#1141: Captain Britain

CAPTAIN BRITAIN

MARVEL LEGENDS (TOY BIZ)

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Can you believe that Toy Biz handed over the reigns to Marvel Legends (and all the other Marvel toys) almost 10 years ago?  That’s pretty darn crazy.  It also means that it’s been long enough since every single one of those Legends figures was released that updates are pretty much a given.  This year in particular, Hasbro seems to have put some serious effort into redoing some of Toy Biz’s efforts.  While the Juggernaut series was perhaps the most evident case of this, it’s seeped into some of the other line-ups as well, including the recent Abomination Series.  Like I did with the X-Men figures, I’m going to be looking at the originals and the updates in tandem with each other, and I’ll be kicking things off with Toy Biz’s take on Captain Britain!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

capbritain2Captain Britain was released in the (first) Giant-Man Series of Marvel Legends, alongside Havok and Kitty Pryde.  The set was the first Walmart-exclusive series and would prove to be one of the last three series during the Toy Biz run.  Captain Britain is based on Brian’s second costume, which is the one he’s best known for, and is, quite frankly, his best look.  It’s worth noting that prototypes for this figure showed him in both this and his look from later in the Excalibur run pretty much interchangeably, so it was kind of down to the wire as to which particular look was getting released (in fact, the figure pictured on the box for this guy was painted in the other costume, prompting some to wonder if it would be some sort of running change).  The figure stands 6 inches tall and has 35 points of articulation.  The body that Brian is built on was initially sculpted for the Series 10 Black Panther figure, before being ever so slightly re-tolled for Series 11’s Wonder Man.  The good Captain gets most of the Panther pieces, with the slightly tweaked upper torso from Wonder Man, as well as Wonder Man’s hands.  He also gets a new head, forearms, and lower legs, which are mostly sculpted to match up with the pre-existing pieces.  The head is nice, and is probably one of the better head sculpts we got out of the TB Legends.  The helmet/mask even matches up with the rest of the body’s texturing, which shows that real effort was put into making the piece match up.  The forearms are fine; basic flared gloves.  The boots/feet are the real weak part of the new pieces; we were well into TB’s duck feet phase at his point, and it was something that they never really got past.  The lower legs are also completely un-textured, which feels rather weird compared to the rest of the body.  And, speaking of the body, that’s where we hit the next snag.  The Panther body was actually pretty cool for the time; it had a nice, sturdy build, and the added texturing to make it clear that he was wearing a costume, not just prancing around in body paint.  It hasn’t aged particularly well, but it was a reasonable piece for the time.  So, it’s not a bad base, generally speaking.  Except, of course, for the fact that Brian Braddock is canonically half a foot taller than T’Challa, which is a bit of an elephant in the room, if I’m honest.  The proportions of the new pieces have been kept internally consistent with the body, which means Captain Britain is, as a whole, in a scale that is completely his own.  There’s pretty much no other figure in the line you can put this guy with.  Captain Britain’s paintwork is decent, certainly on par with other offerings from the line.  The base work is mostly pretty clean.  The white piping on the red details is a little sloppy (because painting a textured base is a bit hard to do consistently), but not awful.  He’s also got some accent work, which feels like it goes a little overboard, especially on the white, or should I say light blue, areas of the costume.  TB never quite grasped how difficult it was to translate this sort of detailing from a custom-painted two-up to an actual production figure.  Captain Britain had no character specific accessories, but he did include the right leg (JUST the leg.  No foot.  That came with another figure…) of Giant-Man.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Giant-Man Series as a whole was rather difficult to acquire, thanks to Walmart’s trademark spotty distribution.  I eventually found this guy (and a few others from the series) while on a trip to visit some family in North Carolina.  Because the small mountain town definitely needed a large stock of this exclusive series of figures that most of the general public had never heard of.  This is a flawed figure.  There’s no denying that.  And, unlike so many Legends from this era, it’s not simply an age thing; he was always flawed.  The weird thing is, as hyper critical as I’ve been of this guy, and as many things that are wrong with him, I still have a soft spot for this figure.  And I’m not even that much of a Captain Britain fan!

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#1047: Kitty Pryde

KITTY PRYDE

MARVEL LEGENDS (TOY BIZ)

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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.

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#1044: Havok

HAVOK

MARVEL LEGENDS (TOY BIZ)

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The X-Men are known for their tendency to change up the line-up a lot. Now-a-days, the team is rather large and nebulous (necessitating at least two X-Men titles to be running consistently since the mid-80s, just so everyone can get a fair shake), but when they first started, there were just five members. The team’s first additional member, Mimic, only lasted for three issues, before being de-powered and written out. Eventually, they would acquire their first full-time addition Lorna Dane (later Polaris) in X-Men #49. Just six issues later, the team would also gain Havok, aka Alex Summers the younger brother of Cyclops. Havok’s sort of been a peripheral member of the team for a lot of his career, but has served as team leader for both the X-Men and X-Factor on a few occasions. He also happens to be my personal favorite member of the X-Men, which is why I own just about every figure of him in existence, including the one I’ll be reviewing today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

HavokML2Havok was part of the Giant-Man Series of Toy Biz’s Marvel Legends. It was the first Walmart-exclusive series of Legends, though it would hardly be the last. This is also Havok’s first Marvel Legends figure, though it’s the fourth Havok figure Toy Biz released. The figure stands 6 ¼ inches tall (not counting the headgear), and has 40 points of articulation. Havok is based on his classic Neal Adams-designed costume from the 60s (my personal favorite). The initial prototype for Havok had him in a more modernized design, but that figure was ultimately shelved for this more classic look. The figure is built on Series 9’s Bullseye body, in one of the earlier attempts at moving ML to a system of base bodies. As I noted in my review of Iron Fist (the final figure to be built on this body, released a full ten years after it debuted with Bullseye), this body was one of my favorites from Toy Biz’s run. It’s become a little clunky when compared to the more recent stuff, but it still holds up pretty well, certainly a lot better than some of TB’s other Marvel Legends. The only real issue I have with this particular iteration of the body is the shape of the lower legs and feet. The legs are clunky and tube-like, and the feet are large and sit HavokML3too far forward at the ankle. Havok’s only truly unique piece is his head, which does quite a nice job of capturing the early depictions of Havok’s face. I like that the expression is angry without going too overboard, and I’m especially glad that they were able to make the headgear look okay in three dimensions. Havok’s paintwork is pretty straight forward. The costume is just straight black and white (excepting, of course, the silver collar). There’s no accent work, but I actually much prefer it that way. The face has a nice, clean paint job, with some great little subtleties to the coloring, making it stand out nicely from the costume. Havok included the left leg (but NOT the left foot) of Giant-Man, as well as a copy of X-Men #97, which is one of Havok’s few focus issues during the “All-New, All Different” era (also one of his best appearances). It should be noted that the issue actually rather deceptively uses the cover to X-Men #58, which is the first appearance of the classic costume and the name Havok.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Pretty much as soon as Marvel Legends started doing X-Men figures, Havok was at the top of my list. I even made my own Havok custom (albeit in his ‘90s costume) from a spare Gambit, just to hold me over. I was beyond thrilled when this guy was announced. Of course, then the Giant-Man Series ended up being rather hard to come by, which acquiring Havok none too easy. Fortunately, my Dad just happened to find this guy the day before my birthday in 2006. Words cannot begin to describe how excited I was to open him. Ten years later, this guy shows his age, but still holds up remarkably well. I think I’d still rank him in my top 10 Legends.

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#0945: Weapon X

WEAPON X – BURNED

MARVEL LEGENDS (TOY BIZ)

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The ‘90s had a lot of big comics “events,” especially compared to prior decades, which had virtually none. I think a lot of it had to do with the success of the likes of Crisis and Secret Wars in the ‘80s, prompting the Big Two to do whatever they could to recapture some of that glory. Marvel’s efforts were primarily focused on their cash cow of the time, the X-Men, who found themselves dealing with all sorts of events of epic proportions. At one point, Marvel deemed that it wasn’t enough to make life hell for our own merry mutants, so they showed us how much worse things could have been by launching the alternate reality-based Age of Apocalypse, which examined what the X-Men ‘verse would have been like without Professor Charles Xavier. The storyline took over all of the X-Men-related books, and was generally pretty successful for Marvel. There’s been a smattering of different figures from it all over the years and today I’ll be looking at one of the four Marvel Legends to be based on the event, Weapon X! Apparently, one of the things that changed in the AoA reality was that the title “Wolverine” went to a different character, so poor Logan had to stick with his Weapon X title. Thrilling! Let’s look at the figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

WeaponXAoA2Weapon X was part of the Giant-Man Series of Toy Biz’s Marvel Legends. It was exclusive to Walmart and was one of the last series to be produced under Toy Biz’s tenure. There were two versions of Weapon X offered: normal and burned. The difference between the two versions is the head and the stump on the left arm. The figure here is the burned version (the only one of the two I still have). Though this figure was technically a variant, he was packed in equal numbers to his regular counterpart and also featured a different Giant-Man piece, which was quite frustrating for a lot of collectors at the time. The figure is about 6 inches tall and he has 35 points of articulation. Weapon X made use of a lot of pieces from the Series 6 brown costume Wolverine. It was one of Toy Biz’s best Wolverines, and one of the best parts about it was that they really got down Logan’s short, stocky physique. The re-use here was definitely warranted. He got a new head, lower arms, and lower legs, all of which fit pretty well with the rest of the parts, and make for an overall pretty cohesive looking figure. The head is actually really cool. I’m not sure if it’s based on a specific instance of Logan getting burned, since it happens a few times, but the level of detail is pretty awesome, and it’s a nice, refreshing take on the usual Wolverine look. The other unique piece here is the stump, which has claws on this version. In the story, it was revealed that Logan’s claws had been retracted when he lost his hand, so he could still pop them out of his wrist. That’s cool, I guess. The claws suffer from a bit of warping, but are otherwise pretty cool. Weapon X’s paint isn’t bad, provided you ignore his rather doofy looking outfit. Most of the work is pretty clean, and there’s some rather nice accent work in several places. There’s a few instances of scratches or slop, but that’s relatively minor. Also, the painted on arm hair’s a bit silly in some places, but it’s overall an okay attempt. The best part is once again the head, which looks convincingly burned, while still managing to not look too out of place next to the unburned skin of the neck and arms. The only accessory included with Weapon X was the left hand of Giant-Man. Honestly, it feels like the burned head and clawed stump would have made for decent accessories to the regular Weapon X, rather than being a separate figure, but I guess Toy Biz really wanted to sell that extra Logan.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Weapon X was given to me as a birthday present by my friend Cindy Woods. I was super into Marvel Legends at the time, and this particular series was fairly difficult to get. She was so excited to find this guy for me that she didn’t notice that some jerk had stolen the Giant-Man piece right out of the side of the box (in her defense, the piece was hidden by the figure’s name tag. Also, who steals just the piece? The figures were like $8!). Fortunately, my dad was able to find another Weapon X online with the piece, so it worked out alright. On the face, this feels like an extraneous Wolverine variant that nobody really asked for. However, this guy’s fun and different enough that he ended up being my one of my favorite Legends Wolverines produced. Definitely a winner!