#2178: First Appearance Thor & Balder

FIRST APPEARANCE THOR & BALDER

MARVEL MINIMATES

Jack Kirby was a major piece of comics history, especially when it comes to Marvel.  However, his actual work hasn’t quite so much been touched by the world of action figures.  There’s something about his dynamic style that doesn’t always lend itself to toys.  Fortunately, Minimates are in a position to offer a more artist-specific figure, as is the case with today’s entry, First Appearance Thor and Balder the Brave!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Thor and Balder were released in the twelfth TRU-exclusive series of Marvel Minimates, which was meant to compliment the Thor/Cap-themed Series 42 of the main line.  This set was the Thor component and Cap/Crossbones made up the Cap component.

FIRST APPEARANCE THOR

Series 42 offered up a couple of Thor variants, but the closest we would get to a classic Thor update would be this guy, inspired by his Jack Kirby-penciled first appearance in Journey into Mystery #83.  There were some minor details that changed between Thor’s initial appearance and those that followed, allowing for this figure to have a few more unique things going about it.  Built on the standard body, the figure is 2 1/2 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  Thor has seven add-on pieces, used for his hair/helmet, cape/shoulder pads, wrist bands, belt, and boots.  Like all of the “classic” Thors before him, he uses the Stargirl wrist bands, which are a solid fit for the character.  He also re-uses a standard nondescript belt piece, since the details on his early belt were just different enough that he couldn’t use the already existing belt.  His last bit of re-use is the cape, which is shared with the Eric Masterson Thor from Series 42.  It’s a good Thor cape.  His helmet and boots are new additions.  The boots are the best Thor boots to date, which is why they’ve remained the go-to Classic Thor boots since this figure’s release.  The helmet, or rather the hair beneath it, is a far more unique piece, capturing the distinctive whisp of hair that brushes out from under the helmet at the left side of his forehead.  That’s a very Kirby trait, and it really sells what this figure is meant to replicate.  More so than the sculpted parts, the paint is really key to selling the Kirby vibe on this figure.  They really got it down, from the distinctive Kirby yell on the face, to that signature shading style on the torso.  There are some minor complaints to be had, of course, like the torso detailing being slightly too high, and I know not everyone was in favor of the flat grey helmet, but by-and-large, this is a very snappy looking paint scheme.  Thor is packed with his hammer Mjolnir, which is a distinctly different shape than previous versions, following after its look in JiM #83.  The head is narrower, and the handle is longer.  As with the hair, it may not be standard issue, but it’s a nice attention to detail.  It’s even got the “whosoever holds this…” on the side.  Also included is Mjolnir’s alternate cane form.  Yeah, it’s just a glorified stick, and not super useful without a corresponding Donald Blake, but it’s a cool little extra nevertheless.

BALDER THE BRAVE

Prior to his film in 2011, Thor’s coverage in the world of Minimates included himself and Loki, twice over.  The movie and the increased exposure it granted got us a handful of other supporting players, including his *other* brother, Balder the Brave, a character whom has had exactly one action figure ever.  Like his brother Thor, this version of Balder is clearly based on Jack Kirby’s version, though he has been toned down ever so slightly so as to better fit in with the other Thor supporting players.  Balder has seven add-on pieces, for his helmet, cape, glove cuffs, boots, and skirt.  The helmet is a new piece, and its slightly smaller side denotes its Kirby influence.  While I’m kind of partial to the ridiculously large helmet from the Simonson-era, there’s no denying that this is a well-sculpted piece in its own right.  The rest of the pieces are all re-used.  He gets Superman’s cape, Invaders Captain America’s boots, Cap TTA’s gloves, and a classic BSG skirt.  It’s a well-chosen selection of pieces, and makes for quite an accurate looking Balder.  Balder’s paintwork is pretty solid work as well.  As noted above, he tones down the Kirby-styling a little bit, but it’s still definitely there, especially on the face.  Overall, he’s got an attractive color scheme, though perhaps one that’s not quite as exciting as Thor’s.  Included with Balder is his magical sword.  Don’t tell him, but it’s actually the same standard sword we’ve been seeing since Valkyrie.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

At the time of this set’s release, there were a few options for a classic Thor, but prior versions had always seemed to be lacking something.  The First Appearance look may be little more appearance-specific than others, but swap out the hammer for a more standard issue one and you’ve got a really solid take on the main God of Thunder.  And, while he may lack some of Thor’s flair, but Balder is undoubtedly a well-put together figure, and an essential piece of any proper Thor collection.  If he was only going to get one ‘mate, this one’s a pretty decent one to get.

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#2172: Thor

THOR

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

Back in the early days of Marvel Legends, Thor figures weren’t the most common things to crop up.  He did manage to get two figures over the course of the Toy Biz days, but the early run of Hasbro only added one more, due to him being dead for a while at the time.  Since the return of Legends, his figures have been more of the modern persuasion; our last classic Thor was 12 years ago.  Fortunately, Hasbro’s paying tribute to a lot of classic designs, courtesy of their celebration of Marvel’s 80th anniversary, and Thor got in on some of that classic love.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Thor is one of the two widely released single-packed “80 Years of Marvel” Legends figures, shipped in solid cases of himself.  As noted above, this Thor is the classic version of the character, and is designed to match up with the Walmart-Exclusive Cap from earlier this year, being loosely patterned on Alex Ross’s illustrations of the main trio of Avengers.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Thor is sporting an all-new sculpt, and it’s a sculpt that, more than anything Hasbro has done in this line, feels like it’s specifically designed to replace the Toy Biz Giant Man Series Thor, which was the pinnacle of Toy Biz Thors.  It makes sense, I suppose, since for most collectors, that’s the figure this one’s going to be directly competing with anyway, given just how long it’s been since our last classic Thor.  Whatever the case, this sculpt is very, very nice.  It’s clean, and bold, and captures the appropriate aesthetic of the classic comics design, while still managing to work in some smaller details on the costume to help sell it as an actual cloth costume, and not just something that’s painted on.  In particular, I really like the seam running down the center of his tunic, as well as the wrinkles in his tights on his legs.  Those add some nice realism to the figure.  Unlike every comic Thor since the ROML release, this one doesn’t feel oversized when compared to his compatriots.  He’s still got some bulk on him, but he’s not inhuman in scale.  Thor’s got a sculpted cape, which Hasbro’s gone with a dynamic flow for.  It continues the pleasant trend of Hasbro turning in some really solid capes; it’s got enough pose to it to be fun with action poses, but not enough to look too weird when he’s just standing at attention.  It’s also not too overly heavy, so he can stand alright on his own.  Thor’s paintwork is very similar in styling to the Cap figure, as you might well expect.  Application is clean and crisp, and all of the important details are covered, but it’s worth noting that the colors are ever so slightly subdued when compared to other “classic” figures.  It’s certainly not a bad look, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Hasbro had a more classically hued re-release in mind somewhere down the line.  Thor is packed with Mjolnir, which like its user is an all-new, far less ridiculously sized sculpt.  The length of the handle surprised me at first, because I’ve become accustomed to the longer handles we’ve been getting, but this actually works pretty well, and I love how “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.” looks on the face of it. In addition to the hammer, Thor also has two different left hands, one in a fist and one in open gesture.  It’s definitely a lighter selection than I’d expected based on the other two he pairs with and his higher price point, but I suppose it’s the sizing that’s supposed to make up for that.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As beautiful as he was, I never found the old Walmart Thor, nor was I much of a fan of the version that preceded it.  My Legends Thor was the armored one from the Blob Series, until he was replaced by the Marvel Now variant a few years ago.  I liked that figure a lot, but he wasn’t a classic Thor, and my Avengers have been skewing more and more classic all the time.  This figure finally makes classic Thor readily available again, and I have to say, he’s a very nicely rendered version.  Definitely the nicest Legends Thor out there, possibly just the best Thor figure you can get.  I do wish he wasn’t so light on accessories, but that’s the only thing I can hold against him.

I picked up Thor from my friends 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.

#1897: Thor

THOR

THE AVENGERS (HASBRO)

“It is occasionally intolerable to be forced to live and work alongside humans with their short lifespan and petty troubles — but Thor has grown to have a deep affection for the people of Earth.  In the Avengers, he is gratified to have found a group of peers.  These are warriors with whom a man can be proud to serve. Thor is glad to fight alongside mighty creatures like the Hulk and noble men such as Captain America.”

Happy Thor’s Day everyone!  Despite some pretty intense audience support, Thor frequently seems to be the hardest sell of the main Avengers when it comes to toys.  Neither of his headlined toyline’s have done particularly well at retail.  But, by virtue of being a rather important member of the team, he does still warrant his token spot, which is a good thing for all of those fans, myself included, who would hate to see him left off the roster.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Thor is another figure from the six-figure Walmart-exclusive larger-scale line of Avengers figures, which hit shelves not too long after the movie in 2012.  For the line based on Thor’s own solo film, Walmart had also offered up a 6-inch figure, which featured a brand-new sculpt, but also featured Thor’s helmet, which he wore for less that five minutes of the first film’s screen time, permanently attached to the head.  Not exactly the most indicative of the MCU take on the character.  This figure is really just a quick fix to that one; he’s exactly the same, but with a new head.  He stands 7 inches tall (this is the figure that would start the trend of MCU Thors being rather on the tall side) and he has 27 points of articulation.  The sculpt is a decent enough piece of work, though it shows its age a bit more than the Cap figure from yesterday, likely because the majority of it is a year older, and Hasbro was improving rapidly at this point.  It’s mostly the articulation that shows the age, especially the hips, which are difficult enough to pose that he’ll essentially just be standing.  The detail work on the sculpt is all pretty sharp, and mostly pretty accurate to the films.  His proportions are idealized slightly, but not terribly unbalanced.  The head, as the new piece, was the main focus. The head and hair are separate pieces, and the head is sporting one of Hasbro’s best Hemsworth likenesses.  The hair, which is decidedly based on the first Thor, rather than Avengers, isn’t quite up to the same snuff as the face.  It’s decent, but feels just a bit…full?  I’m not 100% sure how to describe it, but it’s certainly a bit off.  Thor’s paintwork is pretty solid work.  Application is clean, the palette is a good match for the movie, and he isn’t missing any notable details.  Accent work is minimal, but the sculpt does the heavy lifting here.  Thor is packed with Mjolnir, as well as a stackable display base patterned on the Heroscape tiles.  My figure only has the hammer, though.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I grabbed Thor at the same time as Cap.  It was actually Cap that I’d noticed first, with Thor being the follow up.  This really wasn’t a figure I had much want for at the time of his release, and I’ve tended to prefer some of Thor’s later looks in the movies.  But, with the Mark VII already in my collection, and Cap soon to be, I was hardly going to just pass this guy up.  He’s not perfect, and he certainly shows the learning process Hasbro was going through at the time, but he still sports the best Hemsworth likeness Hasbro’s produced to date.

Like yesterday’s Captain America, Thor came from my friends over at All Time Toys.  He’s one of many 6-inch Marvel figures in their back catalog of figures, which can be viewed at both their website and their eBay store.

#1790: Thor: Ragnarok Minimates

GLADIATOR THOR, HELA, BRUCE BANNER, & LOKI

MARVEL MINIMATES

Three Norse Gods and….Mark Ruffalo?  What could possibly go wrong?

The Thor movies have some slight trouble with getting proper toy representation.  The Minimates have done a fair bit of good, but in the case of both of the first two films, last minute cancellations of planned store exclusives resulted in incomplete cast lineups.  Fortunately, Ragnarok was a bit more fortunate.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These four were released in a specialty-exclusive four-pack, released at the same time as the Walgreens and TRU-exclusive two-pack assortments.  Thor and Hela were included in two-pack form in both of those assortments, but Loki and Banner are both exclusive to this particular set.

GLADIATOR THOR

Ragnarok delivered a rather changed-up look for our hero Thor, who had something of an evolving appearance as the film progressed.  This figure represents him from around the film’s mid-point, after he’s arrived on Sakaar and been thrown into the arena as a gladiator.  It’s definitely his most distinctive look from the film, so it’s a sensible inclusion.  Thor has three sculpted add-on pieces to aid in his look.  The first is his helmet.  Thor’s helmet has been frequently overlooked by the film’s and while he doesn’t wear it for long in Ragnarok, it does at least get some focus that it hadn’t previously.  It’s an all-new piece here, and a pretty decent one at that.  The general design of it’s very close to the one seen in the film, and the detail work is pretty solid.  It perhaps sits a little high on his head, but only ever so slightly.  He’s also got a brand new shoulder piece, featuring his shoulderpads and the remaining half of his cape.  It sits well on the body, and doesn’t bulk up the neck too much, so that’s a definite plus.  Finally, he’s got a generic skirt piece, standing in for the bottom portion of his tunic.  Thor’s paintwork is a good recreation of his film design.  The detail lines are nice and sharp, and while the face isn’t the spitting image of Hemsworth, it’s as close as any of the prior attempts have been, and at least this one’s got a good fighting expression.  The tunic features some rather ornate detailing, as do his wrist guards, but I think the little bit of Sakaaran armor on his right leg is my favorite bit.  It’s just so vibrant and genuine.  Since it depicts Thor following Mjolnir’s destruction, this figure doesn’t include that piece.  It does, however, include the two swords he tries to replace his hammer with during his time as a gladiator, as well as a spare hairpiece for a sans-helmet look and a clear display stand.

HELA

After sparring off with one of the franchise’s most forgettable villains for his second installment, Thor was granted a far more intriguing foe in the form of Hela, goddess of death.  She’s still not the Enchantress, but I guess I’ll take it.  Hela is built using two sculpted add-on pieces, for her cape and her distinctive headdress.  Both pieces are unique to this particular figure, though I’m sure they could easily work for a comic book Hela, should DST be so inclined.  They’re both very well crafted additions, capturing the designs from the movie very nicely.  The headdress is sufficiently ornate, and the slight swoop at the bottom of the cape is definitely a nice touch.  Hela’s paint work is suitably bold and striking, even a bit moreso than her onscreen design.  The slightly metallic nature of the green adds even more to the appearance, and I appreciate that the green detailing goes all the way around the legs and pelvis piece.  For accesroes, Hela’s packed with an extra head and hair, depicting her unmasked appearance from her more vulnerable portions of the movie, as well as the usual clear display stand.

BRUCE BANNER

While the two-packs were host to his jade goliath alter-ego, this set gives us a completely un-transformed Bruce Banner.  This is the second such figure we’ve gotten of the Mark Ruffalo version of the character, following his TRU-exclusive release from Age of Ultron.  Banner uses two add-on pieces, for his hair and his jacket.  Both of them are re-used.  The hair is, appropriately, the old Zombie Hulk piece that was used for quite a few Hulks.  It’s a pretty decent match for Ruffalo’s look, especially his slightly shorter hair from Ragnarok.  His jacket is the Ghostbusters World of the Psychic Peter Venkman piece, which has similarly seen a number of uses.  It’s just a basic blazer, so it works well for the look they’re going for.  Bruce’s paint work is perhaps not the most thrilling work in the whole set, but it’s reasonable work never the less.  The face capture’s Ruffalo’s likeness pretty well, and while the shirt lacks the Duran Duran cover from the movie (which I’m certain is a licensing thing), it does at the very least include some wrinkles and folds, so that it’s not just a blank grey block.  Bruce includes a second head, with an angry expression and green pupils.  It’s not the first such piece we’ve seen with a Banner figure, but it’s a welcome addition all the same.  He also includes the usual clear display stand.

LOKI

Loki, particularly Tom Hiddleston’s version of the character, is no stranger to the world of Minimates.  He’s managed to get at least one ‘mate for each of the movies he’s been featured in (well, barring Infinity War).  Ragnarok proved even more generous in this regarding, giving us not one, not two, but three versions of the character.  The one seen here is based on his look from the movie’s final climactic battle.  It’s a look patterned somewhat after his “Agent of Asgard” look from the comics, which is certainly one of his cooler looks.  Loki makes use of three sculpted add-on pieces, for his hair/crown, his cape, and his belt piece.  The hairpiece is unique to this figure, and does a respectable job of capturing the design from the movie.  The crown in particular is quite sharply detailed.  The cape, which is shared with one of the other two Lokis from the movie, is one of my favorite capes, in part because of its rather straight forward nature.  His paint is perhaps the figure’s one real flaw.  For the most part, it’s not bad.  Like Hela, the color scheme is rather striking, and the details on the costume are quite sharp.  In addition, the face is my favorite of the Hiddleston Lokis we’ve gotten to date; that smile is fantastic.  The real trouble is with the hairpiece, where the application is rather sloppy, and in what appears to be an across the board error, his ears have been painted the same gold as his headpiece, rather than the proper peach-tone.  Loki is the lightest packed in this set, featuring only a clear display stand.  I wouldn’t have minded his knives or an extra hair piece or something, but the other three help keep the sting down a little bit.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I grabbed this set from the best Minimate retailer around, Luke’s Toy Store, a few months back.  I actually had fallen behind a bit on releases, so this was part of a catch-up I was doing at the time.  It’s a pretty strong set. Gladiator Thor is one of the coolest versions of the character we’ve gotten in the MCU, and this ‘mate does a great job of translating that.  Hela’s an important character in the context of the movie, and a brand-new character in the context of the line as a whole, plus she’s got a pretty killer look.  Though he’s just a basic civilian, Banner’s a very well-executed ‘mate, and another winning figure in this already quite strong set.  This Loki is really the star Loki figure from the movie, and issues with the paint aside, he’s a pretty darn solid addition to the line-up.

#1759: Thor & Lady Sif

THOR & LADY SIF

MARVEL LEGENDS — MARVEL STUDIOS: THE FIRST TEN YEARS

Though very successful, and overall very good at creating a sense of consistency throughout its films, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is not without its missteps.  Incredible Hulk is the result of inheriting an initially unrelated production late in the game, but I still like it.  Iron Man 2 is a slightly bungled attempt at doing the whole wider universe thing in a solo film, but once again, I still quit like it.  So, let’s talk about my least favorite MCU entry by some measure, Thor: The Dark World.  Boy did I want to like it.  And it’s not a *bad* movie.  In fact, there are some truly fantastic sequences in it.  The trouble is, they all seem to be immediately followed or preceded by a rather terrible sequence that just sucks all the joy right out of you.  Through coincidence, The Dark World is also the least merchandised of the MCU films.  While the first Thor got a rather comprehensive 3 3/4 line, plus a Legends scale Thor, and Ragnarok at the very least got its most prominent players as Legends, The Dark World only got a very small handful of 3 3/4 inch figures from Hasbro, and no Legends at all.  At least that last bit’s getting amended now, with Thor and Lady Sif!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Thor and Lady Sif are entry 5 in the Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years sub-line of Hasbro’s Marvel Legends.  It follows the lead of the Captain America and Crossbones pack, with one brand-new figure, and one slightly tweaked.

THOR

Thor fills the slot for “slightly tweaked.”  Of course, that’s far less of an issue for this figure than it was for Cap, since the Amazon-exclusive figure this Thor’s based on was actually a pretty solid offering from the start.  This figure’s purpose is more to offer a slightly tweaked costume design. Like the figure he is built from, this guy stands 7 inches tall and has 28 points of articulation.  While it’s a little odd to be getting a figure at this point in the line that lacks the usual style of neck articulation, thanks to the hair, it’s not like he’s missing anything.  This figure uses most of the same pieces as his AoU counterpart, but gets a new set of chain-mailed arms to differentiate him ever so slightly.  Differentiating him even a little bit more is the paint work.  Aside from the obvious changes to the arms, they’ve also slightly changed the shade of the metal bits on the front of his costume, so that they now match the gold-er hue from The Dark World.  Of course, the biggest change by far is on the head, since this figure makes use of the fancy new face printing technique.  This does sort of have one downside, which is now that I’ve seen this head with a much better paint job, I now know for certain that it’s the sculpt and not the paint that had a slightly off Hemsworth likeness.  Well, at least he looks more like a real person, right?  Thor is, as usual, packed with his hammer Mjolnir, which remains a very well sculpted piece.

LADY SIF

And, of course, Sif is the brand-new component here.  Though she never got a super huge part, Jaime Alexander’s Lady Sif was one of my very favorite parts of the first two Thor films (in fact, the scenes with her and the Warriors Three are the real saving grace of The Dark World for me), so the fact that she hadn’t yet gotten the Legends treatment was quite sad indeed.  Sif is seen here in her slightly tweaked Dark World armor (which was also used for her appearance in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), which I will admit is a slightly better design than her look from the first movie.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  She’s got an all-new sculpt, and it’s a very strong offering.  The head has a pretty much spot-on likeness of Alexander, and the hair manages to not be incredibly limiting for the neck joint, which is certainly a plus.  The body is possibly a touch skinny for Sif’s fully armored appearance, but it’s not terribly far off, and the detail work is definitely impressive.  The use of separate pieces for her shoulder plates works out well, allowing for slightly better mobility, greater depth to the sculpt, and a much cleaner transition from skin to armor.  Sif’s paint work is all quite clean, and replicates her color scheme from the movie very well.  Like Thor, she uses the face printing technique, which really pays off here, and further highlights the sculpt’s likeness of the actress.  They’ve even gotten the small beauty spot on her right cheek; an easy to miss detail, but one that sells the likeness that much more.  Sif is packed with her shield, a single version of her sword, and two other swords that can be connected into a staff, just like in the movie.  Not a bad assortment at all.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like the other three of these, I got this pair from Super Awesome Fiancee, who picked them up for me from work.  I wasn’t initially sold on getting the second Thor figure, since I had the Amazon one and all, but he’s definitely a solid figure, and I don’t mind getting the slight variation.  Sif is a truly amazing figure, and I’m glad to have finally been able to add her to the collection.  The only downside is that now I really want the Warriors Three to go with her…

#1668: Thor

THOR

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

When the state of the universe is thrown into chaos, Thor sets out to protect Earth and beyond.”

You can’t honestly be that surprised, can you?  I’m looking at the latest set of Infinity War-themed Marvel Legends and it’s a Thursday.  *Of course* I’m looking at the newest Thor figure!  What choice do I have?  None.  I had no choice at all.  Sorry, Tony, it was the only way.  Wait, wrong moment…uhhh, let’s just look at this here Thor figure, shall we?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Thor is the second of two Infinity War-themed single releases from the Cull Obsidian Series of Marvel Legends.  This is the second IW-based Thor Legends release, following the one from the three-pack with Rocket and Groot.  That one was the early film look, while this one’s his design from the film’s climax.  It’s more in line with the same basic design he’s been sporting from the beginning, but with the shorter hair, of course.  As a major focal point of the film, and the only major character to truly have multiple distinctive designs, a second figure for Thor makes a lot of sense.  As with his triple-packed compatriot, this Thor figure stands 7 inches tall and has 30 points of articulation.  The two figures share a fair number of pieces (fitting, since it’s the same base design of the same guy from the same film), with the hands and lower half being identical, and the upper body being ever so slightly tweaked to allow for the cape.  The head is similar to the last one, but missing the eye-patch, of course.  I thought it might be the same sculpt that was used for the Ragnarok figure, but there’s actually a sculpted scar over the eye, so it’s at least slightly changed.  He also gets new arms, featuring his sleeves of armor, as well as the previously mentioned cape.  The new pieces match well with the film design, as well as the pre-existing parts, and make for a rather solid looking figure.  The paintwork is overall very strong work, and an improvement over the three-pack.  He lacks any of the electric effects that plagued that figure (which is a bit ironic, since they’d actually make far more sense here than on that figure), and instead gets a lot more texture work, especially on the boots, which look nice and weathered.  My only complaint has to do with the head. It’s still well-crafted, but something about it is just very un-Hemsworth.  I don’t really know who it looks like, but it’s not Chris. Thor is packed with his new weapon Stormbreaker, the main selling point of this guy.  It’s incredibly well-detailed, and even features a removable lightning effect. I know it wouldn’t be strictly movie accurate, but I wish they’d included a non-powered up eye-patch Head here too, since we didn’t get one.  Instead, we just get another piece, specifically the left arm, of Cull Obsidian.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I wasn’t really sold on this guy initially.  I definitely liked the three-pack variant better, and this guy felt a little extraneous.  Upon getting him in hand, I’m sort of torn. He’s a lot better than I’d expected, and fixes some of the other figure’s flaws, but I just don’t like that head quite as much.  Fortunately, they’re easily swapped, allowing me my perfect Thor.

Thor was purchased from my sponsors over at All Time Toys.  You can visit them in person on Main Street in Ellicott City, MD, or you can view their sizable online catalogue via their online store or their eBay store front!

#1666: Malekith

MALEKITH

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“The ruler of the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim, Malekith the Accursed uses dark magic to bring vengeful destruction to  the universe.”

Oh hey, look, it’s—*snore*….Wuzzat?  Oh, must have dozed off for a second there. Sorry, this happens when I have to talk about *yawn* Malekith.  He’s sort of a walking snoozefest.  Okay, that’s not entirely fair.  He’s a walking snoozefest in The Dark World.  This here isn’t movie Malekith, it’s comic Malekith, who is at least slightly more interesting, even if he is just sort of Loki-lite.  At the very least, his design is far more exciting, and thereby more ripe for translation into an action figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Malekith is the second of the two comics-based figures in the Cull Obsidian Series of Marvel Legends.  This figure is actually just a slight tweak on the Malekith included in the SDCC 2017-exclusive Thor set.  The ease of creating this figure is probably what got him the slot, since this is otherwise a pretty new-tooling-heavy assortment.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Malekith’s build on the Reaper body, which seems appropriate, given the overall larger stature of most of the Thor-themed characters.  He uses the bracer-sporting forearms first introduced on Namor, which follow Malekith’s comics design pretty well.  He’s also got a brand-new head, plus add-ons for his collar/shoulder pads, his skirt, and his belt.  The head’s actually a pretty nice piece.  The main head and the hair are separate pieces, allowing for some more depth, and there’s a great mad grin on his face, which feels right for the character.  The hair’s a bit restrictive, but otherwise looks pretty nice.  The new add-on pieces fit pretty well on the body, and help to differentiate him from all the others on this same base body.  The collar is a little floaty, but the hair helps to keep it in place most of the time.  The pleated nature of the skirt means that hip movement is thankfully left mostly un-hindered, which is a plus with designs like this.  Malekith’s main change from the SDCC release is paint.  The SDCC release was a darker, black and red combo, based on more recent appearances, whereas this figure opts for his classic more predominately red design.  The differences between the two are incredibly minor, just like last year’s Enchantress.  It’ll mostly come down to personal preference.  Malekith is packed with a big blade, which his hooked at one end, and serrated down one side.  It’s doing a lot of damage is what I’m getting at here.  He also includes the arm of the Build-A-Figure Cull Obsidian.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I mostly just got Malekith because I wanted to complete Cull Obsidian, so I didn’t have any real expectations of him.  I’m actually pretty happy with him in the end.  Sure, he’s not gonna wow me like Black Knight, but I chalk that up to not really being that much of a fan of the character.

Malekith was purchased from my sponsors over at All Time Toys.  You can visit them in person on Main Street in Ellicott City, MD, or you can view their sizable online catalogue via their online store or their eBay store front!

#1661: Thor, Rocket, & Teen Groot

THOR, ROCKET, & GROOT

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“When a blaster-toting raccoon, a teenage tree, and a Asgardian god get together, the journey is sure to be out of this world.”

You thought I’d slip, didn’t you?  You thought I’d forget about my new favorite running gag!  That I’d review a Thor figure on a day other that Thursday!  Well….I actually almost did.  Yep, had this one queued up for tomorrow.  Like an idiot.  It’s okay, I got better.  It’s been a week since I wrapped up my first round of Infinity War-themed Legends reviews.  Now I’m coming back to it for another multi-pack.  This one’s got the aforementioned Thor, as well as one-third of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Rocket and Groot!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Thor, Rocket, and Groot are another displaced Toys R Us-exclusive.  They were meant to be the follow-up to Vision and Scarlet Witch, and were only confirmed to exist just before TRU announced they were going under.  It’s not known how many of them actually made it to TRU, but it’s certainly less than Vision and Scarlet Witch.  As with the other displaced exclusives, it’ll be available over the summer via Entertainment Earth.

THOR

After taking a bit of a back seat for Age of Ultron, Thor’s right back in the forefront for Infinity War.  Of the many characters included in the film, he’s the first to have a variant confirmed.  This one uses his early-in-the-film appearance, picking up from the end of Ragnarok.  If you haven’t seen that film, his eye-patch-wearing head’s going to be a bit of a spoiler.  It’s a major selling point for this set, though, being the only version of the character available right now with the eye patch.  He’s also sans cape, which is a first for the MCU Thor figures.  I like it.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and has 30 points of articulation.  At first glance, I’d kind of expected this figure to make use of a lot of Gladiator Thor’s pieces, but there doesn’t actually appear to be anything shared between them.  I think that’s ultimately for the best, as I felt there were some minor issues with the last one.  This one has a really solid, hefty construction, and his posablity is actually really great given how bulky he is.  The head looks to be about the same as the un-helmeted Ragnarok sculpt, but with the eyepatch, of course.  It’s a pretty decent likeness of Hemsworth, so I can’t complain.  What I can complain about?  The paint.  It’s perhaps the only thing I don’t like about this figure.  I mean, the basics are fine.  The detailing on the hair works.  But, what I really don’t like is the lightning effects.  The details on the torso in particular look rather cheesy.  I don’t hate the effects on the eye; if it were an extra head, I’d probably find it really cool.  As the only eye-patched Thor head out there?  It’s a little annoying.  Like the Ragnarok two-pack release, he’s packed with Heimdall’s sword.  He still doesn’t use it in this movie, and I still want an actual Heimdall, but it’s better than nothing.

ROCKET

Any Rocket figure is going to have the rather difficult task of surpassing the Mantis Series release.  Hasbro has acknowledged this fact, and pretty much just given us a straight re-release of that figure.  There are some minor paint differences between the two, with the accents being a darker grey this time.  He also only gets the calm head, but he does still get both of his blasters (sadly lacking the cool painted details) as well as his brand-new gun that’s been packed with all of the Infinity War Rockets.

GROOT

I’d say Groot’s the biggest draw of this set, since we’ve not yet gotten this version of the character in Legends form (though we did get a surprisingly good version of him from the basic Infinity War line).  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 25 points of articulation.  Articulation is the main differentiating thing between the two teen Groot figures, with this one being not only far more posable, but also having the articulation better worked into the overall sculpt.  This figure also gets a little more detailing, especially on the smaller details, such as the little twig growing from the top of his head.  His head seems to be a little more accurate to Groot’s Infinity War design than the basic figure (in the basic figure’s defense, he seems to have been based on our brief glimpse of Teen Groot from Guardians Vol. 2), with a rounder face, and an even poutier expression.  He’s not a perfect recreation of Teen Groot; I think his chin’s a bit too pronounced; but he’s still pretty close.  The paint is kind of sparse on this figure, which is a little surprising given the accent work that the basic figure got.  The browns are just left flat, which is a little disappointing.  On the plus side, there’s some slight green representing vegetation, which keeps him from being too monotonous, and his eyes are nice and sharp as well.  Groot includes his gamepad…or *a* gamepad, because I don’t think this is the one he had in the movie.  It’s still a nice touch, though, and I’m glad he got *something*

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I found this set at one of the two slowly dying Toys R Us’s near me.  I thought Vision and Scarlet Witch were just a stroke of luck, but this set popped up about a week after.  Honestly, it’s a set I was uncertain about when it was first shown off, since there’s not a *ton* of new stuff here.  Rocket’s essentially identical.  If you missed his first release, it’s great that there’s a second opportunity, but if you didn’t, he’s extraneous.  I quite like Thor, like to a surprising level, but he’s got a few flaws, and if you aren’t big on lots of variants of the same character, he too can feel a bit extraneous, especially with the fully equipped version from the Cull Obsidian assortment on its way.  A lot of this set’s selling power is resting on Groot.  He’s a good figure, but I can’t say he’s enough of an improvement on the basic series figure to warrant 5 times the price to get him.  Of course, I got my set for 20%, since I got it from TRU, but I can see it being a tricky sell at full retail.  I’m certainly happy I have it, but not everyone’s as willing to drop tons of money on toys as I am!

*Miss this at TRU and still want a set of your own?  It’s currently in stock with our sponsors over at All Time Toys!  Check it out here!

#1633: Thor

THOR

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (HASBRO)

Okay, you had to know which Infinity War figure I was reviewing today.  You just had to.  Because it’s Thursday, aka Thor’s Day.  When a guy’s got the day named after him, he’s kind of a lock for the subject of the review.  If you’re thinking to yourself, “hasn’t Ethan already done this gag?,” the answer is yes, I very definitely have.  I very definitely will again.  It’s probably a safe assumption that I’ll do this with every Thor figure I remember to do this with going forward (so, probably about a 50/50 split; I’m forgetful).  Anyway, here’s my latest Thor!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Thor is another figure from Series 1 of the basic Avengers: Infinity War line.  Thor’s design has not changed drastically since we last saw him in Ragnarok.  Well, actually, a little before we last saw him in Ragnarok, truth be told.  He’s got both of his eyes again.  As of yet, all of the trailers and the like have shown him still sporting the eyepatch.  It’s still possible it will be healed during the film.  Of course, Hemsworth wasn’t actually wearing the eyepatch on-set for Ragnarok, and I don’t believe he was for Infinity War either.  It’s always possible licensees were seeing unfinished shots from the film, in order to preserve Ragnarok’s twist, and now we just have a bunch of inaccurate Thor figures.  I guess we won’t know until we see the movie.  Anyway, the figure stands 5 3/4 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  Like yesterday’s Star-Lord, his sculpt has some definite similarities to last year’s Legends release.  Understandable, since they’re adapting similar looks.  The Hemsworth likeness is halfway decent.  It’s not amazing, but it’s hardly like it’s impossible to figure out who it is.  The body, particularly the proportions, feel a bit more cartoony and exaggerated than the others I’ve looked at from the line.  I think that’s largely the arms, which have almost a Popeye sort of feel about them.  It’s not like it looks bad or anything, just slightly different from the previously established style.  The rest of the body is fairly well detailed, and his costume is quite well-defined.  The paint on this figure is passable, but definitely more on the basic side.  Where Cap’s hair went too brown, I think Thor’s goes too yellow, adding more to that whole cartoony thing.  Also, his eyes seem a bit off.  Or maybe it’s his eyebrows.  Either way, he ends up looking like he just remembered he didn’t put the trash out to the road last night.  That’s not how I tend to think of Thor looking.  Thor is packed with his new weapon, Stormbreaker, which is actually pretty cool, and has some pretty awesome electricity effects going on.  Also, like the other figures in the set, Thor’s got an infinity stone, specifically the Space Stone.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Thor seems to be a rarer figure in the first Infinity War assortment, as he’s the one I’ve seen the least.  When I found most of the others, he wasn’t there, so I ended up getting him alongside Widow the new day.  I wasn’t even sure I was going to get him, but I sort of wanted all of the stones.  He’s not a bad figure.  Perhaps a little bland in terms of design (having the eyepatch probably would have helped), but he’s still cool.

#1573: Iron Man, Hawkeye, Thor, & Grim Reaper

IRON MAN, HAWKEYE, THOR, & GRIM REAPER

MARVEL MINIMATES

“Iron Man, Thor and Hawkeye are just three of the Heroes who make up the super-team known as the Avengers. Together, they can neutralize any threat, even the manipulations of the evil Grim Reaper!”

I just mentioned Minimates passingly in yesterday’s Palz review, so I suppose it’s fitting that today I give them a whole focus of their own.  Because, as we all know, Minimates neeeever show up in my review schedule, right?  …Anyway, getting back to the Minimates, Disney’s acquisition of Marvel in 2009 left a little bit of uncertainty about the future of Marvel Minimates and whether DST would be allowed to continue as a licensee.  Disney assuaged fears by turning around a couple of Disney Store exclusives, sort of out of nowhere one day.  I’m looking at one of those exclusives today.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This set was released in May of 2012 as one of two Disney Store-exclusive boxed sets meant to tie-in with the release of the first Avengers movie (I already took a look at the other one here).  Iron Man and Thor are both the same figures as their Marvel Minimates Series 44 counterparts, while Hawkeye and Grim Reaper were exclusive to this set.

IRON MAN

The mid ‘90s marked a bit of a resurgence for Tony Stark as Iron Man (albeit nowhere near as big as the one he got in ’08), with fan favorite Kurt Busiek handling the character both in his solo book and in the pages of the re-launched Avengers title.  This figure represents the design he was wearing at that time, and it’s a favorite of mine. The figure is 2 1/2 inches tall and he has the usual 14 points of articulation.  He has add-ons for his helmet, breast plate/shoulder pads, gloves, belt, and boots.  All of these were new to this figure, and they all are pretty fantastic.  There’s a ton of sculpted detail on each piece, but he maintains the ‘mate aesthetic very well.  As far as paint goes, this Iron Man is generally pretty solid, but is definitely an example of DST’s learning curve with metallic paints.  While the reds are really great looking, the gold is still that very dark, very dull shade they were using for a while, and it’s also worth noting that it’s a paint that doesn’t hold up to time.  It’s not as bad as the Avengers #1 set’s version of Tony, but it’s pretty frustrating.  Even more frustrating is DST’s decision to package Tony’s helmet on him.  For most Iron Man ‘mates (at least leading up to this), the helmet would be packed off to the side.  The reason for this is simple: if the paint hasn’t fully dried when the figure is packaged and you stick the helmet on there, it’s likely not coming off.  That’s what happened with my figure.  Seriously, six years I’ve owned this guy, and I’ve yet to get that helmet off him.  It’s a little sad.  Guess it’s a good thing I like the fully armored look.  Iron Man was packed with a rocket trail flying stand, done in a nice pale blue.

HAWKEYE

Before this figure, there had been only one other standard Clint Barton Hawkeye (reviewed here), four years prior.  That figure had some notable issues, and really looked out of place with all of the other advancements going on.  So, he was due for an update, and the extra notoriety given to him by the first Avengers movie granted him that chance.  Plus, as a pivotal player in Busiek’s Avengers re-launch, his inclusion alongside the otherwise very clearly Heroes Return-branded ‘mates in this set and Series 44 made a lot of sense.  I’ve actually looked at a lot of this figure before, via the Best Of Marvel Minimates Series 3 release, which took it’s add-ons from this guy.  I liked the pieces there, and I liked them here first.  The only real difference between the two is paint.  And paint’s kind of what breaks this figure for me.  It’s not terrible.  It’s actually pretty decent, even.  That being said, if the Series 20 Hawkeye was too subdued, this one went too far the other way, making him way too bright.  It’s the blue in particular that throws him off.  It should definitely be a deeper tone (which the later release definitely fixed).  Another thing I’ve never much liked about this figure is his facial expression. I’m glad they got the face to line up correctly (since the first Hawkeye did not), but the angry, gritted teeth look just doesn’t feel right for Barton.  Hawkeye included his bow, three pointed arrows, two sonic arrows, and a hairpiece for his unmasked look.  The arrows were nice, and can even be placed in his quiver.  The bow, which was a new sculpt, was okay at the time, but was definitely on the small side, and a little hard for him to hold properly.

THOR

Though he was the most glaring omission from the line for its first 15 series, by the time of this Thor’s release, we were kind of suffering from a glut of Thors, with this one being the ninth Thor in the space of a year.  Like Iron Man, this Thor was definitely patterned on the Heroes Return look, which is really just the classic design plus a beard.  Thor was built using add-ons for his helmet/hair, cape, wrist bands, belt, and boots.  The wrist bands were from the very first Thor in Series 16, the cape and boots came from the TRU-exclusive First Appearance Thor from 2011, and the belt was just a generic piece.  The helmet was new, though you’d be forgiven for not realizing.  Overall, a solid set of parts, though the cape does make it a little hard to keep him standing.  The rest of the look is achieved via paint.  I think it’s pretty good overall, though there’s some slight slop here and there, especially noticeable on the helmet and the cape.  He used the same gold paint as Iron Man, which isn’t super, but there’s less of it on Thor.  Thor included his hammer Mjonir, in both standard AND spinning configurations.  I quite like the spinning version.  He also had an extra head sans-beard, which, despite using the exact same facial features as the bearded head, ends up looking a bit too mean for Thor.  There’s also a spare hairpiece for a look without the helmet, I suppose to offer people who only knew the movie Thor a more familiar look.  Lastly, he included a clear display stand to help him stay standing with the spinning Mjolnir.  It’s important to note that these still weren’t a standard inclusion yet.

GRIM REAPER

Last up, the set’s one new character, Grim Reaper!  Reaper has been a long-recurring Avengers villain, and he was revived during the Busiek/Perez run, so he’s a perfect fit…well, apart from the total lack of Vision or Wonder Man in the set, but hey, I’ll take what I can get.  They went with the classic Reaper design (classic, not original, because no body really wants the technicolor dreamcoat monstrosity that was his first costume), which is sensible enough.  I’m still partial to his re-animated look from the ‘80s, but this works too.  The figure makes use of add-ons for his mask, cape, and scythe attachment.  The mask and scythe were new to this figure (and remain unique to this figure six years later), and were fantastic renditions of his look from the comics.  The cape is the standard cape from the DC Minimates Series 1 Superman.  It’s not a perfect fit (since Reaper’s really supposed to have the collar), but it’s close enough that it works.  In terms of paint, Reaper is certainly subdued, but very well-rendered.  The colors are suitably dark, but there’s still plenty of room for detailing.  I love the dynamic shading on the bodysuit and mask.  I also really love that crazed expression they gave him.  Reaper included no accessories, but I don’t really know what you’d give him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I grabbed this set at the same time as its companion set, ordering them both from Disney’s online store (since none of my local Disney Stores ever carried Minimates).  Reaper’s always been a favorite of mine, so his inclusion definitely excited me, but I was also pretty happy to get another Hawkeye.  While Hawkeye didn’t end up being quit what I wanted, I was still pretty happy with the other three in this set.  In fact, this was my preferred of the two Disney sets.