At the end of 2009, online retailer Action Figure Xpress offered two exclusive box sets, both featuring the same characters: the First Appearance X-Men, and X-Factor. Since it's basically just an excuse to release the same figures twice, we'll be reviewing them in tandem. This review is the First Appearance X-Men; for X-Factor, click here.
Scott Summers was the first mutant recruited to the X-Men
by Charles Xavier. With powerful optic blasts capable of immense destruction, Scott took the name Cyclops and controlled his power with a special ruby quartz visor.
Cyclops has a reputation as a total stick-in-the-mud, but that's not entirely deserved. Look at the early issues of X-Men, and he's the team badass. Sure, he's kind of unsure and reserved, but at the time, he was carrying the most power; he did whatever Prof. X said because he was afraid of killing all his friends. It's easy to be Wolverine, doing whatever you want all the time: to be Cyclops, to win without breaking the rules, is damn hard, and the guy doesn't get enough credit for that.
Cyke's mask/visor thing is removable, and he has a new light brown hair piece so he doesn't have to walk around bald all day. His face is painted with a slight calm smile, and he's wearing his ruby quartz glasses. Yet again we'd like to take this opportunity to point out that it'd be really neat if AA painted a second face on the back of figures' heads when appropriate. One side here could have the glasses, the other could show glowing red eyes.
Hank McCoy's mutant agility and enhanced physical
attributes helped him achieve athletic superiority in high school before causing a rift with "normal" students and leading McCoy to join the X-Men.
Beast was one of those characters who were supposed to be physically distinct, but ended up looking completely normal since Jack Kirby drew everyone looking monstrously inhuman. The guy may have had a flair for the dynamic, but "attractive" wasn't his strong suit. Anyway, to represent the way he's supposed to look, this figure gets some extra pieces: a "powerhouse" chest, oversized hands from Ultimate Hulk, and new feet that are similar to the larger feet several Hulks have come with, just with notches cut out of the back to keep him from being too tall. Pretty smart!
Hank was pretty happy-go-lucky in his early X-Men days, but this figure has somewhat of a worried expression. You can remove his mask, showing off those strong cheekbones, and replace it with a short brown hairdo. If you're not a fan of the ginormous hands and feet, the set includes extras: the hands become standard Minimate human hands, but the extra feet are the full-height versions of the "big" feet. Aww, sad!
Brought to Charles Xavier for treatment after psychically
sharing the death of her best friend Annie Richards, Jean Grey's telepathy and telekinesis were blocked until she could better control her mutant powers and join the X-Men.
Some people insist that the original X-Men uniforms were black and yellow, but that's emphatically not the case. They were blue, with dark shadows, not black with blue highlights. People make the same wrong-headed argument about Spider-Man's costume, too, proving that they're just trying to look cleverer than they are. Jean and Scott share a lot of pieces, such as the belt, gloves and boots, but technically the entire torso should be yellow, not just a stripe up the center (that came later). Then we wouldn't have the all-blue shoulders, either.
Marvel Girl's hair pokes out the back of her mask, falling onto her shoulders, but it doesn't render her head completely immobile. That's a nice surprise! Her replacement hair is a cute little bob, curling around her jaw and leaving more space above the shoulders. She has a very simple expression, but there does seem to be at least a slight smile there - that's more than we can say for any of the boys.
After accidentally using his mutant control over ice
to show a local bully the error of his ways, young Bobby Drake is recruited by Professor Xavier and Cyclops to be the second member of the founding X-Men.
Iceman was the youngest member of the X-Men's traditional five man band. While Warren was Scott's biggest rival for Jean's affections, Bobby was his biggest rival in "professional" situations. It's not that he wanted to be in charge, but that he was bratty, petulant and had no time for authority. You know, like most teens. Since his only costume element is the inclusion of boots, they're not solid yellow like the others': he needed to have some of blue, so his boots only have yellow cuffs. He's also the only figure in the set to get an actual accessory: an ice blast.
The figure, like the previous Iceman Minimate, is clear. However, unlike the previous Iceman Minimate, he shouldn't be. See, despite his codename, "Iceman" started off as more of a "Snowman." These days he converts his entire body to solid ice, but back then, he just covered himself with a thick layer of frost. The paint does its best to convey that, by making the lines raggedy, but the figure should be solid beneath that, not translucent.
So the First Appearance X-Men set is realy nice, but you may have noticed something missing - Angel. He didn't make it into the X-Factor set, either. Why did Warren get cut? Well, probably because his wings didn't cost out. However, to make sure fans could complete their classic X-Men team, Art Asylum found a way to get Angel into the market (sort of). "Silver Age" Angel was announced as the variant for Series 31, packaged with the army-building Multiple Man. So if you can track that set down, you'll have your whole team together.