#0966: Buccaneer Batman



In Super Hero toylines, it’s rarely a shock to see wacky, non-cannon variants of the main heroes . After releasing a basic version of the heroes, variants are the easiest way to get them into every assortment. They’re kind of one of those necessary evils (and honestly, they aren’t even that evil). Oddly enough, in the mid-90s, Kenner released the Legends of Batman line, which was a line of figures pretty much exclusively devoted to weird variants of Batman and his supporting cast. Today, I’ll be looking at one of those Batmen, specifically Buccaneer Batman, because who doesn’t love pirates?

Buccaneer Batman was released in the third series of Legends of Batman. He was part of the “Pirate” sub-line that Series 3 introduced, alongside First Mate Robin, Laughing Man Joker, and … Pirate Two-Face. Yeah, they kind of gave up on the names after “Buccaneer Batman.” The figure stands a little over 5 inches tall and has the standard 5 points of articulation for a figure of the time. There’s a slight bit of limited motion on the right shoulder, thanks to his “Slamming Mace Action,” which would swing his arm downward when the button the figure’s back was pressed. As far as I know, this figure (and all the other Pirate figures) is not based on any particular comicbook appearance of Batman, but rather comes from the minds of Kenner. The design takes the classic Batman design, and makes a few tweaks here and there, to play up the whole pirate angle. His mask is no longer a cowl, but is instead a bandana tied into shape (though, how he got it to duplicate the bat ears is anyone’s guess). Gone is the utility belt, replaced by a simple sash, albeit one where he can still stow a batarang. He’s also got a belt running along his chest, which has a bat-logo affixed to it, just in case you didn’t know who this was. What’s slightly odd about the logo, though, is that it’s oriented parallel to the belt on his waist, despite the belt it’s attached to being diagonal. It almost feels like the logo was meant to be diagonal too, but then someone in DC’s merchandising insisted it be oriented flat, so as to not cause any brand confusion or something. Anyway, the design’s interesting enough. The actual sculpt isn’t bad, but it definitely has some oddities. For one thing, Batman’s really beefy, more so than he usually is depicted. Despite the fact that the costume is clearly meant to be loose and flowing, his muscles are still bulging through in every spot that they can. Also, he’s in a very strange pose, with one of the widest stances I’ve ever seen on an action figure. It’s not that this sculpt is bad, but rather that it seems uncertain of what it’s trying to do. Also, he did have a cape at one point, but I seem to have lost mine. Batman’s paint is fairly standard, but still pretty cool. He predominately uses the basic Batman colors, but they’ve given him red in place of the usual yellow. It makes it so this is clearly Batman, but he’s just different enough that you’re given pause. Plus, red seems more pirate-y anyway. Batman included a sword and a mace, both of which had been given slight bat-makeovers. He could only hold one at a time, and, if I’m honest, the sword was a lot cooler.


I received Batman (and his corresponding Robin) for my fourth birthday. I definitely recall seeing the commercials for this particular set of figures and being rather excited to get them. Which is odd, since I’ve never been much of a pirates guy, but whatever. The figure took quite a beating over the years, and as goofy as he is, I still have something of a soft spot for him. This figure, like the rest of the Legends of Batman line, goes to show that wacky variants aren’t inherently a bad thing, provided you’re having fun with them.


#0950: Axe Attack Thor


ThorAA1Typically, when a superhero movie gets tie-in toys, the toy company wants to be able to cram as many versions of the main character into the line as possible. This means they tend to invent a bunch of non-canon variants, each one more gimmicky than the last. This is a time honored tradition, going back to Kenner’s toys for the 1989 Batman movie. For some characters, it works pretty well, and the figures sell regardless of their silliness. For others, it’s less successful, resulting in a bunch of figures absolutely no one wants. Well, except for me, because I’m the freaking personification of the Island of Misfit Toys. So, here’s a Thor variant!
ThorAA2Axe Attack Thor was released in the fourth series of the Thor: The Mighty Avenger line, which was released to coincide with the 2011 Thor movie. The figure stands roughly 4 inches tall and he has 25 points of articulation (the Thor line was one of the last movie lines from Hasbro to be fully articulated). In case you hadn’t gathered from the intro, he’s not based on any design from the movie, but is instead from the minds of Hasbro’s design team. This is the second use of this mold in this line: it was originally used for Series 1’s Battle Hammer Thor. Regardless of where the design came from, the sculpt’s actually pretty awesome. There’s lots of fun detail work, and Athens sculpt is all-around pretty sharp. The head isn’t a spot-on Hemsworth likeness, but it isn’t terribly far off, and it at the very least looks suitably Thor-like. The paint is the thing that differentiates this guy from Battle Hammer Thor. Rather than the usual silver, black, and red, this guy is a mix of blues and turquoises, with just a bit of brown thrown in. It’s not your standard Thor look, but it actually looks pretty solid. The application is also pretty great, with only a few minor issues cropping up. Thor included his gimmicky namesake weapon, which is a weird axe/sword thing with spinning blades at the top. He also includes Mjolnir, but it’s molded in a translucent blue, which goes really well with the figure.
I didn’t intend to get this figure, I really didn’t. I picked up the main Thor from Series 1, and that was enough for me. Unfortunately, due to an insane over stocking of the first series, the later series didn’t make it to stores in any timely fashion. Since I wanted Series 4’s Lady Sif figure, I broke down and bought a full set of Series 4 from Big Bad Toy Store, thus getting this guy. I ended up getting rid of most of the other figures, but this guy intrigued me enough to keep him. He’s a bit weird, but I quite like him.

#0730: Nightwing – Force Shield




In case you missed it, The Figure in Question has officially made it through two years of reviews. In honor of that, today’s review will a little bit more special. I’ll get to that in a bit.

In the mid-80s, Dick Grayson gave up his Robin identity, going without a costumed identity for a little while before taking on the identity of Nightwing (previously the Kandorian alter-ego of Superman. It’s a long story). To the general populace, Dick remained Robin, mostly due to his presence in the role for Batman: The Animated Series. Nightwing made his way into the public eye in that show’s sequel series, which is how I became familiar with the character. That series’ toyline also provided the character with several of his earliest figures, one of which I’ll be looking at today.


NightwingFS2Force Shield Nightwing was part of Kenner’s The New Batman Adventures line. He was the second version of the character in the line, released not long after the first. The figure stands just shy of 5 inches tall and has Kenner’s signature 5 points of articulation. It’s a pretty low articulation count, but it’s a standard for the time, and aside from the neck joint, which is limited by the hair, the movement is pretty decent. Nightwing is, obviously, based on his design from the show, sculpturally at least. As a “wacky variant” of Nightwing, a little parts re-use is to be expected. What’s actually a bit surprising is that this Nightwing is NOT a complete reuse. The head, arms, and legs are all the same as the regular Nightwing release, but the torso is a new piece, which removes the weird plug from the original’s back. So this one’s sculpt is actually more accurate than the normal one. Nifty! The sculpt does a pretty spot on job of translating Nightwing’s show design to three dimensions, which is nice to see. The etched in logo is a nice touch, especially since it could have easily just been painted on. The paintwork is what really sets this guy apart from the prior Nightwing. Rather than the usual blue logo, this one keeps the logo black, and paints the surrounding area gold. Certainly a different look, but it’s handled pretty well. The gold, like a lot of gold paint has faded over time, but it still stands out well enough. Nightwing was originally packed with a big grappling hook launcher (Kenner was a Hasbro subsidiary at that point…), as well as his titular force shield. I’ve lost it, but it was shaped like his logo, bright yellow, and the “wings” folded out to reveal pictures of the various Batman allies and rogues. It’s an odd gimmick, but there it is.


Hey, so, this is actually my first Nightwing figure! Cool!

Story time: When I was 5, my parents took me down to visit my Dad’s family home in North Carolina. My dad came and got me from school, and one of our stops was, I believe, a Kmart, where I found this guy. I had yet to see any of his appearances on the cartoon, so my dad had to explain to me who he was. I thought he looked super cool, so my dad was nice enough to buy him for me. This guy went on the trip with me, all the way down there and back again, so I formed a bit of a bond with the guy.

Over the years, my collection grew, and this guy fell by the side. Somewhere along the way, I decided to paint him up like Jace from Space Ghost. I have no idea why. Anyway, he just got thrown in a box for a while, until I rescued him just a few years ago, while deep in my whole indexing my collection project. He was still covered in paint, but it was acrylic, so I began the process of returning him back to his original state. I finally got him cleaned up just in time to take him with me on my fifth trip down to NC. Here he is on the mantle place. Doesn’t he look so happy?


#0687: Web Swamp Spider-Man




Toybiz’s Spider-Man toyline from the 90s initially started out as a tie-in toyline for the animated series running at the same time. The first several series were comprised mostly of key characters from the cartoon, based on their character models from the show. Variants of the titular character tended to be rather tame; most of them were just regular Spider-Men with a different gimmick, though there were a few different costumes that made their way onto the show. After a certain point, hype for the show began to die down, and the toyline gradually began to reformat into its own entity. It was at this point that the Spider-Men started to get just a bit out there. Today, I’ll be looking at one of those later Spider-Men.


WebSwamp2Web Swamp Spider-Man was released as part of the Web Force series of the main Spider-Man line. Chronologically, this was the 15th series of the line, and the sixth series since the line had abandoned the more conventional numbering system. Web Swamp Spidey was one of two Spider-Man variants in the series. Neither of these two was a comic-based design; they were both wholly original to Toybiz’s design department. The figure was pretty big for the line, at roughly 5 ½ inches tall, and he had 11 points of articulation. The articulation assortment on this figure is kind of odd. The shoulders have extra movement that was typically seen on figures of the time, but he’s also been saddled with the dreaded “v-hips” that allow for next to no practical movement. The sculpt on this figure was completely unique to him, which is probably for the best. I don’t want to say it’s a horrible sculpt, but it’s certainly not one of Toybiz’s better ones. The proportions are definitely the weirdest part. To start with, there’s the aforementioned huge size of the figure, but then he’s got a really thin waist and somehow manages to have hands that are too big. Not sure how they managed that one. Also, the guy is seriously jacked, with insane levels of muscle definition that would make Arnold Schwarzenegger jealous. The sculpt is so over the top, you have to wonder if it was on purpose. Paint-wise, this guy’s pretty far removed from the traditional Spider-Man, and ends up looking more like a take on his black costume. One has to wonder if there was some sort of plan to have this guy be symbiote themed at one point. The Web Force shtick was that each figure had a set of weird armor that could be assembled into a small vehicle. Spidey included a hovercraft sort of a thing, which I guess sort of fits his “swamp” theme.


I never got this figure when it was at retail, but I was always kind of intrigued. He ended up being another figure I purchased from Yesterday’s Fun this summer. I got him loose, so I missed out on the hovercraft fun, but I do still get a super-jacked Spider-Man. I think that’s a win, right?

#0670: X-Ray Vision Superman




Remeber last week when I looked at one of the wacky Superman variants from Kenner’s tie in line for the 90s cartoon?  Well, that one wasn’t even the tip of the iceberg.  At least he was somewhat passable as a basic Superman.  Today’s figure? Less so.  Without further ado, here’s X-Ray Vision Superman.


XRaySupes2X-Ray Vision Superman was released as part of the fourth series of Kenner’s Superman: The Animated Series, the story of which I covered in Power Swing Superman’s review.  He’s another of the frivolous Superman variants designed to showcase Superman’s less obvious power set.  Yay?  The figure is 5 inches tall and he features 6 points of articulation.  He sports a unique sculpt.  It’s not quite show accurate, but it’s in line with the all of the other Animated Series figures, so at least it’s consistent.  It’s nowhere near as extreme in pose as Power Swing Superman, but he’s still a bit removed from a standard standing pose.  The most out there part is definitely the throwing arm, which is permanently outstretched and at a 90 degree angle.  That’s a bit on the awkward side, but it works okay with the accessories.  The rest of the sculpt is more standard fare: fairly simple musculature and decent enough proportions.  The head sculpt isn’t as good as the PS Superman, but that’s mostly due to the “action feature.”   What is this action feature?  Well, he’s got light piping, so as to light up his eyes and simulate his…X-Ray vision.  I think they may have gotten confused with his heat vision.  The paintwork is where the figure really gets wonky.  In lieu of the traditional Superman colors, this figure is primarily a red-orange-yellow gradient.  It’s a very warm look, which once again makes me think someone at Kenner kept mixing up heat vision and X-Ray vision when designing this guy.  That said, it’s a unique look, so I actually can’t complain.  The cape has been swapped to blue, I guess to break up the reds a bit.  Overall, the paint is pretty decently applied, with no real slop or anything and lots of nice, bold colors.  Superman is packed with a bundle of dynamite, as well as a safe to hide it in.  The safe is partially translucent, so as to demonstrate Superman’s power.


Like his series-mate, I picked this Superman up from Yesterday’s Fun. He was another one of the wacky Supermen that had intrigued me all those years ago.  In fact, he has the notoriety of being the very last thing I bought on vacation.  He’s not quite as much fun as Power Swing, but he’s not too bad.  And, as an added bonus , paired up with Power Swing, you get a pretty decent Silver Age Superman Blue and Red.


#0663: Power Swing Superman




When you are creating an entire line of action figures based on a property with one defined look for your main character, the only way to keep the main character at the forefront, logically, is to release a bunch of variants of that character. Sometimes, they’ll be authentic designs from the source material (such as many of Hasbro’s recent ML Spider-Men) or a practical extension of their basic look (like Iron Man). Other times, they’ll just be completely made up. Enter Power Swing Superman.


PowerSwingSM2Power Swing Superman was part of the fourth series of Kenner’s Superman: The Animated Series line. This series is significant because it wasn’t carried by conventional US retailers. Instead, it hit in Europe first. The series didn’t make it to the States until it was offered by Diamond Distributers a few months later. So, there’s that story. The figure stands 5 inches in height and has 6 points of articulation (though his waist swivel is limited by the action feature). Now, where, you might ask, did this figure’s costume originate? Some one episode look, or perhaps an obscure Elseworlds story? Nope, it came straight from the minds of the toy designers. Yes, this costume is totally made up for the figure, though it is notable that this figure removed the signature red shorts over a decade before the New 52 redesign made it canon. The line never really stuck to the show’s style when it came to sculpts, but this figure actually takes it even further, with more defined musculature and an exaggerated pose that wouldn’t look out of place on the dance floor of a disco. While many of the wacky Supermen were sculpted in his traditional garb and painted funky after the fact, this figure’s sculpt actually has details that correspond specifically to this design, which is kinda neat. The best part of the figure is easily the head sculpt, which actually manages to be the most show-accurate sculpt the line ever produced. It’s spot on! The paintwork on the figure is alright, but not great. It sticks to his traditional colors, though placed a bit differently. The colors are nice and vibrant, but the application is spotty. The costume has a lot of bleed over, and the red areas in particular feel like they could use another coat of paint. The head manages to be the best piece once again, avoiding the bleed over and actually doing a very nice job on the eyes. The figure included a large piece of pipe for him to hold, as well as a miniaturized version of Luthor’s exo-suit from the pilot episode. Also, his waist is spring-loaded, allowing him to “swing” the pipe at the exo-suit and “demolish” it. It’s not high-end or anything, but it’s amusing.


Power Swing Superman was one of my many purchases from Yesterday’s Fun whilst on vacation this year. I had actually always been intrigued by this guy, but I’d never seen him in person. So, when I came across him, I snatched him up quickly. He’s definitely goofy, but I really enjoy him.


#0411: Mutagen Michelangelo



Okay, here we are. Last Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Minimates review! Coincidentally, I’m wrapping things up with Michelangelo again. But, didn’t I already review Michelangelo? Yes, but something that is quite common with toylines, especially those based on the TMNT, is the tendency to release the main characters in wacky variant form. So, without further ado, he’s Mutagen Michelangelo!


Mutagen Mikey is the other of the two figures exclusively available in the K-Mart assortment of Series 1 of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Minimates. Originally, this figure was slated to be the exclusive in the specialty assortment, but a mix up led to him and Mutagen Raph swapping places. Mikey is roughly 2 ½ inches tall and has 12 points of articulation. He’s sort of based on the current cartoon look, but I don’t think that Mikey’s ever been transparent green on the show, so I’d say some liberties were taken. Sculpturally, he’s exactly the same as the regular Mikey. For a breakdown of that, head over to that review. It’s interesting to see what different coloring and a lack of paint can do for a sculpt. Looking at this figure, especially the shell, it seems that any issues with “soft” details on the regular Turtles have to do with thick paint, not actual sculpt problems. Paint on this figure is much more simplified compared to the others. He’s molded in clear green, with paint on his mask, as well as detail lines for the eyes mouth, and freckles. The detail lines are quite clean, which is pretty much business as usual for Minimates. While the figure has less paint overall, it results in an overall cleaner look, which really helps the figure. Mikey includes a pair of nunchucks in clear green, a keychain attachment, and a manhole cover display stand.


Mutagen Mikey is the last of the 11 blind bagged figures I got from K-Mart. I have to admit, I’m a sucker for clear green plastic, so this guy just really appeals to me. It’s also really great to see the turtle sculpt without the iffy paint apps. All in all, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Minimates are a fun addition to the Minimates brand. There’s definitely some room for improvement, and I wouldn’t mind a move to something other than blind bags (there’s already some good news there; seems TRU will be getting two-packs), but these Minimates have been a lot of fun.

#0259: Professor X – Space Rider




X-Men. In Space! Yeah, I know, it’s a really highbrow concept. It was the late 90s, what do you want? Besides, the X-Men have actually spent a fair bit of time in space, so outfitting them with Space gear isn’t the worst possible idea, now is it? Plus, it totally gives the toymakers another excuse to re-release all the main X-Men that people just love buying. How could it go wrong? It couldn’t, it just couldn’t. Fool proof plan here. So, let’s just take a look at the Professor X from this line up, shall we?


SpaceX2Professor X was released as part of the first, and only, series of X-Men Space Riders. The line was an off-shoot of the main X-Men line, much the same way the Savage Land line was. The figures were released as boxed items, along with some sizeable accessories. Space Riser Professor X stands about 5 inches tall and features 7 points of articulation. As far as I can tell, the Professor got a whole new sculpt for this line. They didn’t even reuse the same head like they did on the last one! The sculpt is a bit strange in a few areas, most notably the strange way his legs connect to his torso. One thing I do really like is the hydraulics on his legs, as they make for a good explanation to how exactly Charles is up and walking around. The right hand is sculpted around a bit of metal to aid in the figure’s interface with his vehicle, so it ends up looking a little bit on the odd side. The paint work is basic, but for the most part it’s cleanly applied, with very few issues of slop or bleed over. Professor X features a removable helmet, which fits nicely and looks super cool, and a “Space Sled,” which includes two missiles and at one point had a light up feature. The sled is an interesting piece, and interlocks with the sleds included with the rest of the series to form one big space ship. Thrilling!


Professor X was purchased from my local comic book store just a few weeks ago. The owner had just gotten in a selection of older action figures, and had them all sitting on a table for $5.99 a piece. I had never gotten any of the Space Riders back in the day, apart from a Cyclops I got loose, but I was always fascinated by the figures. So, for $6, I figured it was worth the purchase. Professor X is a little dated compared to more recent figures, but I can’t help but look at this figure and think “Man, that looks cool!”

#0244: Professor X – Astral Projection




Professor X is typically a guy in a wheel chair, typically wearing a fairly average suit and tie. As such, he might not seem like the most toyetic character. However, he’s actually gotten quite a fair share of action figures over the years, of many different varieties. Today, I’ll be looking at one of the more out there versions.


Professor X was a part of the “Mutant Armor” Series of the Toybiz X-Men line. He stands about 5 inches tall and features 8 points of articulation. The figure is based on the look Xavier would sometimes sport when having one of his “battles of the mind.” None of the pieces are original to this figure. The head comes from the previous Professor X figure. The body is an interesting story. Originally, it was meant to be released as US Agent in the third series of Toybiz’s Iron Man line, before the figure was cut from the lineup (Ironically, the figure did eventually see an unsanctioned release overseas). Then, the mold was retooled slightly to be used as Living Laser in the fifth series of Iron Man. This series ended up cancelled entirely, and the mold was once again in limbo. Finally, Toybiz got it out with this figure. Oh boy. Honestly, it’s not even the greatest sculpt. On both of the previous figures to use the body, the head was the main draw. The body’s a bit pudgy, and the torso just looks weird. On the plus side, the figure is molded in some pretty sweet translucent red plastic, which always makes a figure better. He has minimal paintwork, but what’s there is pretty solid overall. The eyebrows seem a bit bold, but maybe Professor X just pictures himself with big bushy eyebrows. The figure included a two piece snap on chest plate, a two piece belt, shin armor, a lightning bolt, and a launching disc shield.


Professor X was yet another purchase from the Balticon dealer’s room. Hey, they had $3 X-Men figures, and I’m weak, what can I say? In the 90s, when these figures were still new, finding old releases was virtually impossible, so getting the more basic Professor X was a no go. So, my dad had this figure as his default Professor X for his X-Men shelf. I never had one of my own, but I was always fascinated with the figure. So, when the opportunity presented itself, I was thrilled to get this guy. I know I was a little rough on the body sculpt, but this figure really is just a lot of fun.

#0208: Aquaman – Camouflage




Aquaman tends to get a bad rap. People are very quick to label him as “lame” or “stupid.” Now, I’m not one to tell people they aren’t true fans, or say my opinion is law or anything, but I feel like people that write the character off like that aren’t really looking at the character too closely. I mean, the guy lives at the bottom of the ocean. Dude’s gotta be super-jacked! Certainly not the kind of guy I’d want to make fun of.

That being said, in the 80s, Aquaman got a mini-series where he was given a new costume to replace his classic orange and green look. It was water camouflage.  It was lame. It was stupid. And, it was one of the versions of the character released in Mattel’s DC Universe Classics. “Ethan, if you think the costume is lame and stupid, why do you have an action figure of it?” Because shut up, that’s why!


Aquaman was released in the 7th series of DC Universe Classics. He is in the aforementioned “Aqua-Camo.” The figure is about 6 ½ inches tall and features 25 points of articulation. He’s built on slightly larger male buck, which fits the king of the seas, I suppose. His head is reused from DCUC’s previous Aquaman figure. Yes, he was a total re-use figure. At least the reused parts are good pieces. The head sculpt is definitely one of the line’s stronger pieces. It has just the right amount of nobility and heroism that should be present in the king of Atlantis. One thing I did notice is that he has a slight mutilation on his face that results in some lines that shouldn’t be there. I actually like the look, as it kind of look like some cool scarring, but I imagine not everyone would be so thrilled. The paint work is pretty good. They’ve replicated the design of the suit very well, and it does really pop, which is always nice. It has a few fuzzy lines here and there, but nothing out of the ordinary for a DCUC figure.  Aquaman includes a trident and a piece of the series’ C-n-C, Atom Smasher. This is my first Aquaman I’ve reviewed on the site, so I’m gonna address this here: what is up with the tridents? Aquaman pretty much never carries a trident, and yet every single Aquaman figure’s got his friggin’ trusty trident!


I purchased this figure for two reasons: I wanted to finish Atom Smasher, and the basic Aquaman was hard to find. Seriously, I’ve never actually seen the regular Aquaman in person. The series he was in was pretty much impossible to find. So, I had to settle for true blue here. He’s actually not a bad figure, even if I’m not the biggest fan of the costume. He also adds a nice splash (heh!) of blue to the JLA shelf.