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The Blob

X-Men 60th Anniversary
by yo go re

Fred J. Dukes has long used the massive bulk and near-impervious skin granted by his mutant powers to combat the X-Men alongside the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants proving time and again that nothing moves the Blob!

It took 17 years for "Fred J. Dukes" to become a thing (also, it's really showing my age that I find it alarming that there are only 17 years between 1963 and 1980; between what I still conceive of as recent and unfathomably distant): Uncanny X-Men #3 couldn't be bothered to give Blob any name other than "Blob," but it did take the time to specifically name Svenzaldo Zambooba, a character name I swear to you I am 100% not making up. He and his unnamed brother ["Pansel Arrington Zambooba" --ed.] are the human cannonballs at the circus where Blob works. They defeated Angel. I suppose after coming up with them and "Sharpo the Knife-Thrower," Stan just didn't have any energy to name the issue's actual antagonist. Either that or fat people don't deserve identity beyond their fatness.

Comics, being a visual medium, tend toward exaggeration; it's not enough for a big character to be big, they have to be the biggest person in the room; and few characters embody that as well as Blob. It's not just that he's gotten fatter over the years - in his first appearance he was merely "anonymous neck-down file footage on the local news" fat, but that's not enough to draw attention today - it's that he's gotten bigger. His official height is 5'10"; just a normal little guy. Heck, when he joined Mystique's Brotherhood, he wasn't even the tallest person on the team! So why is this toy that should only reach the 6" mark instead 8¼"? Because being the big guy means he has to be the big guy.

The last time Hasbro made a Blob figure, they went out of their way to make him as physically repulsive as possible, with his lumpy body spilling over itself in the grossest way. This one cleans things up a bit, making him much smoother overall. I think maybe the idea behind the old Phil Ramirez sculpt was supposed to extreme cellulite beyond human capacity? This is more in line with the way he's usually drawn in the comics, though: most artists don't have the time or inclination to do more than a few quick, round lines to define him. He's still a great big fat guy, but not sloppy.

The figure gets two heads, both with double-chins, but not the hideous jowls we had before. They have different hair (same style, but different lengths), suggesting it's him at different times. The one he's got on right out of the box is totally neutral, not expressionless but not really displaying anything, either, while the alternate head has his mouth open wide in a yell. It doesn't look angry, even with the brows drawn inward, it's more of a shout for emphasis than anything. The head is mounted on a balljoint, with a recess in the body far enough that his extra-wide neck will still have room to move around.

Other than that, the articulation is all the usual stuff: you know, swivel/hinges for the three joints in each arm, a balljointed chest, balljoint hips, swivel thighs, and swivel/hinges for the knees and ankles. The figure includes your choice of open hands or fists, which swap out easily. Considering his first action figure came with a turkey drumstick and a bone-in ham, getting nothing is an upgrade.

When he first appeared, Blob wore little red trunks and nothing else, not even shoes - after all, the purpose of clothing is protection, and what's the point when you can't be hurt? Working with others apparently impressed upon his modesty, however, and he eventually began wearing a dark unitard with a big yellow belt. The suit was typically shown as black, but enough sources have interpreted it as blue that this toy isn't incorrect. It was definitely shown blue way more often than it ever had yellow stripes on the shoulders, that's for sure! On the last Blob, those were just paint, so you could at least scrape them off and make the toy look right: here they're sculpted, so we're stuck with them forever. Since he has so much exposed skin, Hasbro's given the toy mottled paint apps to keep his arms and legs from looking make and plasticky.

The old Blob Build-A-Figure was fine for its time, but its time was 16 years ago - almost as long as it took for Fred to be given a human name. This isn't just a case of making a version of a character available to new fans, this is an actual upgrade on what we had before. The BAF was a ToyBiz leftover, but this Hasbro original has outclassed it.

-- 07/18/23

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