Plastic Paper Realm: Crystar, the Crystal Warrior

By Robert “Rob Base” Greenwood

Welcome to Plastic Paper Realm, a series talking about great comics that never had a truly great, or if any, toy franchise.

Today, I want to talk about a comic book that has been in my top 50 best comics of all-time list. I have sung its praise since I started reading comics.


The Saga of Crystar from Marvel comics.

Here’s a brief history:

The Saga of Crystar: Crystal Warrior was a 1983 11-issue fantasy-based Marvel comic book with an associated toy line from Remco. The toy line mainly consisted of seven figures, some vehicles and accessories.

CrystarToyAd1 CrystarToyAd2


Crystar-ComicAd1The toys were first sold in late 1982 with the Marvel Comics series being first published in the spring of 1983.

PlaidStallionsdotcomSince they released the toys first, many assumed the comic had been a licensed adaptation of the toy line.  However, Crystar and all the characters in the toy line and comic book were actually created and owned by Marvel Comics itself. They had created the concept with the sole purpose of selling the license to a toy company.

Crystar&MoltarCheck out Crystar, knocking some sense into his arch nemesis, Moltar!

RemcoCrystarRemco toys released Crystar in the scale of the then current crop of action figures, 3-3/4 scale. In 1982, Hasbro found huge success with the return of GI Joe, but in this scale which has become a standard.

GIJoePlaidStallionsHowever, Takara were the first ones to utilize this scale, with their creation of the Microman line (Micronauts in the States).

MicromanThis was soon followed by Kenner with the super popular Star Wars license.


Crystar’s toys are quite well made and over the years, even with the translucent plastic, these toys hardly are found cracked or broken.

CrystaronCardSo why is Crystar on my list? Simple enough answer. The toy line was popular (to diehards) and Marvel did try real hard to push this line. Unfortunately, Crystar’s obscurity and lack of a cartoon series made it a line that never fully materialized.


Remco, as an action figure toy company, always seemed to fall short and we only ever got one wave of the toys. At the same time Mattel had a billion dollar success with their titular hero He-Man.


Crystar, if handled right, could very well have competed against He-Man.


Crystar had a profile featured in the Marvel Comics 1980’s Handbook as well as the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z hardcover series.

MarvelAgeCrystar  MarvelZombies3

He has appeared in Marvel Age and the character also appeared in the variant cover of Marvel Zombies 4 #1, which featured a number of 1980’s Marvel Comics characters in a parody of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video.

So who would I task at a return for the Crystal warrior? Mattel “Matty Collector.” Their current line of Masters of the Universe Classics toys design by the Four Horsemen has taken the toy collecting community by storm.

He-ManCatalogThe only issue with tasking Matty is they have not had success with translucent plastic which would be a big sell for this line.


Marvel set the series parallel to the Marvel Universe and featured guest appearances by Doctor Strange, Nightcrawler and Alpha Flight.

The cover of issue #8 of The Saga of Crystar, drawn by Michael Golden, features a skull logo that was later used by the bands Samhain and Danzig.


Crystar is a Marvel license and the likelihood of Mattel doing these figures now is more than dead in the water with Mattel having the DC license. This would leave the license in the hands of Hasbro, which isn’t a bad thing, but not having this warrior in a proper scale with other 7 inch scale fantasy style figures would be doing him a disservice.


One last note:

ECC-BackyardLegendsWorking Class Villains/Backyard Legends has been working on a third-party Crystar in the Masters of the Universe Classics scale. Unfortunately, setbacks and being an independent company has made the release of this figure an almost impossibility.

UnlicensedCrystarBut I still cross my fingers!

Follow me on Twitter @AltMindz

Plastic Paper Realm: Usagi Yojimbo

by Robert “Rob Base” Greenwood

Welcome to the first article in a series talking about great comics that never had a truly great toy franchise.

Today I want to talk about a book that’s pushing 30 years now.

 Usagi Yojimbo  by Stan Sakai


A brief history


兎用心棒 Usagi Yōjinbō (pronounced oo-SA-gi) “The Rabbit Bodyguard” created by Stan Sakai that first appeared in Albedo Anthropomorphics #2 published by Thoughts and Images in November 1984.

Stan Sakai accepted an offer to move his warrior rabbit to Fantagraphics Books where he appeared in several issues of the new anthropomorphic anthology series, Critters.


Usagi’s popularity influenced Fantagraphics to then release the Usagi Yojimbo Summer Special in October 1986.

Finally, Fantagraphics gave the ronin rabbit his own on-going series with issue #1 being published in July 1987.


The adventures of this talented anthropomorphic biped have captivated comic fans for a long time yet he has never seen a proper toy line.


Don’t get me wrong he was made into a few figures over the years. In the TMNT vintage line, he appeared twice. Nothing that was groundbreaking.


One issue that diehard fans have is that Usagi is neither dressed nor resembles his comic book counterpart other than the ears in a bun.

tmnt usagi vintage


I make exceptions for toys that are really out there and Space Usagi gets the pass for just being too quirky and over the top!

space usagi


When characters who are basically in the same vein as Usagi, like Bucky O’Hare, get a full fledged toy line, why didn’t our beloved Rabbit warrior?

bucky ohare


In the late 90’s, Antarctic Press released an Usagi Yojimbo figure that did its best to capture the comic book.

antartic press usaigi



Of course, being it was the 90’s, comic book fans couldn’t escape the dreaded variant versions.

antartic press usaigi dark antartic press usaigi silver


In the early 2000’s, the return of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (redubbed “TMNT”) brought new and more adult themes into the world of the Fab Four. With their return, they brought their totally awesome rabbit friend in to the modern toy world.

TMNT usagi


Needless to say that with the rise of direct market and high end action figures, Usagi and the gang could very well be made into an awesome toy line in the year 2013.

In 2003 Dark Horse released a PVC of Usagi.

Unfortunately, this has almost no articulation but does retain a lot of what makes Usagi who he is.

dark horse usagi


Who would I pick to handle such a monumental undertaking event?  Minimates! Having a full line of 2 inch figures makes me smile from ear to ear.  Mininates, who first out could capture the cartoon style of Sakai and give a robust collection which could then be incorporated into any preexisting Minimates toy line.


minimates tc


With its parent company Diamond Select, we could also get a 7 inch tall highly detailed collectors figure of Usagi to add as well.



We have been treated to Usagi in statue form but a proper figure still alludes us. With Sakai doing Usagi right for so long and his new series, 47 Ronin, being a modern masterpiece, plus Usagi getting his own hack and slash app game, a proper figure would just be the icing on the cake.

usagi game


Let us also not forget that in 2011, IGN ranked Miyamoto Usagi 92nd in the top 100 comic books heroes.


There is no time like the present to bring action figures back to Usagi Yojimbo.