- The Washington Times - Friday, February 4, 2005

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

Cylon Centurion

Joy Ride Studios is known for its action-figure ode to the science-fiction video game Halo. Now it continues its outer-space tribute with 3-D figures of characters and vehicles from “Battlestar Galactica.”

Based on the popular television series from the late 1970s, the multiple lines will include smaller-scale mock-ups of the primary fighting ships Colonial Viper and Cylon Raider, along with 7-inch multi-articulated figures of Apollo, Starbuck, Adama and the members of menacing robotic army looking to terminate the human race.

Figure profile: Cylon Centurions serve both as foot soldiers and as pilots for the Cylon Empire. Tall, lumbering and blindly loyal to their cause, these imposing robots pose a threat to the Galactica and its crew. Centurions characteristically speak in a low-pitched, synthesized voice.

Accessories: The stiff, silvery, bowlegged fellow comes with only 10 points of articulation and his rifle. I dare anyone to get the figure to stand up without a rise in blood pressure.

Price: $14.99

Read all about it: Numerous comic book Battlestar Galactica series have been put out over the past quarter-century. But for my money, I would choose to read Maximum Press’ 1996 release of the three-part Battlestar Galactica: Apollo’s Journey, which actually was written by the actor who played Apollo, Richard Hatch ($4 each).

Words to buy by: Usefulness of the barely poseable Cylon will have buyers scratching their heads. It’s not near the detail quality of a Marvel Select or McFarlane Toys figure, so displaying the warrior as a treasured pop-art collectible does not make sense. It also does not have enough articulation or sturdiness to be enjoyed by the youngsters. Let’s hope the designs based on Lorne Green’s, Mr. Hatch’s and Dirk Benedict’s characters will offer more for the smitten “Galactica” fan.

Cornelius

Sideshow Collectibles takes fans to a time when monkey ruled human with its line of 12-inch “Planet of the Apes” figures. Based on the popular 20th Century Fox movies from the late 1960s and early 1970s, each boasts 30 points of articulation, cloth costuming, a stand and detailed sculpting to capture the actors and the Academy Award-winning makeup designs of John Chambers.

Simian fanciers can choose among reproductions of Maurice Evans as Dr. Zaius; Kim Hunter as Zira; Charlton Heston as George Taylor; and the most famous ape of the film series, Cornelius, whose portrayal turned Roddy McDowall into a pop-culture icon.

Figure profile: Cornelius is a promising young archeologist devoted to furthering the advances he has made in science, a relatively new field on the Ape Planet. After an expedition to the Forbidden Zone, Cornelius finds artifacts and bones from a culture more advanced than the apes’, dating to before their recorded time. The capture of human oddity Taylor brings his theories to reality, and he and his fiancee, Zira, must convince Dr. Zaius of the truth and fight charges of heresy.

Accessories: Although I was more impressed with the other figures of the line’s extras, Cornelius does come with a plastic scroll; a map of the Forbidden Zone on parchment; and, most important, a badly damaged female human doll, which proved intelligent man existed with ape.

Price: $39.99

Read all about it: Good luck finding multiple issues of Ape comic books produced by Marvel Comics and Gold Key from the 1970s. Readers will have more success with Adventure Comics’ line from the 1990s, encompassing a 24-issue run ($5 each in near mint condition).

Words to buy by: It takes quite a lot of guts for Sideshow to compete with more than 30 years’ worth of “Planet of the Apes” figures produced by such companies as Mego and Hasbro. However, the line succeeds thanks to the meticulous sculpting of Mat Falls and intricate paint jobs that manage to capture the character and the actor behind the mask.

Strange but cool

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

2000 Batmobile

(Corgi USA, $39.99).

The company known during my childhood for releasing the coolest 1968 version of Batman’s primary mode of transportation returns to production with a spectacular line of die-cast vehicles based on the Dark Knight’s mythos.

It offers a removable cockpit shield to display detailed driving mechanisms; a rotating turbine engine; and a translucent hood that opens to reveal a massive, chrome-plated engine. Plus, the designers have thrown in a slick Bat communicator. This modern low-tech wonder combines a shutterlike mechanism with audio support to simulate movement of Batman’s mouth as he speaks four phrases.

DC Heroclix Legacy

(WizKids Games, $7.99 per four-figure pack).

The latest release in the world’s premier collectible miniature game arrives in March and concentrates on 97 heroes and villains from DC Comics’ sequential-art universe.

Fans can expect 11/4-inch versions of such comic book favorites as Impulse, Mr. Freeze, Sinestro and Superboy, in addition to a tribute to characters based on Alex Ross’ 1996 “Kingdom Come” miniseries.

This set also incorporates the use of feat, battlefield condition and bystander token cards and features a “master piece” figure of Batman.

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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