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AFZ 2004-02

We're back with the latest from the world of Action Figures. This week, we kick things off with a scoop on the possible revivals of Max Steel and Captain Action, a heaping serving of last-minute news, and look at what we can expect in the next few months from Sideshow Toy and McFarlane Toys. And we wrap it all up with a couple of quickie reviews.

MAX STEEL RETURNS. MAYBE

There are conflicting reports about a possible revival of Max Steel. Brandweek Magazine has claims that a huge national campaign (meaning here in the US) is about to launch. According to Brandweek, Mattel plans to push Max Steel as "a GI Joe for the 21st Century", perhaps playing to retailer's fear that a new anti-war-toy movement might spring up as a reaction to the Iraq conflict, much the way that the Vietnam War killed off war toys for several years back in the late 1960s. Mattel has hired Young and Rubicam, one of the leading ad agencies, to oversee these commercials, which indicates that voluminous amounts of money are being invested in the line. However, the production company that actually made the spots claims that these were made for the international market, noting their freedom from US advertising restrictions. So it's hard to say whether these new commercials herald a full-fledged US revival, or simply a huge overseas commitment to continuing the Max Steel line. Either way, the five new commercials are: Ice Maze. In this spot, Max has Flashing Fists that light up, Laser Locators, and Claws to let him slash through the ice. Bio (Constrictor), one of his archenemies, traps him with an avalanche, so Max must fight his way out. Dirt Bike. Here Max has a new dirt bike and his other archenemy Psycho wrecks the landing ramp of his jump. Max doesn't seem fazed. This was shot on a treadmill like set where the whole landscape goes around and around and Max, the bike and the camera stay in one place. Hidden Cave. An underwater themed spot with Bio providing the peril again. The submarine/torpedo launcher are featured in this spot. Jungle Ball. In this spot, Max shows off his spinning guns which he uses to blast Psycho, after Psycho makes the error of trying to crush Max with a huge spike ball. Knife Throw. Max's adjustable arms actually allow him to throw his knife repeatedly. This spot is designed to hook up with the Jungle Ball spot.. We'll have to keep watching to see if these turn up on US television. If they do, look for Max Steel to storm retailer's shelves, springing forth from his two-year exile to Kay Bee Stores.

NEWSWIRE

Mattel has recalled the Batmobile that goes along with their five-inch Batman line. It seems that the tailfins were spiky enough to put an eye out. Over 300,000 were made, and plenty are still in circulation, but the fact that this was recalled and therefore pulled from store shelves will no doubt be reflected in at least a short-term spike in secondary market values. In other words, it's a scalper's delight. If you really want to have something rare, send away for the replacement fins that Mattel will be providing. Hardly anybody will have those. Consumers can call Mattel at (888) 271-9891 anytime or visit www.service.mattel.com to determine if their toy is among the recalled models and to order the free replacement wings if needed. The most surprising thing about this is that it was recalled for a safety reason, and not for being ugly as sin. They really need to drop those movie-inspired Batmobiles and go with something more plausible. Marx Toys is still not dead! In an effort to more fully exploit their rich toy history, Marx Toys has opened up a series of CafE Press online boutiques, where you can buy T Shirts, Mousepads, Mugs, Lunchboxes and other knick-knacks featuring such Marx Stalwarts as Johnny West, Chief Cherokee, Big Loo, The Knights, The Vikings and others. More details can be found at http:// www.magicmarxie.com. In a related story, Marx's vintage Alamo Playset will be featured in the May/June issue of Playset Magazine. You can check it out at http:// www.playsetmagazine. Finally for this week's Newswire, it has come to light that Playing Mantis has filed to claim the trademark on Captain Action. When PM revived the Captain a few years ago, they had to license the name from the then-owner Karl Arts. Karl Arts' trademark expired in 2002, due to inactivity. In August 2003, Playing Mantis filed for the rights to the name. We can only hope that this leads to a revival of some sort. In the past, Playing Mantis has indicated that they were not likely to revisit the Captain Action line, but they may have changed their minds, or they might just want the trademark so that they can sell it, along with the already-existing molds, to an interested third party. We'll keep up updated as we ferret out more details. In the meantime, go to TwoMorrow's website and order Michael Eury's terriffic book on the Captain: http://www.twomorrows.com/books/captainaction.html .

SIDESHOW TOY 2004

Sideshow Toy showed a ton of cool stuff at Toy Fair, including several items in the new (to them) one-quarter scale and quite a few exciting new licenses. Here's the highlights from Sideshow's press material:

Apes will again rule the planet when Sideshow Collectibles releases limited edition collectibles of the most memorable characters from the original "Planet of the Apes." In the fall of 2004, after Fox's release of the 35th anniversary edition on DVD, Sideshow will release 1/4 scale figures of Dr. Zaius and Cornelius, a polystone reproduction of The Lawgiver statue, and 12-inch figures of Charlton Heston as Colonel George Taylor, Roddy McDowall as Cornelius, Kim Hunter as Zira, Maurice Evans as Dr. Zaius and Linda Harrison as Nova. Writer-director Stephen Sommers, the creator of "The Mummy," "The Mummy Returns," and "The Scorpion King" for Universal Studios, will bring the film "Van Helsing" to audiences on May 7, 2004. Drawing inspiration from the studio's classic horror properties, Sommers will once again inject the spirit of an action adventure movie into a classic horror story to create an epic with lots of scare power. The story for the film is based on Dr. Abraham Van Helsing, a character originally introduced in Bram Stoker's book Dracula. A young and adventurous version of Van Helsing will be played by Hugh Jackman for the upcoming film. Jackman as the vampire hunter, Van Helsing, will battle not only Dracula, but The Wolf Man and the Frankenstein monster as well. Set in late Victorian Eastern Europe, the movie will also feature Kate Beckinsale as the beautiful "Anna," a daughter of a family dedicated to the pursuit of Dracula. Additional cast members include Richard Roxburgh as "Dracula" (the evil duke in "Moulin Rouge"), Will Kemp as "The Wolf Man," Shuler Hensley as the "Frankenstein monster," David Wenham as "Friar Carl," Kevin J. O'Connor as "Igor," and Samuel West as "Dr. Von Frankenstein". Sideshow will be creating 12" figures of Van Helsing and Anna, as well as Dracula in "man" form. These figures will be released as limited editions and have an average suggested retail price of $40-$45. A deluxe full-feature 18" figure of Van Helsing will also be developed and will sell for more than $200 as a low-run limited edition collectible. A television cult phenomenon was born in 1993 with the creation of The X-Files. FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder, portrayed by David Duchovny, and Special Agent Dr. Dana Scully, played by Gillian Anderson, went up against mutants, madmen and government conspirators to investigate unexplained phenomena contained in the X-Files. After nine television seasons on the Fox network, the show ended but its popularity among its dedicated fans thrives. Sideshow now expands its collectible line of products to include characters from another innovative television science fiction series with the addition of three 12-inch figures based on the most popular characters of The X-Files. Agents Scully and Mulder and the mysterious Cigarette Smoking Man will get Sideshow's ultra-high quality 12" action figure treatment, each with a retail price of $40. You many notice that Sideshow Toy is creating a number of their new figures in both 12" and one-quarter scale sizes. This is a great move, since there is a growing number of collectors who are willing to pay top dollar for quality one-quarter scale figures, and that could help the company prosper at a time when the one-sixth scale market is reaching a saturation point. Upcoming Sideshow offerings in this larger scale include Star Trek (The Original Series), Hellboy, James Bond, London After Midnight, Fredy Krueger and Napoleon. Sounds like a heck of a dinner party. This doesn't mean that Sideshow has abandoned the 12" size. In addition to all the goodies listed above, you can look forward to a full assortment of Buffy the Vampire Slayer figures, more Universal Monsters, Revolutionary War Figures, General Grant from the ACW, and more James Bond. 2004 is going to be huge for Sideshow Toy.

MCFARLANE TOYS

Due out in the next three months from McFarlane Toys are the following:

McFARLANE'S SPORTS PICKS: COOPERSTOWN COLLECTION McFarlane Toys' first sports legends series is being released, featuring six Major League Baseball greats in our Cooperstown Collection. Included in this line are Bob Gibson, Brooks Robinson, Nolan Ryan, Reggie Jackson, Tom Seaver and Yogi Berra.

McFARLANE'S SPORTS PICKS: NFL SERIES 8 McFarlane Toys' first football action figure series of 2004 is set to hit stores just as the NFL preseason gets into full swing. Featuring the following players: Peyton Manning 2, Indianapolis Colts QB, No. 18; Steve McNair, Tennessee Titans QB, No. 9; Tim Brown, Oakland Raiders WR, No. 81; Torry Holt, St. Louis Rams WR, No. 81; Jamal Lewis, Baltimore Ravens RB, No. 31; Ahman Green, Green Bay Packers RB, No. 30.

McFARLANE'S SPORTS PICKS: NFL 3-INCH TWO-PACKS McFarlane Toys' new series of 3-inch-scale football two-packs is set to hit stores. Featuring all the detail you've come to expect in our standard-scale sports action figures, this item features two small-scale figures in one package at a low price and features the following combinations: Jerry Rice/Chad Pennington; Brett Favre/Jeff Garcia; Donovan McNabb/Emmitt Smith; Jeremy Shockey/Ray Lewis; Marvin Harrison/Priest Holmes; and Mike Alstott/Ricky Williams.

McFarlane has the license for the upcoming Aliens vs. Predator Movie, and will be releasing 12" figures of the Alien and Predator, as well as an assortment of five smaller-scaled figures. In other alien news, McFarlane will bring out their second Elvis figure, this time in his early '60s' Rockabilly look, and a series of figures based on the "Love Gun" album by KISS.

QUICKIE REVIEWS

WWE HALF PINTS by Jaaks Pacific Uhwhat the heck are these supposed to be? Are they an attempt to mimic Homies, or are they some sort of try at jumping on the Mighty Beanz bandwagon? Whatever the intent, these are two-inch tall goofy caricatures of WWE's wrestling superstars, packaged two to a card, and sold for about three or four bucks. They'd be more at home in a vending machine. One of them features Hulk Hogan, who left the company before these were released. Not up to Jaaks' usual standards.

Pros: They're entertainingly goofy. They don't take up much space. HHH looks like he's flying.

Cons: Crude sculpting. Sloppy painting. Overpriced. No articulation. Choking hazard-not that you'll put them in your mouth, but you'll start coughing when you see the price. The Undertaker's "Sara" tattoo is way to low and about six times the size that it should be. Grade: D

ROSIE THE RIVETER by Accoutrements (Archie McPhee)_ This is not to be confused with Valor USA's excellent one-sixth scale Rosie, which should still be available from online dealers. This is a six-inch tall action figure, part of Archie McPhee's series of offbeat action figure line that's available at Archie McPhee and at hipper-than-thou bookstores across the country. It's a nice tribute to the "We Can Do It" working gal of WWII.

Pros: There aren't enough female action figure heroes, so this is good. Decent sculpting, for the smaller scale. Informative backing card. Nice package design overall. Cool lunchpail and rivet gun accessories.

Cons: Tiny size. Only nine points of articulation. Molded-on clothes. Grade: A-minus

That's it for this week's Action Figure Zone. Check back next time for news on Super Hero action figures!

Later, Rudy