BETA RAY BILL
MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)
Though the subject of much frivolous fan debate these days, there was a time when the concept of someone other than Thor Odinson picking up Mjolnir was still rather unexplored territory. It was finally explored in 1983, when Walt Simonson introduced Beta Ray Bill. Bill was designed to be a complete subversion of usual conventions, a deliberately monstrous-looking character who would nevertheless pick up the hammer and cement himself as worthy. Eventually, he would gain a hammer of his own, and he’s since become a regular fixture in the Thor mythos, and a fan favorite to boot. And now I’m looking at his latest plastic incarnation.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Beta Ray Bill is figure 5 in the Hulk Series of Marvel Legends. This is Bill’s second time in Legends form, following up on his figure from the final Toy Biz Legends assortment. This one marks a first for a Bill figure, being in a costume other than the one he debuted in. Instead, he’s in his Oliver Copiel-designed streamlined costume from Unworthy Thor. It’s different, and perhaps a little less distinctive, but it still hits all the important notes. The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 33 points of articulation. Bill makes use of some of the Hyperion parts, but like a lot of the most recent uses of this body, he dispenses with some of the more problematic parts. He has a new head, torso, pelvis, and hands, plus add-ons for his cape and wrist wraps. The head and hands are clearly the most distinctively Bill parts, and the head in particular is a marked improvement over prior attempts. For pretty much the first time, we have a Beta Ray Bill head that doesn’t look abysmal when viewed from the front. After the head, his cape is definitely my next favorite piece of the figure, based largely on how it affixes to the torso; the clasps at the shoulders are actually clasps, and allow for it to be held securely in place or removed, which has been an option sorely lacking from a lot of prior Thor figures. Beta Ray’s paintwork follows the general cues of the design in the comics, meaning it steps back a bit from the more colorful nature of his original look, but still hits all the main notes. The straight black on the legs isn’t terribly exciting, but the rest of the work is all pretty good, and I was pleasantly surprised by the accent work on his skin tones. Bill is packed with his personal hammer, Stormbreaker, as well as not one but two heads for the Hulk Build-A-Figure.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
I didn’t care so much about Beta Ray Bill when the original Legend hit, but I’ve picked up more of an appreciation for him in the years since then, so I was definitely on board for an update. He’s jammed into a series of a lot of other figures I really like, but I can still step back and appreciate how well made he is. And, knowing Hasbro’s track record, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them drop a more classically inspired variant down the line. In the mean time, this is definitely the best version of Bill to date.