Birdman and Avenger


Okay, I'm going to be completely honest. I hadn't planned on reviewing this set of figures tonight. But the packages I expected to get today didn't come - not a single one. And being a smart boy, I had a backup plan.

And that's where Birdman and Avenger come in. They're my backup plan, which isn't truly fair because this is a great set of action figures. This is Birdman before he became Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law. Back when he didn't file briefs, but wore his on the outside of his clothes.

Actually, the attorney gig is his third career. Ray Randall was originally a secret agent, then he became a supernaturally altered hero, and now attorney.

His sidekick was Avenger, the huge blue falcon. You'd think he'd be the Blue Falcon's sidekick, but no, that would make too much sense. Or be too much blue.

Toynami has been producing a series of action figures based on old sixties cartoon staples like these. This set shipped with another duo, the aformentioned Blue Falcon and his buddy Dynomutt. These figures also go great with the Space Ghost series produced by Toycom, and look excellent on the shelf as a group.

This set originally sold for $30 a pair! Not cheap by any means, but the sales have begun, and you may be able to find these for far less.

Packaging - ***1/2
These are terrific looking boxes that capture the feel of the old show, and offer a nice view of the figures for the MIBBers. They also include a cardboard backdrop that I wouldn't call an accessory, but rather a nice feature of the packaging. The one downside are the amazing twisty ties, some in places that no human can reach.

Sculpting - ***1/2
The sculpts on both figures fit the cartoon style extremely well. They also fit in very nicely with the Blue Falcon/Dynomutt set, the Thundarr the Barbarian figures, or the whole Space Ghost series. That's a big plus, since you'll probably want to display these together.

Avenger is the better of the two. His sculpt works great with the articulation, retaining clean lines and artistic style, but providing plenty of play value. Harvey is good, but two things hold him slightly back. First, you've seen this body before. It's awfully similar to the Space Ghost and Blue Falcon bodies, so much so that even a casual observer is likely to notice. Second, and I'm sorry but someone has to say it, Harvey's head is too small. The poor guy seems to have a pretty small noggin' up there on those broad shoulders.

His big plus is his wings, well sculpted with just the right amount of detail to stay true to the cartoon style.

Paint - ***
The paint ops are fairly clean, although not exceptional.  The plastic is cast in the major colors, but there's some bleed with some of the painted sections, particularly between the red and yellow on both figures.  That's a tough color combination, but at this price point folks will be expecting perfection across the board.

Articulation - ****
I'm giving these figures four stars in this category not because they are 'super poseable', but because of the care and attention that went into the work on both sets of wings. The rest of the articulation is fairly straightforward, but the wings are quite impressive.

Birdman has neck, ball jointed shoulders, elbows, left wrist (the right isn't articulated due to the 'action feature'), waist, hips, knees and ankles. He stands great on his own, even with the huge wings. The wings are jointed at his back, and can move both in and out, AND up and down. That extra range of motion is a nice touch.

Avenger has neck, top of the leg, and mid-leg articulation. He also stands great, and the leg articulation works extremely well. His wings are jointed at the body, and mid-wing, and can fold into his body completely, or fold out for a very impressive wingspan.

Accessories - **1/2
There's not a lot in this department. Avenger gets jack, but since he's a bird, he probably doesn't need much. Birdman has an extra left hand in the open position, and the hands pop on and off easily. He also comes with his 'solar' shield, which was actually created from solar energy in the old cartoon. Here it's solid, and clips on his arm. The paint ops on the shield are very plain, but that matches the cartoon exactly.

Action Feature - **1/2
Most of Toynami's figures have some sort of action feature. Birdman comes with a light up right fist. This mimics his 'solar blasts' that he could shoot from his hands. It works with the press of a button on the underside of his arm, and is fairly bright and consistent. I don't know how long it will last, but it's a cute effect and at least makes sense for the character.

Fun Factor - **
Actually, these figures are VERY fun.  Only problem is, what kid knows who they are?  Harvey has had a resurgence in popularity with adults and older teens due to the Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law cartoon, but kids aren't likely to appreciate the character.  Still, if they are a fan of the old cartoons, or just love playing with well articulated and nifty looking super heroes, they may find these to their liking.

Value - **
I'm grading this based on the original MSRP of $30 for the pair. That's a pretty steep price, even considering that there are two figures. Yep, they're nice, but to fork over thirty smackers you're going to have to be a pretty big Birdman fan.

Fret not though, since many stores are now putting these on sale, making them much more attractive.

Overall - ***
If you're a huge fan of sixties cartoons, particularly Hanna/Barbara, then you'll love this set. Toynami has done a wonderful job capturing the look and feel of the old show. Unfortunately, the high price tag probably scare off a lot of fans and collectors, but with these sets going on sale at various stores, now is the time to be looking to pick them up.

Where to Buy - 
I picked up this set at for less than ten bucks, but don't rush over there just yet - they are all out. I know that many Media Play and Sam Goody stores still have these in stock as well, and I'm betting we see them going on clearance there soon. Other on-line options include:

- Killer Toys has the set in stock for $25.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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