Toy biz

About Toy Biz.Marvel    
In 1987 Steven Lebensfeld co-founded Toy Biz with associates from HG Toys. Within a year of its start, Toy Biz held the exclusive license for action figures based on characters from Marvel comics and DC Comics, including Batman, Spiderman and Superman. ``We were instantly the largest action figure company in the market. It was unbelievable,'' said Lebensfeld, who came up with the idea for the comic book figures after seeing a void in the market. ``Here we were, a little company doing about $4 million in sales a year when we get this incredible license. Today, those licenses bring in $300 million to $400 million in sales a year. In 1990, the thriving Toy Biz was bought by an mogul Ron Perelman - who had acquired the Marvel Entertainment Group in January of 1989. April 1993: Perelman cut an unusual deal with Ike Perlmutter and Avi Arad, two Israeli immigrants who run Toy Biz. They got a perpetual license to make toys based on Marvel characters (4700 characters!) without paying any royalties; and Marvel got 46% of highly profitable Toy Biz. Toy Biz, now a division of Marvel Enterprises, Inc. (NYSE: MVL), one of the world's most prominent character-based entertainment companies.

The Figure In Question



“Created by Ultron, Vision was part of a plan to conquer the Avengers. His transparent skin lights up when passing ghost-like through objects. Vision knew Ultron was evil, and helped the Avengers defeat him. He proved invaluable and was asked to join the team. Proud of the symbol he bears as one of Earth’s mightiest, this hero answers the call, ‘Avengers Assemble!'”

Remember a time, way back when, when Vision *wasn’t* a household name?  It was a dark, strange time, you guys.  People, like, didn’t know him, or care about him, and they looked at you weird when you explained his backstory to them.  Brain patterns are a thing, Tim!  Don’t ruin this for me!  But nowadays, Vision’s cool!  That’s where things should be!  Let’s review a figure of him, just to celebrate it!  This has probably been too many exclamation points!  Now I can’t stop, though!  To the review!


Vision was released in the first assortment of Toy Biz’s Avengers: United They Stand tie-in line. In a crazy turn of events, this was the fourth freaking Vision figure from Toy Biz.  Somebody there really liked this guy.  The figure stands 5 1/4 inches tall and he has 15 points of articulation.  Vision’s articulation scheme is generally pretty decent for the era.  The hips could maybe stand to have slightly better range, but he’s otherwise got a great range.  Vision’s sculpt was all-new, and remained unique to him.  He’s based on the character’s look in the show, just like the rest of the line.  Vision’s design for the show was generally one of the more faithful ones, at least in broad strokes terms.  It takes his classic design and sort of techs it up a little bit for something sightly more robotic.  All things considered, it’s not much of a departure from how the MCU would adapt him later, albeit with a slightly different end aesthetic.  The sculpt does quite a nice job of capturing the animation model, and making it fit with the rest of the line.  The cape piece is cloth, but it’s actually quite nicely handled.  There’s a proper hem on the sides and everything.  That’s commitment to quality, right there.  Toy Biz knew, you guys.  They knew this guy was gonna take off.  And good for them.  Vision’s color work went a just a touch lighter than his on-screen model, but it’s generally a bright and eye catching look.  The slight metallics are cool, as are the transparent parts, which are that way to facilitate the light-up feature (unfortunatley no longer working on my figure).  Vision was packed with one of Ultron’s drones from the show’s opening episode.  It can be hooked up to Vision to also light-up, and even has articulated arms. It’s definitely one of the best of these gimmicky extras.


Vision was one of my most wanted figures from this set when they were released, and was also one of my favorite parts of the show as a whole.  They were scarce at their first drop, so he wound up as the third figure I got from the line, but I did finally get one, and he was my first 5-inch figure of the character.  That was definitely significant, which was cool.  He’s still one of my favorites, and he honestly holds up pretty darn well.



With Avengers: United They Stand’s shifted focus on the team’s lower tier characters (for the time, anyway) placing Ant-Man as the show’s central character, it also made for some great extra focus on Hank’s long time partner in fighting crime, Janet Van Dyne, aka the Wasp.  Though she’s always been pretty central to the team in the comics, UTS marked the first time she got any real time in the spotlight with the general populace. And, it got her a third action figure, so that’s pretty cool.


Wasp was part of Series 1 of Toy Biz’s Avengers: United They Stand tie-in line, which hit shelves at the same time as Series 2 in the back half of 1999.  The figure stands about 5 1/4 inches tall and she has 16 points of articulation. Wasp isn’t quite as well articulated as Ant-Man (admittedly the best articulated of this particular line), but she’s still better than most figures of the era.  The only thing that really holds her back are those dreaded v-hips, but that was something we’d still be dealing with for another several years. She also benefits from separately articulated wings, as well as a moving “stinger” piece, which is unfortunately missing from mine. Wasp’s sculpt was an all-new, totally unique piece, based on her design from the show, albeit in that slightly tweaked style that we saw with Ant-Man.  Her design from the show was certainly an overhaul of how she tended to look in the comics, but it’s also a far cry from her worst look over the years.  It’s certainly a more armored look, but it was the end of the ‘90s.  This is just how we dressed then, guys.  The sculpt captures the design well enough, and makes it work in the context of Toy Biz’s wider Marvel line at the time.  Probably the weirdest part of the sculpt are the arms, which are a touch too short, comparatively.  Otherwise, it does look pretty solid.  She has two different heads for the purposes of helmeted and unhelmeted looks.  Both sculpts are nicely rendered, and they swap out pretty easily.  Wasp’s paint work is generally pretty solid.  It’s all base work, but it’s cleanly applied, and it’s a little more involved than just a straight recreation of the show’s color scheme.  In addition to the previously mentioned extra head, Wasp was also packed with a small missile launching drone.  It’s a goofy, rather extraneous piece, and that’s probably part of why I have no clue where the one that came with my figure has wound up.  Honestly, the extra head is enough to make it feel worth it.


Like Ant-Man, Wasp was one of the last figures I got from this line, since my dad had the first one we found. So, she was on that list of the final three figures I gave to my Grandmother, and she picked this one up for me the week after I got Ant-Man.  I was again pretty excited, and she’s another one that I still really like all these years later.



“As the leader of the Avengers, Dr. Hank Pym is Ant-Man! Ant-Man blends brilliant battlefield strategies with a guide-by-example bravery to unite Earth’s mightiest heroes against the forces of evil. The symbol on his chest means Ant-Man will always heed the call, ‘Avengers Assemble!'”

In 1999, after the massive success of their Spider-Man and X-Men animated series (and in light of the at least moderate success of Iron ManFantastic Four, and The Incredible Hulk), Marvel tried to bank on a few more cartoons.  From the “big team of colorful heroes” angle, we got Avengers: United They Stand, an ill-fated attempt at getting Earth’s Mightiest Heroes out to a wider audience before the MCU would do so far more successfully.  I’m an unashamed fan of the show, but it didn’t really hit with most people, and has generally been seen as a black mark on the team’s reputation in larger media terms.  Something notable about the show was its shift away from the big names in favor of focusing on the lower tier mainstays of the team.  In accordance with that, for the purposes of the show, the team’s leader wasn’t Captain America or Iron Man, but rather Ant-Man, specifically of the Hank Pym variety.


Ant-Man was released in the first series of Toy Biz’s tie-in line for Avengers: United They Stand, not that it was anything other than a clerical numbering, since all of the figures from both assortments shipped at the same time.  The figure stands about 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 16 points of articulation.  He’s remarkably posable for this era of figures, which certainly makes him a very playable figure.  Ant-Man had an all-new sculpt, based on his design from the show.  The show gave a good portion of the cast some rather radically different designs, Ant-Man included.  He got a whole armored appearance within the show, removing him quite a bit from his classic attire.  In retrospect, it’s not quite as crazy different, though, since elements of it would make their way into Scott Lang’s early ’00s re-design, and likewise would become part of the character’s MCU design.  He’s actually closer to the MCU Ant-Man than the classic is in many ways, making him a fair bit more recognizable.  I guess that’s an unintended bonus.  The sculpt does a respectable job of capturing the style of the show’s animation and translating into a working figure.  It honestly ends up looking pretty darn good, and may even be the best of the sculpts this line produced.  Heck, it’s just one of Toy Biz’s best 5-inch Marvel sculpts.  He’s even got a fully removable helmet, which was pretty great at the time.  The only slight oddity to the sculpt is his “action feature”; in order to simulate his ability to grow into Giant-Man in the show, they gave him extending limbs.  It’s not the worst concept in theory, but it doesn’t really give the intended effect; he just looks like he’s really stretchy.  Fortunately, it doesn’t at all impede the figure’s function at normal scale.  His paint work’s not bad for the era.  It’s a lot of base work, and it’s pretty cleanly applied.  There’s a little bit of wear on the hair on mine, but it’s otherwise held up pretty well in the two decades I’ve owned it, so I’ll consider that a win.  Ant-Man was packed with his removable helmet, a miniature version of himself, and the mini-ship he would ride around in on the show.  The ship could be placed on his back, like on the show, and could be fully deployed by using the magnet on his forearm to unlock it.  I’ve lost half of mini Ant-Man, because he was literally an inch tall and I was 7, as well as the hatch for the vehicle, because, again, 7, so, you know, that’s how it works.


I absolutely love this figure.  He’s probably my favorite figure from this line.  He just really works.  Despite that, he’s one of the very last figures I actually got from the line.  The line was rather scarce at launch, so finding multiples of figures wasn’t super likely.  Because of this, my dad and I wound up sharing most of the line, at least at first.  He wound up getting the first Ant-Man.  However, as the line began to become more plentiful, I started getting more of them, and Ant-Man was one of the last three I had left to get.  I mentioned this to my Grandmother, and she asked for a list of the three I was missing.  The next week, when I went over to their house, she pulled this guy out for me, having bought him in the mean time, and he very quickly became one of my favorites.  He holds up remarkably well, and I still really like him.



One of the primary appeals of ToyFare‘s exclusive mail away offers, for the 5-inch Marvel stuff, at least, was the ability to fill in some teams and line-ups that were just missing one stray character here or there, or at least give them at least a touch more depth to their numbers.  There were a lot of short-lived lines from Toy Biz in the ’90s, so they had plenty of loose ends to worry about.  Case in point: Generation X.  The X-spin-off team had their own line, which ran two series, and left the central team without a number of its core members.  While it was still rather lacking at the end of the day, they did get at least one extra core member via the mail-away set-up, and gave current main X-Men team member Everett Thomas, aka Synch, his very first (and to date, only) figure in the process.


Synch was offered up in ToyFare Magazine #9, first becoming available for order in May of 1998, and shipping out later that year.  After nine Marvel exclusives, they had a Witchblade figure for issue #8, and then came back to Marvel with this guy.  He was then the last Marvel exclusive for six months, when Havok picked up the baton.  The figure stands about 5 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  The Generation X figures were at a weird spot for Toy Biz, articulation wise, as they decided to eliminate the elbow and knee joints on all of the figures for some reason.  Synch did at least get extra shoulder movement, by virtue of making use of Banshee’s body from the main line.  Toy Biz apparently felt Banshee always needed the extra movement, and Synch got that on a technicality.  Or, perhaps he just copied it from Banshee using his powers.  That’s a pretty solid explanation, right?  In addition to using all of Banshee’s parts below the neck, Synch also got the head from the Space Riders version of Professor X.  It’s not quite the face I envision Synch having, but it was a bald head that actually had ears, which made it a better fit than the Silver Surfer head, I suppose.  It’s honestly not the worst choice.  The rest of the work is handled with the paint.  It does an okay job for the most part, but for some reason the belt buckle is way larger than the actual sculpted piece, which makes it look really strange.  That said, they did actually try on this one, and he even got some extra accenting on the yellow parts of his costume.  It’s a bit heavy handed in some spots, but the effort’s at least nice.


I actually kinda liked Generation X back in the day, and I really liked my figures of Jubilee, Chamber, and Skin from the toyline.  I didn’t have a Synch growing up, though, mostly because he just wasn’t a figure I ever saw turn up anywhere.  I know he’s not generally regarded as being a very good one, but I’ve never much looked into that.  Whatever the case, my first real chance to get one came quite recently, when he got traded into All Time, which made him an easy pick-up for me.  He’s not a bad figure.  Maybe not great, but he gets the job done.  It’s a shame that they didn’t ever get M or Husk out, leaving the team incomplete, even with this guy included.  Of course, with him just being added to the main X-team, maybe this won’t be the only Synch figure for too much longer.  Fingers crossed.



The ‘90s X-spin-off teams that weren’t X-Force all had to sort of find their footing within the already established lines that Toy Biz was putting out, which meant that some of them were fewer and further between.The line up to Peter David’s X-Factor run was definitely a slow build, as they sort of trickled out of the main X-Men line.The likes of Strong Guy, Havok, and Polaris all found spots, but Jaime Maddrox was, I guess, a step too far for the main line at the time.Good thing we had the exclusives game to rely on, huh?


Multiple Man was the mail away offer in ToyFare Magazine #4, offered up in December of 1997, and shipping out in early 1998.Though ostensibly part of the X-Men line still running from Toy Biz at the time, his box had no such branding, or any branding at all.It was just an all-white shipper, with him bagged up inside.They hadn’t gotten very fancy yet at this point.The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.He got extra joints at the ankles!Good for him, I suppose.Multiple Man was built on the body of Octo-Spider-Man, which was one of Toy Biz’s favorites to repaint.It’s a pretty decent slender build body, and it fits usual depictions of the character, so it works well for him.His head is re-used from Silver Surfer, and, apart from being perhaps a little devoid of character, it works perfectly alright for his full cowled look.It does have a slightly weird fit on the body, but generally it works okay.The rest of the magic is done with paint.Much like the Polaris figure, Multiple Man’s paint work gives him a weird amalgam of his various costume designs over the years.It was blue and yellow to match the rest of X-Factor, and it also had the x-symbol on the head, but the overall detailing on the main suit more matches up with his original costume design.Ultimately, this is a case where I think the amalgamated approach may really work better, since it just feels like a classic Multiple Man.It’s sort of a greatest hits set-up.He’s unfortunately missing out on his usual overcoat of the era; surely a cloth one wouldn’t have messed up their margins too badly?


I was exactly a year behind on getting a Multiple Man new, so I had to wait a few years.He still wound up as one of my earlier additions when I started actually get them.I remember seeing him in the same glass case that held the Wonder Man I was always looking at, but my first one actually came out of a $5 bin of loose figures, which was a real steal at the time.I also picked up a second one, quite recently, when it got traded into All Time, because it really never hurts to have more Multiple Men.He’s a simple figure, but I really liked him when I got him, and he’s a surprisingly effective figure.



Toy Biz’s tie-in to the big X-books crossover “Age of Apocalypse” in 1996 was a pretty quick, almost slapdash sort of a thing.  A single assortment, one and done, with no real follow-up.  They covered some of the heaviest hitters from the set, but with a story so widespread, there were certainly some gaps.  Toy Biz wound up filling in the line-up a little bit in the ensuing years via a handful of one-off and oddball releases, including a mail away offer to get our boy Morph out to people.  I mean, really, how can you not have Morph, right?  It would just be wrong.


Morph was offered up as an exclusive through ToyFare Magazine #22, first made available to order in June of 1999, and shipping out later that year.  He was the fifth post-line addition to the AoA line-up, following Gambit, Rogue, Nemesis, Blink, and X-Man.  He wound up being the last addition, actually, which seems both fitting and also downright unreasonable.  I mean, sure, he’s a great character to end the line-up on, but also how could you wait so long to do him?  How could you do that, now defunct toy company?  I demand answers!  Okay, maybe not so much.  The figure stands about 5 1/4 inches tall and he has 10 points of articulation.  As with all of these mail aways, he was constructed from as few new parts as possible, which was effectively none.  He uses the body of the AoA Magneto, with the modified torso piece from the Battle Brigade release, which adds in the neck articulation.  In place of either of the Magneto heads, Morph instead gets the standard head from the Spider-Man line’s Chameleon.  It’s all topped off with a cloth cape, which is affixed to the back of the torso, which is also really prone to fraying at the edges.  In general, it’s a selection of parts that gets a lot of the specifics of his design down, but misses the broader design elements of the character.  Like, the head is bald, lacks a nose and ears, and has wider eyes, which is all accurate, but he’s also really angry and mean looking, and very square jawed, which isn’t so much.  Likewise, the body gets some of the costume details down, but then it’s also way too bulked up for him.  Given that he’s a shape shifter, you can make it work, but he does feel a little bit like he’s missing the forest for the trees.  Generally speaking, the paint’s not too bad for a Toy Biz release of the era.  All of the important details are there, and he matches Morph’s design from the books.  He’s perhaps a touch too bright, but I don’t mind that so much.  Some of the application is a little sloppy, but not terribly so.  That said, I did have a weird issue with the one in all the pictures here, which is that the cape sat up against his boot in the package, and now he’s got a weird pattern on that boot.  Morph included no accessories, but honestly, what is there to give him?


This figure is the reason I know that AoA Morph exists.  Well, not specifically this figure; this figure is a replacement I picked up last year, when a sealed one got traded into All Time.  My original’s not quite as photogenic these days (like I said, that cape likes to fray), but he was given to me by a family friend, who had ordered him specifically for me back in the day.  It was how I found out about the character, and a few years later, it was why I picked up the first trade of Exiles, because he was on the cover.  Subsequently, I’ve become quite a fan of the character.  This figure may not be the best version, but it was better than nothing, and I certainly have a soft spot for him.




He’s maybe not Daredevil’s most prominent villain, but Bullseye’s probably his most *consistent* villain.  While DD’s other foes either didn’t start as his, or got passed off to other heroes, Bullseye actually debuted in DD’s book, and stayed with him most of his career.  How kind of him.  Of course, with Daredevil not tending to get his own dedicated toylines, that does mean that there are less reasons for him to get toy treatment.  That being the case, his first figure wasn’t a mainstream release at all, but rather an exclusive.


Bullseye was the mail-away exclusive offer in ToyFare #1, made available to order in September of 1997, and shipping out early the next year.  Bullseye’s costume really hadn’t changed much at this point in his career, apart from some minor adjustments here and there.  This one went for the most adjusted possible appearance, in order to keep him more current.  The figure stands a little over 5 inches tall and he has 9 points of articulation.  Structurally, Bullseye was built mostly out of parts from Punisher, with the head of Scorpion, both from the Spider-Man line.  Since they’re the same line and roughly the same time, the parts mesh together pretty decently.  The head maybe looks a bit too small, and it’s sort of tilted downward, but it generally works, and the parts do match up alright with Bullseye’s usual depictions.  The paint work on Bullseye is alright.  It gets the important details and he looks the part, but the application could certainly stand to be a little cleaner.  The stripes on the boots and gloves are a little uneven, and the paint on the face doesn’t quite seem like it knows exactly where it wants to go.  Overall, though, he’s about par for the course on these.  Accessories were a rarity on these figures, but Bullseye does actually get one; he’s got the same small knife that was included with Punisher, presumably so as to not leave him forever with an empty sheath on his leg.


Bullseye is one of the most recent ToyFare exclusives that I acquired.  I picked him up in late 2019, as part of a collection of otherwise ’90s DC stuff that came into All Time.  I wasn’t really expecting him to be there, you know, being Marvel and all, but he was, which saved me the trouble of tracking one down.  He’s not much to write home about, I suppose, but he does an alright job of capturing the character, and he’s a good choice for re-use, because he really doesn’t suffer much from the lack of new parts.  Ultimately, a decent addition.



NOTE: This review was written before June 6th.

Union Jack is one of those characters that’s rather hard to group within the Marvel Universe.  As effectively the British equivalent to Captain America, he generally tends to get fitted in there, but in the ’90s, when Cap wasn’t quite as much of a bankable power-house, that made getting a Union Jack figure a sort of a meandering task.  Enter the world of exclusives!


Union Jack was offered as a mail-away offer in ToyFare #7, made available to order in March of 1998 and shipping out later that same year.  At this point in time, the current Union Jack, Joey Chapman, was wearing a radically different costume, but this one of course had the appeal of potentially being any of the three of them, and Joey would eventually return to it anyway, making it a solid choice.  The figure stands about 5 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  He gets everything that was standard for these figures in terms of movement, as well as getting universal joints on his shoulders.  Yay for extra movement!  Union Jack is a repaint of the Spider-Man line’s Web-Glider Spider-man.  It was a pretty basic, clean base body, so it works overall.  The only slight downside is the presence of peg holes on the outsides of the calves, the back, and the sides of the torso.  They’re generally pretty small and easy to miss, though, and ultimately worth the trade-off of everything else the body offers.  It’s nicely balanced in terms of proportions, and just works well for the character.  He also gets a soft-goods belt piece, which is a little ill-fitting and goofy, but fits with the general aesthetic of other figures in the style.  His paint work is generally pretty solid.  They’ve done a nice job of capturing the distinctive layout of the character’s costume.  Some of the edges are a little fuzzy, and he makes the usual mistake of getting the pattern of the Union Jack inaccurate, since the white border is more or less uniform on all sides.  Still, it’s not horrible for what it is.  Despite a usual lack of accessories with these figures, Union Jack does get one: his knife.  Not typically his main go-to, but it’s one of the two weapons he’s always seen carrying, and it can even be stored in his belt.


Seeing as I’ve already stated that Havok was my entry point on these exclusives, I suppose it’s fairly obvious that this was another one I didn’t get new.  He’s a relatively recent addition to my collection, picked up not too long before I started the site in 2013 (in fact, he just missed the window of me starting to look at new additions to my collection by four figures, according to my list; cut that one very close), courtesy of Cosmic Comix.  He’s a fairly basic figure, but also a rather well done one.  Probably one of the better ToyFare exclusives.



NOTE: This review was written before June 6th.

It wasn’t terribly long ago I was discussing the creation of Firestar, a Marvel character that *didn’t* make her first appearance in the comics, but rather on Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends.  Despite being a rather popular show, Amazing Friends never got any direct toy tie-ins.  And, while that’s not so big a deal for the likes of Spider-Man and Ice Man, whose comic-counterparts had plenty of notoriety on their own, for Firestar, whose comic version has never had quite the same prominence, it made her more difficult to place for toy coverage.  As such, her very first action figure came not as a mass release, but rather as a mail-way exclusive, which I’ll be taking a look at today!


Firestar was the mail-away offer for ToyFare #2, made available to offer in October of 1997, and arriving the following spring.  Interestingly, while both Firestar and the immediate follow-up, Wonder Man, would gain prominence via membership in Busiek and Perez’s line-up for their relaunch of Avengers, that wouldn’t be until roughly a year after their releases, making it somewhat coincidental.  Much like Wonder Man, Firestar had no direct ties to any of Toy Biz’s currently running lines, making her another one-off.  The figure stands about 5 inches tall and she has 10 points of articulation.  Firestar was a total repaint, specifically of the Medusa figure from the Fantastic Four line.  It’s admittedly not one of Toy Biz’s finest.  The articulation’s kind of wonky, as are the proportions, and she’s also got a lot of sculpted details for her costume that don’t correspond to Firestar.  On the plus side, the lack of volume to the hair is at least less of an issue here, and, honestly, her being stuck in this pose with her arms sort of raised, does at least work better for Firestar than it did for Medusa.  In general, I do feel like the sculpt works better as Firestar, which is odd, because it’s so clearly not for Firestar.  Really, everything about this sculpt just continues to be weird.  The paint work is fairly sparse.  For the most part, she’s just molded in the proper colors, mostly the yellow, though the hair is molded in the proper red.  Beyond that, the paint’s decent enough.  Firestar had no accessories, but that was fairly standard with these releases.


As I mentioned in the Legends review, Firestar’s always been a favorite of mine.  I didn’t actually order this figure new, however, and she was one of those ones that had sort of a silly value for a while during my primary time collecting Toy Biz Marvel.  Instead, I wound up finally getting her during my period of getting back into 5-inch Marvel just after starting college.  I found her on a dealer’s table at Mego Meet of all places, and wound up getting her for something silly, like $5.  She’s not great.  She’s not even particularly good.  But, she’s an alright stand-in for the character, and she was our only Firestar for far too long.  All that said, the sting of this figure is certainly lessened by the existence of the Legends release from earlier this year.



NOTE: This review was written before June 6th.

I was just talking about Hulu’s M.O.D.O.K. earlier this week, so why not talk about it a little bit more?  The show brings in a lot of slightly more obscure characters, and does some fun stuff with them.  Amongst those characters is Simon Williams, aka Wonder Man, who is voiced by Nathan Fillion (who was previous supposed to cameo as Williams in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but had his role cut), and who serves as the rebound fling for M.O.D.O.K.’s wife Jodie.  As someone who’s been a Wonder Man fan since way before it was even approaching cool to be a Wonder Man fan (which, honestly, is any time before, like the last month), I was thrilled to see him show up, and loved the hell out of Fillion in the role.  I’d still love to see him pull it off in live action, though.  Wonder Man’s actually had a small handful of figures over the years, but today, I’m going back to the beginning and taking a look at his very first!


Wonder Man was the exclusive mail-away offer in ToyFare #3, made available for order in November of 1997, and shipping out the following spring.  Interestingly, the character was actually still dead at the time of the figure’s release, although his return in the third volume of Avengers would wind up happening in the same year as this figure’s official release, by coincidence no doubt.  While Havok had ties to the X-Men line specifically, Wonder Man was a far more open-ended figure, since there was no dedicated Avengers line at the time.  Unlike the later figures, he got no fancy package and just shipped in a plain white mailer.  The figure stands just over 5 inches tall and he has 9 points of articulation.  Wonder Man’s sculpt is a complete re-use, namely of Archangel II, minus the wings, of course.  As I’ve discussed before, it was a sculpt that Toy Biz rather liked.  It’s not a terrible choice for Wonder Man, especially for that late ’80s, John Byrne West Coast Avengers look they seemed to be aiming for.  The head sculpt’s still a little bit wonky, and he’s got the remnants of the wing-flapping mechanism on his back still.  But, for a straight repaint, he actually really works, so I’ve got to give them some serious props on that.  The paint work’s fairly straight forward on this guy, but it certainly gets the job done, and conveys his design properly.  Wonder Man included no accessories, but he certainly falls into that territory of “what would you give him?”


I think I’ve mentioned this before, but Busiek and Perez’s relaunch of Avengers was happening right as I got into reading comics, and my dad was picking it up and letting me read it with him.  Wonder Man’s return is kind of a notable part of that, and I definitely gained an attachment to the character through that.  I remember that there was a comic store near my parents’ house that had this figure in their glass case, for the unthinkable price of, like $25, and I used to stare at it all the time, but never got it.  My dad wound up getting me this one as, I believe, and Easter gift, more than likely in 2000 or so.  His nature as a repaint makes him a little iffy, but ultimately, he does work pretty well.

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Toy Biz

This article is about the defunct toy division of Marvel Enterprises/Entertainment. For for the company itself, see Marvel Entertainment.

Toy Biz (formerly stylized as ToyBiz and later re-branded to Marvel Toys) was an American toy company which later became a subsidiary of Marvel Enterprises/Entertainment. It was best known for producing action figures, stuffed toys, and role-playing games of various licensed brands and characters.

The company originated in Montreal, Quebec, as Charan Toys. In 1988, Charan Toys was renamed to ToyBiz and became an American firm. In 1990, it obtained the master toy license for the Marvel Entertainment Group, and by 1993 became partially owned by Marvel.[1] In 1998, ToyBiz merged with Marvel Entertainment Group to bring it out of bankruptcy, with the two companies merging and creating Marvel Enterprises. Whilst the original 'ToyBiz' was absorbed into Marvel Enterprises, Marvel Enterprises called its main toy subsidiary 'Toy Biz' (with the space in-between the two words), as consumers were familiar with the Toy Biz brand. In 2005, Marvel Enterprises was renamed to Marvel Entertainment to reflect the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In addition to this, Toy Biz replaced its name with 'Marvel Toys' on some of its non-Marvel figure lines to reflect the universe name change. The subsidiary would then become 'Marvel Toys' outright by the end of 2006.

Due to Marvel Entertainment's bankruptcy, the company became financially unable to continue to run the Marvel Toys subsidiary at its current level, and Hasbro purchased the master toy license for Marvel Entertainment characters, releasing its first products in January 2007. Marvel Toys attempted to survive with non-Marvel owned characters throughout 2007, though still faced financial problems. The website for Marvel Toys became inactive in late 2007.


Late 20th century to 1997[edit]

Charan Toys (Canadian company)[edit]

The company's original forerunner was a Canadian company, Chantex, Inc., which started in the late 19th century. Started by the Zuckerman family, the business grew from $.16 million in sales to sales of $4.5 million in 1980.[1] In 1980, Chantex merged with Earl Takefman's Randim Marketing, Inc., a school supply manufacturer and wholesaler, to become Charan Industries Inc.[2] Its Charan Toy, Inc. subsidiary became a leading licensing toy company in 1985.[1] In addition to toys, Charan implemented brands in other areas, including acquiring a hockey equipment brand in the mid-1980s.[3]

Toy Biz (American company)[edit]

In 1990, Charan, including the Toy Biz subsidiary, was purchased by businessman Ike Perlmutter.[4] In 1993, Toy Biz made a deal for "exclusive, perpetual, royalty-free licenses" of Marvel Characters for 46 percent of Toy Biz equity.[5]Avi Arad, a toy designer and comic book fan joined Toy Biz that same year.[4]

Toy Biz continued licensing outside brands, including Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess action figures based on the Action Pack television series shown on many New World Television stations. Also, agreements with Gerber[6] and NASCAR were acquired.[citation needed][1] In 1995, Toy Biz acquired Spectra Star, Inc.[7] and Quest Aerospace Education, Inc., both toy companies.[1] Toy Biz started up its Classic Heroes candy division in 1996, which sold candy/toy combinations using mainly Marvel characters.[citation needed] The company also entered the electronic learning aids (ELA) segment of the toy industry in 1996 with a licensing agreement with Apple Computer.[1]

Toy Biz partially acquired Marvel Entertainment Group.[8] In the late 1990s, Marvel Entertainment Group filed for bankruptcy and became the subject of a battle for control in bankruptcy court.[9][10] The company was salvaged in 1997 and merged with Toy Biz in 1998.[11][8] The new company became Marvel Enterprises, and Toy Biz became a division of the new company.[12][5]

Toy Biz and Marvel Entertainment Group merged to form Marvel Enterprises. This entity became the holdings company for Marvel assets.

1998 to 2007[edit]

Toy Biz as a subsidiary[edit]

In 1999, Toy Biz ventured into professional wrestling. Toy Biz to acquired the master toy license of World Championship Wrestling (WCW). After two years, the license deal was cut short, due to WCW being purchased by the World Wrestling Federation/WWF (Now World Wrestling Entertainment/WWE) in 2001.[citation needed] The company also licensed products for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling.[13]

In 2001, Marvel Enterprises licensed the rights to the 'Toy Biz' name to a Hong Kong-based toy manufacturer, Toy Biz Worldwide Ltd. Toy Biz also outsourced much of the manufacturing to Toy Biz Worldwide.[14] The deal was ended abruptly in 2006.[15][16]

In September 2005, Marvel Enterprises changed its name to Marvel Entertainment to reflect the corporation's expansion into creating the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As a result of this change, Toy Biz would replace some branding of its figure lines, and replace it with a 'Marvel Toys' logo instead. This only applied to non-Marvel Comics products, as Marvel Comics characters would still continue to use the Toy Biz branding.[citation needed]

Marvel Entertainment licensing agreement to Hasbro[edit]

In January 2006, Marvel Entertainment signed a five-year licensing agreement with Hasbro Inc. for $205 million, giving Hasbro the right to make toys and games based on Marvel Comic licenses. As a result of this, Marvel Entertainment prematurely terminated its agreement with Toy Biz Worldwide Ltd, by a year.[16] As a result of the early termination, Marvel Entertainment paid Toy Biz Worldwide a penalty of between $13–16 million USD. Marvel Entertainment officially stopped using the "Toy Biz" branding and name from January 1, 2007, and the division was rebranded as Marvel Toys.[citation needed]

Throughout 2007, the division struggled to stay afloat without the Marvel Comic characters. The company introduced a series called the Legendary Comic Book Heroes – making action figures of non-Marvel Comic characters, though it suffered with poor sales. The company also furthered its TNA Wrestling, Code Lyoko, and Curious George lines. Marvel Entertainment quietly began to close the division. In late 2007, the company's website shut down.[17][failed verification]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ abcdef"Toy Biz, Inc. -- Company History". Retrieved 12 April 2011.
  2. ^Ward, Arthur (2020-02-24). Action Figures: From Action Man to Zelda. The Crowood Press. ISBN .
  3. ^Sentinel, Orlando. "BUSINESS DEAL. Charan Industries Inc. of Montreal..." Retrieved 2019-04-17.
  4. ^ ab"Marvel's $1.4 Billion Man".
  5. ^ abRaviv, Dan (April 2002). Comic Wars. Broadway Books. ISBN .
  6. ^Madore, Bt James T. (1994-02-19). "COMPETITORS CROWD FISHER-PRICE'S MARKET". The Buffalo News. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
  7. ^"Company Briefs". The New York Times. 1995-08-22. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
  8. ^ ab"Toy Biz to take over Marvel - Jun. 29, 1998". Retrieved 2019-04-17.
  9. ^Norris, Floyd (1997-04-29). "Marvel Proposes a Merger With Toy Biz". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
  10. ^Errico (27 December 1996). "Marvel Files for Bankruptcy".
  11. ^Williams, Trey (2018-04-29). "How Marvel Bounced Back From Bankruptcy to Become Hollywood's Biggest Brand". SFGate. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
  12. ^Norris, Floyd (29 April 1997). "Marvel Proposes a Merger With Toy Biz". The New York Times.
  13. ^"Figure Collections".
  14. ^"Marvel Reviews Synergies in Toy and Toy Licensing Operations". Retrieved 2018-03-30.
  15. ^"Marvel Terminates Toy Biz Worldwide Licensing Agreement and Plans for Transition to Hasbro License in 2007". 2006-01-09. Retrieved 2019-05-01.
  16. ^ ab"Marvel, Toy Biz Worldwide Part Ways". Animation Magazine. 2006-01-09. Retrieved 2018-03-26.
  17. ^"Marvel Toys - Home". October 31, 2007. Archived from the original on October 31, 2007. Retrieved 2018-03-26.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)

External links[edit]


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