#1543: Black Bolt

BLACK BOLT

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Supercharged powers and a quasic-sonic scream let Black Bolt destroy enemies with a single utterance.”

You might think you’ve caught on to my little running theme the last three days, where I review Marvel Legends with the prefix “Black.”  You might think you’re clever, noticing this trend.  But you’re wrong.  Today’s figure doesn’t fit that trend, because the first half of his name isn’t actually “Black,” it’s “Blackagar.”  Because, as I’d like to remind you all, dear readers, Black Bolt’s real name is Blackagar Boltagon, the stupidest name in comics.  Nah, I’m just kidding! I totally picked Black Bolt to do the whole running theme thing.  But who can resist the chance to make fun of Black Bolt’s real name?  I certainly can’t.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Black Bolt is part of the latest series of Marvel Legends, which is themed around next month’s Black Panther movie.  Why is Black Bolt in a Black Panther-themed assortment?  Your guess is as good as mine.  They both certainly like the same predominant color on their costume.  They were also both part of Marvel’s Illuminati team at one point, but I don’t think there was ever any overlap between them.  But hey, if it gets me a new Black Bolt figure, I guess I won’t complain too much.  Black Bolt is one of three comics-themed figures in the assortment (all of whom have questionable ties to Panther at best).  Like the Panther figure I looked at earlier this week, a lot of this figure is just a slight re-working of a previous figure, specifically the Black Bolt from 2014’s SDCC-exclusive Thanos Imperative boxed set.  That set was pretty difficult to acquire outside of the con, and Blackagar here was probably the most sought after in the set (since Star-Lord got a pretty quick re-release), so the re-release is much appreciated.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Like his predecessor, he’s built on the Bucky Cap body, which seems a reasonable enough choice for Mr. Boltagon.  His upper arms are the same pieces used on the last figure, which, admittedly, isn’t a huge point in this figure’s favor.  The wings are solid plastic, and jut straight out of the back of the biceps.  They’re sculpted to rest flush with the sides of the torso, but it only works in a very specific pose.  move the arms any other way, and the wings are just sticking straight out.  I would have liked to see this handled similarly to the Jessica Drew Spider-Woman, where there are two different sets of wings that can be swapped out.  As it is, they’re more than a little limiting.  This figure also gets the same head as the last one, which is a solid piece of work, and a good fit for the character.  However, Hasbro was also kind enough to throw in another head, this time depicting Black Bolt screaming and all powered-up.  There’s a lot of of fun expressiveness to this one, and I love the Kirby Krackle effect on his tuning fork.  In addition to the new head, the other change between the TI Black Bolt and this one is his paint.  It’s really just a minor shift, with a dark blue in place of the straight black, but I like it.  I do wish the silver detailing was a little cleaner, but it’s not awful.  Black Bolt is packed with the previously mentioned extra head, as well as the right leg of the Build-A-Figure, Okoye.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Black Bolt caught me by surprise.  Tim and I were out and about, and we stopped by Walgreens, mostly to see if I could find the new Legacy Gold Ranger.  I didn’t find him, but I did find the remnants of this assortment, which I didn’t even know was hitting yet.  I missed the TI set, so I was definitely getting this guy.  He’s got a few flaws, but I’m still happy with him overall.

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#1542: Black Widow

BLACK WIDOW

MARVEL LEGENDS VINTAGE (HASBRO)

“Natasha Romanov uses her fearsome fighting techniques for good as Black Widow!”

Well, except for initially, when she…ya know….used them for…bad.  But that was only at the very start!  Promise!  Just two years at the very beginning there, then it was all straight and narrow from then out.  Despite being arguably Marvel’s most prominent female hero these days, Black Widow’s been oddly absent from the toy shelves, and what we’ve gotten’s been mostly movie-based.  In a slightly strange turn, we’re finally getting some comics-based Widow product…a few months after she died in the comics.  I mean, it’s not like it’s gonna last, but still.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Black Widow is part of the first series of Hasbro’s new Marvel Legends Vintage line.  Much like last year’s Star Wars: The Black Series: 40th Anniversary line, it’s a mix of re-releases and “new” figures, all packed on vintage-styled card backs.  In this case, the cards are patterned after the old Toy Biz Marvel Super Heroes packaging, which is certainly unique.  While Widow never had a figure in that line, they’ve done a respectable job of creating an accurate card in the same style.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and has 29 points of articulation.  Widow is seen here in her third main costume, which debuted in Amazing Spider-Man #86, back in 1970.  It’s very definitely the “classic” Black Widow design, and this is the first time we’ve gotten it as a Legends figure.  Despite the all-new look and being the only “original” figure in this first series, Widow is actually almost entirely reused pieces.  She’s built on the Phoenix body, which is a good starting point for Widow (though I do wish the elbows had a slightly better range of motion).  On top of that, she’s got the bracelets from the Hobgoblin Series Spider-Girl, and the head from this summer’s TRU-exclusive Mary Jane.  The re-use on the head has been a point of some contention for fans.  Personally, I don’t mind so much, but that might be partly due to the fact that I never actually found the MJ figure anyway.  I also find this sculpt is pretty solid for Widow as well, so on it’s own, it really works well for the character.  Worst case scenario, the upcoming Widow and Motorcycle set’s going to have two heads packed in, so there are some options available. As far as I can tell, Widow’s only new piece is her belt, which is a fairly simple add-on piece.   I wish it was affixed some how so it didn’t float around so much, but it’s not terrible.  It’s possible her hands are also new, but I’m not 100% sure on that.  They’re just pretty standard trigger finger hands, but they get the job done.  Widow’s paint is clean and bold, and really well suited to her classic design.  There’s not a ton of work going into it, but the end result is still very sharp, and I just really like it.  The figure’s a little light on the accessories front, with only a pair of pistols packed in.  I can’t say there’s much else I would give her, but considering she retailed for the same price as normal, BAF-including figures, she does feel a little lacking.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As soon as these figures were shown off, I knew I wanted Widow.  I’m fortunate enough to have the original releases of the other figures, but there hasn’t been a proper comic Widow since back when Hasbro did the two-packs, and that one was pretty hard to come by.  I ended up finding this figure sort of by accident.  Super Awesome Girlfriend and I were on our way home from taking the cat to the vet, and I made a wrong turn, and the next closest place to turn around was the Walgreens parking lot.  I figured I might as well run in and check their stock, and sure enough, Natasha was one of the two Marvel Legends Vintage figures they had on the shelf.  And, as luck would have it, they were even running a sale on Legends that week!  Hooray for me!  Like yesterday’s Panther figure, there’s not anything particularly revolutionary about this figure, but she’s still a really strong addition to the line, and I’m happy to add her to the shelf!

#1541: Black Panther

BLACK PANTHER

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“With his claws sharp and his eyes set on his target, Black Panther is ready to pounce.”

I really try not to critique the packaging bios too much, but I gotta say, if you’re completely unfamiliar with Black Panther as a character, that’s probably not gonna do much to help.  In fact, it sounds more like the sort of description you’d see of an *actual* panther.  Hasbro knows he’s not an actual panther, right?  One would certainly hope so…

We’re about a month out from the theatrical release of Black Panther, 2018’s first on a long list of super hero movies.  This, of course, will mark the second time audiences see T’Challa grace the screen, after his pretty much universally praised appearance in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.  I’m certainly excited to see more of the character, especially given the rather rich history they’ve got to draw from.  The landslide of movie-based product just started hitting last week, but before I get to that, I’ll be looking at one of Panther’s comic-based figures!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Black Panther was a Walmart-exclusive Marvel Legends figure, released last year.  When it was released last year is very much up for debate.  Samples of the figure started showing up over seas at the beginning of 2017, and the product was given to Walmart not long after that.  However, there was no official announcement that he was coming from Hasbro or Walmart, and no real estimated street date.  A few people found him starting in the spring, but for a lot of people, this guy didn’t actually show up until just before the winter holidays.  Quite a lag time.  But the figure’s here now, and that’s really all that matters, right?  For the most part, this figure’s just a slight re-working of the Rocket Raccoon Series Black Panther from 2013.  That whole series was pretty difficult to track down, and Panther in particular was always the most popular, so it’s nice for Hasbro to give some of us another shot at him.  Like the Marvel Universe figure, this one’s based on his classic 60s/70s appearance, from when he was with the Avengers.  With the included cape, he actually comes pretty close to a first appearance Panther, but the cape’s a touch long and he’d still need the satchel.  The point is, he’s a pretty standard “classic” Black Panther.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  He’s built on the Bucky Cap body (which, when it was used for the last Panther, was still a fairly new addition to the line).  There have been some arguments made that he should actually be on one of the slightly larger bodies, but I find this base feels right.  He gets the same head as the Rocket Raccoon Series figure, which is a good translation of Panther’s distinctive full-face mask.  There are enough details that you can actually make out some of T’Challa’s face beneath it, which I think is pretty darn cool.  Changing things up ever so slightly from the last figure, this one gets the belt piece from Daredevil, and the hands from the Civil War Panther.  I wasn’t sure about the use of the hands at first, since the CW Panther has a lot of sculpted textures that I thought would be out of place on an otherwise comics-inspired figure, but they work surprisingly well.  The figure also sports a cape, reused from the 2008 Adam Warlock figure.  It’s not bad, but I definitely prefer Panther sans-cape.  The paint on Panther is subtle, especially when compared to the RR one, which had a lot of blue going on.  This one’s mostly just straight black, with a bit of detailing for the accents on the boots, gloves, and belt.  I really dig the striped boots and gloves, as they’ve always been one of my favorite parts of the classic design.  Panther is packed with the previously mentioned cape, a spare set of normal gripping hands, and a spear (borrowed from Kraven the Hunter).

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I always wanted the RR Series Panther figure, but never could find one.  I eventually got the Civil War figure, which is an awesome enough figure that I was willing to let it slide that he wasn’t a classic Panther.  Needless to say, when this figure first surfaced, I was pretty dead set on getting one.  It took me until December to actually find one.  My closest Walmart put out about 20 of him all at once (all of which were gone within a week, I might add), so I grabbed him as soon as I saw him.  There’s not anything particularly innovative or new about this figure, but he’s still one of the best Black Panther figures in my collection, and I’m happy to add him to my Avengers shelf.

#1511: Star-Lord & Ego

STAR-LORD & EGO

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Roguish and unpredictable, Ego and Star-Lord share many of the same qualities as father and son. But when it comes to defending the galaxy as each sees fit, their approaches unquestionably differ.”

It’s been about three months since I took a look at the second assortment of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2-themed Marvel Legends.  While those reviews mostly wrapped up the Legends releases for the movie, there’s still one item I haven’t yet reviewed.  I’ll be taking care of that today, with a look at the film’s main antagonist Ego, as well as another variant of his son, Peter Quill, better known as Star-Lord!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Star-Lord and Ego were released as a two-pack over this past summer.  They’re officially the last of the GotG2 releases to hit stores, but thanks to some wonky distribution, a lot of areas saw them before the Mantis Series (I live in one such area).  They hit around July/August, a fair bit after the movie’s release, which may not have been the strongest marketing strategy.

STAR-LORD

This marks Star-Lord’s third Legends figure this year.  It’s functionally the same figure as the one released in the Titus Series, but there are some notable differences if you own both.  As far as the sculpt goes, the only real change is the hair, which is the more coifed Mantis Series piece, denoting this as a more official Vol. 2 figure than the first Star-Lord.  The hair’s seated better on the head this time around, making for a better overall appearance.  Beyond that, the sculpt’s identical to the first figure, which is hardly a bad thing since that was a phenomenal sculpt.  Like the sculpt, the paint is largely the same as the first release, but there are a few differences.  The most minor is the shirt, which is now a light grey instead of a dark one.  The more intense changes are on the face, which uses the fancy new face printing method.  It’s not terrible, and it’s certainly a vast improvement over the Mantis Series head, but the Titus Series head is still my overall favorite.  Star-Lord includes an extra helmeted head, his two element guns, and his Walkman.

EGO

In the comics, Ego and Peter Quill’s father are two separate characters.  James Gunn disliked Quill’s father’s identity in the comics, and decided to go for something a bit more exciting, finally deciding on Fantastic Four villain Ego the Living Planet.  He was slightly re-worked for the film (he doesn’t tend to have an actual body in the comics), but his overall characterization was pretty spot-on, and Kurt Russel was clearly having a lot of fun with the part.  It should be noted that this figure’s official name is actually “Marvel’s Ego,” which I found to be rather amusing in its own unintentional way.  The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 31 points of articulation.  His sculpt is new to him, and it’s…well, it’s alright, I guess.  Compared to some of the other Guardians figures, it feels a little weak.  It’s mostly how the articulation’s been worked in.  It just feels rather stilted and unnatural.  It’s not like we’re at Mattel levels of bad or anything, but it definitely could have been better.  It’s not all bad, though.  The head actually has a pretty solid likeness of Russel, and I was rather impressed with the texture work on his clothing.  Overall, I’m happy with the sculpt, I just think it wasn’t helped by being packed with one of Hasbro’s best sculpted figures ever, that’s all.  The paintwork on Ego is pretty solid work.  It’s not the most exciting set of colors, but it’s true to the movie, and there’s enough accent work to keep him from looking too bland.  Like Peter, he gets a printed face, which I think ends up looking a bit better than Peter, and is my favorite sample of this technique so far.  Ego is packed with an extra head, which is largely the same as the standard one, just with a slightly friendlier expression.  It’s not really all that noticeably different, and I can’t even say for sure that it’s even a different sculpt.  Personally, I’d have rather had a battle damaged head from when Peter shoots him, but I guess that might have been too morbid.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When this set was first announced, I was pretty excited for it, even if I did already have the basic Star-Lord.  Then it took its sweet time getting here, and I had some financial things going on, and so by the time it actually arrived on shelves, I just could bring myself to drop the full $40 on it.  Ultimately, I ended up getting it for about half price from Target, meaning I pretty much just payed for the Ego figure.  The set’s alright, but I don’t find it to be quite as entertaining as the Thor/Valkyrie set.  Star-Lord’s different enough from the Titus Series figure for me to notice, but not enough to make me actually care to have the extra, which is a bit frustrating.  Ego’s not a bad figure, but he’s not a great one either, and I feel he’s a little bit of a step down from the rest of the set.  At half-price, I don’t feel ripped off, but I’m certainly glad I didn’t buy it when it was brand-new.

#1506: Medusa

MEDUSA

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Born into Inhumans royalty, Medusa is a formidable leader who uses her steel-like hair to command power.”

Hey, more Inhumans stuff!  Why the sudden spotlight?  Did something notable happen with them?  Oh, right, TV show.  That helps, I guess, even if the show wasn’t everybody’s favorite (I like what I’ve seen so far, but haven’t finished it). Regardless of rationale behind it, I’m excited to get new Inhumans figures.  Today, I’ll be looking at the Queen of Atalan, Medusa!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Medusa is the third Walgreens-exclusive Marvel Legends release of 2017.  Like the last two, she’s not really tied into a regular assortment (although her husband Black Bolt will be a part of the upcoming Black Panther assortment).  This isn’t the first Marvel Legends Medusa; there was one previously released as part of the SDCC 2014-exclusive Thanos Imperative set.  That one sported a more modern design than this, and was a fair bit harder to get, so the second figure is definitely appreciated.  This figure stands about 6 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  She’s largely made from the same pieces as the last Medusa.  She’s got a unique head and uses the mid-sized female body used for the likes of Hellcat and Wasp.  This figure swaps out the last one’s high-heeled shoes for flats, and also adds a belt piece as well.  While the hair is a touch on the modern side for the otherwise classically inspired design, it works well enough, and it’s a pretty nice sculpt to boot.  I only wish the hair was a touch longer, just so she had a slightly easier time standing, but it’s otherwise pretty great.  The paintwork is, of course, the main point of difference.  It’s fairly basic work, but the purples go together pretty well, and I particularly like the metallic shade on the accent pieces.  The mask is just painted on, but it works surprisingly well, and you can hardly tell this wasn’t the original plan for the sculpt.  Medusa doesn’t include any extras, but with the hair and everything, it’s not that big a deal.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I tried and failed to get the Thanos Imperative set when it went up on Hasbro Toy Shop, so I’ve been in the market for a Legends Medusa since then.  I was pretty happy when Hasbro announced she’d be getting another release, and was pleasantly surprised to find her at my local Walgreens just last week.  She’s a pretty great addition to the line, and I look forward to having Black Bolt to go with her!

#1490: Thor & Valkyrie

THOR & VALKYRIE

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Armed with ancient weapons and legendary strength, these Asgardian warriors proudly defend the legacy of their realm.”

In terms of toy lines based on the MCU, Thor seems to draw the short straw.  Hasbro went all-in for his first film, and produced a rather expansive line.  Sadly, this one proved to be less than successful, which made retailers a little bit wary of backing him for later films.  Dark  World only got a very small assortment and Thor himself was only offered in an online-exclusive boxed set for Age of Ultron.  For Ragnarok, there’s a bit more coverage, but we still only got a small fraction of the main cast.  For instance, Valkyrie, one of the film’s main protagonists, was only available in a two-pack with a variant of Thor.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Thor and Valkyrie are a two-pack of figures from Hasbro’s currently running Marvel Legends.  Like the prior Star-Lord and Ego pack, these two aren’t exclusive to any one retailer.  Unlike that earlier set, these two actually hit in time for the movie, arriving on shelves about a week before the movie.

THOR

Thor gets quite a makeover in Ragnarok, and this figure replicates that new look.  I know a lot of people weren’t really big on the new short-haired look, but I didn’t mind it too much, and I certainly liked Thor’s new gladiator gear.  This figure makes use of a lot of the single-release Ragnarok Thor’s pieces.  Mostly, this one’s just got a new head to differentiate him.  The figure stands just shy of 7 inches tall and he has 30 points of articulation.  The new head is obviously the star piece here.  It’s not a bad likeness of Hemsworth; definitely the best we’ve gotten so far from Hasbro, I’d say.  It looks good head-on, I think it’s just the profile that throws it off.  The body sculpt is pretty decent, but I noticed similar issues with the torso to what was going on with the Loki figure.  He just seems a touch flatter than he should be.  I also found the cape to be a little too detached and easy to fall off for my taste.  On the plus side, the figure’s paint is pretty top-notch.  The face is the best work, rendering a rather life-like take on Hemsworth.  The body gets the bold color palette down, and I quite like the red detailing that runs down his left side.  That’s a fun touch.  Thor doesn’t include his usual hammer (since it was destroyed and all), but he does get an extra set of open hands, a lightning effect piece, and, somewhat oddly, Heimdall’s sword.  Not sure why that last one came with Thor and not, say, a Heimdall figure, but there it is.

VALKYRIE

Thor’s great and all, but the real draw of this set is definitely it’s new character, Valkyrie.  I was quite a fan of Tessa Thompson’s take on the character, and I’m eager to see the character turn up in future films.  And I’m also excited to have her in figure form.  Valkyrie is seen here in her bounty hunter garb from the first chunk of the film.  It’s the look she spends the most time in, and is also pretty close to her current comics look, so it’s a good choice.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  Her sculpt is completely unique to her, and it’s definitely a very nice one.  It’s certainly my favorite of the Ragnarok sculpts I’ve seen, that’s for sure.  The likeness on the head is a pretty solid match for Thompson, and she’s sporting a pretty balanced and realistic set of proportions.  The cape is permanently affixed, which I like more than the removable capes of Thor and Loki. I wish the knives strapped to her legs were actually removable, but at least they’re actually there.  In terms of paint, Valkyrie’s pretty decent, with clean application and solid color choices.  My only real complaint is the small bit of splatter on her forehead, which is a little bit distracting.  Valkyrie is packed with her valkyrie sword, as well as its scabbard, which doesn’t seem to actually have anywhere to go.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I saw this set a few times before the movie’s release, always in rather large quantities.  After seeing the film, I came across it again at my local Target, but this time there were only two of them left.  Since I really enjoyed the film (and Valkyrie in particular), I figured I should probably grab them while I could.  Valkyrie is definitely the stronger of the two, but Thor’s still a solid figure in his own right.

#1485: Human Torch

HUMAN TORCH

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Flame on!  Johnny Storm suits ip to command the head as the scorching hot hero, The Human Torch.”

I noted the miracle that is new Fantastic Four Marvel Legends when I reviewed the Invisible Woman earlier this year.  She was the inaugural figure in what is set to be an under-running theme in the upcoming Walgreensexclusive Legends releases, which is set to give us a complete FF by the end of next year.  For the second figure in this them, Hasbro’s gone with Sue’s younger brother Johnny, better known as the Human Torch!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Human Torch is the newest Walgreens-exclusive Marvel Legends figure.  He started hitting most Walgreens’ shelves in the last month (though people have reported finding him for a few months now).  Johnny is a character that’s proved to be somewhat difficult to translate to plastic over the years.  The most successful figures have tended to be the ones that went for some sort of half-flamed-on variation.  This figure doesn’t do that, and instead takes a stab at the every so tricky fully flamed-on variation.  The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  He’s built on the Bucky Cap body, and, if I’m honest, I’m not 100% behind this choice.  Johnny’s typically be depicted as more on the slight side, so I was sort of expecting he’d be on the Pizza Spidey base.  At the very least, I was hoping that he’d use the Bucky Cap base with the less muscular Dr. Strange torso.  No such luck.  Admittedly, it’s not the worst choice of body.  It hardly ruins to figure.  He gets a new head, forearms, hands, shins, and feet, all sporting flame effects sculpted right onto them.  They’re obviously of a more stylized nature, but I think they look pretty decent.  They certainly look better than prior attempts.  The head is actually a fairly well rendered piece.  He’s got a sly grin, which is perfect for Johnny, and is a much better fit than the angry, teeth-gritted expressions we’ve gotten on prior figures.  They’ve foregone his hair, opting for a “bald” Johnny with unrelated flames at the top of his head, rather than some bizarre flame-hair-combo thing.  The paint on Johnny is pretty decent.  He’s molded all in translucent plastic, which adds quite a bit of life to the figure.  There’s some more opaque work on the actual flames, as well as some variation in the coloring, indicating his uniform beneath it all.  He’s clearly wearing his classic costume, which means he matches his sister.  I like that the head is a lighter yellow shade, making it clear that it’s his exposed flesh, and not the same color as his uniform.  Johnny is packed with two flame effect pieces (re-used from Iron Fist), as well as two standard fists, molded to match the figure.  Not quire as impressive as the whole extra figure included with his sister, but not terrible.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I grabbed Human Torch from a slightly out of the way Walgreens, where I was actually looking from Black Widow from the new Vintage series of Legends.  No luck there, but they had Johnny and he looked pretty cool, so I grabbed him.  Personally, I’m still a fan of the mid-flame-on style of figure, but this is definitely the best take on a fully-flamed-on Johnny that we’ve gotten!

#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.

#1439: Mantis

MANTIS

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

Of all the things I loved about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (and that’s quite a long list), perhaps my favorite part of the movie was its new addition to the team, Mantis.  I’ve liked Mantis since her earliest appearances, so I was excited to see her move to the big screen, and the movie delivered a version of the character that was just so inherently likable.  I look forward to seeing more of her in future installments.  In the mean time, I’ve got a Marvel Legend version of her to occupy my time.  Let’s see how that turned out!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mantis is the eponymous Build-A-Figure from the Mantis Series of Marvel Legends.  I know there was a lot of discussion about why she was chosen to be the Build-A-Figure instead of one of the more sizable figures in the set like Ex Nihilo or Death’s Head II.  Would *you* have gone out of your way to complete either of those figures?  Me either.  And that’s sort of the point, isn’t it?  I mean, here I am, and I’ve bought the whole set, so Hasbro succeeded in their main venture, which is selling all the figures.  More power to them.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and she has 32 points of articulation.  Mantis is, of course, based on her design from the film, which is a nicely crafted merging of all of her main looks from over the years.  The figure’s sporting an all-new sculpt, and it’s…it’s just amazing.  I mean, maybe not quite the same level as Gamora, but very close, certainly.  The head sports a beautiful likeness of Pom Klementieff as Mantis, and it’s one of the best head sculpts Hasbro’s ever put out.  It’s made from three different pieces, used for the hair, the face, and the eyes.  Yes, the eyes are a separate piece; they look the slightest bit off when you look really closely at them, but from a normal distance, they add a ton of depth and level to the figure.  The rest of the figure is very sharply detailed; there’s a ton of texture and folds and such in the clothing.  If I have one complaint about the sculpt, I’d say that her shoulders a perhaps a touch too broad.  That’s really minor, though.  Mantis’s paintwork is solid work all around.  It’s clean, and the colors look quite nice.  I particularly dig that metallic green they’ve used.  There’s a little bit of slop around the edges of her eyes, but that’s really about it.  Mantis, as an accessory herself, includes no accessories of her own.  Honestly, I can’t think of much they could have included with her, so I can’t say it’s a huge deal.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Obviously, I got Mantis by buying all six of the contributing figures in this series, which I found all at once at Toys R Us.  Mantis was my number one want from this set.  I’ll admit to being a little miffed at first that she was made the Build-A-Figure, but aside from one figure, all of the contributing figures were ones I wanted anyway.  Not a big loss on my part there.  Gamora may be the best figure in the series, but Mantis is hands down my favorite figure in the assortment.  Would life have been easier if she’d been a single-packed release?  Maybe, but I’d much rather have gotten her as a Build-A-Figure with a dedicated sculpt than have not gotten her at all or having gotten her in some compromised form.  At the end of the day, I couldn’t be happier with this figure.

#1438: Ex Nihilo

EX NIHILO – COSMIC PROTECTORS

MARVEL LEGENDS

Alright, we’ve made it through all the figures in the series, time to look at that super awesome Mantis figure—what’s that?  One more figure?  Ex Nihilo?  Awww maaaaaan….

Who is Ex Nihilo you ask?  He’s..just this guy.  Okay, no, not quite.  His name is a latin phrase meaning “from nothing,” which is about what I feel about this guy.  He’s frikin’ pretentious-ass nothing.  He showed up during Jonathan Hickman’s run on Avengers, which means everything around him is simultaneously incomprehensible and nap-inducing.  Something about gardeners?  I can’t follow this stuff.  Let’s just look at the figure and get this over with.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ex Nihilo is figure 6 in the Mantis Series of Marvel Legends.  He uses the name Cosmic Protectors, which he shares with Adam Warlock.  That just reminds me I’d much rather be reviewing Adam Warlock.  Sorry, back on point.  The figure stands about 7 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Ex Nihilo is based on the Hyperion body, which is really starting to show its age.  More recent figures using this body have tended to replace the torso, which is the weakest part, but this one doesn’t.  Obviously that’s far from the worst thing, but when I don’t have any attachment to the character, things like this bother me more.  He gets a new head, and I believe the feet are new as well.  They’re fine pieces.  The head is accurate to the source material, and certainly well-rendered from a purely technical stand-point.  I may not like the source, but this is still a very strong sculpt.  A strong sculpt based on a walking snooze-fest, but a strong sculpt nonetheless.  I’m definitely interested to see where else those bare feet turn up, though.  That’s right; the feet are the most interesting part.  Not super interesting?  The paint.  I mean, once again, it’s well handled, but I’d hardly classify it as exciting.  There’s a lot of gold, and then there’s some black.  Two colors?  Wooooeeeee, that’s the good stuff.  The application is clean, I guess (?), and the gold they used is a fairly nice shade.  The eyes and mouth are pretty sharp as well.  I’m really reaching for stuff here.  Ex Nihilo includes no proper accessories of his own, since that would be interesting and possibly exciting, and that ain’t how Ex Nihilo does things.  He *does* include the last piece of Mantis, which is by far the very best thing about this figure. 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As you may have surmised, I don’t particularly like Ex Nihilo.  I wasn’t thrilled when he showed up in the line-up for this set.  I bought him for one reason and one reason only: the Mantis piece.  Is this figure well executed?  More or less.  There are some issues, and he’s got a distinct lack of character to distract from them.  Is he fun?  For people who like the character, I guess.  For me, not really.  He’s just a barrier between me and a completed Mantis figure.  Kudos Hasbro, you have proven that I will pay full price for an arm an a box full of pretentious-ass nothing.