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Wednesday, December 25, 2019

X-amining X-Men Action Figures: Mutant Genesis & Invasion / X-Force Series VI

Year of Release
1995

Roll Call
X-Men: Mutant Genesis


Sunfire, Cameron Hodge, Senyaka, Wolverine (Fang costume), Maverick, X-Cutioner

X-Men: Invasion


Archangel II, Sabretooth Captive, Iceman II, Wolverine (Battle Ravaged), Eric the Red, Havok, Spiral

X-Force Series VI


Cable (Cyborg), Caliban, Deadpool, Domino, Genesis, Nimrod, The Blob

Firsts and Other Notables
Continuing the "named series" convention begun with the previous wave of figures inspired by the animated "Phoenix Saga", the eight and ninth series of original X-Men figures are presented via named grouping, "Mutant Genesis" and "Invasion" (there was an additional series of repaints/repackages of older figures between "The Phoenix Saga" and "Mutant Genesis").

Both series, of course, contain the requisite Wolverine variations, and the influence of "The Phoenix Saga" can be seen in the Fang Wolverine figure (and Erik the Red's inclusion in "Invasion").

Other than Fang Wolverine (Fangverine?), "Mutant Genesis" features all original figures, whereas "Invasion" features new versions of Archangel, Sabretooth (his third), and Iceman, all of which are beefier, more dynamic versions relative to their original designs

Havok (in his X-Factor gear), the first figure for the character, appears in "Invasion", making him the second of the Peter David X-Factor team to get a figure (after Strong Guy).

The Maverick protoype figure that was created for inclusion in Series IV is finally released as part of "Mutant Genesis".

"Mutant Genesis" unveils a new Wolverine-centric card design, replacing the previous "Phoenix Saga" one.


X-Force Series VI continues the lines efforts to blend of-the-moment characters with a desire to get out the full roster of X-Force, here giving us Domino, one of the line's rare female figures (following on from Storm, Rogue and Phoenix). As of this series, I believe Boomer & Feral (two more female characters) are the only core X-Force members without a figure.

Cable, the Wolverine of X-Force, gets another figure as part of series VI a "cyborg" variation on his blue-gold X-Men-friendly uniform from the previous series which features snap-on skin that can be removed to reveal robotic parts.


Deadpool gets a new figure and, like the re-dos in "Invasion", it is significantly beefier than his previous figure.


The whole of series VI, in fact, feature, pound-for-pound, a ton of plastic, as Blob, Caliban, and Nimrod are all just massive figures.

The inclusion of Blob and Spiral in this batch of figures means we are that much closer to having a full collection of Freedom Force figures.

Thanks to Raving Toy ManiacsFigure Realm, and Cool Toy Review for the pics.

Of Their Time
Many of the looks of the figures in these series are directly inspired by very specific issues/story arcs/era-specific looks. Sabretooth is the most obvious, looking like he was lifted directly out of X-Men #28 and coming with the metal gloves/muzzle restraints, but Iceman is also depicted via his "spiky, blocky" form that JRjr debuted in Uncanny #302 (and his accessories include larger hands that can snapped onto the figure). Caliban, who has joined X-Force at this point in the comics, is rendered in the style of his appearance in Uncanny X-Men Annual #18, complete with the cape he really only ever wore in that issue.

Cameron Hodge, a character who has been around since X-Factor #1 and been a villain since shortly thereafter, gets his first figure thanks to his involvement in "Phalanx Covenant".


Sunfire's figure features his new "cyber" look which debuted in Uncanny X-Men #284, rather than his classic (and better) and sunburst costume.

Senyaka, best known for being inexplicably killed by Magneto than being randomly resurrected for an issue of Cable, wins the award for "most 90s character" in this batch, though he has some strong competition.

For example, Cable's son Tyler appears in his newly-styled Genesis guise, complete with a diminutive Spyne accessory (who, in the comics, was regularly sized).

The only figure of Nimrod made to date comes in the form of its done-in-one appearance from X-Force #35-36.


Favorite Figures
Sabretooth


While not the most classic of looks for the character, there's a ton of personality imbued in the figure with decent action features (the figure's arms slash out and its mouth opens when the legs are squeezed together) and dynamic articulation.

Iceman


Another "jumps off the page!' updated look for a character, with the snap on ice hands adding a new layer of playability.

Havok


A near pitch-perfect recreation of the character's comic look, with a non-intrusive action feature (his spring-loaded arm can "hurl" an energy blast).

Blob


I'm a sucker for the "big hunk of plastic" figures, and kudos to the designers for just going there with Blob, the character who most deserves that treatment.

Austin's Analysis
"Mutant Genesis" is a dud of a line: it technically contains two X-Men (in Sunfire and Wolverine), but neither are wearing their classic (or interesting) looks, and while it's kind of neat someone like Hodge got a figure on the back of his connection to the Phalanx, I doubt anyone was exactly clamoring for a Cameron Hodge figure (now, give me Hodge in his "X-Tinction Agenda" robot spider snake body, and I am there!). But "Invasion" more than makes up for it, with some classic comics-inspired updates, an all-time great Havok figure and one of those "never would have imagined" figures in Erik the Red (At this point in time, Erik the Red has more action figures than, say, Psylocke). 

The X-Force wave, meanwhile, continues that line's consistent showing. The only real dud of the bunch is Genesis, but Toy Biz can't really be faulted for including a character who certainly seemed poised to be a big deal (for Cable, at least) at the time. It's a shame Nimrod comes via its brief and largely-forgotten 90s redesign, and the figure certainly lacks articulation, but it's also an impressively large figure for the price (as is Blob and the more-articulated Caliban). All in all, the X-Force line continues to be surprisingly well-balanced, with each wave rolling out additional members of the core team alongside very 90s hits and more classic villains, a strange role for the action figure line based on that most 90s of X-books.

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4 comments:

  1. I believe Maverick was released just before this with a silver/brown deco (more comic accurate?) in two-pack with Trevor Fitzroy (who had gold instead of yellow paint) and came with a "Steel Mutants" mini figure. I was not willing to acquire another Fitzroy figure so this release was the one I bought.

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  2. "I believe Boomer & Feral (two more female characters) are the only core X-Force members without a figure."

    Did Siryn get a figure?

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  3. Let's see... I had Sunfire, Fang Wolverine, blue Maverick, X-Cutioner, Archangel, Iceman, Eric the Red, Havok, Spiral, Blob, Caliban, Deadpool Domino, and Nimrod.

    I think of those, Archangel and Eric the Red were my favorites. Archangel because he was such a vast, insane improvement over the original skinny one, and Eric because I was a huge fan of both the "Phoenix Saga" episodes and the Claremont/Cockrum run. Also, Eric had no stupid action feature. He was just a nicely articulated figure with an accessory (though I've always been puzzled by his lack of knee articulation since it was standard across the line at this time).

    In fact, I have a distinte memory of how elated I was to discover the Eric figure existed. I got one of the others and saw him on the cardback, and started calling around to local Targets and TRUs to see if he was in stock anywhere. I found him and got him same-day. To this day he remains one of my all-time favorite Marvel action figures, even compared with Marvel Legends and other high-end stuff (though I'd love to see Eric get a Legends figure someday).

    I had forgotten until just now, but Scott Lobdell wrote a column about the Senyaka figure in an issue of TOYFARE, where he talked about he and Fabian Nizieza had a game of one-upsmanship with the Acolytes, as they each tried to create weirder and weirder characters for the group. Lobdell felt he won the game since one of his Acolytes was memorialized in plastic. (Lobdell also constantly referred to him as "Senyaka from Sri Lanka" throughout the column.)

    I'd also forgotten until today that a friend of mine kept Blob, holding his turkey leg, attached to his dashboard 24/7 when we were in college.

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  4. Hi everyone. Actually Feral eventually got her own figure. I bought it on eBay some months ago. I think it was some sort of Toyfare exclusive. It comes with her first costume (the one she wore on her first appearance).

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