90’s toys are my weakness. They aren’t good in terms of sculpt, paint, articulation, accessories, or scale, especially by today’s standards, but something about them always makes me excited. I think it’s just the nostalgia that comes with them- hell, 90’s toys were MY toys. Yeah, I grew up in the 80’s and I played with toys of the time, but 90’s toys were the ones I started collecting. They’ll always have a special place in my heart because of that, regardless of how stupid they usually are.
Case in point: Flip ‘n Trap Red Skull.
OK, so just like with Electro-Spark Captain America I need to start with discussing this packaging, because, while not quite as 90’s as the aforementioned figure, Red Skull’s box is still pretty ridiculous.
The front of the blistercard is pretty striking, even in its basic design, and the giant McFarlane-styled Spider-Man is definitely a sign of the times. But aside from that, there isn’t much to talk about- well, maybe the “Jumping Spider-Trapping Action!” sticker on the bubble. However, you need to flip the card over to get to the real show.
Man, the 90’s. When you not only got characters with completely nonsensical accessories, but also text-based justification for said accessories. We get treated to a text bubble explaining that the Red Skull has turned his attention towards Spider-Man and is part of a group of villains who are being controlled by some “all powerful evil force”. OK, so we know why the Skull is here, but absolutely no clue why he’s catching little spider creatures.
I guess the little jumping spiders are Spidey’s new “Sneak Attack” weapons? Like maybe android Spider-tracers? And the Red Skull has developed his “Giant Skull Catcher” to uh capture them because he…uh…wants the powers…that they have…?
Maybe the jumping spider things are like energy beings, and this wave of Spider-Man Animated figures is the “Ghostbusters” wave- the “Spidercatchers”, if you will. The spiders are, like, power-ups, and both the heroes and the villains are trying to collect them in order to win the fight. Maybe?
To be honest, there’s a lot to be desired in the packaging’s provided explanation. It shouldn’t really matter though, since it’s a toy for kids and there’s a good chance this Red Skull will be fighting side by side with Cobra Commander to take down the Ninja Turtles. It’s all good. Use your imagination, kids!
Now onto the figure-
If there ever was a definitive Red Skull action figure back in the 90’s, this was it. Actually, this may have been the only Red Skull action figure made in the 90’s. Back in the days before he was associated with HYDRA, we didn’t get many opportunities to add the big-bad from Cap’s rogue gallery to our collections. This figure may not have been prefect, but it’s what we were getting and it was definitely decent enough to suffice.
The basic faux-Nazi outfit works perfectly for the Skull, and the small accents like skull-shaped buttons and armband are cool ways to get the point across that this guy is evil while still distancing him from anything that may associate him with the Third Reich. Nazis just don’t sell. Who’d a thunk ?
Gotta say that I’m impressed by the level of added detail they threw on him as it would have been easy to just repaint a basic body and do a solid green jumpsuit like he wore back in the 60’s. Instead we get a very distinct looking torso that couldn’t really be used for anyone other than the intended character, and considering this toy came out in the height of the shared parts craze at Toy Biz, that fact is in itself astounding.
Now I do have to mention that the proportions on this guy are a little bizarre. Skull has really wide shoulders sitting atop a rather sizeable chest, a skinny little waist, and some monster hands and feet. But seeing as it’s part of the Spider-Man Animated line, and that it still pairs well with the Captain America figure Toy Biz released around the same time, you can just blame the 90’s and move on.
While the body is the highlight of the figure, the head sculpt is a tad on the iffy side. I won’t say it’s a bad sculpt, but, to me at least, it just doesn’t scream “Red Skull”. Well, outside of the obvious color and shape. It’s a bit too stylized for my tastes and looks like it was chiseled out of a Sankara Stone from Indiana Jones, with a very narrow design and the ability to knock Mola Ram to his death. I guess it works with the animated design of the torso, even if it doesn’t really look like it did on the small screen.
The colors on the head are superb, though, being cast in a solid red plastic with a nice black wash to really add depth to it. The eyes on mine were painted on a little screwy, but it isn’t a deal breaker for me since, from a distance, he just looks like he has blank eye sockets with a white glow to represent eyes. Really freaking creepy. Like, Alcala Skeletor creepy.
Now while looking at The Skull’s torso, you might notice a blue/gray holster on the figure’s right side. I caution you that if you think that means you’ll be getting a pistol to put in it, you’re sure to be disappointed once you learn that the only accessories this guy comes with are his giant “Skull Catcher” and a few yellow skull-spiders.
Not that they aren’t cool looking, it’s just…well…90’s accessories, y’know? The funny thing to me here is that the “Skull Catcher” sculpt looks more like what I would have expected the figure’s head to look like. Past the giant skull itself, though, this thing is pretty stupid. It has plenty of sculpted detail- like the pole being designed to look like a spine- but ultimately it’s just an oversized skull stuck on a snap-on backpack designed to catch “spiders” launched off of a spring-loaded cone.
It looks as dumb as it sounds, trust me. But, see, the thing here is that even though I know it looks ridiculous, I still love this thing- but maybe it’s just nostalgia kicking in again. Who knows? Whatever the reason Flip n’ Trap Red Skull is one of those older toys that I’m going to have to find room for on my shelf. Not just because it’s one of the only older representations of the character in toy form, but also because, not counting the accessories, this Red Skull is actually pretty cool.