#2137: Hela & Skurge

HELA & SKURGE

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

Thor: The Dark World‘s biggest flaw by far was its exceptionally weak villain, especially in comparison the the very charismatic villain of his first outing.  For Thor’s third go at this movie-going thing, Marvel aimed to amend that issue.  In tandem, they were also looking to address their lack of female villains up to that point.  Enter Hela and her henchman Skurge, who proved to be a far more entertaining pair than the last movie’s walking nap and guy whose name is close enough to Skurge that I always confuse them.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Hela and Skurge are part of the MCU-based line-up of two packs for the “80 Years of Marvel” sub-line of Marvel Legends.  This set more than the others really feels a lot like a leftover “Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years” set, with its one-new-one-retooled break-down.  Given the lack of Ragnarok coverage in “The First Ten Years,” I wouldn’t be shocked to find out this was actually a displaced pairing.

HELA

“The ambitious Goddess of Death, Hela returns to Asgard to claim the throne after the death of her father, Odin.  To further her dark goals, she raises an army of fallen Asgardian warriors to fight for her as her Berserkers.”

Unlike a lot of MCU villains, Hela actually did get a movie-based figure from Ragnarok‘s tie-in Legends assortment, and it was even a fairly accurate one.  That said, anyone who wasn’t Thor or Loki from that line-up was actually pretty hard to find, so she’s been rather in-demand since.  Additionally, Hela has quite a few variations to her look over the course of the movie, so another shot at getting a few more of those is certainly welcome.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  She re-uses the body from the previous release, which seems fair enough.  It’s fairly accurate to her appearance from the movie.  She seems a little bit large if I’m honest, but the Thor figures are frequently a little over-scaled, and it’s not like Cate Blanchett is overly short or anything.  The cape is also re-used, and I’m a bit less of a fan of this piece.  It’s not badly sculpted, but it has a lot of trouble staying in place on her, which makes posing her while she’s wearing it quite tricky.  The first Hela included two different head sculpts, but this one ups the ante with three of them, all distinct from the previous two.  She comes wearing her “battle head” with the horns and all.  It’s an impressively ornate piece, and I quite like the teeth-gritting expression.  It’s outside of the realm of what we usually see on female figures, and works really nicely with this particular look.  Hela also gets two heads without the headgear.  The first has her disheveled appearance from her debut scene in the film, complete with messy hair and piercing stare.  This one’s my favorite of the three, and a great piece for recreating that specific moment of the film.  There’s also a slightly more cleaned up head, which isn’t quite as exciting, but is a solid piece in its own right.  Hela’s paint work fixes a few issues with the prior release, namely a few inaccurate placements of color, as well as just making the whole thing look a little cleaner and brighter.  I love the metallic green they’ve chosen, and this figure definitely highlights how quickly Hasbro’s improved on the face printing.  In addition to the three heads, Hela also includes a spare hand holding Mjolnir (perfect for pairing with the first unhelmeted head) and the eternal flame (re-used from the Infinity War Scarlet Witch).

SKURGE

“An Asgardian warrior desperate to prove himself, Skurge’s survival instinct leads him to join Hela and become her Executioner.  Skurge must wrestle with desire for self-preservation in the face of Hela’s violence against his home.”

In the comics, he’s a pretty straight-forward violence-loving brute, but for Ragnarok, Skurge took on a slightly different persona, slightly ineffective and a lot more cowardly.  It was actually a pretty effective move (especially after Kurse pretty much occupied the character’s comic role in the prior film), and one very definitely helped by the character being played by Karl Urban, who can make pretty much anything work.  I was quite bummed by his absence from the Legends line-up, so his inclusion here was certainly a plus.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 30 points of articulation.  Skurge is sporting an all-new sculpt, which makes sense, because who exactly would he be sharing with.  Stylisitically, he’s very similar to the movie-tie-in Ragnarok figures, with some slightly off proportions and a slightly more rudimentary construction in a few spots (which just further supports him being an older piece that was delayed).  There’s still a lot of really strong work, though, especially on the various parts of the armor.  The head’s also got a decent likeness of Urban, which is certainly a plus.  His paint is on par with Hela.  Again, the metallic colors used on the armor are really nice, and the face printing works well for the character.  Skurge is packed with two sets of hands (in basic gripping and trigger fingers), his axe, and his twin M-16s “Des” and “Troy.”

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The initial Ragnarok hit when I was between jobs, so I was much more limited on what I could pick up from it, meaning I didn’t get that first Hela figure.  I was holding out for a possible re-release, and this one was just the ticket, improving on a few of that figure’s flaws.  I’m definitely glad I waited on her.  Skurge was my most wanted figure that we didn’t get at the time, and I’m definitely glad that he found his way out.  His figure’s not perfect, but there’s certainly a lot I like about him.  Additionally, this is just a really solid pairing, and definitely feels like a really strong addition to the ever-growing Ragnarok line-up.

Hela and Skurge came from my sponsors at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for Marvel Legends, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

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#1790: Thor: Ragnarok Minimates

GLADIATOR THOR, HELA, BRUCE BANNER, & LOKI

MARVEL MINIMATES

Three Norse Gods and….Mark Ruffalo?  What could possibly go wrong?

The Thor movies have some slight trouble with getting proper toy representation.  The Minimates have done a fair bit of good, but in the case of both of the first two films, last minute cancellations of planned store exclusives resulted in incomplete cast lineups.  Fortunately, Ragnarok was a bit more fortunate.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These four were released in a specialty-exclusive four-pack, released at the same time as the Walgreens and TRU-exclusive two-pack assortments.  Thor and Hela were included in two-pack form in both of those assortments, but Loki and Banner are both exclusive to this particular set.

GLADIATOR THOR

Ragnarok delivered a rather changed-up look for our hero Thor, who had something of an evolving appearance as the film progressed.  This figure represents him from around the film’s mid-point, after he’s arrived on Sakaar and been thrown into the arena as a gladiator.  It’s definitely his most distinctive look from the film, so it’s a sensible inclusion.  Thor has three sculpted add-on pieces to aid in his look.  The first is his helmet.  Thor’s helmet has been frequently overlooked by the film’s and while he doesn’t wear it for long in Ragnarok, it does at least get some focus that it hadn’t previously.  It’s an all-new piece here, and a pretty decent one at that.  The general design of it’s very close to the one seen in the film, and the detail work is pretty solid.  It perhaps sits a little high on his head, but only ever so slightly.  He’s also got a brand new shoulder piece, featuring his shoulderpads and the remaining half of his cape.  It sits well on the body, and doesn’t bulk up the neck too much, so that’s a definite plus.  Finally, he’s got a generic skirt piece, standing in for the bottom portion of his tunic.  Thor’s paintwork is a good recreation of his film design.  The detail lines are nice and sharp, and while the face isn’t the spitting image of Hemsworth, it’s as close as any of the prior attempts have been, and at least this one’s got a good fighting expression.  The tunic features some rather ornate detailing, as do his wrist guards, but I think the little bit of Sakaaran armor on his right leg is my favorite bit.  It’s just so vibrant and genuine.  Since it depicts Thor following Mjolnir’s destruction, this figure doesn’t include that piece.  It does, however, include the two swords he tries to replace his hammer with during his time as a gladiator, as well as a spare hairpiece for a sans-helmet look and a clear display stand.

HELA

After sparring off with one of the franchise’s most forgettable villains for his second installment, Thor was granted a far more intriguing foe in the form of Hela, goddess of death.  She’s still not the Enchantress, but I guess I’ll take it.  Hela is built using two sculpted add-on pieces, for her cape and her distinctive headdress.  Both pieces are unique to this particular figure, though I’m sure they could easily work for a comic book Hela, should DST be so inclined.  They’re both very well crafted additions, capturing the designs from the movie very nicely.  The headdress is sufficiently ornate, and the slight swoop at the bottom of the cape is definitely a nice touch.  Hela’s paint work is suitably bold and striking, even a bit moreso than her onscreen design.  The slightly metallic nature of the green adds even more to the appearance, and I appreciate that the green detailing goes all the way around the legs and pelvis piece.  For accesroes, Hela’s packed with an extra head and hair, depicting her unmasked appearance from her more vulnerable portions of the movie, as well as the usual clear display stand.

BRUCE BANNER

While the two-packs were host to his jade goliath alter-ego, this set gives us a completely un-transformed Bruce Banner.  This is the second such figure we’ve gotten of the Mark Ruffalo version of the character, following his TRU-exclusive release from Age of Ultron.  Banner uses two add-on pieces, for his hair and his jacket.  Both of them are re-used.  The hair is, appropriately, the old Zombie Hulk piece that was used for quite a few Hulks.  It’s a pretty decent match for Ruffalo’s look, especially his slightly shorter hair from Ragnarok.  His jacket is the Ghostbusters World of the Psychic Peter Venkman piece, which has similarly seen a number of uses.  It’s just a basic blazer, so it works well for the look they’re going for.  Bruce’s paint work is perhaps not the most thrilling work in the whole set, but it’s reasonable work never the less.  The face capture’s Ruffalo’s likeness pretty well, and while the shirt lacks the Duran Duran cover from the movie (which I’m certain is a licensing thing), it does at the very least include some wrinkles and folds, so that it’s not just a blank grey block.  Bruce includes a second head, with an angry expression and green pupils.  It’s not the first such piece we’ve seen with a Banner figure, but it’s a welcome addition all the same.  He also includes the usual clear display stand.

LOKI

Loki, particularly Tom Hiddleston’s version of the character, is no stranger to the world of Minimates.  He’s managed to get at least one ‘mate for each of the movies he’s been featured in (well, barring Infinity War).  Ragnarok proved even more generous in this regarding, giving us not one, not two, but three versions of the character.  The one seen here is based on his look from the movie’s final climactic battle.  It’s a look patterned somewhat after his “Agent of Asgard” look from the comics, which is certainly one of his cooler looks.  Loki makes use of three sculpted add-on pieces, for his hair/crown, his cape, and his belt piece.  The hairpiece is unique to this figure, and does a respectable job of capturing the design from the movie.  The crown in particular is quite sharply detailed.  The cape, which is shared with one of the other two Lokis from the movie, is one of my favorite capes, in part because of its rather straight forward nature.  His paint is perhaps the figure’s one real flaw.  For the most part, it’s not bad.  Like Hela, the color scheme is rather striking, and the details on the costume are quite sharp.  In addition, the face is my favorite of the Hiddleston Lokis we’ve gotten to date; that smile is fantastic.  The real trouble is with the hairpiece, where the application is rather sloppy, and in what appears to be an across the board error, his ears have been painted the same gold as his headpiece, rather than the proper peach-tone.  Loki is the lightest packed in this set, featuring only a clear display stand.  I wouldn’t have minded his knives or an extra hair piece or something, but the other three help keep the sting down a little bit.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I grabbed this set from the best Minimate retailer around, Luke’s Toy Store, a few months back.  I actually had fallen behind a bit on releases, so this was part of a catch-up I was doing at the time.  It’s a pretty strong set. Gladiator Thor is one of the coolest versions of the character we’ve gotten in the MCU, and this ‘mate does a great job of translating that.  Hela’s an important character in the context of the movie, and a brand-new character in the context of the line as a whole, plus she’s got a pretty killer look.  Though he’s just a basic civilian, Banner’s a very well-executed ‘mate, and another winning figure in this already quite strong set.  This Loki is really the star Loki figure from the movie, and issues with the paint aside, he’s a pretty darn solid addition to the line-up.

#0666: Book of The Vishanti Boxed Set

DOCTOR STRANGE, MAGIK, BROTHER VOODOO, DORMAMMU, & HELA

MARVEL LEGENDS INFINITE SERIES

BOTV1

Oh no! It’s review number 666! Number of the beast! Sign of the Devil! Other superstitious things as well! I really don’t know. In honor of the reviews number, I thought I might take a look at something a little more supernaturally-based today. Yes, I’m well aware it’s still a Marvel Legends review. That shouldn’t shock anyone at this point. It’s also a review of quite a few figures, so I’d best dive into the actual review part!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

BOTVPack1BOTVPack6These five figures (along with a life size version of the Amulet of Agamotto) make up Hasbro’s San Diego Comicon exclusive Book of the Vishanti boxed set, released this year at SDCC 2015. The set was also made available on Hasbro’s website following the con, which is how I got mine. More on that later. The set is packaged in a mock-up of the titular book, which features a few sample pages that give some backstory on the included figures. Sadly, the packaging doesn’t photograph very well, but you can sort of make out some of its details pretty well.

BOTVPack2 BOTVPack4 BOTVPack3 BOTVPack5

DOCTOR STRANGE

BOTV2Hey look! It’s Benedict Cumberbatch! Wait, sorry, not quite yet. He’s still just a relatively unknown comic book character. Ah well. Dr. Strange is presented here in his “Astral Projection” state, which is what he looks like when his mind leaves his body…and stuff. It’s kind of a standard variant for the character, though this is the first time the look has appeared in the Legends scale. The figure is just over 6 inches tall and he features 32 points of articulation. Structurally, Doctor Strange is a “pre-paint” of the upcoming Avengers Marvel Legends Infinite Series version of the character, which will release him in his non-Astral form. The figure uses the Bucky Cap body as a starting point, with a new head, torso, forearms, and hands, as well as an add-on piece for the belt and “skirt.” Most of the new parts are character-specific. The head does a nice job of capturing the somewhat aloof Doctor, and the hands have a nice spell-casting pose. The skirt is sculpted with a pit of flow to it, which helps to preserve the articulation. The torso pieces aren’t quite as character-specific; they tone down the musculature of the Bucky Cap body, which adds some nice variety. I’m sure there’s already some re-use planned on these particular parts. The good Doctor is fairly easy on the paint. For the most part, he’s molded in a translucent light blue plastic, which conveys the whole Astral Projection thing pretty well. Some of the costume details are outlined in silver, as are the eyes, and the eyebrows and mustache are done in a dark blue, but not the hair, which seems a little odd. Dr. Strange is packed with a pair of magic effects, which are the same as the ones we saw with the most recent comic Scarlet Witch.

MAGIK

BOTV5Just because the set is supernaturally themed doesn’t mean Marvel’s Merry Mutants get left out! Yes, it’s Colossus’s little sister, Magik, formerly of the New Mutants, formerly dead. Very exciting. I have only a passing familiarity with the character, so I’m not sure exactly which of her looks this figure represents. I think it’s fair to say it’s one of her more recent looks. It seems to sum up the character pretty well, so I’ll give it that. The figure is just shy of 6 inches tall and features 26 points of articulation. She uses the Spider-Girl body as a starting point, and adds in a new head, upper torso, and left arm, as well as an add-on for her belt. The Spider-Girl body is still one of my favorite Hasbro bodies, so it’s a good starting point, but I’m not sure this figure quite makes the best use of it. Something about the costume looks a little unsettling on this body. Maybe that’s just me though. The new parts are all very nicely handled; the head sculpt captures the character very nicely and the armored arm in particular exhibits some fantastic sculpting work. Magik’s paintwork is fairly decent overall. Most of the line work is nice and clean. The lack of pupils is a little odd looking, but that’s probably a design thing, so I can’t fault Hasbro. The red X on her right arm is a little uneven, but not terribly, and the hair and left arm have some great washes to help bring out the texture of the sculpts. Magik is packed with two differently sized swords. The smaller one is fairly basic, but the larger one is actually pretty awesome, and it’s even molded in iridescent plastic!

BROTHER VOODOO

BOTV3Hey, it’s another character I don’t know a ton about! I mean, I know the character’s basic schtic and I could pick him out of a line-up, I’ve just never followed any of his adventures very closely. I know he took over as the Sorcerer Supreme a few years back, but I don’t really know what’s happened with him since then. I do know that the figure is based on one of his more recent looks, following his promotion, and it was relatively short-lived. I guess it ties in with the set, but it wouldn’t be my first choice. Oh well. The figure stands just over 6 inches tall and features 32 points of articulation. Like so many male figures these days, he uses the Bucky Cap body as his base, with a new head and right hand, plus the left hand of Spider-Man 2099 and add-ons for the cape, hood, belt, and gauntlets. The head does a fairly decent job of capturing the character. Once again, it’s not my preferred look, but it’s well-sculpted to say the least. The sash piece is well textured and is once again sculpted with a bit of wind flow to it. The cape is the same one we saw on Grim Reaper; it’s not my favorite, but I guess it works okay. The hood piece is sculpted to match and even includes the Eye of Agamotto. The pieces all fit well together and do a good job of translating the comic design to three-dimensions. Voodoo’s paintwork is pretty decently handled. Some of the skeleton outlines are a little fuzzy around the edges and the cape and sash could use a bit of a wash or something to dirty them up a bit, but everything is generally pretty good. Brother Voodoo is packed with a staff, which is a bit difficult for him to hold, but a nice extra overall.

DORMAMMU

BOTV6You can’t really have a Dr. Strange-themed set without including one of him main foes, Dormammu. So, here he is, making his debut appearance in Marvel Legends. When he first appeared, he just had a Human Torch head and a pair of purple long johns, which isn’t the most imposing look of all time. In the last few years, he’s gotten a bit of an upgrade, which has definitely made him just a touch more threatening. This figure goes with the newer look. I can’t blame them on that one, but I do sort of hope we see good ol’ purple long john-ed Human Torch at some point. He has a sort of a goofy charm to him. Now, how about the actual figure? Well, he stands almost 8 inches in height and has 31 points of articulation. He makes use of Hasbro’s under-used Terrax body, from way back in the first series of the Return of Marvel Legends. It’s a good, solid, large body, and it’s an excellent starting point for a big guy like Dormammu. It also matches up pretty well stylistically with the rest of the based bodies, which is always good. The BOTV7figure gets a new head and hands, as well as add-ons for his shoulder armor, belt/loincloth, and boot covers. All of these pieces are nicely-sculpted. The shoulder piece is a little on the loose side, but it looks nice. The head in particular captures the character’s look really well, and has a lot of nice, clean line-work. Dormammu’s paintwork is probably the spottiest of the set. It’s not bad, per say, but a lot of the edge work is fuzzy and he’s got a bit of slop on one of his shoulders. Also, the red is kinda thin, but that might be on purpose. I do like how the plastic on the arms is slightly translucent. Dormammu is packed with a pair of flaming skulls (re-used from one of Hasbro’s Ghost Riders) which are actually pretty nifty.

HELA

BOTV4If the mutants get a slot, I guess the Norse Gods are owed a spot too. So, we got a stand-in for the devil (in Dormammu), why not a version of Death? The last version of Death I looked at was Nekron, who’s super boring. Hela’s definitely a lot cooler! Well, cooler looking to say the least. Hela appears to be based on her original design, which seems to have re-surfaced more recently, allowing her to fit in with both classic and modern figures. That’s always a plus! The figure stands roughly 7 inches tall and has 30 points of articulation. Hela makes use of the body Hasbro developed for Red She-Hulk during the RoML line. Some have said it’s too big for Hela, but her listed height is 6’6”, which makes this body about right. The body itself is pretty well sculpted, and it avoids any odd proportions for the most part. The hip articulation is a little out of date, but it’s not the worst thing ever. Hela gets a new head sculpt, which is quite nicely sculpted, and quite attractive. The weird head gear is made up of two separate pieces that plug into the back of the head. Be careful not to lose those! I almost did! Hela also has an add-on for her shoulder pads, which are attached to a cloth cape. I’m usually not big on cloth capes, but this one’s alright, and certainly preferable to the one on Brother Voodoo. Hela has a fairly complex paint job, but she actually manages to get one of the cleaner paint jobs in the set. The basic dark green is nice and shiny and the lighter green is a nice, flatter complement. All of the details are nice and clean, which is great to see on a Hasbro figure. She’s packed with a pretty nifty broadsword, which I believe is a new piece. Her grip on it is a little loose, but it looks cool enough.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Since I wasn’t going to SDCC this year, I had to resort to getting this on Hasbro’s online store or risk having to pay twice its original value on Ebay. So, I found out what day the SDCC stuff was going on, opened the site on my computer, and sat there and refreshed the page for several hours. Eventually, the stuff got listed and I got this set put in my cart (actually, I put 3 in my cart by accident and had to spend a decent chunk of time trying to remove the two extras). Hasbro’s servers were overloaded of course, so there was a lot of wait time from page to page, which definitely made things pretty stressful for 20 minutes or so. What’s funny is I hadn’t planned on grabbing this set initially, since I only have a passing knowledge of most of the characters included. But, for some reason, as the con got closer, this set became more and more appealing. I’m really glad I picked it up. Astral Strange is a fun variant, Voodoo and Magik are passable, and I’ve always liked Dormammu. Hela steals the show for me, though. The paint is superb and she’s just a solid figure all around!