#1955: M’Baku

M’BAKU

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

As good a reputation as the Marvel films have, some of them (Phase 2 in particular) have had a recurring issue of less than stellar antagonists.  Black Panther was a fantastic example of the Phase 3 drive for better crafted foes, and it delivered in spades.  Both the tortured and extreme Killmonger and the manic and excitable Klaue were excellent additions, but one of my favorite parts of the film was the bombastic M’Baku.  One of the earliest Black Panther foes, M’Baku (originally known as Man-Ape, a name that hasn’t aged so well) was reimagined a bit for the movie.  Most of the basic characterization is the same, but he’s no longer a strict antagonist, but is instead an unlikely ally.  It was a turn I very much liked, and so did quite a few other audience members.  Certainly enough to warrant him getting a figure at the very least.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

M’Baku is, unsurprisingly, the Build-A-Figure for the “M’Baku Series” of Marvel Legends.  He’s quite obviously based on Winston Duke’s portrayal of the character, specifically from the end of Black Panther, as well as Infinity War.  The point is, he’s a final battle sort of an M’Baku.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  M’Baku is sporting an all-new sculpt, which is definitely for the best.  It’s a very strong, very solid offering.  No, really, it’s very solid.  Like, in a heft sort of a sense.  I’ve grown accustomed to BaFs featuring hollow parts and the like, but M’Baku’s construction is mostly solid pieces, which gives him a surprising weight.  I’m definitely not complaining.  The sculpt is a really nice piece of work; the detailing is sharp and accurate to the movie.  The head sports a decent likeness of Duke.  It’s not as strong as, say, the Andy Serkis likeness for Klaue, but it’s still very good.  The body sculpt has a ton of layering to it, and I particularly like how well all of the fur turned out.  There’s always room for things to go very bad in such areas, but that wasn’t the case here.  M’Baku’s paintwork is an impressive selection of work.  It’s a fair bit more involved than we tend to see from Hasbro these days, with quite a bit of accenting and weathering.  Not all of it’s perfect, but it’s still quite good, and the sculpt is well accented by the subtler work.  M’Baku’s essentially an accessory himself, so accessories aren’t expected, but he does still get one.  It’s his staff, which seems a rather sensible choice.  I’m glad it didn’t get overlooked.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When Black Panther was released, I walked out of the theatre wanting an M’Baku figure.  Duke’s portrayal of the character really worked for me, and I was disappointed that he wasn’t among any of Hasbro’s offerings.  When news that they were going for a second dip broke, I was hoping to see him turn up, and I wasn’t disappointed.  This is a very good figure, and makes good use of being a Build-A-Figure, since it allows his sculpt to be a bit more intricate than it might be otherwise.

This assortment is a lot more cut and dry than the Kingpin assortment, mostly because it’s so very focussed.  If you’re after a full line-up of Black Panther movie characters, it’s pretty perfect.  Fortunately, that’s what I wanted, so it works out well for me.  M’Baku was a good anchor for the assortment, and there’s no denying that I bought some figures I wouldn’t have otherwise in order to complete him.  He feels worth it.  Of the singles, Klaue is the definite star, but the Dora Milaje and Killmonger aren’t far behind him.  Even the Panther variants all seem decent in their own right.  I see this being a well-performing assortment.

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#1954: Dora Milaje

DORA MILAJE

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

The Dora Milaje are an all-female special forces group prepared to defend the Black Panther and the people of Wakanda at all costs.”

What good is a toyline without some army builders?  You know, it’s usually the bad guys that get the army building fun, but every so often the good guys get the chance to get in on the game too.  Not super frequently.  Though prominent players in Black Panther, we didn’t get very much toy coverage at all of the Dora Milaje, Panther’s squad of body guards.  We got their general, Okoye, as a Build-A-Figure, and Nakia in one of their uniforms, but that was really it.  Fortunately, it’s Hasbro’s aim to fix that issue in spades.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Dora Milaje is figure 6 in the M’Baku Series of Marvel Legends, and I do believe has the notoriety of being our first proper MCU army builder in this scale (unless we’re counting the Hydra heads that came with Red Skull).  The figure stands 6 inches tall and has 27 points of articulation.  Like the CW Black Panther in this assortment, the Dora Milaje is heavy on the parts re-use; from the neck down, this figure’s sculpt is identical to the Nakia figure from last year.  Given a) it’s the same suit, and b) that was a pretty fantastic sculpt, you’ll hear no complaints from me on that front.  The body is still one of the best bodies out there in terms of posability, and I’m still very impressed by what Hasbro was able to pull off with it.  In order to keep things fresh, and further facilitate the whole “army building” thing, the Dora Milaje includes not one, not two, but three all-new head sculpts.  The first sculpt (seen in the photo at the top of this review) is particularly notable, because it’s actually a named character.  Yep, that’s Ayo, the head of T’Challa’s security, and the Dora Milaje with the most appearances under her belt, showing up in Civil WarBlack Panther, and Infinity War.  The head sports a solid likeness of actress Florence Kasumba, and seems to really get that stern expression of hers down.  The other two heads don’t appear to be any particular members (at least not ones I could spot when I re-watched the film in anticipation of these reviews), but are rather meant to check a few different boxes, in order to fill up the ranks a bit more quickly.  I really like the calmer of the two; there’s a very lifelike quality to it, which helps it fit in very well with the rest of the more recent MCU stuff.  The teeth-baring one, I’m a little bit less of a fan of, because I think it just looks too cartoony when compared to the other two sculpts.  Still, it’s certainly not a bad offering.  Though the Dora Milaje figure may be using the same body as Nakia, the paintwork on it has been greatly improved.  There’s far more detailing, especially on the red sections of the uniform, and, as a whole, the figure just looks more finished. Nakia wasn’t bad, but this is better.  In addition to the two extra heads mentioned above, the Dora Milaje includes a spear, Nakai’s hoop blade weapons, and a smaller bladed weapon, as well as the last piece of M’Baku.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

With all of the other figures shown off for this line-up, the Dora Milaje was one that kind of slipped under my radar.  I already had Nakia and Okoye, so I had my bases covered, I thought.  But, I wanted M’Baku, so why not give this figure a shot, I thought.  Well, I’m very glad I did, because this figure takes everything I loved about Nakia and builds on it, making for a downright awesome figure.  And, we got an Ayo figure out of it to boot.  Pretty nifty if you ask me!

The Dora Milaje was purchased from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#1953: T’Chaka

T’CHAKA

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

As King of Wakanda, T’Chaka assumes the Black Panther identity and with it, the responsibility to protect the sacred metal, vibranium, and the honored history of his kingdom.”

Despite being a legacy character, whose whole gimmick is a title that’s been passed down for centuries, when it comes to Black Panther merch, T’Challa seems to get all of the love (Avengers BC Panther’s Minimate release not withstanding).  But it’s okay, because we’re finally getting to see T’Challa’s father, T’Chaka, in his sick ’90s-era Panther get-up!  How about that?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

T’Chaka is figure 5 in the M’Baku Series of Marvel Legends.  He’s our third Black Panther variant in the assortment, but obviously the most unique of the three.  Though we see T’Chaka at several different parts of his life, this figure depicts him in his prime, fully suited up, as we see him in Black Panther’s opening scene.  If you’re gonna make a T’Chaka figure, this is the most obvious choice for his look.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and has 32 points of articulation.  T’Chaka employs a fair bit of re-use, with the torso, arms, hands, and feet all hailing from the Civil War Panther figure.  However, if you look closely at the costume in the movie, you’ll notice that the two actually did share the costume, meaning this re-use is not only acceptable, it’s totally warranted.  T’Chaka gets a brand-new head sculpt, sporting his slightly changed mask, as well as a new set of legs to show off T’Chaka’s looser fitting pants.  It was the ’90s; everyone was sporting baggy pants.  It’s all topped off with an add-on piece replicating the kente cloth that T’Chaka has draped over his shoulder.  It’s one of the most distinctive features of the design, and helps to further this figure from the Civil War Panther.  It’s a little on the bulky side, but not terrible, and it’s also removable, so you can create a more tactical T’Chaka, should you be so inclined.  T’Chaka’s paintwork is pretty solid stuff.  The accents on the costume have changed from gold to silver, which nicely sells that it’s a different person under the mask in a very subtle fashion.  The color work on the kente cloth is quite impressively handled, and surprisingly clean and orderly. I was definitely expecting more slop.  T’Chaka includes no accessories of his own, beyond the piece for M’Baku.  It’s a shame we couldn’t get an unmasked head for him (or, if they wanted to be really generous, two), especially given the parts re-use.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

From the moment I saw it on the screen, I kinda wanted a figure of this design.  Obviously, he didn’t get a Legend in the first round, and when he didn’t even show up as a Minimate, I was kind of expecting not to see him, at least not in an affordable format (my days of buying Hot Toys are kind of behind me).  When he cropped up alongside the rest of this assortment, I was thrilled.  I wish he had some accessories, but otherwise I’m very happy with this figure.

T’Chaka was purchased from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#1952: Black Panther

BLACK PANTHER

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

After the death of his father T’Chaka, T’Challa must assume the Black Panther mantle as the next king of Wakanda.”

Following his appearance in Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther was one of the hottest things ever.  It was little surprise that his Marvel Legends release from that movie proved to be by far the most difficult to track down of the series that included him, leaving Panther fans without a figure, at least until his solo flick came along.  But, of course, his main costume for the film, so if you wanted the (admittedly slightly superior) Civil War Black Panther, you were still going to need to find that figure.  Until now, anyways.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Black Panther is figure 4 in the M’Baku Series of Marvel Legends.  There’s actually no name distinction between this figure and the Kinetic Energy variant, so I can foresee referring to them getting a little confusing in the long run.  Though not his main costume, the CW design’s appearance early in Black Panther gave Hasbro enough leeway to include him in this second Panther-based assortment.  Let’s cut to the chase here: this figure’s sculpt is 100% identical to the Civil War release.  Same height, same articulation, same detailing.  I’m not complaining, mind you, because I loved this sculpt when it was new, and I still really like it now.  Sure, in retrospect the shoulder articulation is a bit more restricted than I’d like, but beyond that, it’s a sculpt that still really holds up.  There are some very minor, and I mean *very* minor, tweaks to the figure’s paint.  The eyes follow the sculpt a little more closely this time, and he does seem to be generally cleaner looking, but there aren’t any really intentional changes.  The only true change to this figure are the accessories included.  Obviously, he swaps out the Giant Man piece for one from M’Baku, but he also trades out the somewhat generic unmasked head for one that looks a fair bit more like Chadwick Bosman.  I don’t like this one quite as much as the one included with the Kinetic Panther; the expression makes him look really goofy.  Still, it’s better than the one we got originally.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

There’s not much to say about this guy.  I’m not surprised by Hasbro’s move to reissue him, since the original was still tricky to find.  He’s a good enough figure that he doesn’t feel out of place among his peers and the new head’s certainly an improvement.  That said, I bought this guy solely to finish M’Baku, and having already gotten the unmasked head with Kintetic Panther, there’s just not much this guy has to offer me.  But, like Carnage, he’s not really for me, so I guess there’s that.

Panther was purchased from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#1951: Ulysses Klaue

ULYSSES KLAUE

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

An arms dealer obsessed with vibranium, Ulysses Klaue infiltrates the secret nation of Wakanda to steal the sacred metal and sell it for a hefty profit.”

Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue was definitely one of my very favorite parts of Black Panther (and Age of Ultron, for that matter), largely because it was so clear just how much of a blast Serkis was having playing the part.  While he was privy to two Minimates, I honestly wasn’t expecting a Legends release, due to him being just a kind of normal looking guy.  Of course, since we got Everett freaking Ross, I guess it shouldn’t be too shocking that the comparatively more exciting Klaue would be given his due, now should it?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Klaue is figure 3 in the M’Baku Series of Marvel Legends.  Like the Minimate, he’s based on Klaue’s appearance during the sequence at the casino and the ensuing chase scene.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 30 points of articulation.  Klaue is built on a variant of the suit body, though no one would blame you for missing that at first glance.  He uses the torso and legs from that body, with an overlay piece on the torso, plus new arms and a new head, in order to give Klaue a sufficiently unique appearance.  I wasn’t sure about the overlay piece at first, because such pieces can end up overly bulky and cumbersome, but this one actually works out alright, and matches Serkis’ build in the movie pretty decently.  By far the best part of this figure’s sculpt is the head, which has to be one of the finest likenesses Hasbro has ever put out.  I feel like I’ve made this claim on a few figures recently, but Hasbro genuinely seems to be getting better and better at this stuff.  Not only does the head look just like Serkis, but it’s also got the mad cackling grin from the movie down pat, which is a nice change of pace on the sometimes overly stern shelves of Marvel Legends.  Klaue’s paintwork has its ups and downs, but the ups definitely prevail.  The base paintwork, especially on the tie, is a little sloppy, but the work on the arm tattoo and especially on the face is really strong.  Normally, scene-specific battle damage can be frustrating on a figure intended to replicate a character’s entire movie appearance, but I can’t help but love how beaten up Klaue looks.  He genuinely looks like he’s stepped right out of the movie.  Klaue is packed with a basic handgun, as well as an alternate left forearm with his sonic cannon in its deployed form, and the torso of M’Baku.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Of the single release figures, Klaue was definitely at the top of my list for this assortment, because how could he not be.  Even with the bar set pretty darn high, this figure still managed to really surprise me, because I just wasn’t expecting to like him so darn much.  He’s just a lot of fun to mess around with, largely because of how well that awesome facial expression lends itself to all sorts of poses.  For me, this guy is definitely a star figure.

Klaue was purchased from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#1950: Erik Killmonger

ERIK KILLMONGER

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Seeking vengeance for his father’s exile from Wakanda, Erik Killmonger returns to challenge T’Challa for the right to the Wakandan throne.”

By far the most glaring omission from most of the Black Panther merch was primary antagonist Killmonger’s tactical gear.  Though it was his primary appearance for the film, the dark-panther-reflection design’s presence in the film’s final battle meant that it was the look that all the toy-makers went for.  So, for this very prominent look, all we had was a minimate.  Our first hint of the second Black Panther assortment was actually the tribal mask from this particular design, because Hasbro knew it was the look most people were wanting.  Now he’s finally here, so how did he fair?  Let’s find out!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Killmonger is figure 2 in the M’Baku Series of Marvel Legends.  He pairs with yesterday’s Kinetic Black Panther as the double packs for this assortment.  Given the demand for this particular design, it was definitely a smart choice on Hasbro’s part.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 30 points of articulation.  Killmonger is a rather sensible combination of old and new parts.  Obviously, the head is re-used from the two-pack version of Killmonger from last year, which is still one of Hasbro’s best likenesses from the MCU.  The legs are also re-used, this time from the Netflix Punisher figure.  They’re fairly basic combat attire, and again pretty nice pieces from the start.  With a new belt and thigh strap, as well as a new torso and arms, it all ends up looking new and unique, and the whole thing jibes together pretty well to make for a very strong, very spot-on recreation of Killmonger’s tactical appearance from the film.  Topping off the whole thing is a new mask piece, based on the tribal mask he steals in the film.  It fits well over Killmonger’s head, and stays in place surprisingly well.  It also fits nicely over a variety of other similarly sized head sculpts too, should you want to swap it around to other figures.  Killmonger’s paintwork is pretty decent work overall.  The face is printed, and therefore quite lifelike.  The uniform has a nice variety of colors, which makes him more eye-catching than his prior figures to be sure.  Both the camo on his legs and the brushed metal effect on his armor look pretty cool, and are done nice and convincingly.  I was a little bummed by the lack of paint on the belt actually on the figure, but with the add-on in place, this isn’t noticeable.  In addition to his removable mask, Killmonger includes a pistol and an assault rifle (both shared with the Punisher figure), as well as the head and staff of M’Baku.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As with most other people, this Killmonger was very high on my want list, so I was happy to see him in this assortment, and was very much looking forward to him.  There’s not a whole lot to report on this guy.  He didn’t surprise me, because I was already expecting him to be pretty cool, and he certainly lived up to that.  As far as single figures go, I foresee him being the most popular in the set, because he’s a nice item all in his own right.

Like yesterday’s Panther figure, I got Killmonger from my friends at All Time Toys, and he’s still available here.  And, if you’re looking for other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#1949: Black Panther

BLACK PANTHER

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

With the safety of Earth threatened by the powerful titan, Thanos, Black Panther joins forces with the Avengers to protect the world from certain destruction.”

There was a time not that long ago when an MCU movie was lucky to get *any* 6-inch coverage.  Heck, Thor: The Dark World had literally none before the 10th Anniversary sets hit.  Black Panther was actually pretty fortunate in its first go, with four movie based Legends in its main assortment, plus a two-pack to augment.  However, that wasn’t enough for the fanbase, and so, for the first time, a solo MCU movie is getting a second series, a year after the movie no less.  I’ll be kicking things off with the main guy himself!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Black Panther is the first figure in the M’Baku Series of Marvel Legends.  Though the whole series is based on Black Panther, Hasbro decided to mix things up when packaging the figures, so Panther’s packaging actually lists him as hailing from Infinity War, and he’s got a bio to match.  Since the Panther costume was the same between the two film’s, it’s a perfectly reasonable choice.  This guy is wearing the same costume as the last one, but this one shows it fully charged up with kinetic energy, so he’s all fancy and purple.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  His sculpt is, unsurprisingly, completely shared with the previous figure.  It is the same suit, after all.  While I have some slight reservations about the design, and its implementation (still not crazy about those shoulders), I will admit that it’s grown on me.  The new paint definitely helps in that respect.  In addition to the slight bit of silver accenting, this one also gets a bunch of funky metallic purple, which I feel better frames the sculpt, and helps to distract from some of the odder aspects of the articulation.  Panther is packed with an unmasked head and two sets of hands.  The hands are the same as the prior figure, but the head is an all-new piece.  The last head wasn’t stellar, and definitely work with the body, but this one actually gives us a pretty spot-on Chadwick Bosman as seen in his solo film, and it looks pretty solid when placed on the body.  Not bad!  In addition to the character-specific items, Panther is also packed with the right arm of M’Baku.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I loved the Civil War Panther, and I was left sort of luke warm by the solo film release from last year.  When this assortment was first shown off, I was more focused on the other figures within it, so I wasn’t eagerly waiting for this guy.  But, since I wanted an M’Baku, I was in for him no matter my feelings on the figure itself.  I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by this figure.  The new kinetic detailing gives him a much needed pop, and I really dig the unmasked head.  There are certainly worse figures to release.

As with most of my recent Legends purchases, Panther is from my friends at All Time Toys, and can be purchased here.  Or, if you’re looking for other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.