Marvel got a big shot of mainstream recognition for their most popular characters in 2000. In July, the X-Men movie was released, and the animated X-Men: Evolution debuted in November. But while they were major successes, there was a problem: they also both reimagined the X-Universe, rather than following the established continuity. So any new fans who would have been curious about the books would have been severely confused if they picked up an issue. That's where Ultimate X-Men came in. In an effort to woo new fans, Ultimate Marvel features some of the most recognizable characters stripped of decades and decades of continuity - their stories are no longer a series of complex in-jokes that refer endlessly to themselves.
Mortal enemy of the feral X-Man known as Wolverine, the merciless Sabretooth is a mutant super-villain with an accelerated healing factor, brute strength, razor-sharp talons and hyper-keen senses! An unpredicatble and relentless predator, Victor Creed closes in on his prey with the ferocity of a wild animal!
Sabretooth showed up early in Ultimate X-Men. He was in the second storyarc, and his reasons for hating Wolverine were much clearer than in the 616 reality: here he is, working for Weapon X, and in walks some new kid with powers just like his, and everyone falls all over themselves like Wolverine is the greatest thing ever. No wonder he can't stand the little runt.
This figure comes from Series 3 of the new X-Men line, which has been mixing original designs with the Ultimate versions of the characters. Ultimate Sabretooth is 7" tall, and moves at the toes, ankles, boots, knees, hips, waist, torso, fingers, wrists, forearms, elbows, shoulders and neck. He has a "claw slashing" action feature - you wind his arm up and press a button to let it go - but that doesn't get in the way of the articulation at all.
Ultimate Sabretooth still works for a government agency,
so he doesn't dress up in an orange and brown cat suit. Instead, he's wearing combat boots and olive drab pants. It's not clear why he's got straps buckled around his thighs, or what appear to be leather strips all up his arms. This isn't a 100% comic-accurate look for him: he wore a white wifebeater in the series, and he never wore this coat. The coat seems like a nod to X-Men: Evolution, which was itself a reworking of the movie costume. He still looks cool.
The sculpt is very good. The coat looks like worn leather, and the slight fur trim is appropriately fuzzy. The material of his pants bunches around the straps, and all the tiny grommets are right there on his boots. The face is a bit weird - with those huge cheekbones, it looks like Willem Dafoe. If he were about 200 pounds heavier. His pointy little ears are a molded part of his hair, and his brow is wrinkled.
Ultimate Sabretooth has one major difference from his main line counterpart. When he and Wolverine finally had their big showdown, he had a surprise for the little runt: claws. He'd had four adamantium blades implanted in his arms. Of course, like Wolverine said,
"Four claws on each hand, huh? You really put a lot of thought into that redesign, Sabretooth. That should definitely shake your rep as the made-in-Hong-Kong version of me." The figure's claws are remarkably straight and strong, which raises the question: if they can do it for Sabretooth, why can't they get this stuff right for Wolverine? He's even got interchangeable hands, like we all want to see on Logan. In the comic, the third claw out on his left hand was broken, somehow, but the figure has a full set. Oh well.
The figure has one other accessory
that was shown at Toy Fair, but no one actually thought it would see the light of day. In his very first panel, he threatened "tell me what to do again and those ears of yours get a place on my victory necklace." Amazingly, ToyBiz actually designed, sculpted and included a removable necklace of ears. There are 26 ears molded on the necklace, but the sparse dry brushing that might have supplied flesh color for the pieces doesn't really bring out the detail - if you don't know what they are, you'll probably never be able to tell, and that's likely why they could get an accessory like this on a mass-market figure. Clever!
Ultimate Sabretooth is a really good toy. The design is nice, the action feature doesn't get in the way, and it's a great addition to the burgeoning "Ultimate Marvel" set of toys. Now let's hope some of what was done right for Sabretooth carries over to future Wolverines.
Who'd win in a fight, Ultimate Sabretooth or regular Sabretooth? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.