- The Washington Times - Friday, June 2, 2006

Thanks to the proliferation of film, comic-book and cartoon characters, companies bombard 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

Davy Jones

The less-than-one-year-old toy company Zizzle has begun to sizzle with the release of items based on the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” which opens in theaters July 7.

In addition to 12-inch and 7-inch action figures, youngsters will love the 33/4-inch lineup of characters with eight points of articulation, accessories and detailed sculpts. The lineup includes Captain Jack Sparrow, Will Turner, Elizabeth Swann, Pintel, Bootstrap Bill Turner, Captain Barbossa and new villain Davy Jones.

Figure profile: The loss of one great love doomed the soul of the captain of the Flying Dutchman, and he rides the ocean as an undead monster with the power to harness its creatures.

Accessories: The creature, with octopus tentacles dangling from his face like a beard, comes with a walking stick, key and an ornate chest that supposedly contains his heart. (It cannot be opened to find out.)

Price: $4.99

Read all about it: Before CrossGen Comics went out of business, it published a fantastic pirate tale titled El Cazador. Just six issues and a special one-shot book exist from the 2004 series. Serious lovers of swashbucklers probably will have to enter cyberspace to find the issues ($2.95 each), but they are well worth the effort, thanks to Chuck Dixon’s prose and Steve Epting’s beautiful pencil work.

Words to buy by: For parents to purchase just some of the well-designed figures will not be enough for junior Jack Sparrows to take advantage of the imaginative “Pirates” universe. So Zizzle obliges with the Isla Cruces play set ($29.99). The partial castle tower includes three levels of action and has a trapdoor, a ladder and a boom and pulley along with a clever runaway mill-wheel device that balances a pair of figures on top of it when it rolls away from the set.

Also, Zizzle’s Flying Dutchman Pirate Deck Duel play set ($19.99; requires three AA batteries) looks like a sea-battered vessel and incorporates sound effects, cutout paths and bases attached to sword-shaped rods beneath the ship, on which owners can mount a couple of figures and fight — like old-time tabletop hockey games.

Gary the No Trash Cougar

Mezco continues to chronicle the cartoon exploits of the most dysfunctional denizens of Quahog, R.I., with its fifth series of Family Guy action figures. Each articulated, Rotocast gem comes with limited articulation and a few critical accessories. Characters in the latest 6-inch line include Brian as McGriffin the cop, God, reporter Tricia Takanawa, the Salesman, Greased-up Guy and Peter Griffin dressed to take a bite out of litterbugs.

Figure profile: In the fourth-season episode “Blind Ambition,” Peter Griffin is determined to make his mark on the world after his buddy Quagmire resuscitates a woman with his special brand of CPR. After he tries (with no success) to invent a new flying machine and to introduce a lovable anti-pollution character named Gary the No-Trash Cougar, he decides to set a new world record and sets out to eat the most nickels.

Accessories: Peter packs a pistol and gets a crushed can while dressed in his Cougar costume. His removable mask looks precisely like the cartoon version and includes a ferocious expression and bloodstains around its sharp teeth.

Price: $13

Read all about it: Devil’s Due Publishing offers full-color, 48-page sequential-art books with stories from one of the “Family Guy” writers, Matt Fleckenstein. Readers can choose either 100 Ways to Kill Lois, by Stewie Griffin, or Peter Griffin’s Guide to Parenting ($6.95 each).

Words to buy by: Mezco does not disappoint the “Family Guy” fan. Its eclectic figures accurately bring to three-dimensional life some of the more bizarre moments of creator Seth McFarlane’s hilarious cartoon. Fanatics also will need to find variants to the figures of the Salesman and Tricia Takanawa to complete their collections.

Strange but cool

A short look at the latest products with an X-Men twist.

Juggernaut bust

(Diamond Select Toys, $49.99)

Sculpted by the folks at Gentle Giant Studios and limited to 5,000 pieces, this 6-inch- tall, polystone bust represents actor Vinnie Jones’ portrayal of the unstoppable, muscle-bound villain in 20th Century Fox’s latest Marvel mutant movie, “X-Men: The Last Stand.”

The Juggernaut piece looks ripped right from the film with its slightly cracked helmet, detailed stomach- and arm-muscle definition and focused stare.

Surprisingly, although Gentle Giant uses laser-scan technology to capture the actor’s likeness, I found that other pieces from the line — such as Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, Kelsey Grammar’s Beast and Halle Berry’s Storm — do not capture their movie counterpart’s facial features as accurately as the Juggernaut bust.

X-Men: Darktide Minimates

(Art Asylum, $19.99)

Two-inch-tall, interchangeable block figures based on Marvel’s mutants come to life through a play package that contains a quartet of Minimates and a DVD of computer-generated animation.

Art Asylum first gives collectors and youngsters a seven-minute digital movie about an X-Men rescue mission. Storm has been kidnapped by Magneto, Juggernaut and Mystique, and it’s up to Wolverine, Cyclops, Beast and Archangel to save the day. Fans of Lego’s online minifilms will recognize the cartoon style, which mixes block figures in realistic looking settings.

Immediately after the main show, fans can use three-dimensional versions of Wolverine, Cyclops, Magneto and Juggernaut, all with 14 points of articulation and dressed in their New X-Men outfits, to extend the adventure. I wish the entire cast from the short were included, but, it just so happens, each is for sale readily in previous Minimates sets (around $5.99 for each two-pack).


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