#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.

#2408: Crowd Control Stormtrooper

CROWD CONTROL STORMTROOPER

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Feared throughout the galaxy, Stormtroopers are elite shock troops deployed in support of both ground forces and the Imperial fleet. They are responsible for policing Imperial outposts and territories, accountable for sustaining Imperial control in even the most dangerous sectors. This can be a challenging and often deadly assignment for the most reliable shock troop squadrons. Tough port cities such as Mos Eisley have high populations of outlaws, criminals, smugglers and other anti-Imperial types who create a typically chaotic atmosphere.”

Before making use of the sub-line to get out some larger figures and accessories seen in the film, Kenner’s first approach to the “Deluxe” offshoot of Power of the Force was…well, it was certainly more at home in a ’90s toyline.  The first three offerings (as well as one of the two offerings that followed) in the line were all slight re-workings of previously released heavy hitters, but this time with some big gimmicky gizmo included.  On the positive side, it did give collectors a second chance at a little bit of army building in the form of today’s figure, the Crowd Control Stormtrooper.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Crowd Control Stormtrooper was released in 1996, alongside Han Solo w/ Smuggler Flight Pack and Luke Skywalker w/ Desert Sport Skiff.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  The core figure to this set is effectively the same sculpt as the standard Imperial Stormtrooper figure.  Certainly, that’s hardly Kenner’s finest attempt at a Stormtrooper sculpt, but it was the standard one of the time, being only a year old.  It’s still got all the goofy quirks of that particular release, meaning he’s rather muscle bound and also lacks both a neck and the ability to stand for long periods of time unassisted.  The one change this release makes to the sculpt is adding a port to his back so that he can make use of his big gimmicky gizmo.  The other change is a paint change, rather than a sculpt change.  This guy has the same basic paint elements as the regular release, but with a bunch of flecks of dirt all over the body now.  I guess this guy’s been a little worn-in.  Or maybe he’s a really early preview of a Remnant Trooper!  That’d be something!  Whatever the case, he kind of reminds me of cookies and cream ice cream.  The supposed main selling point of this set is not the figure, of course, but rather the Crowd Control pack he includes.  It’s big, and it plugs into is back, and it has some moving parts.  I’m not entirely sure how this monstrosity is meant to aid in crowd control, but this is the Empire we’re talking about here; they tend to go for the crazier, mad-genius-style solutions to things.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Growing up, these deluxe figures always baffled me a little bit.  I wasn’t really alone on that front, I suppose.  Now that I’m an adult, though, and I’ve really gotten into appreciating PotF2 for what it was, they’re kind of key to that appreciation, because what else sells the true ’90s-ness of the early line better than these guys?  This guy also benefits from really being the only one in the first set that makes any sort of internal sense; a Stormtrooper with an extra gimmick really isn’t that far out there.

This guy came from my friends at All Time Toys. They’ve got a decent back stock of Power of the Force, and other cool toys both old and new, so please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2356: Transforming Bruce Wayne

TRANSFORMING BRUCE WAYNE

BATMAN FOREVER (1995)

Today I’m making a return to the line that started these wacky-tacky reviews.  It’s more Batman Forever, but like another variant of that main guy.  Dig it.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Tansforming Bruce Wayne is another Batman Forever figure.  He’s batman but when he’s not Batman.  Also he’s Val Kilmer because it was the ’90s, but not the early ’90s when he was Michael Keaton or the late ’90s when he was George Clooney (yuck, don’t make me think about it, dudes).  He could transform into Batman with armor, most of which is still present, because instead of loosing the armor, silly child Ethan lost the whole darn figure.  Silly child Ethan.  Such a child.  I got another one but I gotta wait til the next section for that.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

It all started when I was born.  As a child of the ’90s I became a part of a society that fully embraced Val Kilmer and we made him Batman.  We did that, people.  Think of it and weep.  As the constructs of walking and talking and collecting formed in my mind, Kilmer rang out, jumping from the shelf of that service merchandise, calling to me.  Buy me Val Kilmer said, and I was sore afraid.  So I bought him.  Well, my parents did.  And I saw that it was great.  But no it wasn’t great.  It was Val Kilmer.  And so silly child Ethan FLUNG him to the far corners of the Earth, never to be found again.  That showed him.  But then he came back.  Oh dear.  Here he is.  Being reviewed.  That’s pretty much it…

(Oh gosh, did we leap through some sort of time warp, because it’s feeling real 2013 up in here…nah, it’s just April Fool’s Day.  Got ya?)

Continue reading

#2024: Snake Eyes & Scarlett

SNAKE EYES & SCARLETT

G.I. JOE: NINJA FORCE (HASBRO)

For its first three decades, G.I. Joe was in a rather frequent state of change, attempting to keep itself matched with the times.  Since hitting a smash success with the A Real American Hero incarnation in the ’80s, there’s been a bit of difficulty updating, since a lasting fanbase has prevented them from completely revamping things the way they may once have done.  In the early ’90s, they made a bid at a more informal re-vamp, by breaking out some of ARAH‘s established characters into smaller sub-series, each following a popular theme of the time.  Mainstays Snake Eyes and Scarlett found themselves at the hoist into the “Ninja Force” brand, a decidedly foreign tone for a line that had “American” in its title.  Given the line’s hiatus just a year after this re-branding took center stage, it was perhaps a little too foreign for the established fanbase.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Snake Eyes and Scarlett were both released in 1993, during Ninja Force‘s second year running.  The comics by this point had interwoven both Snake Eyes and Scarlett with Cobra Ninja Storm Shadow, whose move over to the Joe side had led to him being Ninja Force‘s central character during its debut year, and these two coming along to join him seemed like a rather sensible move, at least from a marketing perspective.

SNAKE EYES

“SNAKE-EYES excelled in Long Range Recon Patrols and high-risk covert missions in Southeast Asia. His success was based on his ability to use everything from trees to fog when making himself virtually “invisible,” even to skilled Cobra Ninjas. He perfected his mystical martial arts techniques with the same ninja clan that trained STORM SHADOW. Snake-Eyes was living a self-disciplined, tranquil life in the High Sierras when HAWK recruited him for the G.I. Joe team. Since then, he has proven himself an invaluable asset to the Ninja Force and one of the fiercest fighting menaces against all Cobra legions.” 

This Snake Eyes marked his fifth time gracing the small-scale line, which made him the most prevalent character in the line (though Duke would catch him by virtue of getting two figures released that same year).  Snake not joining the Ninja Force until its second year may seem a little odd at first glance, but it’s likely that his very recently released V4 figure from ’91 prevented his presence for the sub-brands ’92 launch.  Up to this point, Hasbro hadn’t really done the same character two years running (apart from Cobra Commander, who was granted a new figure every year from ’91-’94), so I guess they wanted to let the Commando Snake do his thing a little longer.  Snake Eyes stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 13 points of articulation.  Snake Eyes’ articulation was a marked change from where the line had been for it’s prior nine years, by virtue of the addition of an action feature.  Squeeze the legs and his arms swing up and down for his “Basami Slice”.  Said feature limits the hip movement to more simple swivels and removes the waist.  Removing movement for a figure that’s part of the “Ninja Force” does seem like an odd choice, but it was the direction things were going at the time, so you can’t really fault Hasbro from leaning into that curve.  This figure’s design took the opposite position to the V4 release, which had almost completely abandoned Snake Eyes’ ninja side, and in contrast plays up the ninja side about as much as is possible.  In fact, you’d be forgiven for not realizing this was Snake Eyes at all at first glance.  He’s got actual, visible eyes, for Pete’s sake!  Where’s the signature eyewear?  Morphed into some sort of full faceplate thing, I guess.  He’s also bulked up substantially from his prior figures, because that’s what the ’90s does to you.  It’s actually not a bad sculpt all around, with solid detail work, showing a definite progression from earlier in the line.  Snake Eyes’ paintwork is actually pretty involved for an Snake Eyes figure.  He’s got TWO colors!  That’s crazy!  Snake Eyes was packed with an impressive selection of accessories.  He included three different swords of varying sizes and styles, plus a small knife, nunchucks, a pair of claws, and a display stand.  Mine is missing the knife and claws, but with that many accessories to start with, he doesn’t feel like he’s missing too much.

SCARLETT

“SCARLETT began her training in the martial arts at age nine and was awarded a black belt at age 15. She was not only physically ahead of her time, but mentally as well. She graduated summa cum laude from two Ivy League universities and went on to excel in training courses at all four branches of the armed forces. Cobra often mistakes her for just a pretty face rather than a member of G.I. Joe’s elite Ninja Force, which makes her perfect for undercover missions. She is great friend to each of the Joes, especially SNAKE-EYES, and a deadly enemy to Cobra.”

Despite being in the line’s first year and being a prominent fixture in both the comics and the cartoon, this was only Scarlett’s second figure, a full decade after the original figure.  She wasn’t previously as linked to the whole ninja-thing as Snake Eyes, but the two have been linked since very early on, so her place here as a companion to Snake Eyes was reasonable.  The figure is just under 3 3/4 inches tall and she has 13 points of articulation.  Like Snake Eyes, she has an action feature that limits the hips and waist.  Her action feature, the “Kato Kick” works a little differently than Snake Eyes, since it’s a kick, and there’s a sort of looser way of activating it.  If Snake Eyes’ design was a departure from his usual design, Scarlett’s is even more so. There’s really nothing left of her original look, apart from her red hair, I guess.  The rest of her look leans really heavily on the ninja thing, enough that this same sculpt was easily re-purposed into Chun-Li the same year.  Scarlett’s headsculpt was actually a notable improvement over the less attractive original Scarlett head, better matching her depictions in other media.  She makes use of soft-goods for both her pony tail and sash.  They sort of lend themselves to being all sorts of curled up and messy, but they were a decent enough idea.  Her paintwork is nice enough.  She’s very green, which was an interesting contrast with the red hair.  Not the most attractive color scheme, but not terrible when compared to some of the other figures from the same period of the line.  Scarlett includes the same accessories as Snake Eyes, but molded in yellow instead of blue.  My Scarlett’s missing even more of the extras, but again, with this many, it isn’t quite as much of a loss.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When I first started getting into G.I. Joe, I was always rather perplexed by this subset of the line.  To my younger self, they seemed kind of pointless and goofy, but I’ve kind of gained a new appreciation for them.  I’ve always been a big fan of Snake Eyes and Scarlett, so when this pair showed up in a big ’90s Joe lot at All Time Toys, I fished the two of them out. Are they hokey?  Yes.  Are they the best versions of the characters?  No.  Are they a lot of fun?  Absolutely.

As I noted, I got this pair from All Time Toys, who have been getting a rather steady stream of G.I. Joe collections as of late.  So, if you’re looking for old Joes or if you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2005: Cyber-Link Batman & Cyber-Link Superman

CYBER-LINK SUPERMAN & CYBER-LINK BATMAN

SUPERMAN: MAN OF STEEL (KENNER)

“The Man of Steel teams up with the Dark Knight to form the ultimate crime-fighting team!”

After a rash of success with their various Bat-themed lines, in 1995, Kenner tried to expand their DC reach, giving a dedicated line to DC’s other big hero, Superman.  Superman: Man of Steel was not a smash success like its counterpart Legends of Batman, but did manage to get two regular assortments, plus some deluxe figures, and even a few multi-packs.  In an attempt to get a little bit of synergy from the two lines, Kenner decided to team up the lead characters, as they had been so many times in the comics, releasing the pack as part of Superman’s line to give it a slight boost.  Today, I’m looking at that set.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Cyber-Link Superman and Cyber-Link Batman were the only set offered up in the second round of Multi-Packs from Kenner’s MoS line.  After the poor performance of the “Superman & foe” layout of the first assortment, this one was a push from Kenner for a better selling product.  Despite their propensity for just dropping these sorts of variants without much explanation or thought, these two actually got a backstory.  “Cyber-Link” was an Elseworlds concept, an alternate universe where Batman was a Metropolis resident and he and Superman were a crime-fighting duo.  Trace elements of Kryptonite within the Earth’s atmosphere necessitated the use of the Cyber-Link suits seen here.  All of this was explained in the 11-page Christopher Priest-penned comic included with this set.  It’s a surprising amount of backstory for something that seems kind of straightforward, but I guess they were trying to inject a little bit more of Legends of Batman into Man of Steel.

SUPERMAN

He’s the star of the line and the star of the set, so I guess he gets to go first.  The ninth out of nine Superman figures, this one didn’t exactly cover new ground, but was interesting in his lack of a specific purpose like we had seen with the prior variants.  It’s definitely a different sort of design for the character, a departure from his classic look.  He’s even sporting the mullet still, further removing him from the Superman we all knew.  Of course, in light of things like the New 52, I guess the design doesn’t feel quite so out there anymore.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  Yay for waist joints!  Despite his non-standard nature, the sculpt for this figure is actually pretty decent.  The pre-posing that would plague Total Justice was starting to settle in, but it doesn’t seem quite as bad here.  It’s got sort of a dynamic “just about to leap into action” look about it.  He also doesn’t have any trouble staying standing, which is nothing short of a miracle with most of these figures.  His head, despite the dated hairstyle, is a good take on Superman, and the removable cape is quite nice, and further supports the dynamic stance.  Superman’s paintwork doesn’t stray too far from his classic colors, though the blue and yellow are kind of metallic, and there’s quite a bit of black.  There are also a number of sculpted lines that just sort of get ignored here, though they would be more emphasized on later uses of the mold.  Superman included no accessories, though his hand looks like it was supposed to hold something at some point.

BATMAN

Man, how often is it Batman that plays second fiddle?  Obviously, this was his first figure in this line, though he was hardly lacking on figures from his own lines.  Batman’s design here isn’t quite as foreign as Superman’s, but that may be partly because he’d just had a more fluid design up to this point.  He’s a little more on the armored side, and some of his color elements have been moved around a bit, but otherwise he’s going to pass the squint test.  The figure, like his Kryptonian counterpart, stands 5 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  Batman’s sculpt was unique to him, and is an okay offering, though I don’t think it’s quite as strong as Superman’s.  The posing seems a bit more extreme, and the proportions a bit less balanced.  He also has a little more trouble staying standing, though he still doesn’t face plant nearly as often as some of these guys.  I do kind of like that little sneer to his expression; it’s unique for a Batman figure.  His paint/color work is about on par with Superman.  It’s just slight variations on the usual colors, and some of the sculpted elements are kind of ignored, but the overall work is solid.  Like his packmate, he includes no accessories, but still looks like he’s supposed to be holding something.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I had none of the Man of Steel two-packs growing up.  In fact, I didn’t have anything from the line beyond several Series 1 figures.  However, my obsessive toy-nerdiness meant that I gazed upon their photos many a time on the back of the package and on Raving Toy Maniac’s old archive page, so they’ve always been in the back of my mind.  A loose set ended up traded into All Time Toys alongside a larger collection of ’90s toys, and since there’s not a huge market for these guys, I felt compelled to save them from hanging around the store for forever.  Superman’s my favorite of the two, but I kind of dig both of them, and all their crazy ’90s glory.

As noted above, I got these from All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#1921: Spider-Man – Six-Arms

SPIDER-MAN — SIX ARMS

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Hoping to cure his spider powers, Peter Parker drinks a special mixture and wakes up with four extra arms.”

Let that be a lesson to you kids: if you drink special mixtures, you might just wake up one day with four extra arms.  And then what are you gonna do?  Hide your four arms in your pants when your Aunt May comes around?  Doesn’t that sound awkward?  It sure does!  The message is clear: don’t drink strange mixtures!

Vague sort of PSA thing aside, the six-armed variant of Spider-Man is something of a classic one.  First introduced in the comics in the ‘70s, and then brought to a new audience courtesy of the ‘90s cartoon, the Six-Armed Spider-Man asks a pretty simple question: what if Spidey had eight limbs, you know, like a spider?  The answer is, unsurprisingly, extra toys to sell.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Spider-Man is the first figure in the Kingpin Series of Marvel Legends, the first Spidey-themed assortment of 2019.  He’s one of two Spidey variants, and definitely the most classic figure in the line-up.  He’s also the only one you don’t need to complete the Kingpin figure, but let’s not hold that against him.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has a whopping 58 points of articulation.  All those extra arms are certainly good for something.  Of course, it’s a bit of give and take on the articulation.  Though all of the arms sport the standard articulation, the figure’s torso lacks any sort of movement.  While I can understand the complexities of getting a working ab-crunch in with all of the arms, the lack of a waist joint seems particularly egregious.  There’s no practical reason for that joint to be missing, so I can only assume it was a cost saving choice.   Fortunately, the rest of the figure is able to somewhat pick up the slack, and ultimately the lost posability doesn’t hold the figure back *too much*.  This Spider-Man breaks from the last several mainline variants of Peter by being built on a body other than the Pizza Spidey body.  Upon first glance, I thought he might be an all-new sculpt, but a little bit of double-checking shows that he’s actually re-using the vast majority of the ASM2-based Spider-Man from the Ultimate Green Goblin assortment.  The figure was well-regarded when it was new, and a lot of people were content to have it as their standard comic Spidey, but with the introduction of Pizza Spidey the next year, the ASM2 mold was kind of abandoned.  That makes its use here somewhat odd.  I can only guess it’s one of two things.  Either they developed this figure shortly after the ASM2 figure’s release, before it was clear the ASM2 aesthetics were going to be dropped, and just sat on the mold for a while, or they opted for this mold because of its sculpted weblines, allowing for another bit of cost-cutting.  I’m leaning more towards the latter.  Whatever the reason, it means this sculpt doesn’t quite jibe with the rest of our Spidey variants, much like last year’s Spider-Ham.  I will say that at least the weblines are recessed on this sculpt (in contrast to the raised ones on Spider-Ham), so at least giving him painted weblines on your own won’t be quite as hard.  He does also benefit from the ASM2 figure just being a good figure in its own right, and by extension making this one very playable himself.  Even the newly sculpted torso and arms are pretty solid, with the detailing on the torso matching well with the rest of the figure, and the layout of his arms being such that he can actually let them rest pretty well by his sides.  I was anticipating it would be a lot harder to work with them than that.  I was also pleasantly surprised to find that the shoulders on the extra arms have sculpted torn sleeves; I expected those to just be painted on.  The paintwork on Spidey is fine.  It’s clean.  It’s bright.  It’s missing the weblines, of course, but I knew that going in. I’m still frustrated by those red pegs on the underside of his arms.  Certainly there’s some sort of fix they can come up with for that, isn’t there?  Spidey is packed with no accessories.  At the very least, I would have liked to see some extra hands.  At least with all the arms in the package, he doesn’t look too light.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m gonna be honest, I was prepared to hate this figure.  After being so letdown by the Spider-Ham figure, I saw a lot of the same flaws on this one when its prototype was shown off.  I mostly just bought him because I was getting the whole set.  Then I actually opened him up and played with him a bit, and I realized I really didn’t hate the figure at all.  Sure, there are some definite issues.  I don’t like seeing the articulation cut, and I hope the unpainted weblines aren’t a trend that continues.  Beyond that, though, I found this figure to be a lot of fun.

Six-Arm Spider-Man was purchased from All Time Toys, who got me this whole set to review.  He’s currently still in-stock at their webstore.  And, as always, if your looking for other Legends or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#1808: Spider-Man – Spider Armor

SPIDER-MAN — SPIDER ARMOR

SPIDER-MAN (TOY BIZ)

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

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

THE FIGURE ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

#1544: Luke Skywalker in Imperial Guard Disguise

LUKE SKYAWALKER IN IMPERIAL GUARD DISGUISE

STAR WARS: SHADOWS OF THE EMPIRE (KENNER)

“The Empire’s victory in the Battle of Hoth has brought hard times for the Rebel Alliance. Han Solo has been frozen in carbonite by Darth Vader, and two huge bounties have been placed on the head of Luke Skywalker. The Emperor wants him alive, but Prince Xizor , underlord of the most powerful criminal organization in the galaxy, wants him dead. Worse still is that the diabolical Xizor is holding Princess Leia Organa prisoner in his castle on the Imperial Center of Coruscant. this is a tactical maneuver, part of a larger master plan to lure Luke Skywalker into his castle where he can be easily eliminated — the key step in Xizor’s plan to replace Darth Vader at the Emperor’s side. unaware of this danger, the young Jedi and Lando Calrissian sneak into Imperial City hoping to rescue Leia. Simplylaying foot on Coruscant is a dangerous act for these two: high on the Empire’s list of most-wanted outlaws, they could easily be recognized and captured — or assassinated. Disguising themselves as beggars, they “borrow” the armored uniforms from a pair of elite Coruscant stormtroopers. These troopers are some of the Empire’s finest, selected as home guards for the wealthiest and most cultured city in the galaxy. Joining forces with Chewbacca and Dash Rendar, Skywalker and Calrissian attempt to infiltrate Xizor’s nearly impenetrable stronghold and rescue the princess.”

1996’s Shadows of the Empire was important, in that it was the first time the public at large had been introduced to the Star Wars Expanded Universe.  It’s also an interesting experiment in marketing, essentially being a movie merchandising campaign that lacked a movie.  There were a handful of figures, mixed in with Kenner’s then running Power of the Force II.  Newcomers Dash Rendar and Prince Xizor got figures, of course, but there were also new variants of out heroes Luke, Leia, and Chewbacca, all of whom had to take on disguises during this new story.  I’ve looked at both Leia and Chewbacca, which just leaves Luke, who I’ll be reviewing today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke Skywalker in Imperial Guard Disguise was released in the basic figure assortment of Kenner’s Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire line.  The figure stands about 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  This Luke uses the same head as all of the other early PotF2 Lukes.  It’s not the best likeness, but hey, here’s to consistency, right? The rest of the figure is brand new.  The packaging dubs his look as “Imperial Guard Disguise,” a name that tends to conjure up the red guards from Return of the Jedi, who look quite a bit different than the look Luke is sporting here.  However, the bio fills us in that this armor is actually from one of the elite Stormtroopers on Coruscant, making it a separate look entirely.  As with so much of the design work seen in Shadows, the armor is undeniably a product of mid-90s comic book design, meaning it’s a little divorced from the original trilogy designs.  His armor’s bulky and ultra padded, and seems to lack that used look we’re so accustomed to.  It’s a little hard to reconcile this as a design that would appear in between Empire and Jedi.  That being said, it’s hardly a terrible look.  In fact, it manages to be rather unique and helps this Luke to stand out a bit from the crowd of other Lukes from over the years.  The paint work on this figure is fairly decent, and, like the rest of his design, fairly unique.  The red’s a nice shade, and all of the application is pretty clean.  He’s packed with a removable helmet and half-cape to help complete his full disguise.  Since Luke lost his father’s lightsaber in Empire and didn’t build a new one until the beginning of Jedi, he of course needed a new weapon, so this figure included a taser staff weapon.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This figure was, I believe, my first Shadows of the Empire figure.  My cousin Noah had saved up to buy the PotF2 Millennium Falcon, and was along for the trip to go buy it.  Noah’s mother, who took us on the trip, agreed to get me one figure.  Luke was my favorite character, and this figure appealed to my 5-year-old self, so he was the one I picked.  I’d say having this guy in my collection already was probably what pushed me to pick up the Bounty Hunter Chewbacca instead of the normal one, and owning these two is certainly not a decision I regret in the slightest.

#1505: Kryptonite Batman

KRYPTONITE BATMAN

SUPERMAN/BATMAN (DC DIRECT)

“When the Joker got his hands on Batman, he united him with a being of practically pure Kryptonite named Mr. Kryptonite.  Possessed by this other being and bent on destroying Superman, Kryptonite Batman is a deadly foe of the Man of Steel”

In the early ‘00s, DC decided to give a go at reviving their old Batman and Superman team-ups from World’s Finest, under the more minimalist Superman/Batman title.  It started out moderately well, with an at least enjoyable opening arc, followed by a few actually decent ones, before sort of becoming a place where half-formed Superman and Batman stories went to die.  I think the first telltale sign was the story that spawned today’s figure, titled “With A Vengeance.”  I’d give a synopsis of the story, but, as someone who read every issue, I still don’t know what happened.  Anyway, let’s just look at the figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Kryptonite Batman was released in Series 4 of DC Direct’s Superman/Batman, which was a whole assortment based on “With A Vengeance.”  This was the main Batman-variant of the assortment, because you gotta have at least one.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  None of these style of figures were particularly amazing when it came to mobility, but the Batman figures were actually some of the worst, because his armoire permanently stuck out.  Seriously, dude looked like Randy from A Christmas Story.  This figure’s sculpt was actually a complete re-use from the basic Batman released in Series 1 of this same line.  Since he was just a palette swap in the comics, it’s not an unreasonable choice.  Like the two JLA: Classified Supermen I looked at a while back, this guy’s based on Ed McGuinness’s rather distinctive style.  In fact, he actually uses the same basic starting point as those two figures, albeit with a variety of more Batman-specific items.  Despite the difficulties with posability, the actual sculpt isn’t half bad, and does a pretty solid job of capturing McGuinness’s Batman in three dimensions.  Paint is the main thing that differentiates this figure from the Series 1 offering, but even on that front, he’s not that different.  He’s got most of the same basic detailing, but with glow in the dark green plastic instead of the grey for his body suit.  It certainly makes for a unique look.  The figure is packed only with a display stand, sporting the Superman/Batman logo.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up a number of the “With A Vengeance” figures when they were new.  This one wasn’t among them.  Instead, it took me ten years to finally get around to buying him.  Why did I finally get him?  Mostly because Cosmic Comix was selling him for $7, which was a low enough price to get me to bite.  He’s goofy, and not really for everyone, but I enjoy him.

#1384: Hydra Slaying Hercules

HYDRA SLAYING HERCULES

DISNEY’S HERCULES (MATTEL)

“In his most courageous battle of all, HERCULES must save Thebes by destroying the terrifying Hydra.  Each time he slays a head, the mighty HERCULES throws it back at the ferocious beast.”

To quote the muses: “Honey, you mean Hunk-ules!”  Actually, no, to paraphrase the muses, “Honey, you mean Heracles.”  Cuz, you know, if you’re gonna do Greek Mythology, maybe you should use the lead’s Greek name?   

While I do look at a lot of Disney owned properties on this site, courtesy of Marvel and Star Wars, I haven’t looked at a whole ton of their in-house stuff.  My two favorite Disney movies are Hercules and Aladdin.  Aladdin’s never been much of an action figure property, but Disney actually gave quite a go at making Hercules one.  Which makes sense, since what’s more action-y than Greek Mythology?  So, there was a whole line of Hercules figures, and I’m taking a look at one of them today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Hydra Slaying Hercules was released in the basic assortment of the Disney’s Hercules line from Mattel, which hit to coincide with the movie’s release in 1997.  This is one of the line’s many variants of the main character.  As the name suggests, this one’s (loosely) based on his battle with the Hydra at around the film’s mid-point.  Of course, in the movie, he was wearing the same hero garb he’s got on for the rest of the action, but the figure’s opted to change things up a bit and give hims a slightly more unique design.  The figure stands about 5 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  There’s not a ton of motion in the joints, especially the legs, and he’s rather hindered by the lack of any neck movement, but he’s not the worst thing ever, especially for the time.  The sculpt was initially unique to this figure, but did see a fair bit of re-use in multi-packs and such.  It’s not an incredibly faithful take on him.  I mean, you can see elements that identify him as being the Disney Hercules, but he’s definitely been given an element of He-Man styling, which isn’t incredibly surprising, given the company that produced him.  He’s also got the slightly tweaked outfit, which is far more ornate than Herc’s standard look.  The torso is wearing a more defined breastplate, and there’s even sleeves with fringing and stuff.  The wrappings on the arms and legs are also a bit more detailed, and he’s got an extra strap going across his chest.  I’m not entirely sure what the genesis of the design was, but I can’t say I don’t like it.  It’s actually pretty snazzy.  His cape is a separate cloth piece.  It’s got this nice embroidered pattern on the edges, which is cool.  In terms of paint, this guy also tweaks the usual colors a bit, going for a more cool palette of blues and purples, I guess to match up better with the Hydra?  Once again, I can’t say it’s a bad choice at all.  Different from the standard, but definitely quite eye-catching.  Herc is packed with both a club and an axe, one of which can be held in his right hand, as well as the disembodied head of the Hydra.  Which is slightly morbid, but pretty cool.  The head can be balanced on his left hand, and when you push the button on his back, the arm swipes downward, throwing the head.  It doesn’t work perfectly, but it’s moderately amusing.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t have any of the proper Hercules figures growing up, but I found this guy at Lost In Time Toys when I stopped by for the opening day of their new location.  This was the only version  of Herc they had, but he’s cool enough that I don’t mind just having the variant.  That’s right, I just wrote an overwhelmingly positive review of a Mattel product.  This is weird.