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by yo go re

At the end of 2009, online retailer Action Figure Xpress offered two exclusive box sets, both featuring the same characters: the First Appearance X-Men, and X-Factor. Since it's basically just an excuse to release the same figures twice, we'll be reviewing them in tandem. This review is X-Factor; for the First Appearance X-Men, click here.

Trying to live a normal life in Alaska with his wife Madelyne Prior and baby Nathan, Cyclops abandons both upon learning of Jean Grey's seemingly miraculous resurrection and becomes leader of the new X-Factor team.

For all the chatter about how Cyclops is the "lawful good" member of the X-Men, he certainly acted a bit douchey in the first half of X-Factor. That bio up above is correct: he met a nice woman, married her, left the X-Men and had a son, and yet the instant he heard his old girlfriend might be back, he dumped his family in Alaska and made a beeline for New York City and never mentioned her again. Boy, talk about a boring, predictable guy who always follows the rules, huh?

Cyke's mask/visor thing is removable, and he has a new light brown hair piece. And yes, it's different hair than the "First Appearance" version had. The face is entirely different, as well, with new, more stylish glasses, and an angrier expression behind them; he's probably pised that everybody keeps asking him how Maddy and Nate are doing. To make him look older, there are more lines painted on his face - a subtle change that works well.

After losing his furry blue look due to the sinister Carl Maddicks' experimental anti-mutant serum, Hank McCoy regains his human appearance - at least until an ill-fated kiss with Infectia...

That kiss wouldn't happen until later, incidentally: he was wearing a different costume then. This one is dark blue with a red X on the chest, and bare hands and feet. The hands aren't standard Minimate fare, but instead big pink "gloves" that make him look bigger. Similarly, his feet are the "angled" kind some Hulks use, but with space to keep him from being too tall. The chest is the muscular one Hercules (and others) use. Since Hank was sligtly more human during this time, you might want to give him the plain hands - though his alternate feet are still oversized.

The entire team was generally more angsty during the X-Factor years than they were as X-Men, and Beast's expression reflects that. He looks very angry, with his knitted brow and his huge grimace. Of course, this may represent the aftermath of a fight with Apocalypse's Horsemen, when Hank got dumber every time he used his strength or agility. It's hard to see, since the mask is such a dark blue, but there's a black shadow painted on the face. His hair is dark brown and wavy, a nice look.

Presumed dead, Jean Grey is revealed to have been in stasis deep underneath Jamaica Bay for years - leaving her without telepathic powers but greatly enhanced telekinesis.

X-Factor was kind of a high-concept book: the reunited original X-Men posed as the titular team of mutant-hunting humans (gaining public sympathy), while also acting in costume as the evil mutants known as the "X-Terminators" (thereby recruiting wayward mutants who needed help). So, baby blue uniforms with white detailing? Undercover as humans. Colored uniform with a big X on it? Out as a mutant, but pretending to be a menace.

While that makes sense for a guy like Angel, who covered most of his face (Warren being a fairly public figure) and wore a backpack designed to conceal his wings, how could it work for Jean? Sure, comicbooks have about 40 times as many cinnamon girls as the real world (screw the term "ginger," I like cinnamon), but when you have four male mutants and a hot female redhead, then four male "humans" and a hot female redehead, eventually someone should put two and two together.

With his ice powers enhanced by the mischievous Loki, Bobby Drake is forced to wear a power-dampening belt to help regulate his mutant abilities until he learns new degrees of sub-arctic control.

Ironically, the belt (a separate piece done in silver plastic) was designed by a mutant-hating group who wanted to negate Bobby's powers entirely, but they were unaware that he'd been boosted. It's like running the heater and the air conditioning at the same time. The team wore the same style of costume, with a large X over the chest, and even Iceman has that, despite being, you know, ice. The X isn't a different color, but the edges are clearly outlined in blue. He's also the only figure in the set to get an actual accessory: an ice blast.

Since he converts his entire body to solid ice, rather than just encasing himself in armor or something, the figure is molded from clear plastic with the details of his anatomy painted on in pale blue and white. He's got a smile on his face, having never really lost that childlike sense of wonder at his powers. I mean, if I could control ice and snow, I'd have gotten a lot more days off school, you know? He looks like he's having a blast.

So the X-Factor set is realy nice, but you may have noticed something missing - Angel. He didn't make it into the First Appearance X-Men set, either. Why did Warren get cut? Well, probably because his wings didn't cost out. However, to make sure fans could complete their classic X-Factor team, Art Asylum found a way to get Angel into the market (sort of). "X-Factor" Angel was released as a Toys Я Us exclusive, packaged with the non-X-Force Warpath. So if you can track that set down, you'll have your whole team together.

-- 02/22/10

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