Xevoz Battle Booster Figures
Item No.: Asst. 85500 No. 85506 Manufacturer:Hasbro Includes:Sticker sheet and a ton of parts Action Feature:Parts galore, sticker sheet Retail:$9.99 Availability: Spring 2004 Other: One of Three Xevoz Skeletons
Shortly after its 2004 debut, it was clear that Xevoz was the last great toy line of the 1980s. Grim Skull was one of two exclusive figures, made up of Skull Jack and Fury Inferno parts. The buildable action figure has been a goal chased by Hasbro and LEGO a whole bunch since the early 2000s, with various lines like Galidor, Stikfas, and Bionicle bringing various levels of success. Hasbro is currently trying to capture this sort of thing with Hero Mashers and Constructbots, the former of which is reportedly doing fairly well.
Measuring over 6-inches tall, depending on which of the four included heads you use, Skull Jack is basically an undead skeleton pirate cast in black with ghostly purple accessories. As a bonus, numerous flame parts are included like swords, a projectile (but no launcher), flame thumbs (but no flame hands), and super flame wings. Not all of the pieces mix and match as well as you might hope, but the relatively low price on eBay shows that at least some people still value these enough to scrape up all the parts and sell them. Before Glyos and their ilk, this line was probably the gold standard for a customizable action figure for people with no modeling skill. Just crack it open, attach a sticker if you're so inclined, and assemble the figure any which way you so choose.
The black plastic Grim Skull has about 14 points of articulation by default - all of which are ball joints. Every one. It's a crying shame Hasbro didn't adapt this structure for Star Wars, G.I. Joe, or even Marvel - the range of movement for the price was some of the best money could buy. Due to the unique construction system, you could swap out bone forearms or shins for flame ones, or really anything from any other figure in the line. Do you want a mummy with a guitar and Chuck Taylor sneakers? It's doable. My default form for Grim Skull is usually a winged, flame eyeball warrior with a pale clear purple sword and giant flame staff. I know it's not very original but hey, I love it.
With minimal paint and tons of weapons and parts, this line is a nightmare to keep complete but an absolute joy to play with. I view this as the peak of what Hasbro could do for a kid-driven action figure line (not counting transforming ones), because nearly everything from 2004 on out seemed to be developed with a heavy collector influence. These stylized, armored things felt open-ended with no real story outside a single comic and some vague bios on the packaging. As such, a set like Grim Skull is open to you putting your stamp on the figure more than many other lines - there are so many spare swords, guns, hammers, and weaponized limbs like hooks that I can't imagine anyone will make something truly more impressive. Certainly not at the price.
I saw a few of these on eBay for under $20, which is a bargain for a figure of this size and scope. Original ideas don't come out of Hasbro so much lately, action figures in particular seem to be stuck on a very specific treadmill without much room to try something overwhelmingly new. But this? This still feels fresh ten years later - I pulled this off a shelf in a closet and everything about it is appealing and fun, and if I felt otherwise I could change it. These figures often hit clearance - deep, deep clearance - during their short stint in stores which may be why nobody is trying to revive them. There's no real nostalgia, and the collector market seems mostly obsessed with series 3 (Storm Wing, etc.) Prices are on a steady decline so you should be able to get some of these on the cheap, and if you have any taste or capital to exploit you should make new ones on the Kickstarter. Hardcore toy fans will thank you.
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