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Mucus Tick

Indie Spotlight
by yo go re

In 1986, Ben Edlund created The Tick as a mascot for his local comicshop, New England Comics. Two years later the character had his own black-and-white comicbook, and in less than a decade it was a Saturday morning cartoon on Fox. The show wasn't as successful as TMNT, but was one of the few legitimately funny cartoons to come out of the '90s.

Mucus Tick is the result of alien experimentation with the sticky, disgarded [sic] tissues disposed of by The Tick himself while in the grip of a most "Uncommon Cold." The result was a creature with the strength, speed and invulnerability of the mighty blue hero, all packed into a gelatinous form that can squeeze through any opening, no matter how small. Mucus Tick was banished to another dimension with his master, leaving him stranded, but far from defeated. Some say his viral nature has spawned an army of drippy brethren ready to march the second a door to our world should open once again.

Now that's interesting - until the last sentence, that bio is an accurate recap of the Season 1 episode "The Tick vs. the Uncommon Cold," but the bit about there being an army waiting to invade is all-new. Tick now has his own Expanded Universe! The packaging for this exclusive isn't the same as all the other Indie Spotlight toys: same shape, and same easy-to-open design, but instead of red and orange, it's black and green. The character pictures are different from the ones on the regular Tick's packaging, with the only blue Tick being inset in a small circle and calling the whole thing "gross." The packaging insert shows seven Mucus Ticks in various poses, and the backdrop behind the figure looks like one of Thrakkorzog's tentacles - a nice Easter egg for fans of the show!

Mucus Tick is that old action figure standby, the translucent variant. It works a lot better than Shocker Toys' previous attempt, Clear Yellow Scud, though, because it has a real basis: as we said, this figure is based on the cartoon, and in the cartoon, Mucus Tick was see-through green - kind of like Futurama's Horrible Gelatinous Blob. The green used for the toy is darker than what was seen in the cartoon, but the idea is the same and the intention is clear. Of course, in the cartoon he also had shape-changing abilities, but that's not exactly present here.

The sculpt is simple, but it's a perfect representation of The Tick. He's got spindly little legs, but a huge upper body - they even purposely designed him with his shoulder joints sticking out of the trunk more than they needed to, to better capture his vastly oversized bulk. The detail in the sculpt is a bit soft; and yes, that suits this "liquid" Tick very well, but it won't look out of place on the real version, either - Tick never fell prey to the "Liefeldification" of comics in the '90s, so he doesn't need tons of intricate detailing, just the suggestion of massive muscles, and the toy does that right.

Mucus Tick comes with two heads, though they're nigh-identical: one happy and one angry. They both have different-sized eyes, and they're both showing a lot of teeth, so no one would blame you if you thought they were identical at a glance. Shocker really should have given the angry one a determined scowl or something, to help set him apart - it's not like the Tick is always smiling, you know? Still, the angry head works better on Mucus Tick than it does on the regular version. It seems more appropriate, you know? The only paint apps on the figure are found on the head(s). The skin is light green, the eyes are lighter green, and the teeth are the lightest green of all: white. The mouth is outlined in black, which gets a bit sloppy - maybe they should have just relied on the sculpt to differentiate the teeth?

The articulation is top-notch. Mucus Tick has balljointed ankles, double-hinge knees, swivel/hinge/swivel hips, a balljointed waist and torso, balljointed wrists, double-hinge elbows, swivel biceps, swivel/hinge shoulders, a balljointed neck, and a double-balljointed head. The joints all hold surprisingly well, even the balljoints that have to support the weight of this massive guy. If he falls over, it will be because he was off-balance, not because the joints gave way. The only problem with the figure is that the waist and torso are both so ovaloid, they don't turn very far before the pieces bump. It's made up for by the expressiveness in the rest of the body, though.

There are an extra set of hands included in the tray, but they seem rather pointless. See, his "normal" hands are fists, and so are the extras: the only difference is that the second hands have been sculpted with a narrow hole running through them to accommodate the accessory. Why not just make one pair of fists with holes, and one pair with open fingers for more expressive poses? A thumbs up, a pointing finger, something.

The only accessory is a stop sign that's been ripped out of the ground. While The Tick used a stop sign as a weapon in The Tick #8, Mucus Tick never did anything similar, so this is just a holdover. It's fully painted, but it's not identical to the normal release: that one has a "rusty" finish, while this one is clean. Apparently mucus is a rust remover; who knew! The instructions say to remove the sign or the chunk of road to slip the post into the fist, but good luck: they were put together while the paint was still a little wet, so you'll have to pry them apart without breaking anything. At one point the figure was planned to come with a spoon, as well, but that didn't make it to the final version. And now I'm sad!

Mucus Tick is an Idle Hands/Dread Central exclusive, available through Shocker Toys' website. It's limited to 1,000 pieces, and at $22, only costs a few dollars more than the standard release (though we were given this one as a review sample). It's a rare case when one of these translucent variants is also a canonical part of the story, so fans of the Tick are absolutely going to want this one. Shocker Toys may have a pretty severe PR problem with the fan community, but there's no denying that they make great toys: if Mucus Tick is any indication, Indie Spotlight 2 is going to be just as excellent as Indie Spotlight 1.

-- 07/08/11


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