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Female action figures emerged as a bona-fide collecting category in their own right in 1995.

Spurred on by the success of the figures from the Star Wars and Batman movie franchises mainstream toy companies flooded shelves and filled racks with dozens of lines and hundreds of figures.

Alongside the industry leaders Kenner and ToyBiz a new player, Todd Toys (soon to be renamed McFarlane Toys), introduced toys aimed at older buyers.

McFarlane's offerings were larger, heavier, more mature, more detailed and more expensive.

This new "scale" of figures helped to create a collector's market, but more than just their often risque female sculpts helped fuel the frenzy. Borrowing a page from card collecting McFarlane single-packed deluxe, oversized or otherwise notorious toys like Tiffany (above left) and the huge Malebolgia.

But figure collecting quickly generated speculators, hoarders and complicit toy store employees. Female figures were especially exploited in this toxic market. Like the bubble in comic collecting of the late 1980s, a frenzy ensued that saw several toy companies come and go, while others were swallowed whole.

Femme action figures are collectable for a variety of reasons:

Interesting, often powerful characters
Figures resold in a "secondary" market as a result of deliberate short-packing
Figures that appeal to adults (especially men)
A manageable, attainable universe

Now there are some cynics who will claim that female figures represent nothing more than T&A personified. And the costumes that adorn these creations often seem to bear this out. A survey of the various McFarlane gals and the case is closed. Or is it?

Powerful, capable and compelling feminine characters have gradually been introduced into the media. Gals who can carry their own mainstream comics or video games or movie franchises with barely a whiff of skin. And one can persuasively argue their costumes are no more revealing or suggestive than their male teammates.

Here are nutshellings of some famous and infamous SheListers.
Alien Flying Queen (Aliens/Kenner)

Alien Flying Queen (Aliens/Kenner)
I hope somebody at Kenner got a bonus when he or she figured out they could sculpt and sell us Alien toys that had never existed in the continuity. And I also hope whoever gave us some of the dreadful variants was rewarded with being "surplussed" when the Hasbro-monster ate Kenner.

This series really runs hot and cold, almost always according to how faithfully the movies were honored. Rhino Alien? Ridiculous.

And some of the figures embody these hit or miss efforts all by themselves. Take this Flying Queen. A neat sculpt when photographed from this angle. And she has flapping wings! But to make them flap, you have this ugly lever sticking out of her back.

Now way back when Kenner won the competition to develop the Super Powers line for DC, they invented ways of hiding or combining their action mechanisms into the sculpt. How come they forgot on this toy? They could have put a spine to push on her back or anything but an ugly lever. Shame, shame, shame.

Otherwise a good-looking (though awkward to pose) toy with good play value.

American Maid (The Tick/Bandai)
American Maid (The Tick/Bandai)
With Chopping Action! YooHoo! Any villainous veggies out there? A great character from the great comic- cartoon- comedy-series. She shipped evenly-packed (well, no figure was as "well-packed" as the Tick of course) but our heroine sold out immediately. Probably because her sculpt is a dead ringer with the comic and cartoon.

But being a fairly HardTarget (that is, being both popular and rare) her reputation is mostly due to the dance most collectors had to do to chase her down So I suspect very few of these toys were actually opened. I opened this one to grab a clear photograph for you. And lo and behold, the Maid has some issues.

First, although she has four points of articulation, two of those (her waist and right arm) are "locked together" to serve as the chopping mechanism. Posing is limited to her left arm and her head. And since her legs aren't jointed, she has the problem several SheList-ers have: small feet make her a bit tricky to balance upright.

Now, to quote the Ticklopedia the Maid's "main form of attack... is her stiletto heels, which she can throw with perfect accuracy, often pinning her foes to walls or other vertical objects." Hmmm, the heels on this toy are a little short of stiletto, and that's just as well. Had her heels been as tall as Hexidecimal's true stilettos she'd be constantly rocking over onto her backside.
Angela (Spawn/McFarlane)
One of the original queens of the SheList.

Obviously this is partially due to her exalted position in the Spawn universe but let's face it, her costume (what there is of it) is the big deal here.

But Angela's collector appeal is more probably rooted in her notorious product history.

You see, the original Angela figure from McFarlane shipped sans panties, creating a notorious variant immediately dubbed "Party Angela".

According to now-classic collector-lore, Toys'RUs quickly insisted on painted-on panties for a toy intended primarily for boys, and when her paint and parts were "adjusted" several variant versions shipped.

Deluxe Angela (pictured) is a reverent 13-inch rendering confirming her status as the prime Spawn amazon.

Angela (Spawn/McFarlane)
Photo by kind permission of McFarlane Toys
Batgirl (Batman Forever/Kenner)
Yet another black-rubber queen like the Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman from the second movie, looking nothing at all like the Batgirl we knew, loved and expected.

And look at those accessories! Their main virtue seems to be that they're too big for a child to swallow. What I want to know is how the "gun" fits into her utility belt? A slightly different paint of this gal was packaged with a Bat-Cycle which made a lot more sense.

It would be years before we got a "real" Batgirl, but eventually we have even seen the release of a variety of classic "Silver Age" Batgirls. At last!

Brood Queen (X-Men/ToyBiz)
Brood Queen (X-Men/ToyBiz)
True, we've encountered several famous Alien races, and two or three are represented here on this very list. But have you noticed how many times we've not been properly introduced? Especially in films. I mean the aliens in Alien, Aliens, Alien 3, Alien Resurrection and finally Alien vs. Predator are just known to us as.... the aliens. Not Smith, or Jones or even Kitabayashi. (Hey Sharon!)

Five Alien movies and we still don't know where to send their mail. Film after film, from Close Encounters to Independence Day, how often are they just... the aliens? But in TV series and especially in comics series, the reverse is usually true. Backstory so dense you can (insert your own trite phrase here).

So it is with the Brood. Home planet: Broodworld. Some of the Brood we know personally: T'Crilee, Haeg'Ril, Skur'Kil. Their first appearance was in Uncanny X-Men 155, (March 1982). The debut of one of my top ten favorite comic series of all time.

A great story arc that was part of the now classic stories that helped lift the X-Men to their current glory. Near-perfect art dynamically drafted delivering a classic semi-realistic look. It is sooo nice to see this dead-ringer for the Brood's Great Mother. And a daring move for ToyBiz. They couldn't re-use the mold!

(If you are in need of details on some Marvel-ous alien you've just encountered, you could do worse than checking with Galactus.)

Catwoman/Michelle Pfeiffer (Batman
From the collection of
Daniel Efting
Catwoman (Batman Returns/Kenner)
Is everybody clear that the movies have nothing to do with either the comics or the TV show(s) continuities? This character had its bio totally reinvented for the movie, distinctly different from any other Batman context.

That said, this costume (shown at left) was by far the best Catwoman outfit we'd ever seen. One shudders to think of the effect on millions of young boys had Julie Newmar slipped into this. (Assuming the ABC censors would have let it slip by, which I doubt.) Meeoowww? Purr. It makes the Halle Berry oufit look both slutty and silly.

BTW, despite being saddled with several completely different "origin stories" Catwoman was named the numero uno comic book vixen on Bravo's show "SuperVixens 2005". Despite the considerable efforts of Ms. Berry.

Charlene Sinclair (Dinosaurs/Hasbro)
Charlene, voiced by Sally Struthers, is a pretty tough find. It must have sounded good to Hasbro when they landed the property: a show about dinos produced by the Muppet-folks, abetted by Disney and scheduled in the heart of ABC's TGIF lineup. But this series of toys, produced for kids, was from a show many kids just didn't grok.

After all, at least half the shows poked fun at a modern child's nirvana: TV. So who could blame kids for either not getting the joke or worse: getting put off if they were bright enought to see that the joke was on them! All in all this was a very seditious show.

These figures were dead-on likenesses of the show characters and look great posed in tableau. On the other hand these figs only swivel at the waist (hiss!) and while they have appropriate accessories, many can't be gripped by the figures.

Charlene Sinclair, Sally Struthers
Dale Arden (Flash Gordon/Playmates)
The update of this classic comic strip/movie serial character works paricularly well. The figure is sexy without being salacious, and projects physical strength along with cuteness.

Squint just a bit and you can see Laura Croft's genes (pun intended). The animated series came and went without much notice, but the punk/retro look on this series suits these toys really well.

A very nice effort by the design teams at Hearst and Playmates. Dale was quickly clearanced at KayBee (like so many others) at 3 for $10.00. But I've seen her priced MOC at over $25.00!

Dale Arden (Flash Gordon/Playmates)
Photo by Playmates
Dejah Thoris (Tarzan: The Epic
Dejah Thoris (Tarzan: The Epic Adventures/Trendmasters)
The only female in a very extensive line of toys. Probably too extensive. She's John Carter's wife and a Princess of Helium. According to Trendmasters she's a "master of the deadly arts of war!" How unexpected. That's a Dejah view ;-) on the left. Like most female mistresses of war, this princess wears hardly anything to battle. But what a great tan.

Seriously, though. Trendmasters could have cut the total number of figures (nearly twenty) and variations and done much better by collectors and Burrough's fans. And where's the posability in these toys? Dejah has one point of articulation, her right arm swivels a wee bit at the shoulder. Unacceptable!

Domino (X-Force/ToyBiz)
When I first reviewed this toy in 1996, I gave it a rave review. Here was a relatively minor character getting her due at roughly the same time she became more prominent in the Cable comic book.

But since then ToyBiz has cloned and repainted this sculpt (she's just Rogue repainted, compare it below!) for several other characters, often with exactly the same accessories. (And check out the Jean Grey figure below, too! Sheesh!) Effectively spiking a good thing.

Now, it is easy to understand how a minor character like Domino is only going to exist as a paint variant, but why the cheesy re-use of the same accessories? Or are we to believe that all Marvel superheroes get their costumes off the rack and all their weapons from the same arms merchant?

Domino (X-Force/ToyBiz)
Dot (Dot/Reboot/Irwin)
Dot (Reboot/Irwin)
This was one of the first female figures that was as commonly packed as say, McFarlane's Angela. In fact this limited but faithful line featured two femmes and both sold out before the hero!

Dot dashed more quickly off the shelves than even thoses pole-dancing McFarlane gals. Why? Personality gets my vote.

The line was eventually hacked and slashed with the cancellation of the animated series on U.S. broadcast TV. But with Reboot's extended play on cable's Cartoon Network there was enough interest for some interesting repaints, multi-packs and even a freshly sculpted (and slightly taller) Commander Dot shown below right.

Eliza Masa (Gargoyles/Kenner)
This is the female police officer from the show, the human who hangs with the winged ones. Even though she was not pictured on the back of Series 1 packages or even Series 2 she did ship as part of the 2nd series. Eliza debuted in the Disney Stores nationwide but quickly showed up at Toys'RUs. However. Not once have I ever seen Ms. Masa sport this "assault" outfit in the show. Have you? Kenner fulfills its "obligation" to cover this very central character and then does this to her?
Eliza Masa (Gargoyles/Kenner)
99% of the time Eliza wears the same leather jacket and jeans (left). But Kenner thinks boys would prefer something warrior-like. What about girl fans or some attempt at design faithfulness?

Another idea would have been to have her don this armor at least once on the show. Anything but making their only Eliza toy totally unlike the character on the show.

BTW, for insider info on Gargoyles you should Ask Greg. Recommended for Gargoyles fanatics.

Echidna (Hercules Monsters Series/ToyBiz)

Echidna (Hercules Monsters Series/ToyBiz)
She may not spring to mind when listing female figures. But there's a nurturing soul under that hideous exterior who loves her children and who was justifiably peeved at Hercules for slaughtering her spawn.

She was part of the six-inch Monster trio (along with Hydra and Cyclops) sculpted in scale to the five-inch Hercules line.

Guinan (Star Trek: Next Generation/Playmates)
Every Trekker's favorite bartender shown at right taking your orders. A lot of people dissed Ms. Goldberg for taking this role, (and STTNG for asking her) but hey, I like her better in this role than any of her movies.

In case you don't know the story behind this role, she's paying back the karmic debt from the original Trek when Nichelle Nichols became practically the first black woman to play a non-stereotyped role on TV.

Now about the sculpt. This portrait of Whoopie looks a little like her. For Playmates, that's a minor miracle. There is another Guinan sculpt from the Generations movie that makes Whoopie look like she really was an alien. Like most Playmates efforts, it didn't look much like her. Thanks for the second effort, guys!

Whoopi Goldberg Guinan (Star Trek: Next Generation/Playmates)
Hexadecimal (Reboot/Irwin)
Hexadecimal (Reboot/Irwin)
One of the most delicious characters ever! Hexie's rivalry with the even evil-er Megabyte made her a powerful (if untrustworthy) ally for Bob and his crew. Which made her the most interesting character on the show, IMHO.

A repaint of this figure (found in a "collector" multi-pack) replaces black for red in her costume and it looks great, too. But this paint is the most faithful to the outfit from the show, so it's my preferred model. Her cape is thin vinyl, not molded plastic, and that's also a nice detail. BTW, the included standing platform (shown) is absolutely necessary to get her to stand upright. Stiletto heels are tough in real life, too! (Or so I'm told.)

A fabulously executed sculpt, great accessories (four alternate expression masks) make this an exceptional figure.

Invisible Woman (Fantastic Four/ToyBiz)
A SpiderWoman repaint rushed into the market because the Fantastic Two (Reed once and Ben three times before Sue appeared) is not what ToyBiz agreed to deliver.

Had ToyBiz already swallowed Marvel (which they eventually did), they might have never issued this character until the movie toys, so this was a mixed blessing. That said, this was a real trashing of one of the original classic characters from Marvel's Golden Age.

For starters, she's not Invisible is she? And by re-using the SpiderWoman mold (which ToyBiz re-used so many times), Sue's arms have this pointless mechanism for two-handed throwing of... well, nothing. She has nothing to throw. She does have this ridiculous clear plastic rolling pad. But why bother? IMHO, having Sue roll around the floor didn't add much to this toy.

Eventually ToyBiz got it right (twice!) and shipped not only a transparent Sue and but also a great "Disappearing Sue". If only this Sue had never materialized.

Invisible Woman (Fantastic Four/ToyBiz)
Jane (Disney's Tarzan/Mattel)
Jane (Disney's Tarzan/Mattel)
Okay, I know. That's not an action figure on the left.

Trendmasters kept fidelity with the "official" Burroughs' characters for their Tarzan line by ignoring the Jane character grafted on by Hollywood. But Jane was integral to the Disney film (and series) so we should have seen a Jane figure emerge, right? And not just inarticulate (sic) PVC.

Let's all agree: Jane is one of the most well-known characters in the Tarzan canon. So why is there no action figure in the toy line? Because... Mattel, the same company which built it's fortune on the back of Ruth Handler's Barbie has been very unsuccessful at selling female action figures.

They did do one of the first femmes, the Sorceress, but it was years after the He-Man line debuted and they basically had run out of reasons not to.

And Mattel did release the Demi Moore character from Disney's Hunchback. But when Demi didn't sell well they had ammunition to talk the Mouse into letting them demote this Jane by only releasing her as a PVC or two and not as an action figure.

But of course none of the Hunchback toys sold as well as Mattel had hoped. Disney's animated Tarzan obviously was destined to sell a lot more toys than Hunchback ever could, and for obvious reasons. MonkeyBoy is a studly hunk compared to anyone, much less Quazimodo, and boys did buy up this line.

But I would have bet money that this Jane would have been bought by Tarzan fans in action figure form. She's pretty "classically" designed, kind of a cross between the era of the original books (where she didn't appear) and the Hollywood invention (where she never really looked this Victorian).

Jean Grey (X-Men/ToyBiz)
One of the most revered (and powerful) gals in the Marvel Universe gets cloned from the same mold as the Domino toy above.

Maybe ToyBiz thought they were doing collectors a favor by offering an alternative to the other sculpts of Jean on the market. But while they were being so considerate, why not provide her with different accessories?

Especially since her powers make these weapons ridiculous. Why would Jean ever use the gun when she can use powerful telekinesis? She wouldn't of course, ToyBiz was just doing its usual infamous repainting.

The other Jean Grey sculpts (as Phoenix) run rings 'round this toy, plus they light up!

Jubilee (Generation X/ToyBiz)
Jubilee (Generation X/ToyBiz)
Here's a popular character from a popular TV show based on a popular comic series. So what took so long? Did they think it wouldn't be popular with a ToyBiz label on it?

It would have been nice to have seen her kitted out as a regular X-Men team member, but this was a good first effort since it captured her youthfulness pretty well.

All told this was surprisingly well executed series, from production to packaging to realistic action posing. In fact, Jubilee can stand upright on her own! And not one but two (count'em, two!) female characters in this series.

Jubilee's black boots are rollerblades. They can be removed to reveal regular feet in scale. Her other accessory is less original, being just a recycled energy blast from Exodus.

Recycling is a ToyBiz hallmark (notice the lowercase on "hallmark"). After all, ToyBiz entered the business using recycled molds licensed from Kenner. And as it turned out Jubilee's skates (which seemed such a nice touch at the time) were themselves recycled later on a Dazzler figure.
Kaitlin Star (VR Troopers/Bandai)
Kaitlin Star (VR Troopers/Bandai)
I couldn't do a SheList and leave her off. You see, I had this thing for Sarah Browne, the young lady who played Kaitlin. I admit it. When she did those spinning karate kicks in a skirt or shorts I felt ten years younger for almost a whole minute. (Then of course I immediately felt twenty years older. Call it voyeur's remorse.)

I found this figure loose at a toy show, so I have no idea what her accessories were. I also have the "laser light-up" version which shipped after this first version but the sculpt was pretty similar except for the necesssary "laser" retooling.

According to Sarah Dyer, the third of three versions looked most like a girl, but I've never found one. Of course there never was a real Kaitlin figure, just these recycled, repainted, asexual Japanese transplants.

Penance (Generation X/ToyBiz)
Finally! A series release with not one but two females. Of course, the Gen-X "team" was even more balanced in "reality", but this was a a move in the right direction. And all of the figures in this series did justice to their comic visualizations.

BTW, those are removable manacles hanging from her limbs.

And yes, Penance's skin in the comic reality is too diamond-shard sharp to touch as opposed to the hard rubber of this short-pack figure.

But after all there was at least a statistical probability (admittedly low) that a child would actually open and play with one of these figures. So rubber it was.

Penance (Generation X/ToyBiz)
Poison Ivy (Batman: The Animated Series/Kenner)
Photo courtesy
Jason Geyer
Poison Ivy (Batman: The Animated Series/Kenner)
Here's my original review from 1995 of this toy:

"Watch for a new version of this character to be timed with the release of the new movie Batman IV - The Clooney Cash Cow. Even better news is that (according to Eric Myer) we'll be seeing a Batgirl figure around the same time. Wow!

And let's hope that unlike this one, Kenner finally figures out how to get her to stand without hand support. Can you believe they actually had the nerve to put a disclaimer on the package to that effect? Talk about shutting the gate after the cow (sorry, Ivy) has escaped.

And while I'm up here on this soapbox I'd like to say that if Kenner is going to insist on action-posing they should at least deliver characters that can stand up. Is that too much to ask? That's the original Ivy on the left. And yes, her hair was that flat on top."

Having said all that in 1995, here's how things turned out:

a) Clever people like to claim Clooney killed the Warner/Kenner Cash Cow. Of course it was Joel Schumacher who really screwed it up, but whoever and whyever, the movie and likewise the toys grossed much less than Warner and Kenner expected. Of course, the movie and the toys "grossed out" in other ways, didn't it? I mean, who can forget those nipple-suits?

b) We did get a new "Uma Thurmond" Ivy, and surprise, she couldn't hold her "weapon" and stand without hand support. Kenner still couldn't get it right.

and finally,

c) There was an "Alicia Silverstone" Batgirl but well... check her out above.

Princess What's-Her-Name (Earthworm Jim/Playmates
Princess What's-Her-Name (Earthworm Jim/Playmates )
Let's see, the object of the video game was to finally reach and secure this princess. And the object of every collector of this series is to find the elusive short-packed princess... hmmm, could there be a parallel here?

First the good news. This is one cute character. Like all the EWJ toys, her sculpt is a dead-on likeness for the character we see in the game. What's-Her-Name shipped with two weapons, a Really INTENSE Insectoid Gun and a Bug Launcher with four Bug Discs. A tiny Runt Zurb figure also accompanies the Princess.

Now the bad news. PWHN suffers from Poison Ivy-ness. That is, she can't stand up without hand support or being popped onto a figure base. Like the one in the picture I borrowed from another toy. Like the ones included in all the Star Trek toys that Playmates shipped around the same time. Maybe Playmates just forgot to test her ability to stand on her own.

Or... or maybe or Playmates just didn't care. For myself, I would have gladly traded the Insectoid Gun or the Runt for the ability to have the Princess stand upright.

Unfortunately, her arch-sister, Queen Slug-For-A-Butt, (right) was cancelled before we got our hands on her. From her publicity pix Queenie looked like she would have tasted real well with a little garlic and butter sauce.

Queen Slug-For-a-Butt
Ripley (Aliens/Kenner)
The figure doesn't look much like Sigourney Weaver. But it was probably too much to expect Kenner to do an adequate rendering of the heroine of the series. Sheesh.

Still, the must-have human in the set. Kenner also included a twelve-page mini-comic but by choosing to roll up the book instead of packaging it flat they effectively messed up a good thing. And BTW, notice that even with that huge weapon, Ripley is standing without hand support. So it can be done.

All things considered, Ripley does embody arguably the first hyper-competent, hyper-effective gal ever to star as the lead in an action film.

Making this toy a must-have for femme-collectors.

Rogue (X-Men/ToyBiz)
It's a testament to her popularity in the X-Universe that Rogue (and not Phoenix) was the first Marvel gal to be released in their ten-inch Deluxe Series. The "Deluxe" in this case refers only to the size of the toys, not the accessories or packaging or anything else.

This is the original five-inch Rogue design "blown up". But Rogue somehow rated star treatment cuz she gets a faux leather jacket (nice) and a silly plastic belt that is waaaay too large.

During the design process for the typical five-inch toy guide models are cast double the size of the eventual toy, and those masters are used to generate the smaller final molds. So ToyBiz, a notoriously "economical" toymaker, simply used the models they had on hand for this line.

Rogue (X-Men/ToyBiz)
Unlike McFarlane, which uses the extra size of their toys to allow extra-fine detailing, ToyBiz simply used the less-detailed double-ups. So many of the figures look clunky "blown up". (Rogue actually works okay.) Later, ToyBiz added several more characters to the line which were only repaints of this mold. Unfortunately, the cloning is even more obvious when the figures are larger.

We've had many new molds since this first design, including dress-ups and repaints of other molds (like the White Queen). BTW, this design had it's own notorious debut when the initial five-inch version was so poorly painted that it wound up a variant immortalized as "Drunken Eye Shadow Rogue."

SheSpawn (Spawn/McFarlane)
SheSpawn (Spawn/McFarlane)
She sure was. This incarnation also appeared in three variant versions just to screw with our heads. At least she kept her pants on. Some of the more scandalous McFarlane girls favor loin cloths and thongs.

Like Exo-Skeleton Spawn from the same series SheSpawn's accessory bone elements originally appeared both in off-white/light-brown and in spawn-bone dark grey, detailed below left.

The lighter version disappeared first from shipping cases but eventually the less-attractive grey ones sold, too. She-Spawn had a third variant in reships where she was repainted black and white (no red on the costume) with a black gun. All these variation occurring in just one series.

Now most of this numbing variation at McFarlane is intentional, but some of it was just due to McFarlane being new to the business of making toys. Which might be why so many McFarlane collectors develop nervous ticks.

Sorceress (He-Man/Mattel)
It's 7 A.M. Saturday morning and you're cruising garage sales hoping to score some overlooked classic piece of molded plastic and then...

Voila! There she hides at the dusty bottom of a crumbling cardboard box full of cast-aside toys. She's not much to look at, a clumsy sculpture typical of the early 80's. Not much articulation. And what's her name?

Well, meet Sorceress, possibly the first female action figure. From the He-Man cartoon, this good witch was the owner of a magic portal (is there any other kind?) through which she could warn He-Man about exactly who or what was behind this or that nefarious scheme.

Sorceress (He-Man/Mattel)
From the collection of Matt Efting.
He-Man and his pals could also use her portal to travel to faraway locales. Sooo, He-Man was always in need of her assistance. So why did it take Mattel until the sixth series of He-Man toys to release her?

One guess only.

SpiderWoman (Iron Man/ToyBiz)
SpiderWoman (Iron Man & SheForce/ToyBiz)
The first shipping versions of this toy may have been in short supply for all the usual reasons. But I suspect some were diverted for the infamous Sue Storm visible Invisible Woman repaint.

That's the She-Force series SpiderWoman at left preparing to cast her force nets. This SpiderWoman shipped in both dark purplish-blue (the original Iron-Man continuity version) and later in this black re-version as part of the re-issue series, "She-Force".

According to the packaging the "She's" were a covey of super-babes who all responded in-kind (and in-gender!) to a telepathic plea from Marvel Girl. "Sheeesh-Force" would be more on target. Just an excuse to recycle a bunch of molds I suspect.

But just to show that every cloud has its ebony lining, this ginned-up excuse for a series was justified (barely) by the inclusion of an evil Black Queen character/toy cloned from the White Queen, admittedly one of the sharpest female molds released by ToyBiz up to that date.

SpiderWoman (Spider-Man/ToyBiz)
No, this is not the same character as the SpiderWoman introduced in the Iron Man continuity, but this time the lack of creativity was Marvel's, not ToyBiz's.

For the record, as Sarah Dyer has pointed out this was the original SpiderWoman comic character, but the second made into a toy. Knowing useful details like this will certify you as a hopelessly dedicated collector.

This toy comes packaged with a large gun, but try as I might, I couldn't get it to slide onto her hand. The instructions on the package are clear enough. They just don't work. Thanks, ToyBiz.

SpiderWoamn (Spider-Man/ToyBiz)
Storm in black costume
Storm (/X-Men/ToyBiz)
Ororo Munroe was a celebrated character from her very first appearance in GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1. And that original costumed version of Storm was finally delivered in the X-Men Collector's Editions Box Set, but her first appearance as an action figure featured her cape-less uniform (pictured at left).

This first Storm to be immortalized as an action figure did her justice. I knock ToyBiz enough that you can believe me when I tell you this was a great toy in its time.

Storm in white costume
The best part about this first version of Storm was her chest light. The batteries couldn't be replaced but that was okay. (In July of 2005 I opened up a mint Storm from 1996 and the light worked fine!) The cape-less black costume is the slickest and rarest and most comic-authentic of the toys produced from this mold.

This was followed by a silver repaint which added circular wings and it is the silliest of the three paint variants. The last of this series of Storms wore a white costume (still with wing-cape) and this became the most common since it was re-packaged several different ways.

In fact, the cloud-white version looks so cool we can almost forgive ToyBiz for the silver version. Almost.

Tasha Yar
Tasha Yar (Star Trek: The Next Generation//Playmates)
You probably know the story (and back-story) of Lieutenant Yar as well or better than I. The pervasive pop-culture phenomenon of Star Trek provides us with hundreds if not thousands of web pages dedicated to Tasha (her official bio is here) and her derived characters, "Alternate" Tasha and her half-Romulan daughter Sela.

Likewise, there are dozens of fan pages dedicated to Denise Crosby. So, I'll leave you to Google your own data. Or even write your own page.

But keeping in mind the spirit of this list I must note that Tasha Yar is acknowledged as a milestone in a progression of characters dating back to Uhuru that finally resulted in Admiral Janeway. This stream of capable female role-models (and notable she-villains) is in fact Gene Roddenberry's legacy. A legacy not just for sci-fi but for western society. I don't think I'm overstating things.

A female security officer? Of course. Star Trek says it can be. And so it is. Our acceptance of even the thought of a female Admiral is conditioned by our knowledge that their "will be" an Admiral Janeway. And that's why Tasha must be on this list.

As for the toy, it's typical for this line. Pretty good articulation equals good posability and playability but we still have more of the dated sculpting that was slightly cheesy even way back then. But it does look a wee bit like Ms. Crosby and that's always appreciated.

Topaz (Ultraforce/Galoob)
I hate to say it. Of all the femmes on this list, Topaz and Poison Ivy are the two I wouldn't want to date. In real life, they're probably really nice and have great personalities.

Topaz's metallic face and overall stiff-looking sculpt just don't do it for me. In fact, I would say her face might be the most unattractive of any plastic gal in my collection.

On the other hand the Queen Topaz repaint, with its cape and new color scheme, definitely made the most of this mold.

Topaz (Ultraforce/Galoob)
Too bad there were only 504 officially released. Later, after Galoob was swallowed by Hasbro, a large quantity of unshipped Ultraforce toys were "liberated" and liquidated on the grey market through comic stores, mostly in California near the Galoob offices.
Xena (Hercules: The Legendary Journeys/ToyBiz)
Xena (Hercules/ToyBiz)
For a while the hottest female on this list was Xena. The popularity of this figure is due to all the same reasons as most of these gals plus a great TV show and guest shots on Hercules.

The first few five-inch Xena's shipped with lighter hair and a slightly different accessory layout in the package. The early version is quite rare, but does exist.

This first Xena could wear her shield on her back, but only via an intrusive hot pink(!) plug. Yecch! Another problem: her hands were sculpted so that she can use either her sword or her shield, not both at the same time.

It seems to me she might want to wield 'em together. You think?

Zealot (WILDC.A.T.S/Playmates)
This generally well-executed line of toys features a femme with a few issues. On the plus side for this line was Jim Lee's dynamic package art, lots of accessories plus matching trading cards.

But what's up with Zealot's heavy thighs and unarticulated knees? This is just poor sculpting. Shame on you, Mr. Lee, for allowing this lesser-quality execution of your usually well-drafted characters.

The Voodoo and Void gals from this same line have better figure sculpts, so I know Playmates just blew it on this toy. I give credit to Playmates for not just cloning different paint jobs off the same mold. But Zealot's trunk just doesn't seem to suit her thighs.

And about those unbendable knees. You see, Zealot can't even stand up without her base; knees that worked might have helped.

Zealot (WILDC.A.T.S/Playmates)
To make matters worse, the matching trading card shows a dynamic, hyper-bended knees pose that just highlights the fact that this Zealot can't flex the same way. I believe we call situations like this "ironic".

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