#2187: Maximum Clonage

BEN REILLY, SCARLET SPIDER, & SPIDER-MAN

SPIDER-MAN (TOY BIZ)

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

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

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

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

BEN REILLY

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

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

SCARLET SPIDER

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

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

SPIDER-MAN

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

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

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#2184: Ch’od

CH’OD

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“An alien from the Shi’ar galaxy, Ch’od’s monstrous, reptillian form belittles his keen intellect and heroic heart. Once a slave, he has regained his freedom, and now travels the spaceways in the company of the Starjammers, always on the lookout for other victims of tyranny in need of his aid!”

From Amphibian Man to lizard man!  Prior to hitting it big over at Marvel with his stint on X-Men, Dave Cockrum had tried to pitch some of characters he’d been holding onto for a while to Marvel Spotlight and Marvel Premiere.  Among those concepts was The Starjammers, a group of space pirates who would eventually find their way into the Marvel Universe through the pages of X-Men, where they became the crew of Cyclops and Havok’s father Christopher Summers, aka Corsair.  The line up has had its fluctuations over the years, but one of the mainstays has been Ch’od, big reptilian guy who would really prefer you stopped confusing him with Abomination.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ch’od was released in series 6 of the Toy Biz X-Men line.  He, alongside series and team-mate Raza, was the line’s first introduction of the Starjammers.  Their leader Corsair would follow shortly after in the assortment based on The Phoenix Saga.  To date, this remains Ch’od’s only action figure, but who knows, maybe he’ll get some Legends love sometime soon.  The figure stands just over 5 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  He loses out on elbow and knee articulation, I can only guess due to his relative size and build.  He does get a waist joint, though, as well as a neck joint, which was frequently one of the first joints to go for this line.  Despite his slightly less posable nature, or perhaps because of it, Ch’od actually has one of the best sculpts from early in the line, certainly the best of his particular assortment.  He captures Cockrum’s rendition of the character quite nicely, and his sculpt has a surprising level of detail and texture work for the time.  Ch’od’s paintwork is fairly basic, with minimal detailing on the face, shorts, and belt.  The rest of the figure is just molded in a bright green, which is perhaps a touch on the bright side for Ch’od, but hardly the worst choice ever.  Ch’od is packed with his white furry companion Cr’eee, who pegs onto his shoulder via a rather obtrusive peg that’s pretty much going to guarantee that you don’t ever display one without the other.  Ch’od also has an action feature, dubbed “Double Arm Hurling Action” which is pretty self explanatory, and actually works surprisingly well.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Okay, so here’s an odd one for me: I have genuinely no idea where this guy came from.  I remember my dad having one when I was growing up.  I remember wanting to get one.  And I remember that I did *not* get one new.  A few years back, while prepping for a move, I found a box of 20-some X-Men figures I’d been missing, and Ch’od was in with them.  The timeline of when the box went missing means that he didn’t get bought during my big 5-inch buy in 2011, so I just don’t know what his deal was.  Whatever the case, I’m glad I have one because he’s a really nifty figure.  He just baffles me.

#2170: Tigra

TIGRA

AVENGERS: UNITED THEY STAND (TOY BIZ)

“Greer Nelson was subjected to treatments meant to enhance her physical prowess and make her the greatest female athlete in the world – but something else happened. She was transformed into a fur-covered cat woman, and gifted with all the graces of a feline – heightened speed and agility, enhanced senses, and dangerously sharp claws. As Tigra, she can be as playful as a kitten, but when trouble arises she becomes a savage warrior. The symbol on her belt joins Tigra with Earth’s mightiest heroes, and she heeds the call, ‘Avengers Assemble!'”

Back before the Avengers had a whole bank of movies to make them a household name, Marvel had tried their hand at expanding their outreach via animation.  Hoping to capture some of the success of X-Men: The Animated SeriesSpider-Man: The Animated Series, and the Marvel Action Hour, they launched Avengers: United They Stand.  It was…not a success.  It lasted just one 13-episode season and never had much of a following to speak of.  Me?  Well, I loved it, and the toyline it spawned, which provided figures for the team’s more obscure members, like today’s focus Tigra!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Tigra was part of the second series of Toy Biz’s Avengers: United They Stand tie-in line, though as I always note with these guys, the numbering was really just clerical; both series shipped to stores at the same time.  This figure would mark Tigra’s second figure ever, and her first that wasn’t just a straight repaint of someone else.  The figure stands just over 5 inches tall and has 13 points of articulation.  The UTS figures were by and large notable for their inclusion of a decent amount of articulation for the scale, and Tigra is the first figure I’ve looked at to truly showcase this.  It’s not perfect, as she misses out on things like elbows and is still saddled with those dreaded v-hips that Toy Biz was so fond of for female figures,but the inclusion of wrists, and more than just cut shoulders was downright revolutionary at the time.  Tigra sculpt is sort of an interesting concept; they were clearly going for something dynamic, as is dictated by the sway to the hair and the slight twist to her waist and legs.  It doesn’t quite work out for a dynamic pose and also means she’s stuck in a wonky pose when just standing.  It’s not terrible, though, and honestly isn’t any worse than some of the really stiff poses from earlier in Toy Biz’s run.  The detailing on the sculpt follows the styling of the cartoon, but does inject some more realism into it, with some solid texturing on the hair and fur.  It’s definitely solid for the time.  Also pretty solid for the time is the paintwork, which gives Tigra her distinctive stripes and is generally pretty cleanly applied. She’s got an Avengers insignia on her shorts…and also on the backs of her hands?  Guess she really wanted to be on brand.  Tigra was packed with a base with a training robot attached.  The robot had magnets in its hands which matched with the ones in Tigra’s hands, allowing for her to “spar” with it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When these figures first started hitting shelves, they were a little scarce.  Tigra had the honor of being the first of them added to my collection, alongside Falcon.  It’s always given me a special appreciation for the character, given I had her longer than any of the others, and I’d been so desperately searching at that point.  She’s perhaps not the greatest figure the line had to offer, but she’s still pretty decent, and certainly not bad when compared to the other figures in Tigra’s limited run of toys.

#2142: Sabretooth

SABRETOOTH

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Sabretooth is just one of the several man-made killers created by the Weapon-X project. Once an ally of Wolverine, he is now one of the most vicious of the X-Men’s foes. He has an incredible healing factor that makes him immune to most drugs and poisons, and he has greater endurance than most human beings. With his fearsome claws, sharp teeth and innate savagery, Sabretooth has a bloodlust that is rivaled only by his hate for Wolverine!”

Early in the Toy Biz X-Men line, there was a frequent occurrence of characters having just changed their costumes just as their figures would get made.  Mainstay X-Men Wolverine and Cyclops needed V2s pretty quickly, but so did a few of their foes.  Sabretooth was a notable example, having just gotten a major redesign right before his V1 figure’s release, requiring a second go less than a year later.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Sabretooth was released in Series 5 of Toy Biz’s X-Men line (the same series that also gave us the second Cyclops figure) in 1993.  He uses Sabretooth’s updated Jim Lee design, which, in addition to streamlining his costume, also began the trend of bulking the character up considerably.  It was also the look that was used on X-Men: The Animated Series, which had started not long before this figure’s release.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and has 4 points of articulation.  He’s actually pretty limited on the articulation front for one of these figures.  Necks and elbows were still pretty inconsistent at this point, so that’s not a huge shock, but the lack of knee joints is certainly odd.  It also makes him incredibly hard to keep standing, which isn’t exactly a plus.  Why exactly they opted to cut so much articulation from this figure isn’t exactly clear.  The sculpt itself isn’t bad.  It capture’s Victor’s bulked up look pretty well without going too overboard.  He matches up well with Lee’s usual depiction of the character, even if his stance is perhaps a little rigid.  The paintwork is on the basic side, and there’s definitely some slop on the edges of the brown, but it’s about what you’d expect for the time.  Sabretooth included no accessories, but he did have a “Snarl and Swipe” action feature; squeezing his legs swings his arms in and out and opens his mouth. It’s not a bad gimmick, all things considered, and the lack of exposed levers and such was a marked improvement on Toy Biz’s earlier offerings, taking a page out of the Super Powers book.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

My first V2 Sabretooth was not his original release, but was instead the Marvel Universe re-release, given to me as a gift by a family friend.  That one eventually broke on me and got lost in a shuffle of figures some time back.  The one seen here is the original release, which I actually got for my birthday a couple of years ago, alongside a handful of other ’90s Marvel figures.  He’s not exactly a very playable figure, but he certainly looks the part.

#2114: Cyclops II

CYCLOPS II

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“The man called Cyclops possesses the uncanny mutant ability to fire beams of devastating energy from his eyes. These optic blasts are so powerful that they can only be effectively harnessed by a special ruby-quartz visor designed by Professor X. Over the years, Cyclops has grown from a sullen, withdrawn loner into the cool, confident, capable leader of the X-Men’s Blue Strike Force!”

While Wolverine got on the multiple figures bandwagon as soon as Toy Biz’s X-Men line had multiple series by which to deliver multiple figures, it took other characters a little longer to get there.  The villains got on the repeats a little quicker, but the first non-Wolverine duplicate from the main team was the X-Men’s leader man, Cyclops, who would end up getting a pretty major overhaul for his second figure, appropriately named “Cyclops II.”

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Cyclops II was released in Series 5 of Toy Biz’s X-Men line.  He was then subsequently re-released in 1995 as part of the cartoon-driven “Classics” assortment.  The figure seen here is officially the classics release, but the core figure is identical between the two.  Cyclops was sporting his Jim Lee costume, which was brand-new at the time, having replaced the previous X-Factor costume (which was used for the first figure, as well as his talking counterpart) right on top of said costume getting a toy.  It was about as timely as you could get, really.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 8 points of articulation.  When I reviewed the 10-inch figure whose sculpt was based on this one, I noted that the larger figure had more articulation.  Due to the built-in action feature, this Cyclops lacks neck articulation, which is certainly a little bit restricting.  Additionally, the figure’s proportions are also thrown off by the batter compartment needed to power said light-up feature.  This means the torso’s really big, making the arms in particular look comparatively pretty small.  It also means this is a Cyclops that suffers from the opposite problem of the prior figure, being rather on the bulky side for a guy whose nickname is “slim.”  Proportions aside, there’s still some decent sculpted work on this figure.  The head is a respectable translation of his look from the comics, with some nice detail work on the hair in particular.  The pouches and straps mixed throughout the sculpt are also quite nicely detailed, which I’m sure was really a big hit with all the pouch and strap aficionados in ’93.  A shame there weren’t also some shoulder pads, right?  Cylcops’ paintwork was rather on the basic side, but solid stuff nevertheless.  The original release of this figure came packed with a backpack and a gun, which are, of course, the obvious accessories for Cyclops.  However, for the re-release, he was instead given Comcast’s hover platform, because, again, really the obvious choice, right?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

While this figure was out when I started collecting, the rerelease hadn’t quite hit, so it was X-Factor Cyclops that had the honor of being my first Cyclops figure.  This guy came a little bit later, as a gift from a family friend who was well aware of how much I loved X-Men.  He quickly transitioned to being my main Cyclops, at least for a little bit.  He would eventually be outpaced by other Cyclops figures, and was amongst 23 of my X-Men figures that got boxed up and buried in the garage during my high school years, and would remain there until the summer after I finished college, when I finally unearthed them.  He’s not my first Cyclops, he’s not my best Cyclops, but he’s an important Cyclops, and I still enjoy the corny little guy.

#2085: Captain America

CAPTAIN AMERICA

AVENGERS: UNITED THEY STAND (TOY BIZ)

“One of the original members of the Avengers, Steve Rogers – better known as Captain America – has always been the ultimate Wielding Soldier. Wearing the patriotic colors of the American flag, and wielding his trusty shield, he fights alongside his teammates in the name of truth and justice.”

Well, this isn’t a Spider-Man review.  What gives?  Fear not, dear readers, the Molten Man series reviews will return tomorrow,  but I’m taking a slight detour in honor of Steve Rogers’ birthday, July 4th!  Oh, also it’s some American holiday as well.  Whatever the case, I’m taking a look at a Captain America figure, because that’s how I do.  In the ’90s, Captain America figures were nowhere near as plentiful as they are now, and somewhat astoundingly, Toy Biz’s huge 5-inch line only spawned five figures of him over the course of the whole decade.  Today, I’m looking at one that just barely squeaked in under the radar in 1999, as part of the tie-in line for Avengers: United They Stand.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Captain America was part of the first series of the Avengers: United They Stand line (though, like other Toy Biz tie-in lines from the same time, both Series 1 and 2 hit shelves simultaneously).  Though not a series regular in the cartoon, Cap did have a prominent guest star appearance, and would have been joined by fellow guest star Iron Man had Series 3 ever been produced.  The figure stands 5 3/4 inches tall and he has 9 points of articulation.  If the sculpt on this guy looks familiar, it’s because I’ve looked at most of it before.  In a line otherwise made up of entirely new sculpts, Cap re-used the body of the Electro Spark Cap from the ’90s Spider-Man line.  Sort of an interesting choice, since it didn’t really match Cap’s design from the show, and all of the packaging actually showed the Marvel Vs Capcom Cap instead.  As I noted the first time I reviewed the sculpt, It’s quite large and exaggerated, which does make him look rather goofy.  He gets a new head and an Avengers belt buckle to differentiate him.  The head is a decent enough piece, and certainly feels more like your usual Captain America than the Electro Spark one, but it’s also really small, especially when compared to the body.  This only furthers the body’s proportion issues.  Cap’s paintwork is actually quite bright and eye-catching, and an improvement over the prior use of this mold.  There are some minor issues with bleed-over, but they’re as prefaced: minor.  Cap was packed with his usual shield, once again saddled with a gimmick, but this time not one that total destroys the aesthetics.  It’s just got a little magnet imbedded on one side, which triggers an “explosion” on the included droid accessory, where part of it pops out.  It never worked super well, but it also didn’t really ruin the figure, so I can’t complain.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The United They Stand figures were pretty hard to find when they were released, so I got them as I found them.  Cap was nearer the end of my completion of the set, fourth to last.  I found him on a trip with my parents to a Kmart, which was sort of out of the ordinary for us.  It also marked an important change in my collecting, as my parents both tried to assure me that I pretty much already had this figure.  They were right, but still bought the figure for me, starting me down a path of buying nearly identical variants of the characters I like.

#2073: Robot Wolverine

ROBOT WOLVERINE (ALBERT)

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Created by the villainous Reavers to be an exact duplicate of the X-Man Wolverine, Albert gained real feelings in an electrical accident. Now constantly rebuilding himself out of whatever materials he can find, Albert scours the world for his heroic doppelganger – but whether to befriend him or to harm him, even he is not sure!”

Desperate for a steady stream of Wolverine variants to keep their line running, but not quite ready to just start outright making them up (that would come later), Toy Biz delved into the X-Men villains roster, and pulled out te robotic Wolverine duplicate Albert.  Never a majorly prominent character in the mythos, Albert would ultimately serve as an inspiration for Logan‘s antagonist X-24, whatever your take on that may be.  His only figure still remains that original Toy Biz figure, which I’ll be taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Robot Wolverine was released in Series 6 of Toy Biz’s X-Men line and was the sixth Wolverine variant to grace the line (a fact that the packaging proudly proclaimed).  The figure stands 5 1/4 inches tall (continuing the trend of Toy Biz’s Wolverine figures steadily climbing in height as the line progressed) and he has 7 points of articulation.  He lacks elbow articulation often seen on these figures because…reasons?  The figure’s sculpt was an all-new offering, based on the character’s rebuilt appearance following his time locked up in police impound, which is fair, since otherwise he’d just be a slightly off-looking brown-costumed Wolverine.  It’s admittedly an interesting design, with something of a post-apocalyptic Mad Max vibe to it.  It’s certainly a different sort of look for the line.  There are some pretty neat little touches mixed throughout, and I particularly like the handcuffs stitched onto his torso.  It’s a goofy little touch which is totally accurate to the source material, and shows off Toy Biz usual commitment to the material nicely.  The rest of the sculpt matches the usual Toy Biz style of the time, which I suppose is pretty okay from a consistency standpoint.  The figure’s sculpt is accented by a solid paintjob.  While it’s perhaps not the most exciting or eye-catching colorscheme, it’s accurate to how he looked in the comics, and there’s no shortage of detail work, with most of the sculpted details getting proper paint as well.  He’s the sort of figure that could have possibly benefited from a wash, but that really wasn’t Toy Biz’s speed at the time.  Albert was packed with a spare set of arms, with a more robotic appearance and claws attached.  They swap out for the standard via the figure’s action feature.  Squeeze his legs and his arms spring out of their sockets, and then you can install the new ones.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Albert *just* predates me getting into the line, and was late enough that he wasn’t one of the ones resurfacing right as I got into things, so I didn’t have him growing up.  In fact, he’s quite a recent addition to my collection.  I had to see Endgame at a slightly out of the way theater, and while killing a little time before the movie, my dad found a comic book store, Beyond Comics, to check out.  They had a rather nice selection of ’90s Marvel stuff.  What caught my eye wasn’t actually this figure, but was instead the Invasion Series Havok, who I will literally buy every time I see him.  However, I felt a little silly having my only purchase be a figure I already own five of, so I scoured the racks for another figure I didn’t have.  Albert was the winner of that particular lottery.  He’s actually not a bad figure, and is unique among Wolverine variants for being not a Wolverine variant at all.

#2059: Longshot

LONGSHOT

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Once a slave to the extradimensional tyrant Mojo, Longshot eventually escaped, came ot Earth and joined forces with the X-Men. Armed with razor-sharp throwing knives, his combined abilities of amazing agility and incredible luck allow him to take on the fiercest foes. Recently, Longshot left the X-Men to search for the secrets of his past and travel to parts unknown!”

Have I reviewed a Longshot figure before on this site?  I feel like I have. <checks backlog>  Why yes, yes I have, waaaaaaaaaay back in review #0034.  Wow, that was a while ago.  It also predates me being quite as in-depth with these intros, so I guess I haven’t really talked about him much, apart from saying he’s nobody’s favorite.  Aw, that feels a little bit cruel.  Past-Ethan’s a little bit of a jerk, isn’t he?  Well, on the Longshot front, it’s worth noting that the guy hasn’t had the best luck when it comes to action figures, both in terms of quantity and quality.  He had exactly one figure during the Toy Biz 5-inch days, and that’s the one I’m looking at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Longshot was part of Series 4 of Toy Biz’s ’90s X-Men line.  He falls into one of the line’s most oddball series, with Professor X, Cyclops II, Ahab, Sabretooth II, and the Brood as his fellow releases.  Longshot joined Ahab and the Brood in the club of “not having been relevant in several years” at the time of release.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  He’s a bit more limited in movement than a lot of the other figures from this line, and I’m not entirely sure why.  He’s only got one elbow joint (the left), which is in order to facilitate his knife-throwing action feature.  That I can kind of get.  But he’s also got no neck movement, for seemingly no reason.  That I don’t get.  Were they just not sure how to articulate it with the mullet?  Whatever the case, it’s not doing him any favors.  Also not doing him any favors is the general quality of the sculpt.  This early in the line, Toy Biz’s sculpts were still very hit-or-miss, and this one’s more miss.  It’s largely that head, which just looks downright goony.  Longshot’s usually depicted as being a somewhat charming fellow, but none of that’s visible, unless you are particularly charmed by the face of a chimpanzee.  Which maybe you are.  I’m not one to judge.  But Longshot isn’t classically this simian.  Toy Biz’s sculptors also seem to have understood the basic concept of the mullet, but not really the implementation, resulting in a hairstyle that’s…well, it’s certainly something.  The head is also rather small when compared to the rest of the body, which, it should be noted, is a much better example of sculpting, comparatively at least.  Longshot’s paintwork is fairly standard.  It’s clean and the colors match his usual depictions.  The face again gets the worst work, though, getting those round, wide eyes, making him look like he’s in a constant state of surprise.  Longshot was packed with two knives (in case you lost one, I guess) and a bandolier, which helped to complete his usual look.  He also had the “KNIFE THROWING ACTION!”, where his right arm will swing forward when pulled back.  It’s not the most technically impressive feature, but at least it wasn’t overly intrusive.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t get Longshot new, but I did get him fairly quickly after the fact (probably around 1999-2000), courtesy of Cosmic Comix during one of their legendary Midnight Madness sales back when they were still on Main Street in Ellicott City.  I don’t know exactly why I got Longshot, but I remember wanting him, for one reason or another.  He’s…not a great figure.  Of course, he’s in luck, because he’s not even the worst figure in this particular series (that’s Ahab).  Longshot’s goofy, and not a good take on the character, but I suppose he’s got his own sort of charm.

#2012: Apocalypse

APOCALYPSE

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“The megalomaniacal mutant villain known as Apocalypse believes that total war between humans and mutants is inevitable. In order to weed out those he feels are weak and unsuitable for the coming conflict, he manipulates mutants into battling one another, calculating that with the help of the strongest and most ruthless survivors he can conquer the world and become ruler of all – both man and mutant!”

Introduced in the ’80s, as a foe for the recently launched X-spin-off X-Factor, Apocalypse has gone on to become one of the X-franchise’s most enduring foes.  Throughout the ’90s, he maintained a rather prominent place in at the center of a lot of conflicts and cross-overs, and also wound up as a big-bad for the ’90s X-Men: The Animated Series, and, by extension, got some pretty solid coverage from the toyline that ran alongside it.  He was actually among the very first figures released in the line, but due to evolution of the character’s design, he found himself up for a second figure quite quickly.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Apocalypse was released in Series 4 of Toy Biz’s X-Men line, just two years after his initial figure debut.  Following Magneto, he was the second true remake of a Series 1 figure (Wolverine had also shown back up, but all of his figures up to this point were using unique designs, so it’s every so slightly different).  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 8 points of articulation.  He’s actually quite a step-down on the articulation front when compared to his predecessor.  He got an all-new, much more bulked up sculpt, based on the steady changes to Apocalypse’s design since he’d first appeared in the ’80s.  This was very much the current Apocalypse design at the time, making him a more definitive take on the character than his prior release had been.  His sculpt is a fairly decent one, and definitely had a little more menace to it.  The head in particular really captured how Apocalypse looked in the comics at the time.  His color work was another marked change from the prior figure, and again befitted the changing design of the character.  This one, with his brighter blue accents, follows the lead of the cartoon design.  I do miss the black details, but overall, it’s a decent colorscheme, and certainly one that’s accurate to the character.  Apocalypse was packed with a spare set of arms, simulating his techno-shifting abilities. There’s a claw arm and a drill arm, both of which are pretty neat.  They swap out at the shoulders, which means that both they and the regular arms do have a slight tendency to pop out of place when you don’t want them to.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I had a copy of this guy growing up, but it was a ways after getting the first one, who remained my favorite.  That one went missing, so I picked up this replacement during one of my splurges of 5-inch Marvel figures, about a year or two ago.  He’s an okay figure, and was certainly a more accurate figure at the time of his release.  Personally, though, I find that the changes make for a figure that’s just not as much fun to play with as the original was, so he’s always been second gear to me.

#1998: Sabretooth

SABRETOOTH

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

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

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

THE FIGURE ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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