Mattel has been hungry for a big share of the action figure market ever since the decline of their last big success, He-Man. While their Disney based action figures continue to sell, they don’t have the marketplace longevity of, say, a GI Joe. This year, however, Mattel is teaming up with Sony Entertainment and the Warner Brothers television network to create a story that combines elements of James Bond, the Six Million Dollar Man, and the previously mentioned Joe- and a toy line that just might last. Max Steel is a once-ordinary teenager who has been transformed by nanotechnology (small computers designed to circulate through the bloodstream and augment a person’s abilities). Working for a secret government agency, he must use his new abilities and array of high tech gadgets to stop the plots of the villainous Psycho. It’s a big job, but someone’s got to do it.

The Doll

Max has an all new face mold featuring a stylish cut- very long and full on top, closely cropped on the back and sides. His broad nose, unpainted lips, and orange-tan skin tone all combine to give him a less “pretty” look than Ken. He has deep set blue eyes. If his right eye seems a little odd to you, there’s a reason- by pressing the button on his back, that eye lights up and he makes a firing noise! This represents his nanotechnology helping him aim weaponry from a distance. This feature is currently exclusive to the Night Combat doll.

This is without a doubt the most poseable body I have ever seen! The number and complexity of joints is just astounding. In addition to all the usual joints for flexible bodies, Max has rotating joints in his thighs and calves. In addition, he has a specially designed kneecap joint that is hinged top and bottom. As the side view shows, this allows his legs to bend until his calf touches his thigh. Wow! Max also has a bizarre looking pair of molded silver briefs and a built in wrist communicator device (standard to all figures). The Night Combat figure also has a technology enhanced muscle in his arm- when you bend his elbow, three lights flash as the muscle charges to give him super strength. Max is also short for a doll of this scale – a mere 11.25 inches tall, which means he has to look up slightly to meet Barbie’s eyes!

Doll Scorecard
Face: A+
Body: A
Hair: n/a
Overall: A+

The Outfit

The clothing is not the main focus of this line, so there isn’t much to tell here. Max’s black jumpsuit uses an assortment of nylon patterns and vinyl mesh to create a shadowy look. There is also clear black plastic covering his upper right arm so that his special light up action can be viewed while wearing the coverall. Finishing off the outfit are black hiking boots.

Outfit Scorecard
Fabric: B
Style: n/a
Execution: B
Overall: B

The Accessories

As you’ve probably guessed, Max is expected to encounter some problems tonight. Starting from the top left, his equipment includes: a weapons belt, nitro explosives pack (!), grappling hook with three feet of cord, survival knife, non-firing laser pistol (thank goodness), firing Night Combat weapon with two explosive tipped missiles and support stand, and firing Gatling cannon with four missiles. The cannon is particularly well done- by rotating the knob on the back a rapid firing action is achieved that completely fascinated my cat. As if this weren’t enough, he also comes with two trading cards that give “secret mission details” as well as suggestions for equipment packs and other toys that could be useful for a particular scenario. Finishing off his equipment are a wonderful storage backpack complete with nylon cords for fastening accessories one might need in a hurry and a communications headset with night vision lens. With all this equipment, Max should be more than ready to deal with any challenge he faces!

Accessories Scorecard
Concept: A
Style: A
Playability: A+
Overall: A

The Result

Max redresses exceptionally well- he really takes on entirely different looks based on the outfit he wears. In the first picture, he models Ken’s “Museum Day” outfit, and looks like a college football player at some fraternity event. In the second picture, he borrows Paris Romance Dimitri’s dashing tuxedo, and really looks the James Bond part. Finally, every good secret agent has a weakness- in Max’s case, it’s Cyber Mercenary Roxy! Equally skilled with a computer and a knife, she sells both information and services to the highest bidder. Max is always thrilled whenever she shows up, but he can’t help but wonder- whose side is she on this time? And for how long?

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