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X-Men Six Pack

Marvel Collector Editions
by yo go re

The year before the Classic Avengers box set, ToyBiz did this one based on Giant-Size X-Men #1.

After his original team of students was captured by the mutant island Krakoa, a desperate Charles Xavier decided it was time to form an all new, all different team of uncanny X-Men. Utilizing his mutant tracking device Cerebro and traveling to many different nations, Professor X assembled a multi-cultural team of mutants possibly more powerful than its predecessor! With some quick explanations and no formal training, these new X-Men were sent in search of their helpless teammates!

We begin with Storm, the nature goddess who one day would lead the X-Men. Giant-Size X-Men was her first appearance, though a story in X-Men: The Hidden Years revealed that she'd actually met the team before that.

Many of the figures in this set are sculpted in an exaggerated stance, and Storm is one of them. The object was likely to make it look like her legs are simply trailing behind her as her winds allow her to fly, but she also has to stand on them. There are a few wrinkles sculpted on her combat swimsuit, and for her cape, her giant mane of white hair hides the transfer point between the sculpted bit on her shoulders and the softgoods bit on her arms.

Storm has hinged ankles and knees, a V-crotch, hinged elbows and swivel/hinge shoulders. There's also a swivel neck, but the hair keeps it from being of any use. Her cape connects to her arms via bracelets (sized more like bracers on this figure). They swivel freely around her arms, so she can move her arms and even raise them up without any trouble.

The big Russian, Colossus, was one of the first X-Men ToyBiz ever produced, but it wasn't until this box set that he got a decent toy - they were all too small or too weirdly designed, but this is just about as perfect a pre-Marvel Legends Colossus as could ever be made.

This is the classic Colossus costume, too: mostly red, with a yellow stripe down the center of the torso. His sides and limbs are bare, exposing his ribbed metal skin - which is why, from the very start, Colossus' costume was subject to censorship. In his armored mode, he looked precisely as you see him here; however, when he powered down, his bare legs were suddenly covered by blue cloth. Apparently showing male thighs was unacceptable in a way that showing female thighs was not. And if we're getting picky about this being a "first appearance" set, he shouldn't have yellow stripes around his knees.

Colossus is painted silver, rather than being vac-metallized, though his red bracers are a different, more metallic shade than the rest of his costume. Similarly, the details on his belt are gold, rather than red. Because of his extreme height - just under an even 6" - he's sculpted looking down. He has the same joints as Storm, but his left shoulder is a little loose.

X-Men's sales numbers were in the toilet before Giant-Size X-Men #1 came out, which is why Marvel was willing to shake it up so much. The idea was to make an international team, with members drawn from all over the world - specifically, from places Marvel comics sold pretty well. The idea was that even if the book sold poorly at home, local audiences would buy more copies because they had a vested interest in one of the characters. So basically it was the equivalent of Hollywood counting on foreign box office and pandering to China.

Germany's Nightcrawler isn't much larger than Storm was, but he's not sculpted to stand straight up. If you do, you'll find him with his legs spread at a 45° angle and his feet not resting flat on the ground. No, he's meant to be posed in a crouch - the flatter the better. His hands and feet are gigantic; the feet so the figure can stand up, the hands so the feet don't look out of place. His wrists get hinges just like the ankles, which neither of the previous two figures could claim. He also has a bendy tail.

The face is very pointy, much pointier than you'd expect. It's a nice dark blue, with yellow eyes and high, arching eyebrows. His hair is longer and less fuzzy than it was in the comic, too. Due to the way the figure is assembled, with the pointy shoulders being separate pieces glued into the torso, there are big visible seams that shouldn't be there.

Sunfire was a pre-existing character, having first appeared as an antagonist in Uncanny X-Men #64, as well as showing up for arcs in Sub-Mariner and Iron Man before agreeing to help Professor X's nascent team. He never stopped being a major jerk though, because if there was one thing a team that also included Wolverine and Thunderbird needed, it was a major jerk.

Surprisingly, this is the only time Sunfire's classic costume was made into a toy. Yes, there's a Marvel Universe version, but that didn't come out until 2010. The only other time ToyBiz made a Sunfire, he was wearing his "1990s samurai" costume, and Hasbro did the Age of Apocalypse version. It's not that this costume is vastly superior, but it's certainly recognizable. Much of the mold is shared with a Hobgoblin figure from 1997, though there was still retooling to hide the pins in the shoulders, to change the torso, and to create new extremities.

The chainmail on his limbs is picked out with a black wash to capture all the details, while the boots and gloves are bright red. His flames are golden, and the stripes on his chest are perfectly white. He has the usual articulation, but also gets swivel wrists. Why does he rate them when Storm and Colossus didn't?

Banshee just can't catch a break as an action figure. His first had a whistle built into its chest. His second was decent, though very bulky. After that was a repainted Black Bolt body that still had sculpted details under its paint. And of course you know about Hasbro's effort. This one is no great shakes, either.

On the plus side, he's wearing his green and yellow costume, which was the only time that happened under ToyBiz's watch. His striped cape is softgoods, which is good, since he's sculpted to be posed in a rather extreme manner: leaning forward, with all his weight on his left leg and his right foot lifting off the ground. The cape connects unobtrusively to the figure's ribs, wrists and knees - rather than big clips or clamps, there are small, easily overlooked buttons keeping it secure. They also remembered to sculpt the collar on his shirt, so suck on that, Hasbro!

Like all but the first Banshee, this toy's face is sculpted mid-yell. His chin is down, his mouth is open and, unique to this one, his hair is being blown back by an unseen (or unheard) wind. Honestly, it looks pretty good on him - the only real drawback to this particular release is the heavy amount of pre-posing, not the actual work put into it.

And finally we come to Thunderbird, the Zeppo of the all-new, all-different X-Men. Since the writers already knew that Banshee and Sunfire wouldn't be sticking with the new team, they felt it was silly for only pre-existing characters to wash out, so they created Thunderbird specifically to be a failure as an X-Man. But then they decided that they liked his costume too much to write him off that fast, so he managed to stick around. For a little while.

Unfortunately, that costume isn't depicted very well here. The figure has slightly cartoony proportions, with a chest twice as wide as its waist, but despite the larger canvas, the winged symbol on his chest is painted very small and very low. Bonus points for making the fringe on his arms and boots look like it's rippling as he moves.

Thunderbird gets no special articulation. Again, why do these figures that have big bracelets that would be perfect for hiding joints not get them? It's so weird. John Proudstar has two eagle feathers sticking up from his headband, and wears a red mask with white eyes (unlike Storm, those aren't a natural color, just part of the mask).

The All-New, All-Different X-Men box set is a mixed bag, offering ToyBiz's best versions of several of these characters, but each of them with weird flaws that keep them from being truly great, even by the standards of the time. You have to admire the restraint of not including a Wolverine in the set, though: ToyBiz's reasoning was that there were already enough of him, and that you could choose whichever one you wanted yourself.

-- 02/20/17

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