#2733: Jean Grey – House of X

JEAN GREY — HOUSE OF X

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Jean Grey leads her fellow mutants to the island sanctuary of Krakoa in a bid to declare sovereignty from humankind.”

After sticking with their matching gear for their first 38 comic appearances, the X-Men finally got their own customized looks courtesy of artist Werner Roth in Uncanny X-Men #39.  While some of the designs (mainly Angel’s really) would be rather quickly ditched, a few of them really stuck in there, and influenced the main looks for the characters going forward.  This was most evident with both Cyclops and Jean Grey, whose main designs, no matter what they may be, have a tendency to call back pretty heavily to these earlier designs.  Jean’s Marvel Girl costume actually got a fair bit of play, even going forward, managing to even get a reappearance during “The Dark Phoenix Saga,” and has once again resurfaced as Jean’s primary design in the new ongoing run of the title.  I have…mixed feelings about that last part, but I do like the design well enough that I won’t complain too much about it getting Legends treatment as a result of its new prominence.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Jean Grey is figure 3 in the Tri-Sentinel Series of Marvel Legends.  While technically “House of X”-based like the rest of this assortment, this particular figure is a little more multi-purpose, what with the re-used design and all.  This is the second time that this particular design’s been made as a Legends release, following Hasbro’s kind of janky version from that two-pack very early in their run from the license.  This one aims to be less janky.  The figure stands just over 6 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  In terms of mobility, Jean’s a rather restricted figure by modern standards.  The hair rather predictably blocks a bit of the neck movement, but on top of that, the skirt piece is rather thick and leaves no real movement on the hips, and the way the ball-jointed waist has been sculpted means it doesn’t get much of range either.  In general, it’s not ideal, and makes it tricky to get her to do much other than stand there.  Of course, she struggles with standing a bit, too, so maybe that’s not her strong suit, either.  Movement may not really be there, but does the figure at least look good?  Yeah, for the most part.  She uses the Phoenix body as a loose starting point, which is sensible, and also uses the flared glove forearms from Kitty Pryde.  She also uses the feet from Peggy Carter, which was an odd choice, since it’s clearly got sculpted shoes, and Jean’s clearly wearing boots.  It’s not like there aren’t heeled feet without the shoe line sculpted, so I’m confused by the choice.  Other than that, Jean’s got a new head, torso, and skirt piece.  They may not allow for a ton of movement, but they do certainly look nice, with nice, balanced proportions, and some quite impressive smaller detail work on the folds and wrinkles on the clothes.  The paint work on Jean is pretty simple, largely relying on molded colors and slightly more complex assembly of pieces.  The paint that’s actually there is all pretty cleanly handled, with no slop or bleed over to speak of.  The colors are on the bright side, which generally works, although it does make the purely painted distinction between the boots and the legs a little less noticeable than it should be.  That’s a very minor complaint, of course.  Jean is packed with two sets of hands, one set in fists, and the other in open gesture, as well as a small Krakoa plant.  The plant’s cool, but she does have a little bit of trouble holding it, since neither set of hands is really designed for it.  Also included is the right leg to the Tri-Sentinel Build-A-Figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This is a pretty classic design, and one that’s toy coverage has classically been less than stellar, so I’ve been hoping for a more proper Legends release.  When this set was first hinted at by Hasbro, I was hoping this figure would be in the line-up, and I was quite happy when that proved to be true.  The final figure’s not quite as strong as I was hoping, mostly due to that restricted motion.  That said, she’s at the very least a nice looking figure, which is more than could be said for the last Legends version.

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

#2715: Cyclops & Dark Phoenix

CYCLOPS & DARK PHOENIX

MARVEL MINIMATES

The Giant-Size X-Men-themed boxed set which hit in Marvel Minimates’ second year was our first taste of that era of the team in Minimate form, and one we’d have to stick for a little bit.  We were notably two main members short of that team’s starting line-up, to say nothing of the various other players from that era.  Our first follow-up came not in the main line, but as one of 2005’s non-exclusive sets.  While it didn’t round out the team (it would be another 11 years before we’d get to that), it did give us a little treatment from the biggest X-Men story of that period, if not the biggest X-Men story in general, the “Dark Phoenix Saga.”  We got that story’s two major players, Jean Grey in her Dark Phoenix persona and Cyclops, both of whom I’m taking a look at today!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Dark Phoenix and Cyclops were, as noted above, a con-exclusive Marvel Minimates two-pack, who officially dropped in March of 2005, and sort of toured the cons that year, rather than really being tied to one of them in particular, eventually even making their way to more regular release channels as well.  Both ‘mates here would remain exclusive to this particular pack, but this wasn’t the last time we got either of the characters.

DARK PHOENIX

Jean’s third Minimate finally put her in something with a little bit more staying power than the prior two, who were both outdated by the time they hit shelves.  And, depending how you classify things, this even kind of qualifies as a new character as well, so that’s doubly cool.  Jean was built on the C3 Minimate body, so she’s 2 1/4 inches tall and she has 14 points of articulation.  She’s still without the peg hole in the head, which wasn’t a huge shock, since she’d been rattling around for a bit before getting an actual release slot.  She gets two add-on pieces, one for her hair, and the other for her sash.  Both were new to this figure, neither would remain unique.  They’re not bad pieces.  Not a ton of detailing or anything, but they certainly look the part.  I suppose the hair’s a bit too tame by later standards for the line and the character’s original design, but it looks okay.  Her paint work is actually pretty involved, seeing as they’ve put some definite effort into recreating some of the more dynamic lighting of the comics.  As such, the red sections of her costume all have black shadowing, her face is slightly darker in the center, and her yellow parts have lines suggesting reflectiveness.  Her face is also a far more intense expression than we tended to see at this point, especially for a female figure.  The lines on the yellow have a tendency to rub off a bit over time, but otherwise the paint’s really solid.  Dark Phoenix is packed with two flame effect pieces.  They’re nice in theory, but kind of clumsy in practice, since they require taking off the hands to put on and remove, and in their most natural configuration, they block the use of the elbow joints.  It’s weird, because they’re sculpted with one side sharply lower than the other, but it’s the wrong side, so it doesn’t end up helping.

CYCLOPS

Cyclops had already gotten the basics of this design covered in the GSXM set, but that particular release was lackluster to say the least, so a second go wasn’t the worst idea.  Structurally, this guy’s the same as the prior variant, apart from subbing in the C3 feet, of course.  He uses the cowl/visor piece from the last one, which was good the first time around, and was still good here.  The only issue I ran into was something limited to my copy of the figure, who wound up with two left arms, one of which doesn’t sit quite right on either shoulder, making it susceptible to falling off frequently.  Aside from that, he’s cool.  The big change-up to this guy is the paint work.  The basics remain the same, but he gains extra shading on the torso piece, simulating how he looked in the comics, and also gets a much more detailed face under the mask.  It’s a very definite improvement.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I snagged this set relatively shortly after its release.  It was probably a year or so after.  Cosmic Comix happened to get one in, and I was happy to pick it up.  This set did a lot to move Minimates forward in terms of how detailing was handled, with its actual attention to things like comics-inspired shading, and marks an interesting turn for the line.  It’s a good way of handling the extra detailing, really, and I think this was the real sweet spot for where the level of detail should have more or less stuck.

#2525: New Wolverine & Phoenix

NEW WOLVERINE & PHOENIX

MARVEL MINIMATES

In 2000, the X-Men hit the big screen in their first live action film, and found themselves a whole new audience that they hadn’t yet enthralled through comics, cartoons, toys, or video games.  To try and bring this new audience back into the original source material, comics scribe Grant Morrison was given the reigns to the franchise, re-envisioning it into something a little more in-line with what people had seen on the screen.  For the most part, the similarities translated to “putting the whole team in black leather.”  It did garner a lot of attention, though, and set the stage for the next decade or so of the comics.  So, I guess it kind of worked.  Of course, on the flip side, it made the team slightly less toy-worthy, so there’s a lot less coverage from that angle.  There were some Minimates, though!  Let’s look at those, shall we?

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

New Wolverine and Phoenix were released in Series 6 of the Marvel Minimates line, which hit shelves in Jul 2004….just in time for New X-Men to wrap and for the characters to all get new, slightly more classically-inspired costumes on the pages of Astonishing X-Men.  Isn’t it always the way?  Both of these guys were also available in a TRU-exclusive four pack with Xavier and Magneto the following year, and Wolverine also showed up in the 10-Piece gift pack and then got a new (far more hideous) face and was re-packaged in the Dark Tide boxed set.  Not bad for an abandoned look.

NEW WOLVERINE

Our fifth Wolverine from the line, and honestly the first sign of how over-popped the character would become, this was our second Wolverine in as many series for 2004.  At least this one had the whole team line-up thing going for him, and wasn’t just another civilian variant, although he certainly still skirts that line.  He’s built on the standard long-footed body, so he’s 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  Wolverine got three new add-on pieces, in addition to re-using the clawed hands from the last four variants of the character.  The new pieces entailed his hair, jacket, and belt.  All three of these parts would see a lot of use as the line progressed…and that’s honestly kind of sad.  The jacket and belt aren’t too bad, I suppose.  They’re rather basic pieces.  Of course, they were also less used than the hair, which was really the prime offender.  It’s the weakest of these early Wolverine hair sculpts, in terms of shaping and level of detail, and yet it still got used five times over the course of the line.  This far removed from its use, I still don’t miss it, but I guess I’m not quite as actively against it as I was.  The paint work on Wolverine’s not bad.  His face is really the best Wolverine we’d gotten at this point, and there’s a lot of detailing going on throughout the body, especially on the torso.  Also, rather than going for a stark black, the uniform is a very dark grey, which doesn’t look bad.

PHOENIX

Dubbed Phoenix, presumably so as not to double up on “Jean Grey” so early in the line, this figure is jus kind of not what I wanted, largely because she’s, you know, not actually Phoenix.  Made worse by the fact that we wouldn’t get an actual proper Phoenix for another five years.  So, that was great, right?  This marked Jean’s second time as a Minimate, and her second time with some very modern, ultimately not very Jean Grey-looking design.  She uses the same core body as Logan, of course, as well as sharing his belt.  Sensible, what with it being a uniform and all.  She also got a new hair piece and jacket.  The jacket suffers from the same issue as all of these early jackets, being boxy, and bulking up a figure that probably shouldn’t be quite so bulked up.  The hair is a perfectly fine piece, but like Wolverine’s hair above, it’s one that’s seven subsequent uses kind of made us all tired of it, especially given how many supposedly unique characters it was used for.  For Jean, it actually wasn’t too bad.  Jean’s paint work is pretty decent again.  It’s mostly basic stuff, but I do like that they actually got the pattern to her shirt under her jacket.  Also, thanks to using the same color of grey throughout, you can remove the jacket piece and it actually doesn’t look too bad!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve never been much for the New X-Men costumes overall, and I already had both of these characters, so I was in no rush to pick up this set when released.  I really only got them because I got the four-pack release, and I wanted Magneto and Xavier.  These two were along for the ride.  They’re okay, but ultimately, the parts seen here are some of the parts that almost spelled the end of the line after getting re-used too much, so my opinion’s a little bit colored.  They could definitely be worse, though.

#2464: Jean Grey

JEAN GREY

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Jean Grey can read and project thoughts and stun opponents with pure psionic force.”

25 years ago, the X-Men went to hell…no, wait, sorry, 31 years ago the X-Men went to Hell.  25 years ago, their entire line was overwritten by an alternate reality, the Age of Apocalypse, where Charles Xavier died before founding the X-Men, leading to Apocalypse conquering the Earth, and generally making it…post…apocalyptic….yeah.  While not high art, the story was certainly a big splash from a marketing stand point, and made a lasting impression on a good number of X-fans.  Every so often, toy companies throw it a little bit of love, and in honor of the its quarter-century marker, Hasbro’s dedicated a whole assortment of Marvel Legends to it.  I’m kicking things off with a look at Jean Grey!  While many characters were left in strange new predicaments in the AoA timeline, Jean wound up being more or less the same, though she did have a lot less hair and 100% more face tattoos.  Yay for face tattos!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Jean Grey is figure 1 in the Sugar Man Series of Marvel Legends, which is our first X-Men assortment of the year, as well as being totally AoA-themed.  This is our first official AoA Jean Grey Legend, but we were supposed to get one as a variant of the Jim Lee-style Jean in the Rocket Raccoon Series of Return of Marvel Legends.  That figure was ultimately scrapped, and would have been based on one of her post-event redesigns, however.  This one goes for her look from the main series, which is probably for the best.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  Jean’s actually made largely from new parts, at least for her upper half, anyway; the legs originally showed up on the Legendary Riders Black Widow.  Everything else, however is new to Jean.  What impresses me the most on the new parts is the range of motion, especially on those arms.  I was expecting her to be a lot more restricted.  The actual quality of the sculpting is pretty solid, too.  The wrinkles and folds on her sleeves are quite impressive.  Her hair might actually be a touch too short, but it varied between artists, and it certainly doesn’t look too terribly off.  It could definitely be much worse.  The paint work on Jean is pretty standard overall.  The base application is mostly pretty clean, but some of the red’s coverage is a little uneven.  She’s got some slight highlights in her hair, which work pretty well to convey the depth and detail in the sculpt.  Jean doesn’t get any accessories for herself, but she does get the largest piece of Sugar Man, his face and torso, which is so large that Jean effectively had to be posed Vana White-ing it in the box so that they could both fit in.  That was pretty amusing, truth be told.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Jean’s AoA incarnation isn’t one of the more exciting pieces of the story, but it’s got a distinctive look, and is prominent enough that she really was a lock for this set.  She wasn’t at the top of my list for this series, but she wasn’t at the bottom either.  In-hand, I like her a fair bit more than I’d expected to.  She’s still not my favorite piece, but I think she’s solid middle-tier, and that’s not bad at all.

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

#2364: Jean Grey & Cyclops

JEAN GREY & CYCLOPS

MARVEL MINIMATES

I’ve been slowly making my way through the earliest assortments of the Marvel Minimates line.  The X-Men-themed third assortment’s been on the docket for a good long while in particular, since I officially started reviewing it back in December of 2016, with Cyclops and Wolverine.  Today, I’m finally gonna finish it, taking a look at the other Cyclops, as well as the one unreviewed team member, Jean Grey!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This set rounds out Series 3 of the specialty assortments of Marvel Minimates, and like the other sets in the line-up, it’s themed around Ultimate X-Men.  The two figures included here are notable for being the only ones to remain wholly exclusive to the specialty line-up, since Jean was paired up with either of the two Cyclopses and the Cyclops seen here is the one-per-case variant.

JEAN GREY

I’ve only briefly touched on my opinions of the Ultimate designs, especially as they pertain to this set of ‘mates.  Jean got saddled with one of the absolute worst redesigns of the bunch.  For a character whose personality didn’t really change too much from her mainstream counterpart, they managed to stick her with a costume that was divergent in just about every way and held onto pretty much nothing that was signature of the character.  Without a name attached to it, there’s any number of female X-Men that I would guess for this design before arriving on Jean.  But I digress…what of the figure?  Well, she’s on the old style body, with add-ons for the hair and necklace.  The hair is an okay recreation of the style she had in the early Ultimate X-Men issues, and the necklace is the same kinda bulky piece used on Storm.  It gets the job done on recreating the look she’s got in the comics, so I guess that’s good.  The paintwork follows suit, and she gets all of the important details, while going a bit more lax on the smaller details than later entries would.  She’s got the wrapped arms like Storm, which is still a pretty cool detail.

CYCLOPS

I’ve already reviewed the standard Cyclops, so why not take a look at his slightly different variant.  The variants in the early days of the line were a mixed bag.  While the Symbiote Spidey was honestly too big a design for the one-per-case thing, and Elektra was a whole lot of “meh”, the variant No Visor Cyclops falls into a subset of variants that actually wouldn’t even count as separate figures as the line progressed.  Seriously, the thing that distinguished him from the standard release was merely the fact that he wasn’t wearing his visor; nowadays it’s standard for a Cyclops to just include an extra hair piece.  You were originally meant to pay the price of a two-pack for one single extra part.  It’s a fairly nice extra part, I guess; it’s the same basic hair piece as the regular, but with no visor and actual proper ears.  I also dig that they gave him a slightly different expression, and also added the facial hair that he grew later on in the books, but it’s hard to say there’s all that much exciting about this guy.  He’s an accessory, not a complete figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Cyclops and Jean were my second set of Marvel Minimates…just not this actual set.  I got the standard set with the regular Cyclops and Jean.  While I held onto most of the regular Cyclops, I lost most of Jean’s parts over the years.  When All Time got their big collection of Minimates in last year, I took advantage of it to fill in the gaps of my early ‘mates, and picked up a replacement Jean, and finally got that variant Cyclops I’d never had.  Reviewing these two without the standard Cyclops, I’ve kinda realized he was the real lynchpin of the set.  Jean’s got the worst of the team designs, and the variant Cyclops honestly feels a little bit pointless.  All that said, I’m happy to have at least finished out the assortment, even if I’ve realized that the best one of them is the one I’ve had for 17 years.

#2333: Jean Grey, Cyclops, & Wolverine

JEAN GREY, CYCLOPS, & WOLVERINE

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

Love triangles are far from uncommon in serialized fiction, with a good deal of narratives being built around at least one.  The X-Men have been host to a fair number of them, but I don’t think any of them will ever beat out the Jean Grey/Cyclops/Wolverine triad…which is kind of amusing, because it was originally only a minor plot line, mostly meant as a way to give Logan a little character development, while also strengthening Scott and Jean’s relationship and solidifying them as the definitive couple.  Then Wolverine’s popularity went through the roof, Jean died and came back a few times, and Scott became the X-writers’ favorite punching bag, and now they’ve got some sort of vague polyamorous relationship going on?  Listen, the X-books are being written by Hickman, and he hasn’t deigned that they make any sort of sense yet, so we’ll all just have to sit back and wait for him to tell us whether or not we understand anything that’s going on, alright?  While we’re waiting for that, let’s flash back to the ’90s, when things were simpler, and we just had your basic love triangle between a newly married couple and their surly 100-year-old friend.  The basics!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Jean Grey, Cyclops, and Wolverine were released late last year as a Fan Channel-exclusive Marvel Legends three-pack.  Like the Havok and Polaris pack, they are loosely built into the “80 Years of Marvel” celebration, and also like that pack, the box is all themed around the trading cards of the ’90s.  It’s a cool design, but as with most of my figures, these things could ship in plastic baggies for all I care–actually no, I do care!  Paper bags!  Let’s be a little more environmentally conscious!  Until then, I guess a throwback to the ’90s trading cards is alright.  What was I doing?  Grand standing?  No, wait–action figure review! Yeah, let’s go with that!

JEAN GREY

“Jean Grey is an incredibly powerful mutant with the psychic powers of telepathy and telekinesis.”

After being Marvel Girl, then Phoenix, then Dark Phoenix, then dead, then not dead anymore, Jean decided to ditch the whole supramyn concept and go with her regular-ass name.  Seems fair, honestly.  It does make marketing her a little tricky, though, since everyone else is using these really sweet code names and she’s just regular-old “Jean.”  Whatever the case this particular regular old Jean is an important one, because she finally completes the core ’90s X-Men line-up (though we still need a proper Colossus)…well, for most fans, anyway.  Some people were fortunate enough to have found the Rocket Raccoon Series Jean, which had this same costume, but to call that release “hard to find” would be something of an understatement.  Plus, that was just before Legends really got the formula down, so an update is not unprecedented.  So, here Jean is in all her head-band-wearing, Jim Lee-designed-glory.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  She’s built on a variant of the same body that Phoenix was built on, but with a new upper torso and thighs.  She also re-uses the bracers and belt from the previous ’90s Jean, which seems pretty sensible.  She does not re-use the head from that figure, instead getting not one, but two new ones.  She gets one that’s a direct recreation of the last one, being the more comics-accurate hairdo (seen with Wilson on the right there), but also gets an X-Men: The Animated Series accurate head with her slightly tweaked headgear from the show.  That’s actually a first for toys, and I’m genuinely thrilled that I can now have a cartoon accurate roster.  Jean’s paintwork is mostly pretty basic, though I will say that there’s a little bit of slop on the blue portions of the costume on mine, and I had to check a few samples to get the best one.  Hasbro was definitely having a more lax QC day on this figure.  Jean doesn’t get any accessories beyond the extra head…well, I mean, unless you want to count the next two figures, which would be somewhat valid.

CYCLOPS

Scott Summers can fire optic blasts so powerful that they can only be harnessed by a special ruby-quartz visor.”

Cyclops has already gotten his modern-Legends-take-on-the-’90s-design due, with a pretty darn cool figure, I might add. However, in a similar fashion to the Jean situation above, said figure was never amazingly easy to find, and he’s kind of an essential piece to a ’90s X-Men set-up.  However, Hasbro didn’t want to just do a straight re-issue, so they’ve given us a figure that works to fill in the roster for fans that missed the first figure, while still having something to offer for fans who already have him.  What’d they do to change things up: bomber jacket.  Yeah, Scott was prone to wearing a jacket over his costume in the ’90s (especially on the cartoon), so that’s what this guy replicates.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 30 points of articulation.  He uses the same starting point as his predecessor, the Bucky Cap body, and also gets the same head and collection of straps as the previous, minus the wrist straps.  He then gets the jacket from Old Man Logan and the arms from Punisher.  The jacket works better with the straps than I’d expected it to, and while I’m still not sure it’s 100% perfect, it’s decent.  I do wish the arms had a better range of motion, but that’s really the only thing.  The other thing that this guy changes up quite a bit is the paint.  While the last one went more for the Capcom colors for the costume, this one leans more heavily on those animated colors, so there’s a darker blue and a brighter yellow.  I wasn’t sure about the change at first, but I kinda like it in person.  The only downside is that now I want an un-jacketed version to match this and a jacketed one to match the prior.  Oh darn.  Cyclops is packed with two extra heads, one depicting his ’90s sunglasses, and the second his ’70s/’80s, allowing for some nice options on the civilian front.  He also includes a second left hand in a standard fist, for those that don’t like the optic blast hand.

WOLVERINE

“The mutant known as Wolverine possesses razor-sharp Adamantium claws and the ability to heal virtually any wound.”

Did you know that Wolverines have an average lifespan between 7 and 12 years in the wild?  That’s your fun FiQ fact for this tiger-stripe Wolverine review!  Wolverine is *definitely* no stranger to the toy world, the Legends world, or even the modern-Legends-take-on-the-’90s-design world.  We got his brown costume twice, and so now I guess it was time to even things out with the tiger-stripe design, especially since, even at two-to-a-case, the last release had really disappeared.  This one acts as something of a smaller-scale companion to the 12-inch Legends Wolverine.  I loved the heck out of that figure, so the prospects of it translating to the smaller line were definitely a plus for me.  The figure stands just shy of 6 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  Structurally, he’s the same as the Apocalypse Series Wolverine, which makes sense, that being a very ’90s Wolverine and all.  It’s also just a really solid sculpt, and Hasbro can hardly be faulted for getting a little more mileage out of it.  The paint work changes up in a fashion quite similar to how it worked on Cyclops.  In fact, the shades of yellow and blue appear to be identical.  I don’t like the dark blue quite as much, but the yellow’s not bad.  Wolverine gets the best accessory selection of the set, with two extra heads, a pulled down mask, and an alternate set of hands with bone claws.  The two extra heads replicate the ones included with the larger figure, so there’s an unmasked head and an angry battle-damaged head.  I really like that battle-damaged head, and I’m glad we got it at the smaller scale.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was fortunate enough to get both Wolverine and Cyclops’ original releases at retail pricing, but Jean pre-dates me getting back into Legends collecting, and honestly I probably wouldn’t have found one anyway.  As I got more and more of the ’90s team, the lack of a Jean was more and more of an issue.  I was hoping for at least a re-issue, but when Hasbro announced an all-new figure, I was definitely happy, even more so when I saw that animated head.  I know a lot of people weren’t thrilled about the prospect of having to re-buy the other two, but I don’t mind so much, and find that both figures have something to offer even if you’ve got those previous releases.  All in all, this is a great set and I’m glad we got it.  Now I can finally stop using Phoenix in my X-Men display!

I picked this trio up from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2271: Polaris & Jean Grey

POLARIS & JEAN GREY

MARVEL MINIMATES

To round out the first week of my Post-Christmas reviews, I’m continuing yesterday’s theme, with another look at some Minimates.  Yesterday kicked off a pair of X-Factor teams with their respective team leaders, the brothers Cyclops and Havok.  Today, I’m following that up with their respective love interests from said teams, Jean Grey and Polaris!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Polaris and Jean are the second set in Series 78 of Marvel Minimates.  Like yesterday’s set, they also include part of the Build-A-Mate Strong Guy, specifically his arms.  I’ll be looking at those arms alongside the rest of him at the end of the week.

POLARIS

“The Mistress of Magnetism, Lorna Dane is the daughter of the mutant Magneto, and occasionally battled the X-Men before joining X-Factor.”

Though Havok has been a little more lucky, Polaris hasn’t actually gotten a single ‘mate since her very first one, all the way back in Series 20 of the line, a whopping 12 years ago.  In DST’s defense, that figure held up surprisingly well, and the only reason she really needed a follow up was to get her a second costume.  Like the Legends figure also released this year, Polaris is sporting her first X-Factor costume.  The figure stands 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation…or at least she would if mine hadn’t had the peg tear off of the right hand the first time I tried to move it, necessitating me gluing it back in place for this review.  Yay for tacky paint on joints!  She uses the basic ‘mate body, with the same poofy-sleeved upper arms as Havok, plus an all-new hair piece, and add-ons for the wrist and ankle straps.  The hair is a decent recreation of her wacky, crazy ’90s hair.  It doesn’t translate quite as well to this style as Havok’s look did, but for the most part they did a decent job of making it work.  The paint work on Polaris is fine, apart from it’s tacky, joint destroying nature in a few spots.  Aside from that little nit, it does actually look pretty solid.  Lorna included two effects pieces and a clear display stand.  Like the Legends figures, Polaris and Havok again share the same effects, just differentiated by color.  I’m still not sure how well it works.  Also, my figure has that whole torn joint thing, so she can only use one of the pieces.

JEAN GREY

“A powerful telepath, Jean Grey was a founding member of the X-Men. She later became a founding member of X-Factor.”

Jean’s the first figure so far from this assortment to not have been beaten to market by a Legends equivalent….probably due to this being a fairly low-profile look for her.  While her initial green and yellow number checks off the standard Jean Grey boxes and has therefore seen a little bit of toy love, and Scott’s second round costume was forever immortalized by having an action figure early on, Jean’s red and yellow number is often overlooked.  This is actually her first figure.  She is largely built from the same bank of parts as Cyclops, which I guess makes sense, what with the whole uniform thing.  The gloves are still technically incorrect, but at least they remained internally consistent.  The only differing piece between the two figures is Jean’s hair, which is the same one they’ve been using for Jean since the ’90s costume back in Series 34.  Again, props for consistency. Like Scott, Jean’s paintwork is rather straight-forward.  It’s clean, it’s eye-catching, and it’s definitely very red.  Jean looks weird in this much red.  Jean comes up light on the accessories front, with only a clear display stand.  Since her mask is painted onto the face, it would have been nice to at least get an unmasked head to swap out, or possibly some sort of telekinesis effect.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I touched on yesterday, I got this whole series of figures from my Super Awesome Wife.  Let’s all be real, the stars of the assortment are yesterday’s set; everyone else was really just along for the ride.  This set’s okay, not anything really amazing.  Neither figure has that wow factor, but neither one of them is bad either.  All in all, a decent set.

#1983: Phoenix

PHOENIX

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“The embodiment of the life force of the universe itself, the mysterious Phoenix Entity merged with the telekinetic X-Man named Jean Grey, transforming her into Phoenix! As Phoenix, Jean possessed nearly unlimited telepathic and telekinetic abilities – but the scope of her powers overwhelmed, corrupted and eventually consumed her. But, in the manner of her namesake, Jean later rose from the ashes of her demise, alive once again!”

Jean Grey’s spot in the X-Men has long been a tricky one.  She was a founding member of the team, and stuck with them until the “All-New, All-Different” team took over in Giant-Size X-Men #1.  Jean only actually departed for four issues, before returning for a rematch with the Sentinels that ended in her gaining the powers of the Phoenix Force.  She then remained a major player until “The Dark Phoenix Saga” ended with Jean sacrificing herself to save the day…from herself.  Then, like some sort of mythological bird that I can’t remember the name of, she rose from the ashes a few years later.  From that point forward, she was still a prominent member of the team, but never quite seemed in phase with the rest of them.  This kind of reared its head in tie-in materials as well.  For the ’90s X-Men toyline, it took three years to get a single Jean Grey figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Phoenix was the central figure of the “Phoenix Saga” assortment, the eighth series of Toy Biz’s X-Men line.  The assortment was designed to tie-in with the cartoon’s re-telling of the “Phoenix Saga,” and as such featured a number of pivotal players from it (and also Warstar, but we’ll talk about him later), and would not only be the first assortment to abandon a strict numbering system for assortments, but also has the notoriety of being both the last assortment to be released on the slimmer character specific card backs and the first to be released on the newer generic cards, via two separate releases.  This was not only Jean’s first figure in the line, but also her very first action figure in general, which was a pretty big deal.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 8 points of articulation.  Like a good number of this line’s early figures, she lacks any sort of neck articulation, due to a light-up feature in the hair.  Of course, given the shaping of said hair, it’s unlikely that she would have had much movement going on anyway.  Jean’s sculpt was new to her, but would see an inevitable re-use for a Dark Phoenix figure (pictured with Wilson 4) in 1996 as part of the KB Toys-exclusive Marvel Universe line.  It’s really not a bad sculpt, especially for the time.  The proportions are decently balanced, and not terribly unrealistic, and kind of breaking from a lot of female figures for the time, she’s not hideous or horribly distorted, which was a pretty big deal.  Compared to the Rogue figure from the assortment prior, she’s definitely superior, and she blows the Series 1 Storm figure completely away.  There have been better Phoenix sculpts since, but it took them a good long while.  The paintwork is fairly basic stuff; the colors are bright and fairly eye-catching.  The green could maybe stand to be a little darker to better contrast with the yellow, but it’s not terrible.  The clear plastic for the hair actually works pretty well, especially when you have the right lighting.  The Dark Phoenix figure is pretty much the same paint, but palette-swapped.  The yellow parts are now gold, which was an interesting choice, but perhaps not the wisest, as it again leaves the two parts of the costume without much contrast.  Phoenix was packed with a launcher stand, re-used from the X-Force line’s Cannonball (yes, Cannonball had a figure before Jean Grey; try not to dwell on it).  It’s not the most thrilling extra, nor is it super specific, which is probably why the Dark Phoenix figure dropped it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Jean Grey has been my Dad’s favorite member of the X-Men pretty much since he started reading X-Men.  After discovering the Iron Man line on that fateful trip to Service Merchandise, he discovered the X-Men line via this figure (well, his copy of this figure, anyway), which he found at a dealer’s table at a con for the total insane crazy no one would ever pay this much for an action figure price of $20.  But hey, it was Jean Grey’s first figure, and he wasn’t going to pass it up, so he did not. …And then KB Toys did their buyout of Toy Biz figures, and you could get pretty much everyone in the line for under $5.  Not one to dwell on such things, my dad get me a Phoenix of my own, which I got alongside a Blackbird for the rest of my figures, if I recall correctly.  She was amongst 23 X-Men figures of mine that went missing for a few years during my high school/college days, but was discovered during “The Find” and has been on active display since then, because she’s just genuinely my favorite Jean Grey in my collection.

#1472: Cyclops & Dark Phoenix

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

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.

DARK PHOENIX

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.

#1278: Jean Grey

JEAN GREY

MARVEL UNIVERSE 10-INCH (TOY BIZ)

“When the X-Men investigate a rash of mutant disappearances, they find that crime fighter Daredevil is working on the same case. Tracking down clues connected to the crimes takes Daredevil and Wolverine to an abandoned chemical factory while Jean Grey and Professor X use their incredible psi-talents to locate the kidnapped mutants inside. Battling and defeating their captors, the X-Men and Daredevil are able to give the kidnapped mutants back their freedom.”

I know I just got through reviewing a ton of X-Men figures but I’m gonna review another one.  Why?  Because this is my site and I do what I want.  Also because this figure was the next on the randomized list that tells me what figures to review.  Don’t let that undermine my previous statement.  Anyway, today I’ll be looking at founding X-Men member, Jean Grey!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Jean Grey was released in 1997 as part of Toy Biz’s 10-Inch-scaled Marvel Universe line.  As the bio might have clued you in, she was released alongside Daredevil and Professor X (the both had matching bios).  Wolverine is also mentioned, but I wasn’t able to find any reference to a specific Wolverine that had this matching bio, so it’s possible they were just counting on kids to already have a Wolverine.  Jean is based on her Jim Lee-designed look from the ‘90s, which was an oddly rare design to see at the time. Not exactly her most attractive design, but it was the one on the cartoon (more or less). This figure stands about 9 1/2 inches tall and has 9 points of articulation.  Jean, like all but one of the female figures from this line, is a repaint of the X-Men line’s Rogue figure (which was a larger scale version of the 5-inch figure I just reviewed).  It wasn’t an ideal set-up, since Rogue and Jean aren’t *that* similar in design, especially in their Jim Lee costumes.  That being said, I suppose it could have been worse.  Jean’s aided by the fact that she ditches the belt and coat from Rogue (which is better than can be said for Polaris or Mystique), which at least gives her a different silhouette than Rogue.  The proportions on this figure are passable.  Obviously, they’re rather off, but in the context of the rest of the line, they don’t look too bad.  The paint carries most of the weight of turing this figure into Jean Grey.  It’s okay, I guess.  They try to use the paint to make her costume look more appropriate.  It’s not awful on the head, where the only real issue is the texture of the headband not matching the rest.  The shoulders should technically be raised shoulder pads, but even that doesn’t look so bad.  It really starts to fall apart with the wrist bands, which not only paint over the cuffs of the gloves as if they aren’t there, they also don’t even try to follow the shaping of the wrists from the comic design.  There is similarly do nothing to hide the tops of Rogue’s boots; I get that new tooling was out of the option, but at least the other figures to use this body did some slight tweaking to try and include the boots organically.  They look really weird totally unpainted.  Jean’s one accessory was a….big…bazooka?  You know, that bazooka thing that Jean always hauled around in the ‘90s!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When I was growing up, my Dad had his own small collection of 10-inch figures (in retrospect, three of them were Jean, Professor X, and Yellow Daredevil, all of whom were part of this same subset).  Eventually, they were passed on to me.  Even as a kid, I always found Jean to be one of the weaker 10-inch figures that Toy Biz released.  Making an important character like Jean nothing more than a cheap repaint was seriously messed up.  She’s alright, I guess, but really, really, really, really disappointing.