Going Turbo Max Steel and
Today we have a new guest reviewer Jason Chirevas! He's here with
a great review of two somewhat controversial figures, Going Turbo Max
Steel and the new villain, Vitriol. Because of the attacks of
September 11th, and the connection to terrorism that these two figures
have, they've been in the news. Jason talks about this briefly at
the bottom of the page - let's get on to the review!
Thank you very much, Michael. Hello everyone, my name is Jason
Chirevas and tonight I'll be reviewing the two latest offerings from
Mattel's highly successful Max Steel line of 12" scale action
figures, vehicles and accessories. They are "Going
Turbo" Max Steel and Vitriol, the latest villain in the line.
A new villain is always cause for celebration but this particular
version of our hero was also highly anticipated as it features Max in
his N-Tek uniform from the CGI animated series that bears his name.
A very brief synopsis for the uninitiated. Max Steel represents
Mattel's foray into the world of 12" action figures and was the
best-selling 12" action figure line of the year 2000. Teen
extreme sports star Josh McGrath takes the secret identity of N-Tek
agent Max Steel after the proverbial freak accident infuses his body
with nano-probes capable of giving him super strength, agility etc.
Max is literally and figuratively the son of Big Jim McGrath, who was
Mattel's answer to G.I. Joe throughout the 70's and (internationally)
into the 80's. Big Jim was also a sports star-turned-secret agent
and battled evil as commander of the P.A.C.K. (that's Professional
Agents and Crime Killers to you and me).
So there, now you know. On with the reviews of Going Turbo Max
Steel and Vitriol (we're on the four-star system here, by the way)...
Packaging - ***1/2 for Vitriol, *** for Max
Max Steel packages are always bright, colorful and attractive. They
all feature renderings of the character or vehicle (ala Masters of the
Universe) and in this case the image of Vitriol is particularly well done.
The card back features a big picture of the figure in an action pose and a
run-down of his weapons and equipment. A smaller window shows all
the figures and vehicles in the wave, which in this case is part of the
Urban Siege theme of the line. More on the mission theme later.
- **1/2 for Vitriol, *** for Max
Vitriol surprised me a bit here. Max let me down. Vitriol has
12 points of articulation (ball-jointed shoulders, wrists, waist and hips.
Regular joints at the neck, knees and ankles). Vitriol lacks elbow
articulation as his action feature prohibits it. Also, as I stated
above, I was glad to see Mattel gave him standard Max legs instead of the
original Psycho's (for the record, Bio-Constrictor is the best-articulated
of the villains). Max sports 14 points of articulation, but overall
is a let down. For the money I paid, I expected to at least get the
double-jointed knees of the "Ultra Action" Max's of the line,
but instead we get the usual "Super" articulation (ball-jointed
neck, shoulders, wrists, waist and hips. Regular joints at the
knees, ankles and left elbow, ball joint at the right elbow).
– *** for Vitriol, *** for Max
Max's body is pretty standard issue; the bulk of his aesthetic appeal will
be covered in the next section. Max's head sculpt is, as always,
excellent. His features are sharply defined and I've always been a
fan of the hair sculpts in the entire Max Steel line. Vitriol, on
the other hand, is a new sculpt for the most part. The head sculpt
is very on-model to the CGI series (with more good hair:)) and his armored
torso features some nice detailing. Vitriol's arms are cast in a
translucent green plastic with lighter green piping visible on the inside
of each. Also, Vitriol gets better treatment that the original
version of the line's main baddy, Psycho. That figure featured
almost Ken-like legs but Vitriol's are the same sculpt as Max's (both are
a better grade of plastic than some of the line's earlier figures, by the
– **1/2 for Vitriol, **** for Max
The paint-ops on both figures, though limited, are clean, clear and the
paint used is of excellent quality. Both figures' hair and facial
features are painted with precision. As for the clothing, we'll
tackle Vitriol first. His only piece of cloth attire is his pants,
which are of a dull, nylon type material (better than it sounds).
Strangely, there are three villains in the Max Steel line so far and they
all wear the SAME PANTS, albeit in different colors and materials.
Also, Psycho and Vitriol wear the same short, black boots (the third
villain, Bio-Constrictor, is barefoot). Obviously, some variation in
the villain leg-wear would have been appreciated.
As for Max's attire, it's the main reason to buy the figure. Max's
N-Tek uniform from the TV show is beautifully rendered here; incorporating
different materials in the arms and legs to go along with the main body,
with is a shiny nylon. The front panel of the left arm is made of a
light translucent plastic, which is a dark orange in color. We'll
get to why that is in the next section. Max is also wearing a chest
harness and a waist-mounted weapons harness (both bear the N-Tek logo).
Both harnesses are of a tough, flexible rubber and fasten to the figure
extremely well. Max's boots are higher than Vitriol's and are of a
totally different style, which I really appreciate. In a potential
nod to the P.A.C.K. Commander version of his dad Big Jim, Max's suit
sports a turtleneck, the pant legs are of a boot-cut length and his chest
harness resembles the shoulder holster Big Jim wore in his crime killing
days. If this was unintentional on Mattel's part, so be it.
But the similarities ARE there and that just makes Max's uniform as cool
as cool gets.
– *** for Vitriol, *** for Max
Not much to report here as far as accessories go. Vitriol is
essentially a living weapon, so he doesn't come with any accessories.
Max comes with the latest in a long line of N-Tek laser pistols, each
different from the next. This particular gun is a bit large to be
considered a pistol and features a scope. The pistol included with
the Wal-Mart exclusive "Secret Agent" Max Steel would have
been more appropriate here as it's smaller and a more compact design,
but the gun used here IS a new sculpt, so that has to count for
Both Max and Vitriol feature a light-and-sound gimmick. Push a
button on Vitriol's armor and his arms flash and make a cool blasting
sound (representing the villain's ability to project waves of
destructive energy from his arms). When a small button on Max's
Bio-Link communicator (on his left wrist) is pressed, he says
"Going Turbo!" and his left arm flashes rapidly with an
accompanying "power up" sound. Both gimmicks are pretty
cool, VERY character (and TV show) specific and add to the overall
mystiques of the figures.
- **1/2 for Vitriol, **1/2 for Max
Your devotion to the line is the deciding factor here. These
figures were $19.99 at Target (which seems to be the only retail chain
receiving them) and to me they were worth it. Villains in the line
are few and far between and here you get a cool character with a nice
light-and-sound feature. As for Max, if you're not a devotee of
the animated series, I'd say pick up one of the "Ultra Action"
versions of him for the same price as it will be markedly better in
terms of articulation. I LOVE the Max Steel show and HAD to have
this version of our hero, so I didn't mind paying twenty bucks. A
casual Max Steel fan might regret it.
- *** for Vitriol, *** for "Going Turbo" Max Steel
I am one of the few rabid 26-year old Max Steel fans out there...I know
this. This line has tremendous kid appeal (as it's profit for last
year indicate) and collector interest has been very low from the start.
I, on the other hand, love the kind of old-fashioned "boys'
adventure" themes that Max Steel represents and it is one of my
favorite toy lines of all time. It's a line steeped in Mattel
history and tremendous playability and these two new figures are vital
to the mythos created by the animated series. If you're already
one of the few adult Max Steel fans out there, go GET these guys.
If not, consider them (or any other Max Steel figure) anyway; there is a
charm to this classically themed line that is undeniable.
Here's where things really get interesting...somewhat disturbing as
well. Mattel has announced that the Mission Cards (which are
included with all Max Steel toys) that are packed with the current wave
of the Urban Siege line are to be pulled from all future shipments in
light of the September 11th terrorist attacks on New York City,
Washington D.C. and rural Pennsylvania. Sound like a corporate
knee-jerk reaction to you? It did to me too until I opened
Vitriol's Mission Card and read the text inside (the text inside Max's
card is identical). The following is a direct transcript of the
Urban Siege Adventure
Global Assignment: Vitriol is on top of the World Trade Center ready to
blast the city with his deadly energy waves!
Your Mission: Stop Vitriol before he destroys New York City!
The card then goes on to list the Max Steel figures and gear needed to
play out this adventure. I'd have to say I now agree with Mattel's
decision. The Max Steel Heli-Jet vehicle has also been pulled from
all Toys R Us stores, presumably because it's mission card contains the
same text. Mattel has further decided that this wave will be the
last Urban Siege mission theme it will do.
Folks, thank for taking the time to read this review and thank to Mr.
Crawford for allowing me to bring it to you. My name is Jason
Figure from the collection of Jason Chirevas