Monday, October 20, 2008

New 8 Inch Captain Action Figure

Within a few brief years, Captain Action Enterprises has launched a wide selection of Captain Action merchandise, from t-shirts to comics to models. Now they've teamed up with Castaway Toys to produce new Mego-style 8 inch Captain Action and Dr. Evil action figures (currently called "Dr. Eville" to avoid legal trouble with the Austin Powers people). Creating an all new figure in a different scale rather than producing replicas of the 11 1/2 inch figures was a smart move in my opinion. A decade ago, Playing Mantis produced 1/6th scale reproductions of the vintage Captain Action figures and costumes with mixed results. The phrase "close but no cigar" comes to mind. Since most of the Playing Mantis products are still easily obtained on eBay at reasonable prices, there really seemed no need to do yet another repro line. These new 8 inch figures will appeal to both the Captain Action collectors and the much larger Mego audience.


I pre-ordered the Early Bird Special Editions some months ago and, after numerous setbacks with the Chinese manufacturers, the figures were finally shipped. When I received my shipment on Saturday, I was immediately pleased to see that the blister packs in which the figures are packaged can be easily opened, so you can take out the figure and the accessories, then neatly return them to the package. Of course, I broke into the box right away and checked out the figure. Castaway Toys promised a body that would be superior to some of the current Mego-type bodies out there, and they delivered. The body feels quite sturdy for its size and mimics the shape and articulation of the vintage figure pretty effectively. I don't know if it's the vinyl they use nowadays or what, but the headsculpt bears a stronger resemblance to the Playing Mantis version than the vintage one, primarily because the new vinyl seems less opaque. Also, the tone gives Cap a darker, more olivey complexion.

While the standard figures come with the basic accessories, these special editions offer a few extras. In the case of the Captain Action figure, you get the blue belt and blue-hilted sword like the one the vintage toy came with as well as a silver-and-red belt and gold-hilted sword like the ones pictured in the vintage box artwork. While the figure comes with a head modeled on the original doll, the special edition provide an alternative headsculpt which looks a bit like the alternative Playing Mantis head covered in Fred Flinstone beard stubble. There's also a few Captain Action and Mego Museum trading cards thrown in. Not a bad deal for five extra bucks.


The Dr. Eville special edition also offers some extra goodies. The standard figure looks very much like the vintage doll. Castaway Toys has even mimicked the greenish-blue tinge on the head that didn't quite match the bright blue on the body. For the early bird package, I received an alternative headsculpt that looks like the Playing Mantis alternative head, complete with the matching skin color and more horrific paint details. I also got two versions of Dr. Eville's necklace: one with an amber stone like the vintage figure, and one with a ruby stone. The ray gun, sandals, and Dr. Ling mask are remarkably accurate reproductions of the vintage toys even though the pieces are shrunk down to smaller scale. The bad doctor's Nehru suit, however, is a much darker shade of blue than the one offered on the vintage figure and the jacket is a bit too small around the neck and shoulders. I suspect that since Playing Mantis made their suit way too baggy that perhaps Castaway Toys overcompensated and made their suit too tight. Overall, though, it's a high calibre product.

I took some pictures of the Mego-style figures next to their vintage counterparts. I also wanted to show how the alternate Captain Action accessories matched up with the box artwork:


If they had also included a silver ray gun, the match would've been perfect. I would've taken photos with the alternative headsculpts, but the instructions for swapping the heads is rather elaborate and I didn't want to risk damaging the figures. Anyway, here's Mego-style Cap next to his grandfather:


And finally, Dr. Evil meets Dr. Eville:


I know, but someone had to make the joke.

In summary, Castaway Toys hit a home run with their new Captain Action and Dr. Eville figures. They are currently offering the standard versions online, and I can't wait for their version of The Phantom based on the old Captain Action costume. Since Castaway Toys already offers accessories to customize Mego figures, I'm hoping they may come up with new costumes and parts specifically designed for customizing Cap and the Doc. I'm so glad there are people out there who won't let this old soldier fade away!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Can anyone with some legal background venture a guess as to why they had to change the spelling to "Eville" when the true name had been held by the C.A. line for literally decades before Austin Powers came into being? How does one go about having the rights to intellectual property like an original character name devoured whole by a much more recent franchise? It doesn't make sense.
I bet the Six Million Dollar Man/Bionic Woman camps are pissed about "fembot" for the same reason.

Neal Patterson said...

I'm no lawyer, but my understanding of the situation was that Ideal's original trademark on "Dr. Evil" had lapsed some time ago. When Playing Mantis re-registered the trademark, they did so just before the Austin Powers people, so PM was free to use it. However, after Playing Mantis gave up the licensing rights and they were put in limbo, New Line Cinema owned the name free and clear and won't let Captain Action Enterprises or Castaway Toys use it. All these things have to be regularly renewed or they can get picked up by other people.