It's hard to believe that a year ago Toy Biz showed off their last offerings at Toy Fair. With over a hundred new figures
to come out, it was a busy year. Helping to round out that year is the final series from the X-men line. Featuring Rogue,
Iceman, Nightcrawler, Colossus and two villains, the final series should do quite a bit to bolster the ranks of your mutant
army and offer a chance for new collectors to add some characters they may have missed. That is, if you can find them.
This is also the first X-men series to feature multiple variants. Rogue is available with either short hair or as a variant
with longer hair and no jacket. And Iceman has two variants: his regular human form of Bobby Drake and an Ultimate X-men
Packaging - 6/10The blister pack packaging for the X-men line has received a few changes for the third series. The front remains unchanged with the figures in a round bubble with the X-men logo and character information provided on decals on the outside of the bubbles. And as with previous figures, the placement and durability of the decals isn't very good. The back of the cards still have the generic biographies of the character and illustrated instructions for the figures which require them. But they have added images of all of the X-men figures to date. The addition of the images is nice. But adding images for figures from series one and two which are not likely to still be on the shelves and with no distinction of which are the new and which are the older figures is a bit shortsighted. (And including a photo of the Phoenix who was planned as a late addition to series two but never released is just cruel for those who want to find that figure.) The other issue that I have with the packaging is that the bios don't match up to the characters well if at all. Colossus and Iceman are the only two for whom their head shot matches the version that the figure represents. And their is no distinction for the fact that Sabertooth and The Iceman variant are from the Ultimate universe rather than the regular Marvel universe.
Sculpting - Iceman(men) 6/10, Colossus 7/10, Others 8/10The Iceman figures share the same, wholly unremarkable body. It is a different sculpt from the Iceman figure from series eight of the Marvel Legends line. But there isn't much to the sculpt to distinguish the new figures from the existing one. It would have made more sense to make the Ultimate Iceman figure the regular version and the other one the variant for those who might have missed the Marvel Legends version. Ultimate Sabertooth looks pretty good. And I have to give them credit for including his necklace of his victim's ears. But his head seems a bit too large and they made no attempt to disguise the large knob that sticks out of his back. Colossus borrows heavily from the Marvel Legends version of the character with a new head sculpt, shoulders and knees. The shoulders don't look very good. They seem to be sculpted to resemble short sleeves. But they don't appear to be connected to the rest of his tunic at all. Nightcrawler is a very nice rendition of the Ultimate universe version of the character. The thinner tail compared to previous Nightcrawler figures is nice, but at the cost of poseability. It would be nice if you could pose his left hand other than just in the open palm position, but then it looks rather unnatural. Rogue deserves a lot of credit for being one of the best looking female Marvel Legends style figures Toy Biz produced, at least in terms of the body sculpt. The face is a bit thin, particularly below the cheekbones. But the hair does a decent job of filling out the face at a casual glance. Finally there is Avalanche who has an impressive and nicely detailed sculpt. But much like the Juggernaut figure from series two, it is a take on the character that is very nontraditional.
Paint - Icemen 4/10, Colossus 5/10, Rogue 7/10, others 9/10The paint work on most of the figures is very good. There are very few issue with sloppiness or paint runs. Rogue scored a bit lower since the white streaks in her hair are a little rough around the edges. And let's face it, her hair is sort of her defining characteristic. Fortunately they went with a clean and shiny look for Colossus instead of the heavy washes of the previous version. But they went a bit too far. His costume could use some more contrast to blend better with the other figures. Finally there are the Iceman figures which have a silver paint wash all over them. It is supposed to create a frosted look. But it is overdone resulting in figures that just look sloppy.
Articulation - 9/10The articulation for all six figures is just what you'd expect from a Marvel Legends style figure: articulation, articulation and more articulation. The quality seems to be quite high as well. I had no issues with either stuck or overly loose joints. Both Sabertooth and Avalanche have some slight warping in their legs at the knees, but they don't seem to suffer from the floppy joints of series 14 of the Marvel Legends line.
Accessories - Avalanche, Sabertooth & Iceman 6/10, others 3/10The accessories for this series are pretty mediocre at best. The nicest one is Avalanche's rock slide base. It's nicely sculpted and painted and has a novel action feature. Both Iceman figures also come with a base, a rolling ice sled. It looks nice, though they could have put some detail around where the figure stands. But it doesn't roll well and is fairly unstable due to the small wheels that were used. Sabertooth's accessories are a set of replacement hands which allow you to choose either a claws extended or retracted pose. It's a shame it has taken Toy Biz this long to figure out how to include alternate hands. Colossus has a bendable girder. It's a neat gag and well executed. But by and large, it is a rather forgettable accessory. Rogue has only her removable glasses for an accessory. They went all out for Nightcrawler though. He comes with a large sword, a second double bladed sword like weapon and a removable sheath to hold both. A sword makes sense for a Nightcrawler from the regular Marvel Universe. But I've never seen the Ultimate version use one. And these swords are rather unruly for the figure to hold. The double bladed one looks even sillier when stored in the sheath since it leave one of its blades exposed.
Action Feature - Nightcrawler 8/10, Sabertooth & Avalanche 5/10, others NANightcrawler has a light up feature that works quite well. When a small button on his back is pressed, an LED in his head lights up his mouth and eyes. The effect is pretty good and appropriate for the character. And the dark paint used for his face and hair doesn't allow much light to escape elsewhere. It's only real drawback is that it reduces the articulation in the neck to almost nothing. Avalanche's action feature is his rock slide base. It sits atop a series of nylon bristles. When a knob on the back is wound up and released, the base begins to vibrate. This is suppose to cause the base to move if it is on a smooth surface. But it doesn't work well. When mine does move, it tends to just back up slightly while turning around. (Terrific, a villain whose action feature is to turn tail and retreat.) Finally there is Sabertooth who has a traditional action feature built in. His right arm is connected to a mechanism in his body. When the arm is rotated forward, it puts tension on a spring mechanism. Pressing the large knob on his back releases the tension and causes the arm to snap back to its original position. It's not a very impressive feature. At least it doesn't impede the articulation much. But the knob on his back is needlessly oversized and not in any way integrated into the sculpt. It seems like it would be so simple to have a low profile button on the figure's back and let it be covered by the coat.
Value - Iceman (regular) & Colossus 5/10, Ultimate Iceman 6/10, others 8/10At $9 each for a retail price, this series is a bit of a mixed bag. Iceman and Colossus aren't bad figures. But they really don't have much new to offer if you have the previous figures. The Ultimate X-men version of Iceman scores higher just by virtue of being a new character. But its paint job keeps it from scoring as well as the others. The remaining four figures a strong offerings and a welcome addition to my collection.
Happy Hunting:And now we come to the bad new. Finding these figures isn't easy. Series three never saw very wide distribution and with the change in the Marvel license at the end of 2006, finding stores that still stock them can be quite difficult. Kb Toys will probably be your best shot at retail, or you may want to check your local comic shop. Sabertooth and Colossus are also still available from ToysRUs.com.