That price, my friends, is a little bit of dignity.
Recently, with the prominence of the Fantastic Four movie, as well as the exquisite Mark Waid / Mike Wieringo run in the Fantastic Four comics, the world’s first superhero Family has gained some much needed attention, as well as reinforced one major universal truth. You should totally bombard yourself with radiation. It’s a fast track to fame.
It seems like everyone who’s been bombarded with radiation becomes famous sooner or later – the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Marie Curie. Little known fact – if you agitated Marie Curie, she’d also become green and large, but only in her left leg.
The popularity of the Fantastic Four has brought about a new line of Fantastic Four themed figures from ToyBiz, makers of many things Marvel. The line, entitled Fantastic Four (but dubbed ‘Fantastic Four Classics’ by collectors), extends beyond the movie characters and delves into Fantastic Four comic lore. While the first wave of figures is revisitations of the Human Torch, Mr. Fantastic and the Thing, we do get a figure of the Super Skrull, who is one of the earliest Fantastic Four villains, appearing in 1963′s issue 18. He’s a being who has all of the powers of the Fantastic Four, rolled into one ugly, green shapeshifting alien.
The Super Skrull is a figure that’s been coming for a long time. Visually, the Super Skrull is always interesting. Thematically, any archenemy who can mimic the powers of an entire superhero team is always fun, as we’ve seen with both Amazo and the Composite Superman characters. For the uninitiated, Amazo is a robot designed to mimic the Justice League, and Composite Superman is an average guy who managed to get the powers of the Legion of Super-Heroes due to the mysterious effects of a lightning bolt on a shelf of action figures, and whose face was green, and whose body was half-Superman and half-Batman. And yes, there’s an action figure of him also.
Lightning, by the way, is also an excellent way to invite superpowers. Just ask Captain Marvel, Storm, Electro, or the second and third Flash. I advocate combining a thunderstorm, a foil hat and your imagination.
It makes sense that an action figure of the Super Skrull would transform, and as such, the Super Skrull comes with rocky, removable arms which one can switch out to demonstrate the powers of the Thing, with a few licks of flame on each arm to show off the powers of the Human Torch. At the moment, he’s a hard figure to find, quickly snatched off of shelves and going for an average of 20 dollars on auction sites. The figure search doesn’t end there, though.
There are also two variants of this Transforming Super Skrull. One of these is cast in a translucent red, to show off the adopted powers of the Human Torch, and one is cast in a clear plastic, as if using the powers of the Invisible Woman. These go for around 10 to 15 bucks at auction, simply because the regular, painted Super Skrull has more appeal as the most common appearance of the Super Skrull. Combine the three figures, all of whose arms can be switched out for the others, and you can show off just about any power. Plus, my fetish for clear action figures is wonderfully stroked here.
I was thrilled to discover both a clear and a red Transforming Super Skrull on a recent toy hunt, but this excitement limped away on ashamed feet once I brought these finds up to the checkout. The conversation went something like this, and this is where I lose a bit of my dignity :
Cashier lady : “So, Transforming Super Skrull. TWO of them.”
Me : “Yeah.”
[Cashier Lady scans said items and discovers that neither one is in the store database yet.]
Cashier Lady, speaking into a microphone : “We need a price check on a… Transforming… Super Skrull?”
[We wait for a few minutes as the line behind me grows longer and more impatient. I'm beginning to realize that 'Transforming Super Skrull' sounds really, really lame over a loudspeaker.]
Me : “I can run back over to the display and grab another one…”
Cashier Lady : “No, that’s okay, hon.” [Again speaks into microphone] “It looks like there’s a… Mister Fantastic and Human Torch in the line also…”
Me : “It’s really okay… I can go look…”
[At this point, the ladies behind me in the line chime in, also realizing that saying 'Mister Fantastic' over a loudspeaker is doubly embarrassing.]
Ladies : “I bet it’s not even for a kid, neither. I bet they’re for YOU.”
Eventually, we got the matter sorted out, but not without a fair amount of giggling at my expense, and probably more than a bit of relief by the ladies around me that their own sons spent their time playing football and romancing fine young ladies instead of being the nerd who needed a price check on a Transforming Super Skrull.
Wave two of these Fantastic Four toys is scheduled to include a modern, Ultimates-styled Invisible Woman, Thing, a transforming Human Torch, and also the long-overdue characters of Kang and Dragon Man. After that, if ToyBiz still has the rights to make the characters, expect an animated-style Fantastic Four.
But like all action figures, be patient in hunting these down and don’t give in to that sudden moment of collector’s panic. You know the feeling – the ‘I’ll never get this if I don’t get this right now!’ jitters. Auction prices will fluctuate, new cases of toys will arrive on store shelves, and there’ll always be a Super Skrull for you, somewhere.