Marvel Toys: Wikis


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Toy Biz logo.

Marvel Toys (formerly Toy Biz) is the toy division of Marvel Entertainment, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. Originally, the company held a license with DC and produced toys based on their characters. Later, they acquired an exclusive contract with Marvel and produced an X-Men specific line as well as a Marvel Superheroes line.

Later, the company would expand to cover the wrestlers of WCW. When Marvel went bankrupt, Toy Biz jumped in and helped them out by merging with the comics company. Toy Biz would handle the action figure front for Marvel, drastically improving upon the original Superhero and X-Men line's rather low quality of sculpting.



The owners of Toy Biz, Avi Arad and Isaac 'Ike' Perlmutter, believed rightly that their business relied heavily on the success of Marvel. So, during an expensive battle between business financier Ronald O. Perelman and corporate raider Carl Icahn over the rights to Marvel, Arad and Perlmutter seized the opportunity of a lifetime.

Perlmutter, a businessman who made his money in discount or "dollar-store" merchandising, and who bought collapsed companies like Remington, found himself owning the near collapsed Toy Biz—a toymaker with the license to make Marvel Comics character action figures. Arad was an Israeli toy designer of Avi Arad & Associates, who made millions in royalties on his creations. Instead of entering a complicated arrangement, they just went into Marvel together.[1]

Toward the end of 1980s, Perelman, coming off his successful takeover of the cosmetics firm Revlon, bought Marvel Entertainment. He issued more comic books and also acquired trading cards and a few other subsidiaries. Wall Street was seemingly supportive; after Perelman took the company public, Marvel's market value topped $3 billion.

Perelman then began selling junk bonds with Marvel’s inflated value and Marvel's debt exceeded $600 million. The unfortunate downfall of the comic and trading-card markets left Marvel’s assets wide open to takeover.

Icahn, who had invested heavily into Marvel's bonds as one of his standard take-over methods, now went to work to take the company. Perlmutter and Arad, dependent on Marvel’s comic characters, realized that Toy Biz’s fate was at risk. The prospect of losing their interest caused them to become passionate about purchasing Marvel. Perlmutter arranged his own financing group, and ultimately bid over $400 million for Marvel.

Icahn and Perelman fought it out, while Arad and Perlmutter managed to beat them both. Later, the rights to names like Spider-Man were being challenged. Toy Biz hired an attorney to review their license agreement. A Los Angeles based patent attorney named Carole E. Handler[2] found a legal loophole in the patent and licensing of the Marvel name and was successful in reclaiming Marvel Enterprises' movie rights to its character "Spider-Man."[3][4][5][6][7]

Although Toy Biz announced it would no longer produce Marvel's toys, they continued producing TNA action figures and Curious George toys while working on acquiring new licenses. In 2007, the company was renamed 'Marvel Toys', although the Marvel movie franchises and Legends lines went to Hasbro.

Product lines


Early DC action figures

This very short-lived toyline was notable for its unusually bad sculpts and unworkable action features. Lex Luthor with a "Kryptonite punch" that amounted to little more than him punching his own forehead, a water spraying Green Lantern and a reused Mr. Freeze originally seen with Kenner's Super Powers Collection line. The sculpts for certain characters' action figures also seemed to be from the sculpts from the former Super Powers line as well, but as stated were poor sculpts in comparison to the Kenner versions from years before. They also produced the 1st Batman movie figures notably Batman, Joker, Bob the Goon.

Early Marvel action figures

In 1990 Toybiz began producing Marvel figures, the first was a series released that year called "Marvel Super Heroes" which included popular heroes and villans Captain America, Daredevil, Dr. Doom, Dr. Octopus, Silver Surfer, The Hulk, Spider Man, and The Punisher.

Late that year they began plans to release a line entirely consisting of X-Men oriented figures. In early 1991 they released the first X-Men line (though three figures were X-Factor characters at that time) consisting of figures in the likeness the characters had at that time, the heroes in the line were Cyclops (then-current X-Factor uniform), Nightcrawler, Storm, Colossus, Wolverine (brown costume), and Archangel (like Cyclops, a member of X-Factor). The three villans in the line were X-Men's primary antagonist Magneto, Juggernaut, and X-Factor's primary antagonist Apocalypse. Following the first series' success a second series was released in 1992, and in the meantime some of the first series characters in the comics had since switched to different outfits, this lead to a third series in 1993 which included a newer Wolverine who had switched back to his tiger stripe outfit, and a new Apocalypse as he had since begun to be drawn bulkier, and a fourth series followed soon after which featured a new Cyclops in his newer X-Men outfit.

The third and fourth series of X-Men figures helped to establish what direction Toybiz would go, and later on, as Marvel's characters gained animated series and more popularity, Toy Biz produced lines and better detailed molds for Marvel Heroes, by way of the existing X-Men line, and expanding to animated lines focusing on Spider-Man, Hulk, Fantastic Four and Silver Surfer cartoon figures and out of these X-Men Evolution action figures turned out to be the most popular ones. Although a cartoon never existed for the property, Toy Biz produced a line for the Ghost Rider comic book. Eventually, Toy Biz would launch a Spider-Man Classic and Marvel Legends line which would greatly improve the sculpting and detail of the animated and comic book incarnations of Marvel's toy presence.

Spider-Man Classics and Marvel Legends

Toy Biz launched a new line, Spider-Man Classics, which featured the famous wall crawler and one of his most well known modern foes, Venom, in brand new sculpts with nearly 30 points of articulation, providing for the most realistically poseable Spider-Man figures ever. Marvel followed up the 4 figure wave with a second series, including Spider-Man ally Daredevil and villain Rhino, who was in several episodes of the Fox cartoon, and made for a bigger scaled figure when standing next to Spider-Man.

The success of Spider-Man classics lead to a spinoff, Marvel Legends, which debuted with Marvel icons Captain America, Hulk, and Iron Man, and also included a fourth figure, Toad, whose figure was originally to be in a comic/movie two pack for an X-Men movie comparison line, but the Toad 2 pack never came out and a figure with far less articulation than the other three was included.

Due to poor sales, the Spider-Man classics line was put out off production. However, Marvel Legends was a huge success and has over 15 different series to its name. After the success of Marvel Legends, The Spider-Man Classics line was re-introduced with new figures, all of which were far more articulated.

Marvel movies

As Marvel's franchises flourished, Toy Biz would handle the action figures for the films, as well: Hulk (later adapted to focus on his comic book exploits), Fantastic Four (the live action film and second animated series), and the X-Men and its sequels and an X-Men Classics line have all had Toy Biz action figures. The final Marvel related film to receive Toy Biz action figures was Fantastic Four.

(Due to the rushed production, Toy Biz wasn't able to produce a dedicated line of figures for the third X-Men film, X3: The Last Stand, instead they chose to revive the cancelled X-Men Classics line)


Toy Biz also focused on Superhero playsets and props for Marvel, such as the Spider-Man stunt system, Hulk Hands (arm encasings that when knocked against surfaces produce sounds associated with the Hulk's thrashings and later adapted into Thing hands, as well as Thing Feet), Wolverine claw play gloves, Spider-Man silly string shooting gloves, and much more. Toy Biz would also release twelve inch (305 mm) deluxe sized rotoscoped figures based on its X2, Hulk, and various Spider-Man lines.Toybiz also released 12" figures aimed at collectors with real fabric costumes. The first figures released were for the spiderman movie,Spiderman,Green Goblin and Mary Jane. The next figures released were made into an official line,marvel studios, figures in this line were base on the marvel movies. Figures were made of blade,wolverine,daredevil,Punisher and doctor doom.All figures in this line have the likeness of the actor who played the character in the movie.

WCW and The Lord of the Rings

Toy Biz added to its wide selection of Marvel toys by adding WCW wrestling figures, based on many of its famous wrestlers. Most famously was their "Smash'n'Slam" and "Grip'n'Flip" series. The latter was most known for its "magnetic" wrestling figures, which was new. The "Smash'n'Slam" series were traditional wrestling action figures with stars like Goldberg (w/Rey Mysterio), The Giant (w/another Rey Mysterio), Kevin Nash (w/referee), Scott Hall (w/breakable table and mask), Randy Savage (w/Chair), Sting (w/Baseball Bat and Coat), Lex Luger (w/Breakable Police Barricade), DDP (w/Breakable guardrail) and of course, Hollywood Hulk Hogan (w/Spraycan, Belt and Stairs). Another, and newer, Smash'n'Slam series called "Ringmasters" was later released with Bret Hart, Chris Jericho, Lex Luger and Hogan. All these figures had features that resembled their name. Lex Luger had an executioners mask, axe and a torture rack (info: Lex Luger's finishing maneuver was called the "Torture Rack"), while Hollywood Hulk Hogan came with a directors chair and all (resembling his Hollywood gimmick). ToyBiz also managed to acquire the license for The Lord of the Rings toys, based on the New Line Cinema trilogy of films. Both lines would have several waves released.

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling

In 2004, Toy Biz acquired the license to make action figures based on TNA wrestling. The first wave of figures was released in the Summer of 2005 and featured A.J. Styles, Jeff Jarrett, Abyss, and Raven. Shortly there after, the Six Sided Ring with exclusive A.J. Styles and Series 2 with Christopher Daniels, Shark Boy, Ron Killings, and Jeff Hardy were released. A series of 2-packs has been released featuring Triple X members Christoper Daniels and Elix Skipper, 3Live Kru members Konnan and B.G. James, and America's Most Wanted of Chris Harris and James Storm. 2006 has seen the release of Series 3, featuring Chris Sabin, Monty Brown, Raven, and A.J. Styles, Masked Fury, featuring Sting, Shark Boy, and Abyss (each figure came with a replica mask of the wrestler), an NWA World Championship playset that features a mini ring and mini figures of A.J. Styles and Jeff Jarrett, another Six Sided ring with a new exclusive A.J. Styles, a repaint set featuring Elix Skipper, A.J. Styles, Jeff Hardy, and Ron Killings, and Series 4 of Kevin Nash, Petey Williams, Rhino, and Chris Harris. The second set of 2-packs has also been released, which has A.J. Styles vs. Samoa Joe, Jeff Jarrett vs. Monty Brown, and Jeff Hardy vs. Abyss. Each of these sets was modeled after a specific Pay-Per-View match between the two wrestlers and they come with special CDs with highlights from that match.

At the 2006 San Diego Comic-Con, Toybiz revealed new prototypes of Alex Shelley, Kevin Nash, Brother Ray, Brother Devon, Sabu, James Storm, Chris Harris, Samoa Joe,Hernendez, Eric Young, Petey Williams, Bobby Roode, Christian Cage, Lance Hoyt, Kip James, B.G. James, Scott Steiner, Jeff Jarrett, Matt Bentley, Rhino, Raven, Chris Sabin, Sonjay Dutt, the line's first female figure, Traci, and the Six Sides of Steel set that was shown at TNA Lockdown 2006. Brother Ray,Ms Traci Brooks and Hernendez were not released but the rest made it to the market in early 2007. Later that year their deal went out leaving TNA at Series 7

Legendary Comic Book Heroes

Marvel Toys has not totally stopped making comic book based toys. In August 2007, Toy Biz (now called Marvel Toys) released toys based on non-Marvel and non-DC comic book characters. This toy line, called Legendary Comic Book Heroes, has been slated to feature three series in addition to a two-pack line, that will use the same format as Marvel Legends. The first two series as well as the first two-pack series had a staggered release through-out the month of August 2007. At Toy Fair 2008, It was confirmed that Legendary Comic Book Heroes will not be continuing, and that the third series has been canceled. The series are as follows:

Series 1: Pitt Series

Two-Pack Series 1

Series 2: Monkeyman Series

Series 3: Ice Giant Series[8]

See also


  1. ^ Comic Wars by Dan Raviv, Broadway Books, April 2002
  2. ^ Carole E. Handler
  3. ^ Variety, Spider-Man's legal web may finally be unraveled, Judge tying up Marvel's loose ends, By JANET SHPRINTZ. August 19, 1998
  4. ^ Comics 2 Film
  5. ^ Guardian Unlimited, Court web snares Spider-Man, April 27, 2003
  6. ^ Variety, Inside Move: Rights snares had Spidey suitors weaving, May 19, 2002, Jonathan Bing"Marvel lawyer Carole Handler found a legal loophole: The original sale to Cannon hadn't been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, so rights reverted to Marvel."
  7. ^ Managing Intellectual Properties, News focus: Swinging into action, September 2004 “As Dan Raviv explains in his book Comic Wars, the issue was eventually resolved by Carole Handler, a copyright and antitrust lawyer then at O'Donnell…”
  8. ^ confirmed figures only, will NOT be released due to the line's premature end)

External links


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