Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Toybiz X-Men Bishop 1996

ToyBiz was in business for a long time. Before they started kicking articulation's ass, however, they produced more basic lines. It seems like they made about 25,000 X-Men figures in the 1990's, but it could have been a few less than that. Bishop here was released in 1993. This was the fourth series of their X-Men line, and Bishop was joined on the shelf with Apocalypse, Omega Red, Strong Guy (no, seriously, that's his name.. it's a long story..), Tusk (he didn't age well), Wolverine in black, Wolverine in blue, and Wolverine in green, produced for the no-longer-existent KayBee Toys. Let's just say it wasn't hard to buy a Wolverine figure in 1993.This figure is actually the repaint, "Bishop II" from 1996, but the paint was the only real change that was made.
The first X-Men figures that ToyBiz made for their line were... how can I put this politely? They weren't terribly good. I absolutely love them for their nostalgic value, don't get me wrong, but they haven't aged well with their sculpting. The Wolverine from the line (1991) was actually something I bought for my younger brother when he was four years old. Last year, I got one as a Christmas gift from him. It was awesome. Wait, what were we talking about?
Oh, right! Bishop! Bishop is a time-traveling mutant from the 90s. I know that covers just about every mutant from the 90s, but Bishop was different. He shot energy out of his hands! Oh, wait, so did every other mutant from the 90s. Uhm, he had random straps on him! No.. no, that's the same, too. Uhm, he was black? (Checks notes) Yep! That makes him different! To say there was a "type" in the 90s is like saying cheeseburgers come with cheese. It's kind of just a given. He did have a giant bandana, so that's something, as well.
Taking a look at these pictures and comparing them to a picture of someone from Series 1..
shows just how far ToyBiz came in their sculpting in just a couple of years. There is a reason for that, and that reason is Todd McFarlane and his toy company, but I've talked about that before and will again. For being a twenty year old figure, Bishop is really amazing to look at. I can't believe I'm saying this, but he also has a great action feature. I know, I hate action features as well, but this one actually fits the character and doesn't get in the way of anything. His right arm is set up so that it can be raised up, and then pushing a button on the back with lower the arm again. That's pretty common, but the accessory pairs with it to make it unique. See, one of Bishop's guns is actually hinged. It falls back as the arm is raised and snaps into place "or cocks" when the button is pressed and the arm lowered. It's actually pretty fun.

I will tell you what really blows me away with the sculpting however. The musculature is great, the facial expression is appropriately stern, the articulation is functional without breaking the sculpt, and the paint is very solid, but that's not the reason. No, no. It is the hair. Check out that beautiful, flowing mullet. The strands of hair are fantastically well sculpted and detailed. I sincerely wish I knew who did the sculpt, but I wasn't able to dig out that information. If someone knows, please feel free to share the information!
Anyway, this is really one of the best examples of ToyBiz before they moved on to bigger and better articulation. The sculpt has personality and is unique to the character, making it very clear that ToyBiz was able to answer the challenge of McFarlane Toys, and would later go on to raise the bar even further.
This was an interesting time in the evolution of modern, plastic toys and a great representation of the mid-90s quality of figures. The guns aren't too small, the figure is solidly built, and so would be fantastic for young and old both. There are figures that are nostalgic and lacking, while there are other figures that are nostalgic and fantastic. This is, undoubtedly, the latter. Finding him for three bucks open made him even better. Make no mistake, this is a figure worthy of display, and I plan to keep him that way. Ultimately, he is well worth picking up on the cheap.


Eric Stettmeier on January 4, 2014 at 9:59 AM said...

He does look great! I didn't follow the X-Men toys in the nineties much, nor did I follow the comics very closely or watch the cartoon. So while I know of Bishop and who he is, my knowledge of his character is pretty limited. But he sure does scream '1990s', except he could use a few more pouches!

Oh, and I recently saw a pic from the upcoming X-Men movie Days of Future Past. Apparently Bishop will be in that movie. Not sure if it's a bit part or a big one, but with eighty squillion mutants from multiple decades and timelines, I doubt anyone besides Wolverine will get more than a line or two!

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