CYCLOPS & DARK PHOENIX
MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)
“Though Scott Summers and Jean Grey shared a psychic link, Cyclops was no match for the Dark Phoenix. As Grey came to possess the power of the Phoenix Force, the Dark Phoenix rose, mastering telekinesis to overthrow her opposition and ascend to cosmic dominance.”
There’s much fan debate over what’s truly the “definitive era” of the X-Men. For most people, it’s really just the era that introduced you to the characters. For me, it’s the “All-New, All-Different” era (the first one, not the Bendis one). Few people would debate the impact of that era’s climactic story, The Dark Phoenix Saga, a story that not only helped define the course of the X-Men going forward, but also the course of the comics industry as a whole, for better or for worse. The story has been the source of a handful of toy adaptations, including the item I’m looking at today, a two-pack of the two central players, Scott Summers and Jean Grey, aka Cyclops and the Dark Phoenix.
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
Cyclops and Dark Phoenix (or Marvel’s Dark Phoenix, as the box so possessively names her) are a Toys R Us-exclusive two pack from Hasbro’s Marvel Legends. They’re one of four such packs this year, and were the first one to hit shelves, back in June.
Cyclops has had a lot of looks over the years, and while I’ve quite liked some of them (the Jim Lee look in particular is a favorite), this one’s really the top of the game. It’s also the one that seems most neglected in the realm of action figures. It was only released once in Toy Biz’s 5-inch X-Men line, as a rather hasty repaint, and then later in a two-pack as another hasty repaint. There was a Toy Biz Marvel Legends release, but the less said about that, the better. This figure follows the formula established by the Warlock Series release, taking advantage of Hasbro’s new system to make the best version of this design out there. The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation. Like every other Hasbro Cyclops in the last five years, he’s built on the Bucky Cap base, which makes for some nice consistency, and also very much fits this incarnation of the character. In addition to the base body, the figure makes use of the standard buccaneer boots, the special left hand from both the Warlock and Puck Series releases, and an all-new head and belt. The belt is pretty standard fair; it’s a little floaty, but it gets the job done. The head is very similar to the one we saw on the Lee Cyclops, just sans the hair. I liked the sculpt the first time around, and I still very much like it here. It definitely captures the character. The paint’s an area of this figure that had the opportunity to be rather bland if not handled well. In the comics, the bulk of the costume is blue, but it was always heavily shaded. That’s a look that’s hard to pull off on a three-dimensional figure, and many others have tried an failed to make it work convincingly (including Hasbro themselves). This figure looks a lot better than its predecessors. The base color is a darker blue, and they’ve gone in and airbrushed in some light blue highlights. The end result can be a little inconsistent in some spots, but it’s overall quite nice looking, and gets the idea across pretty well. Cyclops includes no accessories, which is a slight letdown. I would have liked an alternate screaming head, so as to help recreate the cover of #136. As is, he certainly feels light.
We actually saw this figure a little while before this pairing was officially announced. Her head sculpt was shown in one of Hasbro’s slideshows, unpainted. It wasn’t much of a shock, mind you, since to date no company’s done a Phoenix without an accompanying Dark Phoenix close behind. That guaranteed second use of tooling is definitely appealing. The figure is about 6 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation. Despite what might seem like an obvious chance to re-use some parts from the original Phoenix release, this figure is actually rather different from that one. She starts with the same basic starting point, but with a different upper torso, thighs, and feet, and a brand new head sculpt. Most of the changes are minor, and virtually unnoticeable. I certainly appreciate the new feet with flat heels, since it makes her a fair bit easier to keep her standing than the last one. The new head is a really nice piece. The hair in particular is really lively and dynamic, and just generally cool looking. In terms of paint, this figure’s pretty decent all around. She’s got a similar style of shading to the Cyclops on the red sections, and the yellows are pretty much the same as the first Phoenix. The head takes the cake, though; the eyes are blanked out, but not straight white as they’re usually depicted. Instead, they’re metallic, and accented by black on all sides. The hair starts as a normal dark red, and then slowly becomes translucent, creating an almost fire-like quality. It’s pretty cool. Dark Phoenix makes up for Cyclops’ lack of extras, with two extra heads and a phoenix flame construct. The first head is the same as the standard one, but with fully opaque hair and pupils in the eyes. It’s not quite as cool, but it’s perfect if you’re looking to upgrade your basic Phoenix. The second head is my least favorite of the options; she’s just got a calm expression, pupils, and straight hair. It’s well done, but not particularly exciting.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
I’ve been looking forward to this set ever since the prototypes were first shown off. Unfortunately, the two-packs appear to be the new scalper bait. I found a small stash of this set back in June, but only had the money for one, which went to my Dad, since he had neither of the single releases and is the one who got me into this whole X-Men thing. I didn’t see another one of these for a whole four months, but when I finally saw them again, I picked them up so fast. I like this pair a lot. I’m happy I found them.