#1336: Astonishing Wolverine

ASTONISHING WOLVERINE

MARVEL LEGENDS (TOY BIZ)

“Little is known about the man known as Logan whose past remains shrouded in mystery. The feral warrior, code-named Wolverine, possesses genetically endowed animal-keen senses of smell, sight, and hearing, as well as a mutant healing factor that can mend almost any wound. His deadliest weapons are his razor-sharp claws and skeleton both made of unbreakable metal alloy called Adamantium. However, with these abilities comes a curse, a bezerker rage that he must forever struggle to control. Now Logan must contain the beast raging within while he battles to protect a world that fears and hates him.”

Though my opinion of it has waned in recent years, at the time of its release, Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men was a serious breath of fresh air.  I was never much impressed by Morrison’s “let’s put everyone in black leather and completely disregard prior character interpretation” New X-Men run that immediately preceded it, so taking the X-Men a bit more back to basics was pretty cool.  I also really liked John Cassidy’s art for the series, as well as his returning of several of the cast to more classically inspired costumes.  While most of the team eventually made it into toy form, it took quite a while.  Unsurprisingly, the first team member to make it into plastic was Wolverine, who I’ll be looking at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Astonishing Wolverine was released in the 12th Series of Toy Biz’s Marvel Legends, also known as the “Apocalypse Series.”  It was the fourth Wolverine in the line, and was at the time his current look. There were both masked and unmasked versions of this guy; the one I’m looking at today is the masked version, obviously.  This figure also served as the inspiration for the larger Marvel Legends Icons version of the character, although he was slightly tweaked to offer an alternate version of this costume.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall (it’s one of the first times they actually got his scale right) and he has 40 points of articulation.  In terms of sculpt, this figure was all-new, and he’s based on Cassidy’s work from the comics, albeit somewhat loosely, since Cassidy’s style doesn’t quite lend itself to super-articulated action figures.  The head’s definitely the best work; there’s a lot of smaller detail work that looks really nice, without being too over-done like a lot of Legends Wolverines.  The rest of the body was good for the time, but doesn’t as much hold up to scrutiny these days.  Once again, there’s a lot detail work that’s really nice on the stitching and the piping.  However, he’s really, really scrawny, which removes some of his intimidation factor.  It’s the worst in the legs, where the precedence clearly went to the joints, resulting in an almost skeletal set of limbs.  And of course, they split the belt in two for the waist articulation.  Why did they do that?  Beats me.  Seems it would have made a lot more sense to go either above or below.  Worst case scenario, you could do the joint where it is currently and have the belt be an add-on.  But splitting it right down the middle just seems lazy to me, like the base body was already sculpted and they added the details later without taking placement into account.  On the plus side of things, he’s probably got the best claws we got on a TB ML Wolverine; they’re well-shaped, unlikely to break off, and resistant to heavy warping.  In terms of paint work, the figure’s decent enough.  The base colors match up pretty well with what was being used on the comics, and most of the application is fairly clean.  The only part that’s a little odd is the arm hair, which really just looks like a bunch of brown tally marks that someone’s drawn on him.  Wolverine included no accessories of his own, but he did come packed with one of the legs of Apocalypse.  So, that’s cool, I guess.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This guy was a Christmas present from my friend Charlie.  He and I shared a love of Marvel Legends, and in particular, we were both on the lookout for the perfect Wolverine.  So, when this series hit, he made sure that I got this guy, which was very nice of him (I repaid the favor a year later when I made sure he got a completed Mojo Build-A-Figure).  He’s definitely got some flaws, but I really do think he was Toy Biz’s best take on Wolverine, and the best Legends version  of the character until Hasbro’s recent Brown Costume figure.  It’s honestly a little surprising that TB never retooled him into a more conventional Wolverine.

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#1047: Kitty Pryde

KITTY PRYDE

MARVEL LEGENDS (TOY BIZ)

KittyTB1

Kitty Pryde is really a marker for change in the X-Men comics. She was the first new mutant to be added to the team following the All-New, All-Different change-up, and represents perhaps the only hopeful note to come out of the Dark Phienix Saga. Almost as soon as she joined, she became a focus point for the series. She’s also noteworthy for being one those rare instances of a comic character who was allowed to grow up, as her quest to become a full-fledged X-Man was one of her major story points. And, above all, she’s pretty consistently a fun character. Unfortunately, she’s had some rotten luck with action figures (if you don’t believe me just look at the last Kitty I reviewed). Toy Biz tried their hand at making her twice, with mixed results. I’ll be looking at that second attempt today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

KittyTB2Kitty Pryde was released in the Walmart-Exclusive Giant-Man series of Toy Biz’s run with Marvel Legends. She was based on Kitty’s then current Astonishing X-Men design. The figure stands a little over 6 inches tall and has 38 points of articulation. For the most part she’s the same figure as the Jessica Alba Invisible Woman that I reviewed a few months ago. That’s not great, because that body had some major issues, including, but not limited to: incredibly obvious joints, an impossibly small waist, and super fragile arms and legs. It’s not a particularly strong body. What’s worse, the details on the body don’t quite line-up with Kitty’s Astonishing design. It’s a weird body choice all around. I’m not really sure why they went with it, but I’m not Toy Biz. I’m also not out of business, so I think that I won this one! Kitty got a new head sculpt, which is okay, but hardly one of Toy Biz’s best.  Like Hasbro’s smaller attempt, she feels a bit old for Kitty, and the total lack of ears weirds me out a bit. Also, her hair is pretty much completely wrong for this interpretation of Kitty, being all around too long and just too bushy. Were it not supposed to be this specific Kitty, that would be fine, but it stands out here. The paint work on Kitty is probably some of the weakest on any of the Toy Biz Legends.  The face is alright, but the eyebrows are slightly off from the sculpt, which throws her whole look off. Also, the color scheme of the costume is totally off. In the comics, her costume was black and a warm shade of yellow. Here, it’s a dark grey/pale yellow combo that looks incredibly boring and drab. It’s not a fun look, and means she’ll tend to get lost in a group. Kitty included her pet dragon Lockheed, as well as the upper torso and head of Giant-Man.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t find this figure at retail, due to the all-around difficultness of finding this series at Walmart. My dad bought her for me from a reasonably priced eBay auction. At the time, I was really excited to get this figure. I mean, she was my first Kitty Pryde figure, and I’ve always loved the character. That being said, I very quickly found the flaws in this figure, and she’s never been one of my favorites. She’s probably one of the older Legends most in need of an update.

KittyTB3

#0427: DOFP Wolverine & Colossus

DAYS OF FUTURE PAST WOLVERINE & COLOSSUS

MARVEL MINIMATES

DOFPWolverine&Colossus1

Marvel Minimates has pretty consistently been the flagship of the Minimates brand, but it hasn’t been without its dark periods. Every fan has their own personal preferences, which means that where exactly the low points of the line lie can vary from person to person, but pretty much everyone agrees that Series 12 and 13 are probably the worst the line ever got. It’s no coincidence that immediately after those two series, the line started taking quick strides in innovation. The line looked like it was on its last legs (Series 15, set to be released not long after, is the only specialty assortment in the history of the line to be cancelled), and something had to change. Fortunately, the line did change, and it has continued for almost another 50 series, but man, somewhere there’s an alternate universe where these were the last Minimates we ever saw.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These two were released as part of Series 13 of Marvel Minimates. The series was based around the then current Astonishing X-Men. This is the variant set, which swapped out a “Days of Future Past” styled Wolverine in place of the regular Astonishing one.

DAYS OF FUTURE PAST WOLVERINE

DOFPWolverine&Colossus2Or, as he’s known on the box “DOFP Wolverine.” I mean, I know what that stands for, but you’ve got to imagine that somebody stood there looking at the box wondering what the heck a “Dofp” was. I just recently looked at the new and improved take on this design from earlier this year, which I quite liked. This one is….different. The figure is about 2 ½ inches tall and he features 14 points of articulation. He made use of the standard Minimate body, with the then standard Wolverine claws in place of the normal hands, as well as an add-on piece for the hair. The piece, like every piece in this series, is a re-use, in this case from the Series 6 New Wolverine. What’s interesting is that the box actually shows the figure with the hair from the Series 3 Logan figure, which is a superior piece. Not sure why they made the change. Paint-wise, this is a pretty drab figure. I know the design isn’t the most vibrant to begin with, but there’s just no pop with this figure. The choice to make the jacket painted on robs the figure of a lot of dimension, and the jacket’s detailing is sub-par at best. I’m not exactly sure what the deal is with the face, either. He looks like he’s been… smooshed or something. And that’s not even starting on the whole double chin thing he’s got going. DOFP Wolverine had no accessories.

COLOSSUS

DOFPWolverine&Colossus3Colossus’s return to life was an important part of the early Astonishing X-Men, so his place in this series isn’t too surprising. Plus, his history with Wolverine and his decent sized role in the original “Days of Future Past” make this pairing a pretty great one too. Colossus is roughly 2 ½ inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation. He’s based on Colossus’s look in Astonishing, which is just a slight tweak on his classic design, so it’s a reasonable look. The figure uses the basic body, with an add-on for the hair. The hair is a re-use from the Giant-Size X-Men boxed Set Colossus. It’s a pretty cut and dry case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” so it works nicely for the character. The lack of any other add-ons means that he’s a rather scrawny looking version of the character, which other versions have avoided. Colossus’s paint is at least a bit better than Wolverine. His colors are pretty good, though the red might be a touch too bright for this look. The detail lines are pretty nice, though not as sharp as they could be in a few areas. The choice to put the belt on the torso makes the waist seem too long, but at least it’s nicely rendered. Colossus included no accessories.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up this set from a friend’s local comicbook store during a black Friday sale. I’m pretty sure I got it for slightly less than retail, which is probably a good thing. It was actually the first variant set I was able to track down, which is unfortunate to say the least. All in all, it’s not the worst set ever, but it’s one that’s seriously lacking. It’s fortunate that the line was able to move past this series and become better and more successful.