#2790: Death Dealer

DEATH DEALER

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Death Dealer is one of the most formidable opponents Shang-Chi has ever faced.”

Well, that’s *wonderfully* descriptive, isn’t it?  Just tells you everything you want to know about the guy, right?  Okay, let’s be real here, though: who’s Death Dealer?  Without the movie to back us up yet, the current answer is that he’s a relatively obscure Shang-Chi villain from the ’80s.  He appeared in four issues total, and was killed at the end of them.  There’s not a ton to it beyond that.  This being the MCU, it’s possible they may add some more depth to the character, or it’s possible they may just have him as a henchman for Shang-Chi’s father (which was pretty much his original role, anyway).  Time will tell.  I the mean time, how about an action figure?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Death Dealer is figure 4 in the Mr. Hyde Series of Marvel Legends, where he’s the fourth and final movie figure in the line-up.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and has 30 points of articulation.  In terms of articulation and movement, Death Dealer is definitely the most restricted figure in the set.  A lot of that comes down to the nature of the construction, namely the fact that a good chunk of the figure isn’t actually new.  The head, arms, and torso overlay piece are new, but everything else has been re-used from the Cull Obsidian Series Ant-Man.  It’s kind of an odd choice for re-use, since the two characters don’t really feel like they’d be sharing a lot of parts, and Ant-Man’s parts are kind of distinctive.  The majority of the torso being hidden under the robe piece certainly helps a bit, as the legs are at least a little more generic, but ultimately, it just feels kinda weird.  Also, the robe being an overlay, rather than integrated into the main figure means it’s a) a bit bulky and b) very restricting to the torso movement.  Neither of those things is super fun.  The new head and arms are, at least, a little more accurate, I suppose.  The arms still have those exposed pins, but that’s just true of all of these figures, so it’s not like it’s a surprise or anything at this point.  They’re nicely sculpted pieces, with some sharp detail and texturing work, which helps this guy fit in with the rest of the assortment.  The paint work on Death Dealer is pretty basic work for the most part.  It’s a pretty good color scheme, and certainly the most colorful of the movie figures, so it’s got that going for it.  The application is cleanly handled, and it’s generally pretty eye catching.  He doesn’t get any of the printing, since his face isn’t exposed, but it’s still pretty clean.  Death Dealer is one of the lightest packed figures in the series when it comes to accessories.  He’s got two sets of hands (open gesture, R throwing kunai, L holding kunai), and the left arm to Mr. Hyde.  Given how light he is on new parts in general, it’s a shame they couldn’t throw in a few more extras.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Being only minorly versed in Shang-Chi, I wasn’t familiar with Death Dealer before this figure.  I’m still not super familiar, but I’m about as familiar with him as anyone else not involved with the movie’s production.  Death Dealer’s definitely got a cool visual, but ultimately the figure’s kind of lackluster.  Not bad, but there’s a lot of re-use, and it’s not particularly inventive re-use either.  Compared to the other movie figures, this one feels a little bit lacking.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2789: Xialing

XIALING

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“When her estranged brother Shang-Chi suddenly shows up in her life, Xialing must choose between the solitary life she’s created for herself or join her brother in the fight against the Ten Rings.”

Shang-Chi himself is not the most prominent character in the Marvel arsenal, yet at least, so by extension, he’s not got a ton of associated characters, and certainly none of major note.  Making matters worse is that whole “not licensing the Fu Manchu” thing, which hinders that character, as well as some of the peripheral characters.  Originally, Dr. Fu Manchu had a daughter, Fah Lo Suee, who was renamed to Zheng Bao Yu when Fu Manchu became Zheng Zu in the mid-00s.  More recently, another daughter of Zheng Zu, Esme, has been introduced.  It would appear elements of both have been combined for the purposes of the upcoming film, resulting in Xialing, Shang-Chi’s sister, and Wenwu’s other child.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Xialing is figure 3 in the Mr. Hyde Series of Marvel Legends.  She’s the third of the four movie-based figures included, and is also the first figure with no direct comics counterpart.  The figure stands just shy of 6 inches tall and she has 26 points of articulation.  Like Wenwu, Xialing’s articulation scheme feels a little more refined than Shang-Chi’s was.  She’s aided somewhat by the fact that, like most female Legends figures, she doesn’t have the double elbows, meaning she doesn’t have to worry about the exposed pins on the joints anyway.  The range of motion on this one’s pretty strong, and she’s got a lot of really good posing potential, which I certainly dig.  Xialing’s sculpt is an all-new offering, based on what I presume is her main look in the movie.  So far, we haven’t seen a whole lot of her, but she’s been sporting this look the whole time, so it tracks.  It’s a decent design, and matches up pretty well with her brother’s design, so the thematics are definitely there.  The texture work and intricate detailing on her tunic is quite sharply rendered, the proportions are nicely balanced, and she’s got a pretty decent likeness of actress Meng’er Zhang.  In terms of paint work, Xialing is fairly monochromatic, but it works.  The slightly pearlescent finish on her tunic is a nice look, and the black accenting is quite cleanly and sharply applied.  I also found the face printing on this figure to be the most lifelike of the three unmasked MCU figures included.  Xialing is packed with seven hands (R/L fists, R/L flat, R/L crane pose, & R gripping), a rope dart, and the torso for the Mr Hyde Build-A-Figure.  The hands are again a fantastic addition, and I do get a real kick out of her also getting fists, when poor Shang-Chi did not.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I know nothing of Xialing, and next to nothing of the various characters she’s based on, so I had very little to go on with this figure initially.  Pretty much it was just a general feeling of “hey, she looks pretty cool.”  After messing with this whole set of figures, she doesn’t just look pretty cool, she *is* pretty cool.  She’s probably my favorite of the movie figures in this set.  I definitely like how this one turned out.  Now, to see if I feel the same way about the character in the movie!

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2788: Wenwu

WENWU

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Shang-Chi’s father Wenwu is the feared leader of the Ten Rings Organization, which has lurked in the shadows of the MCU since the very beginning.”

Originally, in the comics, Shang-Chi’s father was not a Marvel creation, but was, instead, the evil Dr. Fu Manchu, an early 20th century villain that Marvel was licensing at the time.  After the license lapsed, Marvel kept Shang-Chi, but was vague with any mentions of his father, due in part to the whole licensing, and also in part due to the Fu Manchu’s place as an unfortunately caricature-ized and stereotyped yellow peril foe.  Marvel’s own in-house character, The Mandarin, faced similar issues in a modern setting, and so, when adapting him to film in Iron Man 3, they opted to make him a false figurehead sort of character, entirely concocted by another villain entirely, and designed to play into those stereotypes on purpose.  While I thought it was a well-executed twist, some fans were let down by the lack of a true Mandarin in the MCU.  With the Shang-Chi film, there was obviously no way that they were going to be able to work in the Fu Manchu as the title character’s father, so they decided to combine a few elements, and introduce the true Mandarin as Shang-Chi’s father, Wenwu.  Let’s look at the toy!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Wenwu is figure 2 in the Mr. Hyde Series of Marvel Legends, and is the second of the four movie-tie-in figures included in the set.  The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Wenwu’s articulation structure is a lot less archaic than Shang-Chi’s.  While he’s still got the exposed pins on his elbow joints (though, again, they’re not present at the knees), the actual mobility and layout to the articulation is a lot more fluid, and in general he’s a lot easier to pose, especially when it comes to the torso.  The hips are a little bit restricted by the skirt piece, but otherwise, it’s all pretty unimpeded.  What we’ve seen in the trailers shows us a few different looks for Wenwu, but the figure goes for his blue/black cleaned up appearance.  While it’s not quite as classically Mandarin as the other main look we saw, this one looks like it’s going to be his primary design within the film.  It’s different, and perhaps not as distinctive, but it also walks him further away from being stereotypical, so I can get it.  Also, Mandarin’s comics design’s always been all over the place, anyway, so it’s not like this is radically different ground for him.  I will say, upgrading the rings to arm bands is an interesting change, but one that I honestly don’t hate.  I’m curious to see if they’ll still be going for the dragon-tie for their origin, as that might explain the larger size.  Whatever the case, it’s a cool design element.  Wenwu’s sculpt is a very impressive piece of work.  The outfit is intricately detailed, and even more involved than Shang-Chi’s.  There are a lot of layers, and it looks quite sharp.  The head actually has a pretty respectable likeness of Wenwu’s actor Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, and is certainly a marked improvement over the Shang-Chi likeness.  Wenwu’s paint work is generally pretty decent.  The application’s all clean, and the colors seem to match up with what we’re going to be seeing on screen.  The blue still takes a little getting used to for me, but I don’t dislike it.  It’s just definitely a slight change of pace for the Mandarin.  Wenwu is packed with three sets of hands (gripping, open gesture, and fists), a hook sword, and the right arm and cane for the Mr. Hyde Build-A-Figure.  Yay for actually getting fists with this one!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I got into on yesterday’s review, this whole set sort of just showed up, before we had much background.  I was initially confused about who the heck Wenwu even was, but then the back of the box filled me in, and I was suddenly pretty excited about owning a proper MCU Mandarin.  Shang-Chi was an okay figure, held back by some design issues.  Wenwu is just a generally better figure, and I really find myself liking him a lot.  I look forward to seeing Tony Chiu0Wai Leung in the role, and seeing how this second attempt at Mandarin works out on film!

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2787: Shang-Chi

SHANG-CHI

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Trained since childhood by the mysterious Ten Rings Organization, Shang-Chi must confront the past he thought he left behind when he is drawn back into his father’s web.”

Back before the world decided to be just the worst for a while, the MCU was planning to introduce its first Asian-American-led film, based on the Master of Kung-Fu himself, Shang-Chi.  The film was originally on the docket for an early release this year, but then 2020 happened, and everything got pushed around.  Of all the films, Shang-Chi is probably the least majorly affected, since it’s still getting out in its intended year, just in September, instead of the spring, like originally intended.  Hasbro did their best to time the toys to a release date that did not yet exist when they were in production, and they’re only a few months early, which is pretty good, considering the Black Widow stuff hit over a year ago at this point, and that movie’s still not out.  I’ve managed to get my hands on the Legends component of the tie-ins, and I’m starting my look at them with the main guy, one Shang-Chi!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Shang-Chi is the first figure in the Mr. Hyde Series of Marvel Legends, which is the assortment that serves as his movie’s tie-in.  He’s one of the four movie-based figures in this particular set, as well as being one of the five overall movie figures we already know about.  The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  With all of these recent movie-based figures, it gets a little tricky to piece together just how long they’ve been in production, but Shang-Chi’s sculpt points to “a while.”  The biggest giveaway is the presence of exposed pins on the elbow joints (though, curiously, the knees are hidden like more recent figures), but in general, the articulation scheme on this guy does feel a little bit on the archaic side.  It’s not so much an issue of range, fortunately, but more of fluidity of motion.  The torso joints in particular are pretty simple in terms of design.  Articulation implementation aside, how’s the actual sculpt?  It’s an all-new piece, and he’s sporting what I assume is his primary attire from the film.  It’s nothing too fancy, but it does seem to capture the general spirit of the character’s looks over the years.  The design is pretty well replicated here, and there’s a lot of work going into the texturing and patterning on his tunic, which certainly helps to keep him from looking too bland.  The head’s likeness to Simu Liu isn’t quite as spot-on as other, more recent MCU likenesses.  Like, it doesn’t look entirely unlike him, but there’s definitely enough differences to make you feel like something’s off.  The head just feels too wide to me, and the hair’s a little too tidy, as well as parted on the wrong side, at least from what we’ve seen so far.  It’s far from terrible, though, and certainly nothing like Hasbro’s first attempts at some of the other big MCU actors.  Shang-Chi’s paint work is generally pretty cleanly handled.  There are no obvious missing details, application is fairly consistent, and the face printing is fairly lifelike.  In terms of accessories, Shang-Chi is packed with three sets of hands (gripping and two different styles of gesture; curiously no fists), a staff, and the right leg of the Mr. Hyde Build-A-Figure.  While the lack of fists is weird, I’m otherwise happy to see them keep up with the extra hands that the last Shang-Chi got.  Extra hands are always extra cool.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This whole assortment was quite an odd-ball situation.  Given all the delays to everything surrounding the MCU, Hasbro opted to keep this one close to the vest, so the official announcement came after people were already starting to find them at retail, and the exact details were still fuzzy.  All Time actually got notification that the cases were on their way before we had any knowledge of what was actually in the cases, especially since we didn’t even yet have a trailer.  It was weird having my first knowledge of anything pertaining to the movie coming from the toys.  It’s been a while since that’s been the case for anything.  Shang-Chi’s a decent figure, if maybe not a groundbreaking one.  He’s got some cool extras, though, and given how hard the comic version was to find, it’s at least nice that there’s another version of the character out there.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2321: Shang-Chi – Master of Kung Fu

SHANG-CHI — MASTER OF KUNG FU

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Shang-Chi is a master of martial arts and a warrior for justice.”

In the ’70s, Marvel was really trying to stay with the times and cash in on what was popular, expanding their comics into new, different horizons, including horror, Blaxploitation, and even kung fu.  Some of these things aged better than others, to be sure.  On the kung fu front, they had two prominent characters: Iron Fist and Shang-Chi.  Though Iron Fist would remain the more commonly known of the two, Shang-Chi has quite an interesting history, being one of a handful of Marvel characters with ties to characters outside of Marvel, since his backstory involved him being the son of Sax Rhomer’s early 20th Century villain Dr. Fu Manchu.  However, when Marvel lost the rights to Fu Manchu, they had to sort of muddy Shang-Chi’s backstory a bit in order to keep him as part of the mainstream universe.  He’s been something of a rising character in the last few years, and he’s slated for his own movie early next year.  Perfect time for an action figure, I’d say.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Shang-Chi is part of the Demogoblin Series of Marvel Legends.  Though the assortment is definitely Spider-themed, Shang-Chi follows in the footsteps of the likes of Moon Knight, being a loosely related character packaged in a box that has its own “Master of Kung Fu” branding.  This marks the first time Shang-Chi has been a Marvel Legend, and in fact only his second time getting an action figure; the first one was way back in the Toy Biz 5-inch days.  And he had to share a head with Northstar!  Poor guy!  Shang-Chi has has a number of appearances over the years, mostly centered around the same basic attire; this figure is based on a variant of his original look, sans his gi.  It helps to hammer home the general “this guy’s supposed to be Bruce Lee” nature of the character.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Like yesterday’s Ock figure, Shang-Chi is built on the 2099 body, which is a solid choice for the character as far as build and poseability are concerned.  He also gets a rather sizable helping of new parts to help sell the character, including a new head, belt, legs, and feet.  These new parts do a really nice job of not only meshing with the pre-existing parts, but also capturing Shang-Chi’s classic appearance.  I like how the head has a loose resemblance to Bruce Lee, while still being generic enough and stylized enough to fit in with the rest of the comic-based figures in the set.  I also appreciate that it’s not just Northstar’s head, because man would that be embarrassing if it happened twice to the same guy!  My biggest complaint about the figure’s new parts is admittedly something small and minor that unfortunately has some fairly large ramifications on the figure’s fun factor.  For whatever reason, Shang-Chi’s feet don’t have peg holes on the heels like…well pretty much every Legends release ever.  I don’t know if it’s an aesthetics thing or what, but it means that utilizing a third-party display stand to assist with the cool kung fu poses that this figure pretty much begs to be put into isn’t happening.  I *was* able to make due with one of the weird stands that Hasbro’s been packing in with the Black Series exclusives, but it’s not ideal, what with “Star Wars” being stamped on it and all.  I’m just really not sure why Hasbro opted to omit such a standard feature on a character that really needed it.  Shang-Chi’s paint work is fairly basic stuff, but it does what it’s supposed to.  It’s clean, and the color scheme isn’t quite as garish looking as it could have been.  The paintwork is nice and sharp, especially on the face.  Perhaps the best part of this figure by far is the accessory selection.  Following in the steps of the Allfather Series Iron Fist, Shang-Chi includes a whopping five different pairs of hands in all sorts of useful poses, as well two pairs of nun-chucks, and to top it all off, he still gets the torso of the Demogoblin build-a-figure.  That’s quite a package full of extras, and it certainly adds a lot of playability to the figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Shang-Chi is one of those characters that I’ve always been aware of, but never had a ton of attachment to (probably because of that goofy 5-inch figure), so he wasn’t exactly high on my want list for Legends.  That being said, it’s not like I was opposed to him getting a figure, especially if it’s a cool one.  Weird issue with the feet aside, this is a very, very cool figure, and offers up a lot of fun options.  I really enjoy the all-in approach on the accessories, and I hope that Hasbro continues this approach for such characters going forward.

Shang-Chi came from my sponsors 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.