- The Washington Times - Friday, January 2, 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.

Ultimate Venom

Diamond Select Toys returns to specialty market shelves with a homage to one of Spider-Man’s most violent villains. The Timonium, Md., company, well-known for its statuesque action figure line with greatly detailed characters from the current Marvel Universe, has brought to 3-D life the likes of Origin Wolverine Black Cat, and World War II’s Captain America. Now, collectors can salivate over a 6-inch representation of Venom.

Figure profile: College student Eddie Brock is a childhood friend of Peter Parker. One day, Eddie shows Peter the cancer-curing experiment that their scientist fathers were working on right before their deaths: a black liquid that transforms into a protoplasmic bodysuit. When Peter accidentally spills some of the experimental serum on himself, he discovers the suit enhances the wearers’ strength and abilities yet leads to violent thoughts and actions. Peter destroys the sample and confesses to Eddie the serum’s unwieldy power. But Eddie feels betrayed, thinking Peter lied to him and took the serum for his own selfish use. Exposing himself to a secret sample of his own, Eddie becomes the murderous misshapen monster, Venom.

Accessories: The multi-articulated monster, with the slimy pink tongue popping out of his salivating mouth, comes with an empty beaker and neat diorama piece showing a full figure of a distressed Peter Parker black webbed against a laboratory wall for Venom to interact with (and wearing all but his Spider-man costume mask).

Price: $19.99

Read all about it: Venom’s latest incarnation came to life in the pages of Marvel Comics Ultimate Spider-Man comic book series. New fans will want to pick up issue Nos. 33 to 39, conveniently compiled in the Ultimate Spider-Man: Venom trade paperback ($15.99), to read about the grisly details.

Words to buy by: It’s a pricey piece compared to Toy Biz’s Marvel figures (averaging $7.99 at toy stores) but is truly the best representation of the arch-enemy to date. A variant figure can also be found containing a Venom with a bright white Spider-Man symbol adorning his chest.

Jaws

SideShow Toy continues to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Ian Fleming’s famous secret agent with its spectacular James Bond Collection. For the last two years, the company has offered a finely crafted line of 12-inch dolls covering the actors who played 007 and the famous villains fans love to hate. Its latest figure pays tribute to Jaws, the gigantic arch-enemy of Bond seen in the films “Moonraker” and “The Spy Who Loved Me.”

Figure profile: This indestructible, 7-foot tall, steel-toothed assassin was easily one of 007’s most memorable nemesis. He was hired to provide lethal services, on two separate occasions, by billionaires with plans of world domination. Jaws presented a huge challenge for Bond until, realizing the error of his ways, he joined forces with him to defeat the evil Hugo Drax.

Accessories: The 14-inch metal mouth features more than 30 points of articulation and comes with a hand-altimeter, parachute pack and goggles while outfitted in his tie, dress shirt, trousers and enormous shoes. Additionally, owners get a display stand and memory-filled package highlighting a poster from “Moonraker” and entire cast of the film along with a few choice photos of Jaws in action.

Price: $50

Read all about it: James Bond has been part of a number of sequential art series throughout his existence. Jaws lovers will only find a reimagined version of him in Marvel’s short-lived, 12-issue series James Bond Jr. ($2.25 each) based on an early 1990s animated show and featuring a teenage version of the secret agent.

Words to buy by: The Web exclusive, limited edition figure, sculpted by Mat Falls, can only be purchased directly through Sideshow Collectibles (www.sideshowtoy.com). The design is very true to the film character, and looks just like the actor who played him, Richard Kiel. Fans of Mr. Kiel may also want to purchase SideShow’s 14-inch representation of him as the alien Kanamit from the “Twilight Zone” episode, “To Serve Man” ($35).

Strange but cool

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

‘Green Goblin’ (Diamond Select Toys, $45). Artist and founder of pop culture design company Art Asylum, Digger lends a hand to Diamond in producing an amazing resin bust homage to artist Steve Ditko’s version of Spider-Man’s psychotic arch enemy. This beautifully sculpted piece stands 6-inches tall and features the purple and green menace being trailed by a translucent orange smoke stream that culminates with a pumpkin bomb ready to whiz by him. It comes hand-painted with an autographed and numbered certificate of authenticity and is limited to 7,500 Goblins.

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

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