This post is going to be kinda long AND image-intensive, and will probably only appeal to people who like both comic books and old toys. But I think it’s fascinating, so here we go!
I know I post about Marvel Legends toys on here with some degree of frequency, but do you remember Toy Biz’s Marvel Comics toys from the 1990s? Specifically, the X-Men toy line?
Of course you do. They made almost every X-Family character of note in this line over the span of a decade, and probably about half of the characters had multiple versions released. There were a few different Cyclopses, a couple of Magnetos, some Jean Greys (although none in the outfit she wore in the cartoon for some reason), and way too many Wolverines. But Wolverine toys are always going to sell, so of course they’ll make a lot of him.
But what about Havok?
Well Havok DID, in fact, have a few figures released in the toy line — the first as part of 1995’s “Invasion Series” of figures, wearing the gear he began wearing when he took over as leader of the X-Men spin-off team, X-Factor. They saved the world from evil mutants while singing or whatever.
“But Andy, didn’t Havok used to have an all-black costume,” you ask? Why yes, gentle reader. He sure did! And it came with the silliest hat, as well as a power readout in the form of concentric rings on his chest; The bigger and more of the rings there were, the more charged up his solar energy powers were.
And the funny thing is, there was an action figure based on this outfit which should have been in the second wave of X-Men toys that never got released.
“Wait, yes it did. It was a ToyFare Magazine Mail-Away Exclusive!” I hear you say. And you’re right! In 1998, Wizard: The Guide to Comics‘ sister publication, ToyFare, did indeed release a Havok figure. But that wasn’t the Havok toy designed for the second wave. No, this figure was a redeco of a recently-released Daredevil toy from the Spider-Man line, with a new head. Specifically, “Tank Attack Daredevil.”
And that Daredevil got his own ToyFare-exclusive repaint in the guise of DD’s original red-and-yellow costume. The Daredevil figure is from 1997, and is much bulkier and more detailed than the 1992 X-Men toys. There’s no way that Toy Biz was going to release a figure that didn’t exist yet into a toy line they were just putting out.
So how do we know there was a Havok that never got released in 1992? Just look at the packaging for that line! The corner box on the front shows all the heroes released in that line – Wolverine, Iceman, Forge, Gambit, Banshee, and…Havok.
And check the back of the box, with the cross-sell of other toys in this particular assortment. You can clearly see that the image got spliced between Sabretooth and Weapon X/Wolverine. Presumably, the prototypes seen here had already been photographed when it was decided to pull Havok, and Toy Biz’s graphic designers matched up the remaining two halves of the photo the best they could, rather than line all the figures up and take another picture. Remember, this was back in the days of film photography, so they couldn’t just whip out their iPhone and re-shoot the things.
And, until recently, that’s where this mystery died for me. Havok was almost definitely going to be in the 1992 release, but got scrapped for some reason. I always thought it was basic math: The 2nd wave of X-Men toys ended up with 11 figures (Wolverine II, Wolverine III, Weapon X Wolverine, Forge, Iceman, Mr. Sinister, Sabretooth, Banshee, Gambit, Sauron, and Magneto), and I think (but could be mistaken) Toy Biz’s case assortments for the first couple years of Marvel toys were 12 figures per, which means each case would have gotten one of each character, but this way they could throw in an extra Wolverine II, who would have EASILY been the most desirable figure, as he’d just returned to the “Tiger stripe” outfit in the comics.
Another reasonable theory is that Havok had just changed from his black outfit with the silly hat and onion ring chest to the X-Factor outfit in 1991, and if this line was going to come out in 1992, it would be unfortunate timing since it would be outdated before it even hit store shelves. All 3 Wolverine designs in this particular assortment had all been featured in comics within a year of their release, and, y’know, it’s Wolverine. Even if the look was a year old or whatever, Wolverine toys are always going to sell, so of course they’ll make a lot of him.
But what about Havok?
It’s weird to think, 20-something years later, that Toy Biz would have to try and sell as many Wolverines as possible to guarantee the line’s success, but the X-Men cartoon hadn’t started yet when these figures were going to ship. And nobody knew that the cartoon was going to hit as big or as hard as it did!
Also, look at all the other figures in the line, who are all bright and colorful. Would kids who didn’t know all the characters be inclined to buy the guy in all black with the funny hat? I’m not sure they would!
But! While doing image searches for this post, I came across this on some auction website I’ve never heard of:
That is card art that looks to me to be too on-the-nose to have been faked. And check out the planned action feature: Super Spark Action. Which I can only extrapolate, based on other 1980s and early 1990s toys, Havok probably would have had a slightly wider-than-usual torso, and some sort of lever that, as you pressed down, would strike a flint that would create “cold sparks” that emitted from a gap in his chest? You know, EXACTLY LIKE the Magneto figure from that exact same line.
So, between having too many figures in the wave already, having an outdated costume, and having a presumably-expensive action feature that another figure in the same assortment already had, I can understand why Havok would be the figure in this particular series to get cut from the retail release.
Which is too bad. I would have much preferred if one of the THREE WOLVERINE TOYS just got pushed back to the next release, but Wolverine toys are always going to sell, so of course they’ll make a lot of him.
But what about Havok?
Eh, probably not so much.
Hey, I hope you enjoyed reading this deep-dive into a toy that doesn’t exist that you didn’t care about 20 minutes ago. If you, or anybody you know, might have more information about this unreleased Havok, including photos of prototype figures, or if you know someone that worked at Toy Biz back in 1992, I’d love it if you could drop a note in the comments below! It would be great to have an actual answer to this mystery.