#1763: Gladiator

GLADIATOR

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“The leader of the Imperial Guard, Gladiator shoots heat beams from his eyes and commands his forces with formidable strength.”

Artist Dave Cockrum, who helped to re-launch the X-Men in their All-New, All-Different incarnation that would pretty much shape the franchise going forward, found his first prominent comics work in the pages of Legion of Super Heroes.  He frequently let some of his Legion work seep into X-Men, and perhaps the most obvious instance of this was the creation of the Shi’ar Imperial Guard, a full-fledged homage to the Legion.  The team’s resident Superman/Superboy stand-in was the Gladiator, who is also the only member of the team who ever seems to get any action figures.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Gladiator is figure 3 in the Apocalypse Series of Marvel Legends.  Previously, he was released as part of 2013’s SDCC-exclusive “Thanos Imperative” boxed-set.  He’s the fourth of the figures in the set to get a wider release, following Star-Lord, Medusa, and Black Bolt.  There are some slight tweaks to this release, which I’ll touch on when I get to the paint section. The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Gladiator is built on the Hyperion body, a sensible choice, given their shared status as Superman knock-offs.  His head sculpt and cape are both unique to him.  The head is decent enough.  It’s well scaled to the body, and has some solid detail work, especially on the mohawk.  It’s got a slight case of scowly-Hasbro-face, but it doesn’t bug me nearly as much on Gladiator as it does some of the others.  My only real complaint is that it sits just a touch too high on the neck, but the proper pose hides that well enough.  The cape is actually one of Hasbro’s finest, truth be told.  It sits well on the figure, doesn’t move about too much, and it has a flow that is somewhat dramatic without being too limiting.  The SDCC Gladiator made use of a lot of metallic paints, which are perfectly reasonable choices generally, but for a character like Gladiator, they seemed to needlessly muddy his design.  This new figure instead goes for a flatter and brighter selection of colors, which makes the figure pop a little bit more, especially when placed with the rest of the very colorful set he’s a part of.  If I have one minor nitpick, I’d say I’m a little bummed that this Gladiator is once again without pupils.  While it’s not inaccurate for the character, they would have made this a more decidedly classic take on the character.  Gladiator has no character-specific accessories (I’m not really sure what you could give him), but he does include the head of Apocalypse.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Back when the Thanos Imperative set was released, I actually tried to get one, because I quite liked a number of the characters included.   Gladiator was high on that list, and I was always a little bit bummed I’d missed him.  So, I was actually pretty happy to see him get a re-release.  This guy ended up being a birthday gift from my Super Awesome Fiancee.  While he’s not a perfect figure, and I’ll be glad when the start working the Hyperion body out, there’s a lot I like about this figure.  Now, can I please get more of the Imperial Guard?  Gladiator needs his team!

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#1763: Magneto

MAGNETO

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Living up to his namesake, Magneto is a master manipulator of magnetism, controlling and using its energy to defeat his enemies.”

Debuting alongside the team in X-Men #1, Magneto has been by far the most enduring of the X-Men’s foes…or allies…or teammates…or whatever he is this week.  He’s a popular choice for toys as well.  While he doesn’t quite rival Wolverine, he’s certainly giving Cyclops a run for his money.  Sadly, in the realm of Marvel Legends, he’s always seemed to come up short.  His very first Legends release was a hastily re-tooled Iron Man that didn’t quite work right.  This was followed by quite a lengthy waiting period for another, in 2014, which was not only an extremely illusive Toys R Us exclusive, it also wasn’t very good.  That leads us to today’s figure, the beacon of hope that maybe, just maybe, a Legends Magneto might not suck.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Magneto–sorry, Marvel’s Magneto is figure 2 in the Apocalypse Series of Marvel Legends.  Like Colossus before him, Magneto’s source design is a point of contention for some of the fanbase.  A lot of fans were hoping for another stab at his classic togs, but Hasbro has instead opted for a more modern appearance, based on his relatively recent design from the All-New, All-Different re-launch in 2015.  I was myself angling for another classic figure, but I can somewhat understand Hasbro not wanting to release that costume again right away, since it’s only been a few years since the last attempt.  What’s more, this particular design is actually not a bad look for old Magnus, and given Hasbro’s recent track record with the likes of Namor and Taskmaster, it likely serves as a trial run for them to get everything in order for a more proper variant down the line.  Magneto stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  The figure is built on the Spider-UK body, a fact I’m quite pleased about.  As soon as I saw that figure, I was hoping Hasbro would have it ear-marked for Magneto, so I’m happy to see they were on the same wavelength.  He gets a new head, forearms, and boots, as well as an add-on for his cape.  The head features the helmet as a separate, non-removable piece, as has become the norm for these guys.  The helmet follows the more streamlined nature of the helmet, which first cropped up in the X-Men: First Class design in 2011.  It sits quite well on his head (which is a surprisingly big win for a 6-inch Magneto figure; none of the others have really gotten that part down), and the underlying face perfectly captures Magneto’s noble streak.  The forearms and boots both capture those little raised ridges that Magneto seems to be really into, as well as meshing well with the existing body.  The cape gave me some pause when I first took the figure out of the box, because it wouldn’t sit flat and seemed oddly malformed.  Upon closer inspection, I realized that the shoulder pads were separate pieces, designed to slide *under* the cape, and one of them had accidentally popped over.  If you look closely at the prototype on the figure’s package you can see that not even Hasbro caught this mix-up.  Once everything’s laying properly, the cape is actually pretty darn awesome, and quite fitting for the character.  If there’s a slight downside to this figure, it’s his paint work.  It’s not *terrible* but the application is noticeably sloppier than on a lot of Hasbro’s other recent releases.  The red paint in particular seems to have some real issues with going on too thinly, leaving the underlying black plastic exposed.  The worst of it’s at the front of the helmet and on his thighs; beyond those points, it’s actually pretty passable overall.  Magneto makes out pretty well in terms of accessories.  He’s got an extra head, sans-helmet, displaying his beautiful Jim Lee-era locks.  While the helmeted head is still my favorite of the two, there’s no denying the quality of this one.  He also includes two different sets of hands.  He’s got basic black fists, as well as open gesture ones that have been molded in translucent purple.  There are some electricity effects to match.  Honestly, I’m a little surprised we didn’t see that swirly effects piece another time, since that’s what Polaris got, but I guess Hasbro was reading the room and sensing that piece’s over-use.  Lastly, Magneto includes the right arm of the Build-A-Figure Apocalypse.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m always down for a good Magneto figure, which is why it’s always been so disappointing that he’s never been privy to a good Legends release.  I still searched everywhere for the last one, even despite it’s lower quality, but never could find him, and certainly wasn’t paying a mark-up for him.  So, when this guy was announced, I was pretty excited, even if he’s not quite the version I wanted.  In hand, he’s got some minor flaws, but I’m overall happy with this figure, and glad I finally have a Magneto for my X-Men shelf.

#1762: Wolverine

WOLVERINE

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Razor-sharp claws and an incredible accelerated healing ability make Wolverine a nearly unstoppable threat.”

Did you know that the scientific name for the wolverine is “Gulo Gulo”?  That’s your fun FiQ fact of the day…or at least of this particular tiger-stripe Wolverine review.  Listen, I’ve got a small handful of running gags on this site, and if I don’t keep up with them, the universe might end.  Or my reviews might be slightly less fun to write.  It could really go either way.

So, it’s that wonderful time of year.  That one time each year where we get an X-Men-themed series of Marvel Legends.  And there was much rejoicing (yaaaay…).  There is, of course, a Wolverine figure in this assortment, surprising pretty much no one, but given how good the last few Wolverines I’ve gotten from Hasbro were, this one’s got a lot of traction from my end.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Wolverine is figure 1 in the Apocalypse Series of Marvel Legends, which is the third wide-release X-Men assortment since the Infinite Series relaunch.  The first assortment gave us Wolverine in his brown costume, an important look for the character, but perhaps not quite his definitive look.  After going a bit off the wall last year with an Old Man Logan release, Hasbro’s going back to the basics this year, and finally giving us an update to Logan’s yellow and blue, tiger-stripe number.  While it hasn’t been quite as long since we’ve seen this one as it had for the brown one, it’s still been a decade since the last release.  We also got a preview of this particular figure a little earlier this year, in the form of the 12-inch Legends Wolverine, who got me quite pumped for this guy.  This figure stands just under 6 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  This guy shares more than a few parts with the Brown Costumed version from 2016, but does still get his fair share of new pieces.  This includes a new head and belt, shoulderpads, and arms that are, at the very least, slightly retooled.  All of the new pieces are very similar to the ones we saw on the 12-inch figure, which makes a lot of sense, what with them being the same costume and all.  The new head definitely took some getting used to at first; I was quite a fan of the brown costume’s head sculpt, and was a little worried about this one’s ears being a little too close to the head.  In person, I actually quite like how they look, and I’m very happy with the slight differences in the masks between the two costumes.  It helps that this new head also sits a little further down on the neck peg, alleviating one of my complaints about the prior figure.  The “new” arms have been changed up to add a little more detail, specifically of the arm-hair variety (since Wolverine is a hairy dude), but also to allow for the attachment of the shoulderpads.  Like the new head, the shoulderpads help to cover up the slightly disconnected shoulders of the base body, thereby removing another of my issues with the last figure.  If I have one small complaint, it’s to do with the belt, which is sporting the “X” logo.  I’ve never been much of a fan of that particular look (I like the more basic buckle), but it’s accurate, and I can’t fault them for giving us a new piece.  The paint on this figure is largely very similar to that of the 12-inch figure, albeit with a slightly oranger color for the yellow.  This matches with the Cyclops figure from the last series, so it makes sense, and it’s certainly nice looking.  Wolverine is packed with a pair of non-clawed hands, as well as the two arm tubes for the Build-A-Figure Apocalypse.  It’s a shame we’re not getting an unmasked head for each Wolverine, but this is, at the very least, an improvement over Old Man Logan.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Juggernaut Series Wolverine was one of my favorite figures to come out of that series, and has been my go-to since its release.  I was initially unsure if this variant would be able to live up to those standards.  When I picked up the 12-inch release a few months back, I started getting a bit more excited to see how Hasbro could do translating that into the smaller scale.  I’m happy to say they’ve done a pretty spot-on job of shrinking that figure down, and they’ve created my favorite Legends Wolverine to date.

Wolverine was purchased from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re interested in purchasing other Legends figures, or are looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#1758: Captain America & Crossbones

CAPTAIN AMERICA & CROSSBONES

MARVEL LEGENDS — MARVEL STUDIOS: THE FIRST TEN YEARS

Although the Avengers survive a strike by Crossbones on Lagos, dozens of civilians are killed in the altercation. As a result, the team is presented with the Sokovia Accords – an agreement designed to keep the heroes in check – and must individually choose which side of the law they stand with.”

Like Guardians of the GalaxyCaptain America: Civil War was fortunate to come late enough in the MCU game that Hasbro was finally comfortable actually doing a pretty decent line-up of tie-in Legends.  However, while it got greater coverage than prior entries, it also had a far larger roster of characters in need of figures.  While Hasbro did their best to include everyone they could (and then to follow up and fill some of the gaps using Infinity War), the heroes really ate up all of the slots.  If nothing else, this Marvel Studios anthology line has really been about the bad guys.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Cap and Crossbones are entry 9 in the Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years sub-line of Marvel Legends.  Both figures are based on the characters as they appear in Civil War‘s opening battle.

CAPTAIN AMERICA

America’s first super soldier, Captain America must decide if he stands by his government in the aftermath of a disastrous strike on Lagos, Nigeria.”

Now, before we get to the new hotness, let’s review the old busted.  Okay, perhaps “busted” isn’t a completely fair assessment of things here.  While Cap wasn’t without a figure from Civil War (he got two, in fact; helps to have your name in the title), there’s no denying that the figure we received had some issues. This one is meant to amend….some of those issues.  I’ll get to that.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Pretty standard stuff there.  Now, the good news is that Cap has received not one, but two different new head sculpts.  He’s got both helmeted and un-helmeted.  Both heads are very good sculpts.  The helmeted head has a decent likeness of Evans (or at least what you can see of him), and via its use of a separate piece for the helmet, has a great sense of depth to his look that prior MCU Caps have not.  The un-helmeted head edges out the other one just a bit, in no small part due to the absolutely spot-on likeness of Chris Evans.  After years of “close but not quite,” this guy gets it down nearly perfect.  Alright, I’ve raved about the good.  Ready for the bad?  You know those two amazing head sculpts that Hasbro produced, that can finally replace the two sub-par ones we’d been dealing with since Winter Soldier?  Well, they went and slapped them on the slight variation of that body from Age of Ultron.  I was already frustrated by its re-use for the original Civil War release, given the inaccuracies of the costume details, as well as the somewhat scrawny nature of the limbs.  It’s made even more egregious by the fact that Hasbro created an entirely unique mold for the Infinity War Cap, which is, canonically, wearing the same uniform as this figure.  With a handful of new pieces, that mold would have made for a far more accurate body for this figure.  Instead, for the third time, we get a Civil War Captain America whose costume is just incorrect.  That’s a real shame.  On the plus side, he does get new paint to match those new parts.  The body isn’t far removed from the prior release, but both heads are now sporting the face-print tech, which makes a world of difference in terms of making him look like a real person.  In addition to the new unmasked head, Cap also has his shield, which is another new sculpt.  I like this one better than prior releases, though I can’t really say it’s too noticeably different.

CROSSBONES

“A Hydra agent and former double-agent at SHIELD, Crossbones makes it his mission to take out Captain America, no matter the loss of life at stake.”

And here we have the new hotness.  Crossbones may not be in Civil War for super long, but he had a very important roll to play, and, more importantly when it comes to toys, he had a pretty sweet design.  At the time of the movie’s release, he got a Minimate and one of those Microverse figures, but that was all.  Obviously, that means this figure is a very welcome addition.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Unlike his pack-mate, his sculpt is completely new.  It’s quite an impressive piece of work, with lots of separately sculpted pieces that just give the whole figure a ton of depth.  I love the helmet, especially the way they’ve handled the eyes; they’re a separate piece from the actual mask, so it looks like there’s really a whole face under there.  The vest and his “fighting fists” are likewise separate pieces, although in this case they’re removable.  The vest isn’t really meant to be removed, though, so the underlying torso’s a little off.  The figure’s legs also end up looking a little bit wonky, but that’s about the only complaint I can come up with, and even that’s a rather minor one.  Crossbones’ paintwork is fairly decent.  A lot of it’s very subtle, with just some slight variations of black and dark brown.  The white parts stand out quite well, though, and I love how the eyes turned out.  Crossbones is packed with an extra un-masked head, depicting his scarred visage from the film.  It’s actually a little bit toned down from the movie, but close enough to get the point across.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Cap and Crossbones are actually the last of these figures that I got, though they were still picked up for me by my Super Awesome Fiancee.  They arrived at her work about a week after the others.  This set was second on my list, after Ronan.  Crossbones was just a really cool design that I really wanted a good figure of, and I was hopeful that the second try at the Civil War Cap would be much better.  Crossbones lives up to my expectations, no denying that.  Cap?  Well, like the last several MCU Caps I’ve gotten from Hasbro, he’s frustrating.  Sure, the new heads are awesome, but saddling him with the same old body is super weak, and prevents him from being the definitive Cap I was really hoping for.  I guess there’s always Avengers 4

#1757: Ronan

RONAN

MARVEL LEGENDS — MARVEL STUDIOS: THE FIRST TEN YEARS

An avid loyalist to the Kree whose family was killed by the Kree-Nova War, Ronan agrees to a partnership with Thanos in order to take down the Nova Corps on Xandar once and for all.

Sent on a mission by Thanos to recover the mystical entity known as the Orb, Ronan discovers that the target he seeks is in fact an all-powerful Infinity Stone.  Ronan uses the stone to destroy the Nova Corps’s fleet, but is ultimately destroyed by his own greed when the Guardians of the Galaxy take the Orb back and use it to entirely obliterate him.”

I *almost* posted the Thor review today.  How foolish I was.  It’s okay, I’m looking at another tall, hammer-wielding dude from space, Ronan the Accuser!

The first Guardians had decent Legends coverage, but with quite a sizeable cast, there were more than a few notable missing players.  The Vol. 2 figures got us Yondu and Nebula, but the team’s main antagonist wasn’t quite so lucky.  Fortunately, he got in on this anniversary business.  Lucky him!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ronan is entry 6 in the Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years sub-line of Hasbro’s main Marvel Legends line. Like Red Skull, he’s one of the three standard single-release offerings (Mark VII Iron Man is the last of the three).  Ronan stands 7 inches tall and he has 30 points of articulation.  The figure is sporting an all-new sculpt, patterned on Ronan’s design from the movie.  The sculpt, not unlike Ronan’s design from the movie, is not without its quirks.  The biggest of these “quirks” is to do with his head piece and shoulder pads.  They are done here as one single piece, connected to the top of his head.  This has the unintended side effect of giving Ronan a very strange appearance should you decide to move his head, as his shoulder pads will be traveling with it.  It’s a very odd choice, but in the defense of this figure, it seems to be firmly rooted in the actual costume design, since Lee Pace wasn’t moving his head much in the movie either.  At least this way he still technically has all of his motion unencumbered, right?  Apart from that, the sculpt is actually pretty strong.  The texture work on his costume is nothing short of astonishing, capturing all of the various textures of his costume from the movie.  It also captures his rather imposing build, which means he looks appropriately menacing next to the rest of the Guardians.  If I had one other complaint about this figure’s sculpt, I’d say it’s the way the mid-torso joint’s been worked into the sculpt.  It’s a little bit obvious and slightly cumbersome.  The other articulation is worked in fine, though, so I can’t complain.  Ronan’s paintwork is overall pretty decent.  Not quite a subtly handled as some of the other recent MCU figures, but a bit of a step-up from the original Guardians offerings.  His eyes are really purple, signifying that this is a post-stone-powered Ronan, which makes him the best for fighting all of your Guardians.  Ronan is packed with his hammer, suitable for accusatory purposes.  It matches up with Ronan’s powered-up eyes, featuring the power stone mounted on one side.  It’s a shame yesterday’s Red Skull didn’t come with the Tesseract, since we could have assembled a bunch of the stone.  Oh well.  Ronan himself feels a little bit on the light side, with just the one extra, but I don’t know what else he could have gotten.  I suppose his larger size makes up for it a bit.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve always had a soft spot for Ronan, so I was a little bummed when he was left out of the assortment for the first movie (it didn’t help that I had missed out on the comic-based Ronan Legend from a few years prior).  Needless to say, I was delighted when he was announced to be part of this line, and was definitely at the top of my list.  Fortunately, Super Awesome Fiancee had my back, and grabbed him for me from my work.  Ronan may not be a perfect figure, but he’s a very good one, and one I’m very, very happy to finally have in my collection.

#1756: Red Skull

RED SKULL

MARVEL LEGENDS — MARVEL STUDIOS: THE FIRST TEN YEARS

Obsessed with the power of the Tesseract, Johann Schmidt teams up with Dr. Arnim Zola to create a super-charged arms force that will change the fate of World War II…and the world.

Hydra leader Johann Schmidt creates Tesseract-powered weapons to destroy American cities, but doesn’t anticipate interference from newly-dubbed hero, Captain America.  In their first meeting, Schmidt removes his mask to reveal crimson skin, a signature that has earned him the name ‘Red Skull.'”

The MCU has run through an interesting period when it comes to tie-in toys.  Iron Man kicked things off with some Legends-esqe figures, which were a decent hit with the fanbase.  By the time of IM2, Hasbro was in the midst of their push for 3 3/4 inch figures, so it, and all of the movies up to Captain America: Winter Soldier would be in that smaller scale, with only a few choice offerings at the larger scale.  The recent shift has been completely to the Legends scale, but thanks to the rapid pace at which the MCU films hit, there are more than a few prominent characters missing from the line-up.  In honor of the MCU’s tenth anniversary, Hasbro’s put together a special sub-line of Marvel Legends, devoted to celebrating those prior films.  I’m kicking things off today with a look at one of the most prominent missing villains, the Red Skull!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Red Skull is entry 2 in the Marvel Legends — Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years sub-line of figures.  He’s one of the three standard single-packed figures in the line-up, alongside the Mark VII Iron Man and Ronan the Accuser.  This figure gives us Red Skull in his more basic Hydra uniform, as he’s seen inside the Hydra base during several sequences of the film (there’s also a long-coated variant, which was offered at SDCC this year). Perhaps not his coolest look, but there’s a good reason for this choice.  He stands 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  He’s sporting a brand-new sculpt, which is a pretty solid recreation of Skull’s look from the movie.  The head has a teeth-gritting expression, which is always a nice throw-back to the Skull’s earlier comics design.  Thanks to it being released 7 years after the fact, it’s also able to be far more accurate to the film’s Skull face than it would have at the time of the movie, so hey, bonus!  The body captures his uniform pretty well, though the articulation is perhaps not as worked into the sculpt as I might like. It’s especially noticeable at the mid torso joint; I feel an ab-crunch might have worked a little better there.  That said, it’s hardly the worst implementation of articulation I’ve seen.  He’s still got decent mobility, and the sculpt isn’t too terribly broken because of it.  The paintwork on this guy is pretty usual fare for an MCU release.  It’s pretty cleanly applied, and matches well to the movie.  The head actually gets some pretty subtle accent work all throughout, so that it’s not just a big chunk of bright red plastic with some eyes.  Speaking of eyes, the ones on this figure are using the printed technique, which doesn’t have quite the same impact here that it does on more human looking figures, but it does still make at least some difference.  Remember up at the top, when I said there was a good reason for this figure’s costume choice?  Well, the accessories are where that comes into play.  Skull doesn’t get anything character specific, but he does get three extra heads, a tactical harness, a Hydra gun, and an extra hand, allowing him to be turned into a few different configurations of the Hydra Soldier.  Sure, the uniforms aren’t quite an exact match, but they’re close enough to work in a pinch, and it’s really the thought that counts.  As an added bonus, if you’ve got any of the Black Series FO Officer bodies laying around, with a tiny bit of modification, they work pretty well for quickly building an army.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Red Skull was purchased for me by my Super Awesome Fiancee.  She got a few of the Marvel Studios sets in at her work, and was kind enough to grab them for me.  First Avenger was my favorite of the Phase 1 films, so I was always rather saddened that it seemed to draw the short straw when it came to toys.  I’m glad that Hasbro’s been able to go back and retroactively amend that.  Red Skull isn’t a perfect figure, but I’d say he’s a fair bit better than he would have been had he been released at the time of the movie.  The added Hydra Soldiers pieces are just icing on the cake.  Now I’m resisting the urge to buy multiples…

#1754: The Champions

ANGEL, GHOST RIDER, BLACK WIDOW, & HERCULES

MARVEL MINIMATES

In wake of the success of the Avengers and the Defenders, in the ’70s, Marvel was looking for another big team-up book to push.  In 1975, Tony Isabella and Don Heck introduced the Champions, a collection of two X-Men, two fan favorite solo acts, and a former Avenger.  The team wasn’t really a smash success, running only 17 issues, before the team disbanded and the members were absorbed into other projects.  They remained a favorite amongst die-hard fans, though, as well as having a pretty strong line-up, which led to them getting an Action Figure Express-exclusive boxed set in 2009.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These four were released via AFX at SDCC 2009.  They cover four of the five founding members.  Sadly, we’ve never gotten a proper Iceman to match the other four, but there are a few stand-ins…anyway, onto the four we actually got!

ANGEL

We’d had two Archangels prior to this figure’s release, but this was the first proper Angel ‘mate.  Angel notably had two distinct looks over the course of the series.  This figure is based on the second, less dated of the two, which was a variant of his blue and white costume from the ‘60s.  This is one of the character’s longest-lived looks, so it was definitely a well-deserved variant.  The figure is built on the basic ‘mate body, so he’s 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  He gets an extra two points via the ball-joints for the wings, which brings his count up to 16.  Angel had four sculpted add-on pieces, for his hair/cowl, harness, and wings.  The hair is a new piece (which would see re-use later down the line for two other Angel variants), and, aside from the cowl being a little bulky at the sides, it’s a good match for Angel’s style of the time. The harness is the same one first used on Archangel, with a new set of feathery wings attached to it.  The new wings are a marked improvement over the DCD Hawkman wings, with greater size, greater posablity, and a far more durable point of connection.   Angel’s paint is privy to its ups and its downs.  The detail lines are all nice and sharp, and the face does a pretty great job of capturing Angel’s pretty-boy persona.  The colors are all very bright, and match up with the comics in that regard.  The big problem is with the application of the paint.  The changes from red to white are particularly sloppy, and the yellow for the gloves and boots is too thin to fully cover the reds in some areas.  It makes for a somewhat sloppy figure.  Angel included no accessories, but with the wings, it’s not too much of a loss.  I suppose an extra hair piece might have been nice.

GHOST RIDER

The fourth Ghost Rider, and technically the second Johnny Blaze, this figure marks the first, and to date only, ‘mate of the classic incarnation of the character.  Ghost Rider makes use of sculpted add-ons for his hair, collar, glove cuffs, and belt.  His hair and cuffs are re-used, with the hair coming from the Series 8 Human Torch, and the cuffs being the rolled-up sleeves from the Spirit two-pack.  At first glance, the collar looks to be the same one from the DCD Star Sapphire, but it’s not quite the same.  The belt is likewise a new piece for this set.  The collar sits a little high on the torso, and hides his neck, which looks a little off.  Otherwise, the parts make for a pretty solid recreation of Ghost Rider.  Ghost Rider’s paint is a marked improvement on Angel.  Perhaps it’s the variations of blue helping matters, but application seems to be cleaner and sharper than it was on Angel.  The new head also does a tremendous job of handling GR’s flaming skull, doing it in a much more pleasing way than prior variants had handled it.  Accessories are pretty much going to be the failing point of any Ghost Rider Minimate ever, since contractually he can’t have the Hellcycle that actually makes him a “rider.” As the classic version of the character, this one’s even lighter than other variations of the character, since he didn’t yet have the usual chain whip.  This one instead just gets a flame effect piece, which is certainly better than nothing.

BLACK WIDOW

This set marked Black Widow’s Minimate debut, and she served as a prominent selling point for a lot of people.  Like the others, she’s seen here in her classic ‘70s garb.  Not quite as timeless as some of the others in the pack, but a very good choice nevertheless. Widow has four sculpted add-on pieces; one for the hair, two for the widow’s stingers, and one for the belt.  Apart from the belt, which is shared with the Ghost Rider from this set (and let’s be honest, was really designed for her and re-used on him), all of her pieces were new.  Sharp detailing, and good recreation of her look from the comics. Widow’s paint is by far the best in the set.  The shiny black for the body suit looks really spiffy, and the detailing on the torso is an amazing feat in adding dimension to a flat torso block.  The face could perhaps stand to be a little more emotive, but it still feels true to the character.  There are no accessories for Widow in this set, which is a bit of shame, but not totally surprising, since Widow’s primary means of attack at the time was her widow’s stingers.

HERCULES

Like Black Widow, Hercules made his Minimate debut in this set, though unlike her he’s yet to get a follow-up. There are a number of options when it comes to Herc’s design.  This one is the one he was sporting for the entirety of his time with the Champions, and it had just gotten a revival right around the time of this figure’s release, courtesy of Herc’s role during World War Hulk and its subsequent fall-out.  Hercules has five add-on pieces, for his hair, his chest cap, his wrist bands, and his skirt. The hair piece is new to Herc, and it’s a really goof piece.  The detailing on the hair is quite sharp, and the flow to his hair is quite realistic.  The rest of the parts are re-use, with the torso coming from the Wave 22 Hulk, the wrist bands coming from the DCD Ocean Master, and the skirt coming from the Star Trek line.  It’s an okay combination of parts, but not one that’s held up the best.  The chest cap in particular was always rather flawed design, with the shoulders in particular giving the whole thing a rather strange appearance.  As one of those sort of in-between characters size-wise, DST was undeniably in a tough as to how to handle him.  Herc’s paintwork is fairly decent work.  The face captures Herc’s likeness well (though I might have liked something a bit more intense or angry, following after the cover to The Champions #1), and has a lot of detailing in the brow and beard in particular.  The rest of the details are pretty well defined, but the orange and green sections of the skirt could probably have stood to get an outline, if nothing more than to match the strap on his torso.  Hercules was packed with his club, which was a newly sculpted piece.  It follows the comics design well.  It can be stowed on his back, which is a cool touch.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve never been to SDCC, so it follows that I wasn’t there in-person to get this in 2009.  Fortunately, AFX was good about getting their exclusives up online, so I was able to secure myself a set without much trouble.  I was happy to get this set, because I’ve always really liked the Champions, and I’m excited for any recognition they get.  Apart from the lack of accessories, I think Widow is this set’s strongest offering, and still holds up as one of the best variants of the character.  Angel is a very good ‘mate held back only by some issues with paint application.  Had the paint been a little better, he would have been darn near perfect.  As is, he’s just close to it.  Ghost Rider is yet another version of the character that’s missing his cycle, but at least this is a solid ‘mate in his own right.  Herc’s not the strongest figure in the set, and is somewhat compromised by some of the pieces used for him.  Still, he’s far from a bad offering, and rounds out the set quite nicely.

#1753: Spider-Man & Spider-Gwen

SPIDER-MAN & SPIDER-GWEN

MARVEL AMAZING YAMAGUCHI (REVOLTECH)

While I’m familiar with Revoltech, I’ve not really jumped into the deep-end when it comes to their stuff.  I was quite a big fan of Assemble Borg, an in-house line of theirs, but my experience with licensed figures has so far been limited two their two Aliens offerings.  Outside of Aliens, perhaps the best way to pique my interest is Marvel, and as luck would have it, Revoltech has recently been offering up a line of Marvel comics-based figures, under their Amazing Yamaguchi banner.  Today, I’ll be looking at two such figures, Spider-Man and Spider-Gwen.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Spider-Man and Spider-Gwen were released in Revoltech’s Marvel Amazing Yamaguchi line of figures.  They’re numbered 002 and 004 respectively.  Spider-Man arrived in early 2017, with Gwen arriving just a few months later (Venom bridged the gap between the two of them).

SPIDER-MAN

Spider-Man is, of course, no stranger to action figures.  In fact he’s usually on the short list whenever anyone picks up the license.  So, it’s not a shock that he was amongst Revoltech’s first two releases (supplanted only by fan-favorite Deadpool).  This Spider-Man appears to take inspiration from J. Scott Campbell’s version of the wall-crawler, with a little bit of Humberto Ramos’ very expressive version thrown in, and it’s all filtered through Revoltech’s usual style.  The point is, he’s definitely a very stylized figure, designed to fit specifically with the rest of Revoltech’s Marvel figures.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall (just a little shorter than Hasbro’s Pizza Spidey) and he has 43 points of articulation…theoretically.  He’s got a lot of joints (the majority of them are Revoltech’s signature Revolver joints), to be sure, but how they interact and are used is slightly different that your typical action figure.  Due to how the figure has been sculpted and how the Revolver joints are placed throughout the sculpt, you can’t really just pick this figure up and randomly pose him, the way you might with, say, a Marvel Legend.  You have to know what pose you’re going for, and sort of reconfigure him into that set-up.  In some ways, he’s a little more like a construction set that you can reassemble into different configurations.  The end result is a figure that can get into and hold some pretty spectacular and very Spidey-esqe poses.  He’s definitely dynamic.  By nature of the figure’s design, his sculpt is, overall, rather unimpeded by the articulation, though he is rather segmented.  Depending on how you have him posed, this segmentation isn’t as noticeable.  He’s very sleek, and there’s no denying that this is a very good looking figure.  His paint only adds to that.  The blue is nice and metallic, and the red has a satisfying glossy sheen, which only furthers the very slick stylings of this guy.  Accessories are another strong suit of this figure.  He includes four different sets of hands, in fists, open palm, web-shooting, and gripping.  The gripping hands don’t really have much practical use on this figure, but the rest are all pretty great.  The fists and the web-shooting hands have spots to plug in weblines, making for even more dynamic set-ups.  My personal favorites, however, are the open palmed ones, because they’re just very versatile.  There are two full-length weblines and two shorter ones, as well as one with a slight hook on the end, for actually using to hang the figure.  They definitely follow the Todd McFarlane style guide for webs, which is a good a good one to go by.  Perhaps the coolest extras included with this guy are the extra eyes.  Some of the recent Legends Spider-Men have experimented with extra heads with differing “expressions” on the eyes of his mask.  This takes that idea and runs with it, allowing for the eyes to be swapped out independently.  There are rather basic eyes included on the figure, plus squinting, wide-eyed, and “angry.”  You can mix and match as well, which certainly results in some amusing combos.  Lastly, the figure includes display stand with an articulated arm, so you can keep him in those more intense poses for longer.

SPIDER-GWEN

Who knew Spider-Gwen would take off quite as well as she has?  Marvel, apparently, since they actually managed to get her merchandising out there pretty darn quick for a brand new character.  Her Legends release hit shelves in record time, and this one wasn’t that far behind, hitting less than three years after her original appearance.  Gwen is actually a lot less stylized than Peter.  While she’ll still certainly fit in with him, she’s a lot more versatile than he is.  She stands about 5 3/4 inches tall (again, not much different from the Legends figure) and she has 45 points of articulation.  Unlike Peter, who has a bit of a learning curve attached to his articulation, Gwen’s actually fairly straight-forward.  Her articulation is far more intuitive, a lot smoother, and the joints are more carefully placed.  Where Spidey feels a little like the Revolver joints were added to a finished sculpt after the fact, Gwen definitely was sculpted with those joints in mind.  This is most clearly illustrated in the two figure’s knees.  On Spidey, the joints are set back behind the knee, and there’s this large flat gap that appears when the knee is bent.  On Gwen, her knees *are* the joints, and they work like actual knees.  No weird breaks in the sculpt necessary.  On the flip side, however, Gwen’s multi-part hood construction doesn’t work quite as well as the multi-part head/neck that Peter has.  For the most part you can make it look alright, but there are some angles where it just looks perpetually off.  Still, its hinged design is somewhat inspired, and I can tell they were trying for something a little better than how the hood was attached for the Legend.  There’s a bit more going on with Gwen’s paintwork than there was with Peter.  It’s all very clean, and the slight gradient of the pink around the eyes is very impressive.  There’s a slight bit of slop on the edges of the white parts, but it’s very minor, and not particularly noticeable.  There’s another very impressive accessory complement with Gwen.  She gets even more hands, with all of the same basic offerings as Peter, as well as an extra pointing hand for her right hand, and a left hand for holding her phone.  She then gets the aforementioned cellphone, two very dynamic web-lines, and two shorter ones for plugging into her web-shooter hands.  Instead of swappable eyes, Gwen features four different face plates to choose from.  There’s the basic eyes, the squinty eyes, the asymmetric eyes (by far my favorite), and a fully unmasked face.  The unmasked face is very stylized, and I find not particularly well-scaled to the body, but the other three plates work very well, and swap in and out without much trouble.  Lastly, Gwen also includes a display stand, for those prolonged poses, though she’s quite stable on her own.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

In terms of 6-inch figures, my go-to for Marvel’s always going to be Marvel Legends.  When this line was announced and Deadpool and Spider-Man were unveiled as its first offerings, I wasn’t particularly sucked in, but I kept my eyes open to see what else they might be doing.  Upon seeing these two in-person, I was certainly intrigued.  Ultimately, I think your opinion on these figures is going to be heavily depended upon what you want from them.  Do you want something that looks good on your shelf and can hold extreme poses long-term?  These are for you.  Do you want a figure that you can just pick up and mess with from time to time?  These are less for you.  Ultimately, I’m more in that latter category.  As such, Gwen, the more traditional figure of the two, is definitely my favorite.  I can appreciate both for what they are, though, and there’s no denying that they’re both solid, well-made figures.

This pair aren’t from my personal collection, but were loaned to me for review by my friends over at All Time Toys.  If you’re interested in owning either of the figures reviewed here today, they’re both available individually from All Time’s eBay store.  And, if you’re looking for other toys, both old and new, please also check out All Time’s full eBay store front, and take a look at their webstore at alltimetoys.com.

#1750: Agent Phil Coulson

AGENT PHIL COULSON

AVENGERS (HOT TOYS)

So, about this monumental reviews business, you know, where I do the “deluxe” reviews of the high-end stuff?  When I started them, I was doing them every 50 reviews, which was far too frequent, so I bumped that up to every 100.  Well, right around the night before I had to write #1500, I decided 100 had gotten to be too frequent as well.  And so, as I noted in review #1600, I’m now doing them every 250.  Isn’t that nice?  For me it is.  Alright, let’s get back into the swing of things!

<beat>

Wow, it’s been another 250 reviews?  Who could have forseen this coming?  Well, at this point, me, because I know I’m not stopping any time soon.  In honor of another 250 under my belt, let’s have a look at another one of my high-end Hot Toys figures, shall we?  Slowly but surely, I’m making my way through the crown jewel of said Hot Toys collection: namely, my Avengers figures.  Today, I continue that, taking a look at one of my personal favorites, Agent Phil Coulson!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Coulson was released as part of Hot Toys’ main Movie Masterpiece Series, where he was figure 189.  While most of the Avengers figures stuck together in their numbering, Coulson was a later solicitation, so he’s smack dab between Catwoman from The Dark Knight Rises and the Scar Predator from Alien vs Predator.  What an assortment.  Coulson is meant to be based on his appearance in Avengers specifically, but he can just as easily work for his appearances in Iron ManThor, or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., making him quite a versatile figure.  The figure stands 11 3/4 inches tall and has over 30 points of articulation.

Really, the key piece to a figure like this, is the head sculpt, since without it, he’s just a generic suit.  Fortunately, Coulson got one of the best head sculpts to come out of the Avengers sub-set of figures.  There’s absolutely no denying who this guy is meant to be; he’s the spitting image of Clark Gregg.  But, of course, it’s not just about the likeness; it’s also about how lifelike the figure looks.  Some of the other Avengers figures were a little lighter on the texturing and the like, but fortunately that’s not the case with Coulson, who really does look like he stepped right after the movie.  His paintwork is up to the usual Hot Toys standard, which only furthers the lifelike nature of the sculpt.

Coulson’s sporting his standard-issue government agent black suit, with a dress shirt and a tie to go with it.  While not the most spectacularly tailored suit Hot Toys ever put out, it’s certainly a marked improvement over the likes of the Two-Face figure from just a few years prior.  I think my biggest complaint isn’t the suit itself, but actually the tie, which is a little bit on the short side, resulting in a somewhat goofy look.  In addition, his suit doesn’t have any buttons for closing it, so there’s no option to hide the shortness of the tie, at least not in any sort fixed fashion.  Still, that’s a rather minor issue.  On the opposite end of things, there are his shoes.  They’re fully sculpted feet, as is the usual Hot Toys fashion, and they’re just really, really nice looking.  Finally, there are the little touches that bring the whole thing together, which includes his Level 7 access badge and his wrist watch, both of which are quite a bit of fun.

Coulson’s accessories are a fun selection of movie specific extras.  He includes:

  • 5 hands
  • sunglasses
  • earpiece
  • cellphone
  • walkie talkie
  • handgun
  • Destroyer gun
  • filefolder
  • Captain America trading cards
  • Display stand

He has a pair of relaxed hands, a pair of gripped hands, and a hand specifically designed for holding either the file folder or the trading cards.

The sunglasses sit well on the face, in a decent enough fashion that you might not realize they were a separate piece at first glance.  I also appreciate that they’re actually semi-transparent, as they should be.  Similarly, the earpiece fits snugly into the right ear, and looks like it belongs there.  The cellphone and walkie talkie give him another two communication options, if that’s what you’re looking for.

The handgun’s a pretty nice piece as well.  It’s got a moving slide and a removable clip, which makes it fun to mess with.

The prize piece is definitely the Destroyer gun, Coulson’s signature weapon from his final moments in Avengers.  It’s well-scaled, a solid recreation of the design from the movie, and it even lights up! …or at least it did.  In the 5 years since I got it, the batteries in mine seem to have gone up.  Oh well.

The file folder and cards are both paper goods.  The folder is a little bit of a let down, since there’s noting inside of it, and it doesn’t open like a real folder, but it’s still a nice little bonus.  The cards are definitely a lot of fun, and I’m glad they weren’t over looked.

Lastly, there’s the display stand.  It’s just a basic oval stand, with the Avengers logo and Coulson’s name printed on the placard.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Coulson was the figure I was most excited for from this whole subset.  It was the strong hinting at his release from Hot Toys that actually got me on-board for the whole Avengers set-up, since it was, at the time, the only way to get a Coulson figure to go with the rest of the team.  Though he’s just a fairly average guy, the figure’s definitely one of Hot Toys’ stronger efforts, and it’s the cool accessories that give him that extra edge.

#1748: Apocalypse

APOCALYPSE

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Apocalypse is the evil mutant who has used his sinister genius and mutant ability to turn himself into a merciless one man army! Apocalypse is incredibly strong, able to change his size at will, and has created for himself a weapon system designed to destroy the X-Men. Apocalypse is the most frightening evil mutant on Earth when he turns himself into a giant, puts on this deadly arsenal and attacks!”

Following Magneto’s turn to the side of good in the ’80s, the X-Men spent quite a bit of time in search of a new over-arching big bad.  They found a number of potential offerings, none of whom quite hit that same spot, but perhaps the most successful of them was En Sabah Nur, aka Apocalypse.  He was a consistent foe in the back half of the ’80s, up into the ’90s, so his place early into Toy Biz’s run was certainly sensible.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Apocalypse was one of the three villains released alongside our heroes in Series 1 of Toy Biz’s X-Men line.  He served as a rather sensible counterpart to the same series’ Archangel figure.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he had 11 points of articulation (though two of those points can be somewhat debated, since they’re tied into his “action-feature”).  Apocalypse’s sculpt, like many others in this assortment, is definitely showing its age.  What’s interesting is that it’s due to slightly different factors than some of the others.  It’s not that he doesn’t quite live up to his comics appearance the way Archangel or Storm or Cyclops do, it’s actually that he’s too faithful to an Apocalypse design that itself has fallen out of fashion.  He depicts Apocalypse as he is seen in his earlier X-Factor appearances, when he was still rather lean, and still rather square and stiff.  It’s a very different take on the character, and his beefier revamp design from just a few years later would end up being the prevailing design and informing how the character was depicted for the three decades since his creation.  As such, this guy definitely looks out of place amongst the others, but paired with the Cyclops and Archangel from this assortment, he starts to fit in a bit better.  Ultimately, the actual sculpt is one of the more competent one from this first set.  I think I’d place him in the number three slot, after Nightcrawler and Magneto.  His proportions are certainly believable for this incarnation of the character, and his construction is quite sturdy.  Apocalypse’s paintwork is fairly standard stuff.  It’s rather limited, and the application is messy in some spots, especially the belt.   Apocalypse included a staff, which is supposed to have a “gem” at the top of it.  Mine’s gone missing, so my Apocalypse just looks like he’s holding a broken ball-point pen.  He also has an “Extending Body” feature, where his torso and legs extend outward, in sort of a stretching sort of fashion.  It’s rather goofy, and not really worth much extra, but it’s not like it impedes the figure overall.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m not 100% sure how I got Apocalypse.  He was an earlier addition to the collection, I know that much, most likely gotten during my parents early efforts to expand my collection.  I was watching the cartoon by that point, so I knew the character.  Regardless of how I got the figure, he’s stuck with me for quite some time, despite my not being super into Apocalypse.  As I noted in the review, he’s a somewhat dated figure, based on an out-dated design, but he’s actually one of the stronger figures in the first assortment, and he depicts a version of the character we don’t often see.