In 1992, the world of THE UNCANNY X-MEN exploded onto the scene. Fox started running ads promoting the new animated series, which debuted in the fall and was an instant hit. The hugely popular series introduced the world to the team of misfit mutants that us comic book fans had loved for decades, which meant that there was a huge number of toys made! What made this even more fun was being a student at the Joe Kubert School with my fellow comic book fanboys and many of us started collecting the toys, trading cards, and just about everything else that came out.
X-MEN Wave 2
Right off the bat, the second wave of action figures was a great selection of characters from the comics. Although there were three versions of Wolverine to start it off, the other characters ranged from prominent villains, popular regulars, and even an obscure dude (who turned out to have a larger role in the show). The sculpts were not 100% accurate in some cases, but they were still good representations of their appearances in the comics and the TV screen.
One thing that was a bit disappointing: the card artwork showed that Havok was at one point intended for this wave, but he was never released. While there eventually would be a Havok figure, it was not in his classic black costume, and sadly we never got a version of Havok in this line.
But here's who we DID get:
Although I love the Jim Lee-designed uniform, this figure is one of those "it looks good on paper" designs. Really Banshee is just a glorified whistle, which was supposed to simulate his "sonic scream" powers. Perhaps not the best idea, since it leaves a gaping hole in the front and a huge tube sticking out of the back. And although kids have a tendency to stick things in their mouths, an action figure is probably not the best thing to do that with.
Another figure in the Jim Lee-designed X-Men uniforms, Forge would wear this outfit on both the X-Men and X-Factor teams. The cybernetic leg is re-created in an interesting way: the leg has a printed sheet of circuitry folded up and inserted into the middle. The "quick-draw action" works really well too, although the pistol is not removable.
I am NOT a big fan of Gambit. My old roommate and I used to have great debates over who was the best X-Man, and he loved Gambit....which was ridiculous to me! Sure, he had some crazy skills and powers, and he had a funky costume, but I couldn't get into him. The figure itself is too skinny and while the "quick kick" feature works well, the vinyl trenchcoat is pretty weak.
Now here's a cool figure....literally! This version of Iceman is based on his X-Factor appearances, when he wore a special belt to help him control his powers (a problem he had for awhile), While he's not much to look at at room temperature (since he's a clear plastic figure), when you "freeze him" at cold temperatures, he gets blue "icicles" on him! The ice slide is an interpretation of the ones he makes in the comics and on the cartoon, which makes me wonder...does he just leave all those slides all over town? What a mess!
This is the second action figure in this line for the Master of Magnetism, and it's quite an improvement (although I still like the old one). He's bigger, has a nice plastic cape, but for some reason he sparks? Magneto doesn't have electrical powers! Still, it's a fun feature to play with, and it still works all these years later.
This villain is lame. There I said it. He's been depicted as this master planner, with decades of gentic research behind him, and the comics have ret-conned him into pivotal roles in the X-Men history, but it seems that the only plans to ever actually work was the Mutant Massacre of the Morlocks...and how hard was it to off those guys? This figure features a light-up chest symbol and eyes, but the batteries are dead. Much like his popularity....
A minor villain that rose to popularity once he was drafted into the X-Men universe, Sabretooth now has a long history with the most popular member of the team, Wolverine. Since the two characters share similar powers and it has been revealed that they have met many times over the years, it's no surprise that he would be turned into an action figure. The action feature on this figure works rather well, simulating the "battle damage" sustained no doubt during a battle with Wolverine. A cool costume and a cool feature...what more could you ask for? One of my favorites from this series.
On the other hand, this figure..not my favorite. Although there ARE some cool features to him: ball-hinged shoulders, hinged jaw, and even a decent sculpt...there's just something odd about this guy. One thing that I do like....You can spread out his arms to a wide winged stance. He does have some trouble balancing, but thankfully he has a big tail to act as support.
Wolverine (Tiger Stripe)
My favorite X-Man is back in his classic John Romita-designed costume. There's one thing immediately wrong with this figure: he's just too tall! While it's great to get different versions of Wolverine, one thing that has been overlooked quite often over the years is the height of the character. He's supposed to be short! But I digress...this figure features spring-loaded claws that "slash out" when they are pushed into the wrists. It's an interesting feature, although the claws themselves look goofy.
Wolverine (X-Men Uniform)
Another Jim Lee-designed X-Men uniformed figure! Since this figure is the basically the same design as the one mentioned above, I have the same comments about it. Although I dig this costume, so I like this figure a little more. Both Wolverine figures also feature a "slashing action" where you can swivel the upper body into attacking an enemy, which works rather well.
X-MEN "Wave 3"
A "third wave" of figures was released during the summer, but it was made up of mostly repaints of the same figures from wave 1. Since I had the originals, I wasn't going to pick up every small variation (a rule I would break quite often, but did I REALLY need another Archangel, just because he now had grey wings?) Still, there were a few costume changes that I deemed worthy of adding to my collection.
Also, the Weapon X figure shown below was one that we were teased about from the beginning, since it was the first figure shown on the cardback, but it didn't come out until later in the year. perhaps in an attempt to "make it up to us", an exclusive repaint was available at KB Toys. And yeah, I bought that one too. (See? I'm a rule-breaker!)
Since this is only a repaint of the figure from wave 1, there's not much more to say. It used to light up, but the batteries have died. I prefer this costume over the original figure's X-Factor uniform, as this was the suit Cyclops wore for years and it's great to see it here.
On the other hand, what's up with this repaint? The silver color scheme is fine, but those bizarre circles? Very strange. They are supposed to represent Storm's winglike cape that she wears, but it's just not working. Especially since they are attached at the shoulders only, so the end result looks like a pair of silver hula hoops.
Wolverine (Weapon X)
This figure was originally shown on the wave 2 cardbacks, but it seemed like it took forever to actually come out! Based on the legendary "Weapon X" story line from Marvel Comics Presents #s 72-84, this figure is still too tall, and the training helmet is actually way too big, yet somehow it all works! The claws are better on this figure than the previous versions, and the removable harness is nice. Obviously they couldn't make him naked like he was in the comics, so he gets to wear some ripped shorts. As an added bonus, I've also added the KB Toys-exclusive repaint of Weapon X, which was released around the same time.
With nearly two dozen X-Men action figures on shelves, plus more over in the Marvel Super Heroes line, the Marvel Universe was being introduced to kids of all ages for the first time, which made it an exciting time for longtime fans who knew what all the excitement was abut all along.
See you next week!