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X-Men: the Movie
by yo go re

X-Men was not a perfect film, by any means. There are plenty of legitimate complaints to be made about it, but one of the most idiotic and baseless involved Sabretooth.

Sabretooth is the mysterious giant of Magneto's Brotherhood. The savage mutant brawler gained his nickname because of his incredibly keen animal-like senses of smell, sight and hearing. His razor sharp bone claws and mutant healing factor that enables him to recover from almost any wound in minutes make him a virtually unbeatable foe. The unbelievably strong and ferocious hunter has nearly identical powers as the X-Man known as Wolverine and is obsessed with hunting and defeating him in combat in a no-holds barred fight to the finish.

When the movie came out, the fanboys whined that it didn't go into the rivalry between Wolverine and Sabretooth. Well, 1) it's an X-Men movie, not a Wolverine movie, did you expect the two guys whose first instinct in every situation is to throw punches to stop in the middle and have a conversation about their past? And 2) because the movie specifically does show the rivalry between them, but only if you're paying attention.

Sabretooth was played by 6'8" former pro wrestler Tyler Mane, though there's only so much you can expect in the way of a likeness from a toy released in 2000. His '80s Whitesnake hair and his crazy eyebrows do most of the heavy lifting in making this toy look like the guy it's supposed to. Like many of the X-Men figures, Sabretooth had a few running change variants during the life of the line - the first release painted his hair both brown and yellow, while later waves went two-tone blonde. The second version is more accurate to the film, but it does present its own potential problems (which we'll discuss later).

The movie came out before Spider-Man proved that comicbook costumes could work onscreen, so the X-Men didn't wear yellow spandex, and Sabretooth didn't wear an orange and black cat suit. Instead, he wears dark animal hide pants and a ragged suede shirt, all covered in thick, rough stitches to repair the various slashes and rips it's sustained while he's running around the woods and getting into fights. He has big chunky boots and fingerless gloves that allow his claws to poke through.

There's a silver chain sculpted on his chest, underneath his shirt, which goes back to what we were saying about paying attention. Those are Wolverine's dog tags, which Sabretooth kept after their fight. He's got trophies, and people didn't think the movie was showing any connection between them? For cryin' out loud, he killed Henry Peter Gyrich and a security guard, too, but you didn't see him wearing any of their stuff for the rest of the movie, did you?

The figure's articulation is average for the era - he has a swivel neck, swivel shoulders, hinged elbows, swivel wrists, T-crotch, hinged knees and hinged ankles. The left hip doesn't move, because it (and the waist) have been sacrificed for an action feature: squeeze his legs, and he turns at the waist for "claw swiping action." This is mostly unobtrustive, and at least he doesn't have any big levers or buttons sticking out of him, right? Shame we can't say the same about his pack-in.

You know, the X-Men movie figures really were a good value. Almost all of the figures came packaged with some huge accessory: Magneto had a derailed train car, Cyclops came with a slime-trapped Jean Grey, and Sabretooth comes with a full-sized security guard.

Well, almost full sized - he's just a bit smaller than the other figures (5⅝"), and not articulated per se, but he's a full figure nonetheless. The package calls him a "knocked out" security guard, but do you really think Sabretooth is the type to knock someone out? The prototype photo on the packaging showed the figure with a light blue shirt and dark pants, but the final thing features navy blue for the entire uniform. There's a silver badge on the chest, and his right hand is molded holding a doughnut. He's supposed to look like Bryan Singer, but that likeness is even sketchier than Tyler Mane's.

The Guard's hat and pistol are removable, and when you strike the button on his chest he collapses in a heap. This is made possible by strings running through the figure that hold the limbs in place until the button is struck. To reset the figure, you turn a large knob on his back; this is an extremely difficult process. I don't want to scare you away from this figure, but trying to get all the Guard's limbs into place properly can be quite an ordeal, especially if you don't want any dangling parts or visible string; the trick is to tighten the knob as much as you can, then twist the individual bodyparts that are loose until the string connecting them contracts to your satisfaction.

It also brings us to our third figure variant: the first wave of figures gave Sabretooth brown hair; the second wave gave him yellow hair; and the later waves took away the security guard's gun. So to really be a completist, you have three to hunt down (and the one in the middle is the best).

The X-Men movie figures really aren't anything special by today's standards, but in 2000 they were pushing the envelope. And it's definitely not like there's a better movie Sabretooth out there anywhere. Add to that the inclusion of an action figure of the film's director, and this set's a nice one to own.

-- 02/22/16

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