The Saga of U.S. Agent

usagentbio.jpg - 8.8 KProbably the most infamous unreleased figure in Toy Biz history was this one: U.S. Agent. The character of U.S. Agent had been previously released in the Marvel Superheroes line as a repaint of the original Captain America (you can still see the star on the repaint's chest). A new sculpt of US Agent was planned for Series III of the Iron Man line. However, before the line could ship, US Agent was pulled from the lineup due to all Toy Biz assortments being cut down to six figures. At the time, there were rumors that the figure would show up in the next assortment or might even be threaded into later case assortments, replacing an existing figure (as was done with the Eric the Red figure who replaced Archangel II in the X-Men: Invasion Series). These rumors proved to be false; US Agent never made it into the Iron Man line.

laser.jpg - 17.5 KAccording to published reports of the time, Toy Biz had stated that approximately 100 of the US Agent figures were made and would be given away as premiums and prizes in different venues. These figures came loose in a baggie with a shield and the standard Iron Man badge, although no sticker had been made for US Agent so the badge was blank.

But that's not the end of the story. Not by a long shot. Toy Biz decided to resurrect the US Agent mold for a planned Series V of the Iron Man line. With slight retooling, the addition of armor, and a new head sculpt, the US Agent figure was to become the Living Laser figure (see below).

Alas, this too was not to be. The entire Series 5 assortment of figures was canceled before they could make it to production. Citing poor sell through and low ratings for the animated series, the entire Iron Man line was scrapped.

ut wait, there's more! Proving to be the mold that would not die, the US Agent/Living Laser mold would yet make an appearance on retail shelves...but not in the Iron Man line. Now molded in translucent red plastic, the mold became Astral Armor Professor Xaxier in the X-Men: Mutant Armor line. Using what appears to be the head from the original Professor X on the Living Laser body (it is the Living Laser incarnation because the figure includes Living Laser's Armor pieces) the figure was the shortpack (1 per case) of the Mutant Armor series. There is one small, yet significant difference between the US Agent mold and the Astral Armor Professor Xavier mold. The left hand on the US Agent figure is completely closed (presumably to hold the shield when not being fired). However, the left hand on the Professor X version is remolded to an open position (see photos). An odd retooling for what is essentially a made-up repaint. Why go to the expense of retooling the mold for a simple repaint that few people had ever seen the original mold for anyway?

Comparison of the US Agent hand and Astral Armor Professor Xavier hand.

usagent.jpg - 38.1 K B
ut wait, there's still more. In early 1997, ads began showing up offering "Foreign release US Agent figures." These were carded action figures touted as a Limited Edition from a company known only as "Elegant Way." Remarkably, these figures came on the correct cardback (including bio information and a correct instructional diagram on back) and even included a unique sequential stock number for the Iron Man Series III figures.

According to inside sources, the US Agent figures were to be used with a wristwatch promotion overseas. This was not a deal officially sanctioned through Toy Biz, Inc. and it is believed that approximately 10,000 pieces got made before the production was halted. Rumor has it that certain US entrepreneurs had worked a deal with the overseas manufacturing plant to obtain a limited number of these figures. However, when Toy Biz discovered this unauthorized production and sale of its product, it is said that they had all shipments halted and the remaining inventory destroyed. This is not entirely true as this piece continued to trickle out of Asia for months.

ill we ever see an official US Agent or Living Laser from Toy Biz in any form? Never say never. As of now, there are no plans for the release of either figure. However, Toy Biz has show a willingness to grant exclusive figures to a variety of outlets. It is certainly within the realm of possibility that we could see this mold in one of its several forms (US Agent or Living Laser) at some time in the future. Only time will tell!



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