A somewhat curious thing happened in the toy world after Hasbro acquired the license to produce toys based on Marvel Comics characters after Toy Biz's very long run. One of the first lines Hasbro produced was called "Spider-Man Origins". This was applied to a 5-6" scale series of action figures, all of whom did fit well into Spider-Man's corner of the Marvel Universe.
But there was a second line under the "Spider-Man Origins" banner, called the "Signature Series", a phrase Hasbro had used many years ago for certain collector-level figures. These were 9", cloth-costumed action figures of various Marvel characters. Figures such as these hadn't been seen since Toy Biz had scrapped its Famous Covers line. Interestingly enough, at that point in time, Hasbro had the DC license, and they produced a series of 9", cloth-costumed figures based on those heroes. But both lines had been long out of the toy stores.
Guess which body molds got used for the new Marvel line from Hasbro? This was the first time since Mego in the 1970's, that figures from both Marvel and DC, if admittedly with quite a few years between them in this instance, used the same basic body molds. It was still unusual to see, since no such figures had been produced for years.
There were two assortments of four figures each. Some fit rather well into Spider-Man's universe, such as Spider-Man, Black Spider-Man, Iron Spider-Man, Green Goblin, and Dr. Octopus. Others were a bit of a stretch, such as Wolverine, Captain America, and Daredevil. But these were still generally popular characters.
There was a ninth figure, a Target exclusive, featuring the Punisher. This had the virtue of being a popular character on his own that had gotten his start in Spider-Man's universe.
The line had a decent run, but was ultimately phased out when Hasbro started in with their Spider-Man 3 action figures. Most stores, sold out whatever remaining supplies of ALL of their Spider-Man Origins toys -- including both the 5-6" figures as well as the 9" cloth-costumed figures, as quickly as they could.
Then something strange happened. A tenth figure turned up. He's clearly a Target exclusive, but what's especially unusual about him is that his package, although structurally the same as the others, doesn't say one word about Spider-Man. The package now says "Marvel Legends Signature Series." Marvel Legends, of course, is the long-running hit from both Toy Biz and Hasbro of highly-detailed and highly-articulated characters from all over the Marvel Universe.
Honestly, I expected the changeover in name, from Spider-Man Origins to Marvel Legends, to be the first step in continuing the 9" cloth-costumed line. But curiously, that hasn't happened, although it seems like a lot of trouble to go to to completely redesign the markings on the package for one figure. In fact, according to a question-and-answer session with Hasbro about their Marvel plans, there are no plans at all to continue the 9" Signature Series whatsoever, which I think is unfortunate.
However, it should be noted that, understandably, Hasbro wanted to emphasize the Spider-Man 3 movie toys, and honestly, the character in this particular box hasn't had that much connection to Spider-Man's universe.
Cyclops is best known as the leader of the Uncanny X-Men. He was the first student officially recruited by Professor Charles Xavier, and with rare exception, has been with the team, or at least involved with mutants, ever since.
Cyclops is Scott Summers, one of three children both to Major Christopher Summers and his wife. One tragic day when Scott was still a child, he, his parents, and his younger brother Alex (I know, I said three children, but if I get into the background of the third one we're going to be here all day), were flying in a private aircraft when the small plane was attacked by an alien starship. Basically this was an abduction. The plane was unable to withstand the power of the tractor beam being used on it, and began to fall apart. Scott's parents strapped him and Alex into the only parachute that was on board, and tossed them out of the plane. The parachute caught fire on the way down. Needless to say, it was a rough landing, but both boys survived. Their parents, however, were gone.
The boys were eventually relegated to an orphanage. Sometime later, Scott's mutant powers began to manifest themselves. He could emit powerful red beams of pure concussive force from his eyes. Unfortunately, unlike most mutants, he couldn't control his power. His eye beams reached the point where they were constantly "on" and were a threat to everyone around him. It has been speculated that the rough landing from the boys' parachute trip may have caused some slight brain damage in young Scott, rendering him unable to properly control his mutant power.
Scott came under the care of Professor Charles Xavier, himself a mutant, who was looking to establish a school for other young mutants in order to give them a proper education away from the growing persecution that mutants faced, as well as teach them how best to use their mutant abilities. The only thing that could stop Scott's eye beams from firing all over the place was a substance called ruby quartz. Scott must always wear either a visor, or eyeglasses with lenses made of ruby quartz. The visor, part of his superhero costume, allow him to emit the eyebeams with varying degrees of intensity.
Over the years, Scott has become highly proficient in the use of his power. He is forever concerned almost to the point of paranoia about his power cutting loose and hurting someone, but at the same time, he has learned phenomenal precision through the use of the visor, and a certain personal control on how far or how quickly he opens and closes his eyes. He has a natural talent for understanding spatial relationships and geometry, and has been known to pull stunts like clearing an entire pool table in one shot with a carefully placed beam to the cue ball.
As part of the X-Men, the super-team organized by Professor Xavier, Scott Summers took the code-name of "Cyclops". He was the team's first "field commander", and has always felt a deep sense of responsibility towards his teammates and towards mutants in general. His demeanor is perpetually serious to an almost excessive degree sometimes. He is a worrier, about his powers, about the status of mutants in society, and he tends to be rather rigid. He expects others to follow his orders because he expects them to realize that he has their best interests in mind. Needless to say, he and Wolverine haven't exactly been best buds over the years. It's probably also worth mentioning that Cyclops has never been shown to have much of a sense of humor. One has to assume that if you're looking for the best, most intense, most dedicated leader, Cyclops is probably your best choice. If you want him to be the life of the party, forget it.
As to the figure: There was probably a bit of irony in the fact that when Target, known for an ever-increasing ruthlessness in moving merchandise in their toy department to the clearance section faster than any other store that has a toy department, ended their Spider-Man Origins 9" figures, they dropped them from their original retail price of fairly quickly in several successive stages. But then, when Cyclops showed up almost immediately thereafter, Target actually hiked the price up!
I think one of the factors other than price that kept Cyclops from moving off the shelves is the costume. Cyclops has had numerous costumes over the years. Arguably the best known two are the outfits that he wore during most of the 70's and 80's, and another one in the 90's. The 70's-80's costume was fairly straight-forward superhero. It was mostly dark blue, with yellow gloves, trunks, and boots. Cyclops' entire head was covered by a mask, and his visor was yellow-gold. His 90's costume is sometimes called the "SHIELD" costume because of it's resemblance to the uniforms worn by the high-tech spy agency in the Marvel Universe, SHIELD. This costume was also dark blue, with yellow gloves, trunks, and boots, but it had a detailed yellow shoulder harness and belt that seemed to perhaps include small equipment pouches. There was a circular red buckle with a black "X" on it. Also, the top of Cyclops' head was exposed, revealing his brown hair. Both were excellent costume designs, and in fact the latter of the two was made as a figure in the Famous Covers line.
Hasbro chose Cyclops' most recent costume for this figure, and I have to say, it's not my favorite. Granted, it's a step up from the almost-movie- based costumes that the X-Men wore for a time, but it's still pretty dull compared to some of its predecessors from decades past. It does, at least, look more like a superhero costume than some of the stuff the X- Men wound up with for a while. The costume is entirely dark blue, with thin lines of yellow trim around the gloves and boots, a yellow belt with a red "X" buckle, and narrow red lines of trim running from the shoulders to midway down the legs. Cyclops' head is once again entirely covered, and his visor is gunmetal grey. This last part is especially odd, in my opinion.
In fairness, while the costume may be a somewhat drab design, Hasbro did an excellent job matching up the very fine yellow trim lines across the seams of the costume. They imprinted the yellow trim on the uniform, but it had to be done across several pieces of fabric before they were sewn together. On a mass production level for a 9" action figure, that can't have been easy.
The one thing Hasbro has done with these figures, and did with their DC counterparts years ago, that I've always found a little odd, is that they sew the figures into the costumes. No snaps, no velcro. And no way to do any repair work on the figure should it be necessary. Handle with some care.
I will say this -- the facial expression of the mouth is a distinct improvement over the Famous Covers version. For reasons I don't think I'll ever understand, Toy Biz sculpted many of their Famous Covers' figures with wide-open screaming mouths.
Certainly there's nothing to complain about with the body structure. The body is appropriately muscular and very well articulated. The figure movies at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, finger groups, mid-torso, waist, legs, knees, and ankles. The head looks a little narrow, but I think this is my interpretation as much as anything, since the visor seems a little small. Indeed, in the comics, the visor is quite small these days, and it's not a "look" I'm used to.
One interesting note -- the hands and feet, molded in plastic, have been given a matte finish to make them blend in a little better with the fabric of the costume. This is the first time I've seen this done on one of these figures -- Marvel or DC.
Cyclops seems like an unusual choice for a single figure like this. Certainly there are more prominent characters in the Marvel Universe, On the other hand, most of them would have required entirely new body molds. You're not going to get The Hulk out of these. You're not even going to get a passable Thor. Try doing Mr. Fantastic and people will want the rest of the Fantastic Four, and you're sort of stuck without immediate means of doing the Invisible Woman and the Thing. And with Iron Man, you've always got the problem of how to do his armor. So ultimately, Cyclops isn't a bad choice. You can't really go too wrong doing X-Men, and this is one of the most prominent ones.
Whether the 9" cloth-costumed line of Marvel figures ever continues, as a Target exclusive or anything else, I really don't know. I rather doubt it. It was surprising to me that they were even made, although certainly I welcomed them. So Cyclops here, new packaging and all, is probably it. However, with the price drop to the level of the rest of the 9" figures that preceded him, it's hard not to recommend him, especially if you got the others.
This may not be my favorite Cyclops costume design. However, it IS
a VERY decent rendition of Cyclops IN this costume. The figure is well-
made, well-articulated, and looks excellent. And he just might be the
last figure of his type, as well. But even if he's not, the Marvel Legends
9" cloth-costumed CYCLOPS figure definitely has my recommendation!