In 1995, Toy Biz was making Marvel Comics action figures all over the place. Several series of X-Men toys had already come out, a couple of Spider-Man lines, and something like a half-dozen assortments of general Marvel Universe waves had been released to that point. The X-Men cartoon was entering its third season, which sought to adapt the classic Phoenix Saga and Dark Phoenix Saga storylines. Toy Biz was on top of things, and released a Phoenix Saga line of X-Men figures to tie in with the cartoon. I’m going to look at one of those figures today.
Space Wolverine was the 8th Wolverine figure Toy Biz had put out in the X-Men line, but was actually something like the 11th or 12th Wolverine figure overall if you include the “Talking” Wolverine figure (he had a backpack with buttons that played sound clips when pressed), plus whatever 10-inch toys they’d released of the ol’ Canuckle head up to that point. It’s allegedly based on Wolvie’s appearance in the Phoenix Saga episodes of the cartoon, but is actually a sci-fi space suit designed by Jim Lee for the first arc of the 1991 X-Men comic relaunch, at a time when Wolverine was still wearing his brown John Byrne-designed outfit.
That last sentence is long and confusing, so let me sum it up like this: At the time of this action figure’s release, Wolverine never actually wore this outfit.
But that’s okay, because it’s cool.
The thing that’s happened in the action figure collector’s community is that everybody, at some point, got obsessed with the idea that toys all had to be 100% accurate to the character they were representing at a specific point in that characters’ history. But, like… naw. Sometimes a toy can just be a cool toy.
Wolverine is well-known for his yellow-and-blue “Tiger Stripe” outfit. And the space armor IS an X-Men design, so it’s completely reasonable to combine the two concepts and make a new toy. Besides, would anybody have bought a Space Armor Cyclops? I mean, actually, probably. That sounds kinda cool. But definitely not as many kids would have bought that as would have bought Space Wolverine.
Wolvie stands about five inches and has articulation at the shoulders, hips, knees, and neck, for a total of 7 joints. He’s got snap-out claws, the mechanisms for which run the length of his arm. If you ever had that first brown suit Wolverine action figure by Toy Biz from 1991, it’s kinda like that. Only in spaaaaaaace.
Also, he has a removeable helmet, presumably so that he can conserve oxygen on planets with a breathable atmosphere.
Even though he was actually less articulated than the classic Wolverine 2nd Edition that was basically the perfect “default” Wolverine toy for the early 1990s, I kinda preferred this one. Toy Biz had bulked up the line as time went on, meaning figures were larger and had more detail. This figure fit in with some of the more recent releases. He felt a little more sturdy. Plus, I’d already had the other figure for a few years at this point, so it was a nice refresh to get a Wolverine that could breathe in space.
I got Space Wolverine for Christmas in 1995 — The orange carded version that didn’t randomly come carded with Domino’s gun and Shatterstar’s swords. I can’t recall exactly when, but less than six months later, I brought this figure and a bunch of others over my friend’s house in a plastic shopping bag. When I came home I left the bag at the bottom of the stairs. Unfortunately, that same day my mom was cleaning up and had ALSO left a bunch of trash in plastic shopping bags at the bottom of the stairs. When she took the trash out, she unknowlingly threw out my bag of toys. Space Wolverine went on to have adventures in the city dump, or whatever our town did with garbage back in early 1996.
While I eventually replaced most of the other figures in that bag that got thrown away, for some reason I never got another Space Wolverine. Which is weird — The figure got re-released twice, once as part of the Kay-Bee Toys Marvel Universe line, and again in a generic X-Men line that I think was exclusive to Toys “R” Us. AND there as a version in blue armor that came packaged with a CD-Rom full of…probably the Phoenix-era X-Men comics? I don’t know, I never bought it! There’s also a 10-inch version of this figure, but I never had any of the 10-inch Marvel figures.
Although, now that I look more closely as some of the images I used for this, Wolverine’s wrists are rotated in ways that I don’t remember the figure being able to do. Maybe the 10-inch version had swivel joints at the wrists instead of the popping claws? If that’s the case, let me know down in the comments!
Despite the fact that he was only in my collection for a short time, nearly 3 decades later I still remember enjoying the Space Wolverine action figure a whole bunch.