Xena: Callisto “Callisto” by Toy Biz

I know, it’s Monday, I should be starting something new, but I wanted to knock out just one more Xena figure so we could put the entirety of this initial four figure assortment to bed. Today we’re venturing into foreign territory with a character I know nothing about. Granted, having not watched much of the show, I don’t know a lot about any of the characters, but at least I knew who Xena and Gabrielle were. All I know about Callisto is that she’s a blonde bombshell and one of the villains of the piece. After looking at three figures in this series, I’ll do my best to get through this one with a bit more brevity.

The packaging! We know what to expect by now and carded Callisto holds no surprises. The insert on the bubble tells us she comes from the self-titled episode, “Callisto” and that she comes sporting some kind of “Spinning Attack” action. The back panel shows a crappy illustration of the action gimmick at work and gives us a little synopsis of her episode. Since this is likely the last time we’ll see this packaging for a while, I’ll say once again that it’s practical and looks good, at least from the front.

Right off the bat, Callisto takes me back to the first Xena figure we looked at, and that’s a very good thing. She’s not really pre-posed, although you do need to put one leg behind the other, slightly bent at the knee, in order for her to stand on her own. The body sculpt is absolutely fantastic. Her black armor is painted with silver details and a lot of the outfit is sculpted separately and layered over the figure, which is mostly molded in flesh tone. This design makes for a great looking and very detailed figure. Callisto’s armor includes a functional sword scabbard on her back and a functional dagger sheath on her hip.

I keep waffling back and forth over Callisto’s head sculpt. On the one hand, it’s a fairly good likeness of the actress who portrays her on the show. On the other hand, she has this really goofy smile. In the end, I’m going to say I like it more than I dislike it, and perhaps even find it strangely attractive.

Also like the first Xena figure, Callisto’s action gimmick is not part of the figure, so there’s nothing to mar the figure’s adequate articulation. Her head turns side to side, her arms feature ball joints in the shoulders, her legs have cuts at the hips and her knees and ankles are hinged.

 

Callisto comes with a butt load of gear. You get a sword and dagger that fit into the functional scabbard and sheath. You also get a pole dancing fighting staff, and some kind of nunchuck style weapon that has three batons instead of two. The sword is the same one that came with the first Xena figure, and it’s a nice enough piece that I don’t mind the recycling. The dagger, on the other hand, is different from the one that came with the second Xena figure we looked at, so that’s nice. Another cool thing about Callisto is that her hands are actually sculpted to hold her weapons, so you don’t have to rely on pegging them into the figure’s hands.

You also get the base, which holds the figure’s action gimmick. It looks a lot like the base that came with the first Xena figure, which is very cool. The big difference is this one just has a couple of foot pegs on it and you wind it up, press the button and it spins the figure around. It’s a goofy gimmick, but I don’t mind since it doesn’t compromise the figure and can be used as a fantastic display stand.

Callisto offers plenty to love. She’s a great looking figure, she’s got serviceable articulation, she comes with a load of great weapons, and a killer display stand. Not every figure in this assortment was a winner, but Callisto and the first Xena can certainly hang together on my display shelf any day. They’re almost too good to be early 90’s Toy Biz product, and they certainly make me wish that Toy Biz had been able to deliver the same consistency throughout this entire line. I do have some of the second assortment in the 6-inch Collector line, but there’s only one in there that I have ever been tempted to open, so I’m not sure I’ll be looking at those any time soon. As I hinted at in the Gabrielle feature, I do have a number of the 12-inch Collector dolls action figures, and I’ll be sure to roll them out the next time things get slow around here.
Tomorrow, we’ll move on to the subject at hand for the remainder of the week. And that subject is DC Direct and Identity Crisis!

Advertisements

Xena: Gabrielle “Orphan of War” by Toy Biz

Oh, Renee O’Connor, aka Gabrielle. You are just as cute as a button and you were almost… almost… enough reason for me to actually watch this series. I was probably more anxious to see how your figure turned out then any of the others in this line. Could Toy Biz possibly capture that certain something in 6-inch action figure form? Mmmm… not really.

Once again, we have the Xena action figure packaging. I don’t have a lot more to say here. The front deco is pretty good and it shows off the figure and her massive amount of gear under a huge bubble nestled in a clever little cardboard tray. There’s a sticker with the episode she’s from and the fact that she features a “Spinning Staff Attack!” The back of the card has a synopsis of the episode, “Orphan of War” and one of those crappy illustrations of the figure’s action gimmick. The card does, however, make up for the crappy illustration by putting a nice picture of Gabrielle up in the corner.

I am going to try not to be too hard on this figure in terms of likeness. We aren’t dealing with the sculptors at Diamond Select or The Four Horsemen here. Its 90’s Toy Biz, for crying out loud. And Gabrielle’s likeness probably isn’t all that easy to capture in 6-inch form. I think there’s just something about her eyes that doesn’t really jive with this figure’s vacant, slightly medicated stare. That having been said, Toy Biz was able to successfully deliver a figure of a girl that very well could be Renee O’Connor’s stunt double. We’ll have to settle for that.

It should also be noted that Gabrielle isn’t the flashiest character to reproduce. She isn’t a tall, leggy amazon and she isn’t wearing any snazzy studded leather armor. Instead, she’s just got a peasant outfit that consists of a medieval sports bra, a skirt, and boots. There’s really nothing wrong with what’s here, there’s just not as much to work with as there is with Xena. That having been said, Toy Biz tossed in some fairly good detail including the lacing on her boots and top, the deco on her belt, and the cross-thatch texture on her skirt. Overall, I’m giving Gabrielle a passing score in terms of sculpt and coloring, but just barely.
Thankfully, Gabrielle isn’t terribly pre-posed, and her articulation isn’t too bad, but sadly, not as good as the first Xena we looked at. Her head turns, her arms rotate at the shoulders, and her legs rotate at the hips, and have hinged knees and ankles. She’s got some strange stuff going on with her right arm, but that’s because of her action gimmick, so let’s check out Gabrielle’s gear and then we’ll swing back to that gimmick.

Holy hell, Gabrielle sure comes loaded for bear. Am I missing something? Was she some kind of medieval terminator? She comes with a battle axe, a staff, a dagger, a bow, a functional quiver and three arrows. Maybe Toy Biz figured that since she’s smaller and less flashy than the other figures they should load her up with an arsenal of death. The accessories are all pretty good. I like the dagger best, as it’s such a nice little piece and it fits into the sheath on her belt. The axe is cool, although I’m not sure why it’s hinged at the head. The bow is a nice try. It’s sculpted to hold the arrows, and the idea is you pull back on the string and it shoots, but it really doesn’t. She also can’t hold it very convincingly, but I give Toy Biz points for trying.

So how about that “Spinning Staff Attack?” So, you put the staff in her right hand, raise it over her head and move the lever back and forth on her back. This causes her arm to spin at that swivel cut in the middle. I’ll concede that the gimmick works, certainly much better than Xena’s“Sword Drawing Action” but it’s not worth having to put a huge lever on her back.

If you’re going to get Xena, I guess you have to have her sidekick. Gabrielle here is a good companion piece to either of the Xena figures we looked at, but apart from her overabundance of gear, there’s nothing about her that really shines. She’s solidly average, and while I think Renee O’Connor deserved better then that, this is exactly the kind of figure I would expect from late 90’s Toy Biz. No better, no worse. There was another 6-inch Gabrielle figure in the second wave, but I don’t think I own it. I’m pretty sure it was more or less the same figure with a cloak over it. I will, however, check out one of Toy Biz’s 12-inch versions of the character at some point down the line.

Tomorrow, Xena Weekend will bleed its way into Monday as we wrap it all up with a look at Callisto.

Xena: Xena “Sins of the Past” by Toy Biz

And, I’m back with more Xena goodness. In fact, with more of Xena herself. We’re checking out the other version of Xena in this initial assortment of Toy Biz’s 6-inch figures based on the campy, yet long-running TV series. Surely, this one is just a repaint? Oh no, folks, this here is an entirely new figure. I liked the last one quite a bit, so let’s see if this one fares as well.

I had some packaged shots of this figure, but they seem to have vanished from my hard drive, but if you read yesterday’s feature, you get the idea. It’s the same packaging that we saw yesterday. The only difference on the front is the sticker which declares that this is “Sins of the Past”Xena with “Sword Drawing Action.” The back of the card has a blurb about the episode, which sounds like it was the first one because Xena and Gabrielle hook up in it. And by “hook up” I mean they start traveling together. What did you think I meant? There’s another shitty illustration of the action gimmick at work and the same photos of the other figures in the 6-inch and 12-inch lines.

Ok, so let’s start with the sculpt. This figure has Xena smiling a big toothy grin and I don’t like it as much as the last Xena’s more somber and neutral expression. That having been said, the likeness is still a pretty good Lucy Lawless. The rest of the figure follows the same formula of having her outfit sculpted in separate rubbery plastic and layered on over the figure. Allow me to once again say how much I love this technique, as it adds to the depth of the figure. The armor is completely different from the last figure. It’s black instead of brown and the scrollwork and general style is all different as well. I’m kind of torn between which armor I like better. The last figure looks great, but the combination of the black with the painted silver rivets on this figure really pops. Yeah, I’m leaning toward this armor.

This version of Xena has two functional scabbards for her weapons. One is on her left hip that fits her dagger. The other runs straight down over her right shoulder and split up the middle for her “sword drawing action.” But more on that in a bit. Alas, she also has a big gimmick lever coming out of her back.

Sounds pretty good so far, right? Uh oh. We got some pre-posing going on here. Yes, this version of Xena has the terrible one-two punch to the groin of being both pre-posed and having less articulation. She’s posed to stand with her legs apart, her right arm bent up at the elbow and her left arm held almost all the way straight out with just a slight bend at the elbow. The head still turns side to side, but the shoulders are now only cut and not ball jointed and this hurts the figure a whole lot, especially with the one arm held perpetually out. The legs are still cut at the hips and hinged at the knees and ankles, but they’re clearly pre-posed to remain in a fighting stance, so there isn’t a lot of practical use you can get out of those hinges and still have the figure standing.

Before we get to the action gimmick, let’s talk about her accessories, because this figure comes with a lot of goodies. You get a sword, which is a bit different than the one that came with yesterday’s Xena. You get a very nice looking dagger. You get a whip(?), and low and behold, you actually get Xena’s chakram. Yes, I too find it ironic that “Sword Drawing” Xena comes with her chakram and the other figure doesn’t. The sword has a magnet in the hilt that is designed to go with the action gimmick, so let’s see how well that works.

Not so well!  The “Sword Drawing” action feature involves pressing a button to bring Xena’s right arm back, line up with the sword in her sheath where a magnet in the hilt connects with a magnet in the palm of her hand. Release the button and she draws her sword. In theory, this is a really cool and ambitious idea for a 6-inch figure. In practice, all that happens is her hand gets stuck on the sword because the scabbard is too tight fitting to release the sword. If you only tuck part of the sword in there, that will allow Xena to draw it, but it just winds up spinning in her palm and pointing to the ground. Not only does the gimmick not work, but the paint covering the magnet on the sword’s hilt comes off on Xena’s hand. So, yeah, it’s all pretty worthless. On the upside all you sick puppies can put the whip in Xena’s right hand, press the button and experience Xena whipping action!

Why was I so surprised by how good yesterday’s Xena figure was? It’s because it wasn’t replete with all the issues that today’s figure has. Yes, this is exactly the kind of figure that I was expecting from 90’s Toy Biz. Sub-par articulation, pre-posed, and a shitty action gimmick that actually detracts from the figure. God, I wish I could do some mixing and matching between the two figures. I’d basically take the snazzy armor from this figure and put it on the better articulated and less pre-posed body of yesterday’s Xena. Make no mistake this one is not a bad looking display piece, but she’s little better than a statue. In the end, I’m just going to wind up robbing the chakram off of this one and giving it to yesterday’s figure to make her complete.

Tomorrow… we move on to Gabrielle!

Xena: Warrior Xena “A Day in the Life” by Toy Biz

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.

Xena Weekend Begins!!!

And it’s a four-day weekend too! Running today through Monday, we’ll be venturing into some new territory.
First, a disclaimer! I did not watch Xena: Warrior Princess. No, seriously, I didn’t! I remember trying to watch an episode with Bruce Campbell in it, but even his delightful antics and the aggressively cute Renee O’Connor, could not get me to muscle through it. It’s not that I’m a TV snob. Hey, I’m not afraid to admit that I own the complete Buffy: The Vampire Slayer on DVD. So if ya’ll liked watching Xena, good for you, but it just wasn’t my bag. Of course, that didn’t stop me from picking up a bunch of the Xena figures that Toy Biz did back in the late 90’s. What? Resist buying hot warrior chick action figures on clearance? Not likely. I’m only human.

But yes, the scary fact is that I’ve got too many of these figures to do them all in one weekend, so I’m just going to cover four of the 6-inch Collector’s Series, all of which, I believe, are from the first series. The rest will have to wait until I’m drunk enough ready to do another Xena Weekend, or sometime when I can just sprinkle them in with the usual weekly retinue. As already mentioned, this means that this lesbian warrior madness will continue on through Monday. I’ll be back later on to kick things off with a look at the Warrior Princess herself.

Vintage Vault: X-Men X-Force Cable (2nd Version) by Toy Biz

It’s been a long week and I am more than a little bit hungover, so I’m afraid today is going to be a quickie… Vintage Vault hasn’t been back to Toy Biz’s early 90’s Marvel figures in quite a while, so I thought we’d remedy that today and start throwing some more of these into the mix in the weeks ahead. Today we’ll check out the second version of Cable where he dons his deep space armor.

There’s the packaged shot of Cable… I mean Grizzly… no, I mean Cable. Yeah, what we’ve got here is an error card with Cable in Grizzly’s packaging. This guy came to me as part of a lot, in which I got double screwed because it was supposed to be the first version of Cable, not the second version on the wrong cardback. Ah, well. I was going to keep this figure carded as a curiosity and eventually said, screw it, I need that wall space to hang other carded figures, so I decided to tear him open and feature him. Error or not, I’m still in love with the early Toy Biz Marvel packaging. I think these are some of the best comic inspired figure cardbacks. They’re colorful, the character art is great, and they kind of look like comic covers.

Out of the package, and we can see that this indeed isn’t the more iconic version of Cable, but it is still pretty damn cool. He’s in his bulky deep space armor, complete with a removable clear dome helmet over his head. You just need to pinch it a bit to undo the clips and take it off. The armor has a lot of sculpted detail, particularly for this fairly simple line. You know he’s from the 90’s because even in space armor, he’s still covered in enough belts and pouches to make Rob Liefeld blush. The head sculpt is classic Cable with a grim, angry visage. All in all, well done.

As always, Toybiz did a great job with the colors on this figure. Cable is bright orange and blue with a great glossy finish that makes him work so well as a comic book character in toy form. Unfortunately, they could have done a better job with the actual execution of the paintwork. Most of it is good, but there are a few spots, particularly on his legs that look like they might have been painted by blind cats.

Cable features six points of articulation. His arms rotate at the shoulders, his legs rotate at the hips, and his knees are hinged. The head doesn’t turn, otherwise it’s about the same level of articulation I expect from these 90’s Toy Biz figures. There’s not a lot of dynamic posing possibilities here, but just enough so that you can still have a little fun with him.

Cable comes with a big gun, but what else would you expect? It’s a big silver rifle and it has some kind of rapid-fire gimmick that completely eludes me. Either mine is broken or it just never worked right. It’s a nice piece of killing hardware, but since he has no elbow articulation, he can just hold it awkwardly with one hand, striaght out.

I’m always a bit unsure of how the current collector community feels about these 90’s Marvel Toy Biz figures. Sure, there’s been a lot of water under the bridge since these were hanging on the pegs, and you can’t deny that they’re thoroughly dated, but I still can’t help but love them, and they’re cheap as all hell, which makes them fun and painless to collect. If I had to do over, I might not have opened as many, because I love the packaging so much and they do look great hanging on the wall. At the same time, these figures have such a colorful, toyish charm that really meshes well with their comic book roots. It just makes me want to pick them up and play with them.

[Phew… and that’ll be a wrap for the week. Star Trek Saturday may or may not be back next week. We’ll see how things go. In the meantime, I’ve got a lot of stuff backing up in the toy hopper, so I’ll see y’all Monday with something new. –FF]

Vintage Vault: X-Men X-Force Warpath by Toy Biz

I’ve been sitting on a whole box full of unopened Toy Biz X-Men figures for a while now and since things have been slow here at FigureFan, I decided to bust some of these open and take a look. I’ll start peppering them throughout the next couple of weeks. If you weren’t collecting toys in the 90’s or perhaps you just collect Toy Biz’s Marvel figures with the Marvel Legends line, then these guys are going to be quite a departure for you.

One thing I’ve always loved about Toy Biz’s Marvel figures from this era? The packaging. I mean, just look at that. It takes all the colorful and exciting qualities of a comic book cover and transfers them onto the cardback. You get some awesome character art, Just check that out. The Marvel Universe package art is often good, sometimes mediocre, but this image of Warpath is capital stuff. Not to mention the exposition explosion that tells you what the figure’s special play gimmick was. In this case? “SMASHING POWER PUNCH!” Hell, there’s even a sticker advertising a T-shirt. The front of the card is just bursting with activity. The back of the card has a little bit about the character and photos of some of the other figures in this line.
If your only action figure experience with Warpath is the Marvel Universe version then this guy is likely to shock. His design is deliciously comic book inspired and he’s certainly got that wonderful bright and obnoxious 90’s toy motif that meshes so well with comic book and animated inspired figures. There isn’t even a remote attempt to go for realism here. Warpath is a brick wall of a mutant with a neckline that nearly matches his waistline. The glossy, retina-burning red and blue paint job is just stellar. There’s no way this guy is going to appear in any multi-million dollar live action movie treatment. Nope, he’s straight from the panel of a funnybook.
For a 90’s era figure, Toy Biz’s Warpath sports some pretty decent articulation. The arms rotate at the shoulders and he has hinged elbows. His legs rotate at the hips and he has hinged knees. His roast beef sized neck doesn’t move at all, but this is still better than the standard 5-points I’m used to seeing in figures of this era. Warpath also swivels at the waist, but that’s more a part of his “Smashing Power Punch” gimmick. Swivel him at the waist and his right arm goes up. Let him go and he springs back and his arm comes down. It’s an ok gimmick in that it really doesn’t screw up the figure or mar his articulation.
I’m not knocking the more realistic approach that Hasbro takes with their Marvel Universe line, but from package to figure, Toy Biz’s Warpath represents everything that is awesome about comic books and their characters, distills it, and pours it into action figure form. Granted, as we’ll see in the coming weeks, these X-Men figures could be hit and miss (just check out the fright face on Rogue down there), but when they were great, like Warpath, they were really great. What’s better is you can usually buy these guys carded for next to nothing. Certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, but I absolutely love this guy.

Vintage Vault: X-Men X-Force Quark by Toy Biz

Time to start ripping open some good old fashioned Toy Biz X-Men figures. Why? Well, why not. They’ve been hanging around in my closet for long enough, there’s nothing new on the pegs around here, and I’m hankering for some new figures to look at. Or at least newly opened. I’ve got a whole tote full of these guys, so there’s plenty to go round. Today we’re going to start with Quark, and I don’t mean the guy slinging drinks on Deep Space Nine. 

How can you not love this packaging? The super colorful card is set up to look vaguely like a comic book with the little Marvel Comics tab up in the corner. The artwork and logo are both really exciting. I particularly love the way Quark’s smoking gun is positioned in front of the X-Men logo. Very cool. The bubble is huge to accomodate both the figure and his big weapons. This is the kind of awesome packaging that we got in the 90’s by the likes of Toy Biz and Playmates. I’m sad to say that apart from Star Trek figures, I really wasn’t collecting a lot of figures in the 90’s, and this is the kind of stuff I was missing out on. I am not usually a Mint-On-Card collector, but even I have to admit, tearing open this thing made me cry a little inside. 

Out of the package, you can’t help but love Quark. He looks like a hyper-muscled ram-man with a pirate’s eyepatch, but in reality he was one of the race of slaves Mojo had created to help his kind with the hard labor. It’s tough picking up after yourself when you haven’t got a spine! Of course, as is often the case with those pesky slaves, they tend to turn on you and so Quark was part of Longshot’s revolt on the Mojoverse. He may look tough, but he was a good guy at heart.

The sculpt is simple enough, but it’s got it where it counts, particularly the head sculpt, which gives the figure a ton of attitude. Quark looks like he’s ready to drive his head through the nearest wall, and he’s got the horns to back him up. Apart from his belt with side pouches and bulging muscles, there’s not a heck of a lot of detail here, but the whole thing works as a comic/animated figure and I really dig the high gloss used on the paint.

Quark’s articulation includes a rotating head, arms that rotate at the shoulders, legs that rotate at the hips, and hinged knees. He’s not what we would call super-articulated by any stretch, but he’s got better than the five points we’re used to seeing in figures from this era. Quark also has an action feature, triggered by the lever in his back, which shoots his arms up so that he can quickdraw his weapons. Those weapons include a silver shotgun and a silver assault rifle. The shotgun is hinged in the middle so when you activate his gimmick it snaps up into place. It’s kind of a dopey gimmick, but it doesn’t really detract from the figure, so s’all good.

Quark isn’t what you would consider an A-lister in the Mutant Hall of Fame, but he’s a really cool character that I actually first encountered just a few years back when I was reading up on my X-Men comics. The figure really does him justice and he’s definitely worth picking up and certainly reading up on. You just can’t go wrong with a trip through the Mojoverse. It doesn’t hurt that you can probably find him carded for just a couple of bucks if you look hard enough.

Marvel Famous Covers: Black Widow by Toy Biz

I was tearing through some of my storage totes this weekend, looking for some of the parts for some figures I wanted to feature for future Vintage Vaults when I stumbled upon this Famous Covers Series Black Widow figure. It was a cool find, because while I remember picking it up at an estate sale quite a few years back I never actually opened her up. While I do have a few more of this series floating around here, I never really got into it all that much, and I’ve never opened any of them, so this will be a pretty new experience for me. Let’s check her out!

I’m pretty mixed on the packaging here. The figure comes in a book-style box with a velcro piece to hold the front flap down. The front shows the issue of Marvel Fanfare that introduced Black Widow, along with some questionable original artwork of her for the box. Check out the back if you’re brave because it’s got a shot of the exclusive mail-away Aunt May figure, which looks far too creepy to keep in my house. Seriously, Toy Biz? Does anyone really want to be “the first to own an 8″ ultra poseable Aunt May” figure? Even with a limitation of 10,000 figures, I think you overestimated the demand on this one, guys. Anyway, the front flap of the box has a circle cut out to see the figure’s face. Open the front flap, and you can see Black Widow in all her 8″ Mego-fied glory resting in a gold foil tray. I guess I like the design of the box, and the fact that it’s so collector friendly, but the character artwork on the front is just really bad. Toy Biz should have just the cover of the comic for the front of the box.

This line is often described as being in the Mego-style. The figure is actually just slightly bigger than your average Mego-style figure, which is just enough to be annoying if you wanted your Black Widow intermingling with some of those DC retro-style figures you may have picked up recently. But apart from the slight scale issue, the comparison is certainly justified as she has decent articulation, rooted hair, and a cloth costume. The head sculpt is pretty good, and I tend to think one of the best this line has to offer. She has high-heel boot feet and black glove hands. Her articulation includes a ball jointed neck, ball joints in the shoulders, hinged elbows and swivels in the wrists. Her legs have universal movement in the hips and hinged elbows and ankles. She can swivel and bend at the waist.

Black Widow’s outfit is pretty spartan, but it does fit the comic art pretty well. She’s basically just wearing a black jumpsuit with a plastic yellow belt and arm bracers. The outfit fits her pretty well.

I have no idea how much I paid for this figure, but it had to be pretty cheap, because at the time I didn’t think I’d like it enough to even bother opening it. It’s really not a bad figure at all. The poseability is nice, the outfit is ok and the headsculpt and rooted hair look good. Whenever I get around to reviewing other figures in this line you’ll see I tend to think of it as a mixed bag. But all in all, I think Black Widow is one of the better figures that Famous Covers has to offer. Really, my only gripe here is that she should have come with some weapons.

Vintage Vault: X-Men Rogue by Toybiz

I’m a BIG X-Men fan. So much so that I was even able to sit through multiple viewings of all those shitty movies. But my real love has always been in the 90’s cartoon series, the comics and the old Toybiz action figures. I’m in the process of rebuilding my old collection of X-Men figures, so in the coming weeks, I’ll be liberally peppering this blog with looks at some of these figures. I thought we’d start with Rogue. Not the best figure to start with, but once we get this major disappointment out of the way, it’s all uphill from there… almost.

I loooove the cards on these figures. The artwork is great, they’re bright and colorful, just like a comic book figure package should be, and they’re not ashamed to advertise the figure’s gimmick, no matter how useless or annoying it may be. They’re also pretty simple, with a nice big bubble displaying the figure. The reverse side shows the gimmick at work, features a blurb about the character, and lots of photos of all the other X-Men figures you NEED to own. The figure also comes with a collectible character card, which is cool, but it always seemed stupid that you didn’t get a card based on the figure you just bought. Instead it was a random crap shoot. What sense does that make?

Moving on to the figure… oh, Toybiz, how do you flub this major a character? The saddest thing about Rogue is that 90 percent of this figure is really fine. The body sculpt is great, the outfit is classic and well recreated complete with jacket and separate removable accessory belt. Her stance is wide, but she isn’t terribly preposed, which is great because preposed figures is one of my big pet peeves. The colors are pretty much spot on, too.

So what’s the problem? Rogue is a butter face, as in everything is fine butter face. Look, I understand that this is a line for kids, not for collectors, but still, how could anyone at Toybiz signed off on this head sculpt? The hair is fine, but look at the expression on her face. She looks like Tammy Faye Baker scared out of her mind. She looks like one of those Real Ghostbusters figures where you press a button and the eyes pop out in sheer terror. I don’t know what kind of look they were going for here, but it sucks.

Rogue’s articulation is pretty basic. Her right arm rotates at the shoulders and her legs rotate at the hips and have hinged knees. Her right arm is hinged, but that’s all you get here. Her hair and jacket collar sculpt prevent any neck movement as her head and body are sculpted in one piece. Her left arm does rotate at the shoulder, but if you move it around a lot, you risk messing up the action feature.

The action feature is a Power Upper Punch. You press the lever on her back and her left arm springs up. Yeah. Not exactly the first thing I think of when I think of Rogue, but then considering her primary power was sucking the life force out of people and absorbing Mutant powers, it’s kind of hard to replicate her specialties in an action gimmick.

Despite the awful expression on her face, it’s hard to hate this figure. There’s a lot to like here. She’s fun and colorful and she fits in really great with the other X-Men figures. The crazy thing is that Toybiz used almost the exact same sculp to create a Deluxe large scale version of Rogue, but we’ll check that one out another time.