#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!

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#1479: Skurge & Grandmaster

SKURGE & GRANDMASTER

MARVEL MINIMATES

Thor Ragnarok hit the big screen last week.  After being more than a little underwhelmed by Thor’s last solo cinematic adventure, I was definitely hoping this one would be a marked improvement.  Having seen it, I’d say it most definitely succeeded on that front.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was still very, very good.  There were a quite a few new characters introduced in the movie, and several of them were real standouts.  Two of my favorites are the two I’m covering today, Skurge and Grandmaster!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Surge and Grandmaster are one of the Walgreens-exclusive sets for the Thor Ragnarok tie-in series of Marvel Minimates.  They’re something of an odd pairing, truth be told, seeing as the two don’t ever once interact or even participate in the same segments of the plot line.  That said, I’m hardly going to complain, since I like both characters.

SKURGE

In the comics, Skurge was at first simply known as “The Executioner.”  He was the right-hand-man to the Enchantress, and a key piece of the original Masters of Evil.  Definitely an important player, so his inclusion in the film was definitely something I was very much looking forward to.  Throw in that he was played by Karl Urban, a personal favorite, and you’ve got a real winner.  His design in the film isn’t too far removed from his comics incarnation, which means this figure can pretty well serve as either version.  The figure stands about 2 1/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  He’s built on the usual body, with add-ons for his chest cap and bracers.  The add-ons are new to Skurge, and are pretty decent overall.  The torso piece could probably be a little tighter to the body, but it looks decent enough.  His paintwork is decent enough.  It’s not super vibrant, but that’s true of the movie design, and it’s in keeping with what we’ve seen of the Asgardians in the MCU so far.  The details are all pretty crisp and clean, and his face looks passably like Karl Urban.  Accessories are easily this figure’s biggest failing.  He gets a clear display stand and nothing else.  Not his axe, not even his twin M-16s, which DST already had the molds for.  It’s more than a little disappointing.

GRANDMASTER

Grandmaster of the comics is one of the Marvel universe’s Elders, and he’s actually a little bit on the boring side.  In the movie, he’s Jeff Goldbloom, essentially playing himself.  That works out pretty well for…well, everybody.  He too is built on the standard base body, with a unique upper left arm (taken from the TMNT Foot Ninja), as well as add ons for his hair and jacket.  The pieces are decently handled, and look pretty sharp.  They translate the film design pretty well, which is pretty great.  His paint work is nice and colorful; the Grandmaster has one of the more vivid designs in the film, and that comes through here.  The likeness of Goldbloom is pretty spot-on as well, which is a definite plus.  Like Skurge, Grandmaster’s only accessory is his clear display stand, but that’s a bit less annoying in his case, since there’s not as much in the way of obvious extras.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got this pair at the same time as the last two sets I reviewed.  By-and-large, I was holding off on the Ragnarok merch until after the film’s release, but these two in particular called to me.  As they ended up being two of my favorite parts of the movie, it’s safe to say I don’t regret my purchase.  Sure, it’s annoying that they don’t really have any accessories, but the ‘mates themselves are pretty solid.

#1478: Vision & Abomination

VISION & ABOMINATION

MARVEL MINIMATES

Yesterday, I reviewed some Minimates.  How about some more Minimates?  That sound okay to you guys?  Ah, it doesn’t really matter; I’m reviewing the Minimates whether you like it or not.  What are you gonna do, stop reading?  Wait, wait, please don’t stop reading!  I didn’t mean it!  …I mean I sort of did…I’m still reviewing the Minimates, but genuinely hoping that doesn’t upset anyone…or something.  Without any further weirdness, here’s Vision and Abomination!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Vision and Abomination are from the sixth Walgreens-exclusive series of animated Marvel Minimates.  They join yesterday’s Black Bolt and Medusa in making up the Avengers Assemble portion of the series.

VISION

An artificial person designed by Ultron, the Vision draws his power from an Infinity Stone, and can adjust his mass from intangible to super-dense.”

This is far from the first time I’ve looked at a Vision Minimate.  In fact, of the 8 Vision Minimates out there, I’ve reviewed 7.  This one is rather similar to both the Age of Ultron and Civil War ‘mates, since the cartoon is really just using the same design as the movies.  The figure stands about 2 1/4 inches tall and has the standard 14 points of articulation.  Like the last two costumed Vision ‘mates, this guy’s just the standard ‘mate body, topped off with the DC Minimates Series 1 Superman cape.  Pretty standard stuff all-around.  The real difference here is the paintwork.  His line work is much simpler, cleaner, and a bit bolder, matching the show’s more streamlined design.  The colors are also a bit brighter, and in a rare instance for an animated ‘mate, they’re a little bit more exciting than the colors seen on the last two ‘mates.  Vision includes both the standard display stand and a flight stand, for those that want choices.

ABOMINATION

“Emil Blonsky wanted the power of the Hulk, so he subjected himself to massive gamma radiation bursts, becoming a super-strong monster.”

While Vision’s just been swimming in Minimates in the last few years, poor Emil here hasn’t been quite so lucky.  He got two ‘mates back in 2008, but nothing since.  And one of those was based on his movie appearance, which is pretty far removed from the typical Abomination design.  He was definitely in need of an update.  From DST’s perspective, this guy’s great because he’s also all re-used parts, taken mostly from the Ultimate Spider-Man incarnation of Green Goblin.  In their defense, all of the pieces work pretty amazingly well for Abomination.  In fact I like them more for Abomination than their original use, but that’s more a personal preference of design thing.  The paint work on Abomination is pretty solid work.  The colors feel a bit warmer than usual for this sub-line, which is certainly a plus in my book.  Abomination’s only extra is a display stand, which feels a little light, but I’m not sure what else he could have been given.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I grabbed this pair at the same time as Black Bolt and Medusa.  It was a bit of an impulse buy, truth be told.  I probably didn’t need this set.  Abomination’s never been a must-have for me, and I’ve got two Visions that look almost identical to this one.  But it was another Vision, and I’m all about Vision, no matter how minority different he may be.  And Abomination actually looked pretty cool.  And I was feeling kind of generous, so I got them.  It’s actually not a bad set.  Not the most exciting ever, but I liked it more than I’d initially expected to.

#1477: Black Bolt & Medusa

BLACK BOLT & MEDUSA

MARVEL MINIMATES

The Inhumans have come into a bit of notoriety recently, thanks at least in part to their currently running live-action mini-series on ABC.  It’s gotten mixed reviews, but I’ve been generally enjoying it.  The characters have been getting a push in most media for a little while now, including cartoons, such as Marvel’s Avengers Assemble.  Cartoon appearances in turn lead to Minimates, which the Inhumans really seem to have been left out of.  Today, I’ll be looking at the heads of the Inhuman Royal Family, Black Bolt and Medusa!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Black Bolt and Medusa were released in the sixth Walgreens-exclusive series of animated Marvel Minimates.  Both figures included are based on their appearance in Avengers Assemble, where they sport slightly tweaked designs from the usual comics garb.

BLACK BOLT

“Blackagar Boltagon is the King of the Inhumans, granted abilities by the Terrigen Mists.  Even the merest whisper from his lips is a highly destructive force.”

Blackagar.  Boltagon.  Man, is that a stupid name.  That’s a very high contender for stupidest name in comics, and there are a lot of stupid names in comics.  Blackagar Boltagon’s on a whole other level, though.  There’s dumb, and then there’s Blackagar Boltagon dumb.  Yikes.  This is ol’ Blackagar’s second time as a Minimate, though it’s his first in a good long while.  The figure is about 2 1/4 inches tall and has the usual 14 points of articulation.  Black Bolt is built on the standard ‘mate body, which unique upper arms, which add his little glider wings.  The pieces are decent, and they work well enough for what they are, but they do restrict movement of the arms a little bit.  Everything else on this guy is handled via paint, which is decent enough.  I do like the choice to go for the mask painted on the standard head, which I find looks a bit better than the sculpted piece from the last one.  That being said, I’m not a huge fan of his overall colorscheme; there’s a lot of grey, and not a lot of actual black.  I pretty much always prefer black areas of costumes to be done in actual black, with highlights, rather than lightening the whole scheme.  As it is, he looks a little washed out.  Black Bolt includes an extra head with a screaming expression, a sound wave effects piece, and a clear display stand.

MEDUSA

“The Queen of the Inhumans, Medusa was given long, prehensile hair, which can obey her commands and even carry her from place to place.”

This marks Medusa’s first time as a Minimate, which is a little bit surprising, since she’s usually one of the better known members, and certainly the one with the most appearances under her belt.  She uses the same basic construction as Black Bolt, but gets a new hair piece, recreating her prehensile mane in all it’s lengthy glory.  The piece is designed to hold her aloft, as she’s frequently depicted in the comics.  It’s a nice piece; obviously animated in style, but very cool.  The paint on Medusa’s pretty decent.  She’s more colorful than Black Bolt.  I miss her usual mask, but Medusa’s look has always been more subject to change than Black Bolt, so it seems less weird to get her in a non-classic design.  Her only accessory is a clear display stand, which feels a little light, but the hair piece sort of makes up for it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been out of Minimates for a little while, but I stopped in Walgreens recently, and I saw this set sitting there, and I just had a hard time turning it down.  The Black Bolt isn’t quite as much of an improvement over the last version as I’d hoped, but I do prefer him slightly, and he’s certainly  a solid take on the character.  Medusa’s actually pretty fun, and it’s nice to have her at long last.  Here’s hoping we won’t have to wait quite as long to get the rest of the Royal Family.

#1475: Mary Jane

MARY JANE

SPIDER-MAN: THE MOVIE (TOY BIZ)

Back in the day, when super hero movies actually got dedicated toy lines at mass retail, one of the nicer things they offered were figures of some of the less dynamic members of their supporting casts.  Perhaps one of the best examples of this is the toy line for 2000’s Spider-Man film, which gave us figures of J. Jonah Jameson, Norman Osborne, and today’s focus figure, Mary Jane Watson!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mary Jane was released in Series 2 of Toy Biz’s Spider-Man: The Movie toy line, alongside variants of Spider-Man and Green Goblin, as well as a Peter Parker.  She’s seen here in her red dress she wears during the first movie’s World Unity Festival scene.  While it’s not necessarily a definitive look for her, it’s easily the most distinctive look from the movie, and more exciting than her others.  The figure stands a little under 6 inches tall and she has 10 points of articulation.  Though many of the figures in this line were super-posable, MJ was on the lower end, more on par with the X-Men: The Movie figures.  Like those figures, there’s not a ton of poses possible, but you can get at least a little bit of variety out of her.  The sculpt was unique to this figure, and it’s actually pretty good for the time.  The proportions are still a little bit exaggerated, and the articulation isn’t integrated as flawlessly as I might like, but it looks solid overall.  The detail work on the dress is actually pretty nice, and the likeness on the head isn’t a half-bad Kirsten Dunst.  The paintwork on MJ is pretty solid overall, apart from a few small nits.  The skin’s a little pasty, and the face is a bit sloppy, but the work on the dress is nothing short of amazing.  It definitely makes this figure worthwhile.  MJ is packed with a section of balcony, which is meant to work as a stand, I suppose.  There’s no foot pegs or anything, and it’s only really stable if you’ve got a window to mount it on, but it’s still a pretty cool piece.  There’s a breakaway feature, allowing it to split, not unlike the damage seen in the movie.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

17 years ago, I picked up this figure in a Toy Zain toystore.  She was rarer at the time, so I almost got her, but she was also $7.99, which was a $2 mark-up from the usual going rate, and I just didn’t know if she was worth it to me.  So, I didn’t get her.  And then I didn’t really see her again, until a few weeks ago, when Cosmic Comix put her out, as one of the many figures they’d gotten as part of a larger collection.  The price?  $7.99.  Nowadays, that’s not so bad, and I was hardly going to leaver her behind again.  She’s actually not a bad little figure, certainly not for the time. 

#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.

#1467: Rogue

ROGUE

X-MEN: THE MOVIE (TOY BIZ)

“The genetic abilities of the young drifter known as Rogue are both a blessing and a curse. The young mutant has the power to absorb the memories and powers of others through the slightest touch, but because she has no control over this talent, she must keep even those she cares for at a distance. She first met Wolverine when he saved her from an attacking angry mob and feels a special kinship with him because she once used her powers to absorb his mutant healing factor and memories in order to save her life. As a result, she understands why the mysterious loner has such a troubled soul.”

For 2000’s X-Men movie, Rogue was somewhat refitted into a focal point character, through whom the audience could be more easily introduced to the titular team of mutants.  Since it’s not a role the character had previously filled, she was refitted with some traits from the last two characters to fill this role, Kitty Pryde and Jubilee, which ended up making her a little less Rogue-like.  Still, she got to be a very central figure in on of the franchise’s most visible offerings, so it’s hardly the worst thing ever, right?  And she got toys out of the deal, which is always a win in my book.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Rogue was released in Series 2 of Toy Biz’s X-Men: The Movie tie-in line of figures.  The first two series of the line were actually released simultaneously, something Toy Biz did with a few lines at the time.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  Most of that articulation is rendered essentially inert, thanks to some very low range of motion.  The neck has the hair to contend with, the cuffs of the jeans restrict the feet, and the hips are v-hips that are so shallow they barely even count as v-hips.  Essentially, she’s good for standing, and that’s about it.  Oh, and she can also wave her arms around.  That’s fun!  The sculpt was an all-new venture, and it’s decent enough for the time, I guess.  The body seems a little skinny for Anna Paquin, and the head doesn’t really look all that much like her, but it’s decent enough from a purely aesthetic standpoint.  She looks like an actual person, which is always a good thing.  The paint work is passable, if maybe a little basic for a figure that’s supposedly based on a real person.  There’s at least some fun detailing on her blouse and undershirt.  She’s got a streak of white in her hair, showing that she’s supposed to be from the end of the movie.  It’s only in the final film ever so briefly, and even the prototype didn’t have it, but one can certainly understand why Toy Biz would want Rogue to have at least one recognizable trait.  Rouge included an overcoat and scarf, both cloth, which completed her look from the film.  They were both rather over-sized and goofy, but better than nothing, I suppose.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After rushing out to get Cyclops and Jean Grey when they were first released, I patiently waited for my 8th birthday to get the rest of the line.  Rogue was near the top of my list, but she and Toad were both short-packed, meaning they weren’t found for my actual birthday.  However, I did get a little money, which I immediately took to the nearest Toys R Us, where I found both Rogue and Toad in one fell swoop.  Nifty! Rogue is perhaps not the most thrilling figure, but she’s a pretty solid standard civilian, and you don’t get many of those.

#1458: The Thing

THE THING

FANTASTIC FOUR (TOY BIZ)

“Ace test pilot Ben Grimm found his life was forever changed after a fateful trip on an untried spacecraft. Exposure to cosmic rays caused Grimm to evolve into a hulking, brutally strong creature, with a thick, orange, rock-like hide. Dubbing himself The Thing, Grimm, along with Mr. Fantastic, the Human Torch, and the Invisible Woman, decided to make the most of his transformation and aid humanity by becoming a valued member of the Fantastic Four. His unbelievable strength and endurance, combined with his bravery, loyalty and innate kindness make The Thing one of the most heroic humans ever to walk the Earth!”

Almost exactly four years ago, I spent several of my earliest reviews on this site looking at six of the seven figures in the first series of Toy Biz’s Fantastic Four line from the ’90s.  I didn’t review the seventh because he was the only one I didn’t own.  Now I own him, and so now, after four years, I’m completing my reviews of Fantastic Four Series 1.  Let’s look at Benjamin J Grimm, aka the ever-lovin’-blue-eyed-Thing!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

As touched on in the intro, the Thing is one of the seven figures in Series 1 of Toy Biz’s Fantastic Four line, based on the cartoon from the mid-90s.  Ben, like the rest of the titular team, is wearing a variant of his John Byrne-designed costume from the ’80s.  It’s a standard look, and was his main look in the cartoon, so it made sense here.  The figure stands about 5 1/4 inches tall and he has 10 points of articulation.  This version of Ben was sporting an all-new sculpt, which was only ever used for this one figure (barring a few direct re-releases).  Unlike later Thing figures from this line, this guy wasn’t directly based on the cartoon, and as such presents a slightly more detailed take on the character.  I think this may be the best sculpted Thing figure that Toy Biz ever released, quite frankly.  It’s really very good.  There’s a ton of detailing on his rocky skin, he’s got just the right build, and they even managed to very nicely convey Ben’s attitude on the face.  What’s more, the belt on his shorts even has little wrinkles and some stretching, which is an awesome touch.  Comparing this figure to something like Mole Man, who is from the very same series as this figure mind you, is like night and day.  Whoever sculpted this guy had a fun time.  Now, I’m not going to say that the paint ruins this figure, because it certainly doesn’t, but there’s a definite step down from the sculpt to the paint.  There’s paint for the eyes, the belt, and the shorts.  That’s it.  The rest is all the same shade of molded orange plastic.  That was Toy Biz’s style at the time.  That was the style of action figures in general at the time.  And it doesn’t ruin the figure.  But this sculpt would look a ton better with even the tiniest bit of accent work.  The Thing included no accessories, but he does have a “Clobberin’ Time Punh” action feature: when you turn him at the waist, his arms swing up and down. Fairly standard for this era of figures, but I like that it adds a little something to the figure without risk of ruining the sculpt or posability.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Growing up, my main version of Ben was the trench coat-wearing variant from Series 3, so I never had this one.  I’ve been on the lookout for one for a few years now, but it was never a really a search I put a ton of effort into.  This year at Shore Leave, one of the vendors I buy from pretty regularly had gotten in a stock of new loose figures, and thrown some of the more beaten-up figures into the dollar bin.  I was mostly happy meal toys, knock-offs, and the like, but I did dig this guy out.  He was covered in god-knows-what, but I figured it was worth it to grab him and see what sort of condition he was in.  So, I got him home, and I sat down with my cleaning supplies, and after about a half an hour or so, I had a Thing figure that was in pretty great shape.  And now my Series 1 set is complete.  For a dollar.  Not bad.

#1456: Annihilus

ANNIHILUS

MARVEL SUPER HEROES (TOY BIZ)

“Power mad is the only word that can describe the flying nightmare known as Annihilus. He’s not satisfied being the merciless ruler of his own dimension, the bizarre Negative Zone – he wants to be the tyrant of Earth’s universe too! And because he carries the near-limitless force of the awesome Cosmic Control Rod on his chest, he has the power to make his wicked dream a reality! Only the Fantastic Four have been able to block his nightmarish plans of conquest.”

The foes of the Fantastic Four don’t ever seem to get much respect.  Beyond Doctor Doom and Galactus, it’s like they don’t exist.  And that’s a shame, because the FF have a lot of really fun villains.  One such villain is Annihilus, the ruler of the Phantom Zone.  Annihilus has had a few different figures over the years, but he got his very first in 1992, in what was effectively luck of the draw.  I’ll be looking at that figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Annihilus was released in Series 3 of Toy Biz’s Marvel Super Heroes line.  Series 3 included Toy Biz’s first versions of the Fantastic Four, and they needed a villain to go along with them.  However, Doctor Doom had already been released in Series 1, meaning TB needed another villain.  Why they chose Annihilus is anyone’s guess.  Perhaps they just thought he had the coolest design?  Who knows?  Annihilus is seen here sporting his classic design, which I believe was still the only one he had at the time of this figure’s release.  The figure stands about 5 inches tall and he has 10 points of articulation.  Like most of the others from this line, Annihilus’s sculpt is rather dated, and looks a little out of place with more modern items, or even figures from just a few years later in TB’s run.  The details are a little more simplified, and, most noticeably, he’s really scrawny.  This was a recurring issue, after Toy Biz moved away from the slightly stockier figures of the first two series, where everyone went too far the other direction.  I don’t believe Annihilus has ever been quite this small.  It should be noted, though, that this is still not a bad sculpt.  There’s some nice work on some of the smaller details, especially on the head, which looks good for the time, if perhaps a little goofy in this day and age.  Though jiust how they’d be handled on later figures would vary, the wings on this Annihilus are permanently affixed to the figure, and much like the original Toy Biz Archangel, there’s a wing-flapping action feature that’s operated by the little lever on the back.  It doesn’t offer a ton of motion, and the wings are sort of small and silly, but it’s a mildly amusing little feature.  Paint on Annihilus is fairly simple.  Mostly, he’s just molded in the proper colors, with only a few actual painted details, which are all just straight colors.  It’s hardly inaccurate to his original design, though, so it’s hard to really complain.  Perhaps some metallics would have added some flair, but beyond that, this feels decent enough. Annihilus included no accessories, but he’s got the wings, so that’s at least something.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t have this figure growing up.  Instead, I had the later one from the main Fantastic Four line.  Unfortunately, that one had a removable head, and I lost mine, so I’ve been without a proper Annihilus for a little while.  I’m slowly working my way to getting a complete run of Toy Biz 5-inch figures, so I grabbed this guy at the Dave Hart Toy Show this past summer, in an effort to get one step closer to my goal. He’s sort of a goofy little figure. There’s no denying that.  But, he’s still entertaining, and that’s really all I look for in an action figure.

#1453: Spider Racer (w/ Spider-Man)

SPIDER-RACER (w/ SPIDER-MAN)

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (HASBRO)

Spider-Man: Homecoming hits physical media next week, and I’m definitely looking forward to giving it another watch.  It was an awesome film that felt a little bit crowded out this summer.  The actual film did great in theatres, but a lot of the tie-in stuff was scarce from day one.  I still haven’t seen the Legends figures in any substantial numbers, and while the more basic line’s coverage has been a little better, it still seemed a little small for a Spider-Man movie.  Back in May, I looked at one of the basic line’s takes on Spidey. I ended up picking up one more item from this line, though it’s admittedly not one directly aimed at my particular demographic.  So, without further ado, here’s Spider-Man driving a car!

THE VEHICLE ITSELF

The Spider-Racer was a mid-sized offering in Hasbro’s basic Spider-Man: Homecoming toyline.  It was released fairly early on, right around the same time as the first four basic figures.  The racer measures about 8 inches long by 5 1/2 inches wide, and it has working wheels and a pop-out Nerf feature.  The overall construction of the racer is new to this particular item, and it’s fairly well-rendered.  The racer is pretty solidly put together, so it’ll hold up to fair bit of play, which is good, since that’s kind of the whole point behind an item like this.  Design-wise, it’s totally concocted from the minds of Hasbro’s designers, of course, but they’ve at least managed to create a vehicle that’s plausible as a real thing.  It’s got consistency in its design as well, so it doesn’t just look like a bunch of random elements tacked together.  There’s a bit of an old-style Formula 1 race car look to it, mixed in with a little bit of the Tumbler from Batman Begins.  It’s hardly the most original thing ever, but I dig it. Throughout the body, there’s lots of little details that add a bit more character to the racer.  I appreciate that they didn’t just leave large chunks of this thing totally smooth and featureless.  The racer’s a single-seater, which is a little bit of a letdown if you’re like me and you want to put a couple of alternate reality Spideys in it for a cross-dimensional adventure, but seems reasonable enough within the confines of a movie-based-racing-centric-solo-hero-vehicle.  The latter’s probably a little more marketable than the former, so I can’t really blame Hasbro on this one.  Paint on the racer is pretty straightforward.  Lot of red and blue, which are the Spider-Man colors and all, so that makes sense.  It’s obviously on the toyetic side of things; it’s not like anyone will be mistaking this for a real scale model of a car or anything.  The application is all pretty clean, and the colors are fairly eye-catching.  One of the selling points of the Spider-Racer is its Nerf feature.  There’s a small Nerf gun built into the left side of the vehicle.  Press it in and it pops out, and then you can shoot a Nerf dart.  There are two Spidey-themed darts included, but only one can be loaded at a time.  It’s a mildly amusing feature, but not particularly powerful.  Since it’s Nerf, though, I did go ahead and get a few words from the FiQ’s resident Nerf-Expert Tim.  Here’s what he had to say about it:

“So, if there’s one defining thing Peter Parker does, besides the whole spider thing, it’s invent stuff.  And take photos.  And get bullied in school, but the inventing is the main thing. That’s why it’s a little disappointing to see that he chose to equip his car with one of the lamest Nerf mechanisms ever.  When you load the dart in the barrel, you press back on the collar piece around it which primes the blaster to fire.  It’s super compact, probably more so than even the Jolt and that means it can at least fold away neatly into the side panel of the car.  It’s the same setup we’ve seen on the Rogue One vehicles and that one Build-A-Saber lightsaber set and it wasn’t great then either.  Sure, it gets the job done, but it might have been nice to see a more  creative solution, especially given who’s driving.”

THE FIGURE ITSELF

A car’s no good without a driver, and by extension, a Spider-Car’s no good without a Spider-Driver.  Fortunately, this Spider-Car does have a Spider-Driver, in the form of an included Spider-Man Spider-Action Figure. Spider.  The figure is very much on the basic side.  He’s about 5 1/2 inches tall (the same scale as the other basic figures) and has 5 points of articulation.  The articulation is less than the other standard figures, but it’s enough to get him seated in the car and holding the controls, and that’s really all this figure needs to do.  Spidey uses the same head and torso as the standard Homecoming Spider-Man, with new arms and legs.  It’s a fairly decent sculpt. Nothing ground breaking, but the costume is translated pretty well here and the proportions look decent enough.  He’s even got all of the proper texture work!  The paint on Spider-Man, like the Racer, is fairly straightforward.  Basic color work with clean application.  At least he doesn’t have any of the weird flaking paint issues the he Homemade costume had.  This figure doesn’t have any accessories, but he’s really just an accessory himself, so it’s excusable here.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Okay, I know what you’re thinking: “why’d you buy this, Ethan?” To explain that, I need to give a little history lesson.  Back in the ’70s, Mego was producing their World’s Greatest Super Heroes line.  The Batmobile was a strong seller, so they decided to give all of the big heroes their own themed vehicle.  This included Spider-Man, whose Spider-Car was sort of worked into the comics, albeit in the rather tweaked form of the Spider-Mobile.  The Spider-Mobile’s picked a sort of a cult following over the years (in no part due to some rather brilliant uses by Spider-Man scribe Dan Slott), and I’ve always been a fan of it, as goofy as it is.  So, I saw this on the shelf this summer, in the midst of trying desperately to find Marvel Legends, and it just called to me.  It’s not some amazing piece of unskippable merchandise, but it’s pretty amusing, and will at the very least hold me over until Hasbro releases an official, comics-accurate, Marvel Legends-scaled Spider-Mobile with a Spider-Ham pack-in figure.  Please?