This past Old Toys Month, we spent one of our regularly allotted Marvel Mondays on the Classic Avengers box set, the third in a series of sets ToyBiz released in the late '90s featuring complete (or at least "mostly" complete) teams of characters. The only reason we went with that box, rather than the First Appearance X-Men set? Word had just leaked out about this set, and I was afraid I wouldn't have anything left to say about it.
With mutants on the brink of a civil war, heroes from the past are summoned to protect the future.
Technically, this isn't a "first appearance" set: that minimal bit of bio text on the box makes it clear that this is based on Brian Michael Bendis's All-New X-Men, a series focussing on the original five, yes, but in the modern day. After the events of AvX, Beast was so disgusted with what had gone on that he actually travelled back in time to bring the original X-Men to the present to see what they'd become.
We begin with Cyclops, because why wouldn't you? He's the (field) leader of the team and the face of the group. Hell, he's basically
the leader/face of the entire mutant race, groomed since he was a teenager to be the general who protects them all. He's a master tactician in battle, a caring mentor to the kids, and is the only one who can make the hard decisions that will keep everyone alive. And yet all anyone ever says about him is "he's a dick"? Yeah, that's fair.
The figure uses the generic ML "small" male body, which presents a problem with this set: all the sculpts are reused. Normally, that wouldn't be a problem - Carnage and Baron Zemo may both use the same body, but still don't look very much alike - but remember, these are characters from the past. They're teenagers. A teenager nicknamed "Slim" has the same physique as Captain America and USAgent, two super soldiers? It just doesn't make sense. He also uses the same head and left hand as the Wolverine Legends "Astonishing" Cyclops, and the gloves and boots from USAgent.
Next we have Beast, Hank McCoy, who served both as the team's muscle and as its brain - an unusual combination! He never really looked very different from an average human in the comics; in fact, the X-Men: First Class movie did a better job
of making him a mutant within a minute of appearing on screen than the comics did in an entire decade before he turned furry, and it's a shame this toy doesn't take any cues from the film.
Beast uses the "big" body, so he's much beefier than his boss. He gets new bare feet (which, like we said, aren't inhuman at all), a new head designed to match Cyke's mask, and new bare forearms. While most of the articulation is the same as we've seen on this body before, he doesn't have any wrists. For some reason, his arms are solid from the elbows down - not even swivels where they come out of his sleeves. What the eff, Hasbro? The new appendages are sculpted with hair and given a brown airbrushing, but the yellow of his trunks doesn't match his shirt thanks to the orangey paint on the chest - the colors on the back match fine.
Warren Worthington III was just one in a long tradition of heroes who, whatever their other powers may have been, their main ability
was "having a lot of money." As you can probably tell by the "III" on the end of his name, he's either incredibly wealthy or dirt poor (and since his nickname's not "Trey," you know it's the former).
Angel uses the same body as Cyclops, which means that he also uses the same body as Archangel - so again, we're to believe that a teenager is the same as an adult. On the plus side, that means you can trade wings between the two figures. There's no articulation in the feathered wings, sadly; they're just a solid lump that plugs into his back. His head is nice, though: it's got a bit of a playful smirk, suiting a carefree playboy like Warren.
Of course, the reason Angel is smirking is probably because he's busy hitting on our next figure, Jean Grey. As the only girl in a group with four boys, she was obviously a focus of attention for several of them - Scott and Warren, mainly, but also (as we learn in All-New X-Men) a never-mentioned crush by Hank. There's even that (in)famous panel where Professor X thinks about how he loves her.
Marvel Girl uses the same body as her future self, but with new gloves and boots. Note that these aren't the same gloves Viper and Madame Masque wore: these only cover the forearms, so she can retain her gesticulating hands. Like the boys, she has a belt, but her yellows are more consistent on both sides of it. Not that you can actually check the paint before you buy, unless this set shows up in stores as well as online.
And our final figure is Bobby Drake, Iceman. Except he wasn't Iceman back then, no matter what they called him. It was a long time before he learned to turn his body into ice, so back in the early days he was more of a "Snowboy" than an "Iceman," but that would have required an entirely new sculpt, and there was no way that was going to happen.
Iceman uses the Silver Surfer body, and yes, that was a link to the review of Vision, because that figure uses the same mold, but has the same hands Iceman does. It's nice that this figure is cast from semi-translucent plastic (white, rather than the blue of the last ML Iceman), but shouldn't he be wearing blue and yellow boots, which is what his "costume" was at the time? Yes. Yes he should. At least they painted the eyes on his new head solid white. It helps them stand out. And the Silver Surfer body makes him a little shorter than the rest, so he looks younger.
But that brings us back to the problem mentioned before: these are teenagers, just north of puberty, and yet they're all the size of full-grown, superpowered adults. If that's going to bother you, don't get this set. Heck, you might be better off getting the ToyBiz "Classic X-Men" box set: the style is different, but Angel's wings move, Beast has joints in his forearms, Iceman looks appropriately frosty, and all five of them are short enough to look like the kids they're meant to be.