Friday, November 4, 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

Yoda vs. Darth Sidious

Hasbro’s Unleashed line of Star Wars figures offers meticulously designed, artist-interpreted plastic sculptures that capture some of the space fantasy’s popular characters in action-packed moments. The latest series includes Darth Vader jumping from a metal staircase with light saber drawn, Dark Side practitioner Asajj Ventress leaping into battle sporting duel light sabers and a pivotal moment from “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” when the ultimate good meets the ultimate evil.

Figure profile: The two most powerful masters of the Force in the galaxy, Yoda and Darth Sidious, are locked in battle. The Republic is crumbling around them, but the galaxy still can be saved if the Jedi Master can defeat the Sith Lord. The struggle of an entire universe is encapsulated in these two adversaries as the power of the Force emanates from both.

Accessories: To bring the diorama to life, owners need only extricate it from the package (which could be quite the delicate chore) to admire a 3-inch-tall Yoda holding a green light saber while mounted in midjump on a translucent curve of plastic (representing a stream of charged air). He swings toward the 6-inch-tall Dark Lord, who has blue electric tentacles shooting from one hand while he wields a red light saber in the other.

Price: $19.99

Read all about it: Dark Horse Comics offered the sequential-art adaptation of the latest and last Star Wars film. The “Revenge of the Sith” trade paperback ($12.95) compiles the four-issue comic-book series, which featured Doug Wheatley art and multiple pages chronicling the conflict between the Dark and Light sides of the Force.

Words to buy by: The facial scuIpt of each character makes the piece, as the maniacal scowl from the (soon to be) Emperor meets the intense, determined look of the green Jedi, who is soon to be exiled to the planet Dagobah. The decent price point also gives younger collectors a chance to own a Star Wars statue to display proudly on a bedroom shelf. It is one of the best Unleashed moments Hasbro has released since the line’s inception in 2002.

The Goon

Mezco Toyz brings comic-book creator Eric Powell’s pulp-horror sequential-art universe to three-dimensional life through a line of Goon action figures. Each multiarticulated masterpiece, averaging 7 inches tall, perfectly represents such characters as sidekick Franky, Joey the Ball, the Zombie Priest and the famous zombie-thumping thug himself, the Goon.

Figure profile: An orphan brought up by a carnival strong woman, Aunt Kizzie, the Goon is the supposed enforcer and collector for the Labrazio Family. The 300-pound gorilla patrols the areas surrounding Lonely Street with the pipsqueak, Tommy-gun-toting psycho Franky to control the town’s mad scientists, vampire dames, eight-legged deadbeats and the undead entities under the command of a Zombie Priest.

Accessories: Owners of the street behemoth get a removable hat (often used to cover up his swift haircut and crazed eyes), the famed Labrazio business book, Tex-Avery-sized pistol and a pair of non-gloved hands, one of which can hold either the included hammer or hatchet. He also comes with a very important Zombie head. The rotting noggin, when combined with a torso and appendages acquired by purchasing the other figures of the set, reveals a fifth, very gross figure to the Goon lineup.

Price: $12.99

Read all about it: Learn all about the undead-busting brute in Dark Horse Comics’ hardcover celebration of Mr. Powell’s Eisner Award-winning character in “The Goon: Fancy Pants Edition” ($24.95). The book compiles the Goon self-published issues Nos. 1 and 2 along with Dark Horse’s monthly series issues Nos. 1, 3, 5 and 9.

Words to buy by: Mezco continues to deliver a sparse but targeted amount of awesome action-figure lines. Its authentic “Hellboy” movie and Hellboy comic action-figure series were phenomenal, and its Goon set will not need the “buildable extra figure” premium to fly off specialty store shelves.

Strange but cool

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

Fantastic Four UNO

(Sababa Toys, $13.99)

The 34-year-old skewered version of Crazy Eights continues to be a popular card game, thanks in part to Sababa’s excellent line of licensed UNO card games. One of the latest features the famed Marvel Entertainment’s superhero team in a 112-card set loaded with awesome comic-art illustrations of such friends as Johnny Storm, Silver Surfer and She Hulk and such foes as Dr. Doom, the Mole Man and Galactus.

As with all of the Sababa Uno games, variations exist to make the challenge a bit more complicated for players. The FF set features the N-Zone card, which, when played on an opponent, requires that he keep drawing from the deck until he pulls a red card. It is as frustrating for the receiver as it is hilarious for the giver. The set could use sturdier cards; my family plays this game until the cardboard shreds, but the collector’s tin helps protect the collection when not in use.

Fantastic Four the Movie: The Thing Maquette

(Sideshow Collectibles, $175)

Limited to 1,000 pieces, this 16-inch-tall, three-dimensional sculpture captures actor Michael Chiklis as the orange-frocked alter ego of Benjamin Grimm. Based on the statue used as a control design model by filmmakers for the consistent creation of the full-sized suit of the character seen in 20th Century Fox’s film this summer, the solid polystone powerhouse will look great in any display case. Sideshow products are not cheap, but the company continues to do a fantastic job of bringing popular-culture legends into a collector’s home.

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

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