Good vs. bad. It’s a tale as old as time, and certainly not lost on Universal Cartoon Network or Playmates toys. You’ve got your Luke vs. Vader, He-Man vs. Skeletor and of course Terrans vs. Neosapiens. Like a lot of toy lines, as cool as the good guys are, the bad guys often end up being cooler. One of my favorites baddies from the Exosquad line was Typhonus and his awesome purple people eater, aka High Speed Stealth E-Frame.
If you want to learn more about the good guys, or need to brush up on ExoSquad in general, check out the review of Alec DeLeon. If not, get a load of the box on this thing. The front features some well executed artwork of Typhonus running around a battlefield in his e-frame. The back is loaded with fun facts about this figure and the Exosquad world in general.
Lift up the gatefold on the front and you get to see all the goodies that await you inside the box. A figure, a frame, weapons and all sorts of goodies. The inside of the flap gives you more info on the action features of the e-frame and a not-so-subtle message from a Terran recruiter inviting you to buy more toys.
Once you start diving in, you get treated to some nice paperwork. The inside cardboard features a membership card for you to cut out and paste your own picture on. Once again, I can’t say enough what a great idea this is. The cost to the toy manufacturer is about as minimal as it gets and kids (and adults) typically love this kind of stuff. And hey, they’re turning something that would otherwise go into the trash into something kids can collect. Way to be green, Playmates!
Three sheets of decals give you some décor for your e-frame as well as some room to customize with some battle damage. You get a nice blend of glass cracks, laser blasts and bullet holes. Last, but certainly not least, is a detailed blueprint backed with real-life instructions.
Take a look at Typhonus. With lines where the figure isn’t really the focus of the toy, you never know what you’re going to get (ahem, Wheeled Warriors). Fear not, Exosquad delivers more than an accessory, you get an actual figure. He’s got a mostly decent sculpt and paint job, and articulation at the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips and knees. He’s not super-articulated, but it’s enough to allow him to function in his e-frame.
Not only is he a decent enough figure, but he also comes with a pair of weapons in case he wants to jump out of the e-frame. I have to ask, if you have a mobile weapons platform, why would you opt for a pistol and rifle instead, but I guess it’s nice to have the option. Both look fairly good, even by today’s standards, and even with his odd four-finger hands he holds them just fine.
Speaking of the mobile weapons platform, check out that big purple High Speed Stealth E-Frame. It seems to be a pretty unique design, and looks fairly rugged for a giant eggplant. The back features the standard, yet always fun, wheel-driven rotating radar, as well as the little clear plastic removable power cell.
Would a toy from the early 90s really be complete without some firing missiles? You get a nice neon green missile and crushing mace that load and launch from either arm. You also get equipped with a pair of cluster missiles that load into hidden panels in the shoulders and launch with “finger fire activation”. In other words, you shove them out from behind.
The cockpit on the High Speed Stealth E-Frame is more or less outstanding. There’s a nicely sculpted black chairback, a label reminding everyone that this is for Typhonus only and some decals that help add some level of detail. The figure clips in at the waist, his legs are held in by bottom-swivel foot shields, side-swivel thigh guards and a pull down cockpit.
The shielding is fun to flip into place, especially the multi-directional leg coverings. It’s also functional and does a great job of keeping Typhonus in his e-frame. Last of all, the clear plastic pieces do a great job of letting you see Typhonus while he’s in the High Speed Stealth E-Frame. In addition, the e-frame itself features enough articulation to allow Typhonus to stomp around the battlefield in a fairly fluid manner. To sum it up it looks great, it works great and it plays great. In order to operate those powerful weapons on the arms, Typhonus has a pair of joystick-ish hand controls. This is where those claw-like four-fingered formations that Typhonus calls hands really come in handy (pun full intended). They give him a good grip on the controls, which I’m sure helps when you’re running your e-frame through a fire fight.
I feel like I can’t overemphasize the bang for your buck that ExoSquad’s E-Frames provide. These things retailed at $9.99 in the early 90s, which was good value at the time, and can still be picked up for roughly $10-15 on eBay if you have a little patience. This was a great toy line, and Typhonus makes for one great bad guy in a purple suit.