#2788: Wenwu



“Shang-Chi’s father Wenwu is the feared leader of the Ten Rings Organization, which has lurked in the shadows of the MCU since the very beginning.”

Originally, in the comics, Shang-Chi’s father was not a Marvel creation, but was, instead, the evil Dr. Fu Manchu, an early 20th century villain that Marvel was licensing at the time.  After the license lapsed, Marvel kept Shang-Chi, but was vague with any mentions of his father, due in part to the whole licensing, and also in part due to the Fu Manchu’s place as an unfortunately caricature-ized and stereotyped yellow peril foe.  Marvel’s own in-house character, The Mandarin, faced similar issues in a modern setting, and so, when adapting him to film in Iron Man 3, they opted to make him a false figurehead sort of character, entirely concocted by another villain entirely, and designed to play into those stereotypes on purpose.  While I thought it was a well-executed twist, some fans were let down by the lack of a true Mandarin in the MCU.  With the Shang-Chi film, there was obviously no way that they were going to be able to work in the Fu Manchu as the title character’s father, so they decided to combine a few elements, and introduce the true Mandarin as Shang-Chi’s father, Wenwu.  Let’s look at the toy!


Wenwu is figure 2 in the Mr. Hyde Series of Marvel Legends, and is the second of the four movie-tie-in figures included in the set.  The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Wenwu’s articulation structure is a lot less archaic than Shang-Chi’s.  While he’s still got the exposed pins on his elbow joints (though, again, they’re not present at the knees), the actual mobility and layout to the articulation is a lot more fluid, and in general he’s a lot easier to pose, especially when it comes to the torso.  The hips are a little bit restricted by the skirt piece, but otherwise, it’s all pretty unimpeded.  What we’ve seen in the trailers shows us a few different looks for Wenwu, but the figure goes for his blue/black cleaned up appearance.  While it’s not quite as classically Mandarin as the other main look we saw, this one looks like it’s going to be his primary design within the film.  It’s different, and perhaps not as distinctive, but it also walks him further away from being stereotypical, so I can get it.  Also, Mandarin’s comics design’s always been all over the place, anyway, so it’s not like this is radically different ground for him.  I will say, upgrading the rings to arm bands is an interesting change, but one that I honestly don’t hate.  I’m curious to see if they’ll still be going for the dragon-tie for their origin, as that might explain the larger size.  Whatever the case, it’s a cool design element.  Wenwu’s sculpt is a very impressive piece of work.  The outfit is intricately detailed, and even more involved than Shang-Chi’s.  There are a lot of layers, and it looks quite sharp.  The head actually has a pretty respectable likeness of Wenwu’s actor Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, and is certainly a marked improvement over the Shang-Chi likeness.  Wenwu’s paint work is generally pretty decent.  The application’s all clean, and the colors seem to match up with what we’re going to be seeing on screen.  The blue still takes a little getting used to for me, but I don’t dislike it.  It’s just definitely a slight change of pace for the Mandarin.  Wenwu is packed with three sets of hands (gripping, open gesture, and fists), a hook sword, and the right arm and cane for the Mr. Hyde Build-A-Figure.  Yay for actually getting fists with this one!


As I got into on yesterday’s review, this whole set sort of just showed up, before we had much background.  I was initially confused about who the heck Wenwu even was, but then the back of the box filled me in, and I was suddenly pretty excited about owning a proper MCU Mandarin.  Shang-Chi was an okay figure, held back by some design issues.  Wenwu is just a generally better figure, and I really find myself liking him a lot.  I look forward to seeing Tony Chiu0Wai Leung in the role, and seeing how this second attempt at Mandarin works out on film!

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

#0037: Mandarin & Dreadnought



Today, it’s another look at the behemoth that is Marvel Minimates!  This time, we’ll be looking at Iron Man’s number one foe Mandarin in both his Modern and Classic looks, as well as his villainous robo-minions, the Dreadnoughts.


The two Mandarins and the Dreadnoughts were released as part of the 36th series of Marvel Minimates, in order to tie in with 2010’s release of Iron Man 2.  Modern Mandarin was the regular set, with the Classic version as the one-per-case variant.


First up, it’s the look that most would consider the definitive Mandarin, the “Modern” version.  This figure is based on his appearances from roughly the early 90s onward.  As usual for the line, Mandarin is built on the basic Minimate body.  He stands roughly 2 ½ ‘’ tall and has 14 points of articulation.  Instead of regular hands, Mandarin features sculpted claw like hands featuring his ten rings.  Mandarin also has a sculpted hair piece, robe, and sash.  I believe the sash is a reuse from an earlier figure, but the robe and hair are new pieces.  They are well done enough, though with the robe on, Mandarin is pretty much limited to standing with his arms raised, due to the robe’s solid construction.  This is less an issue with the figure itself, and more an issue with translating the design.  The ToyBiz Marvel Legends figure based on this design has the exact same issue.  Regardless, the robe can be removed, revealing a completely detailed torso underneath, if you desire to show off Mandarin sans robe and shirtless.  Whatever floats your boat…


Next is the alternate look for the Mandarin.  This is the original design for the Mandarin from when he first appeared in the 60s.  I’m much more of a fan of this design and the resulting figure.  I know some people would find this design cheesy, but that’s the Mandarin for me.  Over the top cheesiness.  The figure’s the same basic body, standing about 2 ½ “ tall and featuring 14 points of articulation.  This Mandarin features the same sculpted hands as the previous one, which is fine as they suit the same purpose here.  Classic Mandarin features a sculpted mask, cape, wrist bands, sash/tunic combo, and cape.  All but the mask is reuse here, with the cape comic from Mephisto, the writ guards from Ocean Master, and the sash from Dr.  Strange.  This isn’t a bad thing, though, because all the reused parts work very well for their intended purpose.  The mask is well done, and accurately depicts Mandarin’s mask from the early comics.  Mandarin also includes an alternate hairpiece so that you can show him unmasked.  The detailing on the figure is nice, especially the face, which has a nice crazed expression which really works great for the character.


Last up is the robotic Dreadnought!  A dreadnought was included with both versions of the Mandarin, which is great for those who want to do the whole army building thing.  Like the other two figures, the Dreadnought was built on the basic Minimate body.  He stands about 2 ½ “ tall and features 14 points of articulation.  In place of the basic parts, the Dreadnought features a sculpted head and hands.  The head is an all new piece, but the hands are a reuse from Viggo the Carpatian.   The Dreadnought also features a set of sculpted boot tops which I believe are a reuse from the Dark Avengers Ares.  The paint is relatively basic, but it is well done.  Plus the metallic blue is just so awesome!


These guys were picked up at their time of release from my local comicbook store, Cosmic Comix.  I think the Mandarin is meant to be the main draw of these sets, but I actually really like the Dreadnoughts a lot.