Despite being old enough to own my own house, I still have a ton of junk in my parents’ attic. I’m slowly moving all of that stuff to my home. Occasionally I come across something fun, weird or amusing from my past. It Came From the Attic is a series of posts about these odds and ends.
I never really watched Xena: Warrior Princess. Despite being borderline obsessed with the fantasy genre during the late 1990s, somehow I just never got into Hercules: The Legendary Journeys or Xena. (My 1990s show was The X-Files.) My dad was a big Xena fan (for the show’s thrilling action and subversive LGBT subtext, I’m sure – not the leather-encased boobs) and so I caught episodes here and there. But more importantly, I made sure to catch any episode featuring Autolycus, the King of Thieves (take that, Robin of Locksley!). Why? For the simple reason that Autolycus was played by Bruce Campbell, already one of my greatest idols since I’d became a huge Evil Dead fan in the mid-’90s.
Which explains why I bought this figure when it was released in 1998. This, folks, is (to my knowledge) the very first Bruce Campbell action figure.
Made by Toy Biz in 1998 as part of its Xena line, this is very much a figure from Toy Biz’s transition period between the cheaper figures of the early 1990s and the height of the company’s toymaking skills with Marvel Legends and Lord of the Rings in 2000-2003.
It’s clear that Toy Biz is trying harder at their sculpting at this point, probably because they were being pushed – as the entire industry was – by what McFarlane Toys was doing at the time. There’s some nice detail work here, and even a rudimentary paint wash. A far less positive McFarlane influence can be seen in the figure’s pre-posed stance, which basically ruins the leg and especially the neck articulation.
I’m not sure whether the head sculpt is bad, whether it was decent and ruined by the production process, or whether Toy Biz simple didn’t bother getting Bruce’s likeness rights. It captures the character’s Errol Flynn style and inherent smugness, but doesn’t look a whole heck of a lot like the beloved cult actor.
Most Toy Biz figures still featured the standard swivel-and-hinge joints, so it’s worth noting the figure features a passing effort at better articulation with ball-jointed shoulders. Still, the pre-posed stance really kills the novelty of the arm articulation.
Oddly enough, the knife and grappling hook that came with this figure somehow remained in my possession through the years – I fished both of them out of my accessory box for this review. The figure also came with a cape, and there was some twine attached to the grappling hook. But as is common with archaeological finds, these perishable items did not survive. Yet another example of why I hate fabric in, on, or with action figures.
This figure was just the tip of the iceberg for Bruce Campbell toys – the following decade would see a flood of action figures, starting with the dreadful Movie Maniacs Ash in 2000 and culminating in NECA’s magnificent Evil Dead II line last year. Truth be told, I never liked this figure – I bought it in college, probably displayed it for a week and then sent it to its doom in the attic, to be uncovered over a decade later for a brief fifteen minutes of fame before being consigned to garage sale oblivion.