- The Washington Times - Friday, June 4, 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.

Green Goblin

Diamond Select Toys works with Toy Biz in producing some of the best articulated tributes to Stan Lee’s legendary superhero universe in its Marvel Select action-figure line. Recalling key moments from unforgettable comic-book issues, the Timonium, Md.-based company has offered dynamic interpretations of artist John Cassaday’s Ultimate Captain America, Adam Kubert’s Origin Wolverine and Terry Dodson’s Black Cat. Its latest release pays tribute to the classic John Romita cover from the 1966 issue of Amazing Spider-Man No. 39, in which the Green Goblin has Peter Parker in a bind.

Figure profile: A maniacal manifestation of Norman Osborn’s chemical-induced insanity, the Green Goblin has done more than any villain to wreck the web-slinger’s world. An accident involving an untested experimental formula granted Norman Osborn superhuman strength. a heightened intellect and an accelerated healing factor — at the cost of his sanity. He’s Spider-Man’s greatest enemy and has been almost since the beginning.

Accessories: The multiarticulated maniac gets his high-flying Goblin Glider (which can be mounted on a base), a miniature pumpkin bomb, a sack to carry the incendiary device and a very authentic Spider-Man. The superhero is tied up, his masked is ripped off, and he looks very angry — which is about the same way collectors will feel as they try to re-create the Goblin holding his prey.

Price: $18.99

Read all about it: Readers may have a hard time putting together $325 to read this pivotal issue of the Amazing Spider-Man, when Norman Osborn is revealed to be the Green Goblin. However, Essential Spider-Man: Vol. 2, an economical trade paperback offering reprints of issues 23 through 41, should suffice for a more reasonable price of $14.95.

Words to buy by: The Marvel Select Green Goblin easily surpasses any of the Marvel Select line because of some incredible sculpting and care in color and painting, along with the high quotient of sequential-art nostalgia dripping from the piece. Dad will have a hard time allowing junior to play with or even touch this gem.

Doc Ock

Columbia Pictures releases “Spider-Man 2” June 30, but Toy Biz, the home of Marvel action figures, has already given children the chance to enjoy some cinematic fun with an awesome line of 6-inch action figures. The highly articulated gems concentrate on various battles between the heroic web-slinger and his tentacled foe, Doctor Otto Octavius. Also included are a Spin and Kick Spider-Man with Subway car door; the Battle Attack Spider-Man, with the demented doctor; and a dead-on sculpt of actor Alfred Molina’s portrayal of Spider-Man’s archenemy.

Figure profile: Once he was Otto Octavius — a brilliant and respected nuclear physicist, inventor and lecturer. In pursuit of academic excellence, Octavius designed and constructed a set of highly advanced robotic arms to assist him in his research. Now able to manipulate radioactive substances from a safe distance, Octavius was dubbed Doctor Octopus by his co-workers. A freak laboratory accident exposed Octavius to intense radioactivity, grafting the mechanical appendages to his body and granting him complete telepathic control over the artificial limbs. The mishap also altered Octavius’ mind, transforming him into a criminally insane megalomaniac.

Accessories: Let’s forget the pair of soft plastic sunglasses because most children will … about five seconds after losing them. I prefer to concentrate on the four-tentacled action figure. When someone pulls a lever on the figure’s back, the top, floppy pair extend forward, while the pincers on the bottom two close. It looks cool, but some folks may have preferred four poseable tentacles to the gripping shenanigans.

Price: $9.99

Read all about it: If dropping $3,200 for the first appearance of Doc Ock in Amazing Spider-Man No. 3 is not in the cards, I suggest reading either the Spider-Man 2 movie adaptation (priced at $3.50) that’s hitting shelves the first week of July or the five-part Spider-Man/Doctor Octopus: Year One opus. The latter is drawn by Kaare Andrews and is flowing into stores ($2.99 each).

Words to buy by: A dead-on likeness of the actor, 30 points of articulation and multiple areas of play value will keep younger Spider-Man fans immersed in the legend of the Web slinger and his epic confrontations until his next big screen appearance in 2007. Fanatics of Doc Ock also will want Toy Biz’s 12-inch roto-cast likeness of the villain ($29.95) to display on a desk or inside a trophy case.

Strange but cool

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

Osgoliath Ruins With Winged Nazgul (Play Along Toys, $29.99). Rabid fans looking to create a reasonably priced diorama of their favorite scenes of director Peter Jackson’s cinematic ode to J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic of Middle-earth will love these 1:24 scale meticulously sculpted warriors, weapons, and environments, available on toy shelves to make their dreams come true.

Besides the Osgoliath play set (which comes with a beast in flight), plus Frodo and the sword-wielding Ringwraith, additional scenes may be purchased. These range from the Defeat of Sauron character three-pack ($7.99) to Gandalf on Shadowfax ($7.99) to an Uruk-hai Battering Ram ($14.99) and the Pelennor Field Super Deluxe Battle Set (priced at $54.99 and due out in August).

Overall, collectors won’t be impressed solely by the variety of 60 3-inch, articulated characters available, but also by the details of the various lines, such as the ability to remove Faramir’s helmet, a detachable kerchief from Grima Wormtongue, the cuts on the legs of the Ringwaith’s Steed, the articulation on Gandalf to ward off the Balrog — and a bridle that can be placed in the mouth of the Nazgul and hand of his Ringwaith.

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

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