- The Washington Times - Friday, January 6, 2006

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

THANOS

Toy Biz continues to work with Diamond Select Toys to deliver the best and most authentic-looking figures for frugal collectors in love with the Marvel Comics universe. Each multiarticulated Marvel Select piece looks as if it were snatched from a sequential-art page. Each also represents a defining moment for the character and is designed with the original artist’s concept in mind.

The latest release is of the villain who sought the power of God in the Infinity Gauntlet comic-book series of 1991. It shows him ready to conquer the galaxy as seen on the cover of the Gauntlet’s fourth issue.

Figure profile: One of the vastly powerful Eternals of Titan, Thanos was shunned as a child for his gigantic form and grotesque appearance. Wandering the galaxy, he assembled a small army of soldiers, mercenaries and malcontents as well as a vast arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.

During his travels, Thanos encountered and fell in love with the embodiment of Death, who had assumed the form of a humanoid female. To prove himself worthy of so awesome an entity, he set out to provide his companion with what he thought she desired: the death of every living creature.

Accessories: Accompanied by a free-standing, nonarticulated 7-inch-tall figure of Death that can wear the included female mask to hide its skeletal face, the nearly 9-inch-tall Thanos, with 16 points of articulation, looks fantastic. With a mighty tug from the owner, he gets to put on his deadly, gem-filled gauntlet by replacing his removable right hand.

Price: $16.99

Read all about it: Marvel offers the trade paperback of the six-issue Infinity Gauntlet ($24.95) series highlighting the work of writer Jim Starlin and illustrators George Perez and Ron Lim.

Words to buy by: Sculptor Phil Ramirez perfectly captures artist George Perez’s version of Thanos, down to the purplish grimaced mug, the vein-popping musculature and the golden boots and gloves. The beefy villain will look perfect sitting on a shelf next to Diamond Select Toys’ Dr. Doom and Classic Green Goblin figures or engaged in battle against the company’s version of the Ultimate Incredible Hulk.

ARMY PARATROOPER

McFarlane Toys pays tribute to the modern American military with its latest line of 6-inch action figures. McFarlane’s Military: 2nd Tour of Duty offers combat collectors a set of statuesque heroes loaded with detail and finely sculpted facial features that make them look ripped from the field.

The latest set includes a Navy Seal Commando, Marine, Radioman, Army Desert Infantry Grenadier, Special Forces Sniper and a guy whose willingness to jump out of a plane to immediately carry out any dangerous mission has made his kind legendary in the history of warfare.

Figure profile: Otherwise known as Airborne, paratroopers train at the Army Airborne School in Georgia, recognized as one of the toughest and most demanding courses in the military. It’s also the proving ground for soldiers who wish to move on to more specialized training.

Accessories: Owners get a figure in a walking action pose created with multiple textures of plastic and painted to simulate the woodland camp uniform used by the actual soldier in combat. Highlights of his gear include a combat load-out pack, goggles, knife, a holstered pistol and a free-standing SOPMOD (Special Operations Peculiar Modification) M4 assault weapon with an M203 grenade-launcher attachment to place in his hands. He also comes with a pegged desert display base to stand upon permanently.

Price: $10.99

Read all about it: Marvel Comics worked with embedded journalist Karl Zinsmeister last year to release a five-part sequential-art series chronicling the lives of the 82nd Airborne in the battle for Iraq. The issues have been compiled into the trade paperback Combat Zone: True Tales of GIs in Iraq ($19.99) highlighting the work of the modern American military as drawn by veteran artist Dan Jurgens.

Words to buy by: The slightly articulated Paratrooper does not offer the playability of a G.I. Joe, nor is he so finely crafted as to belong in a museum. However, the care Todd McFarlane’s design team put into the line is obvious, and the figures make an outstanding and affordable find for younger collectors while presenting a tribute to American military personnel risking their lives around the world.

Strange but cool

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

DOCTOR DOOM

(Sideshow Collectibles, $325)

Serious collectors of pop-culture art will need a forklift to place this quarter-scale Premium Format statue of the Fantastic Four’s archenemy in a display case. The 14-inch-tall, back-breaking, mixed-media piece hauntingly captures an arrogant Doom, encased in his metal costume, arms folded and sitting on his ornate throne while pondering his next move against adversary Reed Richards.

Sculptor Pablo Viggiano went beyond the call of duty in creating this intense masterpiece as, inspired by comic-book artist Jim Lee’s version of the Latverian leader, he and the Sideshow team combined hand-painted polystone; a cloth fabric cloak, tunic and hood; and a leather belt and pistol holster to present a museum-quality collectible.

Details on the throne — such as views of a maiden and Death etched in faux bronze on the corners and faux marble inlay on its back — along with the scarred outline of Victor von Doom’s eye sockets, creepily visible behind his mask, will blow away fans who can afford the fine art. The statue, limited to 1,000 pieces, is also available with a chalice and stand-alone pedestal accessory.

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