- The Washington Times - Friday, September 30, 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

Green Goblin

SideShow Collectibles has tapped into Marvel Entertainment’s most famous comic book superheroes and villains in creating a line of high-end, mixed-media masterpieces for the connoisseurs of three-dimensional fine art.

Among the company’s offerings are a maquette of Fantastic Four’s Thing ($175), a Wolverine-vs.-Sabretooth polystone diorama ($250) and 1/4-scale, premium format statues of Wolverine ($250), The Punisher ($250), Elektra ($300), Dr. Doom ($325) and Spider-Man’s most fearsome foe.

Figure profile: The Green Goblin was once a brilliant scientist and industrialist, Norman Osborn. A tragic upbringing and fatal fascination with Spider-Man drove Norman over the brink to insanity, and he terrorized Spidey and those closest to him from the skies on his glider, hurling pumpkin bombs at his archenemy. The Green Goblin kidnapped Peter Parker’s girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, resulting in her tragic death, and forced Spider-Man into an epic confrontation.

Accessories: When mounted on his 16-inch-wide glider anchored to a base, the Green Goblin is 15 inches tall. He wears a demonic smile highlighted by his yellowing teeth and bloodshot yellow eyes. He is in position to toss a Pumpkin Bomb (with a jagged face any Halloween gourd carver would applaud) held in his right hand. The Goblin sports a real cloth costume, a posable Goblin hood, faux leather gloves, boots, a belt and a removable satchel (with buckle) and a scaly, green polystone body.

Price: $300

Read all about it: The figure reminded me of a combination of the artists John Romita Sr. and Gil Kane’s work with the Goblin from the early 1970s, although this nasty fellow is clearly more of a monster than a man behind a mask. To get just a flavor of this menace, I suggest reading Marvel’s trade paperback, “Spider-Man: Death of Gwen Stacy” ($12.99), which finds the villain at his most destructive and drawn by Mr. Kane and Mr. Romita Sr.

Words to buy by: Most humans would never imagine dropping this kind of coin just to appreciate a legendary comic book villain in their houses. However, for those who do, Sideshow’s Green Goblin delivers the best-looking and most meticulously designed statue ever made to honor the mad man.

Land of the Dead

Director Tim Burton’s new stop-motion film, “Corpse Bride,” comes to ghastly three-dimensional life with a complete line of multiple-scale figures from master toy licenser McFarlane Toys. In addition to a 6-inch line that includes Victor, Victoria, General Wellington and the Dwarf General, fans will find miniature, PVC, multi-figure boxed treasures (averaging 3 inches tall), with a pair devoted to the Land of the Living (the Van Dort and Everglot sets) and one set devoted to the Corpse Bride and her pals.

Figure profile: Set in a 19th-century European village, the romantic tale centers on Victor, a young man who is whisked away to the underworld and wed to a mysterious Corpse Bride, while his real bride, Victoria, waits bereft in the land of the living. Although life in the Land of the Dead proves to be a lot more colorful than his strict Victorian upbringing, Victor learns that there is nothing in this world, or the next, that can keep him away from his one true love.

Accessories: The set includes a stunning 4-inch Corpse Bride holding flowers, basking in blues and ready to walk down the aisle; the band leader Bonejangles (complete with bowler); Maggot, the green confidant to the Bride; the obsessive-compulsive Black Widow; Scraps the cute but bony dog; and well-dressed girl and boy skeletons. A quartet of bases are used to display the characters, which will require the hands of a surgeon to manipulate the tiny mounting posts and pins into position to secure the fragile figures.

Price: $13.99

Read all about it: No Corpse Bride comic book exists. However, Mr. Burton does offer a poetic and illustrated (by his hand) ode to some weird children in his book “The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories” ($19.99). Simple humor mixes with some disturbing verses that will satisfy only the most gruesome of literary tastes.

Words to buy by: Ghastly detail such as a tiny toy boat for the skeleton boy (with a real string to pull it), a separate red collar for Scraps and a visible rib cage on the dead lady make the Land of the Dead set a beautiful Halloween treat for the Corpse Bride fan or any collector who appreciates Tim Burton’s macabre sense of creativity.

Strange but cool

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

‘Heroclix: DC Icons Starter Set’

(WizKids, $12.99)

The collectible-miniatures game innovator has given DC Comics fans another reason to start playing with 2-inch-tall action figures in a 3D combat game. The company’s latest release presents 60 hand-painted characters associated with the Justice League of America and Teen Titans. Each features a combat dial that doubles as a base and rotates to help define the action. The starter set includes dice, a gridded game board, cards, tokens and terrain markers, along with six exclusive versions of Manbat, Batman, Robin, Joker, Poison Ivy and Hawkgirl.

Booster packs (four figures for $7.99) are also available to build up the legions of comic book icons. They range from Aquaman with a translucent water hand to JLA nemesis Darkseid to a flying Superman.

‘Star Wars Miniatures: Universe Booster Pack’

(Wizards of the Coast, $19.99)

The home of the collectible trading card Magic the Gathering also handles the Luke Skywalker universe with not only a trading card and role-playing challenge but by producing 1½-inch-tall, hand-painted action figures ready for strategic battles. The fourth expansion set of 60 figures now encompasses all of the “Star Wars” films and includes larger gaming pieces such as a 3-inch-tall by 5-inch-long Bantha (with rifle-wielding Tusken Raider aboard) mixed among characters such as Darth Maul on his Speeder Bike. Each box contains one huge figure, six standard-sized miniatures and illustrated trading cards for each. Players will need a starter set such as Revenge of the Sith ($24.99) or Rebel Storm ($19.99) to actually play the game and not just gawk at the tiny collectibles.

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

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