- The Washington Times - Friday, October 1, 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.

Conan of Cimmeria

McFarlane Toys pays homage to fantasy author Robert E. Howard’s legendary barbarian with a full line of 6-inch action figures. Collectors can choose to display multiarticulated gems such as Conan the Indomitable, Skifell, Svadun, Belit, a fire dragon and a familiar representation of a hero who towers above all others in the Hyborian world.

Figure profile: Black-haired and sullen-eyed, this part barbarian, thief, pirate, raider, mercenary and hero was the son of a village blacksmith in the grim, gray hills of Cimmeria. He honed his strength and prowess by hunting the wild mountain beasts and competing with the other boys in his tribe. By age 15, already standing 6 feet tall and weighing 180 pounds, Conan received his baptism of battle as part of a host of Cimmerian clans that attacked the garrison settlement of Venarium, an Aquilonian outpost encroaching on Cimmerian lands.

Accessories: This lumbering legend bears a bit of a resemblance to a buffed up Bruce Campbell rather than the actor famous for bringing him to the big screen, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Dressed in a detailed molded plastic cape, armor and helmet, he wields a sword and battle-ax as he crouches on a snowy display base to strike at any enemy.

Price: $9.99

Read all about it: Dark Horse Comics has brought the barbarian back to sequential-art life through a gorgeous monthly series (priced at $2.99 each) written by Kurt (Marvels) Busiek and drawn by Cary (Mutant X) Nord

Words to buy by: McFarlane Toys mocks any previous three-dimensional incarnations of Conan with a definitive set of action figures. The choice of characters will cater to the true fan of Mr. Howard’s fantasy world as well as anyone looking to display some beautifully sculpted, muscle-bound entities.

Juggernaut

Toy Biz offers another set of the best comic-book-based action figures on the market with its release of Marvel Legends 6. Each 6-inch gem caters to both serious collector and child by providing multiple points of articulation, authentic costumes, ruggedness, a display base and a comic book in every package. The latest line includes Wolverine in brown costume (with Uncanny X-Men No. 213), Cable (with Cable No. 73), Deadpool and Doop sidekick (with Deadpool No. 4), Thomas Jane as the Punisher (with Amazing Spider-Man No. 129), Phoenix (with Uncanny X-Men 101) and the bulging stepbrother of Charles Xavier looking to demolish anything in his path.

Figure profile: Cain Marko is a human juggernaut. Once he begins moving in a certain direction, no power on earth can stand in his way. The Juggernaut possesses untold power and is mystical in nature — which enhances his strength and grants him an extraordinary degree of resistance to all forms of injury. Sustained by the Crimson Gem of Cyttorak, Cain Marko can survive indefinitely without food, water or oxygen. However, Juggernaut is vulnerable to magical forces of sufficient strength. Without his helmet, constructed of an unknown mystical metal, he is susceptible to psionic attack.

Accessories: This 8-inch masterpiece comes with a removable helmet to reveal the incensed mug of Mr. Marko, and a crumpled gate from the Xavier Institute, which also acts as a display base.

Price: $7.99

Read all about it: Toy Biz includes with the figure a reprint of X-Men No. 13 that features the prose of Stan Lee and art of Jack Kirby. It also explores Juggernaut’s battles (right from the start) with the mighty Marvel mutants and Johnny Storm.

Words to buy by: This massive behemoth fits the bill perfectly for youngsters in need of a villain to battle previous Marvel Legends hero releases such as the Incredible Hulk and the Thing. Professor X will be thrilled with Toy Biz’s three-dimensional release of his angry brother.

Strange but cool

A short look at bizarre products with a pop-culture twist.

• Batcycle 2000(Corgi, $13). The company — known in my household for releasing the definitive die-cast version of the Batmobile back in the 1960s — returns with a full line of Caped Crusader-inspired vehicles. Collectors can choose from 1:43 scale versions representing Batman’s primary mode of transportation, the Batmobile, from the 1940s through the present (priced at $11 for each of the eight designs). Other replicas of the Batmobile also are available, including a 1:18 scale ($27) and a 1:24 scale ($40).

Another vehicle, the slick Batcycle — a 1:16 scale, two-wheeled, free-rolling speed machine — features a metallic blue body, workable kickstand and a Batman figure. The Caped Crusader is dressed in a primarily black costume and is mounted to his seat, with his cape permanently flowing behind him.

• The Samaritan (SideShow Collectibles, $25). Mike Mignola’s comic-book paranormal investigator, Hellboy, became a movie star this year, and the waves of collectibles based on his legend continue. This 1/4 scale replica of the red demon’s favorite pistol features an opening chamber — which enables owners to load four miniature faux metal bullets into its rotating cylinder. The gun also can be placed on a display stand with a Hellboy logo, and bullets can be mounted in four grooves to highlight each lethal payload.

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

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