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Remembering Toy Biz’s Iron Man and Fantastic Four Action Figures

By Alex Wiggan

Previously, on the Honcho-SFX blog, we’ve discussed Toy Biz’s popular line of X-Men and Spider-Man toys from the 1990s. Today it’s the turn of not one, but two more toy lines from the ‘90s – Iron Man and the Fantastic Four.

As previously discussed, Toy Biz’s X-Men and Spidey toys were pretty awesome, with both lines featuring a strong collection of classic characters. The Iron Man and FF toys were no different and collected up some of the greatest heroes in the Marvel Universe.

Released to tie-in with The Marvel Action Hour – an hour-long TV programme composed of an Iron Man cartoon and a Fantastic Four cartoon – the two separate toy lines were pretty impressive. Each collected together a wealth of figures, all produced in the same size and scale as Spider-Man and X-Men sets, and each threw more characters onto toy shelves than anyone could imagine.

Basically, if you were a kid during the ‘90s and you wanted to build the Marvel Universe in your own bedroom, then the Iron Man and FF assortments helped you to achieve that goal pretty quickly. Using the cartoons as a spring board, the two lines featured various Avengers, various cosmic characters – including a few Inhumans – and various villains.

For the first wave, the Iron Man line included War Machine, Mandarin, Blacklash Spider-Woman, Grey Gargoyle, Hydro Armor Iron Man and regular Iron Man. Later waves introduced characters such as Hawkeye, U.S. Agent, Century and MODOK, amongst others.

Perhaps the biggest selling point of the Iron Man collection was the many (many) Iron Man figures that cropped up across its run. Usually this would be frustrating to see, as who needs more than one Iron Man, right? However, on this occasion it actually worked in the line’s favour, as kids were able to build up Tony Stark’s armoury in quick succession.

Hydro Armor Iron Man, Space Armor Iron Man, Hologram Armor Iron Man and Stealth Iron Man were all part of the many variants that popped up, as was Hulkbuster Iron Man. Hulkbuster Iron Man was an awesome figure, worthy of a place in any kids’ collection, and remains one of the best-looking Iron Man toys to ever grace the toy shelf.

Released at the same time as Iron Man wave one, the first wave of Fantastic Four figures kicked off with Black Bolt, Mole Man, Dr. Doom, Mr. Fantastic, Silver Surfer, Terrax and the Thing. Later waves included the Invisible Woman, the Human Torch, Thanos, Namor, Attuma, Medusa and even Galactus!

As with most figures at the time, especially those made by Toy Biz, many of the toys boasted ‘action features’, such as rubber arms (Mr. Fantastic), snap-on armour (Iron Man) or light up components (Mandarin). Most of the ‘action features’ were designed to enhance play and in the case of the Iron Man toys the snap-on parts actually gave kids the opportunity to construct/dismantle their Iron Man toys at will.

Although the Iron Man and Fantastic Four figures were fairly successful, neither line had quite the staying power of the X-Men or Spider-Man toys, however, there was probably a reason for this. Both of the ‘toons they were associated with were pretty lousy – especially the Iron Man cartoon which was poorly written and really dull – so the writing was on the wall pretty much from the get go.

In total, both Iron Man and Fantastic Four ran for four waves, with both sets accompanied by a range of 10inch figures, as well as assorted vehicles, playsets and projector toys. If you remember them, or you owned any of the FF/Iron Man toys, you really did have an awesome childhood.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this trip down memory lane and don’t forget to check out our previous posts on Toy Biz’s X-Men and Spider-Man sets.

 

 

 

About the author: Alex Wiggan has written blog posts for Honcho-SFX blog since October 2014. He likes writing, eating pizza and watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Sometimes in that order.

 

Love Marvel? Us too! Then check out Honcho-SFX’s extensive range of Marvel products including this Star-lord shirt, this Guardians of the Galaxy squad tee and this Rocket and Groot shirt.

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