- The Washington Times - Friday, September 1, 2006

Thanks to the proliferation of film, comic-book and cartoon characters, companies bombard 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

Moon Knight

Diamond Select Toys and Toy Biz work together to transform Marvel Entertainment’s heroes and villains into detailed action figures through the Marvel Select universe. Based on key moments from sequential-art series, each multiarticulated representation of a character averages 7 inches tall and is sculpted in the style of its comic-book counterpart.

Some of the most recent include Jack Kirby’s Uatu the Watcher, John Byrne’s Days of Future Past Wolverine, Frank Cho’s Spider-Woman and a lunar-loving crime fighter brought back to life by the pencil of artist David Finch.

Figure profile: Wounded in battle, mercenary-for-hire Marc Spector was restored mystically to serve as the moon’s knight of vengeance using his skills to wage a war on crime. Moon Knight’s natural abilities in combat are enhanced by the light of the moon to grant him superhuman strength, speed and agility.

Accessories: The slick masked figure sports a heavy, soft plastic, silvery gray cowl-cape combination and 18 points of articulation. He comes with a crescent-moon base and statue of the Egyptian moon god Khonshu (both designed in an aged sandstone finish) along with a gold-and-silver-accented staff and a pair of soft rubber moon-arangs (my description for lack of a better term).

Price: $18.99.

Read all about it: The Moon Knight figure is based on the monthly comic-book series of the same name, written by Charlie Huston and beautifully illustrated by David Finch ($2.99 each).

Words to buy by: Sculptor Paul Harding perfectly brings Mr. Finch’s design to life, and once older collectors wrestle the figure away from their younger offspring, they can proudly display an affordable piece of pop culture.

Super Saiyan Kid Goten versus Super Saiyan Broly

The third of the Good Versus Evil series of action figures from Jakks Pacific gives fans of the Dragon Ball Z world a way to act out some of the comic-book and cartoon-animated universes’ fiercest battles.

The latest sets of two-figure packages include Second Form Cell versus SS Vegeta, Bojack versus Gohan, and a pair of Super Saiyans who slugged it out in the movie “Broly: Second Coming.”

Figure profile: According to the official Dragon Ball Z Web site (www.dragonballz.com/), “Goten is the second son of Goku and Chi-Chi, and is Gohan’s little brother. Goten loves to train in martial arts. He quickly develops incredibly strong powers that enable him to fight alongside the adults in their mission to defend earth.

“Broly desires total domination over all he surveys and will destroy anyone or anything in his way. Goku vows to stop the rampaging Saiyan before he annihilates another planet, but he may not have the strength. Only time will tell if Broly, the Legendary Super Saiyan, becomes his own worst enemy.”

Accessories: Owners get no extras but will appreciate a 5.5-inch-tall Broly with an impressive 20 points of articulation and a 3-inch tall Goten with six points of articulation. Of course, each sports that flaming yellow hair to signify Super Saiyan strength.

Price: $24.99.

Read all about it: Viz Media translated Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball manga into 42 volumes of digest-size comic books for American fans. The Z portion of the saga encompasses 25 volumes that average 200 black-and-white pages each ($7.95 per volume).

Words to buy by: I am flabbergasted at the pop-culture power of a nearly 20-year-old cartoon license that has not seen any new episodes in 10 years. Children and adults still flip for the figures. If the prices tossed around on Internet stores mean anything, these babies are hot and fans should act quickly to find the sets.

Strange but cool

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

Flash Gordon (Electric Tiki Design, $149.99). Alex Raymond’s interplanetary adventurer comes to three-dimensional life in the form of a 12-inch, 1:6 scale statue. The polystone gem is limited to 500 pieces and sculpted by former Disney animation artist Ruben Procopio, who delivers an authentic sculpt of the classic comic-strip character.

Each hand-painted piece presents a worried Flash poised with ray gun in one hand and the other hand gripped on his mounted sword handle. He stands atop a base composed of a three-dimensional collage of celestial objects highlighted by a translucent nameplate.

Ultra Blast Batman (Mattel, $29.99). Based on the Kids WB’s latest animated incarnation of DC Comics’ Dark Knight, this 15-inch-tall rugged toy acts as part action figure and part play weapon to enable youngsters to protect Gotham City.

The massive hero has 10 points of articulation and is composed of hard plastic with gray and metallic-colored armor, a soft rubber utility belt and an attachable Extreme Power Key. His weapon of choice is a missile launcher that rests on his shoulder and is gripped by his gloved hand. With the key, owners pull back a trio of spring-powered missile bays, load three (of the included six Nerf-like projectiles) and launch them up to 30 feet.

Owners also easily can use the shoulder missile launcher as a hand-held, futuristic pistol to fight the bad guys. In fact, the back of the package provides colorfully illustrated cardboard targets of the Dark Knight’s famed enemies Bane, Joker, Riddler and Mr. Freeze to keep Junior crime fighters in practice.

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