What is it with the X-Men and blue, furry guys?
Raised in a travelling circus, German-born Kurt Wagner learned that his mutant abilities were a gift to be celebrated. Nightcrawler can teleport himself, his clothing and a certain amount of additional mass from one point to another almost instantaneously. He leaves behind smoke and the smell of burning brimstone, actually atmosphere from the unknown dimension through which he travels. Nightcrawler may look like a blue-skinned demon, but this swashbuckler is one of the mutantkind's guardian angels - using his amazing agility and power of teleportation to fight the forces of evil!
Nightcrawler is the X-Man that almost wasn't. Creator Dave Cockrum was working for DC when he pitched a Legion spinoff called The Outsiders. One of the characters on the team would have been a blue-skinned, feral alien named Baalshazzar. But DC editor Murray Boltinoff rejected the idea, and when Dave eventually went to Marvel, his sketchbook went with him. The alien's appearance and powers were retained, but his costume was changed from gold to bright red, and he became the mutant we know and love today.
Dave Cockrum is probably the best costume designer to have ever worked in comics. His designs are obviously costumes, not the modified street clothes that are all the rage today, and when a character gets a Cockrum redesign, it tends to stick. Nightcrawler has worn pretty much the same costume for his entire career, with a few minor deviations, and that's the one he's got here.
It's a black body suit with a big red V running the length of the torso and white gloves and boots for contrast. In the comics, it was the costume he wore as a circus performer, adapted for his life as a hero. In light of that, it still works - the white extremities would add a flash and draw attention to the acrobatic moves, while the black would help conceal any mistakes the performers made. There's a reason no one else's designs for the character have stuck.
The figure's body is skinny, as it should be - even Spider-Man's acrobatics would have nothing on Nightcrawler's - and is packed with 41 points of articulation: head, neck, shoulders, biceps, elbows, gloves, wrists, fingers, chest, abs, waist, hips, thighs, knees, boot tops, ankles and five more joints in each foot, including three for his individual toes and a mid-foot hinge for maximum curling. Awesome. Though his tail isn't articulated, it is bendy, allowing you to pose it however you like. To keep the costume details while allowing the widest range possible, 'crawler's chest, shoulder blades and everything up and over are soft rubber.
Kurt is supposed to be something of a handsome devil beneath all his blue fur, but the figure's got an angrier, uglier look. Not that it's sculpted poorly, mind you, but it's not what you might be expecting. This isn't Alan Davis' Nightcrawler. No accessories for the blue guy, either. He's a fan of swashbuckler movies and a wannabe pirate, so why no sword?
Nightcrawler is one of the refugees from the short-lived X-Men Classics line, which is why it makes sense that he doesn't have a base. Instead, he comes with the hips and torso of Galactus, the Series 9 pack-in extra. The paint and detailing are excellent. The purple and blue are both nice and shiny, and the costume is covered with all the niggling little details you expect from a Jack Kirby character.
This lump of the big G man has the hip and chest joints, so we get a taste of what the articulation will be like. Instead of just counting on friction to hold the joints in place, they click, ratchet-style as they move. That should give the big guy a bit of added stability that he'll desperately need.
ToyBiz has been getting pretty lax in the included comicbook department of late, sticking us with more poster books all the time. Nightcrawler has had some great stories over the years, but don't expect to read one of them when you buy this figure.
Kurt got his first action figure in ToyBiz's 1991 X-Men line, but things have gotten much better in the intervening decade-and-a-half. The scale, the sculpt, the ariculation... everything's evolved, so it's nice that we're finally getting him again.
Where would you rank Nightcrawler's costume in the top ten? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.