- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thanks to the proliferation of film, comic-book and cartoon characters, consumers are bombarded 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.

Logan

Hasbro slashes through collectors’ wallets with its “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” lineup of action figures. Much like the shrinking economy, most of the company’s figures based on Marvel Comics characters have been downsized to the 3 3/4-inch size.

Offering stars from the new movie and comic books, the current group of luminaries includes Sabretooth, Deadpool, Cyclops, Strike Mission Wolverine, Weapon X, Maverick and the retired warrior who has never heard of adamantium.

Figure profile: From the packaging - After he walked away from William Stryker’s command, Logan set his sights on a simple life, hoping never again to raise a hand in anger. Unfortunately, Stryker’s ambition will force Logan to turn in his lumberjack’s ax and return to the life he was born to lead.

Accessories: The little fellow’s tiny noggin sports a surprising likeness of “Wolverine” star Hugh Jackman and he boasts 16 points of articulation. The figure comes with an ax and an extra set of hands, sans the sprung bone claws.

Although I understand “Star Wars” figures are a staple in the 3 3/4-inch collector’s world, I’m still warming up to the downsized super heroes. Of course, I’m from the era when the 12-inch G.I. Joe was the norm and look what happened him.

Price: $7.99 (Not too long ago, eight bucks got you a massively articulated, 6-inch-tall figure loaded with extras.)

Play potential: Ball joints in the pelvis get loose after a couple of rough sessions and make it nearly impossible for the figures to stand on their own.

Read all about it: Two Marvel Publishing trade paperbacks should adequately satisfy the moviegoer-turned-Wolverine-fanatic. First Wolverine: Weapon X ($16.99) collects Barry Windsor Smith’s story arc in Marvel Comics Presents, Nos. 72 to 84, and exposes the adamantium bonding process on our hero. Wolverine Origin ($16.99) compiles the six-issue miniseries and takes a look at Logan’s early years.

What’s it worth: Collectors with cash to spare will gobble up the movie lineup. Parents will be much more selective in catering to their offspring’s temporary Wolverine obsession. However, with the animated cartoon “Wolverine and the X-Men” playing on the Nicktoons Network, they might bite for the comics series of figures.

Strange but cool

A look at more Hasbro toys devoted to the X-Men’s most feral member.

Wolverine Cruiser ($15.99, includes two AA batteries) - Children get limited play potential with an 8-inch-long modified Harley-Davidson motorcycle with our slightly articulated hero permanently attached to its seat. Wolverine wears his yellow-and-blue X-Men suit and sports a determined look and triangular haircut plucked from his new animated series.

The bike comes to life through a pair of buttons. One offers lights and engine sounds while the other causes claws to spring out of the front of the cycle. OK, it’s a pretty cool extra, but not being able to play with the figure away from the cycle makes it a diversion, at best, for the young fan.

Wolverine Electronic Claw ($19.99, requires two AAA batteries) - The lack of a plural on the name of this item becomes the first major head-scratcher for fans trying to mimic their dangerous hero. Of course, I want a two-claw pack. Last time I checked, Wolverine had two claws.

Anyway, strap this half-glove-style gauntlet on a wrist and swing away to watch three plastic blades pop out from the top of it with a metallic clanking sound effect. Swing it around to hear the swoosh action. Push the 12-inch blades into a hard surface to quickly retract them. (My middle blade kept getting hopelessly stuck, leaving a profane gesture in place for the next user.)

Wolverine Slashin’ Figure ($19.99, includes two AAA batteries) - “There’s more to me than you think,” this 10-inch dynamo says with a push on his belt buckle, along with seven other phrases.

Again, with a style grabbed from the animated show, the best toy from the current Hasbro Wolverine lineup gives the 8-year-old fan an easy-to-handle figure with lots of sounds and limited articulation.

His one set of claws springs with a button on his arm - yes, only one set springs; why not both hands? - his torso twists and one arm moves with a button on his back.

* Visit Zadzooks at the blog section of The Washington Times’ Community pages (www.washingtontimes.com/communities/zadzooks).

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