One of the more curious but welcome series of Marvel Legends exclusives Hasbro has released over the past few years has been their Walgreens-exclusive female X-Men. Picking up after Walgreens had received, one by one, the complete Fantastic Four (and their pals Medusa and the Silver Surfer), the X-Ladies set started in late 2018 with a slight tweak to the Brian Michael Bendis/Chris Bachalo Uncanny X-Men Magik figure that had been part of a 2015 San Diego Comic Con box set. (The Walgreens figure got differently colored swords, more accessories, and eyes that weren’t all-white.) Next came a Mystique figure, in her classic white sleeveless dress. Then an Emma Frost figure in her black 2013 Bendis/Bachalo outfit — few folks’ favorite look for her, but it’s easily the best Emma we’ve ever gotten (the first Hasbro Emma Frost is infamously terrible, while the second was passable at the time but hard to find and was missing a cape), and it goes nicely with the Magik figure. This was followed by a Danielle Moonstar in her uniform from the 2009-2011 New Mutants series, with parts to turn her into teammates Wolfsbane or Karma (a clever way to encourage fans to buy more than one, presumably based on the way earlier exclusives like Black Ant, yellow-costumed Daredevil, and Namor continue to take up space in Walgreens stores nationwide to this very day; this would be great if they were still getting these figures in the volume they were getting in 2015, but I only ever saw two Danis, which has left my X-roster short a Karma).
There comes a point in every long-running franchise’s lifetime where it comes time to either wrap it up or reboot it back to a default, classic state. For He-Man it was the sci-fi flavored The New Adventures, intended as a shot in the arm for the aging line, that marked the time to call it quits for a generation. For Ninja Turtles, Saban’s live action TV series The Next Mutation and the darker, seedier Volume 3 comics from Image were a last hurrah for two separate markets until the 21st century. Transformers threw a variety of figures and storytelling against the wall in Europe, Japan, and the U.S. following 1990’s non-transforming Action Masters until Beast Wars began a short-lived renaissance that crashed again with the bizarre techno-organic stylings of Beast Machines. In all three cases, when the early 2000s rolled around these franchises shed their ’90s evolutions and tried to revert to their 1980s glories, with varying degrees of success.
It’s absolutely terrifying to realize in the awful dystopian future year of 2020 that it’s been about sixteen years since the end of Bandai’s big push to get Gundam toys into American toy aisles, an effort that ended with a last-gasp cough of 4″ Gundam SEED figures in the style of the Wing, Universal Century, and G Gundam figures that had previously littered Walmarts, Targets, and Toys ‘R’ Us stores nationwide. What a time that was — when you could walk into Walmart and come out with a sturdy plastic Zeon Gallop and a handful of Zakus and Doms! (Seriously, Bandai really wanted the original Gundam to be a thing in the early ’00s — it was nuts, but the good kind of nuts. The kind that got us a deluxe Zaku set that came with a Magella Attack Tank so you bash them together into a Zaku Tank. I miss those days …)