Not too long ago I reviewed a Death’s Head figure from the 3 ¾” Marvel Universe line. I was super stoked about getting that figure. As a hardcore Marvel fan for nearly 30 years I’ve grown attached to many under-the-radar characters who seem like unlikely candidates to be made into action figures. Some of those characters may have only appeared in a single issue of Spider-Man and are truly obscure, while others starred in series’ that lasted several years and yet they still fall into that obscure category. The 90s produced a great number of those misfit title characters. Darkhawk, Sleepwalker, and Death’s Head all immediately spring to mind. Some short-lived 90s books also starred older characters who got a new lease on life. Silver Sable, the New Warriors, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and Deathlok the Demolisher fall into that category. Between my brother and I we collected all of those C-lister books.
A few of those characters have been made into action figures over the years but it’s rare for a 90s misfit to get immortalized in plastic. I have a Silver Sable from the 5” Spider-Man line produced by Toy Biz in the 90s and early in the “Universe” line Hasbro gave us Darkhawk and Nova of the New Warriors. Will I ever get a Sleepwalker or a Speedball figure? I don’t know. But seeing as how I now own a figure of Death’s Head (a Marvel UK character) and “Guardians of the Galaxy” was this year’s highest grossing film I wouldn’t rule anything out.
The first Deathlok figure was included in the same Toy Biz Spider-Man line that gave me Silver Sable. Deathlok isn’t really associated with Spider-Man but he was a guest star in the popular “Maximum Carnage” storyline so that allowed Toy Biz to shoehorn him into the line. The Toy Biz figure was actually really cool, one of their better efforts, but my Toy Biz figures have been boxed up and in storage for so many years it feels like I don’t have a Deathlok figure at all. For the past several years my Marvel action figure focus has been on the G.I. Joe-sized Universe line anyway, which means any figure I already own in the larger Toy Biz scale isn’t compatible. The Universe line and the related movie lines have covered a lot of ground but there are still quite a few holes in my 3 3/4″ collection if I’m to replace my entire Toy Biz collection. Deathlok was one of the characters I most wanted to acquire in the smaller scale. It took a while but I finally have a Deathlok sized appropriately to go toe-to-toe with Snake Eyes or assassinate Rick Hunter.
The original Deathlok first appeared in Astonishing Tales issue 25 released in 1974, a good 12 years before I started reading comics. Most of his adventures took place in books published in the late 70s and early 80s and I never became acquainted with him. That first Deathlok was a soldier named Luther Manning who was fatally injured and reanimated as a cyborg/corpse. I’m not exactly sure what became of him.
My introduction to “the Demolisher” came in 1990 when a new character, a pacifist named Michael Collins, became the new Deathlok. Collins was employed by the evil Roxxon Oil corporation and was killed when he discovered their shady Deathlok program. Roxxon incorporated Michael’s brain into their new version of the deadly cyborg assassin. Roxxon assumed they could control the new Deathlok but Collins’ consciousness survived the assassination attempt and took control of the body. He became the ultimate killing machine who refused to kill.
After an initial 4 issue mini-series the Collins Deathlok went on to have his own series which ran for 34 issues. I collected the series up until issue 25 but I jumped ship when I became dissatisfied with the story and art. Had I known the series would only last another 9 issues I would’ve stuck with it and completed the series. I should probably still do that, I’m sure those final issues don’t sell for very much these days.
There have been a few other Deathloks since Collins, including a young girl who goes by Deathlocket, and brand new guy named Henry Hayes who first appeared in the Agents of Shield TV series and who has now spun-off into his own comic book series.
According to this figure’s backer card this is supposed to be the original Deathlok, Luther Manning, but as far as I’m concerned it’s Michael Collins. The figure is kind of an amalgamation of the two characters anyway.
This figure has some serious construction issues. My guy’s ankles are gimpy and his legs are assembled in such a way that they can’t be straightened out. I’m forced to pose him in a semi-crouching position at all times. Also, his head always seems to want to look downward. No matter how forcefully I push it back he ends up staring at his toes again in a matter of seconds. These flaws in basic construction really piss me off as these figures don’t come cheap. At least with Deathlok I feel I’m getting a little more bang for my buck than I usual do with these MU figures because he comes with a removable backpack, a rifle, and a pistol that can be holstered on his leg.
Despite all its problems this figure still ends up in the win category for me. In part because it looks really nice and in part because I love the character so much and I’m just happy he made it into the MU collection. The head sculpt is beautifully done with some nice detail in the face and even textured hair. The Colossus parts look just as good reused on Deathlok as they did on Death’s Head and provide for some cool texturing on the metallic limbs. I’m sure the torso is reused from another toy but I can’t immediately place it. The painted details such as the American Flag on the chest do a good job of making it look like a piece specific to this figure. Speaking of paint apps, the speckled look used on the hair is awesome.