#2490: Space Wolverine

SPACE WOLVERINE

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“The X-Man known as Wolverine will travel anywhere for a good fight with the forces of evil – even to the far reaches of outer space! Wolverine’s space armor protects him from the hostile conditions of deep space, while still allowing him to bring his adamantium claws to bear on alien evildoers! Even in this harsh environment, Wolverine is still the best there is at what he does!”

The eighth assortment of Toy Biz’s X-Men line was the first to properly theme itself, being based on the Pheonix Saga, which had just been adapted for the cartoon.  While a number of the character choices were pretty self-explanatory, they were still faced with a need for a Wolverine variant.  So, they kind of made one?  I mean, it’s not too far of a reach.  It’s a space suit variant, and in both comics and cartoon, the team does go into space.  Never in anything that looks like this, but still…

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Space Wolverine was, as noted in the into, released in the eighth series of Toy Biz’s X-Men line.  He marked the line’s first dabble into made up Wolverine variants, something that anyone who followed the Day of Wolverines will know was far from at its end here.  At least this one was tame, I suppose.  The figure stands a little over 5 inches tall (continuing the upward size trend on Wolverines) and has 8 points of articulation.  Due to a returning of the Series 1 style retractable claws, he lacks any sort of elbow movement, but at least the posing isn’t quite as stiff as it was on the Street Clothes Wolverine.  As far as sculpting goes, this Wolverine gets a head that’s really similar to Wolverine II’s, albeit with some slightly sharper details.  The body is kind of on the wide side, at least in contrast to previous Wolverines.  It does match the overall bulking up trend that Logan went through as the line and the decade progressed, however.  The space suit for some reason doesn’t actually cover Wolverine’s whole body, leaving part of his costume exposed.  I guess his costume really doesn’t breathe?  That can’t be all that comfortable, can it?  Like going everywhere in a tyvek suit.  Yuck.  I guess it helps with branding, though, so there’s that.  In terms of paint, Wolverine again stays on-brand, with what we see of his costume being the usual colors, and the space suit continuing those general colors, but in a more metallic sense, so it’s more golds instead of yellows.  It honestly works pretty well.  There was also a variant of this figure released a bit later alongside a CD-Rom including the original Phoenix Saga issues, which swapped out the gold for a metallic blue.  I also have this figure…somewhere.  Unfortunately, all I could find at the time of this review was his helmet.  Maybe I’ll find him and I can run an addendum, I guess.  For the original release, as with all of the Phoenix Saga figures, there were two releases, once with the short card and once with the wider card the following year.  The initial version included just his removable helmet, second version(which is the one I had) added a gun and two of Shatterstar’s swords to the mix.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was still new to the collecting game when these guys came out, so I got most of the assortment new, Wolverine included.  He was a gift to me from my parents, shortly after we moved into the house they live in now, and I recall that he was accompanied by an X-Men carrying case to keep all of my figures in (which was a far more realistic goal back when I received the case and it could actually hold all of my X-Men figures).  He’s a little more gimmicky than earlier Wolverines, but he is at least a somewhat sensible variant.

#2483: Corsair

CORSAIR

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Snatched from the Earth by a passing Shi’ar spacecraft, Christopher Summers was pressed into service as a slave of that galactic empire. But Summers burst the bonds of his captivity, and now in the company of his fellow Starjammers, he roams the cosmos as the free booting space pirate known as Corsair!”

“The Phoenix Saga” opened up a lot of new avenues for the X-Men.  I guess going into space will do that for you.  In addition to contending with the whole Shi’ar Empire, they also came upon a band of space pirates, the Starjammers.  Originally pitched by artist Dave Cockrum as a standalone set of characters, they were reworked into the crew of a displaced Christopher Summers, the man eventually revealed to be the father of X-Men Cyclops and Havok (and Vulcan, too, but I don’t wanna talk about it).  As the bio above notes, Christopher took on the name “Corsair” and even managed to get himself an action figure, which I’m looking at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Corsair was released in the 8th Series of Toy Biz’s X-Men series, officially dubbed the “Phoenix Saga” Series, and designed to tie-in with the storyline’s adaptation on the cartoon.  Corsair played a large role in that adaptation, so his presence in the tie-in made quite a bit of sense.  Interestingly, Corsair was actually the third Starjammer to grace the line, following Ch’od and Raza’s inclusion in Series 7.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 9 points of articulation.  He’s a pretty standard offering for the line in terms of mobility and construction, being hampered by no odd lack of joints or the addition of any weird action features.  He’s just a nice, basic sculpt.  The details are all pretty cleanly handled, and he’s got a nicely balanced set of proportions.  He’s perhaps a touch exaggerated, but certainly no where near as badly as later figures in the line.  He does go for Corsair’s slightly updated shoulder pad-bearing design, introduced in the early ’90s (because everyone had to have shoulder pads in the ’90s, of course).  It’s the one used on the cartoon, and it really wasn’t much of a change from the original design, so it ended up working out okay.  If there was one change I’d like to see on this figure, I wouldn’t have minded if his hair had a little bit more of a dynamic flair to it; it was usually pretty fabulous, and it seems a little tame here.  It’s not the end of the world, though; I’ll learn to live, I’m sure.  Corsair’s paint work is overall pretty cleanly handled. It’s basic, but it’s also bright and eye-catching, as Corsair should be.  Corsair was originally packed with a sword, gun, and grapple.  My figure’s only got the sword left, but that’s honestly the best part, so I’m okay with it.  Interestingly, Corsair is one of only two figures in the Phoenix Saga Series not to gain extra accessories when the assortment was moved over to the larger-style cards.  I guess they felt like he had enough already.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got Corsair as gift from my Nana back when he was new.  I don’t remember exactly the occasion, but I know it wasn’t a birthday, because my cousin Rusty also got one at the same time.  Maybe it was an end of school thing?  Or possibly an Easter thing?  I don’t know.  I do know that Rusty had no clue who Corsair was and definitely didn’t appreciate getting him as much as I did.  He’s a pretty solid figure, so I definitely am glad he was one I held onto.

#2448: Bonebreaker

BONEBREAKER

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“The villainous cyborg known only as Bonebreaker desires nothing more than the chance to wreak havoc. Employing his robotic abilities first as a mercenary and then as a member of the nefarious Reavers, Bonebreaker leaves a trail of destruction wherever his travels lead him!”

Man, we are just jumping into the deep end with the obscure ’90s X-Men characters, aren’t we?  I mean, it’s kinda hard to top Senyaka and his lack of any staying power in the slightest, so that does give today’s entry a slight leg up…okay, so not “leg up”…because, you know, the lack of legs and all.  Tank up?  Tread up?  Ah, this is definitely way too much thought to put into a Bonebreaker intro.  Look, he’s half-man, half-tank.  It’s pretty cut and dry stuff, really.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Bonebreaker was released in Series 7 of Toy Biz’s X-Men line.  It was the final series to be released solely on the more character-specific short cards, which actually proved a little tricky for the breaker of bones here, since they had to manage fitting his lower half into the package with him.  You have to wonder if that may have slightly influenced the decision to go to the larger cards.  By and large, Series 7’s line-up is one of the softer selection of characters in this line, with only two real “heavy hitters” in the line-up, one of them being quite possibly the most boring Wolverine the line ever produced.  Of the remaining five figures, Bonebreaker may possibly be amongst the best known (although I myself tend to favor Ch’od and Raza on that front; it really comes down to which era of the comics you’re most familiar with).  Why am I talking so much about all of this not Bonebreaker stuff?  I don’t know.  I’m honestly not sure I can bear to talk only about Bonebreaker for quite this long.  But, I suppose I’ve stalled for long enough.  The figure stands 3 inches tall and has 7 points of articulation, as well as rolling wheels (though not proper moving treads, unfortunately).  There aren’t exactly a lot of potential posing options with this guy, but it’s not exactly for lack of trying; there’s really only so much you can do with the design.  The sculpt is decent enough for the time, with a pretty on-brand sculpt for the human portions.  His lower tank half is actually pretty impressive, with fairly sharp and solid technical detailing throughout.  It rivals Ch’od for the best sculpting work in this assortment.  The paint work on Bonebreaker is fairly drab and basic, which I guess is more or less a clean translation of the source material.  The tank’s sculpt kind of suffers here, because the nice detail work ends up getting a bit lost in all that un-painted turquoise plastic.  It’s perhaps not the best choice of coloring.  Bonebreaker was originally packed with two guns, one hand-held, and the other for mounting to the tank.  I have neither.  For shame.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Bonebreaker’s a figure I remember seeing…a lot.  This whole assortment (barring Rogue) was everywhere for a long time, but Bonebreaker is the one I recall seeing the most.  I didn’t get one, I guess because the design didn’t really speak to me, and because his appearance in X-Men: The Animated Series wasn’t one of my favorites.  But, I’m getting pretty serious about the Toy Biz X-Men collection, so I ended up picking up Bonebreaker here loose while on vacation last summer.  He’s honestly a bit better than I’d expected, and I’d like to see how he might turn out in Legends form.

#2441: Senyaka

SENYAKA

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“A member of the humanity-hating Acolytes, Senyaka is perhaps the most ruthless soldier in Magneto’s war against mankind! Often leading the other Acolytes into battle, Senyaka uses his psionic whips to course pain into his ensnared foes! Even more deadly, however, is his power to energize his own energies by sapping his victim’s very life forces. Though struck down in battle by Magneto himself, Senyaka has returned to plague humans once again, with each attack more lethal than the last!”

Remember in my last two Toy Biz X-Men reviews, where I was discussing characters who were pretty much only relevant during the ’90s?  Yeah, so today’s focus wasn’t even particularly relevant *then.*  That bio up there? Probably the most that’s ever been said about Senyaka.  I think I actually learned stuff from that bio, which I guess is the point, isn’t it?  Well, Senyaka got an action figure, so I guess I should maybe review it.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Senyaka was released twice during the Toy Biz X-Men run.  Initially, he was offered up as a TRU-exclusive alongside Series 7 in 1994, and then was added to a proper assortment in 1995 as part of the Mutant Genesis Series.  He’s the same figure either way, and mostly it just served to make him *incredibly* easy to find.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 8 points of articulation.  He’s got no movement at his neck or right elbow, due to how the figure is designed, making him a bit on the stiff side.  Apparently, Senyaka’s had multiple costumes?  Who knew?  Well, he’s sporting his Alcolytes costume, which seems reasonable enough.  The sculpt is pretty typical for the line.  He’s stiff, he’s buff, and he’s got pouches and shoulder pads.  There’s not a ton of detailing going on, but it looks like all of the important stuff is there.  Senyaka’s paint work is pretty standard.  The base color work is all pretty clean, and the colors seem to more or less match what Senyaka was usually sporting.  Senyaka had a slightly different accessory selection depending on release.  Both included his whip, but the Mutant Genesis release also added a nunchuck-looking thing.  Mine has neither, so I guess doesn’t really matter.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Senyaka’s another one of those “if I’m getting the rest of the line, I might as well” figures.  I’ve got no attachment to the character, but then who really does?  I got mine loose, hence the lack of accessories.  Perhaps someday I’ll find them.  Ultimately, there’s nothing really impressive about this guy, but he’s certainly not the worst thing the line offered, and fills in a line-up of villains alright.

#2434: Random

RANDOM

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“If the price is right, there’s almost nothing that Random won’t do! And with forearms that transform into powerful blasters, there’s almost nothing he can’t do!”

Perhaps the most enthralling thing about Toy Biz’s ’90s X-Men line was how many “product of their time” characters made their way into the line, just by virtue of their brief moment to shine being during the line’s hey-day.  Though not quite as exaggerated a case as some of the characters, Random is still a character who really hasn’t found his footing since the decade that created him, which is probably why his only figure to date comes from that same period.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Random was released in Series 6 of Toy Biz’s X-Men line.  He was hardly the most obscure character in the line-up, and marked the second figure in the X-Factor subset started by Strong Guy.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  He lacks any elbow or knee movement, which is a little bit of a bummer.  The left elbow makes some sense, but the knees in particular really just don’t add-up.  Maybe the extra plastic that went into making this guy a little larger meant they couldn’t cost out those extra joints?  The sculpt was unique to Random, and its a pretty respectable translation of his comics design.  He’s maybe a little bit squashed, but that’s about it.  There’s a lot of pretty nifty details, including sculpted stubble on his face.  That’s pretty easily missed, so the fact that they included it is pretty darn impressive.  Random’s paint work is mostly pretty basic, but the coolest bit by far is the inclusion of the tattoos on his arms.  Those are a lot of fun, and take what could have been a somewhat drab looking character and make him really pop.  Random included three missiles, which work with the spring-loaded launcher on his left arm.  The two spares can actually be stored to either side of the launcher, which is a nice little touch, allowing you to actually hang onto them when not firing them.  The launcher itself isn’t terribly impressive, since there’s not lock or release; you just put it in and it launches right back out.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

In my quest to fill in the holes in my Toy Biz X-Men collection, I actually picked this guy up a couple of years ago from a small place called Shazam Comics.  He was, I believe, the only action figure in the store, and the owner didn’t even realize he had him.  I don’t have much connection to the character, but he does make for a rather nifty figure, and the little touches in the sculpt and paint really make him work.

#2427: Trevor Fitzroy

TREVOR FITZROY

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“An evil criminal from the future, Trevor Fitzroy used his power to create portals through time to elude the authorities of his native era by escaping into the past. Now trapped in our century, he uses his mutant abilities and futuristic battlesuit to fulfill his every lethal wish – and to attempt the destruction of his arch-enemy Bishop!”

You didn’t think I was just going to walk away from 5-inch X-Men, did you?  Okay, actually, that would be pretty sensible.  I reviewed 19 of them all in one day, just over a week ago, and that’s like a 30% increase in the number of them reviewed for the site as a whole in the 6 1/2 years I’ve been running it.  I think I technically met my yearly quota already.  Well, in actuality, all the Day of the Wolverines really did was reignite my desire to review these guys, although perhaps not in quite as crazy a fashion.  So, I’m picking up where I left off and diving into the world of ’90s X-Men with a character that exists purely within that world and pretty much nowhere else, Trevor Fitzroy!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Trevor Fitzroy was released in Series 6 of Toy Biz’s X-Men line, and was quite renowned for being a notorious peg warmer for the assortment.  Even at peak ’90s, nobody really wanted this guy.  Poor Trevor.  Despite general lack of interest in the character, there were two variants of Fiztroy produced, one as part of an FAO Schwarz-exclusive four pack (which traded out his blue for purple), and the other in a KB Toys-exclusive two-pack with the previously-reviewed Maverick, which is actually featured in the picture at the bottom of this review.  Whichever version of Fitzroy you get, the figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 9 points of articulation.  His sculpt was unique to him, and it’s honestly not a bad one.  He definitely reflects the trend of these figures bulking up as the line progressed, but this one looked okay.  He’s exaggerated, but not too insanely so.  The head’s got a decent bit of character to it, as well, and they were finally starting to really get a grip on translating some of those radical ’90s hair styles into plastic by this point.  His paintwork is decent enough; nothing amazing or anything to write home about, but it gets the basics down.  The standard release had a yellow stripe down the middle, while the two-pack version swaps it out for gold.  In general, the two pack version isn’t quite as nicely painted, I found.  Fitzroy is packed with some clip-op armor which, if I’m being totally honest here, was more than a little disappointing.  It pretty much won’t say on the figure at all.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t have a Fitzroy growing up, but boy do I recall seeing Fitzroy…everywhere.  He was just all over the place.  That’s probably why I never bothered to get one, honestly.  Well, that, and his two episodes of X-Men: The Animated Series not being terribly impressive.  After getting Maverick all by his lonesome a few years ago, I tracked down the standard Fitzroy loose, and then discovered that the two-pack one was different, at which point I lost my drive for completion because it meant buying another Fitzroy.  However, when All Time got in their mega Wolverine collection, this pack was in there (because of the small diecast Wolverine included), and it was honestly easier than going through the trouble of getting Fitzroy by himself.  Fitzroy is perhaps not the most thrilling figure, but he’s better than I expected him to be, so I can’t really knock him all that much.

#2418: Wolverines (and friends)

WOLVERINE — MODERN AGE/BATTLE RAVAGED/POWER SLAMMER, LADY DEATHSTRIKE, & SABRETOOTH

X-MEN/MODERN AGE (TOY BIZ)

Alright, let’s wrap this bad boy up, bub! When I was divvying up the figures for these reviews, I was doing it by the year of release, and in the process, I actually erroneously listed one of today’s offerings as being from ’99, rather than ’97, as it should be.  With the ’97 review as crowded as it already was, I’m just going to give myself a slight break on that, and group it in here.  It fits better here anyway, since none of today’s figures are truly from the X-Men line proper.  It’s gonna get a little bit complicated, so I might as well jump right in, I suppose.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

“His past shrouded in mystery, the man known simply as Logan was once a Canadian secret agent.  As Wolverine, Logan is a deadly, living weapon.  Besides being a master of a myriad of both armed and unarmed combat, Wolverine’s senses are superhumanly acute and rival many animals, making him a superior tracker and hunter.  Wolverine’s skeleton is laced with an unbreakable metal known as adamantium.  Wolverine is also equipped with foot-long adamantium claws that retract into his hand and can slice through nearly anything.  Coupled with a mutant healing factor that automatically regenerates any damaged or destroyed cells in his body, Wolverine’s ferocity in combat makes him a virtually unstoppable opponent.” 

I’ve delved once before (and rather recently) into Toy Biz’s Modern Age line, which was a direct market line of figures dropped in ’99.  Obviously, Wolverine is a far less obscure entry than Captain Britain, and far less in need of yet another figure, but he was very likely the figure that actually got retailers to support such a venture in the first place.  In that regard, he’s actually a valid comics variant, being a new take on the Brown Costume, which hadn’t actually seen an update since the very first series of X-Men back in 1991.  An update was probably a good idea, though whether this update was an improvement is perhaps more up for debate.  The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  Structurally, there’s not anything new to this guy.  He’s the Ninja Wolverine with the forearms and lower legs of the Water Wars Wolverine.  It all meshes together well enough, I suppose, but it means the figure is as much a caricature of Wolverine as the Ninja figure was.  With the unmasked appearance, they’re clearly aiming to capture his appearance from the cover of his first solo series, but these parts are pretty far from that look stylistically.  I’m also just not a huge fan of this particular head.  He’s got some major underbite going on there.  Wolverine’s packed with a sword and dagger…and, well, I mean, I think they’re meant to tie into his being based on the miniseries, wherein Logan travels to Japan and makes use of such things.  Trouble is, they’re re-used from the Hercules and Xena lines respectively, so they don’t look even vaguely Japanese in origin.  On the plus side, this guy does bring the trading card back.  Nifty!

“Flying at each other with berserker rage and vengeance are Lady Deathstrike and Wolverine.  Each possessing claws infused with the super-strong metal adamantium, Wolverine and Lady Deathstrike are sworn archenemies.  Believing Wolverine to be the key to unlocking the secrets of her father’s research, Lady Deathstrike will stop at nothing until she has defeated the mutant X-Man.  With a rivalry sure to explode when they next meet, Wolverine and Lady Deathstrike are headed for trouble.”

We now enter into the realm that makes up the rest of this review: two-packs.  Toy Biz was rather fond of them, especially later in the 5-inch run, as they were a pretty quick and easy way to turn around some “new” product with a small, concise theme.  It was also a way to get slightly harder to find figures back out in a way that assured a sale of two figures instead of just one.  The “Greatest __” set-up was a popular one for the two-packs, and this particular set, made up of Wolverine and Lady Deathstrike, was dubbed “Greatest Archenemies,” and hit shelves in 1997 (yes, this is the offending item that broke my whole yearly break down).  I’m a little skeptical about Deathstrike being Logan’s greatest archenemy, but whatever.  The Wolverine included in this pack was a re-deco of the Invasion Series’ Battle-Ravaged Wolverine, which is honestly a pretty solid figure.  He stands 5 1/4 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  Again, he’s quite tall for Wolverine.  And just kind of large in general, really.  This sculpt is one I’m fairly nostalgic about, the original release being my first Wolverine figure, and I do think it overall holds up pretty well.  The paint for this guy is rather drastically different, with it being a metallic paint scheme in contrast to the flat colors of the original.  This one also dials up the battle damage throughout, in contrast to the nature of the sculpt.  It’s not terrible, but I feel the coloring on the original is far superior to this release.  He was also given the weird armor from Patch, which isn’t a good fit for the body, or particularly great just as an accessory, but it sure is here.

Pairing off with this Wolverine was another go at Lady Deathstrike, previously seen in the Battle Brigade assortment.  She had two different decos there, but gets yet another here.  She stands 5 1/4 inches tall and has 7 points of articulation.  Her sculpt’s, uh, well, her sculpt’s not great.  I mean, I guess it’s not terrible, but it’s definitely not great.  I mean, all the important details are there, but the proportions are kinda wonky, and it’s really stiff.  It’s got those v-hips, and that’s pretty much never any fun for anyone.  For some reason, her forearms and hands are really soft and rubbery as well, and I’ve got no clue as to why.  Perhaps they were a safety hazard if cast in hard plastic?  She’s also got a radically changed color scheme, and I’m not really sure what it’s going for.  She’s pretty much only had the one color scheme in the comics, so this is an odd choice.  It’s also not very cleanly applied, and still feels kind of tacky in a number of places.  She gets the infrared headset and forearm cannon from the original Deathstrike release, but loses out on the big gross claw.  Also included in this set is a metal X-Men ring, if that’s the sort of thing you’re into.

In 2000, things began winding down for the 5-inch line.  To somewhat tie-in with the X-Men movie and the subsequent re-runs of the cartoon on Fox, Toy Biz put together a brief line of repaints and re-issues for the 5-inch figures.  There were three series of single-packed figures, and three different two-packs as well.  Wolverine and Sabretooth, whose rivalry was highlighted in the film, paired off for one of the sets.  The Wolverine figure in this set is essentially just a straight re-issue of the Wolverine included in the Power Slammers Series, one of the two Wolvies released in 1998 (a year I’ve pretty much skipped today). The figure stands just shy of 5 inches tall and he has 10 points of articulation.  While the Rogue and Gambit figures that accompanied this Wolverine figure in his original series were based on the Shi’ar attire they were wearing in the comics at the time, Wolverine had no such attire, so Toy Biz just sort of made up something to loosely match them, I suppose.  It’s not one of my favorite designs, and looks more like a snowboarding suit than something Wolverine would wear.  The sculpt is at least a relatively decent one, with a fair bit of detailing mixed in and a reasonable set of prioportions.  They even kept the pre-posing to a minimum.  It’s really just the costume design that’s whacky.  The original release came with a power slammer contraption, but this one instead gets the splitting door accessory from the Battle Ravaged Wolverine figure.

Packed in with Wolvie was a variant of Sabretooth.  Like Wolverine, the core figure is essentially the same as a prior figure, specifically the Sabretooth from 1997’s Ninja Series.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 9 points of articulation.  His sculpt is suitably large and imposing, something prior Sabretooths hadn’t quite gotten down.  He’s also fairly well articulated, and generally looked as being the best general Sabretooth sculpt of the 5-inch days, despite being such a non-standard design.  He gets him some Wolverine hair (making it a little surprising that this figure was never repainted into Logan), and sort of a onesie.  It’s perhaps not as intimidating a look as his sheer size would tend to hint at, but then again, Sabretooth has never really had much of a sense of fashion.  This figure’s paint is largely unchanged from his single-pack, but he did get white boots in place of the original silver ones.  He gets the two pieces of clip-on armor from the Ninja release, but lacks that figure’s mask and tunic.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Honestly, this last round of figures is pretty much all made up of figures that were on the chopping block when I was briefly considering *not* getting every figure I didn’t have from the collection at All Time.  I of course then came to my senses and realized how silly I was being not just filling in the set outright.  That said, this is definitely the weakest selection, with some kind of uninspired repaints, some really goofy toy-original designs that just don’t quite land, and a strangely not artist-specific take on an artist-specific concept.  Nothing here’s as terrible as, say Battle Blasters Wolverine, but none of its as fun as Unleashed or Missile Flyers.

Thanks to All Time Toys for setting me up with these guys to review.  If you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2417: The 1997 Wolverines

WOLVERINE – NINJA, MONSTER ARMOR, UNLEASHED, FUTURE, HYDRO BLAST, & BATTLE BLASTER

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

It’s going to get worse before it gets better…well, depending on your perspective, anyway.  It’s certainly going to get more numerous before it gets less so.  Yes, it’s time for part four of the Day of the Wolverines, where we move to 1997, a year that was quite jam-packed with Wolverines.  I mean, really, just X-Men figures in general, but as the most marketable, Wolverine reaped a lot of those benefits.  However, this is really where the line gives up on its “lets just make a fairly straight adaptation of a lot of X-characters” mission statement in favor of a more crazy, experimental, frantic, “try to grab all the attention we can” ideal.  It was…well, it was an interesting time to be collecting for sure.  Onward we go!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

“Long ago trained in the ways of the martial arts, Ninja Wolverine formed a powerful bond with Japan and many of its people.  So when Dark Nemesis threatens to destroy Japan, Ninja Wolverine is ready to tear him to pieces.  Joined by fellow X-Man Ninja Psylocke, Ninja Wolverine uses his razor sharp claws and martial art abilities to do whatever it takes to stop the forces that would enslave his adopted home land!”

Man, they really like the word Ninja, don’t they?  After the success of the Light-Up series the prior year, Toy Biz opted to go even further down the themed assortment rabbit hole.  Their first venture was one that was pretty popular in the mid-to-late ’90s: Ninjas.  Admittedly, not the furthest reach for an X-Men assortment, and Wolverine himself is a pretty solid fit for such a theme.  The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and has 11 points of articulation.  After creep upward in scaling, Wolverine is back into a more regular scale…for now, anyway.  This was a new sculpt for Wolverine, and represents the line’s turn to more exaggerated proportions and expressions.  I’m not exactly sure what’s going on with Logan’s face, but I’m fairly certain I don’t like it.  We get our first acknowledgement of Wolverine’s bone claws for this figure, three years after the fact.  This marked the line’s first venture into a more mixed-media venture, which would prove a popular idea for Toy Biz, as it would re-surface for their X-Men vs Street Fighter line, as well as their Marvel’s Gold line.  It’s not the worst looking thing, I suppose, but Logan looks a little bit like he’s swimming in all that fabric.  Fortunately, it’s fairly easily removed if that’s not you jam.  In order, I suppose, to make up for his lack of metal claws, Wolverine includes a three-bladed sword, a ninja staff, a chain (which the kids dig, of course), and a grappling hook.

“Transformed by Mister Sinister into a creature possessing pure animal fury, Wolverine is now the monstrous beast, Fangor.  Breaking the bars of his holding cell, the monster Wolverine rages out of control.  Using his increased strength, Wolverine destroys Sinister’s mutagenic equipment and soon finds himself attacked by monster versions of Rogue and Cyclops!  Wolverine is mutantkind’s last, best hope against the power of Sinister!”

After being Ninjas and then fighting some robots for a bit, the X-Men played into their monstrous side, as well as their…armored side.  Look, they turned into monsters, okay?  And Wolverine was there because he kinda had to be, like contractually or something.  The figure stands just shy of 5 inches tall (again, with the hunch factored in, meaning he’s again jumping in size.) and has 5 points of articulation.  The Monster Armor series for whatever reason cut back on the articulation for the individual figures.  Others in the set get a few more unique points of movement, but Wolverine just has the standard 5 joints.  Wolverine is definitely a victim of a shift towards a pseudo-McFarlane style, with pre-posing, exaggerated proportions, and a more “intense” design.  Logan takes an admittedly far more simian appearance, even before the monster armor is taken into account.  He also ditches Logan’s usual hair, in exchange for something more free form.  Despite its very stylized nature, it’s actually a kind of nifty sculpt, partly because it’s a bit more unique.  I also quite dig the torn-up costume detailing.  One notable thing missing are his usual shoulder pads, which were present on the prototype, but were gone by the time he made it to production.  This figure also had a notable cut in paint apps from proto to final product, resulting in a somewhat bland paint scheme here.  Wolverine included the five clip-on pieces for turning him into “Fangor,” which do their job as well as any of the others.  I don’t know why he doesn’t turn into, say, a Wolverine, but hey, who am I to judge?

“Feeling responsible for Professor X’s possession by the evil Onslaught entity, Wolverine seeks to save his mentor.  Finding Onslaught unstoppable, Wolvie rescues the one person whose reality-warping powers might be able to defeat the villain–Franklin Richards.  Now in New York City’s Central Park, Wolverine stands with the greatest super heroes in the final assault against Onslaught!”

Following the…let’s loosely call it “success,” I suppose…of Marvel’s Onslaught crossover, we got a brief tie-in line as part of the X-Men line.  There’s not much to it, but there was a Wolverine.  Yay?  Sure, why not?  We’d already gotten a Wolverine with bone claws, but this one takes it a step further, giving us, to date, our only figure of Wolverine post-adamantium-removal-and-attempted-reintroduction-induced-secondary-mutation.  It’s a very specific time in his life, I assure you.  It’s also, like, peak ’90s craziness for Wolvie.  The figure stands 5 3/4 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  Again, the Onslaught series represents a cut back in the articulation, and more importantly it leans hardcore into the increasing size of Wolveine.  Were he standing straight, this guy would have at least another inch of height.  Even amongst the larger than average Onslaught figures, that’s nuts.  This guy’s too large to fit in with Marvel Legends, for Pete’s sake!  Befitting the time period and the version of Logan, the sculpt is by far the most exaggerated I’ve looked at yet.  He’s really cartoony, and really goofy. I dig the retractable claws for this guy, but the actual fur on the forearms is just a really strange choice (according to Super Awesome Wife: “He’s hairy in all the wrong places”).  Honestly, a lot about this figure’s strange, truth be told.  His only accessory is actually an additional figure: it’s a little Franklin Richards figurine, in what has got to be the most ’90s attire Franklin ever wore.

“With his strong adamantium bones and claws, as well as a mutant healing factor, Wolverine can stand up to just about anything.  So when the X-Men take on Apocalypse in his flying fortress, Wolverine leads the charge.  Pounded by the fortress’ automated defense systems, Wolverine attacks.  Using his razor sharp claws, Wolverine makes quick work of the robot guards.  Facing off against Apocalypse in mid-air, Wolverine won’t stop until he sends the villain crashing down once and for all.”

At this point, the actual themes of the assortments kind of started to fall off, in favor of just leaning really heavily into the gimmicks.  The Missile Flyers series was, unsurprisingly, a bunch of figures with big missile-firing flying contraptions.  Also, it was supposedly in the future?  All of the figure’s had “future” in front of their name, anyway.  At least it didn’t get shoved into every instance of Wolvie’s name like with the Ninja figure.  Future Wolverine stands just shy of 5 inches tall and he has 9 points of articulation.  Yay for knees and elbows again!  That said, he’s not a particularly posable figure, even with the returning joints.  Pretty much he’s hot the one pose.  His sculpt was all-new, and it was an all-new design and…well, there it its.  It, uh, it certainly happened.  His head’s real tiny, and his hands and feet are real big.  I’m glad that at least, unlike the Muntant Armor, this figure’s armor does actually mimic the classic Wolvie appearance a bit.  Also digging those groovy curved and wavy claws.  Very unique.  This Wolverine a mask (which the package proudly proclaims “fits over head”; that’s good, I guess) and a dragon-shaped wingpack with a launching missile for a head.  The wingpack is green for some reason, which clashes with the figure proper, but if I’m honest, doesn’t look half bad.

“When Los Angeles is attacked by deadly mutant hunting Sentinels, it’s up to the X-Men to stop them.  The Sentinels’ only weakness is their vulnerability to water.  Thus the X-Men arm themselves with powerful water shooting weapons in order to defeat the inhuman menace.

Fighting his way out of any situation is the most dangerous of all the X-Men — Wolverine!  Putting his enemies in their place with his retractable claws, Wolverine also has a powerful mutant healing factor making him quick to recover from any attack.  With heightened senses, no one can hide from Wolverine, making him an effective hunter as well.  Choosing the path of a hero, Wolverine fights along side the X-Men to create a world where humans and mutants co-exist in peace.”

1997 was the year that Toy Biz got into the water-themed stuff, with both of their main super hero lines getting in on the action.  Spider-Man had the Web-Splashers, and the X-Men had “Water Wars.”  The pretense of how they set up the need for these water-shooting gimmicks is pretty darn laughable, but removed from the gimmicks, they were actually an alright assortment of updates to some core looks.  We’d gone a little bit without just a standard tiger stripe Wolverine, and this one dropped right in nicely.  The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall (his stature was returning again to something more reasonable) and he has 11 points of articulation.  Though he lacked elbows, the rest of the added articulation sort of made up for it, and this was honestly Toy Biz’s most posable Wolverine at this scale.  The sculpt is far more stylized, and definitely more pre-posed than earlier entries in the line, but for the most part, this is a pretty respectably handled take on the character.  He’s packed with some shoulder armor, onto which you can mount his big water cannon.  It’s incredibly gimmicky, and incredibly tacked-on, but there it is.

“In a strange universe Wolverine brings a glimmer of hope to all mutants.  Fighting against the evil warlord Apocalypse, Wolverine slashes his way to making the world a better place for all mutantkind.  Along with Jean Grey, Wolverine is more trouble than he can claw his way out of, his transforming Claw Cannon Blaster and its secret weapon are more than able to finish the more than able to finish the job for him.”

Okay, I’m not even going to try and figure out what that bio’s *supposed* to say, because it certainly isn’t what it actually ended up saying, because that’s just an incomprehensible mess.  It’s okay, the figure it accompanies isn’t much better.  After Water Wars, Toy Biz decided they really liked this model of packing every figure with some sort of large gimmicky thing, so they launched the “Secret Weapon Force,” a subline that ran through the X-Men line for the next two years.  The first series was dubbed “Battle Blasters” because everyone had…big battle blasters.  I know, it’s real high-concept stuff.  Wolverine stands 5 1/4 inches tall and has 8 points of articulation.  All of the Battle Blasters figures were retools in some way, but while some of them were rather clever, Wolverine simply wasn’t.  For some reason, they opted to re-use not a pre-existing Wolverine mold, but rather a *Sabretooth* mold, specifically Captive Sabretooth from the Invasion Series.  It’s not a great mold to begin with, and is only made worse when co-opted to be something it’s not.  They’ve opted to do him up in his Age of Apocalypse colors, but he’s still got two hands, and no pupils, and hair that’s not even remotely right, so it just kind of falls apart.  It’s also just not a very attractive sculpt, and that jaw-opening action feature looks really weird.  No sir, I do not like it.  They weren’t willing to drop money on new tooling, but Toy Biz were quite happy to spring for this all-new Claw Cannon Blaster, which is…a thing.  Yeah, it’s dumb and I got nothing.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The “I’ve probably got enough Wolverines” was really hitting by ’97, and so I really didn’t pick any of these up new, or even pay them much mind.  I’ve got other figures from the same assortments, so I was still collecting, of course, but not these guys.  In the case of Unleashed and Future Wolverine, I’ll admit to actually wanting them a little bit as a kid.  They were, in fact, the two I was most hoping to see in this collection when Jason called me about it.  Goofy as they may be, neither disappointed.  The others are kind of a range of quality.  Water Wars is surprisingly good, and Battle Blasters may well be the worst Wolverine Toy Biz ever produced, with the other two falling in between.  Oh good, I’m finally through with the ’97 review.  It gets easier from here.

Thanks to All Time Toys for setting me up with these guys to review.  If you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2416: 1996 Wolverines

WOLVERINE — LIGHT-UP, PATCH, SAVAGE LAND, & BATTLE ARMOR

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

As we reach the middle of this crazy Day of the Wolverines event, I’m doing a bit of a time jump.  We last left off in 1993, just as the X-Men line was taking off.  The Wolverine craze was, admittedly, at a minimum.  I’ve already covered 1994’s Wolverines, and by 1995 I had gotten into collecting myself, meaning I bought those Wolverines when they were still new.  So, we pick things up in 1996, when the X-Men line is starting to dip its toes into the world of weird.  Don’t worry, guys, this one stays mostly on the rails; it’s the next one you have to worry about.  Okay, into the fray once more!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Long before joining the X-Men, Wolverine was a well-trained mercenary.  One of the most important skills to him was stealth training.  Now when Wolverine needs to get somewhere secretly, he utilizes this background and his stealth equipment!  Donning these advanced stealth weapons and gear, Wolverine becomes a one-man covert operation.”

1996 was the year that the gimmicks really started to seep into the X-Men line, with the first one of note being the “Classic Light-Up Weapons” series.  Ah, yes, Light-Up weapons; what a classic.  While the general purpose of the assortment was to update some characters that hadn’t gotten figures since nearer the beginning of the line, Wolverine was also along for the ride, because, well, he’s Wolverine.  His standard figure for this release was, despite the “Classic” monicker, not a classic Wolverine, but instead a variant costume, which looks to be based on the stealth gear he wears in the Animated Series episode “Sanctuary Pt. 2.”  It’s not the worst thing to come out of the ’90s, and I guess it’s at least a fairly unique look.  The figure stands just over 5 inches tall (even crouching, again showcasing the upward trend of height) and he has 7 points of articulation.  As with all of the Light-Up figures, Wolverine suffered a bit of a restriction on the articulation front thanks to the light-up gimmick, meaning his right arm’s not going to be doing much, and he loses out on elbow movement.  He doesn’t even get the ankle joints that Gambit, Psylocke, and Nightcrawler did to make up for it!  The sculpt on this one is…well, it’s an interesting one.  It’s an intense one, too.  They were definitely going for dynamic, especially as the line continued and…well, this guy is dynamic, I suppose.  There’s quite a bit of pre-posing going on, something we really hadn’t seen in this line before.  It’s not ideal.  Wolverine is also really bulked up and…I don’t wanna say “puffy”?  Again, not ideal, but fitting with the line’s ongoing efforts to make Wolverine larger and larger (that’ll hit critical mass in the next set of reviews).  The whole Light-Up assortment was treated to a set of re-paints, meaning we got this figure not only in his weird stealth colors, but also in a semblance of his regular color scheme as well.  Whichever version you got, he included a large light-up…thing, and two belts full of pouches.  Yay pouches!  No trading card here, I’m afraid.

“A hero whose adamantium-laced bones and razor-sharp claws make him the bane of his enemies, Wolverine is a hard guy to miss.  So when he finds himself on the island of Madripoor in need of a disguise, Wolverine takes on the identity of ‘Patch!’  Now secretly moving among the island’s inhabitants, Wolverine waits for the moment when he can finish his covert operation and return home to the X-Men!  With amazing mutant abilities and years of martial arts training, one thing is for sure–no matter what guise he’s in, Wolverine is always ready for action!”

Ah, yes, Wolverine’s “Patch” identity.  An oft-mocked concept that really doesn’t seem like the sort of thing that would come even remotely close to working as a real-world disguise, largely due to usual renditions of the design still keeping Wolverine’s signature hairstyle.  Let’s all marvel at Toy Biz managing to actually make a legit comics thing somewhat less stupid for adaptation into a toy.  It was…certainly a change of pace for this particular era of figures.  Wolverine Patch stands 4 1/4 inches tall and has 8 points of articulation.  That includes an articulated ponytail.  Did I say ponytail?  Yes, I certainly did, because Toy Biz actually gave Patch a different hairstyle than your usual Wolverine.  He’s got it pulled back, which actually makes him look like a different guy.  There’s an illustration on the back of the box which also shows this hairstyle, so it may be something that actually came from later Patch appearances, but my searching online didn’t bring any up, so I’m crediting Toy Biz with changing this one up.  Beyond this newly patch-ed and ponytail-ed head, Wolvie makes use of a slightly retooled body from the AoA Weapon X figure, which had been released earlier the same year.  Virtually every part of the body had been changed in some fashion, though, so it seems it was more to save on sculpting time, and less to save on costs. The figure’s got a armored thing that the package dubs his “Total Assault Arsenal,” which is supposed to be removable.  I don’t know if this is the case across the board, mine being the only copy I’ve opened, but on my figure the tab at the back of the belt had been glued shut, in fact even gluing a portion of the belt to the body.  It freed from the body easy enough, but it was no easy task getting the two ends of the belt to separate for removal.  That’s not ideal.  There were two color schemes available for this guy.  The one seen here, and one that swaps out the dark blue body suit and the red cables for black and purple, respectively.  He brings back the trading card as well, with this one being dedicated to showing off the broken claws of a post-adamantium-extraction Wolverine.

“During his time with the X-Men, Wolverine has visited many strange places, but none can compare with the Savage Land! A tropical rain forest located in the heart of Antartica, filled with prehistoric creatures long thought extinct, it is as unique as Wolverine himself.  But with his adamantium claws and heightened mutant abilities, Wolverine is a primal force to be reckoned with, even in a place where dinosaurs still roam.” 

Repaints were a fairly regular affair for the line by this point, be they as accents to a main assortment, or as an assortment outright themselves.  For ’96, the repaint series was titled “Flashback,” I guess as a reference to the re-used molds?  It certainly didn’t have much of anything to do with the figures contained within.  The assortment was 50/50 split on good use of a repaint and bad use of a repaint.  Fortunately, its Wolverine variant fell into the former category.  While the whole X-team would journey to the Savage Land the next year, Wolverine got in ahead of the game.  Savage Land Wolverine stands 4 3/4 inches tall and has 7 points of articulation.  He’s a repaint of the Fang Wolverine mold, which is one I actually haven’t looked at here on the site yet.  It’s one of my favorites, and quite frankly, it’s probably the best Wolverine sculpt the line produced.  It’s proportions aren’t nuts, and pre-posing is at a minimum.  Even its action feature, which makes use of a primitive form of butterfly joints, for sort of a claw slashing maneuver, is pretty decently handled.  The new paint does a respectable job of transforming the original costume’s details into a sort of a tribal affair, which makes for a fairly unique design, and distances it from the original figure quite nicely.  He’s packed with the same weapons tree and two blades as the Spy Wolverine figures, as well as the two additional blades from the initial Fang Wolverine release.  And again, there’s a trading card, this time of Juggernaut!

“Everyone knows that one Sentinel is no match for Wolverine’s adamantium claws…but what about five Sentinel’s? or ten?  That’s why Professor X and Forge developed a special battle armor for Wolverine!  Using highly advanced Shi’ar technology, the armor boosts Wolverine’s strength, and emits a focused energy that temporarily neutralizes the Sentinels’ power cells.”

Okay, so, a couple of things.  Firstly, I want it noted that I transferred the bio over directly from the back of the box, including that possessive “Senintel’s” that is meant to be a plural.  Secondly, though the bio talks all about this thing being anti-Sentinel armor, the descriptor on the front is “Anti-Magnetism Armor” which would lead you to believe that it would have something to do with Magneto.  Beast from this assortment *also* has Anti-Magnetism Armor, so I went to check if his bio was more properly oriented, only to discover that my figure came with the card back for Quicksilver.  I’d say it’s a safe bet that Wolverine’s “Anti-Magnetism” descriptor is yet another typo, especially given this is the infamous “Muntant Armor” series.  Let’s get away from the packaging and onto the figure.  This whole assortment was an excuse for Toy Biz to make use of the recently canceled fifth series of their Iron Man line, pumping them into the far more commercially viable X-Men as a string of goofy variants.  Wolverine made use of the planned Magnetic Armor (a little ironic, given the ultimate descriptor on this guy), sans the Iron Man head, and with the Space Wolverine head in its place.  It’s not a terrible construction, and certainly a much less forced set-up than the Beast figure from the same assortment.  It also ditches the more typical Wolverine color scheme for one that’s blue, red, and black.  It’s honestly kind of interesting that they didn’t go more on-brand with the colors, especially considering they already were tweaking them from the proposed Iron Man colors.  As a repurposed Iron Man, Wolverine’s got the same removable armor gimmick that most of that line did.  He also includes a trading card of Cable vs Nimrod, which is all holographic and stuff.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

By 1996, I was officially venturing into the realm of “I probably have too many Wolverines,” which is why I didn’t get most of these when they were new.  That’ll go double for the next entry.  I did get the standard Light-Up Wolvie new, though that was as a gift from my Nana, so I can hardly be blamed for that (he’s the only one form this set *not* from the All Time haul, but the variant did come from them).  What’s intriguing about this year’s line-up is how far away from potentially standard Wolverines we moved.  They’re all kinda specialized.  I think Savage Land is my favorite of this bunch, but that’s largely linked to him being a repaint of Fang Wolverine, who’s just a solid figure in his own right.  Light-Up is *not* a good figure, by pretty much any metrics.  I’ve got a little bit of a soft-spot for him, but I can recognize the many mistakes made there.  Armored Wolvie is a passable Iron Man figure, but really doesn’t feel like and X-Men figure, because he’s simply not one.  And Patch is…I mean, he’s just kind of there.

Thanks to All Time Toys for setting me up with these guys to review.  If you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2415: Wolverine V – Part Deux

WOLVERINE V

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Before his transformation into the super hero called Wolverine, the man called Logan plied his trade as one of the world’s foremost secret agents!  His superhuman senses proved an invaluable asset in the realm of espionage, especially when enhanced by the most sophisticated sensing equipment money could buy!  And his unequaled skill with razor edged weapons made him an unbeatable fighter–much to the regret of the enemies of world peace!”

For the second part of my crazy Day of the Wolverines marathon run, I’m actually doing just a little bit of circling back, and taking a look at a figure I’ve kind of looked at before.  See, one of the things that Toy Biz experimented with a fair bit during their X-Men line was color variants.  They were a solid way of getting another sale or two out of the same mold, so there were a fair number of figures that wound up with one, or even two variant color schemes.  Sometimes there’d be a variant color scheme within the standard assortment, and then yet another as a retailer-exclusive, waiting just around the corner!  Such was the case with Wolverine V, Spy Wolverine!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Spy Wolverine was part of Series 4 of Toy Biz’s X-Men line, hitting shelves in 1993.  I’ve reviewed one of this figure before, back in 2014, and my general thoughts on its sculpt still pretty much stand.  I will say, that compared to the Weapon X figure from earlier, I’m a little surprised by the slight step back in quality on this figure, and honestly, on the Civilian Logan that hit the next year.  You almost have to wonder if there was some shuffling of figures in the line-up, or if maybe a few of the Wolverines were prepped at once.  Whatever the case, it’s a slight letdown, but certainly not a terrible sculpt in its own right.  I mean, who doesn’t want a bunch of snorkling Wolverines?  The difference between all of these figures is the paint.  For the main release, he came in either black and gold or blue and gold.  My initial review was of the blue, and the black is featured here. The KB Toys version swaps out the black/blue for an olive green, and the gold for bronze.  The general application across all of the figures is essentially the same, with even those darn goofy eyes appearing across the board.  For my figures, I found the KB version to be the cleanest.  All of the figures also included the same six knives, four still being on the tree behind him.  We also get more trading cards!  Black actually gets a Wolverine card (crazy, I know), but Olive gets Psylocke.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When I picked up the blue guy back in 2014, I figured that would do me, and I wouldn’t need to worry about the variants.  However, when I came in to dig through this insane collection of Wolverines, I discovered that the only Spy Wolverine this guy didn’t have was the one I did.  It seemed almost criminal to not complete the set.  Right?  That’s a fair line of logic, right?  I’m not just making excuses for my habit, right?  The black version I don’t have much attachment to (aside from it feeling more chromatically correct based on the cartoon, I suppose), but I find myself really liking the olive Wolvie.  He just kinda works.

Thanks to All Time Toys for setting me up with these guys to review.  If you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.