’90s Marvel Monster Mashup Toys Were Wonderfully Ridiculous
Given the bazillion or so monstrous villains that inhabit the Marvel universe, it takes a special kind of creature to turn the sometimes apathetic stomachs of its fans. That’s why Toy Biz will forever have our creature-loving kudos for concocting its own non-canonical brand of obnoxious superhero/monster hybrids for the ages. Hit the jump to relive the wonderful toy weirdness of the Clinton Years Marvel-style.X-Men Mutant Monsters
Starring Age of Apocalypse characters Dark Beast and Sugar Man, along with a werewolf Wolverine called — you guessed it — Werewolf Wolverine, this three-figure line was the proverbial toast of ’97. Did you know that all toasts in the year 1997 were held in the bargain bins at KB Toys outlets? This line gets big ups for featuring the only official Sugar Man action figure to-date, but ultimately, it was a missed opportunity. Why? Because all three of these toys really belonged in other lines.
Dark Beast’s passing resemblance to Man-Bat and Jack Sparrow could have easily landed him fame and fortune as part of Kenner’s Legends of Batman line under the name Bat-Beast, Sugar Man is a shoe-in as a repainted Street Shark, and Werewolverine (a way better name if you ask me) could just as easily snuck his way onto Toy Biz’s later Onslaught series with a few paint/fur additions.
Unlike its X-Men counterpart, the monster-ized “Arachniphobia” line (in the name of dictionaries everywhere, it should be noted that this series’ name is completely dubious), came up with all-new mashed-up characters to lure collectors. Perhaps more inspired than simply monster-izing existing heroes and villains, however, this is a wave that went the extra mile by tacking surprisingly plausible backstories onto the creatures it featured.
Man-Lizard is the result of Dr. Curt Connors’ ill-fated attempt to cure Peter Parker of his Man-Spider transformation, Spider-Goblin was born from a malfunctioning matter transporter explosion that fused the battling Spider-Man and Hobgoblin (although the toy just as easily could have been named Green Spider-Goblin) and Vampider (or Misnomerider) is what happens when a Venomous Eddie Brock gets chomped on by Morbius.
Given the insanity that was Spider-Man comics in the ’90s, it’s kind of a miracle that none of these characters is featured in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. Fans have come especially far through the Twilight era without Vampider rearing his ugly wings in its regular continuity.
Please Marvel, in the name of zombie Ben Reilly, don’t tell Mark Millar this character exists.
X-Men Monster Armor
Finally, we have the X-Men’s Monster Armor series, which paired regular versions of popular mutants with snap-on quasi-power-appropriate monster armor.
Cyclops’ “Cyclaw” armor transformed him into a gloopy one-eyed ghoul, Mystique’s “She-Beast” armor turned her into a smokin’ Sauron wannbe, Rogue’s “Cyclaw” armor made a gremliny thing of the Southern belle and Wolverine’s “Fangor” armor turned him into something out of a Kabuki dance drama.
And yes, Fangor is totally the name of a metal band. And from the Netherlands, no less!
Sinister’s Cyber Tech armor is a pretty big cop-out as it’s a feature that could’ve easily been repurposed from a different X-Men wave, but that’s an easy blemish to overlook in a line that tried so very hard to make X-fans fall in love with a version of Mystique that was akin to the unholy blue offspring of Disney’s Belle and Beast… which is strangely easy to imagine under Marvel and Disney’s present corporate paradigm.