#3197: The Controller

THE CONTROLLER

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

First appearing at the end of the first year of Iron Man’s initial solo title, Basil Sandhurst aka The Controller is one of those villains who’s always sort of stuck to the background.  He’s largely remained an Iron Man foe, but also spent some time working with Thanos against Captain Marvel and the Avengers, as well as doing the general bounce around amongst the core Avengers cast.  He’s never risen to any particularly crazy heights, and despite his nature as a guy who controls other people, he’s more often than not working for someone bigger these days.  Most recently, he resurfaced in Iron Man’s current run, this time working for Michael Korvac.  This increased prominence, coupled with his design being “blue Thanos,” has netted him his first action figure treatment, as a Marvel Legends Build-A-Figure.  I’m taking a look at that figure today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Controller is the Build-A-Figure for the self-titled series of Marvel Legends, which is the most recent Avengers-themed assortment.  Given that the assortment also features Iron Man in his most recent armor, Controller is a pretty natural fit.  The figure stands 7 3/4 inches tall and he has 30 points of articulation.  His size is a bit large for his listed height of 6 foot 2 inches, but as with most listed comic book character heights, there’s always a degree of variance in how they’re actually portrayed.  Controller’s certainly one of those characters that’s crept up in height over the years.  It’s also more excusable given the nature of his construction, which banks pretty heavily on the deluxe Thanos molds from last year.  He shares his arms, legs, pelvis, and shoulder armor with that figure, and his torso is also a slightly modified version of Thanos’s as well.  The two have classically looked astonishingly similar in their designs, and this is certainly a major factor in Controller getting made for this assortment, so I definitely get it.  He gets a new head, forearms, hands, shins, and feet, as well as a new belt piece.  By far, the head is the strongest piece.  It captures Controller’s cracked and segmented face really well, just really looks the part.  His new gloves and boots are far more simplified than Thanos’s were, which better fits the Controller’s usual look, and also just further removes him from the prior figure.  Controller’s paint work is more involved than it looks at first glance.  While the basic blues are just molded plastic, there’s a bit of highlighting on the lighter blues to make some of the muscle detailing stand out a bit more.  The exact shades seem just a little bit off, so it looks a little funky, but I do like to see Hasbro trying something other than just the flat colors.  The face also gets some accenting to really bring out those cracks, and that winds up paying off much better.  Despite being a Build-A-Figure, Controller nevertheless actually gets two sets of hands: basic fists, and a combo with open gesture.  The right open gesture hand is even holding a pair of his control discs, which is a fun touch.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t intend to finish this figure nearly as quickly as I did.  After a couple years of just buying full sets of everything Legends and sorting out what I didn’t want later, for this series I actually decided to be picky, since I wasn’t really that interested in more than half of the figures.  And, while I wasn’t opposed to owning a Controller, I was also content to wait for his parts to get traded in.  No rush.  Well, I got my two pieces from the figures I wanted.  And then Max got one figure, and didn’t want the parts.  And a customer at the store also wasn’t getting a full set, so I got those parts too, and one by one, I assembled a Controller in just over a day.  Hey, I won’t knock that!  He’s another one of those fairly by the numbers figures, who does exactly what he needs to, and ultimately succeeds because of it.  I wasn’t expecting a lot, but he’s certainly fun.

#3194: U.S. Agent

U.S. AGENT

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Originally appointed by the US Government to replace Steve Rogers as Captain America, U.S. Agent John Walker must balance his moral compass against his duty to his country.”

When you need a Captain America-esque guy, but you need him to do un-Captain America-esque things, there’s one guy to call: John F. Walker, the U.S. Agent!  Beginning as the Captain America antagonist Super Patriot, John was tapped as the new Cap when Steve gave up the title during a falling out with the US government.  Obviously, Steve was always going to come back, and when he did, his uniform from his interim time as “The Captain” was handed over to Walker, who repurposed it as U.S. Agent.  He’s since become the go-to character for when you need someone who’s on the right side of the law, but maybe not morally there, albeit not in a totally villainous sense.  And, he got a great focus in the MCU in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.  All of that’s given him some leverage for a cool new comics-based figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

U.S. Agent is figure 6 in the Controller Series of Marvel Legends.  His presence in the series allows for all three of the main heavy hitter Avengers to have some sort of presence, without there being an actual Steve Rogers Cap variant needed.  This marks U.S. Agent’s third time in Legends form, and his second comics-based release, following the prior Hasbro version from way back in the Return of Marvel Legends days.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  U.S. Agent is built on the Reaper body, along with its Cap-specific parts courtesy of the Cap-Wolf release.  The Reaper body is perhaps just a touch small for how Walker is usually portrayed, but it’s not too far off, and I get the want for internal consistencies with the standard Cap.  He gets a brand-new head sculpt.  After years of Hasbro going a bit too gruff with Steve before finally getting it right, they dial back in on that gruffness for Walker.  The head’s maybe just a touch too large for the body, I think, but it’s otherwise a pretty good fit for the character.  U.S. Agent’s paint work is generally pretty decent.  Not quite as impressive as Speedball, but still better than previous fare.  The face gets a decent amount of accenting, and the detailing on the uniform is nice and crisp.  U.S. Agent is packed with his shield, two sets of hands (fists and a gripping/open gesture combo), and the arm for the Controller Build-A-Figure.  If there’s one thing I’d have liked to see, it’s an alternate Steve head to let this figure double as The Captain, but that’s far from an essential piece.  As it stands, he works well for John.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Since getting a few goes at a good update to a classic Cap, and finally getting a really definitive one in the 20th Anniversary release, I’ve definitely been jonesing for a good U.S. Agent.  The prior one just wasn’t cutting it, so this one was certainly welcome.  As with Speedball, I expected this one to be a rather by-the-numbers release, though unlike Speedball, U.S. Agent winds up being truer to that expectation.  He’s not anything crazy, but he’s honestly just what he needs to be.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website.

#3193: Speedball

SPEEDBALL

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.

#3192: Iron Man

IRON MAN

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Tony Stark resolves to get back to basics, donning a new stripped-down Iron Man armor inspired by his most classic designs.”

Oh boy, are you guys ready for some more Marvel Legends?  I sure hope you are, because apparently the only settings on Hasbro’s release schedule for these are nothing at all and everything at once.  It’s…it’s a lot.  With no Avengers movies out or upcoming in the next year, the Avengers portion of the line is shifting over to purely comics based, which is where the most recent assortment sets its sights. The resident heavy hitter for this round is an Iron Man, who I’m gonna be taking a look at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Iron Man is the non-numbered figure for the Controller Series of Marvel Legends. He’s based on Alex Ross’s updated Iron Man armor, which is his current set-up in the comics.  It’s a fairly nice merging of modern aesthetics with his classic design elements, offering a look that’s both unique, but still reads as a standard Iron Man.  Definitely a solid choice for the line-up.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  This Iron Man’s articulation scheme is probably the best we’ve gotten on a Legends Iron Man.  The 80th body and its spin-offs certainly weren’t bad from a movement perspective, but his figure takes a lot of the things that Hasbro’s learned from other lines and implements them for Marvel.  In particular, the neck is a mix of two ball joints and a universal, resulting in a ton of range we don’t usually see.  And, it’s all worked in really well from an aesthetic standpoint, making it doubly successful.  His sculpt is an all-new affair, of course.  It’s a really nice recreation of the armor as we’ve seen it on the page.  The depth of detail is also quite impressive, in part because it’s handled with so many separate pieces that are all assembled.  The only part I’m not super crazy about is the shoulder armor, which is a softer piece that goes over; when posing, it can be slightly restricting, and I worry about warping it by leaving the arms up for too long.  Beyond that, though, it’s a really strong sculpt.  His color work isn’t terrible, but it’s probably the figure’s weakest aspect.  The reds and golds are largely molded, rather than painted.  For the red, it means its not metallic; not the end of the world, but it doesn’t quite have that same pop.  For the gold, it means he’s got the swirls going on.  On my figure they’re rather prominent on the faceplate, which can be a tad distracting.  The actual paint application is all at least pretty clean, though, and I do like how the whites really stand out from the rest of the armor.  Iron Man is packed with two sets of hands (repulsor blasts and fists), and the two-part blast and smoke effects that were first included with Ironheart.  The replusor hands get the full wrist articulation, which I’m very happy about, and I’m also happy to see the Ironheart effects turn back up, as they’re honestly pretty cool.  It’s a shame that there’s not an unmasked Tony head, but there are at least options available.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

With classic Iron Man and Modular Iron Man checked off, there’s not a ton left on my Iron Man checklist, but I’ll admit that I’ve liked this look since it was first shown off and was on-board for its inevitable Legends release.  When this one was announced, I was definitely planning to grab it, but didn’t think much beyond that.  It’s actually a pretty awesome figure.  He’s not my standard armor or anything, but it’s just hard to deny that this is a really, really good Iron Man figure.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website.