- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 5, 2008

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.

‘Star Wars’ pack

Action figure collectors who also enjoy sequential art can celebrate the 30th anniversary of the cinematic debut of the Skywalker saga with Hasbro’s latest series of “Star Wars” comic packs —Obi-Wan Kenobi and Bail Organa.

Released over the last year, each pack contains two multiarticulated, 3-inch figures and a full-size reprint of a comic book culled from the archives of Dark Horse Comics or Marvel Entertainment.

The latest are Wal-Mart exclusives that include Boba Fett (regurgitated from the Sarlacc) and a Death Star Droid with comic Star Wars No. 81, Commander Keller and Galactic Marine with Star Wars: Republic No. 79 and a pair of heroes out to protect the future of the Jedi and Republic twinned with a “Revenge of the Sith” comic.

3/4Profile: According to the packaging: “The former Anakin Skywalker, a.k.a. Darth Vader, is unaware that his beloved wife Padme gave birth to twins. And if those children are to remain alive, he must never know they exist. So Obi-Wan secretly brings Leia to Bail Organa and his wife, who will raise her as their daughter. Then he travels to Tatooine, where Owen and Beru Lars become the guardians of their nephew, Luke Skywalker.”

Price: $9.99.cq webssories: Each gentleman gets a cloth robe and carries an infant swaddled in molded plastic. Bail holds a pink-blanketed Leia while Obi-Wan holds the blue-blanketed Luke. Also, Bail comes with a blaster, and Obi-Wan has a tethered light saber.

Read all about it: Owners get with the pack the final issue of Dark Horse Comics’ adaptation of the “Revenge of the Sith” movie. Fans can also purchase a trade paperback compiling the four-part series ($12.95), starring the illustrative talents of Doug Wheatley.

What it’s worth: I am a huge fan of packaging a comic book with action figures, and Hasbro delivers a great set. Besides exposing children to the thrills of reading, they can immediately re-enact parts of the book — really a no-brainer. Additionally, collectors will appreciate the limited availability of the Kenobi/Organa matchup, rumored to only be one set per retail case.

Bauer on duty

McFarlane Toys brings the frantic and dangerous world of counterterrorism to life with three-dimensional representations of Fox television’s famed hero of “24” in Deluxe Jack Bauer.

Fans get two poses of the statuesque Jack Bauer, who stands 63/4 inches tall on an included base.

Profile: According to the packaging: “Jack Bauer is a maverick anti-terrorist agent from the state-of-the-art Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU). The duty of stopping the world’s worst terrorists falls on Jack’s shoulders 24 hours a day.”

Price: $12.99

Accessories: I am a bit disappointed with the stuff included. Jack gets a pistol that can be placed in a chest holster and removable shoulder bag.

However, I remember a certain “Terminator 3” T-850 figure from McFarlane Toys a few years back carrying a coffin that was loaded with an abundance of miniature weapons.

This deluxe set should have lived up to its name and included more weapons and more warehouse-type of stuff to bring the diorama to life. Instead the designer offers a paltry pair of crates, some faux aluminum fencing and a photo-realistic cardboard backdrop that slides into the back of the base.

Read all about it: IDW Publishing has put together a selection of comic books based on the television show. The latest sequential-art miniseries, “Nightfall,” acts as a prequel to “24” and finds Jack up against the mass murderer Victor Drazen. Its five issues have been collected into a trade paperback ($19.99).

What it’s worth: It’s a killer sculpt of Kiefer Sutherland posed with a pistol aimed at the bad guys. Unfortunately, I’ve seen much better from McFarlane’s boys. That leaves the miniature Mr. Bauer resigned to the corner of an office desk as a novelty rather than a piece collectors will want to add to their display case.

Pop bytes

• Micro Aggression Crash and Bash Playset, from JAKKS Pacific, $29.9.b

Wrsting Entertainment continues to capture the violent imaginations of children with a portable torture chamber of a playset scaled to work with its 2-inch line of superstars.

Tweens get a full ring with spring-loaded turnbuckles that can be covered in a canopy (to fuel a cage match), an entrance stage, ramp, announcer area and breakaway walls.

The addition of a folding chair, breakaway table, catapult, flyaway monitors, announcer table and blast-away entrance doors guarantees the ability to re-enacthen (AP) a match as compelling as any Pay Per View event.

Youngsters also get four miniwrestlersno hyphen with six points of articulation (Chris Benoit, Triple H, Kane and Rey Mysterio)names cq web to liberally abuse. Additional three-packs of wrestlers ($9.99) are sold separately. Also,sted And the entire set collapses down into a suitcase. Overall, the design is surprisingly rugged and offers replayability that is light years ahead of some of the rings sold for the 7-inch figures, which I have seen to be a durability disaster.

• Trading Figures, McFarlane Toys, 5.99 each. web@The sequential-art world of vigilante Al Simmons’ Hellish alter ego comes to life through a second series of eight, highly detailed micro-statues.

The lineup ncludes six versions of the antihero culled from comics and previous action-figure releases and the dark god Urizen. Additionally, the evil cyborg Overtkillcq is especially impressive with a painfully fine paint job (down to highlights of his ornate chest jewelry), plastic tubing connected to his thighs and use of a real chain wrapped around his midsection

Zadzooks! wants to know you exist. Call 202/636-3016, fax 202/269-1853, e-mail jszadkowskiwashingtontimes.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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