In the late 1960’s, Captain Action stood tall as the first super hero action figure at a time of explosive pop culture. Able to change into other heroes—including Marvel Comics characters—the sword-wielding action agent cemented his place in the hearts of his fans for decades to come.
Over the past three years, Captain Action’s re-upped for a new tour of duty, along with even more Marvel hero costume sets. Recently, the Captain has added two new Marvel stalwarts to his ranks with Iron Man and Wolverine, and completed the unique Hawkeye build-an-outfit promotion.
We checked in with Captain Action Enterprises’ Ed Catto and Joe Ahearn to get the lowdown on Captain Action’s activities and their future Marvel plans.
Ed Catto: Round 2, and specifically their Forever Fun division, have been just wonderful as partners. We’re really excited and we feel that together, we’ve grown and become better and better at developing the Captain Action [line]. Each time we release a new round of toys, I feel like we make giant strides and ultimately, the fans and the retailers win.Joe Ahearn: Our lead designer is a big Marvel fan too. A funny story, one time he misspelled “Adamantium” in the draft of a document. We teased him about it, and he was beside himself. To real fan like him, a minor mistake like that, despite the fact that it is a made-up word, was an embarrassing misstep. We’re really excited for Toy Fair in February and can’t wait for the new Captain Action toys in 2014!
Ed Catto: Oh, the stories we could tell about the selection of our Marvel Costume sets! Iron Man made all the sense in the world, as the current incarnation is such a huge deal for fans of all ages. In fact, we contend that the Iron Man pose, with the outward facing palm ready to blast the repulsor rays, is more popular amongst kids than the classic super-heroic hands-on-hips pose. We did save him for the third wave because we knew we had to get better at the costume development, and the Iron Man toy costume is pretty tricky.
In the end, we think we nailed it and he looks just great. Our goal was to be evocative of all those early versions as rendered by Don Heck, Gene Colan, George Tuska and, more recently, our pal Bob Layton. And I think we managed it pretty well; we couldn’t be more pleased.
Marvel.com: How did you arrive upon which versions of the two heroes you wanted to produce? What was that process like?
Joe Ahearn: Well, the lines we’ve painted on the road for our costumes are that they have to be the comic version of the characters, we stick with a retro or classic look and we must be respectful of the great artists who made these characters great. Once we established this ground rules, the versions of each character fell into place.
Marvel.com: The Iron Man and Wolverine package art is really stunning; how did you choose the images that were used on both?
Joe Ahearn: With Iron Man, we always thought we would showcase a Gene Colan image. Despite the mask being unable to share expression, we always felt that Gene had such as sense of dynamicism and emotion to all his work. But in the end, Bob Layton’s classic Iron Man image is iconic and the armor looks polished and shiny. Many fans forget that the classic [David] Michelinie-John Romita Jr.-Layton run was the first time that that armor was shown in high-gloss mode.
Ed Catto: For Wolverine, we went back and forth between [Dave] Cockrum and [John] Byrne images. In the end, we went with that particular John Byrne image because it fit the space better. We did have an idea for a variant with the original Wolverine mask—when he battled Hulk and Wendigo—and maybe we can get to that someday soon.
Ed Catto: Wonderful! We’re big Hawkeye fans and, in many ways, can’t believe that this outfit set is officially completed. We love every element, but feel the mask especially just screams “Silver Age Marvel.” When we were kids, all those stories where Hawkeye would wander into the mansion during a particular storyline and re-join the Avengers were our favorites. Likewise, he even did that with the Defenders. He’d kind of wander onto the team; usually there was a woman involved, as we recall. So it seems only fitting that now we have a Hawkeye as part of the Captain Action line who can do just that: wander into the adventures.
Marvel.com: What can you say about the sculptors you've used this time around?
Joe Ahearn: We’re thrilled with all the sculptors. Tim Bruckner lent his talents to our Wolverine mask, and the end product was fantastic. He was able to blur the lines so it looks as if it was drawn by Jim Lee, Dave Cockrum and John Byrne all the same time.
Ed Catto: The Iron Man mask is hard as there’s no nose and you have to “cheat” on that. Tony Ciprianio worked hard and we couldn’t be happier if Tony Stark himself created that facemask.
Marvel.com: In terms of Marvel, what's next for Captain Action? Any more villains to join Loki?
Joe Ahearn: We need more bad guys, that’s for sure. Our short list still has the Red Skull on it, but we’d really like to develop Doctor Doom and Magneto outfits, too.
As for heroes, we’re struggling with the next costume set options.
Ed Catto: In addition to Cyclops, Daredevil and Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. always seem to rise to the top of the fan choices. T’Challa, the Black Panther is another favorite and he’d be good for our short list. In addition, the Falcon is in the upcoming “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” movie, so who knows?
Ed Catto: Last time you asked, we listed Stingray and we’ll stick by him. He’d be such a cool character. The more we think about it, we’d also love to develop some of the Marvel Western Characters—we just love the Rawhide Kid, Kid Colt, Outlaw and the original Ghost Rider. On the bad guy front, I’ve always liked two Spider-Man villains: Mysterio and the Shocker.
Joe Ahearn: On the other hand, Warren Worthington, the X-Men’s Angel, could look beautiful with enormous white wings. And we’ve often talked of an Iron Fist costume set, with a “light-up” fist, would make everyone say “Make Mine Marvel” even louder!