X-Men Ninja Force: Deathbird Figure by Toybiz

If there’s one thing you simply cannot overestimate, its the popularity of ninjas in the 90’s. Yeah, they were popular in the 80’s too, but that doesn’t help my segue into today’s post. So, yeah, pop culture in the 90’s was obsessed with ninjas and nowhere is that fact better displayed then on the pegs of the toy aisles. It was such an awesome force of nature that even companies who produced traditionally non-ninja figure lines had to get into the act. This phenomenon can best be summed up in two words: Ninja Force!

Both Hasbro and Toy Biz banked on the Ninja Force concept. For GI Joe, just having Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow and Jinx and all the other ninjas just wasn’t ninja enough to appease the ninja-hungry 90’s toy buyer. No, they had to create GI Joe: Ninja Force. Toy Biz had an even farther reach by introducing the concept of X-Men: Ninja Force. The story involved Wolverine and Psylocke heading off to Japan to fight aliens and ninjas, and possibly alien ninjas, but then the story isn’t as important as the fact that we were seeing something as unlikely as X-Men ninja figures.

I used to have a few of these figures back in the day, but I was never all that enamored with them and where they wound up is anyone’s guess. However, I was recently re-introduced to them when I picked up a lot of miscellaneous figures off of Ebay and Ninja Force Deathbird happened to be one of the extras in the lot. I’m really glad she was in there, because you can easily toss out the whole ridiculous ninja angle, and you have a pretty good figure of everyone’s favorite Shi’ar mutant, Deathbird.

The packaging is certainly colorful. All the cards are the same on the front with a seriously pissed off animated-style Wolverine on the top and the figure displayed in a huge bubble. Behind the bubble is the X-symbol made up from two crossed katana swords. Wow. Just, wow. The back panel shows off some simple instructions on how to equip the figure with her exo-armor and shows off the other figures in the line along with some of the Spider-Man animated figures too.

The sculpt here is pretty simple, but I like it a lot, and its improved by the accessories included to turn regular Deathbird into exo-armor wearing Ninja Deathbird. Actually, there’s really nothing ninjafied at all about this figure as her armor is pretty reminiscent of some of her comic book appearances. The base figure just features a painted purple body suit and arm-length gloves. Her face sculpt is excellent and her mask is permanently attached, but her purple feathered cowl is removable to show off a little mutant birdlady cleavage and her wings come off too.

Or at least, her wings are supposed to come off. Despite my figure coming mint on card, I don’t think she was stored in very good conditions because as soon as I got her out of the package the peg that holds her wings on snapped off from being brittle. I glued them back on so they look great, but unfortunately that inhibits one of the figure’s cool play features. Her arms can peg into the wings to make them move with her arms, or you can detach them to give her arms independent articulation. Either way, this figure looks really awesome with wings spread and spear in hand.

Her exo-armor pieces are purple vaccuum plated, which give the figure a pretty striking look when attached. Mine have aged well, but it doesn’t take much to make these things start to flake. The armor set consists of front and back pieces for the torso and two arm pieces that are attached to the front chest piece by flexible cables. She also has two leg pieces. The cables could be a tad more flexible as they do either inhibit some of her armo movement or just pull the arm plates off if you try to move them too much.

Deathbird’s articulation is pretty good. She has ball joints in her shoulders, rotating joints in her hips and hinged knees. Her head also rotates from side to side. If your figure isn’t broken like mine, the wings rotate up and down. While the leg armor does cover up her knee joints, it doesn’t inhibit her articulation at all, which is pretty cool.

Overall, this figure was a nice bonus and looks really great on display. The only problem is I don’t really have any other X-Men or even Marvel figures in this scale to display her with, so right now she’s just a stand alone piece, but I’m still glad to have her. In fact, just looking at her has motivated me to go dig out my Star Trek X-Men comic and give it another read… maybe Second Contact too!