AFZ All Review
Column September 24 2002 by Rudy Panucci
There is a deluge
of action figure news coming out in the next few days. The San Diego
Comic Con and early Pre-toy fair meetings have ended or are just now
wrapping up, and we'll have so much breaking news to report next week,
that this week we're going to play catch-up and give you an all review
column. Some of these are detailed reviews, and some are quick 'n' dirty,
but we hope you find them useful. Without further ado, let's dive in!
The Joker, Clown
Prince of Crime
By Hasbro, $19.99 exclusively at Target
This figure is sort of the follow-up to the two recent "secret
identity" DC Comics 9" figures of Superman and Batman that
Hasbro created for Target. Unlike those two, this figure of the Joker
doesn't come with a civilian set of clothes, since the comic book character
doesn't use a secret identity.
This is a spectacular figure, easily the finest action figure rendition
of Batman's arch-nemesis ever. Atop the very cool Hasbro/DC 9"
body, he sports a terrific headsculpt, reminiscent of the classic drawings
of the character by artist Marshall Rogers. His famous purple pinstripe
tuxedo outfit is recreated in exquisite detail, and he comes with an
assortment of accessories, including a cane, gag "bang" pistol,
and exploding "surprise" box with a little Joker gremlin inside.
This is going to be one of Hasbro's last Batman action figures because
the line will be moving to Mattel next year. They've certainly set the
bar pretty high with figures like these. This is one classy comic book
action figure. It's going to be hard to find, and you should go out
of your way to track one down if you have an interest in Batman toys.
This one is a winner all the way!
Ash and Evil
By Sideshow Toy, around $40 at specialty and online retailers.
These are figures based on the cult film "Army Of Darkness"
which was directed by Sam Raimi a decade or so ago. He later went on
to direct a little film you may have heard of called "Spider-Man".
This has been a pretty controversial set since its release. Many collectors
expressed disappointment over the sculpt on Ash. That disappointment
This Mat Falls sculpt is a dead ringer for actor Bruce Campbell as Ash,
the way he looks in several scenes in the movie. However, it does not
look like Bruce Campbell does in the painting on the movie poster, which
is also used for the packaging here. I think a lot of folks just wanted
a nice portrait sculpt of Campbell to use in other customizing projects.
If that's what you're looking for, you won't like this scarred-up Ash.
Still, this is a pretty decent figure with an interchangeable chainsaw/metallic
hand and a cool rifle and sling. He's wearing a blue shirt with brown
trousers and "bootish" shoes. He also comes with a cape. The
joints are a bit loose on mine, but this is still a good souvenir from
Evil Ash is much the same, but way cooler-looking. He sports similar
clothing, but has cool demonic body armor and a neat blood-stained sword.
He also has a terrific evilled-up head sculpt, with matching hands.
The better of the two figures, in my book.
Grade for Ash: B
Grade for Evil Ash: A
Max Steel Jungle
By Mattel, on sale for less than $8 at Kay Bee stores
Okay, this guy has been out for quite some time, but I'm recommending
him here because he's been put on clearance for under eight bucks at
Kay Bee. This particular figure features the "Ultra" articulation,
which means Dragon-style double joints at the knees and elbows. If you've
been putting off buying a Max Steel figure, there are two reasons to
pick up this guy: First, he's cheap with great articulation.. Second,
now that Mattel has the rights to the DC Comic's superheroes, Max Steel
may not be long for this world.
Cy Girls Perfect
By BBI under $15 when they can be found
Blue Box International has pretty much set the standard for female action
figures with this release. You get great articulation, real feet, and
let's use the technical term so as not
mammaries. You can choose between two sizes of feminine
chestal characteristics: Huge, and Gigantic.
Not to dwell on it, but think of all the "spare parts" boxes
in customizer's and collector's homes that will now have a few sets
of extra breasts mixed in with all the grenades, rifles and pistols.
It certainly will make the mosh pits at future GI Joe conventions a
You can, if you're adventurous, use an X-acto knife to carve the neck
and insert pieces off of the spare chest piece, and use it to "enhance"
another female figure. Or put them on a male figure, if that's your
gig. We don't judge here.
Looking beyond that, these are great figures with top-notch articulation,
decent headsculpts, and they're an answer to many a customizer's request.
Improvements since the first Cy Girls include the addition of feet,
instead of molded-on boots, and improved articulation in the knees,
wrists, and elbows. On the downside, there are holes in the heads for
ear-rings, and these things sell out so fast that it's really hard to
track them down. But they're a must-have item for collectors of female
action figures. So far there are three headsculpts, each with a designated
hair color. These are rehashed from the original Cy Girls' sculpts.
The Muppet Show
By Palisades marketing, under $10 at major retailers
Palisades has jumped into licensing in a different manner with this
set. Instead of taking the usual small company method of producing gory,
"adult" figures that only appeal to disgruntled loner collector
types, they've decided to produce a line of well-sculpted, wonderfully-produced
action figures based on a beloved family-friendly property, the Muppets.
It remains to be seen if this is a wise move, since the Muppets are
more than a decade removed from the death of their creator, Jim Henson,
and haven't exactly remained a top-level family attraction in recent
years. Still, they are cool enough to be in the new Weezer video, and
many old TV shows, most of them not nearly as entertaining as the Muppet
Show, have been revived lately, so maybe the time is ripe for Palisades
to strike gold with these guys.
The action figures themselves are great: Highly-detailed sculpting with
sharp paint detail and appropriate accessories, if a little lacking
in articulation. Mainstream fans will love the Kermit and Miss Piggy
figures, while even the disgruntled alienated youth that make up much
of the action figure collecting hobby will snap up lab assistant Beaker,
or Dr. Teeth.
Palisades has done everything they can to make this line a success,
now we just have to see if the Muppets still have enough appeal to sell
these figures to the public.
Grade for the entire line: B-plus
Baseball Series 2: Derek Jeter with White Pinstripe Jersey
By McFarlane Toys, under $13 at major retailers
I keep hearing about the amazing job that McFarlane is doing with the
likenesses of the sports figures that he's producing since he fished
the licensing deals out of Hasbro's dumpster. So I took the plunge and
picked up a Derek Jeter figure, being a die-hard Yankee fan of long
..maybe there was a mix-up at the factory, but my Jeter looks
a heck of a lot like Dale Gribble from "King of the Hill".
I don't get it. You pay big money to produce action figures based on
real athletes, and then you sculpt them wearing sunglasses? With the
ball cap and shades, Jeter looks like he's in the witness protection
The figure itself is well-made, in the McFarlane barely-articulated
norm, but the head is just way off. Maybe it's just the one I got my
hands on, but if that's the case, then Todd has some major quality-control
issues. Very disappointing.
Gwyllm Griffiths and Ebonite Interrogator
By Sideshow Toy, around $40 each from specialty and online retailers
From the classic Science Fiction television anthology, Sideshow brings
us two of the more memorable characters: Gwyllm Griffiths, from "The
Sixth Finger" and The Ebonite Interrogator from "Nightmare".
Gwyllm is the super-evolved Guinea Pig, played on the show by future
"Man From U.N.C.L.E." David McCallum. He's presented here
in his full "evolved 1,000 years" form, as seen in the 1963
Outer Limits episode, " The Sixth Finger", which was a cautionary
tale about the potential evils of manipulating natural science and also
the corruption that power brings. With a headsculpt brilliantly recreated
by Mat Falls, This figure comes dressed in a lab outfit, and comes with
two books: Darwin's "Descent of Man" and a collection of Bach's
Preludes for Piano. Also, his hands do have six fingers each. This is
a great figure from a classic episode of Outer Limits. A must-have item
for die-hard fans of the show.
Sideshow has also given us The Ebonite Interrogator, the monstrous presence
from the aptly titled Outer Limits episode, "Nightmare". In
this tale of paranoia and inhuman mind games, the Ebonites are alien
invaders interrogating a group of Earth soldiers whom they've captured
in battle. I don't want to reveal the twists and turns of the plot,
so let's just say that this is one great rendition of the Ebonite Interrogator,
complete with communication device and wand. He comes dressed in his
bat-winged outfit, as seen in the show.
Both figures also come with a specially-designed display stand . While
they look sharp in the package, you really need to crack these guys
open to enjoy them to their fullest. They also feature the usual excellent
Sideshow articulation. The Ebonite gets an additional half-letter grade
due to his possible uses by kitbashers. That outfit would be a great
basis for a circa-1937 Bat-man.
Grade for Gwyllm: A
Grade for Ebonite: A-plus
Green Goblin, Super posable six-inch figures
By Toy Biz, under $8 each at most toy retailers
These are darn fine action figures based on the gigantically-successful
movie. They have killer sculpts and more articulation than was previously
thought possible with such small figures. These are among the best of
the Spider-man movie toys.
The Green Goblin gets docked half a letter grade for looking more like
a Japanese Power Ranger-type figure than the comic book bad guy.
Grade for Spider-man: A
Grade for Green Goblin: B-plus
Ultra Pose Spider-man
Not the deluxe super-articulated figure, this is a 14" tall plush
Spidey with a wire armature and suction cups on his hands. Doofy-looking
is about the kindest thing you can say about this mess. In a few months,
when the wires start breaking and popping through the cloth skin, you'll
be able to find these at Goodwill and Salvation Army stores all over
the place. Probably for a quarter apiece.
By Toy Biz, under $15 at most toy retailers
of the World Footlocker with Figure and Gear
By Formative International, under $16 at select retailers.
Longtime fans of 1/6 scale military action figures have spent the last
couple of years marveling at how quickly Formative has improved their
entire product line. They've gone from being a low-priced off-brand
to a well-deserved spot as an industry leader. Following up on their
recent carded uniform triumphs, they've released a great new set with
a footlocker, a figure, and a generous amount of weapons and accessories.
I picked up the "World War II-Infantry" set. The other three
footlocker sets currently available (so far only at Target, but Wal
Mart will probably get them soon, too) are: "Vietnam War-Airborne";
"Desert Storm-Marine"; and "Enduring Freedom-Army Ranger".
The latter two feature tan footlockers instead of the normal olive green
ones that come with the other sets.
The footlocker itself is a really nice piece of craftsmanship. Molded
in sturdy plastic, it features a locking latch and rope handles. There's
no inner tray, though, unless you want to save the cardboard insert
that some of the gear is attached to. The packaging itself is very nicely
done, with the footlocker shipped opened, with the figure and gear displayed
and a cardboard filler box making the open sides even. On the side of
that little box is a nice touch: a little chart of what the various
Army ranks are. That shows the dedication to detail at work here.
The figure is one of Formative's "Outstanding Articulation"
guys with a neat new headsculpt. Most of the gear in the set I picked
up is of the newly-designed type that's got everyone so excited. He
has the new webgear, canteens, first-aid pouch, Thompson pouches, two-piece
bazooka, grenades, loading carbine with clip and Thompson with removable
clip. I think the holster, pistol and knife are older pieces, and there's
some Velcro on the uniform, but this is still a great value.
Value is the hallmark of Formative these days. These are great sets
that are inexpensive enough to give to beginners, but detailed enough
to delight veteran collectors.
Galidor (review of entire line)
By LEGO, between $10 and $25 at major retailers
Following the smash success of BIONICLE, LEGO is making another run
at the hybrid construction toy/action figure market with Galidor, based
on an animated show currently running on FOX Kids. The results have
been mixed. The robotic alien characters, like Gorm and Jen5 look great,
but the human, Nick, looks really bad, with a clunky "Harry Potter"
headsculpt. The joints for a construction-based action figure just don't
look right with an organic figure. These toys look like they have tons
of play value, although the price is a bit high. I don't know if these
will succeed on their own, or if only the robots and aliens will become
collectable due to their inherent coolness.
There are regular and deluxe versions of each figure, but aside from
some extra vac-metalized parts, there doesn't seem to be much difference
Grade for Nick: C
Grade for the rest: B
Six Gun Legends
General George Custer and Crazy Horse
By Sideshow Toy, around $40 each from specialty and online retailers
I've got to admit that I've been looking forward to these releases since
I first heard about them last year. As a kid, I had the Marx General
Custer, and he was one of my favorites. This version of Custer blows
the Marx guy away.
I'll start by mentioning the one minor negative (aside from the fact
that Sideshow still makes all their figures about half an inch too tall).
Custer's face is very pale, but he's a bit blotchy and almost blushing.
This is accurate, as accounts do say that the General was a bit of a
spotty fellow, but I think this is one case where historical accuracy
was not so necessary. The Mat Falls sculpt is pretty amazing, capturing
the likeness from the existing photographs in an astounding manner.
It's just the paint scheme that's a bit distracting.
Still, that is a very minor complaint. The figure has the usual Sideshow
articulation, and comes with a total of five hands: Two regular bare
hands; One bare rifle hand,; And two gloved hands. He also comes with
a Wide-brimmed Plains Hat; Sailor shirt; 1872 Cavalry Boots; Modified
Officer's Saber Belt with Leather Cartridge Loops; 2 Ivory-handled Irish
Constabulary Revolvers; Private Purchase Plains Knife with Fringed Scabbard;
Buckskin Jacket with Fringed Trousers; Red Cravat; Spurs with Straps;
Cap Pouch; and a Remington No.1 Rolling Block Rifle.
The outfit looks great and is historically accurate. We can only hope
that Sideshow considers making a horse for Custer to ride, eventually.
Crazy Horse is a terrific companion piece to Custer. Mat Falls, with
no photographic references, as he had for Custer, has created a perfectly
believable likeness of the legendary Sioux warrior.
The only weakness with this figure is that Crazy Horse didn't wear a
shirt, and therefore the action figure's joints are exposed. It's not
a huge problem. Sideshow even makes up for it by decorating the figure
with accurate body paint.
Crazy Horse comes with Sioux Pattern Moccasins; Leather-fringed leggings;
Beaded Waistbelt; Beaded Choker; Henry Rifle with Tacked Stock; Hawk
Feather; Loin Cloth; Plains Knife with Beaded Scabbard; Tomahawk; Bone
Breastplate with Ties; and an alternate rifle hand.
I'd rank this figure up there with Dog Soldier's excellent Native American
figures, and that's saying something. I hope that Sideshow continues
this excellent line of Western-based figures in the future. These are
Grade for Custer: A-plus
Grade for Crazy Horse: A
Star Wars Episode II: Ultimate Villain Jango Fett - 12" Deluxe
By Hasbro, $50 and under at major retailers
Finally, Hasbro is using the Classic Collection GI Joe body on non-GI
Joe figures! With Jango Fett, they've given us a great headsculpt and
a ridiculous amount of accessories. Nearly impossible to find in some
regions, this is a rare "collectors" set that is well worth
the price. If you collect Star Wars figures, this is a must-have. If
you don't, this one is a good start.
Barbwire Series Three
US 5th Marine Infantry Regiment
The Peter Jackson Collection
By Sideshow Toy, around $40 from specialty and online retailers
This is the first of Sideshow's World War One figures to sport the new
"Peter Jackson Collection" label, and to be honest, it doesn't
seem any better or worse than the earlier efforts in the line. I hope
that Jackson's name (he's the director of the "Lord Of The Rings"
trilogy) raises the profile and increases sales for the line, but Sideshow's
standards were already so high that I don't know how much extra they
can be raised.
What we have here
is your basic WWI US Marine Private, sporting a Mat Falls headsculpt
on the standard Sideshow body. The outfit and accessories, all up to
Sideshow's usual excellent standards, include: British Mk 1 helmet with
strap; Pattern P1917 Marine Uniform Tunic and Trousers; Marine 1904/1917
Shirt; French Pattern Ankle Boots; British Puttees; Springfield '03
Rifle with Sling; Bayonet and Scabbard; M1910 Knapsack; M1910 Shovel
and Cover; M1910 Medical Pouch; M1910 Canteen; M1910 Cartridge Belt;
and British Small Box Respirator and Bag.
Essentially, this is a perfect representation of a basic US soldier
in WWI. If you want a US figure from "the Great War", then
you can't go wrong with this set. You get a great figure with distinctive
headsculpt and a generous amount of high-quality accessories for a reasonable
price. You can't beat that.
Brothers In Arms
US 100th Pennsylvania Infantry and CS 29th Alabama Infantry
By Sideshow Toy, around $40 each from specialty and online retailers
For the layman, who may not be well-versed in the minutiae of ACW history,
these are the cool-looking Civil War dudes with the neat capes (greatcoats,
they're called). They're both typically great Sideshow figures with
great Mat Falls headsculpts and a ton of top-notch accessories, and
they make a killer set, since they juxtapose so well with one another.
These are possibly the sharpest-looking of Sideshow's "Brothers
In Arms" figures yet.
The U.S. 100th Pennsylvania Infantry figure is outfitted with the following;
Forage Cap with Infantry Horn Emblem; Federal Sack Coat; Federal Sky-Blue
Trousers; Federal Infantry Pattern Greatcoat; Federal Pattern Undershirt;
Socks; Brogans; Double-Bag Knapsack and Gun Blanket Roll; Leather Waist
Belt with Federal Issue US Belt Plate; Bayonet Scabbard and Frog; Socket
Bayonet; M1855 Cap Pouch; M1855 Cartridge Box with Sling; M1855 Canteen;
M1855 Haversack; Federal Issue Cup; and 1861 Springfield Rifle with
The C.S. 29th Alabama Infantry comes with the following accessories:
Confederate Pattern Kepi; Columbus Depot Shell Jacket; Confederate Pattern
trousers; Confederate Pattern Greatcoat; Home-spun Undershirt; Socks;
Brogans; Haversack; Drum Canteen; Square Frame Knapsack with Blanket
Roll; Cap Pouch; CS Cartridge Box and Sling; Enfield Rifle with Sling;
Socket Bayonet; and Bayonet Scabbard and Frog.
Again, Sideshow has excelled and they've done it in a field where hardly
anyone else is competing right now. Any ACW enthusiast would be pleased
with these figures and anyone who collects historical action figures
should seek them out.
By M&C Toy Centre, $9.88 at Wal Mart.
A couple of years ago, Wal Mart paid Target a huge compliment by swiping
their "Kool Toyz" blue box concept with their own line of
exclusively packaged blue box toys, "Kid Connection". Among
the notable things in that line were the early appearances of Lanard's
12" "Ultra Corps" line.
This year, Wal Mart has made some changes. For one, the Kid Connection
boxes are RED, and for another, they've abandoned Lanard, and hooked
up with M&C Toy Center, whose "Power Team" figures can
be read about over in the "Cheesy Toy Knockoff" section of
this website. These are the guys who do the "World Peacekeepers"
line that can be found at Big Lots and Kay Bee stores.
The hook for the M&C sets is that you get TWO figures in one set
for less than ten bucks. And these aren't too shabby as action figures
go, either. The Power Team body is comparable to the more recent Action
Man figures in terms of articulation.
Although there are military and fire/police sets, the one that caught
my eye is the astronaut set. It's a rehash of some astronaut sets that
M&C did a few years back, but it's still cool You get two astronauts,
one dressed in red, the other in blue, with retro-looking bubble helmets
and an assortment of space weapons. There's a laptop computer there,
too, but only two glovish things to be shared between the two space
travelers. Still, this is a great inexpensive toy for a kid, and a real
cheap starter for that 12" Major Matt Mason diorama that you've
been planning to do for years.
There are also reports that another veteran of the "Cheesy Toy
Knockoff" wars, Power Force, is producing a really neat Mechanical
Exo-suit with tons of accessories for Wal Mart. Look for a review of
that in the coming weeks. So far, only these neat guys have shown up
in my neck of the woods.
Get Real Girl
Currently on sale at Wal Mart for seven bucks.
This is another figure that's been out since last year, but has recently
been marked down. These gals are the second-generation Get Real Girls,
which means they have slightly-improved heads. The bodies are decent
customizing fodder, and one of the girls comes with a Karate outfit
that will fit male 12" action figures (it also comes with the full
compliment of different-colored belts). If you can't find or afford
the Cy Girl Perfect Body figures, then these are decent substitutes
for the price.
that's a pretty positive batch of reviews (sorry Todd), I don't know
if that means I'm in a good mood, or if we're just in the midst of a
great time for our hobby. Given my naturally surly tendencies, I'd guess
the latter. Next week, tune in for all the latest up-to-the-second action