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.
Darth Talon and Cade Skywalker
Hasbro celebrates sequential art and alliances with action figures in the latest selection of Star Wars Comic Packs. Each set offers a pair of 3 3/4-inch articulated characters from a galaxy far, far away plus a full-size color comic book starring the duo.
The latest collection includes Darth Vader (wearing unusual white armor) and Princess Leia with an issue of Star Wars Infinities: Return of the Jedi (No. 4), Grand Admiral Thrawn and Talon Karrde with an issue of Star Wars: Heir to the Empire (No. 1), Darth Vader and Grand Moff Trachta with an issue of Star Wars Empire: Betrayal (No. 1) and two enemies found in the latest Dark Horse Comics' series starring the offspring of Luke Skywalker.
Figure profile: From the packaging — Years ago, when the Sith attacked the Jedi at Ossus, Cade Skywalker disappeared in a fiery blast. Everyone believes he's dead except Wolf Sazen, and as it turns out, Cade's former Jedi Master is right. Cade is now a disillusioned bounty hunter and pirate who carefully hides his true identity. Cade must face his past and battle the ruthless Darth Talon, the Emperor's newly chosen assassin.
Accessories: The red-skinned female Twi'lek Sith Lord has 12 points of articulation and sports an intense tattoo scheme Darth Maul would die for. She also wields a light saber with translucent red blade. Cade is stylishly dressed in a soft plastic trench coat and has 14 points of articulation. He is armed with a double-barreled blaster that fits in a side holster, a light saber with translucent green blade and an extra saber hilt.
Read all about it: Owners get Dark Horse Comics' Star Wars: Legacy (No. 2), a book beautifully illustrated by Jan Duursema and inked by Dan Parsons. The story features Skywalker and Talon in battle, but not against each other.
What it's worth: Collectors may most appreciate the current assortment of Comic Packs, which dig deep into the Star Wars adventure archives for some truly great-looking figures.
However, I cannot think of a better way for a youngster to get excited about the comics medium than playing with a figure and then immediately reading impeccably drawn stories about his heroes. I hope Hasbro keeps up this initiative with all of its action-figure lines (G.I. Joe, Transformers, and how about Marvel?).
Strange but cool
A short look at Halloween products with a pop-culture twist.
• The Joker Deluxe Costume (Rubie's Costume, $53.95 to $42.99) —This officially licensed outfit brings actor Heath Ledger's twisted portrayal of the Clown Prince of Crime in "The Dark Knight" to life for both trick-or-treating and role-playing possibilities.
Available in child, adult and dog versions (I'm not kidding), the suit is well-made, with a decent quality of cloth and materials and strong stitching. It includes a one-piece pullover knee-length coat connected to a piece of the shirt, tie and vest along with the crazed purple pinstriped pants.
The mask covers only the face and is a very creepy interpretation. A Velcro strap, once connected, keeps it firmly in place.
Villains in the making can add the Joker Gloves ($10.99) and pass on the mask with the Joker Makeup Kit ($9.99), which includes green hair color, white face paint, a red highlighter stick and appliances to re-create those famed mouth scars.
Finally, of course, a Dark Knight costume ($34.99 to $54.99) is also available for children and adults, featuring a muscle-chest jumpsuit complete with attached boot tops, cowl, cape and belt.
• Animated Freddy Krueger (Gemmy, $19.99, requires three AAA batteries, included) — He was a nightmare on Elm Street, and the horror icon arrives in your neighborhood as a 14-inch figure poised to creep out anyone looking for a treat.
Featuring a cloth costume and articulated arms, this frightening fellow keeps his best attribute inside. Push a button on his shoe, and Freddie's head turns, his talon-gloved hand lifts, and he speaks six disturbing phrases. Most are followed by his signature maniacal laugh.
Also available is Jason Voorhees from the "Friday the 13th" film series, but his speech and design are less memorable.
• Visit Zadzooks at the blog section of The Washington Times' Community pages (www.washingtontimes.com/communities/zadzooks).