#0555: Ultron

ULTRON

MARVEL SELECT

UltronMS1

Countdown to Avengers: Age of Ultron: 1 day remaining.

Man, thing are really moving along now! Seriously, I can’t begin to describe how exciting stuff is right now! It’s not just that Age of Ultron is being released tomorrow (though that is kind of a big deal), it’s also that today and tomorrow I get to review my two favorite Ultron figures. And these two rule. Super hard.

Now, after Hasbro gave us a whole two (count ‘em: two) classic Ultrons, the other major Marvel toymaker, Diamond Select Toys decided they needed to step up their game and brought Ultron into their Marvel Select line. And boy did they step up their game.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

UltronMS2Ultron was released as part of the aforementioned Marvel Select line. He was released in the last quarter of 2013, and, like just about every other figure in this line, he was a solo release. The figure stands 7 inches in height and has 32 points of articulation. Ultron is one of the earliest Select figures to implement a lot of articulation, and he actually benefits quite a bit from it (unlike a certain ToyBiz release…). Some of the joints are a little tight, but he really does have some great range. Ultron features a sculpt that is unique to this particular figure. From head to toe, this guy is a pretty direct translation of the classic Ultron design. Every piece of this figure is cleanly sculpted and well-proportioned. The articulation is, by and large, pretty smoothly worked in. The only real stand outs are the hip joints, but given how Ultron is a robot, they really don’t look too out of place. The head sculpt is easily my favorite piece of the figure. It’s an excellent translation of the comic design. It’s made up of three separate pieces, allowing a nice touch of depth to the assembly. The eyes and mouth are laid out in just the right places and feature proper sizing. Then there are the antennae. Oh, the antennae. They’re just so perfectly placed and sized, which is pretty much unique to this particular version of the character. In general, the construction of this figure feels a lot more solid than yesterday’s MU figure, which is definitely a nice difference. Ultron’s paintwork is pretty straightforward, but it’ still pretty good. The silver is nice and consistent, and seems to be just the right vibrancy for the character. The red of the eyes and mouth is appropriately bold, and the black lines help to bring out some of the sculpted details. All of the paint is clean, with no real slop or bleed over. Ultron only includes one accessory, but it’s a pretty good one. He has a display stand, designed to look like the wreckage of the Avengers Mansion. Ant-Man and Wasp lie on the ground, defeated, and there even some broken arrows courtesy of Hawkeye. It’s really well sculpted, with lots of texture and detail, and it’s a fantastic addition to the figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, it’s all Ultron’s fault. How, you ask? Well, before this Ultron, I had managed to steer totally clear of the Marvel Select line. Then, stupid Ultron had to come along and be the Ultron I’d been waiting to own for, like, ten years. And then my local comic book store just had to have a promotion where subscribers could get any one item in the store for 40% off. So, I bought Ultron. And he’s just a fantastic figure. Seriously, he’s possibly the best Ultron figure ever made. So, of course, I had now broken into Marvel Select. There was no going back. Now I have 14 Marvel Select figures. Thanks Ultron….

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#0554: Ultron

ULTRON

MARVEL UNIVERSE

UltronMU1

Countdown to Avengers: Age of Ultron: 2 days remaining.

Alright, now we’re really getting into the good stuff. After going a fair bit of time without a proper classic Ultron figure, he suddenly started showing up all over the place. Hasbro decided to take their first crack at him in their Marvel Universe line. They released him as part of their sub-line of Secret Wars-based two-packs, which puts them ahead of Mattel, for those of you keeping score. I don’t actually have the two-pack version of said figure, but I do have the next best thing. So, let’s look at that!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

UltronMU2Ultron was released as part of the 15th Series of Marvel Universe. This is the second appearance of Ultron in the line, but the first to be released on his own. The figure is roughly 4 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation. As noted in the intro, this figure is based upon the classic Ultron design. The sculpt of this figure is a head-to-toe re-use of the Secret Wars version. It’s a pretty strong sculpt for the most part, although it does have a few small issues. The lower torso in particular is a little oddly shaped, and the sculpt of the upper torso makes the arms a little bit more limited in movement. It’s worth noting that this figure actually does get the proper head antennae, which is awesome to see. Due to the scale, they’re a little thicker than they should be, but that’s forgivable. Perhaps the figure’s biggest problem is that he just feels a little on the unsteady side. His joints are all rather loose and, while he doesn’t feel fragile, he does feel like he may keel over at any second. He can sustain a basic standing pose, but anything more dynamic and he’ll topple over. The figure’s paintwork represents another questionable area, though it isn’t bad, per say. Ultron’s traditional color scheme is predominantly silver, with a little bit of red thrown in for the eyes and mouth. Occasionally, the red might be swapped for blue, but that’s rare. On this figure, they got the silver pretty much right (although it could be argued that it’s a touch too dark), but the accents are… green? Yeah, I’m not sure what happened there. I mean, Ultron’s never been green. I guess Hasbro wanted to be different. To be fair, it doesn’t look bad. It’s applied fairly cleanly, and the move from white to green in the larger areas gives a nice bit of dimension. The use of the green to outline the etched in portions of the body is also quite cool, and makes it look like he’s overflowing with power. Ultron’s only accessory is a display stand with his name and the Marvel logo on it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

For whatever reason, I missed out on the Secret Wars two-pack that included Ultron. I saw it once or twice, but I just didn’t get it. I think it had to do with the crappy Mr Fantastic he was packed with. Anyway, after those had sufficiently disappeared from stores, I figured I’d missed my shot on a classic Ultron. But then Hasbro announced this guy, and I figured he was a pretty decent stand-in. It’s not a totally straight forward classic Ultron, but it’s really not far off and the green is actually quite cool looking. Plus, I’ve just convinced myself that this figure is actually Ultron-12, the heroic Ultron, in some sort of alternate universe where he didn’t die and he changed his colors to green to differentiate himself. Which actually makes me appreciate the figure all the more.

#0553: Ultron & Ms. Marvel

ULTRON & MS MARVEL

MARVEL MINIMATES

Ultron&MM1

Countdown to Avengers: Age of Ultron: 3 days remaining.

Okay, yesterday was a bit of a downer. Sorry about that. Guess not every Ultron can be a winner. But hey, things do get better from here out. And what better way to kick off that whole “Turning things around” thing than a look at one of my favorite lines, Marvel Minimates. They not only got us a good, classic Ultron, but also a Ms. Marvel to go with him. So, why don’t we take a look at them now?

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Ultron and Ms. Marvel were released as a two-pack in Series 19 of Marvel Minimates. 19 was released in conjunction with Series 20, and together they helped to fill some rather sizeable holes in everyone’s Minimates Avengers.

ULTRON

Ultron&MM2Alright, first up is the man (or robot) of the hour, Ultron. This is not only his very first Minimate, but also the first figure to depict his classic design, so it’s a two-fer. The figure is about 2 ½ inches tall and has 14 points of articulation. Ultron is constructed from the standard Minimate body, with the addition of a brand-new sculpted head. The piece sits a little low on the shoulders, causing a little bit of no-neck syndrome, but aside from that, it’s a rather nice classic Ultron head. It has, of course, been adapted into the ‘mate style, which works very nicely, and it includes all the important details for an Ultron head, plus a few additional texture details here and there. And check out the antennae! They’re actually where they should be! Imagine that… The paintwork on Ultron is pretty great. He’s mostly just silver, but he’s got plenty of detail lines to effectively translate his design and give him quite a bit of dimension. Also, the head is molded in translucent red plastic, with silver painted over it, which, when combined with the patch of unpainted plastic on the back of the head, allows the eyes and mouth to be illuminated. It’s not perfect, but it looks cool enough, and the patch isn’t visible from the front. Ultron included two energy blast pieces, molded in red, which can be placed on his hands.

MS MARVEL

Ultron&MM3This is really Ultron’s week, but seeing as this was a two-pack, it seems good ol’ Carol Danvers here is along for the ride. Surprisingly enough, this remains Carol’s only Minimate to date, but I have a feeling that might change soon enough. Ms. Marvel is about 2 ½ inches in height with, you guessed it, 14 points of articulation. Ms. Marvel is presented here in her second, Dave Cockrum designed costume. It was far more distinctive than her first, and it was the one she was most associated with before switching over to Captain Marvel a few years back, so it’s a good choice. The figure is built on the standard Minimate body, with add-ons for her hair and sash. The hair first saw release way back in Series 5, on the New X-Men Phoenix. It ended up finding its way on to quite a few Minimate females, but I think this actually may have been its last appearance. It’s not a bad piece, but it seems just a little too big and blocky for Ms. Marvel. I think the sash was a new piece, but I can’t say for sure. It’s well sculpted and accurate to the character regardless of its origins. Ms. Marvel features a far more detailed paintjob than Ultron, with several different colors and accents. Generally, it’s pretty good, though there are some minor issues with fuzzy lines here and there. Also, I kind of would have preferred straight black for her costume instead of dark grey, but I suppose that’s just me. Ms. Marvel included no accessories.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This set was released right as I got back into Marvel Minimates in full force. It was picked up the day it was released from my local comic book store, Cosmic Comix. I remember being quite excited, specifically for the Ultron. It’s a pretty fun little set, and it’s still a pretty important one, too. The two figures aren’t without their flaws, but they both hold up pretty well, especially for only being released a third of the way into the line.

#0552: Ultron

ULTRON

MARVEL LEGENDS (TOYBIZ)

UltronTBML1

Countdown to Avengers: Age of Ultron: 4 days remaining.

Ultron first made his way into the toy world courtesy of one of ToyBiz, as art of one of their many one-shot lines of figures from the tail-end of the 90s. He then quickly received his second figure thanks to the tie-in line for the short-lived Avengers: United They Stand cartoon. Eventually, Ultron made his way into ToyBiz’s popular Marvel Legends line. Interestingly, his first induction into the line was not as a figure himself, but rather as a non-articulated piece of the stand included with Series 8’s Modern Iron Man. Eventually, he got a whole figure to himself, but the results were… mixed at best. I’m gonna be upfront here: this review is going to be rather critical of ToyBiz, to, like, Mattel levels. You’ve been warned.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

UltronTBML2Ultron was released as part of the eleventh series of ToyBiz’s Marvel Legends, also known as the “Legendary Riders” series. The figure was one of the shortpacks of this particular series, because he was a fan-demanded character and ToyBiz didn’t understand how business worked. Ultron is roughly 7 inches tall and features 35 points of articulation. Of course, the way the sculpt works, most of that articulation is mostly blocked, but, hey ToyBiz just wanted the number to print on the front of the box, so who cares how it actually works, right? Now, Marvel Legends began as a way to release characters in their classic, memorable looks. They were Legendary, if you will. So, what classic, unforgettable Ultron design did the go for on this one? None of them. See, ToyBiz looked at all the classic Ultron designs and thought “Nah, we can do better!” So, ummm, we got….this thing. To their credit, it was a totally unique sculpt. And viewed purely aesthetically, it isn’t bad. The details are all nice and clean, and each piece is appropriately symmetrical and even. There are lots of cool little details and layers all over the place. The sculpt is definitely a quality one.  …But it’s not Ultron. Like yesterday’s Vault Ultron, this figure’s weakest point is the head. Now, to be fair, it could have been much worse. The prototype had a head that featured some sort of built in visor thing in place of the eyes, further distancing it from the classic Ultron look. The final head is better, but still not really there. Right off the bat, they’ve done the antennae wrong again, in pretty much the exact same way as before. Moving past that, you’ve got the actual head. The mouth is alright, but the “teeth” are a bit too close together, making them look a bit like buckteeth. The eyes are just plain the wrong shape.  They’re way too square. The sum of these parts ends up looking like some sort of mechanical bunny, which really isn’t what you should see in an Ultron figure. Like Scarlet Witch, Ultron feels really shoehorned into the “Legendary Riders” theme. He included a glider thing, which actually had a halfway decent classic Ultron head mounted on the front of it, but was otherwise complete nonsense. Also included was a copy of Avengers Vol. 2 #22, which, for the record is a fantastic showcase of the CLASSIC ULTRON EVERONE ACTUALLY WANTED BUT DIDN’T GET!!!!!! …Just in case the poor design choice wasn’t present enough to begin with…

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked this figure up from my local comic book store, at a rather marked up price: a whole $18. That, of course, is actually a little lower than the current retail price of a basic Infinite Series figure. However, it was almost three times what the figure was supposed to retail for. I bought it because I didn’t want to not have an Ultron in my collection, but I wasn’t particularly thrilled about it. Looking back at this figure, he reminds me of just about every reason I disliked collecting ToyBiz Marvel Legends: stupid packout decisions, the inevitable markup, pointless articulation, and questionable sculpting choices. Plus, this one adds in ToyBiz’s own arrogance regarding their designs being better than what was in the comics. The package might have said Ultron, but that wasn’t what was in it. This is a well-constructed toy and all, but it’s just not what anyone wanted.

#0551: Ultron

ULTRON

THE VAULT

UltronTB1

Countdown to Avengers: Age of Ultron: 5 days remaining.

Alright, now we get to the main event! Before, I was looking at figures of the various Avengers members from the upcoming movie, but from here on out, it’s all Ultron all the time! Poor Ultron went quite a while without seeing any action figures. He didn’t even get a figure in Mattel’s Secret Wars line, despite being a part of the comic upon which the toyline had been based (thanks Mattel…). He was finally granted a figure during ToyBiz’s 5-inch Marvel heyday.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

UltronTB2Ultron was released as part of ToyBiz’s The Vault line. The Vault was one of several one series lines that ToyBiz released around the same time, covering lots of different parts of the Marvel universe. The Vault is named after the Marvel universe high-security prison of the same name, and it featured a line-up of three lesser-known Marvel villains. This figure is on the larger side for this scale, at roughly 6 inches in height, and he has 16 points of articulation. The figure features an all-new sculpt, which remained unique to this figure. I’m not 100% certain, but I don’t believe this design is one from the comics. It definitely isn’t the “classic” Ultron, that’s for sure. It plays up the more robotic aspects of the character, which I suppose is a plus, but it lacks the elegant simplicity of the classic design. All that said, it’s a perfectly reasonable sculpt from a purely aesthetic standpoint. There are a nice variety of textures and details, and that helps to liven the figure up a bit. I quite like the clawed hands and two-toed feet. The head is probably the figure’s weakest point(and that’ll be a recurring point for the rest of the week); Ultron’s had loads of different body types over the years, but the one thing to remain fairly consistent is his head. It’s not awful here, but it’s pretty far from the standard Ultron noggin. It’s too thin, and it looks particularly pinched around the antennae. And speaking of those antennae, they represent another pretty big departure from the usual Ultron look. They should be further down on his head, hovering over his cheeks. Instead, they start where his “ears” would be and go upwards, looking a bit like a rabbit’s ears. The figure also suffers from some somewhat wonky paint apps. The actual color of his outer shell is wildly inconsistent, ranging from sliver with very slight blue overtones to a rather deep metallic blue in a few areas. Also, there’s this weird thing on his torso and lower legs where he’s got these strange somewhat transparent dark grey brush strokes. I don’t really know what they’re supposed to be, but they just kind of stick out and they were rather different from figure to figure. Ultron was packed with some sort of containment piece, which went over his head and hands and plugged into his shoulder. It was kind of cool, but ultimately non-essential (and I lost mine anyway). In addition to the restraints, Ultron also has a light-u feature, which made his eyes glow red when a button on his back was pushed.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This figure was actually my very first exposure to the character of Ultron. My dad, who was an avid Avengers fan, purchased one for himself, and when I asked who he was I was presented with several of his comic appearances to read. I pretty much immediately fell in love with the character. Not long after, I received my own Ultron figure as a Christmas gift from my good friend Pat Sponagle. Sure, he’s not the most accurate Ultron figure, but he was the only one in existence at the time. And, as the old saying goes, beggars can’t be choosers. Eventually, I got the more classically inspired United They Stand Ultron, but this one served as one of my favorite figures up to that point, and he still holds some meaning to me. Inaccuracies aside, he’s a good toy.

#0550: Vision

VISION

MARVEL UNIVERSE (HASBRO)

VisionMU1

Countdown to Avengers: Age of Ultron: 6 days remaining.

I’ve made it no secret that Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch are essential members of the Avengers as far as I’m concerned, on the same level as Captain America himself. Well, there’s one more Avenger who I think really makes the team, and that’s the Vision, the focus of today’s review. He didn’t show up until 57 issues into the series, but once he’s there he sticks with the team for a rather hefty portion of the book’s original run. For a time, he was the team’s signature character. But, he’s not Spider-Man or Wolverine, so he disappeared in the 2000s. Yay. But now he’s working his way back to the top! Go synthezoid, go!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

VisionMU2Vision was released in the sixth series of Hasbro’s Marvel Universe line. The figure was offered in two different versions: regular and phasing. Today, I’ll be looking at the phasing version. Originally, it was supposed to be the rarer of the two, but poor distribution of this series’ initial cases meant that the regular version ended up being a lot harder to find. The figure is about 3 ¾ inches tall and he has 20 points of articulation. He’s built using the first mid-size male buck from the line (initially used for Daredevil), which is something of a rocky starting point for any figure. The initial base bodies were…well, they weren’t very good. The mid-size body wasn’t the worst, but it’s got some issues with proportions, mostly in the torso area. It’s too short, and most of that comes from the fact that he looks like he’s missing an entire section of abdominal muscles. It’s weird. It’s also just a bit too short for Vision. Of the base bodies available at the time they produced this figure, this one was the best, but that doesn’t mean it’s very good. It’s not helped by the fact that a far superior mid-sized body was introduced in the very next series, making this figure look almost immediately out of date.  To the figure’s credit, he did feature an all-new head and cape, both of which were very nicely handled. It’s a little harder to tell on the clear figure, but the head has some nice, clean detail work that works quite nicely for the figure. The cape has a really nice flow to it, and it sits nicely on his shoulders. It’s a shame these pieces didn’t have the chance to be used on a better body. The paint on Vision is relatively minor. For the most part, he’s just molded in the appropriately colored plastic. The colors seem a little on the light side, but not too badly. There is a little bit of green on the tops of the lower legs and arms, and some red for his face. They’re applied well enough, and the end result is pretty nice. Vision’s lone accessory is a black display stand with his name and the number 006 on it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got this guy while in the midst of putting together a set of MU Avengers. I held off of getting this particular figure for a little while, since I was hoping to track down the regular version. However, once it became clear that wasn’t going to happen, I tracked this version down on Amazon. I can’t say he’s one of the best MU figures or even one of the best Vision figures. The outdated body really holds him back, which is a shame. That said, he’s not terrible, and given that MU has one of the most expansive Avengers rosters available, he’s kind of important.

#0549: Quicksilver

QUICKSILVER

X-MEN (TOYBIZ)

Countdown to Avengers: Age of Ultron: 7 days remaining.

Alright, we just took a look at Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye, two of the most important Avengers in my books. They both joined the team back in Avengers #16, along with the subject of today’s review, Quicksilver. They were led by Captain America and dubbed “Cap’s Kooky Quartet.” Yeah, it was the 60s. Anyway, Quicksilver is an Avenger of moderate importance, though he’s not quite on the same level as the other two. Still, he’s an important guy, and seeing as he’s Scarlet Witch’s twin brother, it’s a little difficult to have one without the other. Plus he had that fantastic scene in X-Men: Days of Future Past, so he’s going places. Let’s look at one of his action figures!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

QuicksilverTB2Quicksilver was released in ToyBiz’s 90s X-Men line as part of their infamous “Muntant Armor” series. The figure was available in two possible decos: his classic blue and white and his current (at the time) white and grey. This one, in case you hadn’t already noted, is the white and grey, which, for those interested, was designed by legendary artist George Perez when he helped re-launch The Avengers in the 90s. The figure is 5 inches tall and has 11 points of articulation. Quicksilver was built on one of ToyBiz’s recurring male bodies of their 5 inch lines, which first popped up in the sixth series of ToyBiz’s Spider-Man line. It’s a pretty decent sculpt, with a nice, lean look, and a decent amount of movement. The only real downside is the left hand, which was hastily retooled from a web-shooting pose, resulting in a rather strange looking fist. In addition to the base body, Quicksilver features a head that is sort of new. The facial structure is the same as that of the “Battle Brigade” series Archangel, but the hair is completely new, giving us Pietro’s signature ‘do. The face is actually a lot better for Quicksilver than it was for Archangel, and the hair is very nicely handled, so it works very well. The figure’s paintwork is generally pretty well-done, though mine has taken its fair share of wear and tear. The lines are a bit fuzzy in some places, but overall the figure is pretty decent. The semi-metallic sheen on the dark grey parts is actually pretty cool, so there’s that. Quicksilver was packed with a stands shaped like a dust cloud and some sort of strange machine gun thing. Most intriguing about this is that he doesn’t actually have any armor, not even of the “Muntant” variety.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got Quicksilver at a local toyshow, which my dad took me to, probably about 15 years ago. I remember that I was never able to find either of the Quicksilver figures when they were at retail. My dad had the blue and white version, but my collection was sadly Quicksilver-less. So, when I found this guy, I was pretty excited. I didn’t have a choice in deco, but I actually like this one, so it worked out. This figure’s still a pretty strong figure, even after almost 20 years. I’m certainly glad I found one!

#0548: Scarlet Witch

SCARLET WITCH

MARVEL LEGENDS (TOYBIZ)

ScarletWitch

Countdown to Avengers: Age Of Ultron: 8 days remaining.

Yesterday, I talked about Hawkeye, and how he’s one of the quintessential Avengers. Well, today I’ll be looking at another one of those. Scarlet Witch joined the team at the same time as Hawkeye, and she’s been just as much a fixture over the years (at least until the writers decided that having a competent, high-powered female hero on the team was too hard to write…). Sadly, she’s kind of gotten the short end of the stick in the toy world. So, hey, why don’t we look at one of the worst action figures ever made! Aaaaaaaaaah! It burns! …Sorry, I’ll try not to do that too much.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

ScarletWitchMLWilsonScarlet Witch was released in Series 11 of ToyBiz’s Marvel Legends, which was officially dubbed “Legendary Riders.” The figure (aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!) stands just shy of 6 inches tall and features 33 points of articulation. So, how about that sculpt (aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh)? Well, ummm, simply put, it’s hideous. She makes use of the same body as the previous series’ Mystique. ToyBiz was, at the time, trying to use it as some sort of a standard female base body. The problem is that it just isn’t a particularly good sculpt. It does pretty much nothing to work any of the articulation into the sculpt organically. The joints are just out on display. Plus, the body is really scrawny, which not only emphasizes the issue with the joints, it also makes the figure feel really frail. That’s not what I want out of my super hero toys! Okay, so the base body isn’t so great, but what about the rest of the figure? Well, Scarlet Witch features a unique head, gloves, and boots, as well as an add-on for the cape. The gloves are okay, though her hands seem too big, only further playing up the scrawniness of the body. The boots are decently sculpted, but they’re inaccurate; Wanda didn’t have cuffed boots. The fact that they sculpted all-new boots that are wrong seems wasteful. The cape is a fair piece, but it is a little on the short side. That just leaves the head. …*ahem*… Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!! Sorry, I just needed to get that out. Yeah, it’s hard to tell if the head or the body is the real issue here. Regardless, they certainly don’t help each other. The head is WAY too big for the body, the hair is a solid block of moving, un-flowing plastic, and the jawline is cut straight across, with no organic shape to it. Add in a facial expression that looks not unlike she ate some bad oysters, and you’ve got a sculpt that, at its best is sub-par. Wanda’s paint does the figure no favors either. The body paint is alright, I guess, but there’s some slop from the pink on her right breast, which is….unfortunately placed. The paint on the head just makes an already lackluster sculpt worse. She’s really pale, she’s got brown flecks all over the place, her lips are definitely too dark and don’t even get me started on those eyebrows. Yikes. Being part of the Legendary Riders series, Wanda includes some strange jet cycle thing, which is totally made up for this figure. I don’t really know why she was in in this particular series.  She also included a copy of Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes #8, which was a retelling of Avengers #16.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When this series was first released, Wanda was easily the most sought after figure. See, ToyBiz realized just how badly they had screwed up, and ended up pulling a lot of Scarlet Witches from cases before they hit retail. A few got out, but they were going for top dollar. Amazingly, I actually found out this figure at a retail store for retail price. Since it was this figure or nothing, I bought her, because my collection certainly wasn’t going without a Scarlet Witch. She’s gathered quite the reputation for being one of the worst figures ever made, and it’s not an unearned reputation. However, now that Hasbro’s released a far superior version, my hatred of this one has died down just a bit. She’s still a terrible, terrible figure, but she brings me a certain degree of amusement.

#0547: Hawkeye

HAWKEYE

IRON MAN (TOYBIZ)

HawkeyeIM1

Countdown to Avengers: Age of Ultron: 9 days remaining.

Okay, we’re very definitely getting into the selection of characters that I consider to be the quintessential Avengers.  And no one gets more quintessential-y than good ol’ Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye!   So, let’s have look at a figure of that guy, shall we?  In fact, let’s look at the very first figure of that guy ever released!  That’ll be nifty!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

HawkeyeIM2Hawkeye was released in Series 2 of the 90s Iron Man line, which was done to tie-in with the Iron Man cartoon of the time.  Unsurprisingly, Hawkeye is based upon his appearance in that show, which in turn was based upon the design he had in the comics around the early 90s.  It’s a tweak on his classic design, and it’s not too overly 90s, so it works.  I do miss the buccaneer boots and loincloth, but oh well.  The figure stands roughly 5 inches in height and sports 8 points of articulation, which is actually a little bit below the standard of the time.  The lack of proper arm articulation is certainly odd, what with him being an archer and all, but he actually managed okay, thanks to the pose of his arms.  The figure’s sculpt was wholly original to him.  It’s not bad, especially for the time.  The proportions are generally pretty good.  The hands and feet are a little on the large side, and the shoulders are a little high-set.  He’s also got some ridiculously defined musculature, but to be fair, that’s actually true to the show.  The costume details are pretty well handled, with clean lines and some nice texture work on the purple parts.  The head is pretty much spot on for the character, with just the right amount of cockiness in his expression.  Hawkeye’s paintwork is pretty much on par with other figures from the same time.  It’s simple, but well-done.  The colors are nice and bold, and everything is clean, with no real slop or bleed over.  The eyes are totally white and pupil-less, which is not in keeping with his appearance on the show.  However, given how small they are, it’s likely that pupils would have looked rather goofy here, so it was probably the right call.  Hawkeye included a bow, arrow, quiver, a small knife, and the weird character badge thingy that was included with all of the figures in the first few series.  Of course, my figure has none of these things because silly child Ethan decided to lose them all.  Way to go younger me!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, I don’t recall the exact circumstances by which I came to own Hawkeye.  I’m fairly certain that he was a gift from my parents.  I know my Dad had a Hawkeye figure first, and that I really liked it, so I’m pretty sure he took note of this and bought me one of my own.  It’s definitely an important piece in my becoming such an Avengers fanatic, I know that much.  Looking back at it, it’s not a perfect figure.  The arms are a weird choice, and he’s held back a little by the fact that he’s in a relatively short-lived costume.  All that said, he’s my first Hawkeye figure, and he’s still my favorite.

#0546: The Hulk

THE HULK

MARVEL LEGENDS (TOYBIZ)

Hulk1stAppML1

Countdown to Avengers: Age of Ultron: 10 days remaining.

The original, founding members of the Avengers are an interesting bunch. Iron Man and Thor made sense. They were two of Marvel’s more popular heroes of the time. Ant-Man and Wasp, as minor as they may be now, also had a decent following. Hulk? He was the oddball. The character was only moderately successful, and his whole thing was not playing well with others. In fact, he was also the first member to leave the team, quitting after only two issues. Officially, his founder status was given honorarily to Captain America, and the Hulk remained separate from a team. In the last few years, thanks in no small part to The Avengers movie, Hulk has found his way back to the team, but only after moving away from the whole green rage monster thing. But that’s less fun, so let’s look at a figure of the more rage-y variety.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Hulk1stAppML2Hulk was released as part of the ninth series of ToyBiz’s Marvel Legends, also known as the “Galactus Series.” In case you hadn’t gathered, the series featured Galactus as a Build-A-Figure, and it’s noteworthy because it’s actually the series of Marvel Legends that introduced the concept. This particular figure was officially dubbed “1st Appearance Hulk” and he was offered in two different color schemes: Grey and Green. The green version, which I’ll be covering today, is the variant of the grey version, and it’s actually NOT a 1st appearance Hulk, due to the coloring. The figure is 8 inches tall and features a whopping 38 points of articulation. The sheer size and bulk of the figure means that most of that articulation is rather limited in range of motion. In fact, the joint in his torso is almost completely inert, making you wonder why they bothered at all. From the neck down, Green Hulk’s sculpt is identical to that of his grey counterpart. It’s rather typical of a ToyBiz Legends sculpt of the time. There’s lots of detail and texturing, which is really great, but the figure also suffers from some odd proportions, and some spots where the articulation interferes with the quality. The feet are probably the worst offenders. The ankles are set too far back and the toes are too wide and flat in comparison to the rest of the foot, resulting in something that looks more like a duck’s foot than Hulk’s. At the very least, I guess they make him stable. The head is unique to this particular version of the figure. It’s not much different from the grey version, but this one is showing teeth, while the other had a closed mouth. Apart from that, it’s actually a very nice translation of Jack Kirby’s version of the Hulk, in his more Frankenstein’s Monster-like state. It’s definitely the best part of the figure. Hulk’s paintwork is really quite well done, and features some nice subtleties. The basic green and purple are admittedly a little dark for my tastes, but they aren’t bad. In addition, there’s some brown airbrushing on the green parts, which help to make him look a bit more organic. Hulk’s only accessory was a piece of Galactus.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When Series 9 was first released, I quickly assembled a complete set of figures so that I could get my Galactus just as quickly as possible. However, given the scarcity of Legends figures in general at the time, I picked up the regular grey version of Hulk first. A little while later, I was walking through my local Walmart. There weren’t any Legends on the hangers, but I happened to bend down to check something on the bottom shelf, where I noticed a stack of Marvel Legends. The stack was three each of the variants for the Series 9 Hulk and Bullseye. So, I grabbed one of each for myself and placed the others in their proper spot (because I certainly wasn’t going to scalp!) While the figure hasn’t aged spectacularly well, I still really like this version of Hulk, and it remains my go to Hulk for Legends set ups.