MARVEL LEGENDS (TOY BIZ)
In a world where death is already meaningless, Simon Williams, aka Wonder Man, is the type of guy who’s still noted for not staying dead. He’s the male equivalent of Jean Grey in that respect, I suppose. The guy died at the end of his very first appearance (way back in the *first* Avengers #9) and thanks to a friendly warning from Marvel’s Distinguished Competition on the potential problems with infringing upon established brands, he stayed that way for a while. But then the Competition didn’t actually follow their own warnings, and Marvel felt comfortable enough bringing Wonder Man back a few years later, ultimately making him full-fledged member of the Avengers for several years. He’s died at least two more times since then (currently he’s sharing a body with Rogue, which is awkward to say the least, what with her killing him and all), but never been gone for all that long. Simon’s never been an A-list character, but he’s managed to get his fair share of figures over the years, including three Marvel Legends figures, two of which I’ll be looking at today!
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Wonder Man was part of the eleventh series of Toy Biz’s Marvel Legends, officially dubbed the “Legendary Riders Series.” There were two different versions of Wonder Man available: the regular flesh-and-blood Wonder Man, and the variant Ionic Wonder Man. Regardless of version, the figure stands 6 inches tall and has 35 points of articulation. Wonder Man has more than a few parts in common with the recently reviewed Captain Britain, being constructed from that same Black Panther body. As I noted in my Captain Britain review, while the Panther body was certainly fine on it’s own, it was a slightly odd choice for pretty much every other character they used it for. While it’s not quite as blatantly out of scale for Simon as it was for the good Captain, it’s still rather on the small side. Also, for whatever reason, while the body looks decent enough on Panther and Captain Britain, it ends up looking kind of misshapen when used for poor Simon. Not sure what the difference is. One of the defining traits of the Panther body was the unique texturing, which showed that it was a full-body costume. Since Wonder Man’s design shows a fair bit of skin, his arms are all-new, and his torso has been slightly retooled to smooth out his neck a bit. The weird thing is that they only removed the actual texturing, not all traces of those pieces being clothed, which means that Wonder Man ends up with these strange folds and wrinkles on his arms and neck. Wonder Man also featured new pieces for his head, forearms, hands, shins, and feet, as well as an add-on piece for his belt. Independently, all of the new pieces are decent enough. The face seems a little low on the head, but not terribly so, and the boots, wrist bands, and belt all feature some cool detailing. Why did I specify “independently?” Because the pieces aren’t actually in scale with each other. The head is too small, and the hands and feet are definitely too big. The end result is a really odd looking guy. The standard Wonder Man was painted to be sporting Simon’s fourth costume, which is probably his best known. It’s not my personal favorite, but the odds of the Safari Jacket look ever getting a proper Legends release are probably slim. The paint work is decent enough. There’s some room for improvement, especially on the “W” logo, which isn’t quite shaped the right way and could have probably used a second coat. That being said, the overall quality of the paint is pretty solid. The variant Wonder Man represents his powered up Ionic look from when Busiek and Perez brought him back in the 90s. Pretty much, he’s just molded in translucent indigo plastic, with some red for his eyes, logo, and belt. Like the Hasbro version of this look, the inclusion of the belt on the Ionic form really isn’t accurate, and it’s made even weirder by the decision to paint the belt red. Why would the belt remain red, but the wristbands and boots turn blue? That makes no sense! Ah well. Each figure in the Legendary Riders Series included a vehicle of some sort. Wonder Man’s is some weird W-shaped moped-thingy, which seems to exist for the sole purpose of reminding us all that Toy Biz didn’t have the foresight to realize just how few Marvel characters really fit the “Legendary Riders” theme. He also included a little Yellowjacket figure, which could be plugged into his back, as well as a copy of Avengers #51 (an odd choice to include with this guy, since it doesn’t really explain the character very well, isn’t really anyone’s favorite Wonder Man story, and the look he’s sporting in the story is not the look he’s sporting on either figure).
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
I’m a pretty big Wonder Man fan, so I was pretty anxiously awaiting his addition to the line for most of Toy Biz’s run on Marvel Legends. Then the prototype was shown, and I was more than a little disappointed. Then the final product showed up and I was slightly less disappointed. I ended up getting the regular version as a Christmas present from my parents the year he was released, and I later picked up the variant loose from All Time Toys a few years later. Ultimately, neither figure is really perfect, and I was always pretty aware of that, but I was happy to have them nonetheless.