Friday, April 24, 2009

Favorite Action Figures: Xena

I am most often uninterested in figures with built-in "action" features, like buttons on the back that make the arms move up and down, or legs that can be squeezed together to make... well, the arms move up and down. Such features usually detract from a figure's look with unsightly knobs and levers, or simply don't work.

This is not the case for the simply named "Xena" figure from Toy Biz's Xena: Warrior Princess line. Although this Xena sports an ungainly button, which juts out of the figure's back like a broken bone, pushing this button produces a really cool action effect. Thanks to a magnetically enhanced hand, this Xena can draw her sword quickly out of its scabbard in a fraction of a second. The speed and consistency with which this feature functions, along with the excellent default pose and detailed outfit, make this a great figure.

Favorite Action Figures: Darth Vader (removable helmet)

This figure was part of Kenner's Power of the Force 2 line and was the first in its scale to reveal Darth Vader's badly scarred face and head. I was for some reason amazed that this figure was made -- it seemed too gruesome to be a toy back in 1998, when McFarlane was just getting started with its brand of creepiness -- but I knew I had to have one.

I don't think I ever found this one "in the wild," instead paying $12.99 (more than twice the regular retail price) at one of those "collector's stores" whose staffers often come by their merchandise by arriving at real toy stores before anyone else.

Even though Hasbro has since surpassed the gory detail of this figure (see the battle damaged Anakin Skywalker from 2005's Revenge of the Sith line), this was the first time we got to see under the helmet on a Vader figure, which to me was a big deal.

Favorite Action Figures: Insect-Body Mr. Freeze

This is based on the "Cold Comfort" episode of The New Batman Adventures, where all that remains of a badly deteriorated Mr. Freeze is a head, now kept in a jar and mobile only on spider-like mechanical legs or a robot body. It was a cool moment in the series, and I thought it was a great choice for an action figure. This was pretty hard to find in its initial release; I got mine thanks to my sister-in-law, who found it in a small shop on the Jersey shore. I came across this figure pretty regularly months afterward, possibly re-released in a revised wave.