Well, hello everybody! I thought I’d switch things up a bit this week and do my first Secret Wars highlight. Not just content to give an overview of some common ruffian, I’m starting things off with a bang and putting the spot light squarely on Electro.
As most Secret Wars collectors know, the line had been canceled after series two and Mattel decided to ship off the three figures currently in production to overseas markets. Of course, what that means today is that the three said figures…Electro, Constrictor, and Iceman, usually command pretty steep prices on the collector’s market. That’s not the only thing those characters have in common, though. None of the three actually appeared in the Secret Wars maxi-series, which was a common theme to the Mattel Secret Wars figure line. It makes you actually wonder what they were thinking back then…did they want a Marvel Figure line to combat Kenner’s Super Powers line, and they just figured they’d use the big Marvel event title to hitch their star to? Mysterious decision. Not only that, but a LOT of major players in both the series itself and the Marvel Universe proper were ignored in favor of more obscure characters. However, looking at the line today that definitely contributes to the charm of it. Based off of Secret Wars, yet really having nothing to do with Secret Wars, it’s a fun line to collect. Most of the pieces are readily had (though not with clear bubbles, especially series 2), and there are some rarities that aren’t THAT difficult as well as most of the vehicles being affordable. Electro is one of the rarities that isn’t THAT difficult to obtain. One seems to pop up every month or so on eBay.
Electro was released on both the bi-lingual logo cards from France and the single-logo card from Spain. One thing collectors don’t readily know is that there are actually three variations to the packaging on the Spanish releases. The first of these is a small pack-in catalog that as of today I’ve only seen examples of on the Iceman and Electro figures. I’m sure one will pop up for Constrictor at some point. I have no idea what’s in it or what it looks like open, but it’s about as big as the character’s shield and is printed on white paper. The second variation is that the bubble, while remaining square, is more compact vertically than the US-releases. I say "remaining square" because the bi-logo cards have a rounded-top on the bubble that is unique to that card.
What makes the Spanish single-logo releases nice is the fact they fit well display-wise with their American-released counterparts. The dual-logo ones look like a foreign release right off the bat even though the font is the same. On the Spanish cards you just get the character’s name and shield in Spanish instead of English, but in this character’s case it’s spelled the same anyway.
The other packaging variation is a small "Mattel Espana" sticker that is usually affixed to the side of the bubble. From what I’ve been able to gather information-wise, you find these on the single-logo figures about 25% of the time. It’s not a common variation, and in my opinion adds a nice display touch to the foreign release. There’s copyright information on the back of the card, so I’m not sure why they’d also need this sticker, but it might have something to do with international copyright law.
Also, as you can tell from this figure, Mattel implemented the "repaint with a new head" concept well over 25 years ago. Good thing they did, or the JLU line wouldn’t exist today, eh?
What is strange is the mish-mash that describes the back of the package. While there is no picture of any third-series figure, they did put a mini-Electro comic on the back as was the pattern of the US releases. Also, there is a link here to the Secret Wars comic series as the artwork is definitely Mike Zeck, who was the main workhorse on the 12-issue maxi-series. You can tell these were shifted to European release in mid-stream, since the mini-strip was obviously finished before they could finalize the third series figure lineup for the back of the package. It’s an interesting look into the process when a line is suddenly canceled.
I thought this was hilarious. First off, was Electro receiving a secret message, or was he admiring himself in the mirror when he noticed Spidey swinging in behind him? Oh, I’m sorry, I mean "Black Spiderman," because that’s what all the villains called him back when he switched costume colors. Look out, here comes Spider-Man! No, wait…that’s BLACK Spider-Man! Sometimes literal Engrish translations really add uniqueness when you start collecting foreign releases. As I’ve gotten into them with Secret Wars and Super Powers, I’ve really enjoyed how interesting all the differences are in the figures that were released in different parts of the world.
The figures on the back of the package. Noticeably absent is the figure you’re holding when you look at the back of the package! Annoying, yes, but as stated before it’s just another example how the development of the line was sacked (there’s that word again!) and they just re-used the Series 2 characters to show little childrens who else they could beg mommy & daddy to buy for them…assuming they didn’t have them already, of course.
I included this picture because I wanted to call attention to how awesome this head sculpt is. Really, the line sometimes gets knocked because of the similarity of all the figures due to the re-use of parts, but they really knocked it out of the park with Electro’s head here. The puffy, squinty eyes…the pug nose…the teeth-clenched sneer. All classic villain facial components, and with very little paint application the sculpt manages to pull it off excellently. The headpiece isn’t exactly comic-accurate, but it still works well around the face itself. Again, I’d put it up against a lot of the crap being put out today. Certainly.
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As you can see by the lenticular shield, Electro is very angry that this blog had to end. It’s okay, though, for another will be following along soon. Until next time, thanks very much for reading!
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