- The Washington Times - Friday, July 2, 2004

Thanks to the proliferation of film, comic-book and cartoon characters, companies are bombarding consumers with an incredible selection of action figures. With tongue in cheek, let’s take a peek at some of the specimens worthy of a place in Zad’s Toy Vault.

Action Sound Robin

The home of Power Rangers toys, Bandai, teams up with Warner Bros. and the Cartoon Network to present an eclectic line of Teen Titan action figures and transforming play sets.

Based on the hugely popular animated superhero show, which features legends from the DC Comics universe presented in a wildly animated Japanese style, Bandai’s products include 3½-inch Battling Machines featuring the five main characters; the 5-inch transforming vehicle; and articulated figures of the Shape Shifting Beast Boy, Action Sound Cyborg and Batman’s protege, who heads a band of heroes.

Figure profile: Formerly known as the Boy Wonder, Robin has moved beyond sidekick status to become the gung-ho leader of the Teen Titans. With no superpowers of his own, Robin relies on his daring, his intellect and a fully loaded utility belt to carry him through the challenges he and his team face. Robin also is highly skilled in the martial arts. He makes quick decisions and barks orders when the going gets tough, but he still treats the team members like his best friends.

Accessories: The Boy Wonder comes with two types of “birdarangs,” an official Titans communicator and an electronic cape that allows him to scream, “Titans, go.”

Price: $8.99

Read all about it: DC Comics offers a monthly book based on the Cartoon Network’s show, intelligently titled Teen Titans Go! ($2.25 each), which will perfectly introduce Junior to the fun of reading sequential art.

Words to buy by: This small, hands-friendly line definitely will allow Junior to immerse himself in one of the best cartoons on the air to date. Look for the Titans Launch Tower play set ($29.99) in late summer to add as a perfect complement to the 3½-inch-figure line.

Hush: Poison Ivy

DC Comics’ ancillary collectibles company, DC Direct, pays tribute to artist Jim Lee’s interpretation of the Dark Knight’s universe with a 6-inch line of action figures. The first wave to hit specialty stores features Batman, Huntress, the Joker, Hush and a femme fatale with a deadly green thumb.

Figure profile: The seeds of Pamela Lillian Isley’s madness were sown under the tutelage of Jason Woodrue, aka the Floronic Man. In an involuntary experiment in plant-animal hybridization, Woodrue transformed Isley into a beautiful creature whose veins pumped toxins while her skin exuded pheromones that literally drove men wild. To support her own botanical whims and extravagant lifestyle, Isley began a life of crime, gravitating to Gotham City and cultivating an obsession with the Batman.

Accessories: The red-haired, green-skinned beauty comes with a soft plastic strand of ivy and a 1960s-looking Batman pedestal.

Price: $14.99

Read all about it: The now-famous Hush story line encompassed issues Nos. 608 to 619 of the Batman comic book and used the talents of writer Jeph Loeb and the illustrations of Jim Lee. Forget trying to buy the single issues and concentrate on hunting down the pair of hard-bound compilations (two volumes, $19.95 each) that recapture the sequential-art magic.

Words to buy by: A perfect three-dimensional reproduction of Poison Ivy offers only limited articulation and would be best served as a piece simply to admire on a desktop or in a display case. Look for a second series of Hush figures this October.

Strange but cool

A short look at products associated with “Spider-Man 2.”

Spider-Man 2 Character Maker (Crayola, $24.99). The famous crayon maker gives youngsters 8 and older the ability to create their own multicolored statues of Spider-Man and Dr. Octopus using its coloring wax.

Artists simply break up pieces of Crayola crayons into a metal tray, close the lid, set the timer, let the crayons melt and easily pour them into one of four molds. Then they wait for the mold to cool and pull it apart to display a 3-inch sculpture.

Now for the reality of the situation: The heat source is not included, so parents need to make sure they find a 60-watt candelabra bulb before opening the box in front of the children.

Next, children and parents will need to exhibit extreme patience during the creation process. Twenty minutes will be needed just to get the melted wax into the mold, and I would suggest a bit of refrigeration once the mold is cooling, to prevent it from cracking. In my first five attempts, only one statue came up without falling apart.

Spider-Man’s Train Rescue (Lego, $29.99). Those Danish blockheads have hit a home run with this building set, which re-creates an action scene from the new Spider-Man movie. The 294-piece puzzle presents a subway car on tracks that can be propelled toward multiple webs to trap it and save its inhabitants. It includes minifigures of Spider-Man, a comic-book version of Doc Ock, J. Jonah Jameson with a mini-Daily Bugle, a train signalman and spiders. It also should include two aspirins for the dad, who has less than 20 minutes to put it together before his 5-year-old loses one of the pieces.

Spider-Man 2 Deluxe Sound Storybook (Meredith Books, $15.95). This 22-page hardcover book uses a 16-chip sound module board attached to its side to adapt the Spidey movie to an illustrated work of limited words and a crescendo of sounds, depending on the child’s obnoxiousness level. I would have preferred to see real images from the movie combined with real audio clips, but the younger crowd will appreciate pushing a bunch of noise buttons to hear a cackling Doc Ock, a blast of webbing and Peter Parker’s motor scooter.

Zadzooks! wants to know you exist. Call 202/636-3016, fax 202/269-1853, e-mail jszad kowski@washingtontimes.com or write to Joseph Szadkowski, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide