packed with a suction cup-sporting bar to hang from, which was cool enough, though the suction cup long ago fell off of mine.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I don’t actually recall much about getting this figure.  I think he was one of those “my Dad got one and then I also wanted one” figures.  I certainly would have wanted him for the purposes of filling out my X-Men line-up.  He’s an okay figure.  The action feature gets in the way here more than on most Toy Biz figures, which can be annoying, but his sculpt’s fairly decent, and he definitely fit with that toon aesthetic.

#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

#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.

#2199: Morph

MORPH

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Once a member of the uncanny X-Men, Morph sacrificed his life to save his teammates from the mutant-hunting Sentinels. Resurrected by the evil Mister Sinister and set against his one-time allies, Morph now uses his shape-shifting abilities in an attempt to put an end to his former friends!”

When launching X-Men: The Animated Series, the makers of the cartoon wanted to demonstrate the serious nature of the situations the team faced by presenting the audience with an ill-fated mission that would end with one member of the team killed in battle.  Of course, they weren’t exactly looking to throw out any of the highly profitable a-list characters in the initial starting line-up, meaning they needed to build a character specifically for the purpose of sacrificing.  Combing through the back catalog of X-Men characters, they came across Changeling, a rather minor foe-turned-teammate from the ’60s, who died in Xavier’s place at one point.  The character was updated and renamed “Morph” and boom, sacrificial offering for the TV gods.  What they didn’t count on, however, was the character being as popular in his debut appearance as he was, leading to a whole assortment of shenanigans to bring him back during the show’s second season, and enough prominence to get this boy an action figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Morph was released in Series 6 of the Toy Biz X-Men line, and is notable for being pretty much the only figure in the line to be completely based on the show.  Others were clearly using the show for inspiration of character and costume choice, but Morph was the one true instance of something only from the show making its way into the line.  Morph would also see a subsequent re-release not too long after the release of the X-Men movie in 2000, as part of a KB Toys-exclusive line of reissues and repaints.  The two releases are more or less identical, though the reissue his a slightly darker skintone.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  He’s honestly one of the most practical implementations of articulation this era of the line offered, with elbows, knees, and a waist joint.  None of those were strictly standard at this point.  His sculpt was an all-new affair, and is a pretty decent offering.  He remains faithful to the cartoon’s design while still adapting the character to better fit the design of toys as a whole.  For the purposes of Morph himself, there are two heads included: good Morph and evil Morph.  Both are conceivably the same guy, and capture the cartoon’s versions of the looks nicely, making him an easy match for his show appearances.  In terms of paint, Morph is pretty basic, but still pretty cleanly done.  The application is sharp, and the colors are all nice and eye-catching.  It’s worth noting that they changed his default hair from black to brown, presumably so that he would match Changeling in the comics (it’s also worth noting that the show would change his hair color to match in his later appearances).  In addition to his own extra head, Morph also included two additional heads to demonstrate his changing ability.  There’s a Wolverine and a Cyclops, which both work reasonably well in conjunction with the body to sell them as the “real” character, while still showing that there’s something a little off about them.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Morph was pretty much gone from shelves when I really started collecting, so my first figure of him was actually the ToyFare-exclusive AoA version.  I then picked up the KB Toys re-release when he came out, and I was always very fond of him, as I quite like the character.  That figure ended up going missing (along with a bunch of my other X-Men figures), and I eventually ended up replacing him with a proper Series 6 release.  Of course, then I found my original, so I’ve got them both again.  Cool!

#2187: Maximum Clonage

BEN REILLY, SCARLET SPIDER, & SPIDER-MAN

SPIDER-MAN (TOY BIZ)

“When the scientist known as the Jackal cloned spider-man, he intended to destroy Spidey! Now several years after Spider-Man defeated the clone, he has returned as the hero, Scarlet Spider. Fighting alongside the original Spider-Man, the spider clone seeks to uncover the answers behind the many players in the clone saga!”

Oh boy, you want a fun time?  Why not have a little talk about “The Clone Saga,” the gargantuan, over-stuffed Spidey crossover from the ’90s that forever is remembered in infamy.  Early commercial success of the story, which brought back unexplored plot threads from two decades prior, led to Marvel editorial greatly extending its run through the Spider titles, adding in all sorts of aimless and needlessly complicated plots that seemed to go nowhere.  At the crux of the story, it was revealed that the Peter Parker the audience had been following for two decades was in fact a clone, and the recently introduced Ben Reilly was the original, which was really Marvel’s first stab at the “carefree, single” Peter Parker that we would later get out of “One More Day.”  By the end of the story, Ben was dead and confirmed as the clone, and the whole thing was put to bed.  Of course, that didn’t stop Toy Biz from taking advantage of the story in order to get some toys out of it!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Ben Reilly, Scarlet Spider, and Spider-Man were released in the fall of 1997 as part of a BJ’s Wholesalers exclusive “Maximum Clonage” boxed set, which also featured unmasked Peter Parker, Kaine, Spidercide, Jackal, and Sandman, and covering the Clone Saga as a whole.

BEN REILLY

“When the clone of Peter Parker left New York City, he took the name Ben Reilly. Now, Ben Reilly has returned to join Peter Parker in his quest to find the truth behind the clone mystery. Just as much hero as the real Peter Parker, Ben creates a new super hero costume and takes the name Scarlet Spider. Fighting together as the Scarlet Spider and Spider-Man, Ben and Peter are an amazing web-slinging duo. But when the real Peter Parker loses his powers, Ben takes his place becoming the all new Spider-Man!”

One of the handful of truly exclusive figures in the set, Ben Reilly in his civilian garb has so far never been done again in action figure form.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 10 points of articulation.  Ben was built out of the main Spider-Man line’s Peter Parker figure, at least from the neck down, anyway.  It’s a guy of average build wearing a bomber jacket, jeans, and sneakers, so it’s reasonably generic.  Plus, even if it weren’t, it’s not like there isn’t a good excuse for the two to look similar.  It’s honestly a very nice sculpt, and definitely one of Toy Biz’s best civilian looks.  To differentiate himself from the original Peter Parker, Ben bleached his hair blond and got a very mid-90s style ‘do, which this figure replicates by throwing the head of Archangel III on top of the body.  While it does the hair justice, it’s a little off on the facial front, since it means he doesn’t look all that much like Peter, and he also has Warren’s super intense stare.  Still, there were worse parts choices that could have been made, and at least he was slightly different from Peter.  The paintwork further differentiated the two, changing his jacket from brown to black.

SCARLET SPIDER

“Returning from a self-imposed exile, the clone of Peter Parker reappears, now calling himself Ben Reilly.  Possessing all of Spider-Man’s powers and abilities, Reilly begins to fight crime as the Scarlet Spider.  With an all-new costume and special high-impact web-shooters, the Scarlet Spider fights with the enthusiasm of a rookie hero.  Patrolling the same streets as the original Spider-Man, the Scarlet Spider leaves no doubt for criminals their days are numbered!”

Previously offered in another exclusive release during the Overpower line, this figure is pretty much unchanged here.  This figure, just like the original release, was built using the body of Octo-Spider-Man, which would become one of Toy Biz’s favorite base bodies.  It’s not terrible, and benefits from not having sculpted weblines, meaning that Scarlet doesn’t look odd or out of place.  The downside is that the hoody is just a painted on element, rather than something new.  He does get webshooters, a belt, and pouches for his legs, which mix up his look well enough.  Ultimately, he’s sort of simple, but he’s probably my favorite figure from the set, so I really can’t complain much about him.

SPIDER-MAN

“When Peter Parker temporarily steps down from his crime fighting career, his clone Ben Reilly takes his place as the all new Spider-Man!  Wearing an exciting new costume and utilizing the impact web shooters of his Scarlet Spider suit, Reilly can tackle anyone.  Facing the threat of the evil Jackal, and the enigmantic Kaine, the new Spider-Man will have his work cut out for him!”

The “New Costume” Spider-Man had previously seen release in Series 7 of the main Spider-Man line, but saw another inclusion here, for obvious reasons.  This new costume design is definitely a favorite for toy makers, and I myself am rather fond of it, probably due to its inclusion right here.  This figure is built the same way as the Scarlet Spider, which is sensible, them being the same guy and all, but he gets tweaked forearms with the webshooters molded into place, just like his single release had.  This figure does change some things up a little bit from the single, swapping out the blue for a darker shade that’s a little more appropriate for the character.  My particular figure is also missing a chunk of the spider insignia on the front, for whatever reason.  He’s been like that since I got him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

“Maximum Clonage” was my first introduction to the Clone Saga, and I got the whole set as a Christmas gift from family friend Pat Sponaugle back in ’97.  While I ended up losing most of the other figures, these three in particular have always been some of my very favorites of my 5-inch Marvel collection.  I’m glad I hung onto them over the years, and someday I really do need to replace the rest of the set.