AVENGERS: UNITED THEY STAND (TOY BIZ)
“Simon Williams became Wonder Man as a result of scientific experiments that bombarded his body with tonic energy. Now his eyes glow with power and he possesses superhuman strength, speed and durability. Originally an enemy of the Avengers, Wonder Man soon realized he had been manipulated into attacking the team and now he uses his amazing powers as a full-fledged Avenger. Wearing his Avengers symbol ring, this mighty hero will always heed the call, “Avengers Assemble!””
After the success of X-Men: The Animated Series, Spider-Man: The Animated Series, and the Iron Man and Fantastic Four segments of the Marvel Action Hour, in 1999, Marvel tried their luck again, with a cartoon based on The Avengers. Titled Avengers: United They Stand, the show placed its focus on the typically more supporting Avengers, rather than the likes of Cap, Thor, and Iron Man. Also, unlike prior Marvel cartoons, it leaned heavily on selling the toys, leading to some…interesting design choices. It wasn’t incredibly well-received with the fanbase, and only ended up lasting a single, 13-episode season. But, like I said, it was definitely designed to sell toys, so it got a pretty decent run of those. Today, I’m looking at my favorite member of the team from the show, Wonder Man!
THE FIGURE ITSELF
The initial assortment of Avengers: United They Stand figures were spilt into two series. Wonder Man was officially part of the second, but they were all released at the same time, so it didn’t really matter in the end. Anyway, Wonder Man was a big guy on the show, and that’s reflected with this figure, who stood just shy of 6 inches tall and had 9 points of articulation. Wonder Man’s movement is an interesting mix. He’s got ball-joints hips, and hinged ankles, which weren’t standard issue at the time, giving him a leg (heh) up, but due to his two separate action features, the arms are limited just to cut joints at the shoulders, and rather restricted ones at that. On the plus side, his sculpt was actually a pretty good one. The only other figure I’ve looked at from this line, Ultron, took some liberties with the show’s design (to the figure’s benefit, in Toy Biz’s defense), but Wonder Man follows the trend of the rest of the line, crafting a fairly show accurate figure. He still departs from the show design a little bit, just so he can fit in a little bit better with some of Toy Biz’s other figures from the time, but you can definitely see where the inspiration for the figure came from. He’s definitely a stylized figure, but I feel it works pretty well. The head in particular really seems to get down the character’s personality quite well. Wonder Man’s paint work is actually pretty impressive. Not only is the base application very clean, but he’s also got some nice variation in the finish on areas such as the boots, and some very well-rendered accenting on his legs, arms, and face. They even included the distinctive red reflection on his sunglasses! Mine’s taken a little bit of beating, of course, but has certainly held up better than other figures from the same era. Winder Man was packed with a life-sized version of his Avengers ring from the cartoon (not entirely sure why, but there it was), and nothing else. It makes him one of the lightest packed figures from the line, but he’s also the largest, so I guess it works out. He does have the two action features previously mentioned. The first is a light-up feature, which lights up his hands and sunglasses. Why? Not a clue. I’d say it was related to his ionic abilities, but those are usually purple, and these light-up red. The second is a punching feature on his right arm. It’s rather basic; push down the lever on his back, and the arm swings up. Again, I have to ask “why?” Certainly there were better, less-articulation-restricting features to work in?
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
I am an unabashed lover of United They Stand. I vividly remember awaiting its premiere, and, of course, its accompanying toys. I wanted the whole line-up, and made detailed lists of the exact order I’d be buying them in. Wonder Man was at the very top of the list; my absolute most wanted figure in the set. Unfortunately, United They Stand marked the first time I really ran into troubles with distribution and scarcity on such a line, so I kind of had to take the figures in the order my dad was able to find them for me. Wonder Man ended up as the fourth figure I added to my collection, procured for me by my dad after he stopped at lord knows how many stores on his way home from work. This guy remained a favorite of mine for quite a while. Ultimately, he’s not without his flaws. Most of them are related to those shoulders, and just how locked in place they are. That said, I still kinda love this figure, and I still kinda love the show he’s from.