Since we’re in the thick of Dino Drac’s 2016 holiday celebration, I’m adding a special theme to this edition of Five Random Action Figures.
In this batch, every figure has something to do with ice or snow. This despite the fact that it still won’t be winter even a month from now. Really, I just wanted to mess with tiny styrofoam snowballs. (Give me this! I have so little.)
G.I. Joe (1990)
According to his file card, Sub-Zero was the Joes’ “Winter Operations Specialist,” which sounds like one of those bullshit designations you give to ambitious worker bees.
“Oh yes, Mr. Habershaw! We see big things from you as our new… uhhh… Master of Cold! Now put on this wackadoo uniform and then go stand in the snow forever.”
I’m apathetic towards Sub-Zero, who arrived long after I’d stopped paying serious attention to the G.I. Joe universe. What immediately strikes me is that this 1990 figure looks so much like one Hasbro would’ve put out five years prior, with the sort of antiquely stoic facial sculpt that more befit 1985 than the rad-to-the-bone 1990s.
With removable snow shoes and a giant machine gun being only two of Sub-Zero’s awesome accessories, I’m still more drawn to that weird ass hood of his. Now I know what’d come out if both Dorothy and Sophia entered one of the telepods from The Fly.
I’ve long considered Iceman the quintessential ToyBiz X-Men figure, both for its ubiquitousness and because it hit the line’s highs and lows better than any other character.
As I’ve mentioned in prior articles, the X-Men action figure line took over toy stores like a swarm of locusts. KB Toys was particularly victimized, and spent the better part of two years selling absolutely nothing but these figures.
If you weren’t into these toys (and at the time, I wasn’t), they were easy to resent. I kind of did this “2 + 2 = 17” math, and figured that the glut of X-Men figures meant that 500 other lines remained stuck in development hell. It was false equivalency in its stupidest form.
I also believed (and largely still believe) that the figures weren’t especially well-made. Take Iceman, for instance. This dude is fresh from the package, and not one minute after opening it, his head and arms fell off. The discoloration of his legs may seem forgivable after 20 years, but I’ll remind you that some Icemans (Icemen?) looked exactly like this even by 1994.
At the same time, it’s still a cool figure, and not just literally so. Like yeah he might fall to pieces if I sneeze his way, and yeah his legs do sorta look like frozen dog urine, but he’s still the snowman version of Silver Surfer, and I can’t throw too much shade at that.
DC Comics Super Heroes (1990)
The DC Comics Super Heroes line was quickly launched by ToyBiz after their Batman movie figures became popular. It more or less existed because kids were guaranteed to buy any figure that was pitched as Batman’s friend or foe, even if they didn’t share the big screen with him.
To make the line happen fast, ToyBiz cut the best-ever corner: Most of the Super Heroes figures were actually retooled versions of Kenner’s Super Powers figures from the mid ‘80s. The newer versions lacked some of the finer details, but they were still a big dose of nostalgia for kids who’d loved and lost their original Super Powers toys.
I mostly associate Mr. Freeze with his incarnation from Batman: The Animated Series, which was slickly understated and as serious-looking as a man in a refrigerated astronaut suit could look. By comparison, this version of Mr. Freeze looks like a complete circus. (Not necessarily a complaint, mind you.)
My favorite part is the removable “head dome,” so named because “helmet” just doesn’t feel right. That was the kind of accessory no kid could afford to lose. Without it, Mr. Freeze looked like Lex Luthor in a bad Halloween costume.
(And the risk of losing it was always in play, because no boy could resist putting that thing on his finger for a quick round of “Hey Everyone LOOK, My Hand is a Spaceman.”)
Arctic Attack Sabretooth
For a figure that literally nobody had thought about for the fifteen years leading to this exact moment, this guy is pretty badass!
Arctic Attack Sabretooth is huge, finely detailed and looks like one of those frosted pastries that only turn up after Christmas dinner. I’m amazed that this was a fairly “regular” action figure, and not some window-boxed collector’s edition.
Did I mention that when you push a secret lever on Sabretooth’s back, his mouth hangs open to blast imaginary wind? There’s that, too!
Fun fact: In the first X-Men movie, Sabretooth was played by Tyler Mane, who’d later play Michael Myers in Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake. But long before he performed as either character, Mane was a pro-wrestler who formed a tag team with Kevin Nash… who’d later play the Super Shredder in TMNT II!
So the next time you’re playing Six Degrees and someone challenges you to connect Sookie Stackhouse to Tatsu, remember who gave you the goddamned blueprint.
Not Quite Han Solo in Hoth Gear
Not Quite Hasbro (1997)
Here’s a bootleg version of the POTF2 “Han Solo in Hoth Gear” figure, made in Mexico. The real version isn’t nearly as Bluto-like, nor does it have a face that only works if Han is imitating Reggie Jackson’s “kill the queen” scene from Naked Gun.
Bootleg Star Wars figures were all the rage in the late ‘90s, easily procurable not just by mail, but also at pretty much every flea market across the country. For a brief moment, they seemed almost as easy to find as the legitimate figures!
Luckily for Han, his bootleg was fairly inoffensive, merely looking “less handsome” and “more hypnotized.” I have others from the set, and they can get pretty atrocious. (My “Leia in Boushh disguise” has a helmet that only fits over half of her head, and permanently carries an all-brown thermal detonator that looks too coincidentally like a big clump of shit. Trust me, this Han would never be interested in that Leia.)
Thank you for reading about five random icy action figures. Tune in next time, when I will have completed my search for five action figures bearing color schemes that kinda sorta evoke candy canes.