REVIEW: MARVEL UNIVERSE X-MEN 35th ANNIVERSARY SIX-PACK
There was a time several decades ago. A time before there were 300 mutants scattered across a dozen titles, all wearing the "X" somewhere on their uniforms, members of teams named X-Men, X-Force. Excalibur, Ex Post Facto, or whatever. A time before Wolverine was a member of the X-Men, the Avengers, Alpha Flight, and for all I know, the Mickey Mouse Club -- and given who owns Marvel these days I wouldn't discount even that one.
As hard as it may be for some of you to believe, there was a time when Marvel's Merry band of Mutants were NOT at the top of the pecking order in the Marvel Universe. Indeed, the team was created in the early 1960's, on the heels of such teams as Fantastic Four and X-Men, and certainly Stan Lee came up with an innovative idea in creating heroes whose powers and abilities were part of some strange natural mutation, rather than receiving those powers as a result of some unusual mishap or other.
For quite a number of years, the X-Men fared -- reasonably well. The team consisted of Cyclops, Angel, Beast, Iceman, and Marvel Girl, led by the enigmatic, telepathic Professor X, Charles Xavier. They would go up against allies such as Magneto and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, gain allies in the form of Havok and Polaris, and enjoy a decent run with some remarkable artwork by Neal Adams along the way.
But they were never quite the spectacular hit of other characters and teams. The title started to fall by the wayside, engaged in a series of reprints, and was very nearly forgotten. Yes, that's right -- I said the X-Men were nearly forgotten. This would be the early to mid 70's. Even as much attention as I was paying to Marvel at the time, I'd never heard of the X-Men. I didn't encounter them until I picked up the book "Son of Origins of Marvel Comics", which presented their first adventure.
One of the X-Men, the Beast, had gone on to somewhat greater glory. Mutating further into a furry form of his original self, he'd signed up with the Avengers, but most of the other characters were well out of the spotlight.
Finally, it was decided to do something about that. Writer Len Wein teamed with legendary artist Dave Cockrum to create an entirely new team of X-Men. And so, with "Giant-Size X-Men #1", the world was introduced to a brand new gathering of mutants. The rest is publishing history, of course.
Not all of the characters were entirely new. Cyclops and Jean Grey remained with the team. Wolverine had been encountered once before, taking on the Hulk. Sunfire, a Japanese hero, was at best an uneasy ally, and didn't hang around beyond the first adventure. And Banshee had also been seen once before, working the wrong side of the tracks, but finally turned his life around with encouragement from Xavier.
The remaining characters -- Colossus, Thunderbird, Storm, and Nightcrawler, were entirely new. The objective was to create an international team of heroes, and certainly, this succeeded. Cyclops was American, as was Thunderbird. Storm was African. Nightcrawler was German. Wolverine was Canadian. Banshee was Irish. Colossus was Russian. Fortunately, that was about as far as they pushed the "political correctness" buttons. These were still individual characters, and the degree to which they reflected their respective nationalities was reserved mostly to their personalities and occasional accents, especially in the case of Banshee and Nightcrawler.
Their initial adventure, as portrayed in Giant-Size X-Men #1, required that Professor X and Cyclops gather a new team of X-Men to rescue the original team, which had been taken captive by one of the most bizarre mutants of all time -- Krakoa, a mutant island who fed on the energies of other mutants. He/it/whatever was defeated -- literally flung into space.
Following this, the original team of X-Men largely disbanded. The Beast was already a member of the Avengers. Havok and Polaris decided they'd had enough of superheroics and went into temporary retirement. So did Jean Grey, but she came back soon enough to kick-start what would become the Phoenix Saga. Angel and Iceman would go off and become part of a couple of other super-teams for a while, including the Champions and the Defenders. Eventually, all would return.
I greatly enjoyed these characters and their adventures. I do feel that in recent years, there have just been too many mutants. Unless you pay attention to virtually everything, it's next to impossible to keep track of it all. But in the mid-70's -- no problem. Heck, the title was bi-monthly for a while -- which made cliffhangers really annoying.
While I don't regard myself as a major collector of the Marvel Universe action figures, due in some part to my present feelings towards the comics and having nothing really to do with the figures themselves, which I have no complaints about as a series, when I discovered this excellent set of X-Men figures, representing Giant Size X-Men #1, at Toys "R" Us, I knew I had to have them.
Here were the X-Men from when I first really started reading. Before the stories got too complicated, and frankly too over-populated. To try to do a comprehensive X-Men boxed set representing all that has happened since would require a box that could accommodate several large kitchen appliances and a good-sized pickup truck to get it home. A set of six? I can handle that.
Let's consider the characters and their figures individually.
CYCLOPS - Scott Summers is often regarded as the first X-Man, and he is also frequently the leader of the team. He was originally referred to as "Slim", but by X-Men #3, it was revealed that his real name was Scott, and "Slim" just a nickname, which gradually fell into disuse.
Given the longevity of the X-Men characters, it's not surprising that there have been a number of retcons to the origins of a number of them. Here is Cyclops', as best as can be presented.
When Scott was a boy growing up in Anchorage, Alaska, his father, USAF Major Christopher Summers, took the family, which also included his mother as well as his brother Alex, who would later become Havok, for a flight in their De Havilland Mosquito. It came under attack by an alien Shi'ar spacecraft. As the plane went down in flames, Scott's parents fastened him and Alex into the only remaining parachute and pushed them out of the plane, hoping they would survive. The parachute caught fire, but the two boys nevertheless survived the fall.
The early accounts of Scott's origin and his limited control over his mutant power -- firing highly powerful red beams of force from his eyes, which must be controlled by either a visor or blocked by ruby quartz sunglasses -- are attributed to the fact that he struck his head upon landing, causing slight brain damage, and as such his inability to control his power. Unlike most mutants, Cyclops' power is always "on". He can't turn it on and off.
More recently, the head injury account has been retconned as being due to a self-imposed mental block he made as a child to deal with the traumatic events of his life. Through counseling, he was briefly able to bypass his own mental block and temporarily control his powers.
For a time Scott had prolonged amnesia about much of his childhood. Parts of his memory returned at one point, following the initial death of Jean Grey at the end of the Phoenix Saga. Scott spent most of his childhood in an orphanage in Omaha, Nebraska, and was subjected to batteries of tests and experiments by the orphanage's owner, Mr. Milbury, who was in fact the mutant geneticist and future X-Men adversary Mister Sinister, who also placed mental blocks on Scott.
When Scott was sixteen, he ran away from the orphanage, and while wandering the streets was found and taken in by Charles Xavier. Following an incident which unleashed his optic blasts, which Professor Xavier caused the witnesses to forget, Xavier then asked Scott to join and lead his new team of mutant heroes, the X-Men. Scott gladly accepts, and became the team's first official member. He has since served with the team almost constantly, often as its leader, and has even been Headmaster of Xavier's School.
A far lengthier history can be found online at Wikipedia, where I garnered much of the historical information for all of these characters.
As to a more extensive description of his powers and abilities, Cyclops has the power to emit beams of energy from his eyes described as an "optic blast". The means have the appearance of red light, but they do not give off any heat, instead delivering concussive force. The beams are tremendously powerful and can be used to rupture steel plate and pulvereize rock.
In addition to varying the beam width, height, and intensity, Cyclops has demonstrated a high degree of skill and accuracy in manipulating his optic blast. Additionally, he has an intuitive sense of spatial geometry between objects, and can bounce the mean off many different reflective surfaces in rapid succession. The effective range of his optic beam is approximately 2000 feet.
Cyclops' force beams were measured at maximum by Iron Man to be almost 2 Gigawatts. He was once able to knock Thor's hammer from his hand. He has also revealed that he has never willingly used more than a small fraction of his full power due to his anxiety regarding his inability to control his power.
Cyclops is also an expert pilot, a master strategist and tactician, and an excellent martial artist.
So, how's the figure? Really very nicely done. Admittedly, most of the figures in this set are recolors or repaints of one sort or another, but they're still very effective figures -- and if, like me, you never bought their original releases, then they'll be new to your collection regardless.
Cyclops' uniform at this particular point in time was relatively straightforward super-hero. He wore very dark blue tights, with yellow gloves, trunks, boots, and a red belt with an "X" buckle on his. Most of his head was covered in a cowl, with his lower face showing, and his eyes protected by a gold visor, with a narrow slit across the front, that glowed red as a reflection of his optic blast power. There were controls on the visor that Cyclops could use to control the level of the blast he would fire.
An earlier version of this figure that was available in a comic set accentuated the "comic book" look of it by painting very stark black lines and details on the otherwise dark blue uniform. Honestly, it was a little excessive in this respect. The Cyclops figure in the six-pack is more moderate in this regard. The uniform is molded from dark blue plastic, but the black detailing has been either sprayed or "washed" on more agreeably, without going out of its way to look comic-bookish.
Cyclops' gloves are straightforward enough, and his right hand is molded with two fingers extended, which he uses to control his visor. The figure isn't quite capable of touching the side of his head, but he can come close.
The boots have folded over cuffs, like Captain America's, and for all I know might have been taken from a Cap figure at some point. Like many action figure lines these days, the Marvel Universe line does reuse molds here and there when appropriate and possible. I can't blame them for that, and if it lends a somewhat greater level of consistency to the line, I'm all in favor of it.
Physically, Cyclops has an average muscular build and height. He's clearly been eating better and working out more since he had the nickname of "Slim". The figure stands about 4-1/4" in height, and has an excellent range of articulation, including the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, legs, double-jointed knees, and ankles. Thanks to much of the uniform being as dark as it is, some of the more blatant articulation areas such as the mid-torso and double-knees are somewhat concealed.
Paintwork is excellent. It's not easy to paint a light color over dark, but the gloves and boots come across very well, as does the flesh tone on his face. The metallic gold of the visor could be a little neater, but it's still well done. Overall, this is really an excellent figure of Cyclops.
WOLVERINE - Right -- like I'm going to relate all of HIS life's story here. Does it surprise anyone that his online file was nearly twice as long as anyone else's? The man's been an X-Men, an Avenger, and for all I know part of Howard the Duck's presidential campaign. And that doesn't include his solo adventures.
Call him Wolverine, call him Logan call him James Howlett -- just do so politely, because the man has something of a temper and a set of six long claws made out of the hardest substance known to the Marvel Universe -- Adamantium.
For decades, his origin remained a very deliberate mystery. Finally, though, a mini-series was published entitled "Origin", and his backstory finally came to light. Wolverine was born James Howlett in the late 19th century in Alberta, Canada, to rich farm owners. A somewhat sickly youth, his only friends were a young girl named Rose, and the son of one of the farm's workers, whose name was Logan, and was nicknamed "Dog".
After an incident which resulted in the revelation of one of Howlett's mutations -- his claws -- Howlett fled the farm and grew to manhood in a mining colony in Northern British Columbia, adopting the name "Logan". He left the colony for a time, living in the wilderness among wolves, before returning to civilization, residing with the Blackfoot Indians.
Later, he would join the Canadian military during World War I, and then spend time in the nation of Madripoor, and later would settle in Japan.
During World War II, Logan teamed up with Captain America, and would continue a career as a soldier-of-fortune and adventurer. He served with the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion during D-Day, and the CIA, before being recruited by a black ops unit known as Team X.
As a member of Team X, Logan was given false memory implants. He continues on the team, until he is able to break free of the mental control and joins the Canadian Defense Ministry. Logan is subsequently kidnapped by the Weapon X program, where he remains captive and experimented on. It is during this imprisonment by Weapon X that he has unbreakable adamantium forcibly fused onto his bones, including his claws. Only Logan's mutant healing factor is deemed strong enough to enable him to survive the procedure.
Logan escapes, and is eventually discovered by James and Heather Hudson, who help him recover his humanity. Following his recovery, Logan, now under the supervision of Department H, once again works as an intelligence operative for the Canadian government. Logan becomes Wolverine, one of Canada's first superheroes. In his first mission, he is dispatched to stop the destruction caused by a brawl between Hulk and the Wendigo.
Later, Professor Xavier recruits Wolverine onto his new team of X-Men. Disillusioned with his Canadian intelligence work and intrigued by Xavier's offer, although hardly a "team player" in the traditional sense, Logan resigns from Department H and joins the X-Men.
And the rest is history -- a whole lot of it. As to his powers and abilities, Wolverine is a mutant with a number of both natural and artificial improvements to his physiology. His primary mutant power is a highly accelerated healing factor, that regenerates damaged or destroyed tissues in his body in a fraction of the time of an ordinary human. This power facilitated the artificial improvements he was subjected to, in which his skeleton was reinforces with adamantium. It has also drastically slowed his aging process, which is why he can be well on the high side of a hundred and not look it.
Wolverine's healing factor also affects a number of his physical attributes by increasing them to superhuman levels. His stamina is sufficiently heightened that he can exert himself for numerous hours. His agility and reflexes are also enhanced to levels that are beyond the physical limits of human ability.
Wolverine's senses of sight, smell, and hearing are all superhumanly acute. He can see with perfect clarity at greater distances than an ordinary human, even in near-total darkness. His hearing is enhanced in a similar manner, allowing him to both hear sounds ordinary humans cannot and also hear to a greater distances. Wolverine is able to use his sense of smell to track targets by scent, even if the scent has been eroded somewhat over time by natural factors.
The retractable claws, three on each arm, emerge from the backs of his hands, and are razor sharp and can cut through just about anything. He is a highly skilled martial artist and close-quarters combatant, a trained pilot, expert with a wide variety of weapons, and despite a nasty temper, he maintains a personal code of honor and is highly intelligent. Due to his increased lifespan and extensive global travels, he has amassed extensive knowledge of foreign languages and cultures, and is fluent in English, Japanese, Russian, Chinese, and other languages.
So, how's the figure? Well, it's one of the more obvious reissues in the set, as it has the rather quirky not-quite ball-and-socket upper leg design. More recent Marvel Universe figures have adopted a design that's somewhat closer to G.I. Joe figures -- and frankly works better.
That aside, the figure is excellent, and certainly looks like Wolverine. It may be a little on the short side. Wolverine is not a tall individual, but standing 3-3/4" relative to Cyclops' 4-1/4", assuming Cyclops to be a man of average, standard height, might be a bit much. Then again, a couple of the other figures in this set are a bit exaggerated in the other direction, so I'll let that slide.
Wolverine wears a mostly yellow costume, with bare arms, blue shoulder pieces, trunks, gloves, and boots, a red belt, and a yellow cowl that has two large black flares that run from the front of the head over the sides in a very upswept pattern. Interestingly enough, this was not how Wolverine was first portrayed in his appearance in the Hulk's title, but when the artwork came down for the cover to Giant-Size X-Men #1, the artist goofed and made these details larger, and Dave Cockrum decided he liked it and went with it. I think this was a wise decision in the long run. It's certainly become iconic.
The lower portion of Wolverine's face is visible, and appropriately has the figure looking -- a bit peeved. Wolverine is a stocky and muscular individual, and the physique of the figure certainly reflects this. The torso of his costume has two black stripes that run over the shoulders, and three on each side. These are present and accounted for, as are black stripes on the boots that taper upwards into flares that in their own way are not dissimilar to the mask.
Of course, Wolverine's claws are present and accounted for, grouped together and painted silver, and molded from flexible plastic.
Naturally, the figure is well articulated, poseable at the head, arms, elbows (including a swivel), wrists, mid-torso, legs, knees, and ankles. The paint work is excellent, and neatly done. And that can't be easy for tiny little details like the whites of his eyes set against that black mask.
NIGHTCRAWLER - Here's a personal favorite of mine. And a little bit of trivia. He was originally designed by Dave Cockrum to be used as a member of DC Comics' Legion of Super-Heroes, but DC felt the character was just too strange looking. Their loss and the X-Men's gain.
Nightcrawler has always been a favorite of mine. He just looks so bizarre and yet is such a decent guy personality-wise that you can't help but like him. He's one of very few mutants whose visible mutations were present from birth. In the Marvel Universe, most such abilities do not manifest until adolescence.
The physical characteristics that Kurt Wagner was born with did not include his ability of self-teleportation, however. That would come later. As to his background, a gypsy queen and sorceress named Margali Szardos allegedly found Wagner an hour after his birth, in a small roadside shelter in the Bavarian Alps. It was later revealed that Wagner's birth mother was Mystique, a mutant terrorist, also known as Raven Darkholme. Mystique revealed that she abandoned Kurt after a large mob found out about his existence and his frightening appearance.
Margali took the baby to the small Bavarian circus where she worked as a fortune teller. He was never legally adopted by anyone, but was raised by all the members of the circus, who had no prejudices against mutants. Wagner grew up happily in the circus. Long before his teleportation power emerged, Wagner had tremendous natural agility, and by his adolescence had become the circus' star acrobat and aerial artist. Circus audiences assumed that his alarming appearance was due to a costume.
Years later, the Texas millionaire Arnos Jardine bought the circus where Wagner worked and lived, intending to move its best acts into his American circus. However, he demanded that Wagner be placed in the circus' freak show. Appalled, Wagner left and made his way toward Winzeldorf, Germany.
The villagers of Winzeldorf, who assumed from Kurt's appearance that he was some sort of demon, discovered Wagner, and they were about to kill him, literally with the old pitchforks and torches bit, when they were telepathically paralyzed by Professor Xavier. Wagner rather readily agreed to join the X-Men, and the two left as quickly as possible.
Since then, Nightcrawler has served with both the X-Men and Excalibur. Unfortunately, he was killed in the comics a while back, when the mutant hunter known as Bastion detects Nightcrawler's powers activating, and extends his arm into the space where Nightcrawler will materialize, effectively impaling him
As to his powers and abilities, Nightcrawler is a mutant whose primary mutant power is the ability to teleport himself, his clothing, and a limited amount of additional mass from one point to another virtually instantaneously. He does this by means of displacing himself through an alternate dimension briefly and reappearing in the desired location. He has been shown to be able to teleport distances of up to two miles under optimal conditions. There have been extremely rare instances where he has teleported over considerable distance, once teleporting from Las Vegas to San Francisco.
Nightcrawler's teleportation ability is affected by direction. North and south along Earth's "magnetic lines of force" is easier than east-west. Straight up is the most difficult. He possesses a limited unconscious extrasensory "spatial awareness" ability which prevents him from teleporting into solid objects within his immediate vicinity, but this ability diminishes the greater the distance he teleports, and he prefers to have a good familiarity of areas he is teleporting into. His power automatically displaces liquids or gases when he "arrives".
The process of teleportation places a strain on his strength and endurance, and that of any passengers. He can usually only take one passenger, preferably someone smaller than himself. His teleportation ability causes a distinctive "bamf" sound, and is accompanied by a brief cloud of sulphuric-smelling smoke. This is a small portion of the atmosphere of the dimension he travels through when he teleports. The "bamf" noise is the sound of air rushing to fill the space he has just occupied.
In addition to his teleportation abilities, Nightcrawler's physiology is unique in a number of different ways. He has superhuman agility, and his bone structure allows him great flexibility. Nightcrawler's agility, balance, bodily coordination, dexterity and flexibility are all enhanced to superhuman levels. He has the ability to cling to surfaces with his hands and feet, not unlike Spider-Man.
Physically, he is just as unusual. His skin is covered with a fine, dark blue, velvety fur. He has fangs, pointed ears, glowing yellow eyes, two large fingers and a thumb on each hand. Two large toes on his feet and a thumb-like toe emerging from his heel, and a long, prehensile tail.
So, how's the figure? Really very nicely done. There has been a Nightcrawler figure available in one of the comic-based Marvel Universe packs, but it is still a relatively new figure, if the 2011 copyright date is anything to go by. One thing I am pleased about. A number of Nightcrawker figures in the past have sculpted him with an open mouth to show off his fangs. These are such a minimal part of his character that I've always thought it was a bit much. Fortunately, this version keeps his mouth shut, although the face has a rather sour expression.
Nightcrawler is dressed in his most iconic costume, which is a largely black outfit, with red flared shoulders tapering down over the torso and back, down to the center between the legs. He has white gloves and boots, with ornamental red trim at the cuffs of the boots and gloves.
The figure uses a distinctive set of molds, and while he's the same height as Cyclops, he is distinctly thinner, possible a little too thin. I don't recall Nightcrawler being this skinny.
Of course, the figure is well articulated, and is poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, legs, knees, ankles -- and tail! The tail has no articulation of its own except at the base, however, it is molded from a very flexible plastic.
Nightcrawler's hands and feet are obviously very interesting, and extremely well designed, keeping the fingers and toes decidedly deparate.
Any complaints? Just two -- the separation between the upper torso and abdomen is a bit excessive. Maybe it was just the assembly of this particular figure, but it's a very distinct separation, and really doesn't look that good. Secondly, I can see doing a black "paint wash" over the face, to enhance the shadowy look of Nightcrawler's visage and make it look more like the comic book. But putting a black wash over the red parts of his uniform!? That makes no sense, and the result has it looking like he hasn't washed his costume in a month.
This aside, it's an excellent figure of this cool character, and I'm pleased to have him. It should be noted that there's a Disney Store exclusive version of this set (wondered how long it would be before we'd get Marvel exclusives at Disney Stores) where Nightcrawler is sort of "half-bamfed" -- with portions of his body molded in a transparent purple. Personally, I prefer the all-solid version.
STORM - Ororo Munroe was another character first introduced in the pages of Giant-Size X-Men #1. Since her debut, she's been a member of the Fantastic Four, married the Black Panther, and changed her look quite a number of times, some less favorably than others. Fortunately, this figure presents her original, most classic look.
Ororo's mother, N'Dare, was the princess of a tribe in Kenya, and the descendant of a long line of African priestesses with white hair and blue eyes. N'Dare falls n love with and marries American photojournalist David Munroe. They move to Harlem in New York City, where she becomes pregnant with and gives birth to Ororo, and then the family moves to Egypt during the Suez Crisis, where they are killed in a botch air attack, leaving the six-year-old Ororo as an orphan.
She becomes a street orphan, and is taken in by the benign street thief Achmed el-Gibar. During her time as a child thief in Cairo, she encounters Charles Xavier. She picks his pocket, and he telepathically stops her. Sensing the potential for considerable power in the girl, he attempts a greater telepathic probe, but is psionically assaulted by the Shadow King. Ororo escapes, and Xavier has other things to worry about just then.
During her adolescence, Ororo feels drawn to the Serengeti, and wanders through the region before discovering her ancestral tribe. By now, her ability to control the weather has begun to manifest, and she is worshiped as a goddess before being recruited by Professor Xavier for the X-Men.
Over the course of her adventures, Ororo is seen as a serene, independent young woman, pleasant company but having some trouble adjusting to Western culture. She becomes a surrogate mother to Kitty Pryde when she later joins the team.
Storm's most drastic alteration came in the early 1980's, when writer Chris Claremont and artist Paul Smith created a new look for the character, dressing her in a black leather top and pants, and giving her a white mohawk. Paul Smith would later regret the change, claiming that it was "a bad joke gone too far." Unfortunately, the character would be saddled with this ridiculous image for several years.
Since then, she has served as team leader, and married the Black Panther. A far more extensive biography can be found online.
Storm has the considerable mutant ability to control the weather, encompassing vast areas. She has been able to control both Earthly and extraterrestrial ecosystems on several occasions. She can control the temperature of an environment, control all forms of precipitation, humidity, and moisture, generate lightning and other electromagnetic atmospheric effects, as well as generate tornadoes, thunderstorms, blizzards, hurricanes, and even subtle forms of weather such as mist and fog. She can also dissipate such naturally-occurring weather to form clear sunny skies.
Through her control of weather, she is able to fly. Her abilities range from the molecular to the global, and she is regarded as one of the most powerful mutants on Earth.
So, how's the figure? Well, thank goodness it's an original. The only other Storm figure in the Marvel Universe line was one of her leather-punk-mohawk version, which was part of a comics-based set derived from the Secret Wars storyline, which took place during the time she had that particular look. This figure is the classic Storm.
Many of the details are painted on, and as such I believe that the figure uses a set of common body molds that are used for a number of female characters is the Marvel Universe line. But, what the heck, it works.
The head and some of the other details are certainly unique to this figure. Storm has fairly long, white hair, that probably could have been molded from a more flexible plastic, but she's able to turn her head somewhat. She has her distinctive headpiece, which was clearly molded as a separate piece. Bit of trivia here -- there's a set of lockpicks on the reverse side of it, a holdover from her days as a thief. The facial details are well sculpted and neatly painted. She definitely has a classic regal look about her.
Her costume amounts, really, to a black, two-piece swimsuit, with a gold band holding it together in the center. She also wears high black boots. Storm's costume is completed by a huge, curved cape, that billows out when she flies, assisting her in staying aloft. It's attached at her collar and wristbands. It's been superbly sculpted here, and really helps to complete the overall look of the character. The cape is black, with yellow trim around the perimeter.
But -- there's a couple of problems. The trim isn't especially neatly painted. Clearly it was painted by hand. Painted yellow onto black is tricky enough on a mass production toy without having to do it by hand like this. And on my particular figure, someone was a little sloppy. There's a yellow streak on the back of the cape that shouldn't be there.
There's also a mild structural issue. The cape isn't particularly flexible. It's somewhat so, but not as much as it should be. And given the wristband connections, the arms are pretty much paralyzed. In all honesty, given the lack of flexibility of the cape, and the impact it has on the arms, I would be somewhat inclined to recommend that, if your Storm figure is intended for play as well as display, that you cut the cape off at the wristbands, leaving the wristbands intact. You'll have to do a bit of touch-up, but at least Storm will be able to move her arms.
I otherwise have no complaints whatsoever. This is really a superb-looking figure of Storm, an excellent likeness of the character, arguably the most distinctive figure in the set, and certainly preferable to the punk princess from the comic set.
COLOSSUS -- the big Russian member of the X-Men, and another personal favorite of mine. I'm surprised that, in the mid-1970's, there wasn't more of a ruckus about portraying a Russian as one of the good guys.
Colossus' real name is Piotr Nikolaievitch Rasputin, which is why I'll be calling him Colossus throughout this review. He was born on a Soviet collective farm in the Ust-Ordynski Collective near Lake Baikal in Siberia. As with most mutants, Piotr's ability to transform himself into a body of "organic steel" manifested itself in adolescence, but he was content to simply use these powers to aid the other people of his farm collective, who never gave him much trouble over it.
However, he was eventually contacted by Professor Xavier, who persuaded him that he needed to use his powers in service to all the people of the world. He agreed to leave the farm community in which he was born and join the X-Men, taking the name "Colossus".
Colossus is typically portrayed as being peaceful, gentle, selfless, reluctant to hurt or kill anyone, and always willing to put himself in danger to protect others. Colossus has the ability to transform his entire body into a form of "organic steel", although its precise composition remains unknown. Colossus cannot transform only a portion of his body -- it's an all-or-nothing deal.
When he transforms, he gains around a foot in height and his weight is at least doubled. In his armored form, Colossus possesses superhuman levels of strength, as well as stamina and durability. Also, in his metal form, he has proven to be immune to telepathic attacks. When in his armored form, Colossus requires no food, water, or even oxygen to sustain himself, and is extremely resistant to injury. He is capable of withstanding great impacts, large caliber bullets, falling from tremendous heights, temperature extremes of heat and cold, as well as electricity. He was once burned at the stake in the Savage Land, and all he did was turn red hot.
As he was largely untrained and not especially well educated when he first joined the X-Men, Colossus has since become a superb hand to hand combatant, receiving training in this from Cyclops and Wolverine, and has had training in acrobatics and sword-fighting from Nightcrawler, who is an expert at fencing. In his human form, he is exceptionally strong and fit, but not superhumanly so. He has completed college-level courses at Xavier's school, and has shown himself to be an accomplished painter.
So, how's the figure? Really spectacular. This is one of the standout figures of the set, in my opinion. Colossus has been available on a single card, but I only ever saw it once, and had to pass on it at that time. Given my purchase of this set, I'm just as glad I did. The individual figure has proven to be very popular and not easily found. I'm sure that one I saw found a good home.
The figure is huge, standing 4-3/4" in height, and with a massive and muscular build. The headsculpt is an excellent likeness of the character, if perhaps a little too grim in facial expression. I could have also done without the rather comic-bookish silver highlights in his "hair".
Colossus' body, in its armored form, is not smooth, but rather heavily ridged, and this has been superbly sculpted on the figure. Colossus has been painted silver and given a slight light blue "overwash" to bring out the highlights, and for a change, this sort of detailing actually worked well. The hands are especially impressive, particularly the left one, with its extended fingers.
Colossus' costume features a red and yellow section that covers much of his front and back, but is open on the sides. Red trunks with a heavy red and yellow belt with an "X" buckle, red wristbands, and high red boots with yellow flares and a bit of black line decoration on them. Colossus has had a number of costume designs over the years, but this is the one he started with, and it looks excellent.
The figure has large enough feet and is solidly built enough at that he stands very well. I do tend to feel that some of the Marvel Universe figures feel just a little flimsy at times. I'm not saying they're not made well. Certainly they are. But they're more slender than most 3-3/4" scale figures, such as G.I. Joe or Star Wars, simply because of their nature -- they're superheroes dressed in tights -- not military uniforms or Stormtrooper armor or Jedi robes or whatever. So it's sort of a comparative thing.
"Flimsy" is not a word one would use on Colossus. He's very solid, and his articulation works well into the ridged metal design of his body. Colossus is fully articulated at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, legs, knees, and ankles. Really, he's an outstanding figure.
THUNDERBIRD - Here, to me, is sort of the odd man of the set. Yes, he was on the cover of Giant-Size X-Men #1. He also got himself killed two issues later. When the X-Men title resumed with issue #94, in a two-part adventure against Count Nefaria, Thunderbird, disobeying orders, jumped onto the plane Nefaria was using to escape, and tried to bring it down with his bare hands. The plane exploded, and Thunderbird was dead. It was seen as a way to bring some additional "drama" into the X-Men or something. They'd never lost one of their own before.
Granted, since then, so many mutants have died and come back that the funeral home closest to the Xavier School has started putting revolving lids on its caskets...
Thunderbird's quick demise wasn't really seen as a slap against Native Americans. It's probably he was designed to be killed off as quickly as he was. There wasn't anything all that distinctive about him as far as power and personality were concerned. He was super strong, but so were some of the others. He had a nasty attitude, but so did Wolverine. Thunderbird was almost intentionally superfluous.
So -- how'd he get into this set? Well, technically speaking, he was part of the original lineup. And as for a figure of him -- Thunderbird's younger brother, who would take the name Warpath, came along some years later, and has enjoyed a much longer lifespan. The Thunderbird figure is a moderate recoloration of Warpath. Would that classify as action figure nepotism?
A fair number of details have come up regarding Thunderbird over the years, just in tales told about his past. John Proudstar was born into an Apache tribe on a reservation in Camp Verde, Arizona. As a teenager, Proudstar discovered he possessed the mutant abilities of superhuman senses, strength, speed, stamina, and sturdiness.
Proudstar was drafted into the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War and earned the rank of corporal. He returned to his tribe after the war, but was unhappy and listless, feeling that his tribesmen had lost their way, but having no love for the white man, either.
He was recruited by Professor Xavier to join the X-Men. Although reluctant to join another "white man's crusade", he agreed and took the name Thunderbird. Following the adventure on the mutant island of Krakoa, the headstrong Thunderbird met his demise during the conflict with Nefaria, although, this being the world of comics, he's been "resurrected" briefly here and there, although never for any length of time. His brother James Proudstar continues to carry on in his place.
So, how's the figure? Very nicely done. It's certainly larger than average, perhaps a bit too much so. Since it's based on Warpath, this is bound to be the case. Warpath has been shown to be larger and stronger than his older brother ever was. Thunderbird was not significantly larger than average. Warpath is. The Thunderbird figure stands 4-1/2" in height, and has a powerful, muscular build.
The head has been molded in two parts, the face and the hair. The face is a good likeness, although I believe the mask should have been painted a lighter red. Thunderbird is wearing a red headband with finely detailed white and red feathers in it.
His uniform is mostly very dark blue, and short sleeves, with red fringe around the sleeves, and the tops of the boots. A reasonably traditional thunderbird-like emblem is visible on the chest and back of the costume, tapering down all the way to th boot tops. The boots themselves are dark blue. Thunderbird is also wearing an ornamental gold belt, and gold wristbands.
The figure is very nicely made and well-detailed, and might I add, the red portions do NOT have any black wash painted over them. Would that Nightcrawler had been so fortunate. Of course, the figure is as well articulated as the others, poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, legs, knees, and ankles.
Any overall complaints? Just one. And his name is BANSHEE! Okay, I know that Sunfire was also a member -- even more briefly than Thunderbird. But Sunfire has been available on a single card already. And I also know that, with the exception of Storm, this set of X-Men figures features a lot of repaints, which in some cases haven't even been repainted that much. And I know that there hasn't been a Banshee figure in this yet.
So, what's my final word? This is a great set. It represents a simpler, easier-to-comprehend time for the X-Men, in my opinion a better time, and one certainly worth commemorating. The figures are nicely made and well-detailed. It's a set that any longtime fan of the X-Men, especially those who might be a little frustrated with how convoluted the Mutant side of the Marvel Universe has since become, will certainly appreciate.
The MARVEL UNIVERSE set representing the 35th ANNIVERSARY of GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1, featuring CYCLOPS, WOLVERINE, NIGHTCRAWLER, STORM, COLOSSUS, and THUNDERBIRD definitely has my highest recommendation!