While at a conference last week in Worcester, Mass., I stopped by the comic shop/toy store That’s Entertainment. In addition to newer toys, it has a slew of older stuff (including a lot of cool old Godzilla toys). I browsed for a while, but the only thing I actually ended up buying was this Ultraforce NM-E figure. I’d seen it on eBay many times and considered buying one during my Marvel Legends days, as he seemed a perfect enemy (pun intended) for the likes of the X-Men. He sort of looked like a cross between a Brood and a Danger Room robot.
He also looks very ’90s, which is primarily a result of being part of Malibu Comics‘ “Ultraverse.” Malibu was an independent comic company that existed from 1986-1994 until it was bought by Marvel. Its attempt at cashing in on the comics boom of the early 1990s was the “Ultraverse,” a series of comics that very closely resembled what was being produced at Image Comics around the same time.
No doubt hoping to hop on the comic book gravy train McFarlane Toys and Toy Biz were developing with their Spawn and Marvel lines, Galoob picked up the Malibu license and produced a line of Ultraforce toys, based on the short-lived animated series, in 1995 (by which time the company had been acquired by Marvel). The Ultraforce toys proceeded to rot in KayBee stores around the country for the next five or six years.
Part man, part computer NM-E is a bio-mechanical killing machine that once slaughtered the squad, Hardcase’s first team.* He is completely invincible, although he can be put out of commission temporarily. NM-E is armed with formidable high-tech weapons and scythe-like limbs that slash, detach, and extend. He thinks, adapts and never quits. (*See HARDCASE Comic Book #1. –Ultra Editor)
I feel confident in stating that no one, not a living soul, saw Hardcase Comic Book #1.
Design & Sculpt: For 1995, the sculpt is actually pretty good – probably close to the standards of the McFarlane stuff at that time, and arguably better than every other figure in the Ultraforce line. Some sculptor, and it would be awesome to find out who, put a lot of love into this sculpt.
There’s some good detail around the biomechanical piping and the teeth, as well as the musculature and the veins on the back of the hands. Whoever sculpted this picked up on its obvious similarity to the xenomorphs of the Alien series.
Plastic & Paint: As a mass market toy from 1995, NM-E is solid. Even the weird little antennae on his head are glued on tight.
He’s painted silver what appears to have been a black wash followed by a black drybrush to give it a worn metallic look. It’s no Kriegaffe, but I think it looks pretty good, and not so far off from what you see on similar figures today.
The only part that looks rather dumb is the little skull on the neck, but that’s due to the comic book artist who designed the character, not the sculptor.
Articulation: NM-E has swivels at the neck, shoulders (all four), waist, and V-cuts at the thighs. It’s about average for the time period, but thanks to the extra arms it allows for more variety in posing than you might expect.
Accessories: NM-E comes with two missile launchers that fit over his upper hands, and can figure two red missiles. I tossed the missiles in a box for that “1990s-comics rectangular-fronted gun that shoots indeterminate projectiles/energy” look.
Quality Control: None – not bad for a 17-year-old toy.
Overall: I remember seeing a pic someone took of a bunch of these surrounding a Marvel Legends Captain America, and it looked very cool. More than fifteen years after it was produced, the sculpting and paint work on this figure are good enough that they can serve as adequate foils for your average comic book superheroes.
My raven score takes into account both how this figure would have seemed in 1995, and how I rate it as a fun figure now.