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X-Men '97
by yo go re

When these figures were announced, I joked that it was going to be real funny when there had been two series of toys on store shelves before the show even premiered.

...called it!

With Professor Charles Xavier gone, Magneto - the self-proclaimed Master of Magnetism - reinvents himself as he tries to carry forward his oldest friend's dream.

Just showing off images of this costume revealed an unexpected angle the cartoon is going to take: Magneto being in charge of Xavier's school. In the comics, he'd typically been a pretty staunch villain (something Moira MacTaggart theorized was a result of his body not being able to adequately process the level of energy his powers were constantly running through it), but a series of events (nearly killing Shadowcat on one of her first missions, sleeping with Wasp, being rescued from drowning by a human) began to soften his attitudes. So when Beyonder came to Earth and Xavier was too weak to take part in the defense, he called the only person who could hear him - Magneto - and asked him to lead the X-Men in his place.

To show his change of heart, Magneto got rid of his old costume for something drastically different. Gone were the giant collar and the familiar helmet, the things that had always identified him as "Magneto" to the world at large; in their place was a sleeveless purple bodysuit with a large M on the torso and, because this was the '80s, opera gloves that covered his arms from the biceps down. He still wore a cape with it, because he's a dramatic queen, but here the cape is done almost like a large scarf at the top, swirling loosely around his neck instead of being bolted firmly onto his nipples. Surprisingly, despite this being the same kind of thing Prowler wears, it's not the same mold; I guess they wanted a smoother version to look more "animated."

There is one noteable difference between the comics and the cartoon, though. Magneto's new costume debuted in 1985, but the cartoon is ostensibly set in 1997, and doing what the show did the first time it aired: adapting classic stories to be taking place "now." Like, Gambit and Bishop hadn't even been created when the original "Days of Future Past" story happened, but when the cartoon adapted it, they were both integral parts because they were in the books at the time. So the "Magneto takes over the Xavier Institute" may have happened in the '80s, but it won't star '80s Magneto, it will star '90s Magneto - and '90s Magneto had long(er) hair, so this toy does as well. It's straight, rather than curly, but it still falls down to his shoulders. The figure includes two heads - one with a neutral expression, one angry - and they both feature the long, luxurious locks.

Magneto uses uses Hasbro's new too-tall body, the one with the pec hinges, and gets the same remolded torso as Nighthawk so he has a hole for his cape to plug into. The articulation is good, of course, though wearing a cape like this does cause some limitations in what poses will look right for the toy. Like, you can't hunch him over without the cape sticking straight out behind him, so that's not an option. Plus, his hair is flexible enough to let him turn his head to the sides or bend it forward, but it's never going to go backwards, and thus this guy who can fly (or at least levitate himself) will never look up. You do get your choice of open hands or fists, but no energy effects to suggest his powers.

The X-Men '97 figures don't include a Build-A-Figure, it's just $25 for a single action figure on a giant card that takes up a ton of space and will be put in the recycling right away. Not great.

The only other toy "Trial Magneto" has had was the Minimate, so it's exciting to get a Marvel Legend of it, especially since the pseudo-animated look at the figure is subtle enough that this could fit into a comic-based collection with no issues. But $25 for a 6" figure with a BAF part is already insulting, and charging that much for one with no accessories at all is even worse. Since this line is based on a TV show, stores like Walmart and Target may be willing to carry it; maybe there will be sale or a coupon to make the price more acceptable.

-- 03/18/24

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