#1848: The Thing

THE THING

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“An impressive, boulder-like exterior grants the Thing exceptional strength and durability in even the rockiest of battles”

They did it!  Look at that, they totally did it!  They finished the FF!  It’s a Christmas Miracle! …but it’s only just now November, so it’s, like, a pre-Thanksgiving Miracle?  That just doesn’t seem to have quite the same ring to it. 

The Fantastic Four and Marvel Legends have a rather storied history.  The team was rather infamously incomplete in the main line for the entirety of Toy Biz’s run, and even with the aid of boxed sets and other such things, over the years, getting the whole team in one cohesive style hasn’t been all that easy.  So, when Hasbro announced they’d be releasing the latest versions of the team, one at a time, at Walgreens, I was excited, but decidedly skeptical.  I also had to go in more or less blind, since at the time of Sue’s release, we’d only seen a prototype for Johnny, who is easily the least impressive of the set.  Reed came along and was awesome, which reignited hopes, but there was a lot riding on this final piece of the set, Benjamin J. Grimm, the ever-lovin’-blue-eyed Thing!  Does he deliver?  Well, to paraphrase the man himself, it’s reviewin’ time!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Thing is the tenth Walgreens-exclusive Marvel Legends release, and the sixth in their Fantastic Four sub-set.  He started arriving on store shelves last month, and will hopefully be arriving in serious numbers over the next few months.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and has 28 points of articulation.  As we’d all pretty much expected (especially when he was slotted at the very end of the release schedule), Ben is sporting an entirely new sculpt.  His rather unique build and the rocky structure of said build means Ben’s usually the one with the all-new sculpt.  In the past, it’s also tended to translate to him being the figure with the most behind the times construction.  This time, however, it seems Hasbro has been taking note of what does and doesn’t work when it comes to Legendsizing larger scaled characters.  Ben’s mobility is surprisingly good for a figure of his size.  His elbows end up rather limited, which is a bit of a bummer, but on the flipside, the knees have a ton more movement than I’d expected from this figure.  This figure manages to do a pretty solid job of walking the fine line of articulation vs. aesthetic.  Speaking of aesthetic, there was much discussion before this figure was unveiled as to which version of the character we’d be seeing.  There was definitely a campaign to get a more Kirby-inspired version of the character, but the final release opts for something that’s more an amalgamation of his more recent appearances.  While I would love a more Kirby-faithful figure at some point down the line, the amalgamated, less artist specific nature of this one means he fits right in with the rest of the team, and consistency of style in FF line-ups has long been one of the biggest issues I’ve had with them.  It helps that the design they’ve gone for works really really well, and that the sculpt is just filled to the brim with sweet, rock monster goodness.  There are two different heads included.  They aren’t much different from each other, but give Ben some slight variety in expression.  The head he comes wearing has an angrier, teeth-baring appearance, while the second head is decidedly more reserved.  While both are solid sculpts, I definitely find myself more drawn to the calmer head, because for some reason Ben having regular teeth just really weirds me out.  Maybe it’s just flashing me back to the old Roger Corman flick.  The paintwork on Ben could have been really basic.  They could have just molded him in orange plastic, and left it at that.  Instead, Hasbro actually put in the effort to do the accent work on Ben’s rocky hide, and the figure is all the better for it, with the intricacies of his craggly being deftly highlighted.  In addition to the second head, Ben is also sporting two sets of hands in both fists and open gesture.  They allow for a nice variety of additional poses.  With two heads, four hands, and one of the largest single-release sculpts we’ve gotten since the Legends re-branding, Ben’s packaging ends up pretty darn jam-packed, and pretty darn hefty.  It’s honestly a little bit astounding that he’s the same retail as the other three.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Ben’s my favorite member of the FF, so I was a little bummed out that I’d have to wait to the very end to get him.  He’s had an okay stock of figures in the past, but none of them ever seemed to quite stand-up to the test of time, or even the figures from the very same assortments.  I will admit, I was a little worried about how this guy would turn out.  Prototype shots of him surfaced at Toy Fair, and I didn’t hate them, but he wasn’t wowing me as much as I’d hoped.  Then the in-package shots hit, and the whole story changed.  In-hand?  I love this figure.  I love, love, love this figure.  Have I mentioned that I love this figure?  Because I do.  I really, really do.  I love this figure, and I love my whole FF line-up that goes with him.  This is just the best, and I sincerely doubt this FF display is ever going to be topped.  Now, can I please have a new Dr. Doom to go with them?

Advertisements

#1559: Transforming Thing & Herald Silver Surfer

TRANSFORMING THING & HERALD SILVER SURFER

MARVEL MINIMATES

After quite a bit of time of having to start every Fantastic Four-based review with a woeful intro about how the team has fallen out of focus, it’s kind of nice to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  In case you aren’t up to date on the comics world, the Fantastic Four, or half of them anyway, are finally making their grand resurgence at Marvel, thanks to the recently launched revival of Marvel Two-In-One.  The book served as a showcase for FF member Ben Grimm in the ‘70s and ‘80s, pairing him off with other heroes from Marvel’s rather impressive stable of characters.  The re-launch once again focuses on Ben, but also brings in fellow FFer Johnny Storm, and is hopefully serving as a prelude to a full-fledged Fantastic Four relaunch.  Anyway, in honor of Ben’s return to comic-star-dom, how about looking at one of his figures?

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This pair was released in the 15th Toys R Us-exclusive series of Marvel Minimates.  The set was pulling double duty, with Ben meant to go with Series 48 of the main line (which was an all FF-themed assortment), and the Surfer augmenting the TRU-exclusive “Heralds of Galactus” set.

TRANSFORMING THING

“Pilot Ben Grimm first turned into the Thing after being bathed in cosmic radiation, and his skin was transformed into orange rock. He has since reverted to human form several times, but rarely for very long.”

This was the Thing’s twelfth (and, to date, last) time as a Minimate.  This one’s based on his John Byrne designed Negative Zone costume.  Ben actually had a few different costume variants under Byrne, and I think Minimates have covered them all.  This is the one that sticks the closest to the classic design, just being the usual shorts.  The figure stands about 2 1/2 inches tall and has either 14 or 12 points of articulation, depending on which way you have him configured.  Just how to handled Ben’s bulky build on the Minimate frame has been the source of much experimenting on DST’s part.  This one is a lot like the recent Hulks and such, being a standard ‘mate body, with a rather extensive selection of add-on pieces.  He’s got a head piece, chest cap, upper arm and leg covers, a pelvis cap, and unique hands and feet.  The head piece goes all the way back to the very first Thing ‘mate from Series 5, and most of the other pieces come from the first really bulked up Thing from Series 37.  The only new pieces here are the hands.  The last two Thing hands hadn’t really fit well with the new bulked up pieces, so these newer parts looked much better.  The bulked up look for Thing has always seemed maybe a touch too large for me, but I don’t think it looks horrible, and there’s no denying that there’s some really great detail work going on.  In terms of paint, Ben’s rather on the simple side…at first glance.  The detailing on the face is really good, of course, and I particularly like that they went with a calm expression.  One can only have so many screaming Ben Grimms.  The shade of orange used is one of my favorites, but it’s bright enough that he looks a little weird without any other sort of detailing on the rocks.  Some sort of black outline would have been cool.  As it stands, he still looks fine, but his face stands out quite a bit.  Under all of the add-on pieces, there’s actually a fully detailed second figure!  Yes, with the help of a spare head/hair, pelvis, hands, and feet, you can transform Ben back into his old human self.  The detailing on this underlying figure is pretty great, and it’s awesome that we got this option.

HERALD SILVER SURFER

The Surfer hasn’t been quite so lucky with ‘mates as Ben, with this one only being his third (and, again, his last to date).  I suppose it’s hard to do too much new with a guy whose design has remained essentially identical for 50 years.  From a sculpting standpoint, there’s not much to say about this guy.  He’s just the standard body, as he should be.  Painted details are really where it’s at, and Diamond has done a pretty awesome job of conveying the Surfer’s cosmic shininess.  The first Surfer was more abstract, and the second perhaps a bit too heavy on the details.  This one went for a Goldilocks approach to detailing and gave us a Surfer whose detail paint was just right.  I also appreciate the slightly more intense expression on this guy, since the last two went more stoic.  The Surfer was packed with his signature surfboard, as well as two energy effects for his hands, a portal effect to plug onto the back of his board, and a flight stand.  It all adds up to easily the most exciting looking of the three Silver Surfer ‘mates.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got Series 48 before these guys showed up, and that was one of my favorite assortments of Marvel Minimates pretty much ever.  So, I knew I was tracking this set down to complete my team.  At the time, I wasn’t particularly keen about getting another variant of the Surfer, but he was sort of along for the ride.  When I finally tracked this set down, I ended up loving it just as much as the Series 48 guys, and both figures included are hands down my definitive versions of the characters.

#1458: The Thing

THE THING

FANTASTIC FOUR (TOY BIZ)

“Ace test pilot Ben Grimm found his life was forever changed after a fateful trip on an untried spacecraft. Exposure to cosmic rays caused Grimm to evolve into a hulking, brutally strong creature, with a thick, orange, rock-like hide. Dubbing himself The Thing, Grimm, along with Mr. Fantastic, the Human Torch, and the Invisible Woman, decided to make the most of his transformation and aid humanity by becoming a valued member of the Fantastic Four. His unbelievable strength and endurance, combined with his bravery, loyalty and innate kindness make The Thing one of the most heroic humans ever to walk the Earth!”

Almost exactly four years ago, I spent several of my earliest reviews on this site looking at six of the seven figures in the first series of Toy Biz’s Fantastic Four line from the ’90s.  I didn’t review the seventh because he was the only one I didn’t own.  Now I own him, and so now, after four years, I’m completing my reviews of Fantastic Four Series 1.  Let’s look at Benjamin J Grimm, aka the ever-lovin’-blue-eyed-Thing!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

As touched on in the intro, the Thing is one of the seven figures in Series 1 of Toy Biz’s Fantastic Four line, based on the cartoon from the mid-90s.  Ben, like the rest of the titular team, is wearing a variant of his John Byrne-designed costume from the ’80s.  It’s a standard look, and was his main look in the cartoon, so it made sense here.  The figure stands about 5 1/4 inches tall and he has 10 points of articulation.  This version of Ben was sporting an all-new sculpt, which was only ever used for this one figure (barring a few direct re-releases).  Unlike later Thing figures from this line, this guy wasn’t directly based on the cartoon, and as such presents a slightly more detailed take on the character.  I think this may be the best sculpted Thing figure that Toy Biz ever released, quite frankly.  It’s really very good.  There’s a ton of detailing on his rocky skin, he’s got just the right build, and they even managed to very nicely convey Ben’s attitude on the face.  What’s more, the belt on his shorts even has little wrinkles and some stretching, which is an awesome touch.  Comparing this figure to something like Mole Man, who is from the very same series as this figure mind you, is like night and day.  Whoever sculpted this guy had a fun time.  Now, I’m not going to say that the paint ruins this figure, because it certainly doesn’t, but there’s a definite step down from the sculpt to the paint.  There’s paint for the eyes, the belt, and the shorts.  That’s it.  The rest is all the same shade of molded orange plastic.  That was Toy Biz’s style at the time.  That was the style of action figures in general at the time.  And it doesn’t ruin the figure.  But this sculpt would look a ton better with even the tiniest bit of accent work.  The Thing included no accessories, but he does have a “Clobberin’ Time Punh” action feature: when you turn him at the waist, his arms swing up and down. Fairly standard for this era of figures, but I like that it adds a little something to the figure without risk of ruining the sculpt or posability.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Growing up, my main version of Ben was the trench coat-wearing variant from Series 3, so I never had this one.  I’ve been on the lookout for one for a few years now, but it was never a really a search I put a ton of effort into.  This year at Shore Leave, one of the vendors I buy from pretty regularly had gotten in a stock of new loose figures, and thrown some of the more beaten-up figures into the dollar bin.  I was mostly happy meal toys, knock-offs, and the like, but I did dig this guy out.  He was covered in god-knows-what, but I figured it was worth it to grab him and see what sort of condition he was in.  So, I got him home, and I sat down with my cleaning supplies, and after about a half an hour or so, I had a Thing figure that was in pretty great shape.  And now my Series 1 set is complete.  For a dollar.  Not bad.

#1344: The Thing

THE THING

FANTASTIC FOUR: DELUXE EDITION (TOY BIZ)

“Ben Grimm became the Thing after he was bombarded by cosmic rays in a space flight gone awry with scientist Reed Richards.  Since then he has dedicated his life to fighting crime as a founding member of the Fantastic Four, fending off many foes with the mere words — it’s clobberin’ time!”

It’s been 3 years since I reviewed a figure of Benjamin J. Grimm, better known as the ever-lovin’, blue-eyed Thing.  That’s quite a long time.  It’s a bit surprising, really, since he’s the FF member I own the most figures of, so you’d think he’d show up a little more frequently, but no.  Well, I’m fixing that today, and I’m also looking at yet another of the old Toy Biz 10-inch figures.  That’s always fun!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Thing was part of the second assortment of Toy Biz’s Fantastic Four: Deluxe Edition line.  I think.  It got a little hard to follow after the first three-figure assortment.  The main thing to note is that they only ever released Ben and Johnny in this scale (flip side, they only did Reed and Sue in the Famous Covers style.  So, it works out, I guess?)  The figure stands a little over 10 inches tall and has 9 points of articulation.  As I’ve noted a few times before, the 10-inch figures made use of the two-up prototypes used for the 5-inch line.  This is partly true for the Thing, but he also has a pretty healthy helping of new or tweaked parts, presumably to help with costs.  The only part that looks to be a straight re-use is the head, which is a pretty great Ben Grimm head, so that’s certainly a good thing.  The rest of the parts follow the general look of the smaller figure, but he’s been given a much straighter stance, thereby giving the figure less overall bulk.  He’s still quite a bit more sizable than the other figures in the line, so it’s not a really big change.  In general, he also seems a little more boxy than his smaller counterpart, which doesn’t look quite as good, but once again, it’s not a huge difference.  Regardless, the head sculpt is the real star here.  The paint on Ben is pretty basic; he’s molded mostly in orange, with a bit of blue and while for his shorts and eyes.  What’s there is pretty decent, though obviously the paint on my figure has seen better days.  This figure was originally packed with a protective helmet, emulating the helmet Ben wore in the comics when he had the robotic suit to replace his lost powers.  It was rare that a 10-inch figure got an extra not included with the smaller figure, but this was the one that got it.  If only mine still had his.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t have this guy growing up.  He didn’t hang around stores long, and he also didn’t get any prominent re-releases like some of the other figures.  This guy’s actually the first item I’m reviewing from my pretty awesome haul I picked up from Bobakhan Toys, which is a super awesome toy store I found just outside of Seattle while I was there with Super Awesome Girlfriend’s family.  I was, admittedly, a little overwhelmed by the sheer volume of toys in the store, so I was trying to pick and chose a few things that most stood out to me.  Super Awesome Girlfriend picked this guy up and insisted I get him.  I can’t say that I really fought her.  I like this guy.  He’s not quite as cool as the 5-inch version, but he’s still pretty awesome.  And Ben’s my favorite FF member, so that probably helps with the cool factor as well.

#0318: The Thing – 1st Appearance

THE THING – 1ST APPEARANCE

MARVEL LEGENDS

Thing1st1

Following Toybiz’s venture into the 6-inch scale with Spider-Man Classics, they quickly launched a more general series of figures based on the larger Marvel universe, dubbed Marvel Legends. The Thing initially appeared in the second series of the line, but that figure suffered from slightly odd proportions, and was before Toybiz had quite figured out how to articulate larger characters. Once they got into the swing of things, they saw fit to give the Thing a second shot! Let’s see how that turned out!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Thing1stWilsonThe Thing was released as part of the Legendary Riders series of Toybiz’s Marvel Legends, which was the 11th series of the line. He’s just over 6 inches in height and features 36 points of articulation. The Thing has been dubbed 1st Appearance, though he’s better described as “early appearance.” He’s based on Jack Kirby’s early renditions of Ben, prior to the character taking on his more widely known rocky appearance. Interesting tidbit about the figure: while he’s based on Jack Kirby’s work, he was actually designed by prominent artist Art Adams, who did a fair bit of Toybiz around the time. The Thing features a completely unique sculpt. It’s one of Toybiz’s better sculpts from this line, and it’s actually aged pretty well, which is more than can be said for the majority of Marvel Legends. Ben has a truly unique build that sets him apart from the rest of the line, and the figure is really nicely detailed. It’s not all perfect, though. The feet are a little on the flat side, looking not unlike flippers, and the scale pattern on the upper torso is just a little too regular, which makes it look just a bit off. The Thing features pretty top-quality paintwork. He’s been molded in orange, with several different accents added to bring out the sculpt. It’s pretty great and really makes the figure’s sculpt pop. The theme of the “Legendary Riders” series was each figure included a vehicle of some sort. A lot of these vehicles were rather forced, but Ben’s wasn’t too bad. He comes with his hover cycle, which he was known to ride around on from time to time. The cycle come packaged in six pieces, and is pretty easily put together. In addition, Thing includes a reprint on Fantastic Four #1 and a Thing card from the VS System card game.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Thing is a figure I passed on at the time of initial release. I’m not sure why, if I’m honest.  I’ve always liked Ben, and this is a pretty great figure of him. Regardless, I ended up picking him up from my local comicbook store, Cosmic Comix, a few weeks ago when they purchased someone’s Marvel Legends collection. He was only $10, which is a great price for a figure in this scale nowadays. I’m glad I finally got the figure, and he may well be my favorite version of the character in this scale.

Thing1st2

#0047: Iron Man & The Thing Minimates

IRON MAN & THE THING

MARVEL MINIMATES

Look!  It’s more Minimates!  Yes, I’ll be looking at even more Minimates, once again from the Marvel line.  This time I’ll be looking at a set from the “Best Of” sub series.  The idea behind this sub set was keeping the definitive versions of the main Marvel Heroes and villains on the market, while trying to produce the best possible minimates of those looks.  I’ll be taking a look at Iron Man and the Thing from that line.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These guys were released as part of the first “Best Of” series of Marvel Minimates.

IRON MAN

First up is Iron Man.  He’s depicted in his classic red and yellow armor he wore for most of the 60s and 70s.  Unlike previous minimates of this particular look, the yellow is actually yellow on this one, instead of Gold.  Iron Man is built on the basic minimate body, so he’s about 2 ½ inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  He features a sculpted helmet and belt, as well as sculpted boot and glove cuffs.  Paint-wise, the details are all well done, though some of the red paint is a little thin in places, and seems a bit fuzzy on the edges of the boots and gloves.  But since those are meant to be covered by the cuff pieces, it’s not really an issue.  Iron Man also features an extra left hand in a repulsor pose, a flying stand, and a hairpiece to display him sans helmet.  These are all reused pieces, but they work well here.

THE THING

Next is Benjamin J Grimm, The Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Thing.  Ben’s look is a bit more difficult to nail down than IM’s.  I think it’s meant to be Ben in his look from the mid 2000s, after he switched back to shorts from pants, but I can’t be certain.  The “4” on the belt buckle is throwing me off.   Anyway, he’s built on the basic minimate body, but with sculpted hands and feet instead of the regular ones.  As such, he stands a bit taller than IM and has 12 points of articulation.  In addition to the sculpted hands and feet, Ben’s other sculpted pieces are: Headpiece, upper arms, torso, waist and upper legs.  These are all slip over pieces, and have been used on previous Thing figures.  With that many sculpted pieces, the paint work on Ben is minimal.  He’s got detailing on his face, and on his belt and that’s about it.  They’re both clean and well done.  Ben also includes a clear display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t buy this set when it was initially released, as I already had a few classic Iron Men, and my default version of the Thing is the look John Byrne gave him in the 80s.  However, my comic book store was having a sale on minimates, and had these guys for about 40% off, so I decided to pick them up.  While the Thing is still not my go to, I think the Iron Man may very well become my new default Iron Man.