The PoP! Stars give their take on the latest and greatest in Action Figures and Toy Lines in eight (succinct) parts.
No collector likes looking at their shelf and seeing the holes in their collection where their favorite characters should be. Just ask the customizers out there who make a tidy little profit online filling the gaps with their homemade remedies while the big companies fail to deliver. Once again we take a look at eight characters (and character variations) surprisingly absent from our toy shelves.
Fans of the 1986 Transformers animated movie were introduced to a whole slew of new characters, one of whom was a TOTAL surprise. Longtime Autobot companion Spike Witwicky had grown up, gotten married, and had a son – Daniel. Daniel figured prominently in the movie and had some guest spots in the third season of the show. He even had a cameo or two in Transformers: Animated. But what fun is a human figure in a line of giant transforming robots?
In the movie, Daniel wore one of Spike’s “exosuits” to traverse the hostile surface of the planet Junk. The suit transformed into a car mode (of sorts) and had some fairly impressive built-in weaponry. Give us the suit with a removable Daniel figure and we’re good to go. We saw Spike in one of the suits, as well. Whether you make them tiny and package them together or treat them as full-sized Transformers figures and make one the “repaint” of the other, making Daniel’s suit means Spike would be an easy addition and our movie collections would be that much closer to completion.
Wolverine as Death
Far be it from me to suggest anyone make another Wolverine figure. There are a LOT out there already. But there are going to be more; that’s a given. So if we accept that as inevitable, the next logical step is trying to figure out where the companies can take the figure that they haven’t already gone. Toy Biz gave us such outlandish variants as Albert (the robot Wolverine) and the House of M version of Logan. DST has treated us to Minimates of such iconic looks as Patch and the Age of Apocalypse’s Weapon X. Hasbro, for their part, has stayed fairly basic with numerous Tiger Stripe and Brown Costume rehashes. But none of these companies has ever bothered to tackle Wolverine as he appeared while serving as Apocalypse’s Horseman, Death, during the lead-up to The Twelve story arc.
Pitted against Sabertooth for the title of Death, Logan recognized how Creed would revel and thrive in the role and fought furiously for the mantle just to deny his life-long rival the chance. It was a one off look, and it’s long since lost any relevance it once had, but as one quarter of a Minimate 4-pack showcasing Apocalypse’s Horsemen? This figure could make total sense; especially since we already have a perfect Archangel with his Death mask. Give us War, Famine, and Pestilence in a box set anchored by the anachronistic but infinitely marketable Wolverine in his Horseman turn. Or do a “Death Through the Ages” set with Archangel, Caliban, Wolverine, and Gambit – which as an added bonus would get us a previously unmade Caliban-mate.
When Jason Todd returned from the dead, he adopted the identity of The Red Hood (Joker’s former identity, according to at least one account of his origin) and set about cleaning up Gotham in a way his former mentor Bruce was never willing to – as judge, jury, AND executioner. Batman soon turned his sights on his thought-dead disciple and the two became embroiled in a bitter rivalry – for a time. Then the writers and editors couldn’t decide if Jason served them better as hero or villain, and so they danced back and forth between the two roles. Did he die leading into Infinite Crisis? Maybe, but he came back as Red Robin when reality rebooted; then as a villainous Red Hood after reality rebooted again; and now, most recently, as a heroic vigilante Red Hood in the “New 52.”
DC Direct gave us Joker Red Hood and Jason Todd-as-villainous-Batman-stand-in; what we need now is a semi-heroic take on the character. I mean, hell, the character’s been around for years, starred in his own DC animated feature, and is currently headlining his own book. Red Hood has the pull to sell some figures. Best of all, Todd’s current look is similar enough to the costume he wore during his first pass at the role that the one could be a simple variation of the other. While I feel the dark edge of this character might best be depicted by DC Direct’s attention to detail, the desire for both variations of the costume – coupled with an absolute need for articulation – means he’d be best suited to a Mattel release (if they’re even still going to release any more DCU figs).
Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men gave X-fans a new PoV character to walk us through the wondrous worlds of Marvel’s merry mutants. Hisako Ichiki is a Japanese girl able to project a shaped psionic forcefield around her body. Since debuting, she has served with a handful of X-rosters and was a main character in the X-Men anime. Ethnic diversity? Check. Visually cool power? Check. Multimedia exposure? Check! The only real question with Armor: Where do we put her?
Marvel Universe is almost certainly out. This is not a figure that would be well-suited for an MU release. Absent her armor, she’s barely identifiable. But to do it justice? She’s going to have to be big, and that means one of two options. As a Minimate, Armor could receive a similar treatment to Hulkbuster Iron Man or Holocaust, both of whom used bulked-up pieces to create the illusion of a smaller character within a larger exterior shell. The problem with each is that neither relied on transparency to show the figure within; the illusion was created in part by bridging the gap between armored pieces with the exposed “flesh” of the ‘mate within. Such a tactic for Hisako would likely just appear to be gaps in her… well… armor. The alternative is making her a Marvel Legends Build-A-Figure, allowing for a slightly-larger-than-normal figure with potentially removable armor effects.
Back to Japan for our next entry, but this time we’re talking about a specifically UNarmored figure. Oroku Saki, for those not in the know, is the villainous Shredder of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fame. Over the years, we’ve had a plethora of Shredder figures from the various television incarnations, movies, and comics. We’ve had Splinter in his original human form as Hamato Yoshi, Saki’s sworn enemy. But the best we’ve ever had was a removable helmet on a Shredder action figure, and the hyper animated style belied the depths of the character’s villainy. FOR SHAME!
Playmates returns this year with a new line of turtle toys and Shredder is a foregone conclusion. What we need, however, is a pre-supervillain Oroku Saki in traditional garb with the nastiest, most vile face sculpt modern manufacturing can muster. This needs to be a figure that children put away before going to bed at night – just to be safe.
For hardcore Transformers fans, some of the most beloved characters are the rough and tumble Wreckers who have thus far gone woefully un (or at least under) produced. Collectors can track down most of the characters from over the years in SOME form or another, with the glaring exception of sometimes-team-leader Impactor. That’s right: a decades old faction leader from a comic book series based on a toy line and he’s never seen plastic himself. Now, I may be just a simple Hyper-Chicken from a backwoods asteroid, but that math doesn’t add up to me at all.
Impactor’s been seen in IDW’s Last Stand of the Wreckers and has made the roster on Transformers: Prime as well. Hasbro’s shown no qualms about offering up obscure characters in their Generations line, with the likes of Darkmount (Straxus) making the cut. If that old Marvel character gets the three-D treatment, surely the harpoon-handed Impactor is worthy. Hell, give us a repainted and retooled Generations Perceptor or Prime Ratchet. Either would suit the character well enough, if a brand new figure is out of the question. Just don’t continue to leave our Wreckers short-handed.
What better candidates for a black ops team than two guys who can heal from anything, a dude who can teleport, and a man of mystery with kinetic absorption/redirection powers? Hard to hold, harder to kill, these mercs have the perfect powers to get the job done. Why, then, is Wolverine the only one we’ve received so far (both in the old Toy Biz 5″ line and Hasbro Marvel Universe collection)? I mean, there are a pair of Maverick figures out there to go along Team X Logan, but they both represent Mav in his ’90s battle armor, not his black and yellow Team X togs. And Creed’s never been made in this look. And Kestrel’s never been made, period.
DST and Marvel are currently running a poll to decide the characters that will be featured in the 50th wave of Marvel Minimates, in which Team X Wolverine is a contender. Is there a chance this look would mean 2-inch versions of the rest of the team? Maybe. DST has a pretty fantastic track record with completing team rosters. Then again, maybe this would just be our third lone Logan. No, since we already have a Team X Wolverine to use as a base in the MU line, why not a series of 2-packs with Team X Maverick/Logan and Team X Creed/Kestrel or, alternately, a three-pack featuring Maverick, Creed, and Logan all together? Sculpts and paint apps as of late really seem to have improved, leading me to believe Hasbro could really kill it with this team.
Business Suit Lex
How come Lego can put Lex in a business suit but DC Direct and Mattel both fail to do the same? There is no single DC villain I would rather have than Lex in a black suit. CEO Lex. President Lex. Evil genius Lex. No matter which way you look at it, it’s better than big purple and green battlesuit Lex.
The ideal way to go? DC Direct produces a lithe Luthor in his business suit with alternate heads (one smirking, one scowling) and hands (one open for a handshake, the other a closed fist clutching a shard of Kryptonite) and calls it a day. This figure doesn’t need, by any means, Mattel’s level of articulation. In fact, a bit of rigidity will serve the figure well and FINALLY give every fan’s DC shelf the dignity (and delusion) it deserves.
Round three is already cooking on the back burner, folks. Got an overlooked character you feel needs to see plastic? Let’s hear it!