Girl Power! Celebrating women in Action Figures.

Recent controversy has come to light with the release of Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. Yesterday, actor Mark Ruffalo called out Marvel on twitter by saying that he would like to see more Black Widow action figures. Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johansson, has been noticeably less portrayed on Age of Ultron merchandise. This includes her action figures. According to celebrity website Whosay, the Black Widow is in action figure form almost three times less than her male superhero counterparts. I for one am with Mark Ruffalo, and can say that we not only need more Black Widow action figures, but we need more female action figures in general.

Therefore, in honor of female action figures I would like to feature some of the best so far.

One of the first heroines in video games was the awesomely armored Samus Aran. As the star of the NES game Metroid,
she became immensely popular and remains popular today. Unless you wanted to shell out plenty of money for an import action figure, she was basically unavailable as an action figure in the United States. Jakks Pacific, however, recently released a Samus figure as part of their “World of Nintendo” line, which can be found at Target, and Toys’R’US.

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Samus Aran, the Star of the Metroid series, was recently released in 2015. She is 4 inches tall, and is made by Jakks Pacific.

You can also buy her Amiibo as well.

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Samus in Amiibo form.

Lara Croft of Tomb Raider was also a pioneer for feminism in video games. Not only was it cool to explore ancient tombs as a female, the games were actually quite fun to play. The Tomb Raider games were incredibly popular (and still are popular) and paved the way for future female video game heroines.

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Lara Croft with her original game, and the later released anniversary edition.

The first Resident Evil game for the Playstation One featured Jill Valentine as one of the stars. With her trusty bazooka, she blasted her way through the zombies and creatures of the Spencer Mansion. Her likeness in action figure form was made by Toy Biz.

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Jill Valentine, one of the stars of Resident Evil. Made by Toy Biz.

Resident Evil 2, released on the Playstation One, also featured a female star. Claire Redfield, went searching in Raccoon City for her missing brother, Chris Redfield (Jill Valentines Co-star in Resident Evil). Unfortunately, the city was overrun with zombies and Claire also had to blast her way through to escape.

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Claire Redfield, star of Resident Evil 2. She would be featured in later installments in the series as well.

Even G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero had some girl heroines. Lady Jaye was one of the earliest and more popular.

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Lady Jaye, as released in a DVD Battle Pack in 2008.

Females are an essential part of comics, video games, and superhero movies. They deserve recognition in all aspects of the promoting and merchandising world. I applaud Mark Ruffalo for his insistence on more female action figures. Hopefully Marvel (and other companies) will listen and we will see more the heroines in the future.

Sound off in the comments below if you have any other amazing female action figures.

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Toy Biz X-Men Age of Apocalypse

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My complete original Age of Apocalypse comic collection

One of the greatest storylines Marvel ever did with the X-Men was the Age of Apocalypse (AOA). The premise of the AOA was that Professor Xavier’s son, Legion, went back into the past to kill Magneto before he would become the X-Men’s greatest enemy. However, Professor Xavior in an attempt to protect Magneto, was killed instead. This created an alternate reality where the X-Men villain, Apocalypse, would take over most of the planet. In this reality many of the X-men are villains, and many villains are actually heroes. Also, Magneto is the one who leads the X-Men in a quest to defeat Apocalypse and restore the time to the original X-Men reality.

When the Age of Apocalypse came out in the 1990s Toy Biz created some great figures to go along with this storyline.

Of the original Toy biz AOA line there were five character released on single cards

The first I got in my collection was Sabretooth with Wild Child. In the original X-Men reality he is a villain, but in the AOA he is an X-Man.

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Sabretooth and Wild Child

Magneto leader of the X-Men

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Magneto leads the fight against Apocalypse

Wolverine is actually called Weapon X. He was once an X-man, but now he fights for himself and his love Jean Grey.

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Weapon X is lost his left hand in a fight with Cyclops.

Under the leadership of the evil Mr. Sinister, Cyclops is a villain in the Age of Apocalypse.

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Cyclops lost his left eye in a fight with Weapon X.

Last, but not least, is the master villain himself. Apocalypse has taken over most of the world and advocates world domination by the mutant race. Apocalypse is an ancient mutant, with a wide range of incredible mutant abilities, including the ability to control his entire molecular structure to suit his needs. He lives by the creed of “survival of the fittest”.

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The evil Apocalypse, and with him is the master telepath called, the Shadow King.

Besides the original release of the AOA figures, there were also other figures released later on.

One of these is Nate Grey/X-Man. The X-Man story within the Age of Apocalypse is one of my favorites. He is a creation of Mr. Sinister using the DNA of Cyclops and Jean Grey. His counterpart in the original X-Men reality is time travelling Cable. He is also one of the few characters to cross over to the original X-Men reality when the AOA ended. X-Man was released in the late ’90s under the “Most Wanted” series.

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X-Man/Nate Grey

Also released under the most wanted series is Blink. She is a mutant with teleporting abilities.

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Blink, missing all her accessories.

Holocaust/Nemesis was a major villain in the AOA, but he never got the proper treatment by Toy Biz. He was released later in the X-Men Ninja series in 1997 with his new armor. Nemesis was also one of the few characters that crossed over to the original X-Men reality with Nate Grey.

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He was known as Holocaust in the Age of Apocalypse and Nemesis in the original X-Men reality.

Jean Grey was released in 1998 as part of the Secret Weapon Force series.

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Jean Grey, a former X-man, and the love of Weapon X.

Omega Red is a major villain in the original reality of the X-Men. In the AOA, however, he is a minor character called Rossovich, who meets an untimely death at the hands of Domino in the X-Man storyline.

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Rossovich, a minor character in the Age of Apocalypse.

Gambit, one of the most famous characters in the X-Men universe was not released as a single carded figure. Instead he was released in a famous couples two pack with Rogue. They technically weren’t a couple but there was love and tension between them. Ultimately Rogue chose Magneto, and Gambit left the X-Men.

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Gambit, leader of the X-Ternals.

Rogue was included with Gambit in a famous couples two pack.

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Rogue is one of the leaders of the X-Men and is married to Magneto. She chose Magneto over Gambit.

There were a few other figures released under Toy Biz that I don’t have. Nevertheless, the Age of Apocalypse was an awesome storyline with awesome characters released as figures.

If you want to find out more of Toy Biz’s X-Men line check out Raving Toy Maniacs page about it.

All photos taken by me

Vintage Marx Medical Team World War II Plastic Soldiers to the Rescue!

You all know them, you all had them, and most of you blew them up with firecrackers. Yes, I’m talking about plastic army men. These tiny soldiers of our childhood may have sometimes been blown up by young adolescent pyromania, but they were also at one time the core of gigantic backyard battlefields.

When I was kid all the plastic army men I owned were made in China. They were produced in masses and made with cheap inexpensive plastic.  Twenty years later, that’s still how they are made.

For collectors it hasn’t always been that way. In the decades before I was in diapers, there were many plastic army men manufacturers such as Tim-Mee, MPC, and LIDO. These companies manufactured their soldiers in the United States and the quality was excellent.

One of the most popular manufacturers of plastic army men before my time, however, was the Louis Marx Company. Louis Marx Co. manufactured the best plastic soldier molds. The soldiers, vehicles, play-sets and accessories were made of quality plastic. The figures were also highly detailed right on down to their faces. It is because of this high quality and realism that they are still highly sought after today. IMG_5014

One of the best sets Marx ever produced was their Series II American G.I.s. These are commonly referred to as the “Medical” G.I. Set. According to Kent Sprecher’s amazing Toy Soldier’s HQ site, these molds were made from 1963 to 1980.

The most amazing of these molds is the soldier carrying the wounded soldier. It’s actually two separate figures. He is probably the hardest to find of the set today.

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There are also three other wounded figures included in this set. One of these is a wounded soldier meant to lie on a stretcher. The stretcher bearers, the wounded soldier, and the stretcher itself are four separate pieces.

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There is also a soldier being shot and a crawling wounded.

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Look at the surprise on his face. Poor guy.

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He’s either wounded, or upchucking his K-rations.

Besides the wounded, there are also other great soldiers in this set.

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Stop shooting! I have a knife!

One of my favorites is this one with a pistol and an ammo can.

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I’m not sure if I’m carrying more ammo or my lunch box.

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Flamethrower. Good for torching caves, foxholes and t-bone steaks.

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Watch the butt of my gun meet your face.

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Watch out, these things explode!

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Overall the Marx Medical team is one of the most superb plastic soldier sets ever produced. Interestingly enough, most of the medical team in my collection was purchased at a local thrift store. Others were found on eBay, Toy Soldier’s HQ, and other online trades.

That reminds me, if you ever have a chance jump on over the Toy Soldier’s HQ. Not only is the site an excellent source of information, but you can also buy vintage Marx army men! What are you waiting for? Head on over there now and check it out!

All photos are taken by me

Marvel and LEGO Team Up For Avengers: Age of Ultron

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Photo by rmthompson

Unless you are living under a rock or are comatose, you should already know that Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron will open in theaters on May 1. That is just over two weeks away! Many, like myself, can’t wait! LEGO, however, has plenty of set choices to help you get your Avengers fix until then.

The top two are:

76031 The Hulk Buster Smash

It comes with the Hulk Buster suit. What more needs to be said?

76032 The Avengers Quinjet Chase

An awesome set that includes five essential characters, including Vision!

You can see the rest HERE.

G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO

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Dial-Tone (Version 1) (1986)

One of the most successful action figures lines of the 1980s was G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO. Emerging in 1982, G.I. Joe departed from Hasbro’s tradition of doll like military figures. Instead, G.I. Joe became a 3 ¾ inch scale figure line complete with detailed figures, weapons, vehicles and accessories. G.I. Joe was an international Special Forces team that fought against a terrorist organization known as Cobra.  G.I. Joe was a successful toy line in the 1980s, and decades later it still continues to be a popular figure line to collect.

One of the many reasons why G.I. JOE became such a successful toy line was because of the diversity of characters available.

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Snake Eyes Card Art (Version 3) (1989)

The most memorable character from G.I.Joe is Snake Eyes. Snake Eyes is both a ninja and a commando. In Marvel’s G.I. Joe comics (Issue # 144), the original story was that his body and face were badly damaged when a helicopter exploded on a top secret mission. This is why he wears a full body commando suit. Snake Eyes also doesn’t talk in the comics and the television cartoon. His ninja master was murdered, and he had made a vow of silence until the killer was brought to justice.

You can see all 67 different variations of Snake Eyes HERE

Another popular character on the G.I. Joe team is Duke. He was first released as a G.I. Joe figure in 1983. He is trained in many languages and is a Special Forces leader. He commands his teams by winning their respect. Since 1983 there have been 50 versions of Duke created.

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Duke (Version 2) (Tiger Force, 1988)

Arguably the most popular figure of the Cobra Organization is the Alley Viper. Many collectors have dozens of various Alley Vipers in their collection. As of today there are 14 different versions of the Alley Viper. You can see them all HERE.

I’m not so sure if the bright colors would help the Alley Viper in urban combat.

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Alley Viper (Version 1) (1989)

Throughout most of 1980s, almost all of the G.I. Joe figures were in realistic military colors, styles, and weapons. In the ’90s, however, Hasbro started making their G.I. Joe’s in bright and neon colors.

Not sure if anybody in their right mind would go out into combat dressed like these guys.

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Flint (Version 3) (Eco Warriors, 1993)

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Long Arm (Version 1) (1993)

Regardless of the different kinds of G.I. Joe’s out there, if you want to start collecting them there are plenty of resources out there in print and online to help a collector out:

The Ultimate Guide to G.I.JOE 1982-1994 by Mark Bellemo This is also an excellent resource for the 3 3/4 G.I. Joe collector. It has pictures and details of everything G.I. Joe released by Hasbro from 1982 to 1994.

YoJoe YoJoe.com is one of the best online resources for new and old G.I. Joe collectors. It contains a comprehensive list of the figures, vehicles, and playsets.

Hisstank.com Hisstank is an online forum community for G.I. Joe collectors.

All photos taken by me