- The Washington Times - Friday, January 5, 2007

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

Carnage

Japanese pop-culture products producer Medicom Toy salutes Marvel Comics superstars through its Real Action Heroes line. Easily available on American shores thanks to a distribution deal with Sideshow Collectibles, the 1:6-scale, 12-inch-tall figures are loaded with articulation and finely detailed clothing. The line includes Wolverine, Cyclops, Spider-Man, Venom and a homicidal villain born from an extraterrestrial entity.

Figure profile: The serial killer known as Cletus Kasady became Carnage after merging with the offspring of the alien symbiote Venom during a prison breakout. The superhuman symbiote can stick to walls, create swing lines to travel (as does Spider-Man), generate snares to trap foes and create detachable weapons from his skin.

Accessories: A rubbery or spandex-type red-and-black fabric covers the figure’s body, and translucent plastic red tendrils extend from its feet and clawed hands. A second set of appendages equipped with either a 9-inch-long tendril or a pendulum blade extension can be used as replacement hands. Owners should be forewarned that the appendage swap should be done carefully, as tendrils could snap off. Also, Carnage gets a translucent display stand with a pair of movable figure holders that use metal screws and a big, comic-book-cover illustrated box.

Price: $115

Read all about it: The star-studded 1993 multititle crossover story arc Spider-Man: Maximum Carnage has been compiled into a trade paperback ($29.99) of the same name and collects Amazing Spider-Man Nos. 378 to 380, Spectacular Spider-Man Nos. 201 to 203, Spider-Man Nos. 35 to 37, Spider-Man Unlimited Nos. 1 and 2, and Web of Spider-Man Nos. 101 to 103.

Words to buy by: I have mixed feelings about Medicom’s Carnage. The figure has a fantastic range of articulation, better than any in the industry, and an extravagant costume, but it falls short with a puny, unremarkable head sculpt. I am much more blown away by Toy Biz’s Marvel Legends Icons line (especially the Venom figure), which offers extensively detailed figures for a fraction of the price (around $15.99 each).

Captain James T. Kirk

Diamond Select Toys and Art Asylum celebrate the 40th anniversary of the “Star Trek” franchise with a continual stream of 7-inch-tall action figures. Collectors will find not only accurately costumed and articulated versions of legends such as Uhura, Dr. Leonard McCoy, Locutus of Borg and Counselor Deanna Troi, but a selection of 1960s Trek captains packaged on their famed command chairs.

Figure profile: James Kirk began his Starfleet career aboard the USS Farragut before taking command of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701. Kirk’s encounter with an energy barrier at the edge of the galaxy put his Starfleet skills to the test in order for him to prevent a godlike being from enslaving humanity. Captain Kirk would continue to encounter similar threats and challenges for the rest of his career.

Accessories: Collectors get William Shatner’s Kirk from the original “Star Trek” series and the “Where No Man Has Gone Before” episode that aired in 1966. He has 19 points of articulation and wears a slightly altered uniform without the black collar. He can be posed to sit on the included command chair. Usually I would call this a nice extra except it too accurately copies the cheap-looking prop used on the set of the live-action television show.

Price: $24.99

Read all about it: Tokyo Pop released the sequential-art anthology book “Star Trek: The Manga,” ($9.99) last year. It offers five stories based on the original television series, all in a Japanese comic style.

Words to buy by: “Star Trek” is still in reruns and has been a rabidly revered property over the years, but I am not sure it justifies this level of obscure action-figure release.

However, any remaining hard-core Trekkies will appreciate the reasonable price point and the care taken to bring a young version of Mr. Shatner to the action-figure world. Those interested also will find Captain Pike and his command chair ($24.99) in specialty shops.

Strange but cool

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

Cylon Minimates

(Diamond Select Toys, $4.99 each)

Fans of the latest version of “Battlestar Galactica,” currently on the Sci-Fi Channel, will appreciate this line of 3½-inch-tall microfigures that pay tribute to the robots assigned to hunt the remaining human population. Minimates available include the Downloaded Cylon, Cylon Centurion, Cylon Cannon Centurion, Battle Damaged Cylon and “Valley of the Darkness” Cylon, each with 11 points of articulation.

Titanium Series Spider-Man

(Hasbro, $16.99)

The maker of G.I. Joe and Star Wars action figures works with Marvel Comics to bring its stable of characters to toy shelves. One of its latest releases offers a 33/4-inch-tall die-cast version of everyone’s favorite web slinger. Owners get a nicely detailed, ready-to-safely-display version of the hero, who sports a patina finish as he fires a web line while perched on pole with a building roof underneath him. He is contained in a removable clear plastic case that also offers his moniker on its sturdy gray base. Collectors also can find slightly posable versions of Dr. Otto Octavius and the Green Goblin in the silvery finish.

Zadzooks! wants to know you exist. Call 202/636-3016, fax 202/269-1853, e-mail [email protected]washingtontimes.com, visit Zadzooks at the blog section of The Washington Times’ Web site (www.washingtontimes.com/blogs/) or write to Joseph Szadkowski at The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002.

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