#1653: Taskmaster

TASKMASTER

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“An expert in mimicry, Taskmaster copies the stunts and skills of his opposition to beat them at their own game.”

To paraphrase Jeff Goldbloom “Uhhh, Hasbro, uhh, finds a way.”  What does that mean?  I’m glad you asked.  See, with long-running lines such as Marvel Legends, you will run into the need to update characters as the line’s style and quality improves.  Toy Biz went pretty deep with their original line-up, but 15 years after the fact, a lot of them are starting to look out of place.  The trouble is, that while some of the heavy hitters are an easy sell for re-do, it can be tricky to get retailers on-board for new versions of second and third-stringers.  So, Hasbro’s doing their best to tie-in with more current media, and get us new figures of old characters that way.  The trouble is, this often results in those characters wearing more recent, less fan-favorite costumes.  And if you’ve *just* gotten a figure of a lower tier character, it’s unlikely you’ll get another shot.  Right?  Well, Hasbro doesn’t seem to think so, if the two Taskmasters in the space of three years are anything to go by.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Taskmaster is figure 4 in the Thanos Series of Marvel Legends.  He’s the third, and final, comic-based figure in the assortment.  Where the last Taskmaster was based on his up-to-date-iest look, this one goes for Taskmaster’s classic design, which is sensible, seeing as he’s spent most of his career with it.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  He’s built on the Bucky Cap body.  There was some campaigning to get him on the Reaper body instead, but I don’t mind this one, and it matches what was used for the last Taskmaster figure.  Taskmaster uses the flared boots and gloves like we saw on Zemo (amongst others), which are as good here as they have been all the prior times. He’s also got a (partially) new head sculpt, and add-ons for his cape, belt, and leg straps.  So, how’s the head only partially new?  Well, the actual head part is new (though, as a few others have pointed out, it does appear to be at least patterned on the head from Red Onslaught, which, coincidentally, was the piece included with the last Taskmaster), while the hood is re-purposed from the skull-styled head from the first Taskmaster.  I’m honestly a little surprised that they didn’t just straight re-use the last figure’s head, but I can’t say I’m upset.  While the belt is re-used from the prior figure, the cape and both leg straps are new to this particular figure.  The cape is a very nice piece, and I’m not going to be at all surprised to see it show back up later down the line.   The right leg strap finally gives us a new leg holster for the Bucky Cap bod, so we can retire that one with all the pouches, while the left matches perfectly with the weird studded thing Taskmaster had in his first appearance.  The color work on Taskmaster is a fairly typical Legends offering.  The molded colors all work well enough, and the paint’s application is mostly pretty clean.  There’s some slight slop on a few of the edges, but he mostly looks pretty solid.  The most impressive paintwork is definitely on his head, which makes use of the printing technique to get the gradations in shading on the skull down just right.  In a somewhat accessories-lite assortment, Taskmaster makes out pretty well, getting a sword, shield, and pistol.  All re-used pieces (the shield is the standard comic Cap shield, and the sword and pistol come from Zemo), but a nice selection nonetheless.  Taskmaster also includes the right leg of Thanos.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Taskmaster was nearer the top of my list of wants for this assortment.  This appears to have been the case with other collectors as well, since only Iron Spider was harder to find than Taskmaster.  On one of my many recent TRU runs, they had just put out a case of this set, and fortunately Taskmaster was still on the pegs.  I was quite a fan of the last Taskmaster, so this one had a high bar set for it.  The two are actually kind of hard to compare; they appeal to separate versions of the character, and each offer their own awesomeness.  But, for classic Taskmaster, you can’t do better than this guy.

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#0999: Taskmaster & Iron Spider-Man

TASKMASTER & IRON SPIDER-MAN

MARVEL MINIMATES

IronSpider&Taskmaster1

Zounds! Is this another Minimate review? Why yes it is! I feel like I’ve been doing a lot less of them as of late, so two in a row’s kind of cool. This is another animation-based set, from the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon. This set includes the somewhat controversial Iron Spider (here called Iron Spider-Man) as well as long time Marvel villain Taskmaster. Let’s check these two out!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Taskmaster and Iron Spider-Man were released in Series 2 of the Walgreens-exclusive Marvel Minimates line. As noted in the intro, both figures are based on their designs from the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon.

TASKMASTER

IronSpider&Taskmaster6Taskmaster makes his third appearance in the Minimates line. This is also the second time this year that this particular look has gotten a figure, after the Marvel Legend. This one’s a bit more strictly faithful to Taskmaster’s (second) animated design. The figure stands about 2 ½ inches tall and he has the usual 14 points of articulation. Taskmaster gets two add-on pieces, for his hood/shoulder pads and his belt. Both of these are new to this particular figure, and they do a pretty decent job of capturing the animated look. The hood greatly restricts neck movement, though, which can be a bit frustrating. Taskmaster’s paintwork is pretty solid all around. There’s a good level of detail, and, unlike a lot of animated-style figures, he really shouldn’t have trouble fitting in with comic-styled ‘mates. Taskmaster is packed with his shield, a sword, and a clear display stand.

IRON SPIDER-MAN

IronSpider&Taskmaster7This is the third time we’ve gotten an Iron Spider Minimate (though only the second one to actually have the proper mechanical arms). For the purposes of the show, it’s just another Spider-Man look, but in the comics it was very much tied to the less-than-well-received original Civil War story, which has given the design a slightly…colored history. At least for me. This figure uses the same selection of pieces as the TRU-exclusive Iron Spider from the beginning of the year: he’s mostly a vanilla ‘mate, with a four piece backpack/mechanical arms add-on piece. It’s a pretty fun piece, and it even gives him an extra 3 points of articulation, which is really fun. The last two Iron Spiders had metallic paint schemes, but this one, being based on the animated appearance, uses flat colors with some creative shading. It’s not a bad look at all: the colors are really vibrant and all of the application is nice and clean. Iron Spider includes an extra, face revealed head, a jumping stand, and a clear display stand. If I’ve done my research right, I think that the face shown isn’t Peter, but Amadeus Cho, who wore this costume on the cartoon (which, by the way, makes this the first Amadeus Cho action figure).

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like Gamora and Drax, I found this set while looking for a pair of shoes. Fun times. I didn’t yet own either of these characters, and they’re also both pretty fun figures, so I’d definitely consider this set a win!

#0918: Taskmaster

TASKMASTER – MERCENARIES OF MAYHEM

MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES

Taskmaster1

Superhero comics like foes who mimic the abilities of the heroes. Marvel in particular seems to like this concept, as they have several different characters with this gimmick (including one who’s actually named “Mimic”). Generally, such mimicry comes from some sort of mutant or otherwise built-in power. Not the case with Tony Masters, better known as Taskmaster. His mimicry was all based on him being a really good tactician with a photographic memory, allowing him to duplicate the physical movements of anyone he sees. Sure, he can’t mimic actual super powers, but he comes pretty darn close. He started out as a pretty straight villain, but has become more of an anti-villain, gun-for-hire sort of character over the years. Since his introduction in 1980, he’s gotten seven action figures, the latest of which I’ll be reviewing today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Taskmaster2Taskmaster is part of the third series of the Captain America Marvel Legends Series (the Infinite part’s been dropped on all Hasbro’s Marvel lines; should we be concerned that they’re all finite now?). His official title is “Mercenaries of Mayhem,” which is a name he shares with Demolition Man. The figure stands about 6 ½ inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation. The origin of the costume worn by this figure is somewhat complicated: in the early 2000s, UDON Studios redesigned Taskmaster, taking him out of the more classic superhero-styled costume he’d been wearing and replacing it (and the creepy skull face that went with it) with a much more tactical get-up. That look lasted for a while, but he eventually switched back to the classic costume. On the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, he was given a sort of an amalgam of his two looks, which is what this figure’s primary look is based on. As far as I know, it’s not a look that has appeared in the comics, so this figure is technically cartoon-based. The figure uses the torso, pelvis, and hips of the Bucky Cap body, along with an all-new head, arms, and legs, as well as add-on pieces for his shoulder holster and belt. The new arms and legs feature some cool, almost knight-like armor, and add a nice bit of heft to the figure. It’s nice that Hasbro didn’t just paint the basic Bucky Cap arms and legs silver, and it kind of makes me wonder what other figures they could get out of these parts. I certainly wouldn’t mind these being used as the starting point for a Doctor Doom. Taskmaster actually gets two all-new heads. The one he comes wearing is more classically inspired, with a skull-face and white hood. It’s true to his Ultimate Spider-Man design, but could also make for a nice classic Taskmaster, should someone want to build a full version of his original costume. The second head is based on the UDON design’s masked look, which allows you to sort of have Taskmaster as he appears in Captain America & Iron Man: Heroes United. He doesn’t have the hood there, but this way you can essentially have the UDON costume. I find myself preferring the UDON head, but I’m not 100% sold on the hood; both heads definitely have merit. Taskmaster’s paint is all pretty solid, and he’s probably got the cleanest paint I’ve gotten on a Hasbro figure in a little while. There’s a little slop on the hands, but other than that, everything’s pretty sharp, especially on the two heads. In addition to the second head, Taskmaster includes a shield (with exceptionally clean paint), a laser sword, and the head of Red Onslaught, the Build-A-Figure for this series.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When I picked up Mockingbird from Cosmic Comix, they also had this guy. However, I decided to hold out to see if I could find him elsewhere. After two weeks of looking, I didn’t find him, and Cosmic Comix still had him, so I went ahead and got him. I’m glad I did, because this is a pretty darn fun figure, and possibly my favorite from this particular series.

Taskmaster3