MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)
“When Robbie Baldwin is exposed to an extra-dimensional energy source, he becomes Speedball, able to project a kinetic energy field allowing him to bounce like a super-powered rubber ball!”
Introduced in 1988, Speedball was one of Marvel’s active attempts at recapturing the success of Spider-Man through another young hero, going so far as to include Steve Ditko in the character’s creation, just for that extra push. Though he ultimately didn’t meet their expectations, he did find some notoriety as a member of the New Warriors when that book was launched just a few years later. He’d go on to become a defining member for the team throughout its many iterations, right up until they got totally discarded in order for big shocks in Civil War, at which point we got sad emo boy Robbie becoming the ultimate edgelord Penance…yeah, it’s not great. But it’s okay, because he’s back to being Speedball, and now he’s even got an action figure, which I’m taking a look at today.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Speedball is figure 4 in the Controller Series of Marvel Legends, which is ostensibly an Avengers assortment. He’s the fourth member of the founding New Warriors in the line, following Night Thrasher, Firestar, and Nova. Fingers crossed for a Justice figure in short order! This is Speedball’s first figure, though Robbie did get a Minimate as Penance. But I don’t wanna talk about it. You can’t make me. ….Anyway, the figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation. Speedball is built on the 2099 base body, which is a more than respectable choice for the character. The build’s a pretty good match, and the articulation scheme, especially with those butterfly joints on the shoulders, makes for a lot of fun posing. It’s a solid basic body choice for a guy with a pretty basic costume set-up. It’s only real downside is that we still have the expose pins on the elbows and knees, but it’s going to take a little bit for such things to completely disappear from the line. Speedball gets an all-new head sculpt, and it’s very definitely the star piece of the figure. The hair has a wonderful dynamic flow, giving it that crazy flop that was so signature to the character’s look. Gambit *wishes* his hair was this chaotic. The face has a nice warm and friendly expression that feels right for a fun-loving guy like Robbie, and the goggles, which are separate pieces, top of the look pitch perfectly. Speedball’s color work surprised me in its quality. Not only is the base application all clean and sharp, they also handle his distinctive patterning on his gloves, belt, and boots quite well, without missing any noticeable spots or cutting anything too keep it simpler. His face and hair also get a far bit more accenting than we’ve typically seen on the Hasbro Legends, which really just gives the whole thing a really polished feel. If I have one complaint about this figure, it’s that he doesn’t get any accessories of his own. A recoloring of the Havok/Polaris effects with his multicolored kinetic energy would have worked decently in a pinch, I feel. That said, it’s not the end of the world, I suppose. Ultimately, he’s packed with the torso for the Controller, which is the largest piece, so the box is far from empty feeling.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
When I was seven, I bought an issue of Wizard magazine because it had a feature on the upcoming Avengers: United They Stand cartoon, and I wanted to know everything I could about it. Said issue also included a free preview copy of the latest iteration of the New Warriors at the time, which of course had Speedball front and center. I’d not encountered him previously, and while I wouldn’t actually read most of his early New Warriors appearances until much later, the character’s distinctive visual always stuck with me. I hated what they did with him in Civil War, and was always bummed that his only Minimate was as Penance. So, this figure? I was fairly excited. He looked like a cool by-the-numbers figure. In hand, that’s not what he is, because, despite the base body build, he’s not just a by-the-numbers figure. He’s got a lot of care put into him, and he’s so much fun. He’s simple, but he’s thus far my favorite Legend of the year. And there was a Havok and a classic Cap this year, so that’s pretty high praise by me.
Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure for review. If you’re looking for toys both old and new, please check out their website.