Thursday, December 20, 2012

Alpha Flight (Toy Biz)



If you asked someone in the early 80's if they'd read the latest issue of Alpha Flight, they'd probably ask you, "What's an Alpha Flight?" Even today the Canadian superhero team is one of the most unknown groups in the Marvel universe. This is odd considering that the characters first made an appearance in one of Marvel's most highly read series, Uncanny X-Men in 1979. Not only that, but they were created by comic legend John Byrne, and their first volume of comics lasted for 130 issues and two annuals. So someone must have been reading the books. Perhaps people just don't admit it?

There have been several members of the team over the years which have included; Aurora, Guardian, Marrina, Northstar, Puck, Sasquatch, Shaman, Snowbird, and Vindicator. All of whom worked for Department H, a fictional branch of Canada’s Department of National Defense that deals with super-powered villains.

In 1999, Toy Biz gave a slight nod to the heroes of Alpha Flight when they released three two packs. Toy Biz was already raking in hand over fist cash for its toys based on Marvel's superheroes, so despite the unpopularity of the line they weren't necessarily phased by the minimal loss of profits when it tanked.

For those few fans out there, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to get a good portion of the team in plastic form, and to be fair, despite being based on unpopular characters (among the majority of comic book readers), the toys leave little to be upset about. The sculpts are very nice, the packaging unique and eye catching, and how can you frown at getting two figures for the price of one? Today those prices are even more reasonable with mint on card two packs selling for $4.00 to $6.00.

An attempt has been made several times over the years to revitalize the series, and bring attention to it, but so far each attempt has found little to no ground. The team’s biggest comeback was Chaos War: Alpha Flight which was a one shot published as part of the Chaos War series which crossed over the entire Marvel universe. It sparked enough interest than an eight issue mini series was produced on the team, but since then they have gone stagnant again.

Today with the huge success of the Marvel Universe line, a few Alpha Flight characters have trickled out, so somewhere there must still be some love for this underrated team. Though chances are the series will never get the opportunity it had in 1999 to have its own toy line. Not unless something drastic happens that bring 100% focus on the team, such as a Hollywood film.

Join us next time when we take a look at Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Shadows of the Dark Side)!

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