Tag Archives: toy biz

Toy Biz Sneak Attack Flip ‘n Trap Red Skull Figure Review

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. Continue reading

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Toy Biz Electro-Spark Captain America Action Figure Review

I love 90’s toys. I know, they suck. Well, at least by today’s standards. But, see, these are the toys I grew up with and there’s something to be said for nostalgia. Nostalgia makes everything seem better, even when it’s something that really makes no sense at all. Like Electro-Spark Captain America.

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Ok, to be fair, this figure is technically “Captain America with Sparking Shield and Transforming Hover Jet”, and part of the “Spider-Man: Electro-Spark” line, but one can understand the leap to “Electro-Spark Cap”. But before I start to talk about the figure, I need to jump into the packaging, because, well, just look at that Spidey pic and tell me you don’t want to know more!

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OK, so the back of the package sets us up for why these toys have an electricity theme- the only way to stop electricity is with DIFFERENT electricity. I guess. According to the package Spidey and Cap are the only two heroes capable of defeating Electro, and to do it they need to juice themselves up with zapping abilities.  I would think that if electricity beats electricity (which it doesn’t…unless we’re talking surges and overloads), why didn’t Spidey just go ask Iron Man for help? But whatever, I get another Cap figure out of the deal.

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To take down Electro, of course, Spidey needs at least THREE electricity-themed outfits, including Electro-Spark, which includes a robot spider, Electro-Shock, which has some sorta mech suit, and lastly a Steel-Shock armor- because nothing beats electricity better than draping yourself in highly-conductive metal. I guess the gimmick wouldn’t work well if we got “Rubber Gloves Spidey”, which is a shame, really. We missed out on years of “Proctology Exam Spider-Man” jokes.

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Another info bubble on the box tells us that Cap’s electricity powers actually come from Electro himself; Cap’s shield has absorbed enough power from the villain’s menacing attacks to actually retain the charge. Why isn’t this a video game? I feel like there was a missed opportunity here with Cap running around with his Megaman style shield absorbing enemy powers along the way.

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The jet sled thing we see here doesn’t get an explanation on the packaging, so I suppose we are to just assume it’s the means of transport that Cap took to go help Spidey. Or maybe it’s a space coffin a la “Wrath of Khan”. Let your imaginations run wild, kids!

Once you get past the plethora of bright colors and visual distractions on the package (IF you can) we get what is essentially a definitive 90’s Cap figure.

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His face is sculpted in a mid-battle grimace and there isn’t much definition to speak of- if it wasn’t for the paint I’m not sure I’d know where Steve’s face ended and his mask began- but all things considered it’s a damn good Cap figure. Just look at the detail sculpting on the chest to capture the scale-mail armor, something still missing in most Cap figures today. It would have been easy to recycle piece from other figures for this guy, but I’m glad to see Toy Biz go all out for him.

Now the accessories are where things get a bit iffy. Everyone knows Steve Rogers is never without his mighty shield, but this time out it looks like Cap decided to bring a shield-shaped gun to the party. Ok, so the package states that the shield absorbed some electrical charge, which is why when you pull the cord on the back of it, it sparks up. It doesn’t mention, however, why the shield shrunk down, or how it got glued to a chunk of plastic. I know it needs to house the electro-spark gimmick, but it just looks odd being so small and really wouldn’t offer much in the way of protection. Plus the way Steve holds it make it look like it should swirl and create some sorta hypno-ray, but it doesn’t and that makes me sad.

Now if you take a look at the blistercard, you can see Cap holding a size-appropriate shield. It looks like it would be a better fit, but since we didn’t get it I guess we’ll never know. If only we had that one to see what this guy would have looked like…

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Hey, Marvel Legends Cap! Thanks for helping out!

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Giving this Cap a more accurate shield goes a long way to make him look AMAZING! The color doesn’t quite match up with the most recent Legends shield- the 90’s Cap has much brighter colors- but the size looks so much better that it almost doesn’t matter. If I can find a good color match in this size, I will definitely display this guy holding it. I just wouldn’t know what to do with the electro-shield the figure came with.IMG_1846

The second accessory Cap comes with is the Hover Jet that can double as a rocket pack.

It’s cool looking enough, but the wings and handles are barely attached and tend to pop off without much prompting, leading me to wonder how any kid was supposed to play with it. If you can manage to get Cap to balance on it without pieces falling everywhere (which took me some effort) it still is a bit funky. The way his arms are positioned he can’t really hold on to the handlebars, and the feet just slide into the goblin-glider foot cups, so there’s no way to keep the passenger in place. I have a feeling that it found its way to many a toy box’s bottom layer.

It also serves another function, though. Well, two more if you count what the package says. First is the jetpack, which works much better than the sled mode does.

It sorta just rests on Cap’s shoulders and hangs there, but the fit is snug and doesn’t come loose as easily as the other mode does. The leg parts have clips to connect the figure’s legs into, but since Cap is sporting his fashionable cavalier boots, and the clips aren’t wide enough, they don’t serve much purpose.  Funny thing is fits a little better when put onto a modern Hasbro Legends figure, despite being made for the smaller guys.

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Now according to the packaging the jet also has a “lab table” mode where you fold the wings back and can lay Steve out for some unsavory experiments. Fortunately (or unfortunately, I don’t know what everyone is into) there are little plastic tabs that keep you from being able to do that. I even tried swapping the wings to opposite sides to see if that would work, but nope. Looks like Cap escapes experimentation due to poor construction.

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Toys from the 90’s are a joy to play with, and Electro-Spark Cap here is no different. We’ve come a long way since the days of 9 points of articulation and “less-than” sculpting, but it’s always good to look back to where you came from, and even for a toy made before the golden age of action figure collecting, this is a dynamite Cap toy. Well, not counting the accessories, of course.

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Toy Biz Captain America Turbo Coupe

I love looking at toys from the 90s. I know the sculpts were crude and the paint apps were almost non-existent, but something about Fire-Armor Batman carrying a golden bazooka just makes me smirk. While today’s toys are way more high-end in sculpts, articulation, attention to detail, and, well, pretty much everything, there really is something to be said for the gimmicky nonsense that was being pumped out in the early 90s.

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Take, for example, Toy Biz Toys’ 1990 release of the Captain America Turbo Coupe- part of the Marvel Super Heroes line. Now as far back as I can remember, Cap has always elected to take to the streets on some sort of motorcycle, but even today toy companies prefer to put the Star-Spangled Avenger behind the wheel of something on four wheels. I don’t really know why.

So, much like Batman, Captain America got a sweet lil’ ride in his Turbo Coupe, or, as I will refer to it for the remainder of this review, the CapCoupe.

The CapCoupe measures in around 12″ long and is decked out mainly in white with some blue and red paint apps around to complete the ‘murica! look. Most of the details are painted on, like the solid black windshield and the stripes along the side, but the car also features some stickers with the Captain America logo. It looks suitably “CapCoupe” even without the logo on it, but I guess Toy Biz wanted to make sure you didn’t confuse it with the rarely-seen presidential muscle car Reagan used to tear through town in.

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Now one thing that bugs me about the construction of the CapCoupe is that while the toy is made to put a figure inside (only one will fit. Sorry, Bucky) the design, with its full roof and painted windows, doesn’t really let you SEE Cap in the driver’s seat. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I’d like to see that I have a toy in the car. I guess since the CapCoupe doesn’t come with a figure it made it easier for kids to pretend they had someone driving to the rescue, on the off chance they got the car but had no Cap to go with it, but it irks me.

The front of the car is adorned with Cap’s trusty shield, or some battering ram version of. The colors are a bit off, and I’m not really sure if there was any real reason to change it other than someone in at Toy Biz didn’t want to get up from his desk to grab the control art.

When it’s in a “resting” position, the shield looks like a giant hood ornament-  but criminals beware! With one push of the red button on the hood, the shield launches out and knocks the villains into next Tuesday! Oh yeah, I loves me some cheesy gimmicks!

Back in the 90’s, though, it wasn’t enough to just put Cap in the seat of a fancy car with a face-smasher on the front . Oh no, a patriotic Batmobile just wouldn’t do. Let’s say Cap gets to a crime scene, but the bad guys are no where to be found. Oh, they are clever, these generic fiends- they know Cap would show up in his CapCoupe, so they take to the rooftops for their well-planned escape. Ha! There’s no way the stalwart hero will be able to follow them!

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Well think again, you devilish crumbums! With the roof opened up, all Steve Rogers needs to do is activate his CapCoupe’s hidden weapon- a jet sled thing! Yep, just lift the spoiler from the back of the car and the guts of the vehicle come with it!

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The “Glider Wing”, as the box calls it, is essentially the seat and spoiler of the CapCoupe with some jet engines on the sides and retractable landing gear. I don’t understand why a glider needs engines, or how something that can lift off from a dead-stop on the ground can be called a glider, but hey, it’s freakin’ neat!

Some sort of propeller on the top would have been cool, and it would help me understand how the physics of this work, but as it is, the Glider Wing is a fun little “surprise” inside the cereal box that is the CapCoupe. It is cast in the same white plastic the rest of the vehicle is in and features a star symbol on each side.

Sadly, the CapCoupe will never be as recognizable as the Batmobile, or even as sought after as the X-Men’s Blackbird, but as a 10 year old Cap fan, this toy was well worth my parent’s hard-earned money. And as an adult, it’s worth every inch of shelf space it takes up.

Cool Swag I Forgot I Had! Hercules: The Legendary Journeys!

This is the story of a time long ago. A time of myth and legend, when the ancient toys were gimicky and crude, and they plagued mankind with suffering. Only one toyline dared to challenge their power- Hercules!

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OK, in reality this toyline was just as gimmicky and flawed as a lot of the other toys to come out in the mid 90s- poor sculpts, cheesy action features, and terrible paints apps ruled the market back then. By today’s standards, these toys would by reserved for Dollar Store Knock-Off bins, but back when 46 points of articulation was a designer’s crazy dream, this was as good as things got. And I’m not gonna lie either- I love toys like these.

Before I go to far, for those not up on their cheesy 90’s television shows, let Professor Stranger school you. Hercules: The Legendary Journeys started as several made-for-TV movies (yes, that used to be a thing before the wonders of DVD) starring Kevin Sorbo as the heroic, kind-hearted Hercules. The movies were a retelling of the old Greek myths of Heracles- taking the basic idea of a half-man, half-god adventurer who went around fighting monsters and saving the day, but adding present day ideas and thinking to modernize the character for audiences .  By the time the actual TV series started in 1995, the Legendary Journeys version of Hercules had taken on a life of his own, severing all ties to the mythology that inspired him, and became the only version that audiences really cared about (think Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine). Sorbo’s Hercules was joined by his best friend/partner Iolaus (played by Michael Hurst) as he ” journeyed the Earth battling the minions of his wicked stepmother Hera, the all powerful queen of the Gods”, a faceless evil that would only appear as a set of menacing eyes, and the series played out a lot like He-Man meets Star Trek, every week seeing Herc and his little buddy Iolaus facing off against a new monster, evil army, or self-absorbed deity. It was a show destined for toy stores.

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Herc’s success immediately spawned countless merchandising opportunities, and Toy Biz was ready to jump on the band wagon. Before the end of it’s first year, Toy Biz had released it’s first wave of HLJ toys- 7 basic figures and 3 oversized “monster” figures. 2 additional waves would be released the following year along with some more monsters, but at first all kids had to play with were 3 versions of the titular hero himself, his go-to guy Iolaus, the soon-to-be spin-off star Xena, and two baddies- the Minotaur and Ares, as well as the three deluxe boxed figures- The Hydra, Echidna, and Cerberus. I seem to be missing Ares (pulling up eBay as I type this), but the rest of wave one is represented in the picture along with the She-Demon and the Centaur from wave 2.

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I know somewhere in the attic there’s a loose Hercules, a Cereberus, and maybe even an Iolaus floating around, and if I can manage to find them I’ll snap some quick shots of me playing with them, but for some reason, some extremely inexplicable reason, 12 year Stranger thought it was best to keep these guys in the boxes, and honestly I’m glad I did. Just look how cool these cards are! Everything on these packages, from front to back, is reminiscent of the source material- even if you didn’t know what HLJ was all about the layout of the packages just screamed action! The cardback shows the full line-up and is brimming with cheesy taglines like “BE A HERO!” and “HALF MAN! HALF GOD! ALL HERO!”. This right here, folks, is what toys should be!

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The toys themselves were very standard for what was hitting the market at the time. The likenesses were weak but recognizable and the paint apps were a minimalists dream. If you’ve ever owned a Marvel or DC toy from the mid-to-late 90’s then you know exactly what to expect from these guys. Cuts at the neck, shoulders, hips, elbows and knees were all you got, but it was enough. I can’t remember at what point we couldn’t live without ball joints and interchangeable parts, maybe somewhere around the middle of the McFarlane age, but back when I was starting out 9 points of articulation was all you needed to send a figure on an epic adventure.

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Each one came with an action-featured weapon like Hercules II’s bow and arrow set or Iolaus’ spike ball…launching…backpack… Obviously the weapons didn’t make much sense, but in a way I miss that about old toys. Just because Iolaus never pummeled anyone with giant steel spheres of doom in the show doesn’t mean he would never need to, and at the core isn’t that what toys are supposed to be about? Make your own adventure? The show was all about ignoring the norm and doing whatever it could to be fun, so was it any surprise the toys would follow suit? Besides, it should be totally fine if, in my own home, Batman uses a giant spring-loaded “BAT”ering Ram against a suction-cup-booted Peter Venkman. They’re my toys, dammit!

I’m so glad I found these in mess of boxes that store my childhood. To me toys like these, the ones that bring that wonderful feeling of nostalgia, are what collecting is all about. I’ll take a rocket launching Xena over a super-realistic Master Chief any day of the week. I can’t wait to see what else is waiting for me up there.