#2187: Maximum Clonage

BEN REILLY, SCARLET SPIDER, & SPIDER-MAN

SPIDER-MAN (TOY BIZ)

“When the scientist known as the Jackal cloned spider-man, he intended to destroy Spidey! Now several years after Spider-Man defeated the clone, he has returned as the hero, Scarlet Spider. Fighting alongside the original Spider-Man, the spider clone seeks to uncover the answers behind the many players in the clone saga!”

Oh boy, you want a fun time?  Why not have a little talk about “The Clone Saga,” the gargantuan, over-stuffed Spidey crossover from the ’90s that forever is remembered in infamy.  Early commercial success of the story, which brought back unexplored plot threads from two decades prior, led to Marvel editorial greatly extending its run through the Spider titles, adding in all sorts of aimless and needlessly complicated plots that seemed to go nowhere.  At the crux of the story, it was revealed that the Peter Parker the audience had been following for two decades was in fact a clone, and the recently introduced Ben Reilly was the original, which was really Marvel’s first stab at the “carefree, single” Peter Parker that we would later get out of “One More Day.”  By the end of the story, Ben was dead and confirmed as the clone, and the whole thing was put to bed.  Of course, that didn’t stop Toy Biz from taking advantage of the story in order to get some toys out of it!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Ben Reilly, Scarlet Spider, and Spider-Man were released in the fall of 1997 as part of a BJ’s Wholesalers exclusive “Maximum Clonage” boxed set, which also featured unmasked Peter Parker, Kaine, Spidercide, Jackal, and Sandman, and covering the Clone Saga as a whole.

BEN REILLY

“When the clone of Peter Parker left New York City, he took the name Ben Reilly. Now, Ben Reilly has returned to join Peter Parker in his quest to find the truth behind the clone mystery. Just as much hero as the real Peter Parker, Ben creates a new super hero costume and takes the name Scarlet Spider. Fighting together as the Scarlet Spider and Spider-Man, Ben and Peter are an amazing web-slinging duo. But when the real Peter Parker loses his powers, Ben takes his place becoming the all new Spider-Man!”

One of the handful of truly exclusive figures in the set, Ben Reilly in his civilian garb has so far never been done again in action figure form.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 10 points of articulation.  Ben was built out of the main Spider-Man line’s Peter Parker figure, at least from the neck down, anyway.  It’s a guy of average build wearing a bomber jacket, jeans, and sneakers, so it’s reasonably generic.  Plus, even if it weren’t, it’s not like there isn’t a good excuse for the two to look similar.  It’s honestly a very nice sculpt, and definitely one of Toy Biz’s best civilian looks.  To differentiate himself from the original Peter Parker, Ben bleached his hair blond and got a very mid-90s style ‘do, which this figure replicates by throwing the head of Archangel III on top of the body.  While it does the hair justice, it’s a little off on the facial front, since it means he doesn’t look all that much like Peter, and he also has Warren’s super intense stare.  Still, there were worse parts choices that could have been made, and at least he was slightly different from Peter.  The paintwork further differentiated the two, changing his jacket from brown to black.

SCARLET SPIDER

“Returning from a self-imposed exile, the clone of Peter Parker reappears, now calling himself Ben Reilly.  Possessing all of Spider-Man’s powers and abilities, Reilly begins to fight crime as the Scarlet Spider.  With an all-new costume and special high-impact web-shooters, the Scarlet Spider fights with the enthusiasm of a rookie hero.  Patrolling the same streets as the original Spider-Man, the Scarlet Spider leaves no doubt for criminals their days are numbered!”

Previously offered in another exclusive release during the Overpower line, this figure is pretty much unchanged here.  This figure, just like the original release, was built using the body of Octo-Spider-Man, which would become one of Toy Biz’s favorite base bodies.  It’s not terrible, and benefits from not having sculpted weblines, meaning that Scarlet doesn’t look odd or out of place.  The downside is that the hoody is just a painted on element, rather than something new.  He does get webshooters, a belt, and pouches for his legs, which mix up his look well enough.  Ultimately, he’s sort of simple, but he’s probably my favorite figure from the set, so I really can’t complain much about him.

SPIDER-MAN

“When Peter Parker temporarily steps down from his crime fighting career, his clone Ben Reilly takes his place as the all new Spider-Man!  Wearing an exciting new costume and utilizing the impact web shooters of his Scarlet Spider suit, Reilly can tackle anyone.  Facing the threat of the evil Jackal, and the enigmantic Kaine, the new Spider-Man will have his work cut out for him!”

The “New Costume” Spider-Man had previously seen release in Series 7 of the main Spider-Man line, but saw another inclusion here, for obvious reasons.  This new costume design is definitely a favorite for toy makers, and I myself am rather fond of it, probably due to its inclusion right here.  This figure is built the same way as the Scarlet Spider, which is sensible, them being the same guy and all, but he gets tweaked forearms with the webshooters molded into place, just like his single release had.  This figure does change some things up a little bit from the single, swapping out the blue for a darker shade that’s a little more appropriate for the character.  My particular figure is also missing a chunk of the spider insignia on the front, for whatever reason.  He’s been like that since I got him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

“Maximum Clonage” was my first introduction to the Clone Saga, and I got the whole set as a Christmas gift from family friend Pat Sponaugle back in ’97.  While I ended up losing most of the other figures, these three in particular have always been some of my very favorites of my 5-inch Marvel collection.  I’m glad I hung onto them over the years, and someday I really do need to replace the rest of the set.

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#2184: Ch’od

CH’OD

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“An alien from the Shi’ar galaxy, Ch’od’s monstrous, reptillian form belittles his keen intellect and heroic heart. Once a slave, he has regained his freedom, and now travels the spaceways in the company of the Starjammers, always on the lookout for other victims of tyranny in need of his aid!”

From Amphibian Man to lizard man!  Prior to hitting it big over at Marvel with his stint on X-Men, Dave Cockrum had tried to pitch some of characters he’d been holding onto for a while to Marvel Spotlight and Marvel Premiere.  Among those concepts was The Starjammers, a group of space pirates who would eventually find their way into the Marvel Universe through the pages of X-Men, where they became the crew of Cyclops and Havok’s father Christopher Summers, aka Corsair.  The line up has had its fluctuations over the years, but one of the mainstays has been Ch’od, big reptilian guy who would really prefer you stopped confusing him with Abomination.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ch’od was released in series 6 of the Toy Biz X-Men line.  He, alongside series and team-mate Raza, was the line’s first introduction of the Starjammers.  Their leader Corsair would follow shortly after in the assortment based on The Phoenix Saga.  To date, this remains Ch’od’s only action figure, but who knows, maybe he’ll get some Legends love sometime soon.  The figure stands just over 5 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  He loses out on elbow and knee articulation, I can only guess due to his relative size and build.  He does get a waist joint, though, as well as a neck joint, which was frequently one of the first joints to go for this line.  Despite his slightly less posable nature, or perhaps because of it, Ch’od actually has one of the best sculpts from early in the line, certainly the best of his particular assortment.  He captures Cockrum’s rendition of the character quite nicely, and his sculpt has a surprising level of detail and texture work for the time.  Ch’od’s paintwork is fairly basic, with minimal detailing on the face, shorts, and belt.  The rest of the figure is just molded in a bright green, which is perhaps a touch on the bright side for Ch’od, but hardly the worst choice ever.  Ch’od is packed with his white furry companion Cr’eee, who pegs onto his shoulder via a rather obtrusive peg that’s pretty much going to guarantee that you don’t ever display one without the other.  Ch’od also has an action feature, dubbed “Double Arm Hurling Action” which is pretty self explanatory, and actually works surprisingly well.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Okay, so here’s an odd one for me: I have genuinely no idea where this guy came from.  I remember my dad having one when I was growing up.  I remember wanting to get one.  And I remember that I did *not* get one new.  A few years back, while prepping for a move, I found a box of 20-some X-Men figures I’d been missing, and Ch’od was in with them.  The timeline of when the box went missing means that he didn’t get bought during my big 5-inch buy in 2011, so I just don’t know what his deal was.  Whatever the case, I’m glad I have one because he’s a really nifty figure.  He just baffles me.

#2178: First Appearance Thor & Balder

FIRST APPEARANCE THOR & BALDER

MARVEL MINIMATES

Jack Kirby was a major piece of comics history, especially when it comes to Marvel.  However, his actual work hasn’t quite so much been touched by the world of action figures.  There’s something about his dynamic style that doesn’t always lend itself to toys.  Fortunately, Minimates are in a position to offer a more artist-specific figure, as is the case with today’s entry, First Appearance Thor and Balder the Brave!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Thor and Balder were released in the twelfth TRU-exclusive series of Marvel Minimates, which was meant to compliment the Thor/Cap-themed Series 42 of the main line.  This set was the Thor component and Cap/Crossbones made up the Cap component.

FIRST APPEARANCE THOR

Series 42 offered up a couple of Thor variants, but the closest we would get to a classic Thor update would be this guy, inspired by his Jack Kirby-penciled first appearance in Journey into Mystery #83.  There were some minor details that changed between Thor’s initial appearance and those that followed, allowing for this figure to have a few more unique things going about it.  Built on the standard body, the figure is 2 1/2 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  Thor has seven add-on pieces, used for his hair/helmet, cape/shoulder pads, wrist bands, belt, and boots.  Like all of the “classic” Thors before him, he uses the Stargirl wrist bands, which are a solid fit for the character.  He also re-uses a standard nondescript belt piece, since the details on his early belt were just different enough that he couldn’t use the already existing belt.  His last bit of re-use is the cape, which is shared with the Eric Masterson Thor from Series 42.  It’s a good Thor cape.  His helmet and boots are new additions.  The boots are the best Thor boots to date, which is why they’ve remained the go-to Classic Thor boots since this figure’s release.  The helmet, or rather the hair beneath it, is a far more unique piece, capturing the distinctive whisp of hair that brushes out from under the helmet at the left side of his forehead.  That’s a very Kirby trait, and it really sells what this figure is meant to replicate.  More so than the sculpted parts, the paint is really key to selling the Kirby vibe on this figure.  They really got it down, from the distinctive Kirby yell on the face, to that signature shading style on the torso.  There are some minor complaints to be had, of course, like the torso detailing being slightly too high, and I know not everyone was in favor of the flat grey helmet, but by-and-large, this is a very snappy looking paint scheme.  Thor is packed with his hammer Mjolnir, which is a distinctly different shape than previous versions, following after its look in JiM #83.  The head is narrower, and the handle is longer.  As with the hair, it may not be standard issue, but it’s a nice attention to detail.  It’s even got the “whosoever holds this…” on the side.  Also included is Mjolnir’s alternate cane form.  Yeah, it’s just a glorified stick, and not super useful without a corresponding Donald Blake, but it’s a cool little extra nevertheless.

BALDER THE BRAVE

Prior to his film in 2011, Thor’s coverage in the world of Minimates included himself and Loki, twice over.  The movie and the increased exposure it granted got us a handful of other supporting players, including his *other* brother, Balder the Brave, a character whom has had exactly one action figure ever.  Like his brother Thor, this version of Balder is clearly based on Jack Kirby’s version, though he has been toned down ever so slightly so as to better fit in with the other Thor supporting players.  Balder has seven add-on pieces, for his helmet, cape, glove cuffs, boots, and skirt.  The helmet is a new piece, and its slightly smaller side denotes its Kirby influence.  While I’m kind of partial to the ridiculously large helmet from the Simonson-era, there’s no denying that this is a well-sculpted piece in its own right.  The rest of the pieces are all re-used.  He gets Superman’s cape, Invaders Captain America’s boots, Cap TTA’s gloves, and a classic BSG skirt.  It’s a well-chosen selection of pieces, and makes for quite an accurate looking Balder.  Balder’s paintwork is pretty solid work as well.  As noted above, he tones down the Kirby-styling a little bit, but it’s still definitely there, especially on the face.  Overall, he’s got an attractive color scheme, though perhaps one that’s not quite as exciting as Thor’s.  Included with Balder is his magical sword.  Don’t tell him, but it’s actually the same standard sword we’ve been seeing since Valkyrie.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

At the time of this set’s release, there were a few options for a classic Thor, but prior versions had always seemed to be lacking something.  The First Appearance look may be little more appearance-specific than others, but swap out the hammer for a more standard issue one and you’ve got a really solid take on the main God of Thunder.  And, while he may lack some of Thor’s flair, but Balder is undoubtedly a well-put together figure, and an essential piece of any proper Thor collection.  If he was only going to get one ‘mate, this one’s a pretty decent one to get.

#2174: Big Time Spider-Man

BIG TIME SPIDER-MAN

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“After losing his spider-sense, Peter Parker builds new Spider-Armor to protect himself.”

So….like….that bio doesn’t really have anything at all to do with the figure the box contains, but hey, let’s not dwell, right?  Though only a moderate fan, I became a regular reader of the book with issue #648, which was the beginning of Dan Slott’s 250-odd issue run.  I’ve been a fan of Slott’s since his work on She-Hulk, and that was enough to get me on-board.  Slott’s first story line was “Big Time,” which began Peter Parker’s time with Horizon Labs, injecting all sorts of new tech-based stuff into the book.  That translated to quite a few new suits for Spidey, the first of which was his Tron-esque stealth suit, a distinctive design for the character.  It’s cropped up on a number of figures before, including a Legends figure that we all prefer not to talk about.  But now it’s also a Legends figure that we can all be okay with talking about!  Yay!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Big Time Spider-Man is our second “Fan Channel” Marvel Legends release.  Essentially, the “Fan Channel” releases are an assortment of figures largely constructed out of re-used parts, all offered up one at a time only through non-big-box stores (although Amazon is also carrying them).  The set was kicked off by a Wolverine variant, with Spidey following his lead.  As I touched on in the intro, this figure is Spidey’s first suit from “Big Time,” which has been offered up as a Legends figure one time before, but that particular was on the receiving end of all sorts of really messy issues, resulting in a rather disappointing release.  This one moves the design to the Pizza Spidey body, which has become the new gold-standard for Spider-Men.  Structurally, this figure is identical to the Black Costume Spidey also built on this body.  It’s sensible, given that the two designs really aren’t far removed from each other.  There’s no real call for new parts, and this way you know it’s all going to be pretty solid.  The main distinguishing factor is of course the paint.  Firstly, as you may note, he’s green, meaning that the suit is in its camo mode.  There were other chromatic settings as well, but green is always the one we get as a toy.  You’ll hear no complaints about that from me.  Since the lines are technically meant to be glowing, the prior release attempted to do sort of a painted haze, which unfortunately backfired horrifically.  For this one, Hasbro has wisely chosen to play it safe, and just gone for a straight flat green color.  It’s a striking appearance, as this design should be.  Big Time Spidey is accessorized with the full complement of extra hands for this body, as well as a webline piece.  It’s nice to see the hands return fully here, given the absence of the full set from all of the Pizza-based figures in the last year, and it gives me hope that Hasbro realizes how silly it is to not include them.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I love this design, like a whole lot.  It’s quite possibly my favorite Spider-Man costume ever.  So, I’m all about it in toy form…well, except for that previous Legends figure.  That thing was so hideous that I just couldn’t ever bring myself to own it, which made me kinda sad, honestly.  Since the introduction of the Pizza Spidey body, I’ve been hoping to see an updated version, and I was thrilled to see him show up here.  There’s not really much new to this figure, but he’s still a ton of fun, and a good showcase of what you can do with a solid selection of re-used parts and a good paint job.

Big Time Spidey came from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for Marvel Legends, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2173: Iron Man

IRON MAN

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

Genius industrialist and inventor Tony Stark creates a suit of armor for himself, powered by the arc reactor in his chest, becoming the hero, Iron Man.”

When I opened up my last 6-inch-scaled Classic Iron Man review of the year, back in February, I remarked that a re-do of Tony’s classic armor hadn’t crossed Hasbro’s list for Marvel Legends just yet.  Well…I was wrong as you can see.  A week later, they unveiled the figure I’m looking at today, which just makes me look good and foolish, doesn’t it?  Well, if looking good and foolish means that I get a cool new Iron Man figure, I guess I won’t complain so much about it.  Best not to look a gift horse in the mouth and all that.  So, hey, let’s look at this here Iron Man, shall we?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Iron Man is the second of the two single-packed “80 Years of Marvel” Legends figures. Like Thor, he’s available at mass retail and ships in a case all to himself.  He’s based on Tony’s classic armor, which is the one he wore for the better part of 20 years, making it a natural choice for a celebration of Marvel’s history.  It’s a look that’s never too far from the line.  Toy Biz, of course, kicked off the line with their take on it, which was kind of the gold standard for a while.  Hasbro themselves have tackled this design before, with a two-pack release in ’07, and then a repaint of that sculpt in ’13.  Both of those sculpts are definitely products of their times, though, and another go seems appropriate.  This figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Iron Man is an all-new sculpt, and oh boy is it a nice one.  This one takes the general larger size of the original Toy Biz figure, and gives it the slightly better proportions of the first Hasbro attempt, and the end result is something that looks a fair bit more human, but also still looks like it could conceivably house a human being.  It’s also our first comics Iron Man in a bit that’s not completely dwarfed by all of the Captain America figures Hasbro’s offering.  While there’s a bit of a theme to the trinity of Avengers released here being based on the art of Alex Ross, Iron Man takes a bit of a deviation, at least in regards to how he is straight out of the box.  The head he comes wearing doesn’t actually follow Ross’s take (which is itself a bit of a deviation from usual illustrations), and instead goes for a more standard “classic” Iron Man head, representing his helmet post horns and rivets, going for that nice, sleek 70s style.  I’d hasten to say it’s the best rendition of this helmet we’ve gotten on an action figure.  There’s a second helmeted head, which is more directly based on Ross’s illustrations, which draw a little more inspiration from the time when Tony added a nose to the helmet in the mid-70s, all because Stan Lee made some one off remark about some of the art coming back.  While I certainly appreciate the aim to more closely capture the Ross art, and I like Ross’s work on the page, I don’t really know that the helmet translates all that well into an action figure.  Iron Man’s paintwork continues the trend we saw with Thor and Cap, where it’s a little more subdued in its coloring than other figures from the main line.  It’s a little less noticeable with Iron Man, since metallic colors aren’t too out of the ordinary for him, even on a classic-inspired figure.  It certainly looks clean and sleek, which is always what you want with this particular design.  Iron Man is packed with one more head, this time unmasked.  It again follows the Ross stylings, which means that it’s a Tony Stark that’s heavily modeled on Timothy Dalton.  Honestly, it’s something of a Legends tradition, so I’m all about it.  It’s technically a little large to properly fit within the helmeted head, but I don’t mind too much, because it’s really just so nice.  Iron Man is also packed with two sets of hands in fists and repulser hand poses, as well as two repulser effects pieces, which take a page out of the Siege playbook and can be broken down into three separate pieces each.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I love me some classic Iron Man, and I really wanted a solid version for my Legends shelf, enough so that I was willing to go outside of Legends for the Mezco version.  As it turns out, that one was more of a place holder for this guy.  I honestly didn’t expect Hasbro to turn him around so quickly, but I’m really glad they did.  I dug the Mezco version for what it was, I dug the Toy Biz version for being as cool as it was for the time, but this is my definitive Iron Man.  There’s just so much I like about this figure, and he’s got to be one of Hasbro’s most cleanly put together sculpts.  I hope we can at least see a Stealth variant, because I love this sculpt so much.  Definitely the highlight of the three 80th singles, and that’s coming from someone who loved Cap and Thor a lot as well.

I picked up Iron Man from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for Marvel Legends, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2172: Thor

THOR

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

Back in the early days of Marvel Legends, Thor figures weren’t the most common things to crop up.  He did manage to get two figures over the course of the Toy Biz days, but the early run of Hasbro only added one more, due to him being dead for a while at the time.  Since the return of Legends, his figures have been more of the modern persuasion; our last classic Thor was 12 years ago.  Fortunately, Hasbro’s paying tribute to a lot of classic designs, courtesy of their celebration of Marvel’s 80th anniversary, and Thor got in on some of that classic love.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Thor is one of the two widely released single-packed “80 Years of Marvel” Legends figures, shipped in solid cases of himself.  As noted above, this Thor is the classic version of the character, and is designed to match up with the Walmart-Exclusive Cap from earlier this year, being loosely patterned on Alex Ross’s illustrations of the main trio of Avengers.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Thor is sporting an all-new sculpt, and it’s a sculpt that, more than anything Hasbro has done in this line, feels like it’s specifically designed to replace the Toy Biz Giant Man Series Thor, which was the pinnacle of Toy Biz Thors.  It makes sense, I suppose, since for most collectors, that’s the figure this one’s going to be directly competing with anyway, given just how long it’s been since our last classic Thor.  Whatever the case, this sculpt is very, very nice.  It’s clean, and bold, and captures the appropriate aesthetic of the classic comics design, while still managing to work in some smaller details on the costume to help sell it as an actual cloth costume, and not just something that’s painted on.  In particular, I really like the seam running down the center of his tunic, as well as the wrinkles in his tights on his legs.  Those add some nice realism to the figure.  Unlike every comic Thor since the ROML release, this one doesn’t feel oversized when compared to his compatriots.  He’s still got some bulk on him, but he’s not inhuman in scale.  Thor’s got a sculpted cape, which Hasbro’s gone with a dynamic flow for.  It continues the pleasant trend of Hasbro turning in some really solid capes; it’s got enough pose to it to be fun with action poses, but not enough to look too weird when he’s just standing at attention.  It’s also not too overly heavy, so he can stand alright on his own.  Thor’s paintwork is very similar in styling to the Cap figure, as you might well expect.  Application is clean and crisp, and all of the important details are covered, but it’s worth noting that the colors are ever so slightly subdued when compared to other “classic” figures.  It’s certainly not a bad look, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Hasbro had a more classically hued re-release in mind somewhere down the line.  Thor is packed with Mjolnir, which like its user is an all-new, far less ridiculously sized sculpt.  The length of the handle surprised me at first, because I’ve become accustomed to the longer handles we’ve been getting, but this actually works pretty well, and I love how “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.” looks on the face of it. In addition to the hammer, Thor also has two different left hands, one in a fist and one in open gesture.  It’s definitely a lighter selection than I’d expected based on the other two he pairs with and his higher price point, but I suppose it’s the sizing that’s supposed to make up for that.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As beautiful as he was, I never found the old Walmart Thor, nor was I much of a fan of the version that preceded it.  My Legends Thor was the armored one from the Blob Series, until he was replaced by the Marvel Now variant a few years ago.  I liked that figure a lot, but he wasn’t a classic Thor, and my Avengers have been skewing more and more classic all the time.  This figure finally makes classic Thor readily available again, and I have to say, he’s a very nicely rendered version.  Definitely the nicest Legends Thor out there, possibly just the best Thor figure you can get.  I do wish he wasn’t so light on accessories, but that’s the only thing I can hold against him.

I picked up Thor from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for Marvel Legends, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2170: Tigra

TIGRA

AVENGERS: UNITED THEY STAND (TOY BIZ)

“Greer Nelson was subjected to treatments meant to enhance her physical prowess and make her the greatest female athlete in the world – but something else happened. She was transformed into a fur-covered cat woman, and gifted with all the graces of a feline – heightened speed and agility, enhanced senses, and dangerously sharp claws. As Tigra, she can be as playful as a kitten, but when trouble arises she becomes a savage warrior. The symbol on her belt joins Tigra with Earth’s mightiest heroes, and she heeds the call, ‘Avengers Assemble!'”

Back before the Avengers had a whole bank of movies to make them a household name, Marvel had tried their hand at expanding their outreach via animation.  Hoping to capture some of the success of X-Men: The Animated SeriesSpider-Man: The Animated Series, and the Marvel Action Hour, they launched Avengers: United They Stand.  It was…not a success.  It lasted just one 13-episode season and never had much of a following to speak of.  Me?  Well, I loved it, and the toyline it spawned, which provided figures for the team’s more obscure members, like today’s focus Tigra!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Tigra was part of the second series of Toy Biz’s Avengers: United They Stand tie-in line, though as I always note with these guys, the numbering was really just clerical; both series shipped to stores at the same time.  This figure would mark Tigra’s second figure ever, and her first that wasn’t just a straight repaint of someone else.  The figure stands just over 5 inches tall and has 13 points of articulation.  The UTS figures were by and large notable for their inclusion of a decent amount of articulation for the scale, and Tigra is the first figure I’ve looked at to truly showcase this.  It’s not perfect, as she misses out on things like elbows and is still saddled with those dreaded v-hips that Toy Biz was so fond of for female figures,but the inclusion of wrists, and more than just cut shoulders was downright revolutionary at the time.  Tigra sculpt is sort of an interesting concept; they were clearly going for something dynamic, as is dictated by the sway to the hair and the slight twist to her waist and legs.  It doesn’t quite work out for a dynamic pose and also means she’s stuck in a wonky pose when just standing.  It’s not terrible, though, and honestly isn’t any worse than some of the really stiff poses from earlier in Toy Biz’s run.  The detailing on the sculpt follows the styling of the cartoon, but does inject some more realism into it, with some solid texturing on the hair and fur.  It’s definitely solid for the time.  Also pretty solid for the time is the paintwork, which gives Tigra her distinctive stripes and is generally pretty cleanly applied. She’s got an Avengers insignia on her shorts…and also on the backs of her hands?  Guess she really wanted to be on brand.  Tigra was packed with a base with a training robot attached.  The robot had magnets in its hands which matched with the ones in Tigra’s hands, allowing for her to “spar” with it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When these figures first started hitting shelves, they were a little scarce.  Tigra had the honor of being the first of them added to my collection, alongside Falcon.  It’s always given me a special appreciation for the character, given I had her longer than any of the others, and I’d been so desperately searching at that point.  She’s perhaps not the greatest figure the line had to offer, but she’s still pretty decent, and certainly not bad when compared to the other figures in Tigra’s limited run of toys.

#2166: Cyclops

CYCLOPS

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“He has protected Earth against it, now, Cyclops wields the Power of The Phoenix Force!”

There was a time, believe it or not, when Marvel Legends wasn’t the toy power house it is now.  In fact, the Infinite Series re-branding of the line came about because retailers had no interest in carrying Marvel Legends in its then-current state.  In 2013, Hasbro dipped their feet into the waters of comic assortments that tied in with the movies out in theatres.  While the Iron Man 3 tie-in was able to get its six figures out, the assortment meant to tie-in with The Wolverine wouldn’t prove quite so lucky.  Despite the figures starting to go into production, mass retail interest was too small to support the line.  Ultimately, the line-up was reduced from six to four and distributed via Diamond Distributors, making it one of the rarest Legends assortments ever (really rivaled only by the Toys R Us-exclusive X-Men assortment from the following year).  Today, I’m looking at the Cyclops from that line-up.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Cyclops was released in the fall of 2013, in the aforementioned Wolverine assortment of Marvel Legends, which would end up being the final set of figures released in the Return of Marvel Legends-style packaging.  The bio may have clued you in to the fact that Cyclops was originally one half of a pair of swap figures, the other half being the cancelled Phoenix Force Cyclops figure.  This Cyclops represented his most current design at the time of its release, based on the Chris Bachallo reworking of his Astonishing X-Men design.  It stuck around for a fair chunk of time, making it a solid choice for toy treatment.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Cyclops is built on the Bucky Cap body.  Though not all that groundbreaking now, what with five other Cyclops on this exact body, this figure is notable for being the very first figure to place Cyclops on this base body.  He gets a new head and left hand; the head would see re-use on the ANAD Cyclops from the following year, and the hand’s been re-used on all but one Cyclops since.  They’re both pretty nice pieces, and I can dig the head’s slightly older look for Scott than other releases. He also avoids the dreaded Hasbro face, which is always a plus with these early run figures.  Cyclops’ paintwork is a bit of a mess; Hasbro hadn’t yet made their strides to correct that.  It’s not *awful*, but there’s some noticeably slop around the edges of his visor.  Additionally, some of the yellow application is a bit inconsistent, which makes for a slightly sub-par appearance.  Like I said, it’s not awful, but it’s not as good as some more recent figures.  Cyclops had no accessories for himself, but was originally packed with the arms for the Build-A-Figure Puck.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was still not fully invested in Legends when this line-up dropped, and I was certainly not into it enough to bother tracking down hard to find figures.  By the time I was back into Legends full time, he was rather pricey on the aftermarket.  He’s been on the back burner for me, especially with so many different options for Cyclops at the moment.  That said, when one got traded into All Time Toys loose a couple of months back, I seized my opportunity and picked him up for a reasonable price.  Compared to the figures that would come later, he’s perhaps not as technically impressive, but I definitely dig him for what he is, and I’m always happy to add another Cyclops to my collection.

#2165: Hulk vs. Wolverine

HULK VS. WOLVERINE

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

First debuting on the final page of The Incredible Hulk 180, and then making his proper first appearance in the following issue, Wolverine was designed from the very beginning with the intent of spinning him out of the Hulk’s series, though the decision to join him up with the X-Men would come a bit later.  Though Wolverine and the Hulk have largely become separate entities entirely, they still do have the occasional run-in as a throw-back, and their first battle has definitely become one of Marvel’s most memorable moments.  Fitting then that Hasbro would commemorate the meeting in their “80 years of Marvel” sub-line of Marvel Legends.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Hulk and Wolverine are one of the two comic-based “80 Years” two-packs, each of which pairs off one smaller figure with one Build-A-Figure sized figure.  The two figures here are more or less patterned on their appearnces in Hulk #181, albeit filtered through the line’s already established style.  Interestingly, while this is hardly our first time getting a first appearance Wolverine, this *is* the first time he’s been packed with a Hulk.  Kinda crazy.

HULK

“Powered by gamma radiation, the incredible, rage-filled Hulk smashes his way through any challenge and clobbers any enemy.”

While we’ve had a decent number of Legends Hulks in recent years, but they’ve mostly been movie-based.  Overlooking 2015’s Indestructible Hulk (which was a repainted movie figure), our last proper comics Hulk was the Ed McGuinness Hulk from the fan’s choice packs in 2010.  It’s about time for some updating.  The figure stands 8 inches tall and has 30 points of articulation.  This Hulk uses a newly-implemented body, which has already technically seen use on two exclusive Hulks, but was designed for this figure.  Given the various larger bodies we’ve gotten for some recent Build-a-Figures, I was expecting to see some sort of reuse, but I’m not unhappy to get the new body, especially since it gives Hulk butterfly shoulders, something you don’t usually see on larger figures, and definitely a huge plus when it comes to posing.  The general design of this figure’s sculpt is very reminiscent of Hulk’s ’70s design aesthetic, rather than more recent roided out takes on the character.  The figure includes a torn up shirt as an add-on; while he didn’t sport this while fighting Wolverine, it was a common place item for him to be wearing.  It’s held in place only by gravity and perhaps the back of his head, depending on how you have him posed, meaning that it’s also very easily removed if it’s not your speed.  The paint on Hulk is fairly nuanced in its application, with the skin in particular showing some really solid work on the accenting.  There’s a slightly lighter green hue which shows itself throughout all of the exposed skin.  Hulk is packed with two sets of hands, one in fists, one in open gesture.

WOLVERINE

“A super-powered agent of the Canadian government, the Wolverine is a skilled fighter with razor sharp claws and a fierce temper.”

In his first appearance, Wolverine was sporting a wildly different mask than the one he would have for the rest of his career.  He was meant to keep it, but Gil Kane accidentally changed it for the cover of Giant-Size X-Men #1, and interior artist Dave Cockrum decided he liked it enough to keep as the character’s permanent look, thereby making this particular design more of a novelty then anything.  It’s gotten one Legends release before, courtesy of Toy Biz’s Face Off sub-line, but it was due for an update.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and has 32 points of articulation. This Wolverine is built on the same upgraded body as he last few, with a new head and shoulderpads to more properly capture the earlier design.  They’re sufficiently different enough from the normal pieces to make him stand out as his own variant, which is always a good thing.  For his color scheme, Wolverine very closely matches the brighter colors of his initial appearance, again giving him a nice standout appearance from other Wolverine figures, especially the tiger-stripe Wolverine.  The figure is packed with hands with and without his claws, which weren’t 100% retractable at the time of his first appearance, but are still a nice extra to have.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

With all the announcements for the 80 Years sub-line floating about, this one got a little buried for me.  I knew it was coming, but I never really had the chance to focus in on it.  Its arrival was also jammed in alongside several other Legends releases, but I was happy enough to get it.  The Hulk is the definite star here, and will serve as the definitive version of the character for most collectors, myself included.  They really brought their A-game for him.  Wolverine’s more of a place holder to justify the larger set, but I can’t complain about getting him, nor can I say he’s not a good figure.  He’s formula, but it’s a good formula.

I grabbed this pair from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for Marvel Legends, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2156: Wendigo

WENDIGO

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

Based on a centuries old legend, the Wendigo was introduced into the Marvel Universe in the pages of The Incredible Hulk in 1973, and is a concept that has rattled around the background of the ‘verse pretty much the whole time since.  Though not incredibly prominent in its own right, it’s been on the periphery of a number of important events, including the introduction of a certain pint-sized, blade-wielding Canadian.  Being closely related with two of Marvel’s heavy hitters has translated to a decent number of toys for the character, including today’s offering!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Wendigo is the Build-A-Figure for the, you guessed it, Wendigo Series of Marvel Legends.  This is the Wendigo’s second time as a Legends release; the first was during Hasbro’s earlier tenure with the line, and was a single-packed figure rather than a Build-A-Figure.  Being an earlier Hasbro release, the quality wasn’t quite there, but he was admittedly part of Hasbro’s best assortment pre-relaunch, so he wasn’t terrible for his time.  The figure stands 8 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  The Wendigo shares a good portion of its pieces with last year’s Sasquatch Build-A-Figure, which is a pretty sensible choice of parts re-use.  The Wendigo has been portrayed a number of different ways over the years, so matching it to Sasquatch ends up working out alright, given the slightly more modern take on the character.  He has a new head, right hand, pelvis (w/ tail), and feet.  The new pieces mix well with the old, and to the un-informed you might not even realize he was mostly a re-used figure, given how well the two sets of pieces mix.  Wendio’s paintwork is a pretty decent selection of accent work, which is good because otherwise he’d just be straight white.  The blue accents can always be a tricky prospect, but they actually don’t look all that bad on this figure, and I also really like how they’ve handled the work on the face.  Definitely some of the better paintwork Hasbro’s put out recently, and that’s actually saying something given how much they’ve improved in recent months.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Completing the Wendigo figure sort of just happened as a side effect of buying all of the figures that added up to him, and less out of specifically wanting to build him.  Like, I wasn’t turned off by the prospect of getting a Wendigo, but he wasn’t high on my list.  He’s honestly a pretty good figure, truth be told, and timing him to arrive right around the Wolverine and Hulk 2-pack was smart on Hasbro’s part.

As a whole, this line-up of Legends figures was a slow burn for me.  I got Nightcrawler, the only figure I absolutely had to have, a couple of weeks before the others, and genuinely toyed with whether I needed the rest of the line-up at all, before ultimately picking them up.  None of the other figures are must-haves for me, and after Nightcrawler, the one I likely would have been the most excited for (Cannonball) was also the one that feels the most truncated and un-finished.  The others are all pretty solid figures, truth be told, and without any pre-conceived notions or expectations, they’re actually all pretty strong figures.