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X2: X-Men United
by yo go re

I'm quite impressed by ToyBiz's restraint with the X-Men movie figures so far. Well before the last film, the toy aisles were filled with spoiler-laden sets: spongy Senator Kelly, Rogue with real "getting stabbed" action, Mystique with cheap rubber Wolverine suit... a lot of the film had already been laid out. This time, however, ToyBiz has kept themselves in check.

One of the first announcements about the new movie was the addition of an old X-Men favorite: the demonic teleporter Nightcrawler would be joining the ranks of Wolverine and Magneto on the big screen.

The first pictures of Scots actor Alan Cumming in character as Kurt Wagner were scorned by fans - he was blue, yes, but he was dressed like a hobo: old jacket, several shirts and the ugliest pants you'd ever care to see. Of course, these were the same fans who bitched and cried about the black leather uniforms in the first film, about Spider-Man's organic webshooters and about the very concept of Ben Affleck as Daredevil. If you couldn't tell, comic fans are often fiercely propietary, to the point of ridiculousness.

Nightcrawler is also one of the figures in the initial wave of four, along with Wolverine, Cyclops and Logan. All the figures are superposeable, which is nice. Nightcrawler is still wearing his homeless chic threads, all duplicated just as we see in the film. His coat has shiny splotches all over, which I initially thought was a paint problem, but seems to be part of the design.

He's got some sort of tribal scarification tattoos on his face, which are sculpted elements with a dark blue wash to bring them out. Early shipments of the fuzzy elf had some sloppy paint apps on those tattoos, and while they seem to have corrected that now, it would still be a good idea to check the figure before purchase.

Nightcrawler comes with a large ornate base, which leads me into a brief digression: ToyBiz's customer service sucks. When I opened Nightcrawler and began to assemble his base, I found that one of the pieces, rather than having a tab to connect it to the rest of the unit, was just a rounded-off nub. I contacted ToyBiz to ask whether this was an intentional production change or simply a molding error.

Rather than actually take the three seconds to answer my questions, they simply sent me a form letter in return. "Thank you for purchasing, return the figure to the retailer, blah blah blah." That doesn't tell me anything. If this was an intended change, getting a new figure won't help anything. If it was a mistake, it would have been a simple matter to send me a replacement for that part.

Say what you will about McFarlane Toys' lack of articulation or over-reliance on Tortured Souls-style designs, but they have the absolute best customer service department in the biz; a friendly staff who always reply promptly and do their best to make sure the customers are happy. Compared to that, ToyBiz is just sad. Get it together, guys.

Anyway, Nightcrawler's base is a wall-mountable section of church rafters. The back is the wall, complete with pillars and a large stained glass window. Six pieces of wooden beams plug into each other and into the wall to complete the ceiling. The base is 6¼" wide, 3⅜" deep and 5⅝" tall.

Nightcrawler is 5¾" tall (thanks to the permanent squat his legs require) and moves at the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers, torso, waist, hips, thighs, knees, shins, ankles and toes. His tail is bendy, which lets you pose it however you like, whether it's wrapped around a piece of his base or just counterbalancing a handstand.

Though I had problems with the first Nightcrawler I picked up, and even more problems trying to get in touch with the company, this is still a fun figure. He's mobile, he looks just like the film version, and he comes with a detailed base. ToyBiz did a good job with their first series of X2 figures; now let's get some more!

-- 05/16/03

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