Darn shame, too, because some of these designs are pretty impressive. One that particularly caught my attention was the one called "Ruby Quartz Armor Cyclops". Recently, I was able to add it to my action figure collection.
Let's consider Cyclops as a character for a moment. Scott Summers was one of the first students recruited by Professor Charles Xavier for the X- Men. He possesses the mutant ability to project red beams of tremendous force from his eyes. Unfortunately, he cannot consciously control these powers sufficiently to turn them off. Unlike most super-beings, who choose to activate their powers, Cyclops cannot deactivate his.
The reasons for this are somewhat speculative. One leading theory dates back to his childhood before his powers even manifested. Scott, his younger brother Alex (who would become Havok), and their parents were in a small private plane that was attacked by a massive alien vessel belonging to the mad Shi'Ar emperor D'Ken. At the last moment, the parents pushed the boys out of the plane in the single undamaged parachute. While the boys' combined weight was perhaps that of one full adult, which should've made for a safe landing, the parachute caught fire on the way down. The boys landed, survived, but it was reasoned that Scott landed on his head, causing very slight brain damage, and as such, the inability to control his powers once they appeared.
To that end, when acting as the super-hero Cyclops, Scott wears a visor of ruby quartz crystal, the only thing that can hold back his eye beams. This visor is adjustable, allowing Cyclops to fire his eyebeams as he sees fit. Much like a pair of glasses corrects vision for someone who cannot see properly, this visor gives Scott the measure of control over his powers that he does not himself have. The rest of the time, Scott wears a pair of ruby quartz glasses to contain his power.
Personality-wise, Scott Summers is intelligent, dedicated, cares deeply about the cause of the X-Men, is a highly effective leader -- and unfortunately is as dull as dry toast. His intensity as a leader and his love for Jean Grey is about all that's made him interesting over the years. Even the excellent movies weren't able to do a whole lot with him.
Regretably, Summers' lack of a strong personality has tended to be reflected in his wardrobe. His costumes have never really amounted to much. The most interesting of the lot, which he wore through a fair portion of the 90's, was a varation on the uniforms worn by S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. It had Cyclops' traditional colors of dark blue with yellow trim, but the upraised detail of the straps on the uniform made it a bit more outstanding than most of his costume designs.
Well, if "clothes make the man", it's a shame that Cyclops never got this Ruby Quartz Armor uniform in the comics or anywhere else besides this action figure, because it's a pretty darned impressive look. The man inside the suit may still be a bit dull, but the same can't be said of the costume. Let's discuss the figure.
Before I get into the design of the armor, I'd like to get into the design of the figure. There is no reason in the world that you couldn't buy this figure and stand it right alongside your Marvel Legends collection. It's in the same size range, and it's just as well articulated. The only areas of articulation that are in any way hindered are the outward movement of the arms, and the upper swivel arms, and I think that's because of the large shoulder pads of the armor, not because of lack of articulation points. Apart from this, the figure has the same range of motion as most Marvel Legends figures, and is probably better than some of them, and fits just fine sizewise.
Now let's consider the armor. It's an amazing design. And it makes sense. Cyclops may be able to fire these beams of force from his eyes, but the man's not invulnerable. He doesn't have super-strength. He doesn't have Wolverine's healing factor. He's not Juggernaut. Apart from the eyebeams, he's pretty average, really. And given the types of enemies the X-Men go up against, you'd think he'd want some proper protection. A suit like this would give it to him.
The design is that of a segmented, just-about form-fitting armor, painted in metallic red. It sort of looks like something Tony Stark would build for someone who didn't quite want to be Iron Man, but still wanted a decent measure of protection. There's a ridged black "undergarment" underneath the armor segments, that allows for a normal range of mobility, but still looks like it would provide some decent protection of its own. There's some small gold highlights on the outfit, including the traditional "X" on the center.
It's a little surprising to me that the outfit doesn't include a helmet. Cyclops' head is completely exposed. Not a good idea, and perhaps the one "error" in the overall design. On the other hand, from a toy standpoint, if they had given him a helmet, he probably would've been mistaken for some new version of Iron Man.
The figure has an interesting action feature. Of course, his eyes light up. You press down on the head to make this happen. It's a cool and appropriate effect, even if it does look a little uncomfortable.
Complaints? Just in one respect. There's a bit too much "tech" here. The figure is wearing a backpack, and carrying an immense weapon that fires four small red missiles. The weapon is attached to the backpack, and although the backpack can be popped off the back of the figure, it's still attached. There's a thick cable running from the backpack to the weapon, and thinner cables running from the backpack to the figure's visor (this one is removable) and to the figure's wrist (this one is not).
It's not hard to figure out the principle here. The missiles in the weapon are powered by Cyclops' force-beams. The cable from the visor to the backpack allows Cyclops to channel his power into the backpack, and from there into the weapon. Presumably the cable running from the backpack to his wrist allows him to activate the weapon.
It's sort of a cool idea. But it would've been cooler if it had been completely removable so he's not lugging all of this stuff around all the time, and the one connection that's NOT removable is the one at the wrist. And as cool as it looks, in battle, all those cables are a tangle- mess waiting to happen. But I'd settile for being able to disarm him. It's a perfectly good figure without all this excess hardware.
The paintwork on the figure is excellent. Toy Biz can, on occasion, be a little slipshod, even though I've never seen any evidence of sloppy hand- painted detailing on their figures. But this figure was done very neatly and effectively. The red armor sections have a fantastic metallic sheen to them, the face is neatly painted, there's no oversmear of dirt or grime, and on the whole, the figure looks excellent.
Toy Biz is, understandably, promoting this new X-Men line a fair bit these days. It would be understandable if some fans saw some of these figures and thought, "Hey, I don't remember whats-his-name ever looking like THAT!" But don't let that discourage you from obtaining some of these figures. Toy Biz has actually come up with some very cool designs here in many instances.
RUBY QUARTZ ARMOR CYCLOPS is certainly one of them, and he definitely gets my recommendation!