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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!
Grade: A-plus

Ash and Evil Ash
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 is misplaced.
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 the film.
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 Assault Figure
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.
Grade: A

Cy Girls Perfect body
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 interchangeable…uh…let's use the technical term so as not to offend…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 new experience.
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.
Grade: A-plus

The Muppet Show Series One
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

Major League 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 standing.
Uh…..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 program.
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.
Grade: C-minus

Outer Limits 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

Spider-man and 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
Grade; D

The Soldiers 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.
Grade: A


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 in them.
Grade for Nick: C
Grade for the rest: B

Six Gun Legends Series Two
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 something special.
Grade for Custer: A-plus
Grade for Crazy Horse: A

Star Wars Episode II: Ultimate Villain Jango Fett - 12" Deluxe Action Figure

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.
Grade: A-Plus

Bayonets and 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.
Grade: A

Brothers In Arms Series Three
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 Sling.

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.
Grades: A-plus

Kid Connection Astronaut set
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.
Grade; B

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.
Grade: B

In retrospect, 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 figure news!

Later, Rudy