Ok, here we go. Toy Biz snagged the license to do figures for both the Hercules and the Xena TV shows, with Xena’s first action figure appearance in the Hercules line. I don’t actually own any Hercules figures, but they look pretty bad, and from what I’ve seen Toy Biz made a real effort to step things up for the Xena figures. The problem with Toy Biz is you never quite know what you’re going to get. Go back to the mid 90’s and you get the Marvel and X-Men figures, which have plenty of kitschy charm, but aren’t necessarily great figures. Fast forward to their Lord of the Rings stuff, and you have a crazy mix of passable sculpts with horrible action gimmicks to some downright excellent figures. Let’s see where Xena falls into the mix.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with the packaging. The figure comes on a huge card with a cardboard tray on the bottom that cradles the bubble. The front of the cards are all the same with a shot of Xena on the upper right corner and Xena and Gabrielle getting up close and personal with each other on the upper left. The bottom has a bold logo for the series and there’s a sticker on the bubble that personalizes the package with the figure’s name. All of the figures in this line were tied to a specific episode, so this one is Warrior Xena from “A Day in the Life.” The sticker also indicates whatever action feature the figure had. In this case it’s “Jumping Attack Action.” The large bubble displays the figure and accessories quite nicely.
The back of the card has a shot of the character, a blurb about the episode in question, and a terrible illustration showing the action feature in motion. There are also pictures of figures available in the 6-inch and 12-inch series. The back of the card looks pretty cheesy, especially when compared to how great the front looks.
Out of the package and I’m actually very impressed with Xena’s sculpt. Sure, I’m grading on a curve. This is a 1990’s Toy Biz figure, but even still it’s got nothing to apologize for. First off, that’s not a bad Lucy Lawless likeness. The eyes could have been painted a little better, but the hair, the mouth and the cheekbones are all pretty good. Even better, most of Xena’s outfit is molded in soft plastic and layered onto the figure’s body. There’s plenty of detail in the armor, including sculpted scrollwork and laces. The result looks fantastic and gives the figure a lot of depth. I’m also happy that the figure is not pre-posed, although one leg is notably shorter than the other, so to get her to stand you do need to do some pre-posing of your own. I’m not sure if this was intentional or just a QC issue, but thanks to her joints you can get her to stand naturally.
And how about those joints? Xena’s articulation both surprises and frustrates. The surprise is there are more than the standard 5-points that I would expect. The head turns side to side, the arms are ball jointed at the shoulders and the hands swivel at the wrists. The legs rotate at the hips and have hinges in the knees and ankles. And that’s what frustrates. There’s just enough articulation here to make me wish for a little more.
There isn’t a whole lot of paintwork on this figure, but the coloring is overall great. Most of the figure is molded in flesh tone with the armor molded in brown. There are some nice silver rivets painted onto her boots, and again on her wrists and the little cape she has on her back.
Remember that “Jumping Attack” action gimmick? Well fortunately the gimmick isn’t part of the figure, but rather part of the giant base she comes with. The base is a raised pedestal with some cool carvings sculpted into it, along with a stirrup and a retractable spring loaded arm. You stand the figure with one foot tucked into the stirrup and the other on top of the spring-loaded arm (there’s a divot in the bottom of Xena’s foot so that it fits over the arm, and I’m guessing this might be why one leg is shorter than the other). Press the button in the back and Xena does in fact get launched into the air. As an action gimmick, it’s pretty lame, (unless like me, your cat attacks the figure every time she gets launched!) but the base makes for a fantastic figure display stand and just might get repurposed for one of my Indiana Jones figures.
In addition to the base, Xena comes with some weapons. You get a cool looking sword and a crossbow that fires some kind of bolo arrow, which I presume is for tripping up people’s legs. The sword is a great sculpt, right down to the wrapped grip and chipped blade. The crossbow isn’t all that bad either, at least not for what is essentially a missile launcher. Unfortunately, Xena’s hands aren’t sculpted to hold her weapons. Instead, there’s a peghole on her left hand and pegs on the sword hilt and the crossbow. You can’t get anything to stay in her right hand at all. Hey, what’s missing? Yep, easily the most disappointing thing about this figure is the absence of Xena’s iconic chakram, the bladed disc weapon she usually wields. Leaving that out is like Hasbro releasing a Luke Skywalker figure without a lightsaber. Nonetheless, if you want her chakram you need to buy a different Xena figure. Sorry Mario Xena, your chakram is in another castle! Moving on…
In case you can’t tell, I really dig this figure. Look, it’s 90’s Toy Biz and I had low expectations. But fair is fair, and Toy Biz did a great job with the likeness, the outfit, overall quality, and even the articulation and weapons aren’t bad. The action gimmick may be crap, but it redeems itself by giving you a beautiful base to display the figure on. A few more swivel cuts and toss in a chakram and this figure could have been a total homerun, instead of being just surprisingly great. I was going to move on to Gabrielle tomorrow, but hell, let’s take a look at the other Xena figure in the line and see if she holds up as well as this one.