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X-Men Villains

X-Men 60th Anniversary
by yo go re

Heroes are only as good as their adversaries and in their 60-year history, the X-Men have faced some of the fiercest foes in comics.

They sure have! These aren't any of them.

The first figure in the set is Stryfe. Not only have we had Stryfe before, everything below the neck is the same as the existing figure with lighter paint. Like, okay, fine, that wasn't an easy series to get so it's good to give new fans another crack at owning him. Plus, his colors are much more in keeping with the early-90s appearances, so that's cool. The head is new, with straighter blades on the mask, but that's it. We don't get his anti-Apocalypse sword this time, and we still don't get an unmasked head, despite that literally being the easiest thing to include. Oh, he's got alternate fists? Well excuse me, toy of the year!

Other than Stryfe, the only character in this set who's ever had an action figure before is Random. Introduced during that period when X-Factor was a government team, he wasn't actually a villain: he was a bounty hunter specializing in superpowered targets, so he just worked for whoever paid. He was literally defeated in his first appearance when they cut him a check. But because he was acting as an antagonist then, he's been unfairly lumped in with the "villains" ever since.

We last saw this torso used on another another unpopular '90s mutant, Maggott, but the right arm and the thighs come from the original source, Hercules. His boots are new, because no one's worn this particular style, but he smartly reuses Rage's vest. Sure, he typically wore a sleeveless jacket that was zipped at the waist, but this is close enough.

Random gets a new head, because no one else wears sunglasses and a bandana like this. His skin is chalk white, but his lips are pink and he has painted stubble on his chin. He has a snake tattoo around his right arm, and a sword stabbing a winged heart on his left shoulder. The barbed wire around his left bicep is a separate mold for this toy. This is like a little kid's idea of a big tough biker.

Which may be what he actually is. Random's origin has never really been revealed, but we do know his true form is basically just a puddle of protoplasm - whether "Marshall Evan Stone III" was a real kid whose mutant powers turned him into that or it was just something created from scratch by Dark Beast is what's up for debate. His innate mutant power is to autonomically counter any power used against him; morphing his hands into organic guns, like this toy's left arm represents, is just something he chooses to do with his shapechanging abilities. Shame they couldn't come up with a way to make swappable hands. Balancing the figure is a bit tough, because the joints in the legs are soft and gummy.

His name, his chances of getting another action figure, the amount of thought Rob Liefeld put into his creation... it's Zero! A member of the Mutant Liberation Front, Zero actually appeared before the big guy himself did, and was basically the team's transportation, teleporting them away after they struck their targets. When he wasn't doing that, he seemed to spend all his time looming silently behind Stryfe. Eventually it was revealed he was an ADAM Unit, number zero in a series of 13 built as peacekeepers in a very fragile world. "ADAM" has been revealed to stand for several different things over the years ("Ambient-Energy Dampening Actualization Module", "Algorythmic Wavelength Dampening Ambient-Energy Absorbing Modular Unit", "Ambient-Energy Dampening Automated Mechanism"... the '90s X-books were not a high water mark for tight editing), but basically it's a robot capable of scanning and neutralizing any weapons in its vicinity. And also teleporting, I guess?

For whatever reason, the ADAM Units were designed to look like muscular men - Deadpool kept referring to Zero as a "neutered albino Schwarzenegger," for example - but that was generally just all muscle. So naturally, Hasbro has chosen a body that has cloth-like wrinkles on it. Perfect choice, no notes. Total smartness. The head is new, because it needed to be molded with no features - not even the suggestion of ears and a nose, like masked characters would get. He's pure white with perfect black circles tampographed on his face and chest.

Because Zero was known for teleporting, the set includes that big Dr. Strange ring that we wanted Spiral to have. It's molded in yellow and has some black Kirby dots painted at the base. Only on the front, though - I guess formless black splotches are too expensive to also include on the rear side. It's not strictly necessary as an accessory, because Zero generally just opened holes in midair without any flashy energy effects to define them, but it does suit the character and is more exciting than just giving us a pair of flat hands to replace his fists.

Joining Skullbuster and Bonebreaker, we finally have Pretty Boy, the last surviving member of the original Reavers. Initially he was the most human-looking of the crew, dressing like an extra in Grease: leather pants, leather vest, slicked-back hair he was constantly combing... he had extendable arms and could extend fiber-optic filaments from his eyes that allowed him to rewrite people's brains (he's the one who turned Singaporean bank manager Jessan Hoan into Madripoorian crime lord Tyger Tiger, for instance), but he still wasn't overly cybernetic.

But then he pissed off Donald Pierce while the latter was making some repairs, and got beheaded for his trouble. As punishment, Pierce installed the head on a scrawny, fully exposed robot body, which is what we get here. It's mostly a new sculpt, with only the arms coming from Silvermane. There have been some changes made to leave us with a sturdier toy (seriously, to do this right, he'd have to be sized like an Episode I C-3PO), but this is heavily inspired by Marc Silvestri's art for Uncanny X-Men #253 - the placement of the wires, the shape of the panels, the number of rivets... it's a very accurate re-creation.

The neck and head remain human. The face is a bit Bruce Campbell-ish, but that's not a bad decision. Unfortunately, they've decided to give him unkempt, shaggy hair, which is definitely wrong. It's not like he changed his name from "Pretty Boy" after he looked like this, or like he stopped meticulously caring for his appearance. His hair should be slicked back into a 1950s pompadour, not left untended like a 1980s Hollywood idea of a street gang.

Pretty Boy has swivel/hinge ankles, double-hinged knees, swivel thighs, balljointed hips, a swivel waist, balljointed chest, swivel/hinge wrists, double-hinged elbows, swivel biceps, swivel/hinge shoulders, and a barbell neck. All these robot parts, and they couldn't do swivel shins? He's armed with those two square Cameron Bye-sculpted pistols, and hands to hold them, plus muzzle flashes and gun smoke both molded in translucent sea green. Since there would be no way to show his telescoping arms or his eye-wires, these are fine choices.

The final figure in the set is Vertigo, most famous for being a member of Mr. Sinister's Marauders alongside Sabretooth. She's originally from one of the tribes in the Savage Land, which means she's technically a neanderthal (or thereabouts), artificially evolved to human appearance. So does Sinister have to keep doing that every time he clones a new her, or does he have pre-augmented backups just waiting? Heck, did the original ever even leave the Savage Land or meet Mr. Sinister?

Vertigo uses one of the bodies we haven't seen a lot of lately - it's most easily distinguished from the one they do use a bunch of by its lack of a butt. I really get the feeling we need to pull out all our ML ladies and double-check the accuracy of those lists, but who has the time? That's gotta be over 100 figures in storage in different places. The slighter frame on this one does make sense for someone who's basically wearing a tube top, which may be why they chose it. Although this is Vertigo's most familiar costume, it's not her only one: she originally wore basically a minidress with pink and green circles all over it, not a white bodysuit with green swirls.

Her hair has also gotten greener over time. In her first story arc, her hair was pretty much solid white; eventualy she was portrayed with some green shading, and that's just grown and grown until now she looks like she could be Polaris in a new suit. There's no real way to show "makes people dizzy" as an action figure ability, so all this toy gets are alternate hands. Nothing else to be done, really.

This set has no kind of theme. Stryfe and Zero work together, but no one else does. Three of the characters are from the 90s, two are from the 80s. They're not all mutants. They're not even all villains. They're not even all characters who needed a toy, thanks to Stryfe being here. They're all fine figures, individually, but "have sometimes worked against X-Teams in the past" is the flimsiest connector ever. With such an eclectic assortment, I'm sure there will be people looking to part it out and sell off the ones they're not interested in, so you should be able to pick up your faves without too much trouble.

-- 07/24/23

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