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Five-Inch Flashback: A Pair of Juggernauts

If you take a peek at pop culture, it becomes very apparent which stage of nostalgia we’re currently hovering around. For a while, the ’80s were very dominant, but there has been a subtle shift over a shot period of time towards the ’90s, as kids of the ’90s reach that age where they they want to look back in fondness at the things that really grabbed their attention.

Nothing has signaled this harder than Hasbro’s recent vintage wave, with nostalgia-fueled cardbacks aimed squarely at the wallets of anybody who was buying toys in 1990. The ’80s might still be strong in collector circles, but the ’90s have arrived.

ToyBiz’s 5-inch days were a weird, strange time. The debut of several Marvel cartoons within a short time span fueled many media-related marvel lines that allowed us to get figures that are now solely relegated to obscure wishlist status. But it seemed like anything Marvel was up for grabs, even if it wasn’t backed up by the power of a cartoon. Properties as niche as Generation X, Ghost Rider, and Alpha Flight all headlined their own waves. For a while it seemed like anyone could get a figure.

This is the first in what I’m hoping will be a semi-regular topic taking a look at some of those figures from back then. Being the type of collector that never, ever gets rid of his toys, I still have all of my 5-inch figures secured in plastic containers, so while I wasn’t a completest, I have plenty of material to pull from.

For this first column, I’m going to focus on one of my favorite villains: Juggernaut.

Juggernaut was in the initial wave of X-Men figures way back in 1991, alongside such characters as Cyclops, Colossus and Apocalypse. Now that I’m into my adulthood — or something closely resembling one, at least — I don’t think I’m able to conjure up the sheer excitement over an impending action figure to replicate the way that I felt when I first saw a picture of the Juggernaut’s action figure on the back of X-Men #1 in the summer of ’91. I was a teenager by then, but I giggled like a damn schoolgirl. If there had been toy forums at the time and I had been making a wishlist, my wishlist would have been: Colossus, Juggernaut, Wrecker, Ghost Rider, and Gladiator. So getting a Juggernaut was sweet, sweet victory.

Four out of five made it into the 5-inch line. Not bad, I’d say.

Juggernaut managed to squeak out two figures the 5-inch line, and they were vastly different from each other. The first was a fairly basic figure, and when I say “basic,” I’m not kidding. He had a whopping five points of articulation and he was sculpted like a slab of plastic that looked like the Juggernaut. But at the time he was plastic nirvana.

Despite his simplicity, just his existence managed to be a thing of beauty. His arms had an action feature — push the button and he’d punch things, which also meant his shoulders clicked when you moved them, and they would stay stuck in the oddest positions. One arm was permanently bent, one was permanently straight. He had roller skates. One of his action features was a sort of battering ram thing that you slid onto him, so you could roll him into things, because apparently nothing stops the Juggernaut on skates. Or something. I have no idea. I don’t think I ever attached his battering ram thingy, and it’s spent the better part of a few decades in a gigantic box of accessories with Captain America’s shield launcher and other action feature atrocities.

The skates were non removable, so you just had to ignore them. Or have him skate competitively. Before Xavier was crippled, he was a whiz in the half-pipe.

A couple of years later, Juggernaut received an updated figure. I say “updated” because you can see the difference a few things have made on how toys were made. Juggernaut’s overall aesthetic went from simple and streamlined to exaggerated and unique. You can see where the ML series 6 Juggernaut inherited his monkey arms; there’s enough plastic in those arms of his for two more figures. It was Juggernaut so I had to have it, but those arms took some getting used to. I think I’m still kind of getting used to them. It’s kind of like somebody sutured the Rock’s real-life arms onto a 5-inch figure. At some point this version of Juggernaut decided that every day was arm day.

His arm size was bizarre, but odder still was when you remove his helmet.

I mean…

Apparently Cyttorak stops at the neck.

Structural deformities beside, this Juggernaut also had an action feature. He held something that lit up at the touch of a button. I might actually have batteries still in there. Hm. That can’t be good. Again, the light-up thingy is in my Desolate Box of Forgotten Accessories, so just imagine him holding something that’s glowing. And then imagine some reason for him to be doing such a thing. Science? Science. Charles!

Years and years would pass before Juggernaut got another action figure, and then several more years would pass until he got an actual good one. But at the time, for various reasons, these were the stuff dreams were made of, in all their Hulk-punching, Colossus-tussling splendor.

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