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REVIEW: MOVIE MANIACS ROBOCOP
By Thomas Wheeler

Let's be clear about one thing here. I don't like Todd McFarlane. I think his creations -- toy or comic -- are some of the most hideous, gruesome, needlessly evil things ever dumped into popular culture. They are a waste of plastic that would scare small children and have no place in a toy store.

I won't begrudge him his sports lines. He's only picking up where Starting LineUp left off, and there's no shortage of sports fans in the world, even if I am not one of them, who also enjoy collecting sports memorabilia. I can't blame McFarlane or anyone else for wanting to make a buck off of that.

But there's reliable reports that McFarlane is a colossal egotist who has reportedly been known to swear at children at comics conventions who request his autograph. And thinks it's funny. That alone means that there is no way in the world that I can ever feel anything but disgust for this person.

Having said that, I never thought I would actually recommend one of his products. But that changed recently.

For some time, McFarlane Toys has produced a series of figures -- I hesitate to use the term "action figures" because most of them have the articulation of a brick -- of well-known contemporary horror movie characters under the banner "Movie Maniacs". Most of this rot has no more business being sold as "toys" than any of the other ugly manifestations of McFarlane's company.

Series 7 recently emerged, and all but one of its entries are derived from the repugnant remake of an already repugnant movie, "Texas Chainsaw Massacre". All but one. It is that one that I wish ti discuss.

It's ROBOCOP.

Don't ask me how he got in there. I haven't the slightest idea. He probably doesn't know himself, poor guy.

The character of RoboCop first appeared in a movie produced by Orion Pictures in 1987. This future-set movie told the admittedly violent story of a policeman in the worst section of "Old Detroit", mercilessly gunned down by a gang of the worst crooks in the area -- and that was saying something.

Omni Consumer Products, the business corporation essentially in charge of Detroit -- including its police force -- rebuilt the policeman, once named Alex Murphy, into an unstoppable law enforcement cyborg named RoboCop. The action story was marked by its own unusual brand of angst, as most of Murphy's memories were wiped out, and even as he gradually recovered them, he realized he could never go home again. His wife and son were lost to him.

The movie was a huge hit, spawning two regretably awful sequels, a moderate animated series from Marvel Productions, a fairly decent syndicated live-action series, and I've heard that there's been a couple of made-for-video movies since the first three, but I unfortunately don't have any specific information on them. Needless to say, despite a certain amount of mishandling over the years, RoboCop has been a decently popular and certainly recognizable franchise for Orion.

There have been a few toy lines over the years. One was based, admittedly loosely, on the first movie, but it took on a mild case of "Batman Syndrome", producing some rather oddball versions of the core character. A later line was based on the live-action TV series, but was lacking somewhat in quality. Toy Island produced a 15" tall RoboCop about the same time as they produced a 15" Terminator Endoskeleton. Both toys were astoundingly well-made, especially coming from a toy company that couldn't exactly be accused of being one of the major players.

But there haven't been any major RoboCop toys for years. So why one now? Who knows? One can only assume that either Todd or one of his hapless cronies got a brain spark that said maybe the time was right for the popular cyber-cop to return to the toy shelves.

I saw this action figure in GameStop in early November, while I was discussing the situation surrounding SOTA's Street Fighter figures with them. I had heard that Todd was planning a RoboCop figure, but I didn't think much of it at the time. Between the company producing it and the fact that most of McFarlane's work these days amounts to little more than pre-posed plastic statues, I didn't expect to be especially interested.

Then I saw the actual toy. Okay -- it looked impressive. I studied the figure as carefully as I could, from an in-package standpoint. It looked to have a surprising abundance of articulation. It seemed sturdy enough. I've heard more than a few comments about McFarlane products practically falling apart as soon as one opens them, assuming they have any moving parts.

The detail was superb. The paintwork was excellent. This wasn't a "battle-damaged" RoboCop, as one might have expected. He was pretty much "right out of the cyber-lab" fresh. I saw no indication of pre-posing in the basic parts. So -- I took a chance and bought him.

Much to my amazement, it was well worth it. This ROBOCOP is one very cool action figure. He stands about 7-1/4 inches in height. Big enough to look nicely impressive, but not so big that finding display space for him is going to be difficult. The likeness is perfect. They even managed to engrave "OCP-POLICE-001" on his helmet and leg. THAT'S detail!

None of his parts are the least bit pre-posed, and his articulation is superb by any measure. The figure is moveable at the head, arms, elbows, upper wrists, waist, legs, knees, and ankles. The articulation is, for the most part, nice and tight. Robo will hold any pose well. The backs of his legs even have these nice moving pistons that are connected to the ankles. Very nice touch of detail there. The articulation seems sound, but given previous reports, I've been treating the figure rather gently, even though it seems very sturdily made. This is not an action figure, however, that I would recommend turning over to a small child and letting him fling it across the living room.

RoboCop comes with his weapon, which fits perfectly into his right hand. He also comes with a display base, which is more or less a chunk of street with a trash can and some spent bullet cartridges littered around. The figure stands up perfectly well on his own, though, so if you don't want to use the base, there's no need to.

About the only things that would've made this the ultimate RoboCop figure would've been a removable helmet, and a pop-open leg holster for his weapon. But a removable helmet might have looked a little too imprecise, and the leg holster probably would've been near-impossible at this scale. These are not in any way, shape, or form complaints.

So -- I have to recommend a Todd McFarlane toy. Never really thought I'd do it. But, if you've ever enjoyed the character of ROBOCOP, in whatever form you might have discovered him, then I guarantee you will like this ROBOCOP action figure. McFarlane Toys got this one right, and I am very pleased to add this superb RoboCop to my collection. As will you.