Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Classics Corner: Exosquad – Alec DeLeon with Field Communications E-Frame

Japanese Anime was getting big in the 90s. Big enough to get the attention of Universal. Exosquad was Universal Cartoon Studios’ attempt to cash in, and what 80s-90s cartoon would be complete if it wasn’t just a program length commercial for toys? Honestly, I never really watched more than a few episodes of the cartoon, but I always admired the toys. Today, Classics Corner sets the WABAC Machine to 1993 to take a look at Playmates’ Exosquad Alec DeLeon with Field Communications E-Frame.

For those unfamiliar with ExoSquad, here’s a quick refresher.

So that’s the cartoon, let’s take a look at the toys. Wow, check out that packaging! The artwork looks nice, and there’s definitely no lack of information on the toy. The back features the obligatory mini-catalog shot and a great grid showing some of the E-Frame’s features.


There’s a nice top-lifting gatefold that reveals a window into what exactly you’re getting. You also get a nice Uncle Sam homage, as well as a little chart showing you how the action features of the toy operate.

When you open up the package, you see a nice membership card on the inside of the packaging. I love stuff like this, and I wish toy companies would do more of it in modern lines. It adds a little fun and costs them next to nothing to include. You also get a weapons blueprint that doubles as an instruction sheet on the reverse.

Starting out with Alec DeLeon himself, you get a figure that is well sculpted, features a good paint job and has articulation. He’s nothing spectacular by today’s standards, but twenty years ago, this was an impressive figure, especially for the sub-3¾” scale. 

E-Frame aside, DeLeon comes with two weapons, a rifle and a pistol. Really, they’re not all that necessary because let’s face it, he’s got a robotic exoskeleton that trumps everything else. Despite that, Playmates packed in a couple of decent looking weapons that fit well enough in DeLeon’s hands. Kudos, Playmates!

Now let’s take a look at the Field Communications E-Frame. Unless you’ve spent the past couple of decades under a rock, it’s hard not to notice at least a passing resemblance to the Loader from Aliens. Well, if you’re going to copy something, copy something great.

The E-Frame is well sculpted, has a fairly simple yet well executed paint scheme and features a rather high level of detail. Tack on a couple of sheets of stickers, and you’ve got a nice looking E-Frame. Features like “functioning” pistons on the legs and arms and a rotating canon make this one fun toy.

The cockpit interior looks nice, and more than that, it works well. One of my favorite features is the sticker with the name of the pilot on the chair. I don’t know why, it just makes it cool. Ok, it probably has to do with seeing Maverick’s name on the side of his plane in Top Gun, deal with it.

Alec DeLeon fits right in place, which is always a plus. You know, a pilot that can actually operate his/her vehicle. The waist clip provides the main support, but the two doors per leg don’t hurt. His hands snap comfortably around the joysticks on the arms, and he just looks cool piloting the thing.

Accessories, oh yes, they are here. In addition to the rifle and pistol mentioned earlier, the E-Frame gets a firing radar dish? (oh sorry, “Neoseeking Probe”), four missiles, two antennae, and a couple of little missile launcher looking things, one for a leg and one for the top.

When you flip the frame around, you get a couple more cool features on the back. There is a clear plastic power cell that drops into place, and also a wheel that rotates the radar dish on the top of the suit. 

In case you couldn’t tell by all the pictures, you get a whole lot of toy for the money here. At the time, Toys R Us retailed these bad boys for $9.99 (roughly $15-16 modern, adjusted for inflation). No way will you get this much for $10 on the toy aisles these days, and you’d be hard pressed to get it for $15.

There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of demand on the secondary market for these, or perhaps they were just mass produced to the point of devaluing the line. Either way, if you are so inclined, head over to eBay and you can build your Exosquad collection at a nice price.