Ninja Strike Wolverine and
Ruby Quartz Armor Cyclops

Philip Foster checks in tonight with a guest review of two of the new 'X-men' figures now hitting pegs.  He picked up the two with the longest names - Ninja Strike Wolverine and Ruby Quartz Armor Cyclops.  I think it's official - Cyclops is a metrosexual.

Take it away, Philip!

Packaging - **1/2
Some people donít like the standard card and bubble packaging Toy Biz gives most of its toys, and usually I agree with them. Thereís something different about this line though. Itís not your regular bog standard rectangle shape, the bubble is round and the card is shaped around that, which helps it to stand out from the other extremely dull, identical packages. Thereís a colourful picture of 5 X-men across the top and the back has a large panel describing any accessories and a small segment on the characters history, which is definitely a good thing. Unfortunately it doesnít list any other figures in the series, but Iím hoping the 5 x-men previously mentioned are there to give some clue. 

You might be wondering why the score is so low if I think the packaging is good. Well itís down to one thing Ė twisties. There are loads of them, and if itís not twisties itís cellotape holding the accessories in. I almost just left the figure in the box when I saw how many there were. 

Sculpting - Wolverine *** 1/2, Cyclops ***
One of the main complaints I generally have about mass-produced figures is the obsession with redesigning costumes. It happens a lot with spider-man, normally it wouldnít bother me but the new looks are usually absolute rubbish! Neither figures are in instantly recognizable costumes, but they generally fit in with the accessories and arenít over the top, so they donít actually look too bad. Wolverine doesnít come with a mask, and to be honest the success of Wolverine without a mask depends almost entirely on, in my opinion anyway, the look on his face. Wolverine is supposed to be a hard-ass warrior, yet sometimes he looks like a smug teenager. His face here is done right however. There is just the right amount of stubble (although there isnít really much room seen as his monster sideburns take up half his face) and the snarl/frown combo gives him enough menace without having to use on an open mouth.

Something else that makes a Wolverine figure has to be the claws, and the ones on this figure didnít start off too great. Although they are a good length theyíre made of soft plastic, which meant when I took him out of the box they were bent and stuck together. Not to worry, I just spent a few minutes bending them one way then the other. They still arenít perfect but they look a little better than before. The costume itself is mostly red and black with a few spots of yellow here and there. As said before it actually works quite well and wouldnít make an enemy pee themselves of laughter rather than fright (unlike the Man Wolf figure in that ridiculous swimming costume!)

Cyclops comes with a visor but no hood, which I like as I always thought that hood looked a little silly. Like Wolverine the alternate costume looks pretty decent. The package labels it as ďRuby-Quartz armourĒ which gives some relevance to the character. There is a slight problem with the colour but itís just a personal preference. The red and black on Wolverineís costume looks good, but the red here is a little too dark, and the gold on the boots and kneepads looks completely out of place. The face is done well, looking old enough to have experience as a leader yet still having an air of youth. The special feature is pretty cool, but Iíll mention more of that later. The only real problem is that his Chest armour obstructs the arm movement at the shoulder, and seeing as the shoulder isnít a ball joint it means my figureís left arm has become loose already. 

Paint - ***
The paint jobs arenít too bad on Wolverine; there are a few sloppy bits around the areas where black meets red but generally the lines are very clean. The paint on the accessories is clean enough, there are a few minor mistakes but they arenít big enough to notice or worry about. The claws are plain silver rather than looking metallic, but again this detracts nothing from the overall look or colour of the figure and is just nitpicking on my part

Cyclops is a little worse, especially around the hairline and visor, with a little bit of bleeding into the face, but itís barely noticeable when heís stood on a shelf and, like Wolverine, arenít going to be one of those little mistakes you canít help but notice.

Articulation - Wolverine ***1/2, Cyclops ***
Ah now this is my kind of figure. The more the better I say. I recently bought a figure from the new ďThe BatmanĒ series and was incredibly frustrated at the lame 10 points of articulation. For me the idea of a superhero is someone who can get into those incredibly athletic poses without hurting themselves, and some of the figures Iíve seen recently suffer through a horribly limited amount of maneuverability. Wolverine sports 35 points of articulation and they make for some terrific poses. He has a ball joint neck, shoulders, biceps double elbow joints, cut wrists, fingers, mid torso, waist, ball joint legs, double knee joints, mid calf, ankle and toes. The only complaint I do have is that three of mine are loose already, and they are in the most inconvenient places. Both calves and the neck! Whenever I try and make him look slightly menacing his head falls flat on his chest as if heís struggling to stay awake, and the loose calves mean I have trouble getting him into the right poses without him falling over. These are generally minor complaints though as they donít render him completely useless so donít worry me too much

Cyclops has less articulation, and I donít know why. The head is obviously limited because of the action feature, but it still moves side to side. The real problem is his arms; they arenít ball jointed at the shoulder, which gives really poor up/down movement only. There is some compensation as there is a forearm joint added but when trying to pose the cannon/bazooka accessory thereís not a lot he can do.

Accessories - Wolverine ***1/2, Cyclops **
Wolverine is immense in this category. Sometimes if Iím in a shop and they have more than one figure that Iím after Iíll make my decision based on the amount of accessories (after the price of course) and Wolverine won hands down on this one. A knife, a 3 bladed sword and 2 nunchuckís, thatís pretty good. The sword has the same problem as the claws, itís soft rubber and was bent when I got it out of the packaging. Luckily the sheath across Wolverineís back has 3 separate holes for each blade, which straightened them out pretty good. Thereís another sheath strapped to Wolverineís leg for the knife, and both accessories fit well into the sheaths. The knife handle does obstruct the right leg a little bit, but not so much as to cause a problem. The nunchuckís are pretty cool, but the handles are perhaps a little too thin, they do fit nicely into Wolverineís hand but if his grip loosens slightly then they fall out rather easily. Iím not sure what they hooked weapon is (I say its a nunchuck but Iím not sure what it is to be honest) or even how Wolverineís supposed to hold it but itís still cool and looks rather deadly. The only downside to this many accessories is that there isnít enough space for them. The 2 blades have a sheath to slide into but unless the nunchuckís are in Wolverineís hands thereís nowhere else for them to go, another sheath on the left leg for one of the nunchuckís would have worked without making the figure too overcrowded. Itís for this reason, and the rubbery 3 bladed sword, Iíve dropped half a star.

Unfortunately Cyclops bombs big style here. In the packaging the bazooka (Iíll call it a bazooka from now on even though I donít actually know what it is) actually looks quite good, but the lead from the backpack to the gun itself is solid plastic and just wonít stay in any position I put it in. It got to the point where I was so frustrated I actually tore the whole thing away (that explains why thereís only one pic with the backpack and a couple of loose plastic wires.) The cannon on its own is pretty cool, even if Cyclopsí hands arenít best shaped to hold it. The missiles are just as bad, literally seconds after I opened the package one popped out the hold and bounced under the bed, where it stayed. Luckily there are 4 projectiles so I donít mind losing one, I just wonder how long itíll be before I lose them all.

Action Feature - Cyclops ***1/2
I didnít think this is classed as an accessory seeing as you canít really remove it so I gave it its own slot. Itís pretty simple and wonít really make any new ground in the action figure stakes but itís fun and isnít a hindrance on the articulation. Basically you push down on Cyclopsí head and his visor lights up. Itís one of the few action features that have relation to the character that are actually worth having. Unfortunately I couldnít get a picture as my hand kept getting in the way, but itís not an integral part of the figure so if you donít like it you never have to use it

Fun Factor - ***1/2
While I may be just a little too old to play with toys and not be considered strange, Iím sure they would provide hours of fun for little kids. The costumes are different but not out of touch with the character and the accessories give enough variation that they wonít grow boring too quickly. Although Cyclopsí bazooka gave me some problems it shouldnít present problems to little kids. I prefer to unpack the figures, find a decent pose and then put it on a shelf with all my other figures to look cool. Little kids will be rolling round on the floor or throwing them down stairs so the ability to get a decent pose wonít be at the front of their mind. 

The only problem I could see is the loose joints on Wolverine. Although it probably wonít matter if you donít want to pose him, the task of having to twist his ankles back round the right way round can get rather tiresome.

Value -  Wolverine ****, Cyclops ***1/2
I paid £6.99 at Woolworths and, while thatís the regular price for a figure like this, I still think itís a pretty good deal, for Wolverine especially. ASDA might do it for a few pence cheaper but unless you find it in the sales in a couple of months time I doubt youíll find it in the shops anywhere cheaper. Although Cyclopsí accessory doesnít score too highly and, in my opinion anyway, brings down the value a little, the light up visor adds something special to make this figure worth owning.

Things to watch out for - 
The only thing I would suggest is to look out for paint jobs and lose limbs. I donít know how easy it is to spot loose limbs through the packaging (I didnít do a very good job) so just bear in mind you might draw the short straw. The paint jobs are generally good, if youíre going to be posing them on a shelf I canít see any problems, and I donít remember caring that much about the paint when I was younger, so I doubt kids will be too overly fussed.

Overall - Wolverine ***1/2, Cyclops ***
I always think Wolverine is a figure people will happily pay more for, but for me heís one of these characters that have such an identity that they have to look right to me personally before I can buy it. I had the choice between this and the new Apocalypse series Wolverine in the traditional yellow costume. Normally I would have bought the yellow costume but something about this figure caught my eye, yes the costume is different but it suits Wolverineís style so well and the facial features give him the right look of menace that is missing in other figures. Iíll probably still buy the ML wolverine but I wonít be taking this one of the shelf for a while yet.

Cyclops is a difficult one. I do miss the traditional blue costume (like the other Cyclops figure in the pics) but this ďruby-quartz armourĒ has an attraction to it that gives Cyclops a darker edge that perhaps blue canít. The thing that brings this figure down by half a star is the horrible accessory and the limited movement in his arms. The accessory I can get over, seen as it now lies in the bin, but the arms are such an integral part of a figure, and for one that boasts so many other points of articulation the limitations here are really frustrating. Having said that I think the action feature is a great add-on, but unfortunately canít save this figure from being one little step from great.

Packaging - **1/2
Sculpt Ė Wolverine ***1/2, Cyclops ***
Paint Ė Wolverine, Cyclops ***
Articulation Ė Wolverine ***1/2, Cyclops ***
Accessories Ė Wolverine ***1/2, Cyclops **
Action feature Ė Cyclops ***1/2
Fun factor Ė Wolverine, Cyclops ***1/2
Value - ****
Overall Ė Wolverine ***1/2, Cyclops ***

Where to buy
In the U.K., try Toys R Us, Woolworths, ASDA or Toy Master.  In the States, Toys R Us works as well, as does Meijers, Target and Wal-mart.

Figure from the collection of Philip Foster.

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