#3011: Magneto

MAGNETO

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Magneto casts off his anti-human sentiments and carries on Xavier’s dream of peaceful coexistence, thereby founding the X-Men.”

2020 marked the 25th anniversary of the X-Men crossover “Age of Apocalypse” and 2021 marked the 25th anniversary of the tie-in toys for that crossover.  What’s the significance of 2022?  It’s the 25th anniversary of the toys being a year old, I guess.  That’s gotta count for something, right?  Well, I’m gonna make it count for something, because in my case, it counts for reviewing another round of AoA-themed Legends.  That’s pretty cool, all things considered.  Throughout the history of the X-Men, Magneto has flirted with the idea of not being such a bad guy, even aiding, or in some cases outright joining the team.  It rarely lasts, but AoA posited that, were Magneto to see his friend Xavier murdered at a young age, that might just be the thing to make him an objectively good character.  So, in the AoA universe, Magneto is an unquestionable force of good, founder and leader of the X-Men, and the most prominent force in the fight against the objectively evil Apocalypse.  As such, he’s a pretty perfect choice for headlining the second assortment of AoA Legends.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Magneto is part of the Colossus Series of Marvel Legends.  He is the only figure in the set not to include a piece of the Build-A-Figure, and is likewise this assortment’s double pack, which is honestly pretty sensible.  This is the fourth time the AoA version of Magneto’s gotten a figure, following the original Toy Biz 5-inch figure, the Minimate, and the 3 3/4-inch Hasbro version.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  As with the last few Magnetos, he’s based on the Spider-UK body, which is a good fit for the character, so I’m pretty happy to see it continue to be in use for the character.  In terms of design, Magneto’s AoA look wasn’t a drastic change from his mainstream look, so there’s a lot of room for parts re-use.  That being said, the only part (aside from the base body), that’s shared with the standard Magneto is the belt.  He also shares his forearms and boots with the modern Magneto, which are generally pretty good matches for the updated designs from the AoA books.  He gets a few new parts as well, namely an all-new cape/shoulder pad piece, as well as two new heads.  The cape does seem a little tame for how the AoA Magneto’s cape was usually depicted, but it’s still a pretty nice piece, which at least keeps the figure well-balanced.  The new heads give him helmeted and un-helmeted looks.  The un-helmeted is certainly the stronger of the two.  The facial features are a bit more defined, and the hair turned out quite well.  The helmeted head’s not terrible, but the helmet seems a touch on the small side, and I do feel like there’s a missed opportunity in not doing the blacked-out face under the helmet, as he was frequently depicted in the books.  Magneto’s paint work is generally pretty decent.  It’s straight forward, and really rather minimal, but it does what it needs to for the most part.  There’s a little bit of misalignment on one of the eyebrows one un-helmeted head, but it generally looks pretty good.  The only odd part is the decision to leave off the purple trunks. Later illustrations of the character dropped them, but the actual cross-over itself always showed him having them.  Magneto is packed with two sets of hands, one in fists, the other in open gesture, as well as two electricity effects.  Not a ton of stuff, but it covers the basics.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

AoA Magneto is really one of my favorite parts of the whole AoA thing, something I brought up when I reviewed the Toy Biz figure, itself my favorite of the Toy Biz AoA figures.  I’ve definitely been hoping for an update in Legends form for quite some time.  I was bummed when he wasn’t included with the first assortment, but his absence felt like it really confirmed a second assortment, since how can you not do this guy?  I was happy to be right.  Ultimately, there are some elements of the figure that could stand to be a little stronger, but he’s generally still a pretty solid take on the character, and I’m glad we got the update.

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.

#2913: Deadpool & Negasonic Teenage Warhead

DEADPOOL & NEGASONIC TEENAGE WARHEAD

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Wisecracking Wade Wilson and stoic Ellie Phimister team up to defend all mutants.”

Almost an entire year ago, I looked at Domino and Cable, who made up either half or two-thirds of Hasbro’s slightly late tie-ins for Deadpool 2.  Notably, I did *not* look at the title character, which did seem a bit odd, didn’t it?  Yeah, it seemed that way to me too.  I assure you, it wasn’t an intentional slight; I really did mean to review him, and his packmate Negasonic Teenage Warhead, right around the same time, but, as you can see, that didn’t happen.  Which I guess makes these tie-ins a bit more than slight on the lateness scale.  My apologies.  I guess I’ll just get to them now.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Deadpool and Negasonic Teenage Warhead are the second of the two standard release two-packs for the X-Men Movie sub-line of Hasbro’s Marvel Legends.  They were supposed to be released at the same time as the Magneto and Xavier set, but that didn’t really seem to happen.  A small amount of them shipped to people who’d placed online preorders, and a small amount showed up in stores, but there were no notable signs of stocking the way the rest of the line dropped, and most retailers had them continually pushed back for the better part of a year.  It seems that they’re finally starting to truly make their way out, now, though, so that’s good, since this was probably the most in-demand item from the whole sub-line.

DEADPOOL

Deadpool has no shortage of action figures, but the less than stellar relationship between Fox and Disney the last decade or so meant that actual proper movie toys weren’t a thing, at least until now…or last year, I guess, if you want to be more technical.  Deadpool’s movie costume was not only quite comics accurate, it also changed very little between his two films, meaning that this one figure can also pull double duty for both movies, which is exactly what it does.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  His articulation structure is pretty darn good, working in a set of butterfly shoulders, and making sure he’s got the pinless construction on the elbows and knees, making him a rather slick figure.  His sculpt was initially all-new to him, but was subsequently re-used for the single-release ash-covered Deadpool that was an Amazon-exclusive last fall.  It’s quite an impressive sculpt, which does a strong job of capturing the costume design from the movie.  It’s rather distinctive and it translates well.  I quite like how they’ve handled all the texturing on his outfit.  The figure’s paint work is generally pretty solid.  It follows the slightly toned down scheme of the film’s design, but it again looks pretty good as a toy, and the application’s all pretty clean and sharp.  Deadpool is quite well accessorized, with four sets of hands, two pistols, two katanas, a knife, and a small stuffed unicorn.  The hands are all in different poses, but two pairs are all black like in the first movie, and two have the silver stripes from the second.  While it’s nice to have the options, it does somewhat limit what you can do with him, since you have to make sure the style of gloves match.  I feel like the original plan was probably to do a full set of hands in both styles, but it probably didn’t cost out.  The two pistols are Forge’s sci-fi styled gun, which isn’t really true to the movie.  Also, there are more film accurate pistols in the holsters, even, but they aren’t meant to be removed.  They’re separate pieces that have been glued in place, so you *can* remove them, but I gave it a fair try, and didn’t really want to force it.  Presumably, this is some sort of a request from Disney, who are trying to downplay the use of real firearms with Marvel figures.

NEGASONIC TEENAGE WARHEAD

While Deadpool may be no stranger to action figures, Negasonic Teenage Warhead has thus far only had the one.  Admittedly, prior to being featured in the first Deadpool, the character struggled to be considered even D-List, so there wasn’t much call for toys before this.  While Deadpool had more or less the same look between the two movies, Negasonic had two fairly divergent designs for the two films.  This figure opts for her Deadpool 2 design, which is really the more fully formed and actually toy worthy of the two.  The figure stands 5 3/4 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  Negasonic breaks from the movie X-Men norm and is largely re-using parts, specifically the Spider-Girl body.  It’s really not a bad match, and it’s just a decent starting point in general, plus, with as many new parts as the X-Men Movie figures had, it was a good way to save some money on tooling.  She still gets a new head, upper torso, upper arms, and a belt add-on piece, which help to keep her fairly movie accurate.  The head’s got an okay likeness of actress Brianna Hildebrand, at least from a sculpting standpoint (paint’s perhaps a different story), and the rest of the parts are all pretty good matches for her on-screen design.  The paint work is a bit of a mixed bag; the base work is okay, but the face paint on mine’s not quite right, resulting in her looking a little bit doofy.  Her eyes are definitely not pointing the same way, and that’s not ideal.  Negasonic is packed with two sets of hands (fists and open gesture) as well as Scarlet Witch’s effects pieces, presumably to emulate her powers in some fashion.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I wanted this set, not so much for Deadpool, since I’ve got plenty of figures of him, but actually for the Negasonic figure.  But, then I got both Domino and Cable, and so it made sense to have Deadpool too, so I decided I was down for both parts.  And then I patiently waited for the set to arrive….and that was a lot of waiting, now wasn’t it?  When I found out these were coming in, I honestly expected some sort of diabolos ex machina sort of a thing to ensue and prevent me from getting them yet again, but it didn’t, and now I have them.  How about that?  Sure, I wish Negasonic’s face paint were better, but otherwise, it’s quite a nice set, and I’m happy to finally have them.

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

#2912: Sentinel

SENTINEL

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Its body a towering, technological marvel, the Sentinel scans the world for its quarry, a searching light emanating from its chest, its glowing eyes a warning… and a threat. Programmed with only one objective, to destroy all mutant life on Earth, the Sentinel will not hesitate, will not falter, and will never ever stop hunting.”

Man, past-Ethan really needs to stop anticipating future-Ethan needing a pick-me-up…

From an early stage of this site, I’ve been versed in supporting action figures not just from an end-of-the-process side, but also from a more preemptive side as well.  I’ve backed my fair share of KickStarters, but those are typically smaller upstarts.  It’s a bit different when the biggest toy company in the world gets in on it.  But, that’s exactly what Hasbro did in 2018, when they launched HasLab, where larger scale items that might not otherwise get made could be backed directly by the fans who wanted them.  Last summer, they added their very first Marvel project to this initiative in the form of the giant purple mutant-hunting robots, the Sentinels. Shocking very few of my readers, I’m sure, I got in on this gravy train before the end of the campaign last year.  We’ve had a bit of a wait, but the Sentinel started arriving in collectors’ hands in the last few weeks, and I’m taking a look at mine today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Sentinel was a the inaugural Marvel Legends HasLab project, launched in July of 2020, and ending August 30th. The initial goal was a rather modest 6,000 backers, but the campaign wound up as an unprecedented success, reaching 365% of its needed backers by its end.  It entered production shortly after, and began shipping out in September of this year.  The figure stands 26 1/2 inches tall and he has an astoundingly high 72 points of articulation, 40 of which come just from the hands, which have articulation at every one of knuckles.  The rest of the movement isn’t quite as involved, but he’s got a solid range of motion considering how big and chunky he is.  One point of concern once the figures started arriving and getting reviewed was the tolerancing on the knee joints.  There was some concern that they were too loose out of the box, and weren’t offering enough tension to keep the figure standing.  In hand, the issue isn’t as bad as it seemed initially, at least when it comes to my figure.  While the knees aren’t super tight, and they would likely benefit from the presence of some ratchets (curiously absent, given that the elbows have them), I found it quite easy to get the figure into that sweet spot to keep him standing.  He’s stable enough to stay standing on my rather thick carpeted floor for over 2 hours without any other support, so I consider that a win.  The Sentinels have had an evolving look over the years, but this one is specifically patterned on the design used for House/Powers of X.  It matches with the set of X-Men we just got at the start of the year, and is also a fairly nice update on the classic Sentinel design, which honestly makes for a strong translation to toy form.  There’s a lot more design work to put into the larger surface area of the figure, but it’s not enough to overcomplicate him too much.  The sculpt is, of course, a wholly unique offering, since there’s not really any prior releases to borrow from.  The engineering is rather impressive, with most of the armor plates being actual separate parts assembled over a core body, since it’s something that’s actually possible to do at this scale.  It results in the figure having a lot of depth and sharp detailing, which really helps sell the robot nature of the design.  In terms of color work the very segmented construction of the Sentinel allows for a lot of the heavy lifting to be done with molded plastic, but that doesn’t stop him from still having quite a lot of actual paint work as well.  It’s generally all pretty good, with no real issues of slop or bleed over.  There’s quite a bit of smaller detailing that can be easy to miss, as well, with some separate coloring on the wires beneath some of the plating, and even painting on the smaller rivets holding the armor in place.  There’s a lot going on beyond just the surface level, just like with the sculpt.  The Sentinel also features a light-up effect, which runs on three AAA batteries.  Pressing the core on the figure’s torso lights up both the core and the eyes of the figure.  There are three different colors which can be activated by pressing the button additional times, and it turns itself off after 30 seconds.  It’s rather bright, and works fairly well.  The additional colors add some nice variety when it comes to display, although it’s too bad there’s no way to keep the lights on for a longer period.

As massive and impressive as the Sentinel proper is, there are still quite a few extras included with him.  The most basic of the accessories is the tendril, classically used for capturing mutants more easily.  It’s about 18 inches long, and it’s bendy, so you can wrap it around smaller figures.  It’s able to be plugged into the palm of either hand.  Initially, we were just getting the one, but given the success of the campaign, Hasbro added a second one with no additional charge, so now he can capture two mutants at the same time.  Double the mutant capturing power!  There were four stretch goals for the campaign, three of which got us extra parts for the core figure.  The first tier gave us an extra head to turn this figure into Master Mold, a frequently used, more advanced Sentinel that can manufacture other Sentinels.  Typically, he’s a lot larger than the average Sentinel, which this head sort of meets halfway by being larger than the standard head.  It’s not a perfect remedy, but it’s not terrible either, and it’s not like a properly scaled Master Mold was really in the cards.  He’d effectively have to be the size of a person.  At least this way we have some sort of representation.  The second tier was yet another alternate head, this time a battle-damaged variant of the standard, and with an alternate right hand to match.  The Sentinels are constantly being torn apart by the mutants they hunt down, so these are pretty awesome extras, and they can even be used as the parts to another fallen Sentinel for the purposes of display.  The fourth tier added one last alternate head, this time around the Tri-Sentinel, the merging of three Sentinels created by Loki during the “Acts of Vengence” story line in the ’90s.  Like Master Mold, it’s a bit of a compromise, since a proper Tri-Sentinel should have additional limbs as well, but again, it’s better to get some sort of representation here than none at all.

In addition to the parts for the Sentinel proper, there were two more extras in the form of two whole additional standard-sized figures.  From the very beginning, the Sentinel was going to be packed with Bastion, the humanoid Master Mold/Nimrod hybrid introduced during “Operation: Zero Tolerance.”  Bastion is based on his more recent appearances, matching up more with the Sentinel, I suppose.  The figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Bastion is based on the Spider-UK body, with a new head and torso parts.  The new parts mesh well with the old and do a solid job of capturing Bastion’s creepy hybrid appearance.  His paint work is generally pretty decent, though I did find a little more slop here than on the main Sentinel.  Bastion actually gets an accessory of his own, an alternate head that allows for him to serve as a generic Prime Sentinel, one of Bastion’s rank and file human/sentinel hybrids.  Big flex putting an army builder in with a $350 figure, but I guess the bigger figure’s an army builder too, so it makes some sense.  It helps that it’s a pretty nice head in its own right.

The other figure included follows in the footsteps of the extra head included with Bastion.  If you’re going to have a generic male Prime Sentinel, it’s nice to have a female one as well.  The female Prime Sentinel was added as the third tier stretch goal.  She’s about 6 1/4 inches tall and has 27 points of articulation.  She has a mix of a few different base body parts, as well as an all-new head and upper torso.  Since it was the ’90s, the female Prime Sentinels had to have specific details that still allowed for them to show off the feminine traits even more hard core, so she’s got slightly different torso armor, and her hair is exposed at the top of her head.  Ultimately, she looks more like a female Bastion, with the white hair and everything.  It’s not a bad look, but it’s funny how different they are.  Her paint work is a little bit better than Bastion’s, at least on mine, which means there aren’t any real issues to report.  The Prime Sentinel got no additional accessories, but honestly, at this point, can you really complain?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been in love with the Sentinel design since I got my very first Toy Biz Sentinel back in the day.  I very excitedly collected all of the Toy Biz Legends fallen Sentinel bases, and then very excitedly built the actual Toy Biz Legends Build-A-Figure.  But I’ve always longed for something more to proper scale.  When this figure was shown off, it didn’t take much for me to decide to back him.  So, I jumped on board last August, and then I began my patient wait for him to arrive.  I knew he was going to be big and impressive, but it’s honestly something that pictures just don’t do justice.  Seeing him in person and actually getting to mess with him has been so much fun.  And now I’ve got to work out just what the hell I’m gonna actually do with him.

While I obviously got this guy directly through Hasbro, I’d still like to give a shout out to my sponsors at All Time Toys, who allowed me use of the back room photo tent so that I could actually get proper pictures of this guy for the review.  That was an absolute godsend.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website.

#2904: X-Force Cannonball & Shatterstar

X-FORCE CANNONBALL & SHATTERSTAR

MARVEL MINIMATES

Marvel Minimates have always paid very close attention to ‘90s Marvel, specifically the X-Men side of things. In 2010, we even got a small subset of Liefeld-inspired X-Force Minimates, which included Liefeld-favorite Cannonball and Liefeld-creation Shatterstar!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Cannonball and Shatterstar were released in the ninth TRU-exclusive series of Marvel Minimates, which hit at the tail end of 2010.

X-FORCE CANNONBALL

Not Cannonball’s first or last time as a Minimate, this particular take on the former New Mutant gives us his first Liefeld design, which, despite my usual distaste for things Liefeld, is actually one of the better takes on Cannonball.  Cannonball is built with four add-on pieces, for his hair/goggles, coat, and gloves. The gloves are just standard flared gloves (DC flared gloves, though; not Captain America flared gloves), but do their job well enough. The hair piece and jacket are both new, and do a reasonable job of capturing Sam’s in-book appearance. The hair could perhaps stand to be a little sharper in terms of detailing, but the coat definitely turned out well.  The paint on Cannonball is reasonable overall, but some of the application is rather sloppy. The boots on my figure are particularly messy. This assortment falls during the stretch of time where the plastic quality on Minimates took a bit of a dive. They aren’t hit by the worst of it, but you can sort of see the difference in the coloring of the skin-tone on the head, and how the paint takes to the plastic (detail lines here are generally a bit duller).  In terms of accessories, Cannonball’s only got one, but it’s a good one. He’s got a blast effect piece that plugs into the bottom of his torso in place of his legs, depicting how he is usually drawn when using his powers.

X-FORCE SHATTERSTAR

This figure marked Shatterstar’s debut as a Minimate, appropriately in his debut costume from the pages of New Mutants #99. Shatterstar is a character with a history of truly hideous costumes. This one is hardly an exception.  Shatterstar has add-on pieces for his hair/headgear, shoulderpad/scarf, belt, and gloves. The gloves are the same ones used on Cannonball, but beyond that, all of the other add-ons were new to Shatterstar.  They’re decent enough recreations of his gear from the comics, goofy as they may be. Shatterstar also has the poofy sleeved upper arms that first showed up on the Series 29 90s Storm. I’ve never been overly fond of these pieces, given how far they stick out from the chest block. Just the standard arms might have worked better, especially on a figure that’s already as bulked up as this one.  Shatterstar’s paint is rather similar to Cannonball’s. There’s some serious slop on the changeover from white to black on the legs. He’s also plagued by the same issues of plastic quality. The skintone’s a sickly color, and the white has always been a little bit yellowed. Just an overall messy piece of work.  Shatterstar is packed with a pair of his signature twin-bladed swords. They’re decent enough on their own merits (apart from some slight warping from the packaging), but the choice of hands for him means he has some serious trouble properly holding them. Getting them into his hands can take some serious effort.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This pack marked a rather easy to acquire purchase for me back when they were new, surprisingly.  I wound up finding them on a last minute stop at TRU during the holiday season, when I wasn’t actually expecting to find anything.  Cannonball is an overall decent rendition of the character, slightly held back by a few quality issues.  Shatterstar is a flawed figure, in both design and execution. Had the execution been there, I think he still would have been fine, but he had the misfortune of being released during one of the roughest periods of quality control, so he ends up really middle of the road. Not awful, but not so great either.

 

#2890: Havok & Emma Frost

HAVOK & EMMA FROST

MARVEL MINIMATES

Summers and Frost are usually two things that don’t mix.  That is, unless we’re talking X-Men, in which case, those two things seem to mix a lot.  Unless, of course, we’re talking about X-Men: First Class, where it’s Alex Summers, not Scott, and therefore no real reason for the two to interact, so they actually never do, and therefore they again don’t mix.  Well, that is, unless you’re talking about the tie-in Minimates.  Which I am.  Yay?

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Havok and Emma Frost were part of the TRU-exclusive First Class tie-in assortment of Marvel Minimates, and are by far the most oddball pairing of the line-up, since, as noted, the two characters never actually meet.  Still, here we are.

HAVOK

Since Scott Summers had been used for the first three X-Men flicks, and was therefore unavailable to be a founding member of the team for the prequel, his brother Alex, better known as Havok, was chosen in his stead, netting himself his second Minimate in the process.  The figure is built on the standard post-C3 ‘mate body, so he’s about 2 1/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  Alex uses add-on pieces for his hair and belt.  The belt is the same piece used for Xavier and Magneto, as well as countless other figures.  It’s basic and it gets the job done.  The hair’s another story.  It’s re-used from Ultimate Iron Man, and it’s not really much of a match for Havok, who was sporting a much more high-and-tight hair style in the film. That said, if you look at some of the concept art from the film, Havok is seen with something much closer to this style. Ultimately, you can swap it out with one of the many MCU Captain America hair pieces, which results in a more accurate appearance.  Havok’s paintwork is about on par with the previously reviewed Xavier figure.  It’s still quite strong, though I’m not sure his likeness is quite as spot-on.  On the plus side, the control-thingy on his chest is still pretty darn cool.  Havok included no accessories.  An effects piece might have been nice, but it was a re-use wave, so no luck there.

EMMA FROST

Since Emma Frost had been used for X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and was therefore unavailable for a prequel, Fox decided to say “ah, screw it” and just use her again, but played by a totally different actress and written as an almost entirely different character, with absolutely no explanations.  Sure, let’s go with it.  Emma’s one lone add-on piece is her hair.  It was *technically* new, by virtue of Emma hitting shelves shortly before Peggy Carter, the character it was sculpted for.  It’s still a re-use in essence, though.  It works reasonably well for Emma, and matches up decently with how she looked on-screen.  The paintwork on Emma is reasonably well handled.  Like Havok, I’m not sure the likeness is really there, but it’s not like it looks un-like her.  They’ve opted for Emma’s leather jumpsuited look from early scenes on Shaw’s submarine.  While perhaps not her most distinctive look from the film, I suppose it’s not the most awful choice ever.  On the plus side, this choice of costume also makes it very easy to convert her into a comics-accurate version of Agent 13.  So she’s got that going for her.  Just like Havok, Emma’s got no accessories.  Given how little exposed skin she has, it might have been nice to at the very least get a diamond-form head and hands for her, since there’s no new tooling needed.  As it stands, quite light.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As mentioned previously, I snagged this whole assortment on a family road trip, just before seeing the movie.  I’m a big Havok fan, so I certainly wanted at least him.  While this Havok isn’t quite as strong a ‘mate as either Xavier or Magneto, with one quick fix, he actually turns out pretty alright.  Not a bad addition to the line-up.  Emma’s a perfectly serviceable Minimate, but suffers from not being terribly distinctive.  Overall, an okay set, that’s really the most middle of the pack.

#2875: Synch

SYNCH

GENERATION X (TOY BIZ)

One of the primary appeals of ToyFare‘s exclusive mail away offers, for the 5-inch Marvel stuff, at least, was the ability to fill in some teams and line-ups that were just missing one stray character here or there, or at least give them at least a touch more depth to their numbers.  There were a lot of short-lived lines from Toy Biz in the ’90s, so they had plenty of loose ends to worry about.  Case in point: Generation X.  The X-spin-off team had their own line, which ran two series, and left the central team without a number of its core members.  While it was still rather lacking at the end of the day, they did get at least one extra core member via the mail-away set-up, and gave current main X-Men team member Everett Thomas, aka Synch, his very first (and to date, only) figure in the process.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Synch was offered up in ToyFare Magazine #9, first becoming available for order in May of 1998, and shipping out later that year.  After nine Marvel exclusives, they had a Witchblade figure for issue #8, and then came back to Marvel with this guy.  He was then the last Marvel exclusive for six months, when Havok picked up the baton.  The figure stands about 5 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  The Generation X figures were at a weird spot for Toy Biz, articulation wise, as they decided to eliminate the elbow and knee joints on all of the figures for some reason.  Synch did at least get extra shoulder movement, by virtue of making use of Banshee’s body from the main line.  Toy Biz apparently felt Banshee always needed the extra movement, and Synch got that on a technicality.  Or, perhaps he just copied it from Banshee using his powers.  That’s a pretty solid explanation, right?  In addition to using all of Banshee’s parts below the neck, Synch also got the head from the Space Riders version of Professor X.  It’s not quite the face I envision Synch having, but it was a bald head that actually had ears, which made it a better fit than the Silver Surfer head, I suppose.  It’s honestly not the worst choice.  The rest of the work is handled with the paint.  It does an okay job for the most part, but for some reason the belt buckle is way larger than the actual sculpted piece, which makes it look really strange.  That said, they did actually try on this one, and he even got some extra accenting on the yellow parts of his costume.  It’s a bit heavy handed in some spots, but the effort’s at least nice.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I actually kinda liked Generation X back in the day, and I really liked my figures of Jubilee, Chamber, and Skin from the toyline.  I didn’t have a Synch growing up, though, mostly because he just wasn’t a figure I ever saw turn up anywhere.  I know he’s not generally regarded as being a very good one, but I’ve never much looked into that.  Whatever the case, my first real chance to get one came quite recently, when he got traded into All Time, which made him an easy pick-up for me.  He’s not a bad figure.  Maybe not great, but he gets the job done.  It’s a shame that they didn’t ever get M or Husk out, leaving the team incomplete, even with this guy included.  Of course, with him just being added to the main X-team, maybe this won’t be the only Synch figure for too much longer.  Fingers crossed.

#2868: Multiple Man

MULTIPLE MAN

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

The ‘90s X-spin-off teams that weren’t X-Force all had to sort of find their footing within the already established lines that Toy Biz was putting out, which meant that some of them were fewer and further between.  The line up to Peter David’s X-Factor run was definitely a slow build, as they sort of trickled out of the main X-Men line.  The likes of Strong Guy, Havok, and Polaris all found spots, but Jaime Maddrox was, I guess, a step too far for the main line at the time.  Good thing we had the exclusives game to rely on, huh?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Multiple Man was the mail away offer in ToyFare Magazine #4, offered up in December of 1997, and shipping out in early 1998.  Though ostensibly part of the X-Men line still running from Toy Biz at the time, his box had no such branding, or any branding at all.  It was just an all-white shipper, with him bagged up inside.  They hadn’t gotten very fancy yet at this point.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  He got extra joints at the ankles!  Good for him, I suppose.  Multiple Man was built on the body of Octo-Spider-Man, which was one of Toy Biz’s favorites to repaint.  It’s a pretty decent slender build body, and it fits usual depictions of the character, so it works well for him.  His head is re-used from Silver Surfer, and, apart from being perhaps a little devoid of character, it works perfectly alright for his full cowled look.  It does have a slightly weird fit on the body, but generally it works okay.  The rest of the magic is done with paint.  Much like the Polaris figure, Multiple Man’s paint work gives him a weird amalgam of his various costume designs over the years.  It was blue and yellow to match the rest of X-Factor, and it also had the x-symbol on the head, but the overall detailing on the main suit more matches up with his original costume design.  Ultimately, this is a case where I think the amalgamated approach may really work better, since it just feels like a classic Multiple Man.  It’s sort of a greatest hits set-up.  He’s unfortunately missing out on his usual overcoat of the era; surely a cloth one wouldn’t have messed up their margins too badly?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was exactly a year behind on getting a Multiple Man new, so I had to wait a few years.  He still wound up as one of my earlier additions when I started actually get them.  I remember seeing him in the same glass case that held the Wonder Man I was always looking at, but my first one actually came out of a $5 bin of loose figures, which was a real steal at the time.  I also picked up a second one, quite recently, when it got traded into All Time, because it really never hurts to have more Multiple Men.  He’s a simple figure, but I really liked him when I got him, and he’s a surprisingly effective figure.

#2861: Morph – Age of Apocalypse

MORPH — AGE OF APOCALYPSE

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

Toy Biz’s tie-in to the big X-books crossover “Age of Apocalypse” in 1996 was a pretty quick, almost slapdash sort of a thing.  A single assortment, one and done, with no real follow-up.  They covered some of the heaviest hitters from the set, but with a story so widespread, there were certainly some gaps.  Toy Biz wound up filling in the line-up a little bit in the ensuing years via a handful of one-off and oddball releases, including a mail away offer to get our boy Morph out to people.  I mean, really, how can you not have Morph, right?  It would just be wrong.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Morph was offered up as an exclusive through ToyFare Magazine #22, first made available to order in June of 1999, and shipping out later that year.  He was the fifth post-line addition to the AoA line-up, following Gambit, Rogue, Nemesis, Blink, and X-Man.  He wound up being the last addition, actually, which seems both fitting and also downright unreasonable.  I mean, sure, he’s a great character to end the line-up on, but also how could you wait so long to do him?  How could you do that, now defunct toy company?  I demand answers!  Okay, maybe not so much.  The figure stands about 5 1/4 inches tall and he has 10 points of articulation.  As with all of these mail aways, he was constructed from as few new parts as possible, which was effectively none.  He uses the body of the AoA Magneto, with the modified torso piece from the Battle Brigade release, which adds in the neck articulation.  In place of either of the Magneto heads, Morph instead gets the standard head from the Spider-Man line’s Chameleon.  It’s all topped off with a cloth cape, which is affixed to the back of the torso, which is also really prone to fraying at the edges.  In general, it’s a selection of parts that gets a lot of the specifics of his design down, but misses the broader design elements of the character.  Like, the head is bald, lacks a nose and ears, and has wider eyes, which is all accurate, but he’s also really angry and mean looking, and very square jawed, which isn’t so much.  Likewise, the body gets some of the costume details down, but then it’s also way too bulked up for him.  Given that he’s a shape shifter, you can make it work, but he does feel a little bit like he’s missing the forest for the trees.  Generally speaking, the paint’s not too bad for a Toy Biz release of the era.  All of the important details are there, and he matches Morph’s design from the books.  He’s perhaps a touch too bright, but I don’t mind that so much.  Some of the application is a little sloppy, but not terribly so.  That said, I did have a weird issue with the one in all the pictures here, which is that the cape sat up against his boot in the package, and now he’s got a weird pattern on that boot.  Morph included no accessories, but honestly, what is there to give him?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This figure is the reason I know that AoA Morph exists.  Well, not specifically this figure; this figure is a replacement I picked up last year, when a sealed one got traded into All Time.  My original’s not quite as photogenic these days (like I said, that cape likes to fray), but he was given to me by a family friend, who had ordered him specifically for me back in the day.  It was how I found out about the character, and a few years later, it was why I picked up the first trade of Exiles, because he was on the cover.  Subsequently, I’ve become quite a fan of the character.  This figure may not be the best version, but it was better than nothing, and I certainly have a soft spot for him.

 

#2841: Beast & Azazel

BEAST & AZAZEL

MARVEL MINIMATES

Since no other licensors were really looking to dive their hands into the X-franchise after the financial failures of X3 and Wolverine: OriginsX-Men: First Class‘s entire tie-in output was in the form of Minimates, who had previously been rather light on coverage of the X-films.  But here they were, doing Minimates from the movie, I guess.  And good for them, really.  So, today, I’m taking a look at Beast and Azazel!  What do the two figures in this set have in common?  Well, if we’re going by the comics, nothing.  If we’re going by the movies…still nothing.  But, if you view them through the strange nexus of both of those things, both of them are romantically linked to Mystique.  How about that?

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Beast and Azazel were, like the rest of the First Class ‘mates, released in the Toys R Us-exclusive FC-tie-in assortment of Marvel Minimates, which hit in early summer 2011.

BEAST

Hank McCoy had the good fortune of being the only founding X-Man from the comics who was also allowed to be a founding member in the movies, as well as the good fortune to be part of both of the first two X-Men-movie-related Minimate assortments.  What a lucky guy!  This figure details him after his transformation into a blue furry monster guy, which I guess is sensible.  Certainly more exciting than “guy in glasses and a sweater vest.”  The figure is on a standard ‘mate body, so he’s about 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  Beast makes use of the most sculpted parts of any figure in this assortment.  He has add-ons for his hair, torso cap, and belt, as well as non-standard hands and feet.  As with everyone else, all of these pieces are re-used.  The hair was previously Weapon X’s from the Wolverine Through the Ages Boxed Set.  It’s a reasonably well-sculpted piece, but it’s not at all close to Beast’s design from the movie.  Certainly there were other pieces that would have worked better?  The torso cap is the bulked up Hulk piece introduced in Series 22.  It’s not the best powerhouse piece, and it’s especially restrictive to the arms, but it was the standard at the time, so not an unreasonable choice.  His hands and feet are borrowed from the Universal Monsters line’s Wolf Man, and are definitely the best chosen re-use pieces here.  They’re very nicely sculpted parts, and they actually match up pretty decently with Beast’s look in the movie.  The paintwork on Beast is decent enough.  His uniform details more or less match up with the rest of the team, which is certainly a plus, given how great those all were.  There are some slight fur details on the wrists and ankles that help to differentiate him a bit.  If there’s one major flaw, it’s this: he has a nose.  Minimates aren’t supposed to have noses, but Beast does.  It really over-crowds his face, and makes him just look…strange.  Beast included no accessories.  Not a change for this assortment, of course, and Beast is another instance where I’m not sure what you *could* give him anyway.

AZAZEL

I don’t think anybody was particularly happy when Azazel was announced for First Class.  The arc that introduced him in the comics is rather infamously bad, and he’s more than a little convoluted.  Then the movie came along and just used him as “Red Nightcrawler”, and that actually worked a fair bit better.  Azazel is constructed with two add-ons and a pair of non-standard hands.  All of these are re-used from the GSXM-version of his son Nightcrawler, which is at the very least a nice touch.  That being said, it doesn’t necessarily lend itself to the most accurate figure.  The least accurate piece is definitely the hair, which is just flat-out wrong for the character.  I get that they wanted to keep his pointy ears, but couldn’t they have at least used the updated piece from the Excalibur boxed set?  It still wouldn’t be 100% accurate, but it’s a little closer, and it’s at least got some smaller detail work going on.  This one, being from very early in the line’s run, is a lot simpler than more recent offerings, and it looks out of place.  The hands are another point of inaccuracy, though slightly less frustrating.  Azazel’s more or less got normal hands in the movie, rather than Nightcrawler’s three-fingered hands.  That said, they don’t distract too much, and it’s the sort of detail you can more easily overlook.  Plus, it’s not that hard to come by normal ‘mate hands.  His tail is the piece that works best, because how do you screw up something like that?  Azazel’s paintwork is actually pretty decent.  There’s some really great contrast going on between the red and black.  The red in particular is really bright, and very eye catching.  The likeness on the face bears a very strong resemblance to actor Jason Flemyng, and is generally just very sharp looking.  They even included Azazel’s scar over his left eye!  Azazel brakes from the norm for this assortment, and actually gets an accessory.  It’s the “bamf” cloud from the Excalibur set, but done up in red, so as to match Azazel’s effect from the movie.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up my set of these figures while on a family road trip in 2011.  It was before I’d seen the movie, and therefore knew how much I’d liked it, but after it had become clear that the film stood a chance of not totally sucking.  This set’s not the assortment’s strongest.  Beast is definitely the weakest of the main team in this assortment.  While the others were all perfectly do-able using stock parts, it’s ultimately robbed Beast of any real screen accuracy.  He’s fine for rounding out the set, but that’s about it.  Like Beast, Azazel is rather inaccurate, and a bit hampered by the lack of new parts.  However, in his case, he still ends up as a rather entertaining figure despite that, and really carries this set.

#2791: Havok

HAVOK

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

In the Series 3 of Toy Biz’s X-Men line, the original line-up included a Havok figure, who, like US Agent and Adam Warlock later would be, was cut from the line-up due to the slow-roll of scaling back how many figures were in each assortment.  Unlike those two, however, Havok was scrapped before getting to the prototyping stage, so the only thing we saw of him was an illustration of his head alongside the others in the assortment on the card backs for that set.  While Havok would of course make his way into the line proper several years later as part of the Invasion Series, that was after he had changed over to his X-Factor team uniform.  His classic attire would go un-produced for another six years, when it would finally make its way into toy form as an exclusive through ToyFare magazine.  I’ll be looking at that figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Havok was offered up as an exclusive mail-away figure in ToyFare #16, officially going up for order at the end of 1998, and arriving to collectors in early 1999.  Though clearly designed to accent Toy Biz’s ongoing X-Men line, the only branding on his fairly simple white box was his own name and the ToyFare logo.  Honestly, it was a bit surprising that he got anything at all, as earlier figures had just been in plain white boxes.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he has an impressive 16 points of articulation.  Havok is based on the body of the Spider-Man line’s Daredevil, one of Toy Biz’s very best bodies from their 5-inch days, not only on a sculpt front, but especially on an articulation front.  It also was a fairly blank canvas, which made it a decent starting point for Havok.  There are some remnant details for the glove, boot, and belt lines, but given that he’s all black, they’re easy enough to look past.  Havok’s head sculpt is borrowed from Black Bolt, but with the tuning fork on the head removed and replaced with Havok’s usual head gear.  That head gear does have a tendency to come loose if you’re not careful, and the actual head’s eye holes on the mask don’t line up with Havok’s, but it’s generally an okay set-up, and certainly good given the standards for prior exclusives up to this point.  Havok’s paint work is fairly basic, but follows the design well.  It does have to contend with the sculpt not matching with the paint on the head, but it could be worse.  It hits the right notes, and that’s what’s important.  Havok included no accessories, but I’m honestly not sure what he could have gotten.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

It’s again a Havok figure’s fault for a huge chunk of my collecting.  I know; you’re all terribly surprised.  I already had the main line Havok by this point, but when this guy was announced as an exclusive and I read about it on my main source for toy news, one Raving Toy Maniac, I was all about getting him, which meant buying my first issue of this weird ToyFare thing.  Upon reading this weird ToyFare thing, I was pretty well hooked, and got myself a subscription, which I hung onto until rather close to the end of the magazine’s publication.  It undoubtedly was responsible for me being as up-to-date with toys as I was at the time, and got me buying plenty of things I would have otherwise not even known had existed.  Havok himself is a pretty nice little figure.  Sure, he’s mostly repaint, but he’s a good repaint, and probably one of the stronger 5-inch Marvel exclusives from ToyFare.