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.