#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.

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#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.

#1823: Wonder Man

WONDER MAN

AVENGERS: UNITED THEY STAND (TOY BIZ)

“Simon Williams became Wonder Man as a result of scientific experiments that bombarded his body with tonic energy. Now his eyes glow with power and he possesses superhuman strength, speed and durability. Originally an enemy of the Avengers, Wonder Man soon realized he had been manipulated into attacking the team and now he uses his amazing powers as a full-fledged Avenger. Wearing his Avengers symbol ring, this mighty hero will always heed the call, “Avengers Assemble!””

After the success of X-Men: The Animated Series, Spider-Man: The Animated Series, and the Iron Man and Fantastic Four segments of the Marvel Action Hour, in 1999, Marvel tried their luck again, with a cartoon based on The Avengers.  Titled Avengers: United They Stand, the show placed its focus on the typically more supporting Avengers, rather than the likes of Cap, Thor, and Iron Man.  Also, unlike prior Marvel cartoons, it leaned heavily on selling the toys, leading to some…interesting design choices.  It wasn’t incredibly well-received with the fanbase, and only ended up lasting a single, 13-episode season.  But, like I said, it was definitely designed to sell toys, so it got a pretty decent run of those.  Today, I’m looking at my favorite member of the team from the show, Wonder Man!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The initial assortment of Avengers: United They Stand figures were spilt into two series.  Wonder Man was officially part of the second, but they were all released at the same time, so it didn’t really matter in the end.  Anyway, Wonder Man was a big guy on the show, and that’s reflected with this figure, who stood just shy of 6 inches tall and had 9 points of articulation.  Wonder Man’s movement is an interesting mix.  He’s got ball-joints hips, and hinged ankles, which weren’t standard issue at the time, giving him a leg (heh) up, but due to his two separate action features, the arms are limited just to cut joints at the shoulders, and rather restricted ones at that.  On the plus side, his sculpt was actually a pretty good one.  The only other figure I’ve looked at from this line, Ultron, took some liberties with the show’s design (to the figure’s benefit, in Toy Biz’s defense), but Wonder Man follows the trend of the rest of the line, crafting a fairly show accurate figure.  He still departs from the show design a little bit, just so he can fit in a little bit better with some of Toy Biz’s other figures from the time, but you can definitely see where the inspiration for the figure came from.  He’s definitely a stylized figure, but I feel it works pretty well.  The head in particular really seems to get down the character’s personality quite well.  Wonder Man’s paint work is actually pretty impressive.  Not only is the base application very clean, but he’s also got some nice variation in the finish on areas such as the boots, and some very well-rendered accenting on his legs, arms, and face.  They even included the distinctive red reflection on his sunglasses!  Mine’s taken a little bit of beating, of course, but has certainly held up better than other figures from the same era.  Winder Man was packed with a life-sized version of his Avengers ring from the cartoon (not entirely sure why, but there it was), and nothing else.  It makes him one of the lightest packed figures from the line, but he’s also the largest, so I guess it works out.  He does have the two action features previously mentioned.  The first is a light-up feature, which lights up his hands and sunglasses.  Why?  Not a clue.  I’d say it was related to his ionic abilities, but those are usually purple, and these light-up red.  The second is a punching feature on his right arm.  It’s rather basic; push down the lever on his back, and the arm swings up.  Again, I have to ask “why?”  Certainly there were better, less-articulation-restricting features to work in?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I am an unabashed lover of United They Stand.  I vividly remember awaiting its premiere, and, of course, its accompanying toys.  I wanted the whole line-up, and made detailed lists of the exact order I’d be buying them in.  Wonder Man was at the very top of the list; my absolute most wanted figure in the set.  Unfortunately, United They Stand marked the first time I really ran into troubles with distribution and scarcity on such a line, so I kind of had to take the figures in the order my dad was able to find them for me.  Wonder Man ended up as the fourth figure I added to my collection, procured for me by my dad after he stopped at lord knows how many stores on his way home from work.  This guy remained a favorite of mine for quite a while.  Ultimately, he’s not without his flaws. Most of them are related to those shoulders, and just how locked in place they are.  That said, I still kinda love this figure, and I still kinda love the show he’s from.

#1814: Colossus

COLOSSUS

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Born Peter Rasputin and raised on a Siberian farm, Colossus’ humble roots could not have revealed the life he would one day lead! Recruited by Professor X, Colossus left his home to begin a new life of danger and adventure alongside Wolverine and the X-Men! A powerful mutant, Colossus can transform his body into living metal, giving him a physical strength and invulnerability matched by few! But with all his power, Peter Rasputin is an artist at heart, and resorts to using his mutant gifts only when they are needed in the service of his fellow X-Men.”

Colossus is undoubtedly one of the coolest members of the X-Men, and has been a prominent one at that, but for whatever reason, he always seems to draw the short stick when it comes to media adaptations.  Well, at least the Deadpool movies have helped there, right?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Colossus was released in the “Battle Brigade” series, the 14th series of Toy Biz’s X-Men line.  It would mark Colossus’ second figure in the line, following his appearance in Series 1.  That figure was more classically inspired, while this one aims more for the super exaggerated, rather imposing Colossus that’s become all the rage since the ‘90s, meaning he fits in a little better with the line’s post Series 10 direction.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  While he lacks elbow movement, he does instead get a much wider range of motion on his shoulders, as well as cut joints on his wrists, which seems like a decent enough trade off to me.  Colossus’ sculpt was all-new, and it’s certainly…something.  I’m not entirely sure what.  He’s definitely large.  He’s definitely imposing.  But he seems a little wide for Colossus, at least by my eye.  There are, of course, a number of different interpretations of the character, but I can’t say this really matches up with any of the ones I’m really familiar with.  Something about the facial expression seems very un-Colossus-like to me.  I don’t dislike it, but he feels a little off.  Also, can we address that his hands are bigger than his waist?  That’s definitely a new issue for Colossus, who had traditionally been pretty thick in the trunk.  This…like I said, this is off.  (quoth Super Awesome Fiancee: “He’s a Dorito”).  The one area of the figure that’s decidedly not odd is the paint, which is actually pretty respectable…or at least it was before foolish child Ethan took him and played with him, thereby messing up a lot of the silver.  Why would I do that?  That’s so irresponsible!  Colossus was packed with an assortment of clip-on armor, which I don’t feel he’d have much use for, but hey, there it is.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Colossus didn’t begin as my figure.  He was actually my Dad’s, purchased alongside the Archangel from this same assortment, in one of the earliest memories I have of us getting figures right from the case.  When my Dad got the Collector Editions Giant-Sized X-Men set, he upgraded to that Colossus, and I got this one.  Admittedly, not the best of the Colossuses to be offered by Toy Biz in this era, but he has his own sort of awkward charm.

#1808: Spider-Man – Spider Armor

SPIDER-MAN — SPIDER ARMOR

SPIDER-MAN (TOY BIZ)

“When Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider, he gained all of the arachnid’s abilities and became the amazing Spider-Man! But when even these powers aren’t enough, Spidey dons his patented Spider-Armor! This ceramic-metal battlesuit protects the web-slinger from all manner of attacks – giving Spidey the added time he needs to take it to the bad guys!”

Before devolving into some truly ridiculous variants of the title character (“who doesn’t want a deep sea fishing Spider-Man?”), Toy Biz’s 5-inch Spider-Man line actually worked pretty hard at releasing sensible variants of its main character, ones which would appeal to fans and kids alike.  One such release is actually one of my very favorites from the whole line, Spider Armor Spider-Man!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Spider Armor Spider-Man was released in Series 3 of Toy Biz’s Spider-Man line.  He was one of two Spidey variants in the assortment, with the other one being the more straight-forward super posable Spider-Man.  This figure is based on Spidey’s armored appearance from Web of Spider-Man #100.  The same design would also appear on Spider-Man: The Animated Series, as a Tony Stark-inspired alternate universe version of Spider-Man.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 8 points of articulation.  Thanks to an action feature, his right arm lacks any sort of elbow articulation, which makes the figures a little bit on the stiff side.  In fact, the way the articulation and the sculpt interact, the whole figure really does look rather stiff.  That’s fair, I suppose, given his armored nature, but still slightly frustrating.  The sculpt on this guy was all-new, and would see re-use for a handful of repaints down the line.  Aside the stiffness thing, it’s actually pretty good.  The bulked up look differentiates him from the average Spidey, and for once the sculpted web-lines actually make sense, and look quite decent.  The paint work on this figure was pretty basic, and rather monochromatic, in keeping with the design from the comics.  It’s black plastic with silver paint.  Voila!  The silver paint on my figure is a bit worse for wear these days, the figure having seen some decent play back when I was a kid.  Spidey was packed with a “Super Web Shield,” which could be either mounted on his left arm, or launched from the launcher built into his right.  The launching feature’s not all that impressive (it’s the same gimmick used on Professor X and US Agent), and I’d really rather he just din’t have it, but oh well.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I vividly remember watching the Spider-Man: Animated Series finale that introduced this guy back in the day.  I had all of the other Spider-Men from the crossover, but this guy seemed the coolest.  Of course, he was gone from regular retail by that point, and the toy aftermarket wasn’t yet what it would become.  I did eventually get the little metal figure to hold me over for a little while, though.  This guy would eventually make his was to my collection via KB Toys’ liquidation center, which my Dad and Grandmother took me to once, back in the 2002, I believe.  After searching to no avail for this guy for a couple of years, I found a literal wall of him at that location, which was definitely a thrilling experience for me.  He’s not a perfect figure, but he’s certainly a very cool one, and I’m still very happy to have him in my collection.

#1782: Juggernaut

JUGGERNAUT

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Incredibly strong, virtually invulnerable, and with a body almost bursting with evil mutant power, Juggernaut is the ultimate mutant battering ram. Juggernaut is unstoppable… he can smash his way through anything, even a mountain! His skin is so tough not even Archangel’s paralyzing darts can penetrate it. The only way to defeat him is to tear off his helmet and knock him out… something that, thanks to his battering ram-like fists, is almost impossible!”

He’s the Juggernaut, biscuits!  What, isn’t that the quote?  No?  Eh, close enough.  Hey look, it’s another Toy Biz Juggernaut figure.  Been a while since I’ve looked at one of those, right?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Juggernaut was released in Series 1 of Toy Biz’s X-Men line.  He’s the final of the three villains offered this first time around.  He uses Juggernaut’s main design, which was, at this time, still the his only real look, so I guess that makes sense.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 4 points of articulation.  Alongside Colossus, he was one of two figures in this assortment not to get the mid-limb joints added before going to production.  The end result, especially when combined with the design of his helmet, which removes any opportunity for neck movement, is a figure that’s rather on the stiff side.  He’s also somewhat on the small side.  Sure, he’s a little bulkier than the other figures in the series, but not much taller, so he doesn’t quite cast the imposing silhouette that later Juggernaut figures would possess.  Size and posability aside, his sculpt is actually a decent enough piece of work, at least internally.  Goofy?  Absolutely.  But, compared to others in the set, he’s on par, and there are certainly some fun smaller details, such as the little rivets at the base of the helmet.  That’s a nice extra little touch.  Juggernaut’s paintwork is pretty standard stuff, being variations of brown, or dark orange at least.  He’s a little pale, and the contrast between the shades of his costume is a little low key, but overall it’s pretty clean application.  Juggernaut’s not usually one for accessories, but Toy Biz felt the need to give him *something* so he gets…uhh…I guess it’s a battering ram?  Because I guess he needed extra battering power?  Perhaps he was a little too “stoppable” as was.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Juggernaut is another one of those figures that I don’t quite so clearly remember the acquisition of.  Shot in the dark says he was a KB Toys purchase, because that’s where most of these came from.  He’s been with me for a good long while is the point.  Sure, he’s not the best Juggernaut from Toy Biz, but he matches the rest of the earlier figures, and he’s certainly got his own charm.

#1748: Apocalypse

APOCALYPSE

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Apocalypse is the evil mutant who has used his sinister genius and mutant ability to turn himself into a merciless one man army! Apocalypse is incredibly strong, able to change his size at will, and has created for himself a weapon system designed to destroy the X-Men. Apocalypse is the most frightening evil mutant on Earth when he turns himself into a giant, puts on this deadly arsenal and attacks!”

Following Magneto’s turn to the side of good in the ’80s, the X-Men spent quite a bit of time in search of a new over-arching big bad.  They found a number of potential offerings, none of whom quite hit that same spot, but perhaps the most successful of them was En Sabah Nur, aka Apocalypse.  He was a consistent foe in the back half of the ’80s, up into the ’90s, so his place early into Toy Biz’s run was certainly sensible.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Apocalypse was one of the three villains released alongside our heroes in Series 1 of Toy Biz’s X-Men line.  He served as a rather sensible counterpart to the same series’ Archangel figure.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he had 11 points of articulation (though two of those points can be somewhat debated, since they’re tied into his “action-feature”).  Apocalypse’s sculpt, like many others in this assortment, is definitely showing its age.  What’s interesting is that it’s due to slightly different factors than some of the others.  It’s not that he doesn’t quite live up to his comics appearance the way Archangel or Storm or Cyclops do, it’s actually that he’s too faithful to an Apocalypse design that itself has fallen out of fashion.  He depicts Apocalypse as he is seen in his earlier X-Factor appearances, when he was still rather lean, and still rather square and stiff.  It’s a very different take on the character, and his beefier revamp design from just a few years later would end up being the prevailing design and informing how the character was depicted for the three decades since his creation.  As such, this guy definitely looks out of place amongst the others, but paired with the Cyclops and Archangel from this assortment, he starts to fit in a bit better.  Ultimately, the actual sculpt is one of the more competent one from this first set.  I think I’d place him in the number three slot, after Nightcrawler and Magneto.  His proportions are certainly believable for this incarnation of the character, and his construction is quite sturdy.  Apocalypse’s paintwork is fairly standard stuff.  It’s rather limited, and the application is messy in some spots, especially the belt.   Apocalypse included a staff, which is supposed to have a “gem” at the top of it.  Mine’s gone missing, so my Apocalypse just looks like he’s holding a broken ball-point pen.  He also has an “Extending Body” feature, where his torso and legs extend outward, in sort of a stretching sort of fashion.  It’s rather goofy, and not really worth much extra, but it’s not like it impedes the figure overall.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m not 100% sure how I got Apocalypse.  He was an earlier addition to the collection, I know that much, most likely gotten during my parents early efforts to expand my collection.  I was watching the cartoon by that point, so I knew the character.  Regardless of how I got the figure, he’s stuck with me for quite some time, despite my not being super into Apocalypse.  As I noted in the review, he’s a somewhat dated figure, based on an out-dated design, but he’s actually one of the stronger figures in the first assortment, and he depicts a version of the character we don’t often see.

#1734: Archangel

ARCHANGEL

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Archangel is the high-flying X-Man with a knock-out secret weapon– wingtip darts filled with paralyzing fluid! Archangel can fire these darts with uncanny accuracy from any height and speed. With his amazing metal wings, Archangel is able to fly faster than the speed of sound and silently attack like a striking eagle. This ability strikes terror in the hearts of evil mutants, for their first warning of Archangel’s attack is usually the impact of one of his darts!”

In the late ’80s/early ’90s, there was a trend in comics, of taking characters with formerly passive powers and either creating a new character with those powers plus an offensive component, or even just reforging the original into something more “kick-ass.”  Founding X-Men member Warren Worthington III, originally known as Angel, found himself on the receiving end of one of these make-overs, become the war-ready Archangel.  It was a lasting look, and one that was at the forefront when it came time for Warren’s first action figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Archangel was released in Series 1 of Toy Biz’s X-Men line.  His presence is somewhat interesting, as he’s the only X-Man in the line-up who wasn’t from the “All-New, All-Different” lineup.  Archangel was still wearing his hideous “Death” togs he got from Apocalypse at the time of this figure, so that’s what he’s wearing here.  Boy, was this costume ugly.  I mean, I love it, but it’s ugly.  The figure stands 4 3/4 inches tall and he has 9 points of articulation (his wings can also move, but it’s tied into his action feature, and they don’t really hold poses or anything).  His sculpt was unique to him.  It’s not terrible, but I do think he’s a fair bit more dated than some of the others in the set.  His head’s kind of large, and his facial expression is sort of goony. I think it’s the eyes; they seem too close together.  The body is rather stiffly posed, and his proportions are definitely a little off.  The arms are probably the worst part; they just look so scrawny when compared to the rest of him.  The wings are okay, though they suffer a bit from the comics’ lack of consistency on the exact shaping of them.  They’re also slightly marred by the “missile launching feature” at the tops.  I use the quotes because there’s no actual spring-loaded feature or anything; you just pushed them out with your thumb.  Kind of disappointing.  The torso is also impacted a bit by the wings.  Toy Biz wasn’t sure how to attach them, so they went for this this big honking block on his back.  Elegant it is not.  Archangel’s paintwork is decent enough; it’s a little brighter than a lot of interpretations of this costume tend to be, but it’s not like it was going to get *less* ugly.  There were two versions of this guy’s colorscheme; the original release had white wings, while the re-release offered both white and grey wings.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Archangel was one of my earlier additions to my collection.  Though the Invasion series had hit right when I started collecting (and given me my first three X-Men figures in the process), the Archangel variant included there wasn’t quite as plentiful, so I ended up getting this guy’s re-release instead.  He’s not aged particularly well, and I definitely prefer other Archangel’s, but he still has a quaint sort of a charm to him.

#1720: Wolverine

WOLVERINE

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“When it comes to fighting Evil Mutants, the X-Men know there’s no one better than Wolverine! With his razor-sharp adamantium claws, his lightning-quick reflexes and his unmatched combat experience, Wolverine can outfight anyone! Thanks to his super-fast mutant healing ability, in just a few short hours he’s totally healthy and ready for action again, no matter how serious his wounds!”

Would you believe there was a time when a Wolverine figure was an exciting and new thing?  I know, that’s a bit hard to grasp.  But, until Mattel’s Secret Wars line, there were no Wolverine figures at all.  And that one wasn’t even all that good!  He’d have to wait until 1992 for a second go, courtesy of Toy Biz’s then-newly-launched X-Men line.  He would be the first of very, very many.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Wolverine was released in Series 1 of the X-Men line.  He was actually unique amongst the 5-inch X-Men figures for being in Wolverine’s brown costume.  It was still his current look when these figures hit (which is more than could be said for a number of his Series 1 compatriots), but it was quickly replaced by the returning tiger-stripe design, which would be the main focus for a good decade.  The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall (making it one of Toy Biz’s few offerings to truly stick to Wolverine’s proper stature) and he has 7 points of articulation.  His sculpt was new to him, and remained unique for all of Toy Biz’s run.  It’s a pretty decent one for the time.  While it doesn’t quite eclipse the likes of Magneto and Nightcrawler, it’s still really quite good.  The build of the body is probably the strongest aspect; Wolverine figures tend to overlook his distinctive stature, so this one getting it down so well is certainly notable.  The head’s not quite as strong.  This was really the first time that Logan’s hair was translated into three dimensions, so they were still sorting it all out.  It ends up looking a little goofy and sort of impossible, but it’s not terrible.  Wolverine’s paintwork is reasonable, though not anything outstanding.  The base colors are all pretty decent recreations of the comics look, and he’s rather eye-catching.  There’s some unevenness with the lines in a few spots, especially on the torso.  Wolverine was packed with his mask, which works surprisingly well for the scale, as well as a katana.  He was also the first Wolverine to feature the popping claw action, which allowed him to simulate Wolverine’s signature “snikt” move.  It robs his arms of any elbow movement, and the claws are required to be rather small to facilitate.  That said, it works reasonably well, and is certainly fun.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was too young to get Wolverine new, and he wasn’t one that was prone to showing up later on.  Fortunately, Cosmic Comix had me covered there, and I got this guy not too long after getting into collecting.  He’s actually not a bad figure, and despite the sort of odd removable mask, it was one of the better Wolverines from the line.