In 1997, UK company, Bluebird Toys produced a collection of micro playsets based around Marvel Comics characters. The sets ranged from Spider-Man and Venom to the Hulk and X-Men.
In this post I am taking a look at one of these playsets. This set is the X-Men Blackbird… which is bloomin’ X-cellent!
Released as part of the Micro-Superstars Collection, the Blackbird is a compact playset described by Bluebird as “a 3 in 1 hypersonic lethal assault craft, equipped for high altitude critical missions.” In layman’s terms, it is a jet which the X-Men travel around in.
If you’re a fan of the ‘90s X-Men cartoon you will be more than familiar with the Blackbird, as the vehicle appeared in many episodes of the show. It was also turned into a large scale toy during the mid ‘90s, as part of ToyBiz’s hugely successful X-Men toy line.
Here, the Blackbird is reduced down to the teeny, tiny size of 6 inches long, by 5.5 inches wide. Yet, even at this small scale there is plenty going on with this toy.
As you can see in the images above, the jet can either be played with/displayed as a single vehicle or it can be divided into three sections: The cockpit, the fuselage, and the tail-end.
The cockpit features a red translucent windshield, which can be popped up to reveal the pilot inside. There is room for one figure – in this case Cyclops – who sits in a designated chair.
The fuselage flips open to create two distinct areas: A control/communications room, and a cargo room, which houses Wolverine’s motorbike.
The bike remains fixed in place until it is needed, but can be launched at the touch of a button to shoot straight out of a flip-down side panel.
The tail-end of the Blackbird is perhaps the deadliest section of the jet, as it includes two bombs, which can be dropped from the wings, and twin missiles that can be launched at enemies.
This section also includes an external launch panel, designed to propel Storm into the air, as well as an internal seat for one figure to utilise.
OK, so that’s a little description about what is included with the jet, now let’s get down to brass tacks.
I love this little playset. Truly love it.
There’s something about micro toys that I adore, and this one is easily one of the best I have come across. Bluebird were known for making good quality toys during the ‘80s and ‘90s, and this is a prime example.
The Blackbird boasts multiple features, to allow for individualised elements of play, but when put together as one, this is simply a sleek, sexy jet. It looks good, it has a significant amount of detail, and best of all, the set includes three figures: Cyclops, Wolverine, and Storm.
I should note that the Wolverine figure has one point of articulation, while the Cyclops figure has two points. Storm has no points of articulation.
All three figures can be housed inside the jet, although poor Storm has to be slotted in wherever she will fit, as she’s not as flexible as the other figures. I’m trying not to see this as a sexist thing, and rather a nod to Storm’s claustrophobia, which would dictate her desire to remain outside of the jet where possible.
The hunt is on
Now you might be sat there, scratching your head thinking ‘I don’t recall this toy line at all’ – and that’s understandable. This micro Blackbird playset hit shelves in 1997, and not only was it overshadowed by all of the X-Men toys that ToyBiz had been putting out for a number of years before, but it was also entering the market when the X-Men toys had already reached their peak.
X-Men: The Animated Series came off the air in late ‘97, and it would be three more years until the first live-action X-Men movie would hit cinema screens, reviving interest in X-toys. The X-Men were still very popular, but in general X-Men toy sales were dwindling and this one from Bluebird arguably fell through the gaps.
It also didn’t help that a year after this toy was produced, Bluebird Toys ceased to exist. Bluebird was bought out by Mattel in 1998, then folded into the company, so this line fell by the wayside.
This means, this playset and the other Marvel toys in the Micro-Superstars Collection, were some of the last toys to be produced by Bluebird. As such, they are not so widely available these days.
Does this mean they fetch a high price? Not necessarily, but they can be quite tricky to come by, especially if you want them boxed or complete.
Micro toys in general can be troublesome to track down, even more so if you want them in tip-top condition. Many sets are missing small parts, so if you are on the hunt for one, make sure you check everything is present and correct.
I picked this toy up on eBay, but it took me a while of watching and waiting until I found what I wanted. You may find you have to hunt around too, before you get the best deal.
So, what do you think? This is a neat looking toy, right?
Yep, it’s certainly a great piece to add to my collection.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post on It’s A Stampede!. For more posts, please take a look at the recommended reads below.
- The Top Ten vintage toys in my collection
- The box art of Marvel ToyBiz toys
- Remembering ToyFare magazine