Review > The Tick (Indie Spotlight, Shocker Toys)

I love the Tick. For one thing, he was invented just a few towns over from where I grew up. In 1986, teenager Ben Edlund created the Tick as a mascot for New England Comics, the chain of comic shops I frequented as a kid (and still patronize today). His appearances expanded into stories in eventually, in 1988, a comic book, which has been published at odd intervals ever since and inspired a number of spin-offs including the Chainsaw Vigilante, Paul the Samurai, and the Man-Eating Cow.

Like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Tick was an independent comic book character whose black-and-white comics were later turned into a popular cartoon in the mid-1990s. The cartoon was largely faithful to the look and spirit of the comics and would become a cult classic in its own right. Finally, in 2001 there was a short-lived live-action series starring the ubiquitous Patrick Warburton as the title character. Ben Edlund, by the way, would go on to work on such geek-beloved projects as Firefly, Angel, and Supernatural, and had a hand in the creation of The Venture Bros.

As you’d imagine with a Saturday morning cartoon character, there have been plenty of Tick toys. Most of them were created in Bandai in the mid-1990s, and while the toys were fun, they were also fairly under-articulated, even for the time. Years later, N2 toys squandered the success they’d had with their mediocre Matrix line by sinking it into an even-worse line of live-action Tick figures (one of my worst-reviewed toys ever). Legend has it the line bombed so bad, it’s why N2 changed their name to Mirage Toys. (I don’t know what happened to the company after that–is it still around?)

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In the meantime, Marvel Legends appeared and changed the game for superhero action figures. Marvel Toys’ Legendary Comic Book Heroes brought the ML aesthetic to independent comic characters, and when LCBH ended abruptly, Shocker Toys moved forward with their similar Indie Spotlight line. The Tick was first announced for the line at SDCC 2008, and I received my figure in the mail this past February (after ordering it directly through Shocker’s website). There is also a translucent green Mucus Tick, apparently an exclusive for the Idle Hands blog, which has at least found its way to MTV Geek and eBay. To the best of my knowledge, none of the other Series 2 Indie Spotlight figures have made it into the wild.

For various reasons I don’t care to go into, I’m going to try to keep my thoughts on Shocker Toys itself out of this review, to the extent that I’m able.

Packaging

The Tick’s packaging is a curious mix of pros and cons. On the pro side, the graphics are bright and colorful. More importantly, it’s designed so that you can easily slit the tape on the back and remove the card and figure, then easily replace them if desired. That also means if the figures are similarly packaged at retail, they’ll be ideal Toy Aisle Troll bait.

Then there’s the bio card [pic]. The text is strange. It seems to have been taken almost entirely from the opening credits of the live-action show, and has odd errors of grammar and structure. It also directly mentions Superman, which seems like a needless legal risk…but I digress.

Design & Sculpt

Indie Spotlight takes Marvel Legends as its inspiration, so this is an ML-style Tick. I’m not sure it matters whether you say he’s based on the comic or cartoon version, since aesthetically they were nigh-identical, but something about the sculpting style and color choices make me think they had the cartoon in mind when they were creating it.

Obviously the Tick benefits from a fairly simple design, without the many intricate details that can ruin a figure’s sculpt. While there’s not a lot of detail to get wrong, what there is–the V-shaped torso, the stocking feet and most important, the heads’ sculpts–is done right. I’m not an artist and I haven’t studied anatomy, so it’s possible there’s something about him that’s off, but I don’t get that vibe when I look at him.

All that said, the sculpt is sharply broken up in places by the articulation, particularly the shoulders. That’s not something that particularly bothers me, but as they say, your mileage may vary.

Plastic & Paint

The Tick is molded entirely in blue plastic, which gives him something of a “toyish” look and feel. It’s particularly noticeable in the close-up shots of the head, where the blue has a certain translucent quality when compared to the painted parts.

The black paints used to separate the teeth are too thick and dark. The paint around his nose on both heads is a bit uneven. The Tick isn’t a standout in the P&P category, but he’s not that bad, either–just average.

Articulation

Check the image to the right for a visual representation, but the articulation is as follows: a ball-and-socket neck; ball jointed neck; double ball jointed shoulders (I’m not sure “double ball” is the correct term, but I can’t think of anything else); double-hinged elbows; ball-and-socket wrists; ball jointed abdomen; ball jointed waist; T-crotch/ball jointed hips; double-hinged knees; and ball-and-socket ankles. The joints are all quite tight, and he has no problem standing on his own. It’s odd the shoulders are so large and ugly when it’s clear some imagination went into creating full hip articulation that didn’t look awful (see the Savage Dragon in the bottom pic).

As you’d expect, this gives the figure tons of posing options. The only thing they could have added is some tiny ball joints to the base of the antennae, but that might have been to much of a QC risk.

Accessories

The Tick comes with two sets of interchangeable hands, an interchangeable “angry” head, and a stop sign. The second head is a nice addition, though I know I’ll be keeping the goofier head on most of the time.

The hands are a bit of a letdown. Both sets are fists, but one set has a hole through each hand so he can hold the stop sign. Since they’re otherwise identical, it would have been better to skip the hole-less fists and give us some expressive open hands.

The stop sign comes with instructions to take it apart, slide the pole through the Tick’s hand and re-assemble it; however, both the sign and the dirt divot are very tightly attached, and though I finally got the dirt divot off, I had the impression I was pulling off something that was glued. I definitely wouldn’t try to get the sign part off the pole. The sign itself is fine except for the terrible attempt at a “rusty” wash. It’s amateurish. I think it would have been more appealing to just leave the sign clean.

I spent some time trying to figure out what the stop sign was a reference to. Apparently the Tick threw it in a specific issue of the comic, but it’s worth noting that the Hurling Tick figure from Bandai also came with it. The Tick tends to throw a lot of municipal property at villains, so the stop sign isn’t a bad accessory; that said, I would have preferred a flagpole and a Viewmaster myself.

Quality Control

The Tick has some minor quality control issues, all to do with the plastic and paint. There’s some scratching to various parts of his body, particularly his crotch, and some black smudges on his thighs. I’ve presented a pic and am otherwise not going to touch this one with a ten-inch pole.

Overall

I had no idea what to expect when I opened this figure, but it’s safe to say I was pleasantly surprised. This is just about exactly what I would have wanted out of a Marvel Legends-style Tick figure. While there are some minor issues here and there, the sculpting is good, the articulation is excellent, the joints are tight, and the figure is solid and doesn’t fall apart upon being played with.

He’ll fit in well next to Marvel Legends, or even more so, Legendary Comic Book Heroes (which emphasized the artistic styles of characters’ creators rather than attempting a more uniform look for the line, as Marvel Legends did).

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Comments now closed (22)

  • For various reasons I don’t care to go into, I’m going to try to keep my thoughts on Shocker Toys itself out of this review, to the extent that I’m able.

    That's not fair! Do tell…

  • Shocker has sort of a plagued history with this line. The first series took foreeeeeeeeever to get released (to the point a lot of people assumed it had been cancelled). When it did finally come out there were a lot of quality control issues (mainly with the girls and snapping wrist pegs but also pretty wildly uneven paint on Maxxx).

    Then customs apparently put a lock on their stuff at the shipping docks so they showed up at last years conventions with none of the promised new product (including stuff people had pre-ordered).

    I had honestly forgotten about this series. They CAN do pretty great work. Their SCUD figure is a Hell of a toy.

  • The alternate-yet-very-similar hands thing is bizarre. Likewise, they missed a great opportunity to provide a non-smiling alternate head. I have trouble distinguishing between the two here. Still, this being Shocker, expectations are low, and it's pretty amazing that these made it out with relatively few issues.

    Thanks for providing the bio text — it's terrible, but that's to be expected. That it's not much worse than the amateurish, error-ridden MOTUC bios is pretty sad.

  • People have always talked bad about Shocker Toys, is it only because they took forever to get their products out? I understand that if you sent in all the UPCs from Series 1 then you were supposed to get a free Mr. Gone figure, which ended up never getting made, so I understand why that would piss people off.

    Anyway, I think this figure looks fantastic, and could be a lot of fun. I have Scud, Sol, and Maxx from Series 1, and they are all great toys. Maxx is especially impressive because he has a rotocast upper body, with shoulders similar to Tick's hips. It allows him to have a great range of motion, and proves that rotocast figures don't have to be stuck with swivel joints only (Tytus anyone?)

  • My knowledge of the Tick goes about as far back as a vague recollection of the cartoon and maybe a handful of episodes of the live action show.

    I hope this series makes it to retail, and if I see one in person I may very well be tempted to pick it up. I don't have a ton of nostalgia for The Tick, but he's a cool character and would make for a very nice impulse buy. That said I don't think I would go out of my way to order him, i.e. online.

  • On the one hand, I'm a little pissed at Shocker Toys for having the licenses to The Tick, Maxx, and Scud characters tied up so that Toybiz/Marvel Toys couldn't use them in their Legendary Heroes line (their Pitt BAF is one of the greatest toys ever made). I'm living in fantasy land I'm sure, but I can't help but wonder if they had more recognizable characters (rather than a bunch of random Erik Larsen/Savage Dragon ones)- could they have kept that line moving (I wish). Also, I'm just not enthused with this Tick sculpt.

    That said- dear God, The Maxx and Scud figures Shocker put out are incredible. The fact that they made them so accurate to the comics, yet still posable (especially with those two incredibly cartoony designs) boggles my mind.

    Now, if I can get Tick and Arthur, then I can complete my indy comics pantheon on my graphic novel shelf (to wit- Neca's comic-accurate TMNT, with Shocker's Scud and Maxx, with Marvel/Toy Biz's Pitt, Savage Dragon, Marv, Clownface, and Panda, Playmates' Usagi Yojimbo and Fugitoid).

    (If someone could get Dave Sim to OK some Cerebus figures, life would be grand. It'll never happen, but still).

  • I love the tick, it's one of my absolutely most favorite properties in all of comic-dom.. I loved the cartoon, and frankly, I liked the live action, if only because of how perfect patrick warburton was.

    I want this figure (I have it pre-ordered from bbts… frankly, I just don't trust shocker enough to hand them my money directly.) also, there seems to be something called the "preview" tick, which seems to come with all the accessories that they spread throughout the wave, like they did the isz… (the ones I saw were, the crime viewfinder, the hypnotic tie, his purse and a spoon) But I have no idea if/when that will come out.. but I'd prefer it.

    also, I'm annoyed that arthur is the "mail away" since that means that it will never exist..

  • Shocker: Do a Flaming Carrot figure with a bologna gun. You know it must happen.

  • A few of us have already mentioned how great the Scud/Sol figures are. I did a review of them a year ago (http://ad-actionfigures.com/?p=1086) and I mentioned I'd like to army build Sol if I could find him on sale.

    Well, amazon has him very cheap, it comes out to about $9 with shipping and I can say that is a deal. I'm sure Poe would appreciate you clicking that amazon banner up at the top left and picking him up, that's what I'm about to do right now.

  • clark wrote:

    People have always talked bad about Shocker Toys, is it only because they took forever to get their products out?

    That's part of the problem. The other problem is that Shocker has a reputation for getting down and dirty in forums and arguing with fans about products, etc. That's a very nice way of putting it. As for the products taking forever to get out? If Shocker's stories are to be believed, everyone and anyone has worked against Shocker and that's why their toys always have issues getting out. It's almost as if there's a vast conspiracy against Shocker.

    I like Shocker's products that I've had. However, they sort of live the opposite of philosphy: Promise only what you can deliver. Then deliver more than you promise.

    americanhyena wrote:

    Shocker has sort of a plagued history with this line.

    Then customs apparently put a lock on their stuff at the shipping docks so they showed up at last years conventions with none of the promised new product (including stuff people had pre-ordered).

    Plagued history is being nice. The customs story is an interesting one, because if true, it took Shocker a whole year to produce those figures. As of now, the exclusives from LAST YEAR's SDCC which were sold on the basis of being in San Diego… Still aren't here.

    It's been 3 years on the mail away Mr. Gone. There hasn't even been a proto posted yet.

    Indie Spotlight Series 2 hasn't come out yet, despite the Tick hitting. Yet Shocker has announced several more series of Indie Spotlight.

    This is why people get upset and concerned. Shocker has a tendency to take people's money and then wait years before delivering product. All the while giving constant excuses as to why the product isn't there yet.

    People who asked for refunds for their SDCC pre-orders were told that if they canceled their order even though it had been nearly a year, they would be banned from ever buying from the site again… Among a million other instances of bad PR.

    It should be noted, I really like Shocker's products. Nomadixx of Idle Hands is trying to do some good stuff over there as well. He's helping push product out. Shocker has a ton of cool licenses and their product really isn't bad…

    But their history of bad PR moves will continue to haunt them until they can continue to deliver great product, on time and represent themselves to that attitude. I know a ton of people who want Shocker to succeed, myself included. However, there are times where you have to scratch your head at some of the things they've done.

  • @ Newt:

    Wow…I hadn't heard about the pre-order cancellation/ban threats. That's a ludicrous way to handle things!

    It's a shame. I too would really like them to succeed. I particularly want that bad ass looking Hunter Rose figure. But bad business is bad business…

  • @ americanhyena:

    and that's only the tip of the iceberg. there were threats of lawsuits against individuals and websites who allowed/participated in "shocker naysaying" and more than one party w/ whom shocker had toy deals in place walked away when it become clear that they couldn't/wouldn't produce product… the story, which i will leave the entirety of to someone more devoted to it than i, was quite interesting. shocker gaffed in some pretty bad ways there for a while, and even now, while they're trying hard to rehab their image, it's hard to get behind them.

    i did get a tick figure, to give them the benefit of the doubt in all this, and while it's a nice figure, i don't in any way feel blown away enough to forgive/forget their past issues, or to put much interest in upcoming product. that cool looking hunter fig you've seen pics of will very likely hit about the time we get off gas and drive entirely electric cars.

  • Shocker is the worst kind of geek (company), the all talk kind, you should hear the stories about Shockers super model girlfriend, they have sex like everyday and we could meet her if she wasn’t so busy doing photo shoots in Europe.

    Problem now-a-days is who can trust shocker toys? I would love to buy some of their toys, but no way am I giving them money without product in hand. I have seen indie spotlight in TRU once at 20 a pop. Which is way to much for characters that are indie (with some exception). I would bet their biggest problem is that buyers for retailers can smell the BS coming off shocker.

  • Personally, I'd like to see an updated version of the animated series toys. I like the comics well enough, but I prefer the tone of the cartoon.

    Regardless, I am tempted. I'll have to see how much it costs by the time it gets here (here being New York City, where Green Lantern figures go for $21.50)…

  • @ Erin:

    The cartoon was excellent. I will probably end up getting The Phantom figure if it isn't over priced.

  • I am getting the Tick if he's not too expensive. And if the figures hit my off-the-beaten-path TRU here, the others for their UPC's when they hit clearance.

  • how's the value on this guy? It says $25 shipped on their site…is this a $25 figure?

  • @ Zach:

    I think he'll be about $17.99-$19.99 if you can find him in Hastings or on amazon once it's released. TRU will surely charge $22.99, because they always charge more.

    MRP for series 1 basic figures was listed as $13.99, but TRU had them for $16.99.

  • i love this figure. i bought this and the green mucus version. wonderful toys to play with. great review.

  • Not to keep going on about how bad Shocker Toys is with customers/fans, but I ordered a Maxx through their site, and after it was about 4 weeks, (it was noted as being in-stock), I finally received it, without the extra head. After several emails asking for a fix, they fianlly sent it out. In the meantime I had ordered another Maxx through their site, but this order never came. I literally sent 7 emails before with no response on where my order was. The only way I received a response was to complain on their message board. I received an email telling me that was not appropriate and once the conversation moved back to my email I was actually called a "dick" by them for being sarcastic and calling their service incompetent. I will never buy from them again. I realize they have cool stuff and I do think the Maxx is good, but it is not worth it to me to spend my money with a company that treats their own paying customers with such contempt. I am amazed people are still willing to support them given their total lack of respect they seem to dish out on a regular basis.

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