- The Washington Times - Friday, February 6, 2004

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.

James Marshall Hendrix

McFarlane Toys continues to pay three-dimensional tribute to rock superstars past and present through an eclectic line of 6-inch action figures. These multiarticulated pieces feature many accessories and dead-on sculptures capturing the artists at the peak of their popularity. To the likenesses of Kiss, Ozzy Osbourne, Jim Morrison, Alice Cooper, Jerry Garcia and Janis Joplin, fans can add the grooviest left-handed ax man ever to impact rock music — the legendary Jimi Hendrix — as he performs near Woodstock, N.Y., in August 1969.

Figure profile: Mr. Hendrix’s music has spanned time, age and culture. With multiplatinum and gold albums to his credit and the prestige of being named the Greatest Guitarist of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine included among his many musical attributes, it’s hard to dispute his influence on rock ‘n’ roll and pop culture.

Accessories: This incredible 7-inch reproduction of Mr. Hendrix has him outfitted in blue velvet pants and a white fringed shirt with scarves tied around his hair and left leg. The figure comes with a Fender Stratocaster guitar, a section of the wooden stage, effects pedals, a Marshall amplifier stack, a microphone, a microphone stand and all the necessary cords to plug in.

Price: $9.99

Read all about it: Rock Fantasy Comics put out a series of biographical comic books featuring music superstars between 1989 and 1991, and issue No. 11 presents the life of Mr. Hendrix ($3.50).

Words to buy by: McFarlane has created the definitive memorial to the Hendrix legend by lavishing painstaking detail and accuracy on a piece suited to be shown proudly in a display case rather than treated as a toy.

Aragorn

Toy Biz keeps director Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy alive on toy store shelves this year with multiple lines of 6-inch action figures devoted to the third film, “The Return of the King.” With laser-sculpted likenesses of the stars and plenty of playability, the figures include Pippin in armor with removable helmet and sword-slashing action, a fully armored Haradrim Archer with arrows, and a ranger who would be king wielding a mighty sword.

Figure profile: The last descendant of ancient kings, Aragorn is fated to claim the long-empty throne of Gondor in Minas Tirith if he proves himself worthy. It is a future he never wanted, yet because of his valor and nobility of heart, Aragorn is bound to fulfill this destiny and lead the people of Gondor toward their uncertain future. Newly crowned under his elf name, Elessar, the king rides out at the head of his forces to answer the threat of Mordor and confront the darkness that seeks to destroy them.

Accessories: Fans get a beautiful armor-adorned Aragorn, ready for any important ceremony, that bears a striking resemblance to actor Viggo Mortensen. The figure is clad in a detachable cape that hides a button to activate the swinging of his famous Anduril sword.

Price: $8.99

Read all about it: David Wenzel illustrated a three-part sequential-art adaptation of “The Hobbit” for Eclipse Comics in 1989 that will provide more than enough information about J.R.R. Tolkien’s dense universe. It can be found in a compiled format, priced at $20 at most book stores.

Words to buy by: The creatures and characters of Middle-earth have never looked so awesome, thanks to the detailed efforts of Toy Biz. Fans also should look out for a very cool glow-in-the-dark and translucent re-creation of the King of the Dead in March to round out their collection.

Strange but cool

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

Giant-Size X-Men Mini-Mates (Diamond Select Toys, $24.99). Superhero teammates Wolverine, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Storm, Colossus and Thunderbird have been transformed into three-dimensional, ridiculously articulated and deconstructible 2-inch action figures celebrating the work of artist Len Wein and writer Chris Claremont on the 1975 Giant-Size X-Men comic book. The set can be found only in specialty stores and features a cover re-creation using the minimates of the famous issue on its package. The sextuplet of colorful characters definitely will hypnotize mutant maniacs with its miniaturized beauty.

Spider-Man’s Exterminator (Polar Lights, $11.99). The subsidiary of Playing Mantis offers a line of snap-together (that means no stinky glue) model kits imagining what some of the world’s most famous superheroes might be driving. These 5-inch-long Marvel Machines set in a wheelie position feature chrome parts, brightly painted bodies and hero-specific graphics that can be assembled in about 30 minutes with the help of a bit of sandpaper to file tab edges. It also has clippers to extricate the more than 20 parts. The six-car assortment offers four body styles, with one ode to Captain America, two to the Incredible Hulk and three to Spider-Man, including a cool blue Exterminator pickup truck belonging to his boss.

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

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