- The Washington Times - Friday, October 3, 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.

Walker “Bud” Mahurin

Action-figure manufacturer BBI brings two Korean War foes to 12-inch life through its latest dolls from the Elite Force Aviator collection. Each detailed figure comes packed with meticulously researched gear and essentials used by real pilots. Collectors can choose from Chinese MiG pilot Wang Hai, squadron leader of the People’s Volunteer Army, and Col. Walker “Bud” Mahurin, the American pilot who holds the distinction of being the only Air Force pilot with victories in three theaters of operation — two during World War II in Europe and the Pacific and another during the Korean War in the early 1950s.

Figure profile: An outstanding fighter pilot with the famed 56th Fighter Group over Europe during World War II, Col. Mahurin scored 20 kills flying the massive Republic P-47 Thunderbolt. In Korea, he served with Lt. Col. Francis “Gabby” Gabreski in the 51st FIW and scored 3.5 kills operating the North American F-86 Sabre.

Accessories: As usual, BBI overwhelms with extras as Col. Mahurin gets a P-1 helmet set with insert, life preserver, flight suit, flight jacket, scarf, pair of B-3A flying gloves, belt, flight boots, goggles, B-8 oxygen mask set, watch, pistol, pistol holster, three pistol magazines, magazine pouch and a battle-line map of Korea.

Price: $39.99

Read all about it: Hard-core comic-book readers seeking to add a bit of history to their collections might want to find the 1951 Harvey Comics Hits issue of Steve Canyon’s Air Power ($110 in near mint condition) highlighting the F86 Sabre. Casual readers should settle for Gemstone Publishing’s reprints of EC Comics’ classic run of Frontline Combat (issues 1 to 14 are $3 each) exploring the insanity of war.

Words to buy by: Despite missing his characteristic smile, the doll matches Col. Mahurin’s likeness, and combined with BBI quality, that makes the piece a collector’s dream as well as an awesome figure to inspire children to learn about the Korean conflict.

President Bush

Toypresidents Inc. has come up with an educational reason to buy an action figure. Hoping to promote a better understanding of democracy and offer an introduction to American history, the Humble, Texas, company has taken on the task of bringing U.S. presidents to children’s homes in the form of 12-inch talking dolls. The first release pays tribute to the current president and uses his real voice to deliver 25 phrases, such as, “This isn’t a Republican war, this isn’t a Democrat war, this is an American war.”

Figure profile: The 43rd president of the United States, George Walker Bush was born on July 6, 1946, in New Haven, Conn., and grew up in Midland and Houston, Texas. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University in 1968, then served as an F-102 fighter pilot in the Texas Air National Guard. Mr. Bush earned a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School in 1975. He was elected governor of Texas on Nov. 8, 1994, and became the first governor in the state’s history to be elected to consecutive four-year terms when he was re-elected on Nov. 3, 1998.

Mr. Bush is married to Laura Welch Bush, a former teacher and librarian, and they have twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna. The Bush family has two dogs, Spot and Barney, and a cat, India.

From the White House Web site (www.whitehouse.gov)

Accessories: Mr. Bush comes in a hand-tailored polyester suit with a lined jacket that looks a bit big on him. The figure also wears cowboy boots with a presidential seal on each, socks and a U.S. flag lapel pin that, when pushed, initiates his vocal abilities, which require four 1.5 volt batteries (included). Also included are a pamphlet presenting a biography on one side and timeline on the other.

Price: $29.99

Read all about it: One of my favorite superteam comic books, Marvel’s Ultimates ($2.99 each), has occasionally put Mr. Bush in its story. In issue No. 3, he gets to shake hands with Captain America, and in issue No. 11, he addresses the nation about an alien invasion of Earth. Also, the president’s father, former President George H.W. Bush, and former President Jimmy Carter both make an appearance in the first issue of Supreme Power (priced at $2.99 each), the new series from writer J. Michael Straczynski.

Words to buy by: The supposedly limited production run of 100,000 dolls with a certificate of authenticity included won’t make it much of a collectible in my book. However, the teaching potential of the series and its price make it an affordable way to give junior a lesson in politics.

Strange but cool

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

• Vision (Diamond Select Toys, $75). The Timonium, Md., company pays tribute to the 35-year-old heroic synthezoid by making him one of Diamond Select’s Avengers and Adversaries statues. Sculpted by Sam Greenwell, the 8-inch-tall figure is partially cast in see-through resin to highlight his power of intangibility and appears to pop right out of the remnants of a steel structure.

The Vision is strictly limited to 3,000 pieces and will look stunning on a shelf next to his former wife, the Scarlet Witch, who boasts her own statue.

For more information, check out back-issue bins in comic-book stores for the four-part Marvel Comics’ Avengers Icons: The Vision series ($2.99 each) for a great story on the living machine by Geoff Johns.

• Power Rangers Ninja Storm Headquarters (Mega Bloks, $29.99). After a decade on American TV battling the forces of darkness, the teenage martial-arts morphers get immortalized in building blocks with the help of an award-winning Canadian toy company. This 215-piece time trap needs about 90 minutes of concentration to assemble and comes with six Rangers, three evil ninjas and an assortment of miniature laser guns and swords. Features to the completed diorama include an escape slide, ninja training zone, secret weapons panel, command center with hovering chair and working zip line and working blaster cannon.

For more information, check out TokyoPop’s 100-page Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Ninja Storm: Dark Sky Overhead comic book ($7.99).

Zadzooks wants to know you exist. Call 202/636-3016, fax 202/269-1853, emailjszadkowski@washingtontimes.com or write to Joseph Szadkowski, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington DC, 20002.

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