There is no more ToyBiz. ToyBiz has ceased to exist since 2006 when owner Marvel Entertainment sold a license to Hasbro to continue the popular Marvel Legends action figure toyline which is reviewed here. To this day, there is a lot of inside information that’s missing allowing the public and toy pundits to figure why exactly Marvel would give up a very successful toyline – probably the most popular action figure toyline of the first half of the 2000s in favour of Hasbro which continues the line as Legends but just cannot capture the popularity of the original line produced by ToyBiz.
First, some history. ToyBiz was partly the product of producer Avi Arad and Isaac Perlmutter. Early on, ToyBiz created toys that were of poor quality. Some of their early super hero toys included a pastiche of the Super Power series by Kenner but with new sculpts, worse action features and bad plastics. These DC Comics’ based action figures had none of the grace or sturdiness of the Super Powers which were an extension of the Super Friends’ cartoon series in 1984. In the mid-1990s. ToyBiz also produced several toys related to comic book properties, such as their long running X-Men series and various Avengers, Spider-man and related characters such as Alpha Flight. Again, these toys were cheap, badly articulated and a shame for the collector of comic book-based action figures.
However, sometimes during that time, ToyBiz bought nearly bankrupted Marvel Entertainment and Arad became interested in becoming a movie producer in Hollywood. Several movie rights were sold for next to nothing and in some cases in perpetuity to Sony Pictures – but that’s another story. Marvel was struggling in the late 1990s. Although it was ToyBiz that had bought Marvel, it seemed like it was Marvel that ran the show. Just before selling its license for Marvel Comics-based action figures to Hasbro, there was some disagreement with Arad and Marvel’s leadership and Arad was now just a movie producer for Marvel Entertainment and not as involved in their project. It’s hard to say if all of these disagreements were entangled with Stan Lee.
Much of this information is hard to piece out and not many have bothered asking as many questions over the years as The Comic Book Bin. Although we covered the sale of the Marvel Legends licensing to Hasbro way back in 2005-2006, we only had official documents to base our investigations. At the same time a new round of financing for Marvel-related movies on its comic book characters through animation in partnership with Lionsgate was announced. Was Hasbro’s license used to finance and cushion the risk Marvel had taken by borrowing money to finance a series of super hero-based movie blockbusters a movie completion financing had invested, outsiders will never know.
However, there is no doubt that with Hasbro now taking the brunt of the risks for producing Marvel Legends action figures, that ToyBiz was no longer a source of potential trouble for Marvel were things to go badly with the production of toys. ToyBiz in early 2000s also made toys from other franchises it did not own, such as Lord of the Ring, which may have been a risky endeavour for the company as the toys quickly lost collectors’ interests after the trilogy ended. Although other licenses had been pursued by ToyBiz, its most popular product was the Marvel Legends and related action figure line of six-inch-based action figures. Related series had also been produced for Spider-man – Spider-man Classics and the X-Men. ToyBiz’s secret sauce was to create rarity of action figures through a complex web of distribution that some retailers, such as Wal-Mart have access to exclusive variants and whole series. The distribution was so sketchy, that collectors would go into frenzy and hunt the toys all over. It gave rise to a popular after market and frequent stories of creepy adult men buying up action figures and literally stealing them from children’s hands in department stores.
The ToyBiz came up with the build a larger action figure ploy which induced even more frenzy. Success in action figure marketing is how much the market will support variants and exclusive distribution methods. In that regard, no other toy company of the 2000s was as successful as ToyBiz. But as ToyBiz lost its main product line, Marvel Legends, the company renamed itself Marvel Toy and continued with a few licensed projects until the complete demise of the division within Marvel Entertainment just before the acquisition by Disney. All the talented sculptors and toy makers must have been absorbed by other companies. To this day, some fans argue that Marvel Toys belongs to Hasbro. It does not.
The Marvel Legends line is still quite popular although it is defunct and the Hasbro Legends line that followed just has not measured up in the last few years since the acquisition.
Oct 8, 2012 - 6:58
A review of the almost vintage of the Thorbuster Ironman action figure
Apr 3, 2011 - 13:19
The gorgeous body of Mystique is nowhere to be found in this action figure
Jan 23, 2011 - 16:49
Thanos has long been one of the main cosmic villains in the Marvel Comics universe
Jan 15, 2011 - 23:27
The funniest thing about this action figure's face, is the uncanny resemblance to actor Brad Pitt
Jan 9, 2011 - 10:10
I don't like this Cyclops action figure very much
Jan 8, 2011 - 23:18
The First Appearance Spider-man action figure is an attempt to capture the look of the character when he was drawn by co-creator Steve Ditko
Dec 29, 2010 - 8:27
With Wall Mountable Motorcycle.
Feb 23, 2009 - 7:53
Although well articulated, this action figure is not fun to play with
Jan 6, 2009 - 19:46
Was Marvel Toys right to abandon its license to make Marvel Entertainment-based toys?
Nov 1, 2008 - 22:42
It was only a matter of time before Marvel Select offered collectors a new Thor action figure
Aug 21, 2008 - 8:19
Finally, a Rastaman action figure in the form of X-Man Bishop!
Jun 15, 2008 - 10:30
The Cosmic-born Kree warrior Captain Marvel returns to life as an action figure
Oct 20, 2007 - 14:01
I don’t like the chunky aspect of the crazy evil Hulk that never was
Sep 22, 2007 - 17:32
The super fighter created by Aim and Hydra fights the Avengers with his mighty will
Sep 8, 2007 - 19:22
The leader of the X-Men-related team, Excalibur gets an action figure based on an existing sculpt.
Sep 8, 2007 - 14:12
Released at the same time as the second Spider-man movie, this set including Dr Octopus and Spider-man is one of the best by Marvel Select
May 21, 2007 - 12:01
The Wasp is a founding Avenger and one of the most underestimated Marvel heroine. Although, she is tough enough to lead the Avengers and stand next to them in their greatest adventures
Apr 23, 2007 - 9:01
At first I hated the idea of a retro Luke Cage, as I was hoping for a modern version as he appears in comic books today
Apr 22, 2007 - 16:43
The Wasp, traditionally, is a character fond of wearing many different costumes and hairstyles. The figure reviewed here is the style typically worn during what I call the "George Perez Years" when his artwork was a major part of the Avengers appeal
Apr 10, 2007 - 9:08
The first woman to bear the name, Spider-Woman was a mainstay in the 1970s and 1980s Marvel Universe. Back from comic book limbo, she is offered as part of the Modok build a figure (BAF) set from the last Marvel Legends series released by Toy Biz.
Mar 19, 2007 - 21:59
The Destroyer, Odin's protective construct against the forces of the Celestial, was created to be a near unstoppable test for Thor
Mar 19, 2007 - 0:08
In the alternate Age of Apocalypse Marvel universe, Sabertooth is a hero working with the X-Men after rebelling from Apocalypse
Nov 12, 2006 - 14:43
It is a good feeling to find toys that you are looking for and to have them freshly displayed so you can buy them before all the other toy hunters get in your way
Oct 12, 2006 - 23:04
Kitty Pryde has a great face sculpt but skinny arms that make her look odd. Her pet dragon looks cool.
Oct 7, 2006 - 23:11
A character that shrinks should always come with a smaller version of his shrunken self in an action figure set. At least, this figure is cool to look at.
Oct 6, 2006 - 23:10
Havok has a great sculpt, although his face looks odd.
Oct 5, 2006 - 19:34
Warbird could have been a great action figure, if it weren't for he skinny arms and bad paint job.
Oct 4, 2006 - 22:49
This is a great figure that’s bugged down by bad paint application and weak articulations.
Oct 2, 2006 - 22:05
Giant Man, the elusive and exclusive action figure that's always sold as a rarity comes back in his best shape ever
Sep 2, 2006 - 15:34
A nice figure that can't stand up well, if you like the character.
Aug 3, 2006 - 9:36
Apocalypse is the villain that just won't go away. An immortal and probably one of the first mutants ever, Apocalypse is one of the deadliest opponent of the X-Men and a worhty 16-inches adversary. It's the coolest Apocalypse action figure ever.
Aug 2, 2006 - 8:06
Living on the blue area of the Moon, he watches. He watches humanity and this world we call Earth. Now, you can put a Watcher figure in the back of your room, facing the rest of your Marvel Legends collection, discreetly
Aug 1, 2006 - 7:24
Wonder Man is the ionic Avenger who loves the Scarlet Witch and whose brain patterns were used to create the Vision. Super strong and capable of flying and resisting great harm, Wonder Man is finally available to Marvel Legends collectors
Jul 31, 2006 - 12:12
Doctor Strange is the Sorcerer Supreme of the Marvel Universe. This is the second action figure created for the character and the first one for the Marvel Legends action figure line.
Jul 30, 2006 - 22:17
James Rupert Rhodes, Tony Stark's personal pilot and best friend took over the job of being Iron Man before he gained his own armour and became the hero War Machine.
Jul 10, 2006 - 16:06
This figure does not have the imposing charm and dangerous charisma of other Wolverine figures and makes him more human than dangerous
Jun 11, 2006 - 23:12
Iron FIst is a good figure that unlike other Marvel Legends action figure can stand on his own feet and be posed in cool moves. In fact, he can even match some of Sota's Street Fighter characters.
Jun 8, 2006 - 7:20
Sasquatch is the Canadian super hero member of the super hero team Alpha Flight. He can lift several tons (up to 100 tons). This is the second Sasquatch action figure made by Toybiz, but the first one in the six-inches scale.
Apr 16, 2006 - 12:19
The best part about the Silver Surfer is that he can really surf. I have mine with his meteorite base stuck on a wall, while the surfer is surfing the stars of my office! Best of all, he looks like one of those expensive trophy on a regular desk. Most people don't even know it's an action figure!