- The Washington Times - Friday, September 2, 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

Krypto and Kevin

The pets of DC Comics’ most famous superheroes star in Cartoon Network’s latest children’s show, “Krypto the Superdog.” Fisher-Price has just delivered an exclusive line of figures, only available at Toys R Us and Amazon.com, that brings to three-dimensional life some of the top characters. Fans will find small-hands-friendly 6-inch-tall, articulated versions of Batman’s buddy Ace the Bathound; Streaky the super street cat; Mechanikat; and Superman’s most trusted Dog of Steel, Krypto.

Figure profile: Krypto was traveling in space as a test-pilot puppy aboard a rocket ship built by Superman’s father when the ship malfunctioned. Landing on unfamiliar territory, the planet Earth, the fully grown Krypto swiftly seeks out companionship and flips over Kevin Whitney, a young boy who also longs for friendship.

Endowed with an amazing array of superhero powers, Krypto partners with best pal Kevin to fight evil forces that threaten the safety and well-being of the people and animals of Metropolis.

Accessories: A super selection of features and items accompanies the figures of Krypto and Kevin. The pooch comes with a flowing plastic cape and detachable leash; the boy gets a backpack that sprouts rocket wings. Kevin even speaks multiple phrases from the show when his shirt pocket is pressed. Owners also get a DVD of the 22-minute pilot episode of the show explaining the origin of Krypto.

Price: $17.99

Read all about it: Krypto first appeared in Adventure Comics No. 210 back in 1955 ($4,200 for a near-mint copy). I would suggest hunting down Superman Family issues Nos. 182 to 192 (averaging $18 per issue in near-mint condition) in which the pet starred in his own story. Another option is to wait and hope DC Comics puts out a Krypto the Superdog series under its kid-friendly Johnny DC imprint, much as it did with the animated shows “The Batman,” “Teen Titans” and “Justice League Unlimited.”

Words to buy by: These perfectly sculpted pieces with Rescue Heroes’ ruggedness and statuesque poses will handle as many adventures as preschoolers can imagine for them. Those who hunt down the Ace vs. the Joker’s Hyenas pack ($14.99) will enjoy re-creating a story plucked from the television show as Bathound, on his rocket skateboard, can shoot a net at the Clown Prince of Crime’s ferocious friends Bud and Lou.

Also, the ship that brought the Labrador to Earth, Krypto’s Rocket ($29.99), cements the role-playing possibilities with its opening doors, takeoff and landing sound effects, phrases, glow-in-the dark Kryptonite and an exclusive Dogbot figure.

Birth of the Hybrid

McFarlane Toys keeps science-fiction/horror fans grinning with its second line of figures devoted to last year’s “Alien vs. Predator” movie. Instead of its traditional 7-inch characters, however, the latest set concentrates on highlighting pivotal scenes from director Paul Anderson’s film by using 5-inch-tall, slightly articulated representations of the warring species. Sets include Celtic Predator Throws Alien, Alien Attacks Predator, Predator With Host Base and a deluxe boxed set full of Predators.

Figure profile: The discovery of an ancient pyramid buried under the Antarctic ice sends a team of scientists and adventurers to the frozen continent. There they make an even more terrifying discovery. Predators have been keeping alive a captive Alien Queen that lays eggs at 100-year intervals. Young Predator warriors are tested by fighting the Alien offspring. The scientists stumble into the middle of an incredible rite of passage — and a war between two powerful species.

Accessories: This deluxe boxed set is a very creepy reminder of the film’s end as (spoiler alert) an Elder Predator figure keeps guard over one of his fallen comrades. Unfortunately, the deceased warrior contains an Alien that, true to its birthing cycle, bursts from the Predator’s chest. The Elder figure gets attachable arm blades and a removable spear while the dead Predator has a messy torso. Both are placed on a 12-inch-wide base highlighting the interior of a Predator ship.

Price: $19.99

Read all about it: Dark Horse Comics originally introduced the concept of Aliens fighting Predators through a series of popular sequential-art miniseries in the 1980s. New fans will want the “Aliens vs. Predator” trade paperback ($19.95), which compiles the four-issue 1989 story that was the movie’s inspiration.

Words to buy by: The Birth of a Hybrid set is for staring but not for playing, and most collectors will be fine with that. However, McFarlane quality falls a bit short this time. Despite heavy attention to detail with the figures, the diorama is covered with a cheesy-looking white cardboard canopy with a black-and-white illustration of the combatants. It ruins the effect of an otherwise very shocking piece.

Strange but cool

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

Zip Zaps Incredible Hulk Monster Truck

(Radio Shack, $24.99)

Based on the Monster Samson Truck, this 1:64, 27 MHz radio-controlled dynamo sports a body design featuring Marvel Comics’ famed Gamma Goliath highlighted through multiple images and logos, a radioactive green color and a pair of muscle-bound arms sprouting out from the doors.

Owners take about 30 minutes to assemble a vehicle with working headlights and taillights that uses the controller to charge it up. An 8,000-rpm motor, four-wheel drive and front spring suspension allow for driving to the point of nearly climbing walls. It is a dream come true for the comic-book-reading RC lover.

Batmobile Pool Float

(Wham-O, $19.99)

This 45-inch-long inflatable version of the Dark Knight’s famed set of wheels is based on the current Kids WB! hit “The Batman” and allows youngsters to quickly exit the amphibious craft by sliding through its bottom.

Parents will find blowing up the vehicle a dizzying experience, but the junior crime fighter in the family will greatly appreciate the effort because of the float’s translucent windshield, authentic bat graphics and ability to take a beating from even the most dangerous aquatic thug.

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

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