MELINA VOSTOKOFF & RED GUARDIAN
MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)
“After decades of service, Melina Vostokoff distanced herself from the Red Room. But when Natasha Romanoff returns, Melina and Red Guardian must decide where their allegiance lies.”
After a year of delays, Black Widow finally got its release this past July. It’s still not been entirely smooth sailing, but it did at least clear the slate to let the other movies get released. The tie-in component for the movie was, unfortunately, too far along when the pandemic hit in 2020 to hold it back, so they shipped to stores more than a year before release, resulting in them being essentially gone by the time the movie actually hit. Hasbro did at least hold off one piece of merch until after the film’s release, a two-pack of Melina Vostokoff and Alexei Shostakov (aka the Red Guardian), Natasha’s surrogate parents from the film. I’m taking a look at that pack today.
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
Melina and Red Guardian are a standalone two-pack Marvel Legends release, designed to tie-in with the movie. If prior offerings are anything to go by, they were probably meant to be the home media tie-in, hitting some time last fall, but they were able to be pushed back. Whatever the case, they started hitting retail within the last month or so, and seem to be generally sticking to the specialty channels at the moment.
Known in the comics as Iron Maiden, Melina Vostokoff is actually an antagonist of Natasha, and, much like Red Guardian, classically more of a contemporary in terms of age and experience. For the film, she is given a maternal role, and refitted into a far less antagonistic character, which generally works out pretty well. Melina was the one major character absent from the tie-in wave of figures last year, so her inclusion here is somewhat expected and very much justified. In terms of design, she’s been given her all-white suit from the film’s climax, which allows her to match up with the rest of the crew, certainly making it a good choice. The figure stands 5 3/4 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation. Melina shares most of her parts with the two Widow figures from last year. Given that she’s explicitly wearing the same gear as Natasha in the final sequence, as well as the fact that the builds between the actresses aren’t too far removed, it’s a sensible choice of re-use. It’s aided by the fact that the body was a solid piece the first time around, and the second time around, so the third time makes sense too. She gets an all-new head sculpt, which sports a rather solid likeness of Rachel Weisz, and meshes well with the pre-existing parts. The torso is also modified slightly, as sort of a merging of the two prior pieces. She keeps the basic detailing of the deluxe Widow, but gets the back pack from the single release. Lastly, she ditches the Widow stingers, in the name of screen accuracy, since Melina doesn’t have them. Her paint work is overall fairly decent. The head uses the face printing, which turned out well. The rest of the body relies fairly heavily on molded colors, but it works well. There are some slight change-ups from the deluxe Widow’s color scheme. Generally, it seems to make her more accurate, though I do miss the extra painted detail on the belt buckle. Melina is packed with three sets of hands (in fists, loose grip, and tight grip), dual Markovs, two batons, and a grappling hook. The hands and guns are shared with deluxe Widow, and the batons come from the single release (albeit with better paint this time), while the grappling hook appears to be an all-new piece. Not a bad set-up, all things considered.
Red Guardian was included in the standard tie-in line-up last year, but his figure was notably not as screen accurate as the others, making a second go at him a worthy venture. He’s seen here in his fully kitted out gear from the movie (something he didn’t have all of the last time around). The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and has 31 points of articulation. He’s still a little bit on the small side, but at this point, I can be a little more forgiving, since I already dealt with that last year. From the neck down, he’s the same as the Red Guardian from the main assortment. The body was the best part of the earlier release, and wasn’t too terribly out of whack, so it’s re-use makes sense here. To top it off, he gets an all-new head sculpt, this time sporting the helmet that was so notably absent from the first figure. It’s a very nice piece, and works well with the body. It designed to work like the more recent MCU Caps, where the helmet and face are separate parts, to aid in giving it proper depth. Guardian’s new head also gives him the proper, fuller beard that he had in the movie, further aiding in the likeness’s effectiveness. Red Guardian’s paint work has also been tweaked a bit from the prior version. He’s got more silver this time around, as well as some extra detailing in a few spots on the costume. Additionally, the light grey is now closer to white, which is more in line with how it looks in the movie. In general, it does feel like a sharper appearance, and one that matches the movie just a bit better. Red Guardian is packed with an alternate unmasked head, which, like the masked one, has a better likeness of Alexi’s disheveled appearance. He also gets a set of alternate hands without the gloves, plus a miniature Red Guardian action figure like the one used in the movie’s prison break scene, and the same shield as last time, albeit in a darker color scheme this time around. It’s not a bad selection, and I’m really glad the alternate head is there. The shield’s kind of extraneous, since he doesn’t actually have it in the movie, and now we have two of them, but far be it from me to complain about extra stuff, especially when it doesn’t feel like anything important got cut.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
I was glad to finally get to see Black Widow after such a long wait, and I enjoyed it as a fairly by the numbers action film. It didn’t break any molds, it didn’t change the world, but it was a good time. Natasha’s family were definitely my favorite part of the movie, so I was eager to get the full line-up. Melina makes a good addition to the team we already have, and Red Guardian fixes the figure we already got in such a way that prior version is kind of unneeded at this point, I guess. Definitely a very fun two-pack.