Amazing Heroes Series 1
Item No.: No. 80390 Manufacturer:Fresh Monkey Fiction Includes:Vintage-inspired blaster gun, hat Action Feature:n/a Retail:$15.00 Availability: February 2016 Other: Kickstarter Toy Launch Made Good
While I skipped the Kickstarter, the people behind this Captain Action asked me if I wanted some samples. Hey, I need fresh meat for the review grinder, so why not? The nostalgia train has taken toys to some pretty fascinating places, and this is one I didn't see coming - old pulp and toy heroes redesigned in the style of the 1980s Secret Wars Marvel action figures. I suppose there's no good reason to not try that format - after all, Funko and Super7 gave us hundreds of figures in Star Wars Kenner drag and countless toymakers have been milking the Mego cow for decades - so this sort of thing more or less works.
I got a big box with some stuff in it and the first one I tackled was Captain Action, simply because I was very familiar with the name thanks to years in the toy collecting game. Also, I own no Captain Action toys - this seemed like a good time to fix that.
I gotta say, I like the figure a bunch. I wish it was a mass-market $5 thing, but it's not like the masses want Captain Action nor is anyone really going for Secret Wars outside Marvel fans. The figure is nicely constructed as he stands well with decent deco and stuff joints. The hand paint is the one weak spot, as the flesh doesn't seem to perfectly evenly apply to the black plastic arms - this sort of thing was actually pretty common on older toys, so you could say it was a stylistic choice just as easily as a factory goof. At this point, it almost seems weird to comment on certain negative aspects of faux-retro figures just because glitches are part of the baked-in charm sometimes. Did they mean to do it? Probably not, but it reminds me enough of all the vintage toys I see that I can't complaint.
His head is actually surprisingly great. The eyes are bright and clear, with brown, white, and black paint coming together perfectly on a fairly stern and heroic mug. The hat pops off to reveal carefully combed hair that looks not unlike what you'd expect on a Ken doll. It's real plastic hair down there! Like so many low-run figures, all of the paint is matte and actual vintage figures tended to be mostly glossy. The blue here is all that really shines. This just seems to be an unfortunate part of nearly all modern action figures not made by one of the really big manufacturers like BanDai, Mattel, or Hasbro these days. If you want something shiny, don't hold your breath. This doesn't mean the quality isn't there - the Captain's logo is painted very clearly with black, white, green, yellow, and red plus his belt is nicely detailed. The gun is painted silver with blue and red accents.
My biggest gripe about most of the retro figures I've bought so far is that most of them make lousy toys. They can't stand, they won't sit, and the joints are always a surprise. Unlike some of the ones I've bought, Captain Action has zero problems sitting and all of his 5 joints swivel with no real problems. I wish I had some old Secret Wars vehicles to see if he fits in them - the legs swing forward enough that I would assume he should. It's great to see that someone has enough love of Mattel's 1980s Marvel toys to try to recreate the format as toy-like as possible, although it would have been nice to see contemporary characters brought into the mix too.
Considering what Funko delivers for $10 in ReAction, Fresh Monkey Fiction delivers a pretty solid figure for $15. The plastic bubble wraps over (but is not taped to) the cardback, allowing you to open/close the figure as you see fit. Collectors in the 1990s really loved this sort of thing, it rarely shows up in American toy lines. The makers put together something that seems to push a number of buttons for lovers of retro toys, but the anachronistic qualities of this particular 1980s format with characters mostly known to children of the 1960s and even earlier - excepting the likes of Madman - and what you have is some sort of plastic fever dream designed to appeal to older Gen X-ers or younger Boomers as they likely age out of their collecting phases. The on-pack comic strip gives the heroes a shared story that borrows heavily from Marvel's Secret Wars, so clearly they get how they can fit these guys together. For the curious, the original Kickstarter was slated for June 2015 and deliveries went out February 2016. Nowadays, delivery within a year of the estimate is actually pretty good as most toys go, especially for something complex like an action figure. A second series should be going on Kickstarter shortly.
If you just read this and said "That's great and all, but why should I care?" I can't say I disagree as something like this qualifies as fairly obscure. This is a rare instance of a really great execution of a very clever idea with a license that may not be on the radar for your average toy junkie in the 21st century. This is a good example of what this is - so if you loved the old Secret Wars or Captain Action, this is probably a worthwhile curiosity. If not, well, maybe Nexus or the next Madman in series 2 will be to your liking. If I were one of the built-in fans of the various characters they cranked out, I'd say this would be a slam-dunk, a no-brainer, and one of the better retro-flavored toys of recent memory. Someone clearly put a lot of effort into making sure these things turned out right.
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