- The Washington Times - Friday, November 28, 2003

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.

Morpheus

McFarlane Toys bring the Wachowski brothers sci-fi film universe of men battling machines to 3-D life in its second series of “Matrix” figures. The latest — a 6-inch line of highly detailed figures — includes likenesses of Keanu Reeves as simulated and real-world Neo, Carrie Anne Moss as Trinity, Jada Pinkett Smith as Niobi, Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith and Laurence Fishburne as the coolest of constructs ready to help free his people.

Figure profile: As the commander of a ship, the Nebuchadnezzar, Morpheus has spent his entire life searching for the “one” who could rescue the human race from machines that have enslaved their bodies as power sources. With the discovery of Neo, he believes he has found his messiah and will stop at nothing to protect Zion while the predictions of the Oracle come to light.

Accessories: Morpheus looks best when seated on his red leather-like armchair while awaiting a call to get back to reality via a rotary dial telephone (with cord and detachable handset) perched atop a deco-style table.

Price: $9.99

Read all about it: A 160-page book compiling the sequential art stories found on the Matrix Web site (www.whatisthematrix.com) should be on store shelves now, The Matrix Comics: Volume 1 (priced at $21.95) features such industry luminaries as Bill Sienkiewicz, Dave Gibbons, Geof Darrow, David Lapham and Neil Gaiman extending the myths of the fictional universe.

Words to buy by: Astounding likenesses of the actors and awesome costume detail make these figures worthy of being gazed upon from a safe distance rather than played with. Another strong effort from McFarlane and its sculptors.

Taz

Mattel celebrates the return to film of Chuck Jones’ favorite animated friends in “Looney Tunes: Back in Action” with a complete line of action figures. The 6-inch assortment includes Bugs with stretchy ears and anvil projectile, Daffy with rubbery body and launcher, Tweety with a monstrous companion containing a chomp and stretch mouth — and a Tazmanian Devil in need of a muscle relaxant.

Figure profile: After appearing in Robert McKimson’s 1954 short, “Devil May Hare,” alongside Bugs Bunny, the snarling, omnivore has chewed up scenery ever since. Possessing extreme digestive abilities and an endless appetite for devouring everything in his path, Taz enjoyed his own television show in the early 1990s and continues to work with the old gang while occasionally dating a lady devil.

Accessories: The hyperactive whirlwind comes with a breakable, “ACME-endorsed” (the fake company seen in Looney Tunes shorts), box to contain him and a rip cord with cloud on its end. Children bring the creature to life, after inserting him in the crate, by inserting the cord into his side and pulling as quickly as possible to turn him into a gyroscope as he furiously spins around and bursts out of the box. Believe it or not, the toy actually works and works great … about 98.7 percent of the time.

Price: $7.99

Read all about it: DC Comics keeps the legendary characters in sequential art form through a child-friendly, monthly comic book titled — surprisingly enough— Looney Tunes ($2.25 per issue).

Words to buy by: Easily one of the most fun action figure lines of the year, Mattel’s Looney Tunes will keep the 5-year-old crowd giggling away while enjoying some rich cartoon shenanigans.

Strange but cool

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

Gotham City Mystery Game (Mattel, $13.99). A fairly fun board-based challenge will find up to five players taking control of characters from the Dark Knight’s universe and competing in a classic, die-fueled adventure. The object of the game can get a bit complicated as four heroes, Batman, Robin, Nightwing and Batgirl (in her latest costume), move around a map of Gotham, chasing minions who have broken into buildings and stolen items to complete their villains’ master plan. Heroes must capture the minions, take possession of their item cards and pop them into the Bat Computer to ultimately guess the identity of the arch-villain, in order to win, before his minions acquire 10 items.

The set comes with 1½-inch tall painted pieces representing the heroes and five evil minions, command cards, items cards, a plastic “Bat” computer and 10 beautifully illustrated villain cards offering miniature Alex Ross quality illustrations. I could have used better quality with the cards and a bit more detailed instructions but, overall, the game will hold the attention of Batman fans, ages 8 and older, through the slick artwork and keep them away from video games for at least a few hours.

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


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