MARVEL LEGENDS (TOY BIZ)
“Trained by the black-hearted Adolf Hitler himself, the Red Skull and his fearsome visage were intended as a symbol of Nazi supremacy. During World War II, his unparalleled evil genius only could be matched by his arch-foe: the star-spangled Super-Soldier called Captain America. After failing to tip the wartime balance of power in favor of the forces of tyranny, the Red Skull spent decades in suspended animation – awakening in present day to enslave humanity and resurrect the power of the Third Reich!”
Nazis. I hate these guys.
Back in 2014, when I was only 11 reviews in on Marvel Legends, I looked at the then-most-recent-version of Red Skull. Now, four and a half years and 270 Legends reviews later, I’m going all the way back to the beginning, and taking a look at Johan’s very first Legends treatment.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Red Skull was released in Series 5 of Toy Biz’s Marvel Legends. After three series of the “chase” figure being a variant of a main figure from the line-up, they’d introduced the concept of a secret, separate character chase figure with Series 4’s Goliath. But, while that figure was just a simple repaint of the Marvel Collector’s Editions Giant-Man, their next go, Red Skull, would be a brand-new character with a “new” sculpt. Why the quotes? I’ll get to that. As the “chase” figure, Red Skull wasn’t actually advertised at all on any of the packaging, making him an unknown offering to a great number of collectors, I’m sure. The figure stands 6 inches tall and has 18 points of articulation. Now, right off the bat, we run into the issue of articulation. Toy Biz Legends were regularly boasting upwards of 30 points of articulation, so the Skull being below 20 is definitely notable. What’s more, the distribution is really whacked out; 10 of those points are in the legs. Heck, he’s got toe joints, but no double joints on the knees and elbows, and even just cut joints on the shoulders and hips. Why such odd articulation choices? Re-used parts. Red Skull is made up of a combination of the upper half of the X-Men: Movie Series Professor X and the Legends Series 3 Daredevil. The Xavier body was three years old by this point, and from a line that was comparatively under-scaled. And while the DD parts might have been a genuine Legends release, even the original felt out of place at the time of his release, and the parts also feel out of place for the Skull. Red Skull also had a new head and hands, an add-on piece for his coat, and the Dr Doom holster stuck to his right leg, all in the name of separating him further from the figures that birthed him. Unfortunately, even the new pieces don’t quite seem at home. The head is too large for the body, and has no real neck to speak of. The jacket piece, conversely, seems to sit too high on his body, leaving a good portion of his awkwardly designed hip joints still exposed, further exaggerating the largeness of the head, and the mix-and-match nature of the body. On the plus side, the paint’s kind of decent, I guess. The head in particular makes out pretty well. Going for something other than a straight red seems to have worked out nicely. Red Skull was packed with his peak cap, a pistol (borrowed from Dr. Doom), and the same display stand that was included with Cap, but in a different color scheme. He also included a reprint of Captain America #16.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
Series 5 is around the time that the magic of Marvel Legends was starting to wear off for me, thanks in no small part to this crazy “chases” thing that they introduced. I was lucky with Red Skull. My dad was at a comic show, and happened to find him for a somewhat reasonable price from a dealer. Even new, he wasn’t great. Toy Biz definitely made a lot of missteps on this one. He’s a reminder that, as great as some of those figures were, Toy Biz’s Legends had some real stinkers. Also, behold the start of the trend of crappy Red Skull Legends that perpetuates to this day.