#1860: Iron Man – Mark VII

IRON MAN — MARK VII

MARVEL LEGENDS — MARVEL STUDIOS: THE FIRST TEN YEARS

“Equipped with a mighty Vibranium arc reactor and enhanced flight capacities, the Mark VII is a Fully-Loaded Rapid Deployment suit built for heavy combat.”

Despite the movie’s immense financial success, the tie-in action figures for Avengers were rather understated.  The poor sales of toys for Captain America and Thor, as well as the general lingering of Iron Man 2’s later assortments, meant that retailers weren’t really jumping all-in for line-ups featuring many of those same characters.  Mass retail only wanted smaller-assortment, smaller-scale figures, but Hasbro was able to sell Walmart on an exclusive run of Legends scale figures for the movie.  Of course, this exclusive run meant there were some cutbacks, such as everyone’s favorite armored avenger being stuck with a re-pack of his Mark VI armor from Iron Man 2, rather than the Mark VII armor that more appropriately fit the line-up.  Fortunately, Hasbro took the tenth anniversary of the MCU to amend this issue.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Mark VII Iron Man is entry 3 in Hasbro’s Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years sub-line of Marvel Legends.  He is the final of the three single-packed offerings from the line, following the previously reviewed Red Skull and Ronan the Accuser.  This is, of course, Tony’s Mark VII armor, which he sports during the proper assemblage of the Avengers during the film’s big climactic battle.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and has 37 points of articulation.  Not only does this figure have the most articulation of any of the movie Iron Men, it’s also implemented in the most workable fashion here, meaning that the Mark VII is hands down the most posable MCU incarnation of Iron Man in the Legends line-up.  Though it takes a little bit of cheating, you can also get his signature three-point landing out of this figure, which ended up being one of its selling points for me.  What’s more, you can even move all of the flaps on his back, and his head can almost look straight up.  We saw a lot of improvements in this direction fro both the Mark 46 and Mark 50 releases, but this guy really seems to take everything they’ve learned and even further build on that.  Obviously, with all of this improved articulation, you kind of need an all-new sculpt, and this one’s a very good one.  Thanks to a much-delayed release, Hasbro was able to actually make the figure as faithful to the film as possible, and they’ve generally succeeded.  There are still a few little details here and there, but he’s very, very close.  The biggest plus for me is that, unlike the IM2/IM3 armors, this one is actually properly scaled with the rest of the MCU Legends, and can conceivably be an actual guy in a suit of armor.  The paint work for the Mark VII is solid, and again, one of the strongest entries we’ve seen for an MCU Tony.  The metallic red plastic works very well, being neither too bright or too dark, and the rest of the application is pretty clean.  There’s a slight scuff on my figure’s right leg, but he’s otherwise pretty good.  The Mark VII is packed with a second set of hands, this time in the repulser blast pose (which, sadly, continue the tend of not having the same articulation as the fists), as well as the now-standard blast-effect pieces, this time in a transparent yellow.  I was a little saddened that there was no unmasked head this time, which is about the only major complaint I can lobby against this figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

My disappointment with the Mark 50, combined with my prioritizing of the other figures in the Marvel Studios set, meant that I passed this figure up a great many times.  I guess I just didn’t think too much of him.  It was actually Super Awesome Fiancee who brought him home for me from her work, at which point I was able to re-examine him in-hand, and realize I’d been totally wrong about this guy.  There’s a lot to like here.  He’s the best MCU Iron Man on the market, and the easiest one to find at that.  I whole-heartedly recommend him!

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#1823: Wonder Man

WONDER MAN

AVENGERS: UNITED THEY STAND (TOY BIZ)

“Simon Williams became Wonder Man as a result of scientific experiments that bombarded his body with tonic energy. Now his eyes glow with power and he possesses superhuman strength, speed and durability. Originally an enemy of the Avengers, Wonder Man soon realized he had been manipulated into attacking the team and now he uses his amazing powers as a full-fledged Avenger. Wearing his Avengers symbol ring, this mighty hero will always heed the call, “Avengers Assemble!””

After the success of X-Men: The Animated Series, Spider-Man: The Animated Series, and the Iron Man and Fantastic Four segments of the Marvel Action Hour, in 1999, Marvel tried their luck again, with a cartoon based on The Avengers.  Titled Avengers: United They Stand, the show placed its focus on the typically more supporting Avengers, rather than the likes of Cap, Thor, and Iron Man.  Also, unlike prior Marvel cartoons, it leaned heavily on selling the toys, leading to some…interesting design choices.  It wasn’t incredibly well-received with the fanbase, and only ended up lasting a single, 13-episode season.  But, like I said, it was definitely designed to sell toys, so it got a pretty decent run of those.  Today, I’m looking at my favorite member of the team from the show, Wonder Man!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The initial assortment of Avengers: United They Stand figures were spilt into two series.  Wonder Man was officially part of the second, but they were all released at the same time, so it didn’t really matter in the end.  Anyway, Wonder Man was a big guy on the show, and that’s reflected with this figure, who stood just shy of 6 inches tall and had 9 points of articulation.  Wonder Man’s movement is an interesting mix.  He’s got ball-joints hips, and hinged ankles, which weren’t standard issue at the time, giving him a leg (heh) up, but due to his two separate action features, the arms are limited just to cut joints at the shoulders, and rather restricted ones at that.  On the plus side, his sculpt was actually a pretty good one.  The only other figure I’ve looked at from this line, Ultron, took some liberties with the show’s design (to the figure’s benefit, in Toy Biz’s defense), but Wonder Man follows the trend of the rest of the line, crafting a fairly show accurate figure.  He still departs from the show design a little bit, just so he can fit in a little bit better with some of Toy Biz’s other figures from the time, but you can definitely see where the inspiration for the figure came from.  He’s definitely a stylized figure, but I feel it works pretty well.  The head in particular really seems to get down the character’s personality quite well.  Wonder Man’s paint work is actually pretty impressive.  Not only is the base application very clean, but he’s also got some nice variation in the finish on areas such as the boots, and some very well-rendered accenting on his legs, arms, and face.  They even included the distinctive red reflection on his sunglasses!  Mine’s taken a little bit of beating, of course, but has certainly held up better than other figures from the same era.  Winder Man was packed with a life-sized version of his Avengers ring from the cartoon (not entirely sure why, but there it was), and nothing else.  It makes him one of the lightest packed figures from the line, but he’s also the largest, so I guess it works out.  He does have the two action features previously mentioned.  The first is a light-up feature, which lights up his hands and sunglasses.  Why?  Not a clue.  I’d say it was related to his ionic abilities, but those are usually purple, and these light-up red.  The second is a punching feature on his right arm.  It’s rather basic; push down the lever on his back, and the arm swings up.  Again, I have to ask “why?”  Certainly there were better, less-articulation-restricting features to work in?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I am an unabashed lover of United They Stand.  I vividly remember awaiting its premiere, and, of course, its accompanying toys.  I wanted the whole line-up, and made detailed lists of the exact order I’d be buying them in.  Wonder Man was at the very top of the list; my absolute most wanted figure in the set.  Unfortunately, United They Stand marked the first time I really ran into troubles with distribution and scarcity on such a line, so I kind of had to take the figures in the order my dad was able to find them for me.  Wonder Man ended up as the fourth figure I added to my collection, procured for me by my dad after he stopped at lord knows how many stores on his way home from work.  This guy remained a favorite of mine for quite a while.  Ultimately, he’s not without his flaws. Most of them are related to those shoulders, and just how locked in place they are.  That said, I still kinda love this figure, and I still kinda love the show he’s from.

#1750: Agent Phil Coulson

AGENT PHIL COULSON

AVENGERS (HOT TOYS)

So, about this monumental reviews business, you know, where I do the “deluxe” reviews of the high-end stuff?  When I started them, I was doing them every 50 reviews, which was far too frequent, so I bumped that up to every 100.  Well, right around the night before I had to write #1500, I decided 100 had gotten to be too frequent as well.  And so, as I noted in review #1600, I’m now doing them every 250.  Isn’t that nice?  For me it is.  Alright, let’s get back into the swing of things!

<beat>

Wow, it’s been another 250 reviews?  Who could have forseen this coming?  Well, at this point, me, because I know I’m not stopping any time soon.  In honor of another 250 under my belt, let’s have a look at another one of my high-end Hot Toys figures, shall we?  Slowly but surely, I’m making my way through the crown jewel of said Hot Toys collection: namely, my Avengers figures.  Today, I continue that, taking a look at one of my personal favorites, Agent Phil Coulson!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Coulson was released as part of Hot Toys’ main Movie Masterpiece Series, where he was figure 189.  While most of the Avengers figures stuck together in their numbering, Coulson was a later solicitation, so he’s smack dab between Catwoman from The Dark Knight Rises and the Scar Predator from Alien vs Predator.  What an assortment.  Coulson is meant to be based on his appearance in Avengers specifically, but he can just as easily work for his appearances in Iron ManThor, or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., making him quite a versatile figure.  The figure stands 11 3/4 inches tall and has over 30 points of articulation.

Really, the key piece to a figure like this, is the head sculpt, since without it, he’s just a generic suit.  Fortunately, Coulson got one of the best head sculpts to come out of the Avengers sub-set of figures.  There’s absolutely no denying who this guy is meant to be; he’s the spitting image of Clark Gregg.  But, of course, it’s not just about the likeness; it’s also about how lifelike the figure looks.  Some of the other Avengers figures were a little lighter on the texturing and the like, but fortunately that’s not the case with Coulson, who really does look like he stepped right after the movie.  His paintwork is up to the usual Hot Toys standard, which only furthers the lifelike nature of the sculpt.

Coulson’s sporting his standard-issue government agent black suit, with a dress shirt and a tie to go with it.  While not the most spectacularly tailored suit Hot Toys ever put out, it’s certainly a marked improvement over the likes of the Two-Face figure from just a few years prior.  I think my biggest complaint isn’t the suit itself, but actually the tie, which is a little bit on the short side, resulting in a somewhat goofy look.  In addition, his suit doesn’t have any buttons for closing it, so there’s no option to hide the shortness of the tie, at least not in any sort fixed fashion.  Still, that’s a rather minor issue.  On the opposite end of things, there are his shoes.  They’re fully sculpted feet, as is the usual Hot Toys fashion, and they’re just really, really nice looking.  Finally, there are the little touches that bring the whole thing together, which includes his Level 7 access badge and his wrist watch, both of which are quite a bit of fun.

Coulson’s accessories are a fun selection of movie specific extras.  He includes:

  • 5 hands
  • sunglasses
  • earpiece
  • cellphone
  • walkie talkie
  • handgun
  • Destroyer gun
  • filefolder
  • Captain America trading cards
  • Display stand

He has a pair of relaxed hands, a pair of gripped hands, and a hand specifically designed for holding either the file folder or the trading cards.

The sunglasses sit well on the face, in a decent enough fashion that you might not realize they were a separate piece at first glance.  I also appreciate that they’re actually semi-transparent, as they should be.  Similarly, the earpiece fits snugly into the right ear, and looks like it belongs there.  The cellphone and walkie talkie give him another two communication options, if that’s what you’re looking for.

The handgun’s a pretty nice piece as well.  It’s got a moving slide and a removable clip, which makes it fun to mess with.

The prize piece is definitely the Destroyer gun, Coulson’s signature weapon from his final moments in Avengers.  It’s well-scaled, a solid recreation of the design from the movie, and it even lights up! …or at least it did.  In the 5 years since I got it, the batteries in mine seem to have gone up.  Oh well.

The file folder and cards are both paper goods.  The folder is a little bit of a let down, since there’s noting inside of it, and it doesn’t open like a real folder, but it’s still a nice little bonus.  The cards are definitely a lot of fun, and I’m glad they weren’t over looked.

Lastly, there’s the display stand.  It’s just a basic oval stand, with the Avengers logo and Coulson’s name printed on the placard.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Coulson was the figure I was most excited for from this whole subset.  It was the strong hinting at his release from Hot Toys that actually got me on-board for the whole Avengers set-up, since it was, at the time, the only way to get a Coulson figure to go with the rest of the team.  Though he’s just a fairly average guy, the figure’s definitely one of Hot Toys’ stronger efforts, and it’s the cool accessories that give him that extra edge.

#1671: Cull Obsidian

CULL OBSIDIAN

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

Though in many ways calling back to the classic Infinity Gauntlet, Avengers: Infinity War did offer a few newer concepts as well.  Included amongst those new concepts were the members of the Black Order, Thanos’s generals from the Infinity event.  In the comics, the name of the big bruiser was “Black Dwarf,” but for the purposes of the movie, he’s Cull Obsidian…in theory.  His name’s never spoken on-screen.  I suppose he could get named in a deleted scene or something.  He still managed to get a figure out the deal, which I’ll be looking at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Cull Obsidian is the eponymous Build-A-Figure for the Cull Obsidian Series, the second Infinity War-themed series of Marvel Legends.  Though not as unquestionably perfect as Thanos was in the first series, he’s still a pretty solid choice, being one of the few other “large” character designs in the film.  I suppose they could have gone for the new Hulkbuster armor, but I’d much rather get a new character out of things.  Cull is the second member of the Black Order we’ve gotten in Legends form, following the Thanos Series’ Proxima Midnight figure.  The figure stands 8 1/4 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  Cull’s figure is sporting an all-new sculpt, based on his design from the film…in theory.  For whatever reason, despite the other three members of the team maintaining the same basic design for pretty much the entirety of the pre-production process, Cull Obsidian’s design went through some pretty major changes on the way to the final film.  Unfortunately, since action figures have a somewhat lengthy production process, this means this Cull Obsidian figure ended up based on an out of date design.  He’s a bit more savage, and less armored than his film counterpart, and ends up looking a little more like his comics counterpart (though even that’s not a perfect match).  It’s not Hasbro’s fault that design changed, though, so I guess the best that can be done is to just look at the sculpt on its own merits.  I have to admit, it’s actually pretty solid.  The head’s my favorite part, being the part that ends up the most accurate, but also the part that sports the sharpest detail work.  The rest of the sculpt is also pretty nicely detailed, though the arms and legs are noticeably softer on the details than the head and torso.  The articulation would probably be worked in a little smoother, especially on the arms and the mid-torso joint.  Nevertheless, it’s a sculpt that’s quite impressive as a whole.  The paintwork on Cull is pretty decent as well.  There’s some nice, subtle accent work on the skin of the head and torso. Sadly, this doesn’t continue beyond those sections.  I mean, it’s not horribly jarring, but it’s slightly frustrating.  Though he’s a Build-A-Figure, and therefore an accessory himself, Cull does still get an extra.  It’s his hammer…in theory.  You know how Cull’s design changed?  Yep, well that extends to the hammer as well.  It’s more of a pickaxe sort of a thing in the final film, and asymmetrical in design.  Here, it’s a perfectly symmetrical, very squared-off hammer.  Also, he can only hold it in his left hand, despite being a righty in the film.  Odd.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Cull isn’t a majorly prominent character in Infinity War, but I liked him well enough in the film that I was looking forward to this figure.  Additionally, I was actively interested in 5 of the 6 figures it took to complete him.  Wasn’t much of a stretch to get him completed, really.  Despite his not being accurate to his final film design, I do actually like this figure quite a bit, and I think he’s a more exciting Build-A-Figure than the Thanos that preceded him.  It’s just a shame he’s not screen-accurate, since a second chance at him seems rather unlikely.

Cull Obsidian was assembled by purchasing this whole set of figures from my sponsors over at All Time Toys.  You can visit them in person on Main Street in Ellicott City, MD, or you can view their sizable online catalogue via their online store or their eBay store front!

#1668: Thor

THOR

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

When the state of the universe is thrown into chaos, Thor sets out to protect Earth and beyond.”

You can’t honestly be that surprised, can you?  I’m looking at the latest set of Infinity War-themed Marvel Legends and it’s a Thursday.  *Of course* I’m looking at the newest Thor figure!  What choice do I have?  None.  I had no choice at all.  Sorry, Tony, it was the only way.  Wait, wrong moment…uhhh, let’s just look at this here Thor figure, shall we?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Thor is the second of two Infinity War-themed single releases from the Cull Obsidian Series of Marvel Legends.  This is the second IW-based Thor Legends release, following the one from the three-pack with Rocket and Groot.  That one was the early film look, while this one’s his design from the film’s climax.  It’s more in line with the same basic design he’s been sporting from the beginning, but with the shorter hair, of course.  As a major focal point of the film, and the only major character to truly have multiple distinctive designs, a second figure for Thor makes a lot of sense.  As with his triple-packed compatriot, this Thor figure stands 7 inches tall and has 30 points of articulation.  The two figures share a fair number of pieces (fitting, since it’s the same base design of the same guy from the same film), with the hands and lower half being identical, and the upper body being ever so slightly tweaked to allow for the cape.  The head is similar to the last one, but missing the eye-patch, of course.  I thought it might be the same sculpt that was used for the Ragnarok figure, but there’s actually a sculpted scar over the eye, so it’s at least slightly changed.  He also gets new arms, featuring his sleeves of armor, as well as the previously mentioned cape.  The new pieces match well with the film design, as well as the pre-existing parts, and make for a rather solid looking figure.  The paintwork is overall very strong work, and an improvement over the three-pack.  He lacks any of the electric effects that plagued that figure (which is a bit ironic, since they’d actually make far more sense here than on that figure), and instead gets a lot more texture work, especially on the boots, which look nice and weathered.  My only complaint has to do with the head. It’s still well-crafted, but something about it is just very un-Hemsworth.  I don’t really know who it looks like, but it’s not Chris. Thor is packed with his new weapon Stormbreaker, the main selling point of this guy.  It’s incredibly well-detailed, and even features a removable lightning effect. I know it wouldn’t be strictly movie accurate, but I wish they’d included a non-powered up eye-patch Head here too, since we didn’t get one.  Instead, we just get another piece, specifically the left arm, of Cull Obsidian.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I wasn’t really sold on this guy initially.  I definitely liked the three-pack variant better, and this guy felt a little extraneous.  Upon getting him in hand, I’m sort of torn. He’s a lot better than I’d expected, and fixes some of the other figure’s flaws, but I just don’t like that head quite as much.  Fortunately, they’re easily swapped, allowing me my perfect Thor.

Thor was purchased from my sponsors over at All Time Toys.  You can visit them in person on Main Street in Ellicott City, MD, or you can view their sizable online catalogue via their online store or their eBay store front!

#1667: Black Widow

BLACK WIDOW

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“An agent of espionage and expert in hand-to-hand combat, Black Widow is trained to take out any enemy of justice.”

Despite some bad luck initially when it comes to action figures (being the only main team member from the 6-inch line for the first Avengers, being available only in an online-exclusive boxed set for AoU, etc.), things are starting to look up for Natasha Romanov.  In less than a year, she’s had a whopping three Marvel Legends, as well as being included in all three styles of the Infinity War product.  I’ve looked at the basic line’s take on her, and today I’m following that up with the Legends release!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Black Widow is part of the Cull Obsidian Series of Marvel Legends.  Outside of the Build-A-Figure, she’s one of two Infinity War-based figures in the assortment.  She’s got the same look as the basic figure, which is reasonable, since it’s also Widow’s only look in the film and all.  The figure stands 5 3/4 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  Despite the last two MCU Widows using the same mold, this one is all-new.  I really liked the basic figure’s sculpt, and wasn’t sure how this one would fare when compared, but oh boy is this one just an all-around improvement.  The head is pretty solid.  I think the basic figure might have the better overall likeness (I’m getting a bit of a Charlize Theron vibe from this one), but this is definitely the more lifelike of the two.  The proportions of the body are nicely balanced, the details of the costume are crisp, and there’s a ton of texturing all throughout.  The vest is a little bit bulky, but there’s a good reason for that; it’s a separate overlay piece.  Pop off the head, and there’s a fully detailed torso underneath, showcasing Widow’s standard body sculpt.  Apparently she just threw a vest over her prior outfit.  That’s a cool detail.  Widow’s paintwork is pretty solid stuff too, matching up with the sculpt in quality.  She’s got the new face print tech, which looks nice and lifelike, and appears to be improving for every figure they use it on.  The body suit has a lot of subtle variations of blacks and greys, stepping up what we saw on the last two Widow releases and keeping her visually interesting.  Widow is packed with two pairs of hands (fists and gripping), her twin batons (which can snap together into one staff), and a pair of tasers to store in her holsters.  I wish the batons could be stowed on her back like in the movie, but beyond that it’s a pretty good assortment of extras.  She also includes the torso of Cull Obsidian, by far the largest piece of him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This figure had a high bar to clear, since the basic line’s version of her was quite good.  I was expecting to get more milage out of that release before this one came along, but not so much.  This is a very strong figure, perhaps one of Hasbro’s strongest MCU figures, and certainly the best figure of Widow out there.  Now, I’m hoping we get a slight tweak on this one for a proper red-haired variant.

Black Widow was purchased from my sponsors over at All Time Toys.  You can visit them in person on Main Street in Ellicott City, MD, or you can view their sizable online catalogue via their online store or their eBay store front!

#1654: Thanos

THANOS

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Fun isn’t something one considers when balancing the universe. But this… does put a smile on my face.”

Thanos has arrived.  Maintaining my non-spoilery stance on discussing Infinity War, I will say this much:  it’s Thanos’s movie.  The other’s may reside in it, they may all have their moment, but the film as a whole undeniably belongs to the Mad Titan.  Josh Brolin, the Russo brothers,  Christopher Markus, and Stephen McFeely did the character a lot of justice, and he’s finally more than just a shallow, looming threat.  Also, he’s a Marvel Legend!  How ’bout that?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Thanos is the Build-A-Figure for the first Infinity War-themed series of Marvel Legends.  He’s undeniably the best choice for the slot, and it’s nice to finally get the MCU version of the character in Legends form.  He’s using Thanos’s casual look from the film, which I know kind of upset some people, since it’s not the armored look we’ve been seeing over the last several years.  That said, it’s unquestionably his main look from the movie, and in light of that, it would have been silly to do a different look.  The figure stands 7 3/4 inches tall and he has 28 points of articulation.  Thanos is certainly a big one, towering over even the above-average Proxima Midnight.  It’s certainly appropriate to the movie, though.  He sports an all-new sculpt, patterned after the movie design.  It’s pretty decent.  The expression on the head is a little goofy; I get what they were going for with the slight smile, but he ends up looking more like he’s a bit gassy than content with his killing spree.  It’s far from awful, though, and the detail work on the wrinkles in his face is absolutely top-notch. The proportions of the body are pretty good, though his neck seems a little stubby.  Once again, the detailing and texture work is exceptional, especially in his tunic, and what’s left of his armor.  The gauntlet is sharply detailed, and matches up very nicely with the depictions of it on-screen.  One rather frustrating thing I noticed about Thanos when compared to earlier BaFs is how easily he pops back apart after assembly.  This is especially an issue with the arms, which frequently pop out during normal posing.  Obviously, this is a bit of a tricky area in terms of figures that don’t come pre-assembled, but Hasbro’s done better in the past.  Hopefully Thanos is just an aberration on that front.  Color-wise, Thanos isn’t the most thrilling figure, since his movie design is mostly dulled out variations of purple.  The figure captures the look pretty well.  It’s a lot of unpainted plastic, but what paint is there is mostly applied in a clean manner.  There’s a bit of slop on the edges of the Infinity Stones, but it’s pretty minor.  Thanos, being a Build-A-Figure, is an accessory himself, so he doesn’t include any of his own.  For the most part, he doesn’t feel too lacking, but I do think this figure would have really benefited from an extra head with a different expression, just to cover all of our bases.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Obviously, I put this guy together from the pieces included with all the figures in this series.  Going in, I think completing him was my main goal, but as I picked up the individual figures and as I slowly assembled Thanos, I started appreciating the individual figures a bit more.  I mean, this guy’s certainly not bad, and I’m happy to have finished him, but ultimately, he’s sort of middling.

#1653: Taskmaster

TASKMASTER

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“An expert in mimicry, Taskmaster copies the stunts and skills of his opposition to beat them at their own game.”

To paraphrase Jeff Goldbloom “Uhhh, Hasbro, uhh, finds a way.”  What does that mean?  I’m glad you asked.  See, with long-running lines such as Marvel Legends, you will run into the need to update characters as the line’s style and quality improves.  Toy Biz went pretty deep with their original line-up, but 15 years after the fact, a lot of them are starting to look out of place.  The trouble is, that while some of the heavy hitters are an easy sell for re-do, it can be tricky to get retailers on-board for new versions of second and third-stringers.  So, Hasbro’s doing their best to tie-in with more current media, and get us new figures of old characters that way.  The trouble is, this often results in those characters wearing more recent, less fan-favorite costumes.  And if you’ve *just* gotten a figure of a lower tier character, it’s unlikely you’ll get another shot.  Right?  Well, Hasbro doesn’t seem to think so, if the two Taskmasters in the space of three years are anything to go by.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Taskmaster is figure 4 in the Thanos Series of Marvel Legends.  He’s the third, and final, comic-based figure in the assortment.  Where the last Taskmaster was based on his up-to-date-iest look, this one goes for Taskmaster’s classic design, which is sensible, seeing as he’s spent most of his career with it.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  He’s built on the Bucky Cap body.  There was some campaigning to get him on the Reaper body instead, but I don’t mind this one, and it matches what was used for the last Taskmaster figure.  Taskmaster uses the flared boots and gloves like we saw on Zemo (amongst others), which are as good here as they have been all the prior times. He’s also got a (partially) new head sculpt, and add-ons for his cape, belt, and leg straps.  So, how’s the head only partially new?  Well, the actual head part is new (though, as a few others have pointed out, it does appear to be at least patterned on the head from Red Onslaught, which, coincidentally, was the piece included with the last Taskmaster), while the hood is re-purposed from the skull-styled head from the first Taskmaster.  I’m honestly a little surprised that they didn’t just straight re-use the last figure’s head, but I can’t say I’m upset.  While the belt is re-used from the prior figure, the cape and both leg straps are new to this particular figure.  The cape is a very nice piece, and I’m not going to be at all surprised to see it show back up later down the line.   The right leg strap finally gives us a new leg holster for the Bucky Cap bod, so we can retire that one with all the pouches, while the left matches perfectly with the weird studded thing Taskmaster had in his first appearance.  The color work on Taskmaster is a fairly typical Legends offering.  The molded colors all work well enough, and the paint’s application is mostly pretty clean.  There’s some slight slop on a few of the edges, but he mostly looks pretty solid.  The most impressive paintwork is definitely on his head, which makes use of the printing technique to get the gradations in shading on the skull down just right.  In a somewhat accessories-lite assortment, Taskmaster makes out pretty well, getting a sword, shield, and pistol.  All re-used pieces (the shield is the standard comic Cap shield, and the sword and pistol come from Zemo), but a nice selection nonetheless.  Taskmaster also includes the right leg of Thanos.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Taskmaster was nearer the top of my list of wants for this assortment.  This appears to have been the case with other collectors as well, since only Iron Spider was harder to find than Taskmaster.  On one of my many recent TRU runs, they had just put out a case of this set, and fortunately Taskmaster was still on the pegs.  I was quite a fan of the last Taskmaster, so this one had a high bar set for it.  The two are actually kind of hard to compare; they appeal to separate versions of the character, and each offer their own awesomeness.  But, for classic Taskmaster, you can’t do better than this guy.

#1652: Songbird

SONGBIRD

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“A cacophony of skill and supersonic powers make Melissa Gold the high-pitched hero Songbird.”

It’s generally agreed that ’90s comics, as a rule, all totally suck.  This is a tad hyperbolic.  The decade certainly delved into the excesses of the medium, but it’s less that everything sucked and more that the sudden boom of how many comics were being produced meant that the bad ones were that much more visible.  There are some definite gems from the decade, and one of those is Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley’s run on Thunderbolts.  In the midst of the ’90s turning every hero into a gun-toting anti-hero, Thunderbolts returned to Marvel’s roots of taking villains and turning them into full-fledged heroes…well, some of them anyway.  Perhaps the greatest success story of Thunderbolts is today’s focus, Songbird.  She began her career as the rather forgettable villain “Screaming Mimi” and was chosen by Busiek precisely because of how under-developed she was.  20 years later, she’s perhaps still not an A-lister, but she’s easily the quintessential Thunderbolt, and a very highly ranking character amongst the fanbase.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Songbird is figure 5 in the Thanos Series of Marvel Legends.  She’s the second of the three comics-based figures.  Songbird’s had a bit of a road to finally getting a Legend.  A prototype was originally shown at at SDCC 2013, planned for a future assortment of the pre-Infinite Series line, and obviously meant to tie-in with that year’s Thunderbolts boxed set.  Unfortunately, the line re-formated the next spring, and all of the figures shown were dropped…at least initially.  The figures originally slotted for the infamous “Jubilee Series” all found their way into the Infinite Series branded line, as did most of the other odds and ends figures shown off in 2013.  Poor Songbird was the last completely unreleased figure (though single-packed re-releases of the still boxed-set exclusive X-Force Wolverine, X-Force Archangel, and Moonstone also never materialized).  Fortunately, the character’s loyal fanbase saw her to a victory in 2016’s Fan’s Choice poll, and Hasbro was able to find her a spot in this year’s line-up.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and she has 23 points of articulation.  Where the 2013 prototype used Songbird’s then-current design, this figure instead opts for her classic design, which she’s gone back to in recent years.  It also updates her to a more current base-body; instead of the out-of-date body from the ROML days, Songbird is instead sporting the 2016 Phoenix body, which is a pretty good one.  She’s got a new head, forearms, and hands, as well as add-ons for the shoulder armor and belt.  All-in-all, it adds up to a pretty solid looking figure.  The head capture’s Bagley’s depiction of the character without going too artist-specific, and there’s even a slight smile to her face, keeping her from being yet another vapid face on the shelf.  The armor is sleek and well-fitted to the body; it limits the shoulder movement a bit, but not terribly so.  The gauntlets on her new arms match the shoulder piece in terms of quality; they’re a little slimmed down compared to her usual look from the comic, but I don’t mind so much.  I suspect there’s going to be some re-use in order, though.  The new hands are pretty simple, being a flat-palmed position.  We’ve already got this pose for the male bodies, so it’s good to get the female equivalent, and this pose is definitely better than the Phoenix hands for Songbird.  Lastly, there’s the belt; it’s a pretty basic floating add-on piece.  It does its job.  The color work on Songbird is what we’ve come to expect from a Legends release.  Appropriately colored plastic where possible, and all of the standard painted detailing.  No real accent work to speak of, but the base application is clean, and her colors match well with the comics.  Songbird includes a wing effects piece, showcasing her sound manipulation abilities in the way she most frequently manifests them.  It plugs into her back and looks really cool when in-place.  Here’s hoping we see a similarly-styled Phoenix force effect down the line!  Songbird also includes the right arm of the Build-A-Figure Thanos.  She’s got a better selection of extras than the last two figures I looked at, but I wish we’d at least gotten an extra set of hands.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Songbird was found at the same time as Proxima and King Cobra.  I’m more familiar with her than I am the other two (I mostly know her from Avengers Forever, but I’ve read a decent selection of Thunderbolts as well), so I was looking forward to her quite a bit.  I think King Cobra’s still my favorite from this set, but she’s a very close rival, and I’m glad she finally got made.  Now, here’s hoping for a Genis Vell to go with her!

#1651: Serpent Society

SERPENT SOCIETY

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“The leader of the Serpent Society, Klaus Voorhees uses powerful venom to strike down his enemies.”

Okay, let’s just get this out of the way up front: this figure’s name is kind of silly.  As the bio notes, Klaus Voorhees is the *leader* of the Serpent Society.  That’s not his name.  You wouldn’t release a Mr. Fantastic figure and call him “Fantastic Four” now would you?  The trouble with Klaus is that his actual villaining name is Cobra, which is now more closely associated with the terrorist organization fought by G.I. Joe (or healthcare, I suppose.  Also, I hear there’s this animal or something?).  He’s subsequently been renamed King Cobra, but I guess that’s not trademarkable enough?  Not even if we throw “Marvel’s” in front of it?  They do always love that.  Oh well, Serpent Society it is.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Serpent Society (bleh) is figure 6 in the Thanos Series of Marvel Legends.  He’s one of the three comics-based figures in the assortment.  I know, spoilers, right?  I just ruined the twist that King Cobra’s *not* in Infinity War!  How dare I?  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  King Cobra is ostensibly built on the Bucky Cap base, but the only parts he actually shares with Bucky Cap are his pelvis and his feet (Bucky Cap was wearing buccaneer boots, so the non-booted shins showed up later).  He gets the standard shins, plus Doctor Strange’s less muscled torso, Hob/Green Goblin’s scaly arms and legs, and Civil War Black Panther’s hands. On top of that, he gets a new head, cape, belt, and gauntlets to help complete his look.  It’s actually pretty amazing how well all those pieces mesh together to make this guy.  The new parts are fantastic on their own (I especially love that grin on his face), but they combine with all the re-used stuff and make for a figure that might as well be an all-new sculpt.  This is kind of the best you can hope for with this guy, and I commend Hasbro for the inventiveness when it comes to re-used parts, towing the line with new stuff.  Great middle ground.  The paint work on King Cobra is another strong point; the bright metallic green makes this figure really pop, and the purple offers a nice contrast.  Some of the application could be a tiny bit cleaner, but it’s still a lot better than what we were seeing in years past.  King Cobra’s only extra is the left arm of Thanos.  Nothing character specific.  While it’s not quite as frustrating here as it was with yesterday’s Iron Spider (due to this figure being larger, and Cobra having less obviously missing extras), it’s still a somewhat annoying trend of lacking accessories for this Series.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

King Cobra was one of the handful of figures I found all at once from this set.  I wasn’t really expecting a whole lot out of him, being only passingly familiar with the character.  He mostly got purchased for the Build-A-Figure piece.  I was pleasantly surprised, after opening the figures up, to find that he was actually my favorite of the lot.  The simplicity of the design, and the very well-planned re-use just make for a really strong figure of a classic look.