PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

The PopCult Toybox: Max Steel’s Second Chance

PopCult Note: Remember, this week the PopCult Toybox and The PopCult Bookshelf have traded days.

Img_0770Last fall I sort of trashed the new line of Max Steel toys from Mattel. I stand by that trashing. The toys were awful with poor articulation and lousy paint jobs, and they are currently marked down for clearance in the stores that were foolish enough to stock them.

However, a couple of funny things happened with Max Steel. The CGI series was a hit for Disney XD, and so they ordered a second full season of twenty-six episodes. Also, because Mattel’s original Max Steel line, which featured 12″ fully-articulated action figures, was still a successful property in South America, Mattel designed a special line of figures in that size for the South American market.

Those have been leaking into the US via eBay for months now.

So Mattel had an easily-solved conundrum on their hands. There will soon be a second season of what is essentially a half-hour toy commercial airing in this country, but consumers soundly rejected the crappy little six-inch Max Steel figures. Luckily, Mattel has a fully-realized line of higher quality 12″ action figures based on the new Max Steel cartoon all lubed up and ready to slip onto retailer’s shelves.


Everything you get with this set
Everything you get with this set

The first of these, “Multi-Attack Max Steel” has quietly turned up at Walmart for a very reasonable price of thirteen dollars. This figure is the new Max Steel, complete with a new face, and he sports a modest twelve points of articulation, with a handful of accessories and an “action feature.”

South American versions of this figure also have light and sound functions, but those have been left out, probably due to a combination of cost-cutting and customer indifference.

Close-up of the headsculpt
Close-up of the headsculpt

It’s not a bad figure for the price. The joints are tight. The gripping hands are a little rigid, but hold their weapons well. The headsculpt is a decent enough young adult male, but the hair is Mattel’s trademark spiky coif.

This set also includes a blue translucent sword, which has a peg that snaps onto Max’s back: A sheild with a button that releases jagged blue electrical “bolts” from three sides; and a gun that fires a blue translucent missle.

All in all, it’s not a bad action figure for fans of the new show. It’s worlds beyond the lousy figures Mattel released last year.

Max with his "sword-slashing action" ready to go.
Max with his “sword-slashing action” ready to go.

Kitbash potential is a bit limited. This figure has a molded-on skintight superhero-type outfit. His feet are molded white science fictiony boots. While the boots could be painted, they’re still molded to look like some sort of high-tech Nike product. It’s also questionable that you could get pants over them. This figure balances very well, mostly due to having huge feet.

There’s also the matter of his “action feature.” “Multi-Attack Max Steel” has a spring-loaded right arm so that he can fling things and slash with his sword. You pull back the arm, it snaps back into place. The normal position of the arm is with a bent elbow, with his hand, chest-level, right in front of his face. It’s like he’s perpetually ready to take a drink.

Reportedly, there are more 12″ Max Steel figures on the way. If they are priced this reasonably, and maybe don’t have the spring-loaded arm, they could be a good way to fill out a 12″ sci-fi diorama, or with heavy alterations, build up your 1/6 scale army.