It’s the first Figure Friday of October and had I been even vaguely aware of the passage of time I would have prepared something scary to mark the beginning of the season. The only thing remotely frightening is that I’ve been collecting toys for my entire adult life. That’s chilling.
A thing that clearly marks the passage of time and how rapidly my youth is escaping me is that the first X-Men movie came out TWENTY years ago. I had expected more fanfare but since the movie is 20 years old that means that (REDACTED) isn’t interested in it anymore. That joke worked better before but libel laws are libel laws and I am not a rich man.
At any rate, the first X-Men was part of the initial run of Marvel movies (kicked off by Blade) that proved that people were interested in superhero movies other than Batman. With two decades behind it the X-Men franchise has had its dizzying highs and cratering lows but one of the constant bright spots has been Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of Wolverine. It was so good that he’s now part of the exclusive club of actors that will be constantly asked when they’re coming back to the role…until the end of time.
The late 90’s and early 00’s were absolutely filthy with movie tie-in toys and it was probably illegal to have a major tent pole release and not have an action figure toyline to support it. It was also a time when those tie-ins were still aimed squarely at kids. As someone who was (ahem) solidly in college at the time of the first X-Men’s release the toys weren’t really meant for me…but I bought them anyway.
The figures had limited articulation, “action” poses, and usually came with a gimmick of some sort. Things that were also illegal at the time was producing a figure of Wolverine that didn’t have some kind of spring-loaded claw popping feature. The figures also approximated the likeness of the various actors as best they could. Considering the target audience for the toys (kids 6 to 10) weren’t really hung up on the aesthetics of the toys, close enough was good enough.
Jumping forward two decades, we’ve been blessed with this absolute revelation of a Wolverine figure. Over the last decade or so there have been quantum leaps in the technology used to scan an actor’s likeness as well as be able to effectively sculpt that likeness into a toy that looks exactly like them. This toy is less Huge Yak-Man and more actually Hugh Jackman then any toy that has come before it. Seriously, the likeness is so dead-on it could give one of the $400 Hot Toys figures a run for its money.
To show how far we’ve come I’ve taken a photo of one of the original X-Men Wolverine figures (from Google, mine’s in a crate somewhere) and placed it next to a photo of the new Marvel Legends one that I just took. No special lighting or filters…The figure really is that good.
It comes with your standard Marvel Legends articulation, swappable heads (angry and stoic), and interchangeable hands (clawed and un-clawed). Yet another point of praise for this figure is that the claws on all the the figures I saw on the shelves were completely unbent. There used to be a time when buying a Wolverine figure with soft plastic claws was a guarantee that they would be bent like crazy straws.
Amazon also has an exclusive version ,in addition to this one, of Logan in his trademark tighty-whitey tank-top that comes with swappable heads and hands showing both adamantium and bone claws.
Hasbro recently announced the next addition to the War For Cybertron line, Kingdom. As in ANIMAL kingdom with the return of several fan favorite Beast Wars-era characters. This addition to the WFC line is widely regarded as one of the most poorly kept secrets in recent Transformers memory since phots of most of the line leaked weeks, if not months, in advance.
There was a time when Transformers that changed from robots to animals was highly controversial amongst the fandom (See: “Trukk not munky” for the full story) and the Beast Wars cartoon took a while to find its fans. It was also a CG animated show that aired in syndication and while the animation was okay…it was still very much in line with what a late-90’s computer animation was at the time.
My love for G1 Transformers has been well established in previous columns but the hill I will die on is that Beast Wars is the superior show and it has aged much better than the original cartoon has. I got sucked into watching the show during the copious amounts of free time I had between classes at college and I soon began collecting the original Beast Wars toys. I will admit that buying a robot that turned into a cheetah felt sinful and an affront to my red and blue semi-truck god, Optimus Prime. But I did it anyway.
I’m really impressed with the new Kingdom versions of the Beast Wars figures and I’m looking forward to collecting a few of them when they hit shelves next year.