Toy Biz


The year was 1991. I was riding home on a school bus when someone had a new comic they were reading. There on the back cover of the comic was a sight that made my eyes nearly bug out of my head. A WOLVERINE FIGURE!?!

Yup, an ad just like the one above (though I don’t think it was this one) showed off the original series of Toy Biz’s X-Men figures. I promptly got the kid to let me see the comic and literally convinced my parents to take me out to Toys R Us that day to find some X-Men figures. Who knows why, but they actually did. I scored almost every X-Men figure that very same day.

All because of a little comic ad like this. I really liked these figures, although they look pretty rough by today’s standard. The only one I never owned was Apocalypse. My cousin had him though and we played X-Men that same weekend. All in all I thought the figures were pretty cool.

It allowed for great crossovers that had never been possible before. Sure there were those Secret Wars figures, but these guys were something totally new and in a league of their own. I distinctly remember one plot I played with these guys as Wolverine battled with Batman and used his claws to cut off the wings of the Batwing (ironically also the Toy Biz version) and it stuck with me nearly 20 years later. Good times.

Each of these figures had a goofy action feature. Wolverine’s was the best as his claws could pop in and out, but they could also STAY in. Something no other Wolvering figure has had work quite as well. He also had a removable mask. Storm’s lightning bolt could glow with a flick of a switch. Colossus had the lame lifting lever action. Juggernaut had the same action only his fists went in reverse like he was punching. Archangel could shoot missiles from his wings. Cyclops had the very cool light up laser beam eye. Nightcrawler had a suction cup and a bendy tail. Apocalypse had two sockets in his arms and legs that would allow him to stretch out about an inch and Magneto had real magnets in him and a removable helmet.


Several years back I was at a local Meijers and noticed some brand new Fantastic Four action figures. They were similar to Marvel Legends by ToyBiz but had a more cartoonish card and backer. I picked up a Ben Grimm “The Thing” figure and stared at him in amazement for several minutes. This was the most perfect Thing figure I had ever laid eyes on. I carried him around through the store intent to break my stance on buying action figures, but eventually after careful research about the figure’s “action feature”, I decided to pass and set him down.


That figure was the Fantastic Four line’s “Thunder Launcher Thing”. I had no idea what I was passing on at the time. In fact the store had nearly every single Fantastic Four figure from that line, at least three whole pegs and I could have easily bought 95% of the toys in one swoop. Most of those figures fetch high prices now on Ebay, cursed 20/20 hindsight.


Because of the low distribution of that wave and ToyBiz’s Fantastic Four line in general, a lot of people don’t know about Thunder Launcher Thing. Those who do debate whether it’s the greatest Ben Grimm figure of all time or a near miss. To me, for this scale, he’s the best.


Marvel Select appears to be channeling this figure with their upcoming Thing figure and we’ll see if it stacks up when it comes out this next year. For this Thing however, now is the time to gloat. Thing boasts forty two pieces of individual articulation. That’s a feat for any figure, much less a Ben Grimm. This is also one time where ToyBiz’s love of shoving articulation into a figure doesn’t ruin the sculpt as they actually omitted a torso hinge so that the sculpt is more solid.



The Thing is a piece of beauty from head to toe. He has articulated fingers and this really works well on big figures like this. His Hulk cousins almost look like they have too much articulation, but it fits in beautifully with the Thing’s sculpt. His paint is just right and if he was wearing his undies instead of shorts, he’d been absolutely stellar.


The problem that originally made me pass on this Ben Grimm figure was his action feature. It’s one of those “push a button on his back make his arms throw forward” moves. Despite the clunky applications it allows for some movement of the arms individually. It’s actually better integrated than the recent Colossus figure who had a similar movement.


The button itself is pretty ugly though, but don’t let that detour you from the figure. The button could be sanded down or cut off. You can leave it as well, because we’ve certainly had to deal with worse through the years. Scale is the only other area of concern as he is a tad tall for some folks liking. I’m okay with this huge Thing because after years of undersized Ben Grimms a bigger one is a nice change of place, plus he looks good next to several of my Hulks. You may have a differing opinion.


All in all, the Thunder Launcher Thing figure is a forgotten gem and truly one of ToyBiz’s highlights. Everything clicked on this figure and every single 6 inch scale Thing since this one has failed to live up to it. I’m not sure why this version of Thing wasn’t retooled by Hasbro and had the action feature removed and then re-released as I’d bet it would be a sure fire seller.


If you haven’t tracked down this Thing figure and collect Marvel in this scale, I’d definitely recommend him to you.


Moon Knight Week continues with a look at the Marvel Legends version of Marc Spector. It’s Moon Knight Marvel Legends style! This is a figure that I spent a fair amount of time trying to track down but did eventually find at a Toys R Us. I’ve kept him on card for several years now but I’m busting him free of his plastic prison for you! See how special Moon Knight week is?

This figure came out a short while after the Marvel Select version of the Moon Knight came out. It’s one of the few times that a Marvel Legends version came after a Marvel Select version. Marvel Select has a nasty habit of putting out a version shortly after a Legends version. Regardless, this figure fits in well with all 6 inch lines. So how does he match up with the Marvel Select version and is he the definitive Moon Knight? Read on Moon-a-maniacs.

Packaging:
No matter what you think of Marvel Legends (Many fans believe it’s the greatest toy line, like ever) you have to agree that the packages are pretty lame. Don’t get me wrong, they’re perfectly serviceable and keep the figure safe but they aren’t attractive in the least. They’re a very ugly packaging that surely failed to attract Moms, Dads and Kids at mass market.

If I was tasked with the job of designing a package that did everything right but did it in the most bland way possible, this would be it. It is a basic clamshell with twist ties. It all works well enough and Moon Knight’s cape is shoved through the back of the inner shell. Unlike a lot of figures though, his cape comes out easily. Inside is a comic, the figure, accessories and dio stand. The back of the package works as a piece of a diorama backdrop and it also has Moon Knight’s brief bio and stats. That I do approve of.

Articulation:
This is where I differ from most people, but this figure has too much articulation. I’m one of the few who believe that a lot of Marvel Legends just had too much in the way of joints and this figure is a shining example of that. Using the “Bullseye” body, so named because it started with Bullseye, this figure features like 9 million points of articulation.

Let’s see if I can even count it all, ball jointed head, ball shoulders, these weird should in shoulder joints, swivel below the shoulder, double hinge joint elbows, swivel wrist, FOUR count em four jointed fingers on each hand, ab crunch, swivel waist, ball legs, swivel thigh, double hinge joint knees, swivel ankle, rocker ankles, and hinged upper toe area.

That’s not to say I don’t enjoy lots of articulation, but it’s just overkill. In trying to pose this guy I find myself struggling a bit because so many joints are moving at once. I think Moon Knight should be articulated well. He needs to be able to move, but some of these joints are a bit overkill.

That said, if there is a pose you want to put this guy in, he can do it. I really like the articulated fingers and that’s a really nice touch here. While I think he might have too much articulation, it doesn’t really interfere with the sculpt too much and that’s a real positive. Plus he can stand up straight which makes him superior to the bow legged Marvel Select version.

Sculpt:
Although this guy is a reuse of the Bullseye body he has plenty of new sculpted parts. Head, boots, hands, belt. It makes for a very impressive Marc Spector look. You’d be hard pressed to ask for much more out of a Moony figure. There is no sculpting of ridges, details or veins like the Marvel Select version but I actually think it looks better that way.

The boots, gloves and belt look as good if not better than the Marvel Select version. In fact I slightly prefer them. The one area of sculpting that this guy really suffers though is the chest. Because this body was used for another figure there is a deep pectoral gap. This causes the crescent moon placement on his chest to be off center. At first I thought this was just on my figure, but no, it’s on every figure.

Toy Biz really should have modified the mold to have a raised moon on his chest to cover up the middle. It would have taken this figure to a whole other level. When it comes to the chest, the Marvel Select one wins. As far as the rest of the paint goes, it’s pretty minimal but it’s effective.

He doesn’t have a wash which is odd for a Marvel Legend, but he is cast in a bit of shiny plastic. He’s a dark gun metal color and the variant is shiny silver. Why not a white version of the figure? Beats the hell out of me. As much as Marvel Legends loved to wash their figures, you’d think a white one with a paint wash would be a no brainer.


A tale of two Moon Knights.

The head sculpt is really nice and I prefer it to the Marvel Select version, however the cape obscures most of it. Without his cape this guy looks EXACTLY like Zen the Intergalactic Ninja. Speaking of the cape, that’s the biggest downfall of this guy.

Although the cape is a nice sculpt, it forces him to always be hunched over. Moon Knight does hunch over a lot, like Batman, but the figure is constantly forced to look that way and you can’t fix it. I actually prefer the sculpt of the cape to the other version but the hunching issue really hurts it. It’s also got a hole in the back for those weird Marvel Legends action stands which I’m also not a huge fan of.

I give Toy Biz credit for not just reusing Doctor Doom’s cape or a similar one… But I did a quick swap of him with Doom’s cape and he actually looks WAY better with the Doom style cape. I see what Toy Biz was going for, but it ultimately failed. Moon Knight seems a bit more like the crypt keeper than anything with that cape on.

Accessories:
Although he could never live up to the awesome Khonshu statue that the Marvel Select version gave us, he does come with some nifty stuff. First he comes with his staff which was missing from the Select version. It’s nothing to write home about, but bo staff’s never are (Sorry Donatello!).

He also includes a pair of nunchucks which he’s been known to use. They fit nicely on his back with a handy little rubber holder. They are a bit big, but still nice. He doesn’t come with any throwing Moon discs though. However the Marvel Select versions fit just fine in his hand if you have both.

The Marvel Legends Moon Knight also includes a comic, which is always nice. Unfortunately it’s a pretty average comic that not only ends with “To Be Continued…” but shows very little of Moon Knight himself. It’s an old Team Up issue with Spider-man that doesn’t really give you any indication of what Moon Knight is about. In fact if this comic was all the Moon Knight you knew, you’d completely feel he was a Batman ripoff. Why was the Marvel Legends comic selection so often shitty?

As I mentioned before the back of the package is a dio backdrop and it’s a nice look into the Moon cave and the Moonwing, as it were. There is a little stand for that as well as a piece of Modok, since this is part of the Build-A-Figre Modok wave. It’s an uninteresting piece of a odd character so I’m not going to review it. Modok being a prime example of Toy Biz wasting articulation. Still all these accessories are nice.

Additional Notes:
For Marvel Legends collectors this is a great figure. For other collectors he’s certainly worthwhile. I may use a few of these guys for custom figures before it’s all said and done. As much as I’d love to say this is the “perfect” Moon Knight figure, it just misses the mark.

Value:
I think I paid about $13 for this guy originally. I know that people have said ML retailed for less than $10 but I know I paid more for him at Toys R Us. He goes for around $15-20 on the secondary market now and he’s worth that if you’re a fan of the character.

Score Recap:
Packaging – 5
Sculpting – 8
Articulation – 10
Accessories – Bo Staff, Nunchucks, Comic, BAF Part, Dio Backdrop
Value – 8
Overall – 8 out of 10

Despite all the articulation, I’m knocking a bit off on him because the articulation doesn’t bring him above his glaring problems. The misplaced Moon is a real bummer and the cape more or less relegates him to a handful of convincing poses. If you jerry-rig a different cape for him out of an old Doom cape or maybe a Taskmaster cape, then do something with his moon sigil he’d be about perfect.


MOON KNIGHT!

This is still a really great figure and if you had to choose between the ML or the MS versions, I’d probably point you in the direction of this one. It’s a close call, but he has more potential, even if it’s squandered.

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Last night I reviewed the Marvel Select Moon Knight figure and tonight I’m taking a look at the first couple of Moon Knight offerings, including the ToyBiz 10 Inch Moon Knight figure. The first Moon Knight action figure was the Marvel Gold Moon Knight. He’s a pretty rare figure for his time, but never amounted to much because of his awkward body shape, crappy belt and plain design.

Just a couple years later Toy Biz would use this same idea to create an even better figure and I’m focusing more on that here. Although this figure was sold under the banner of Marvel Universe, I’m not going to refer to is as that, since I’ll be reviewing the much more mainstream Hasbro Marvel Universe Moon Knight later in the week.

This figure isn’t getting the full review treatment, instead this is more of a spotlight segment. The figure follows the same format as the Marvel Gold version of Moon Knight. Which is a cheap repaint of a very basic buck body. However instead of the thick wide body that the Marvel Gold version sports, this one has a thin medium build.

The 10 inch Moon Knight is vastly superior to the Marvel Gold figure. Toy Biz was just starting to put better articulation on their figures and this guy came out in the mid to late 1990’s. He was the first real Moon Knight readily available in stores. I remember being miffed that he was so big and that they never released a smaller version into their 5 inch line.

My brother got this figure for me, a birthday I believe many years ago. He gets major props for that and I’ve held onto this guy ever since. All his details are painted on, but he’s a pretty good approximation of Marc Spector even with the soft goods cape. It works better here than it did on the Marvel Gold figure. If Toy Biz had went the extra mile and made a sculpted belt or even a Ninja Turtle style rubber fasten-on belt this guy would still be a knockout.

The 10 inch figure features a cut neck, cut shoulders, hinged elbows, t-crotch, hinged knees and rocker ankles. That was pretty good articulation for the time and as much articulation as a DC Infinite Heroes figure now! In fact this guy follows the DC Infinite Heroes model of having everything painted on and a cape. He even came with NO accessories, just like Mattel’s current 3 3/4 line!

Moon Knight’s simple design allows him to make for a simple figure. Although this old Toy Biz 10 inch figure is dated and out of scale with pretty much every toyline, he’s a fun throwback and certainly the best of the early Moon Knight figures.

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