#2567: Gladiator

GLADIATOR

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“The most powerful member of the Shi’ar Imperial Guard, the alien super hero known as Gladiator is also its most devoted protector! Possessing nearly unlimited strength, virtual invulnerability, and a bevy of other abilities, Gladiator uses his powers on behalf of the throne of the Shi’ar Empire – no matter who may occupy it!”

The similarities between Marvel’s Shi’ar Imperial Guard and DC’s Legion of Super Heroes aren’t exactly a secret amongst the fans, and this especially comes to a head with the Imperial Guard’s leader, Kallark, aka Gladiator, who is a pretty thinly veiled take on Superman.  The differences are, however, enough to not actually cross any legal boundaries, making Gladiator a somewhat recurring character when it comes to action feature treatment.  Today, let’s have a look at his very first.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Gladiator is part of the Phoenix Saga series of Toy Biz’s X-Men line, released in 1994 to tie-in with the cartoon’s adaptation of the story from the comics.  Gladiator gets some decent focus in the story, making him a pretty sensible choice for inclusion (certainly a more logical choice than the other Guardsman in the assortment, Warstar), and he helped to sort of round out all of the factions present in the story.  The figure stands a little over 5 inches tall and he has 10 points of articulation.  Gladiator’s sculpt was quite a bulked up affair, befitting most renditions of the character.  He seems to have misplaced most of his neck somewhere, and his arms seem a touch long, but beyond that the proportions aren’t bad.  This body wound up getting reworked to remove the Gladiator-specific elements and was re-used for Toy Biz’s Hercules tie-in line, before making its way back to Marvel in the Marvel Gold line, where it was used for Moon Knight, among others.  The cape’s a separate piece, though, like Dr. Doom, the chain for the clasp is actually sculpted on the main figure, rather than being a part of the cape proper.  The cape sits a little high on the figure, and also has a hole in it to facilitate the action feature, but it’s overall not a bad piece.  The paint work on Gladiator is pretty basic, but also pretty decent.  It’s appropriately bright and bold.  His skin tone seems a touch on the light side, but that’s pretty minor.  Gladiator’s initial short card release didn’t have any accessories, but his long card release added Stryfe’s mace and Silver Samurai’s sword for…reasons?  They had all that space to fill, I guess.  Both versions got the same “Super Strength Power Punch” action feature, which causes his right arm to jut forward when the button on his back is pressed.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Gladiator is the only of the Phoenix Saga figures I didn’t have growing up.  I couldn’t tell you why, because I was a big fan of the whole saga, and I’ve always liked Gladiator as a character.  I guess I just never found him at the right time…I mean, until I did, obviously, since I’m, you know, reviewing the figure and all.  I snagged him very recently, as he was part of a collection of X-Men figures that came through All Time.  He’s a somewhat goofy figure, but I’m glad to have finally finished up the Phoenix set after all these years.

#2559: Wolverine – Battle Ravaged

WOLVERINE — BATTLE RAVAGED

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Since long before he joined the X-Men, Wolverine has been squaring off against opponents in all types of battles, from silent ambushes to brawls. His mutant healing factor allows Wolverine to recover from wounds and injuries at a rate much faster than normal, letting him take greater risks when in combat. Fighting is in this man’s nature, but Wolverine must always take care to hold his berserker fury in check and keep his animal nature from taking control.”

And here we are, making it to a full-on seven years here with the site.  How about that?  This takes dedication…or insanity.  I’ve certainly got one of those two things.  Speaking of a strange mix of dedication and insanity, this year, one of my favorite days of reviewing was the “Day of the Wolverines,” where I took a look at 18 of Toy Biz’s 5-inch Wolverine figures.  During that day, I noted that I was skipping the ones I’d actually had as a kid, which meant skipping out on 1995’s Wolverines entirely, since that was the year I got into collecting the line, and I already owned all of that year’s variants.  Since the Day of, I’ve been filling in some of the Wolverines from that year, and today I get to the final, and honestly most important one: Battle Ravaged Wolverine!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Battle Ravaged Wolverine was released in the Invasion Series of Toy Biz’s X-Men line, the eleventh series of the line.  Truth be told, it’s probably my favorite series of the line, for reasons I’ll get to in the relevant section.  The concept on this guy is pretty straight forward: take the basic Tiger Stripe Wolverine design, and just tear it to shreds, as if in battle.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  While I didn’t look at this figure proper during the Day of the Wolverines, I did look at his sculpt, which was re-used in the 1997 “Greatest Archenemies” set.  As I noted in that review, it’s a sculpt I actually quite like.  It’s a little on the large side for a Wolverine, but the build actually works pretty well, and the battle damage is quite well implemented throughout the figure.  There’s a great intensity to the sculpt on this guy, and I just really dig it.  The paintwork is really the main differing thing here, as it gives him a more classic color scheme than the later release.  It works a lot better, and just results in a nicer overall figure than the later release.  There’s actually another repaint of this guy, released as part of 1996’s KB Toys-exclusive Overpower line.  It tweaks the coloring on the claws so that they’re now bone claws, and also makes the shoulders silver….for some reason.  I guess they really needed to keep that silver paint quotient up.  The original release and all subsequent re-uses of the mold had a “Berserker Rage Action” action feature, which slashes the arms downward when you push the lever on his back.  The original release also featured a set of doors, which you could use the action feature to “split” and knock down.  It’s very basic, but a cool extra piece of scenery.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Remember how I said that the Invasion Series is probably my favorite?  There’s a good reason for that.  I got into toys in late 1995, and because of that, the Invasion Series was the one on shelves when I started collecting.  That’s why Havok and Erik the Red were my first two X-Men action figures, and that’s why this particular Wolverine was my very first Wolverine…well, *a* Battle Ravaged Wolverine was my first Wolverine.  This one’s a replacement, because my original went missing at some point along the way.  Whatever the case, I have a real nostalgic appreciation for this figure, and he’s definitely very high up on my list of favorite Wolverines.

#2558: Rogue & Pyro

ROGUE & PYRO

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Unpredictable circumstances force Rogue and Pyro away from the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and into the light.”

After the original team had disbanded and otherwise moved onto other things, in the ’80s, recurring Claremont villain Mystique put together her own version of Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.  The line-up debuted in the present day section of the classic “Days of Future Past” story line, and was made up of a mostly new selection of characters, including Pyro.  The team made a handful of appearances there after, and later that same year added Rogue to their roster.  While Pyro would become one of the team’s longer lasting members, Rogue was fairly quickly adopted into the X-Men, and has become one of that team’s most prominent members.  And, now, here they both are!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Rogue and Pyro are a two-pack release for Marvel Legends, and started hitting in the last month or so, though they aren’t officially slated for release until around November.  Character-wise, they’re a perfectly sensible pairing, but unlike some of the other recent two-packs, they aren’t really in compatible costumes.  I’m not complaining too much, of course.

ROGUE

Rogue’s first Legends release since the Juggernaut Series, way back in 2016.  This one gives us her X-Men: Legacy costume.  It’s not the look people were expecting, but it’s at least a new one for the line, rather than just jumping right back into another redo of the ’90s costume.  This release is also notable because this very version of Rogue was *supposed* to join the line in 2013, but when the Puck Series was re-routed to specialty retailers only, she was dropped from the line-up.  Her head actually wound up getting re-used on Sharon Carter back in 2016, but the figure proper was just waiting in the wings until Hasbro pulled it out for re-use here.  The figure stands just over 6 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  Though the design for this figure has been sitting around since 2013, it’s worth noting that the final figure doesn’t actually use any of the parts from the original prototype.  Rather than make use of the original concepts rather dated selection of pieces, the retail version uses the Phoenix body’s upper torso and arms, in conjunction with Ms. Marvel’s scarf, and a whole selection of new pieces.  Aside from a slightly restricted range of motion on the elbows, the Phoenix body is a good starting point, and actually allows for a more faithful rendition of Rogue’s costume.  The new pieces fit well, and further the body’s generally well-balanced proportions.  The new head isn’t too far removed from the original prototype, but has been slightly refined to better fit with the more modern stylings of the line at this point, giving her a slight smile in her expression, and a little more flow to the hair.  The new legs are noteworthy for making use of Hasbro’s new contained pins set-up, which makes them look a lot nicer and more seamless, and also seems to have made the general construction of them just a little more solid.  I also found the posing to be a little smoother, and the tolerancing to be slightly more apt for keeping her standing.  The figure’s paint work is overall fairly decent.  It’s all pretty basic work, but it gets the job done.  There’s a touch of slop on her skirt, however, that appears to really be it.  Rogue is packed with an alternate head with a slightly more intense, teeth-baring expression, as well as hands in both fists and open palm poses.

PYRO

Pyro got in on the Legends game relatively early, back in Toy Biz’s Bring on the Bad Guys assortment, but hasn’t gotten a follow-up figure since then, meaning it’s been 14 years without a single update.  Admittedly, he’s not a character with a lot of looks to produce, but that old figure was a bit dated looking even when he was new.  We saw Rogue at Toy Fair this year, but we didn’t know about Pyro until late in the summer, when the pair were officially shown off.  In contrast to Rogue’s late ’00s design, Pyro’s in his classic attire, and is definitely the more timeless figure of the pair.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  Pyro is built on the 2099 body, with new head(s), forearms, and torso overlay.  The 2099 body feels like a good match for Pyro’s usual build, and the articulation scheme is good, so it’s a solid choice.  There are two heads featured here, both rather similar, apart from the expression.  The first is a rather neutral expression, while the second has Pyro cracking a grin.  Both are solid recreations of his design from the comics, right down to that goofy hair he’s usually drawn with.  I like that they both have him sporting a slightly more jovial expression, in contrast to the rather angry appearance that the Toy Biz Legend went with.  This seems more suited to the character.  I also like the smaller touches, such as the texture of the cloth of his mask stretching over his ears.  The overlay piece does a good job of capturing Pyro’s usual gear, and the tubes for his flamethrower are long enough to not impede posability, and also sturdy enough to not risk breaking.  In general, it’s also just a cleaner looking rendition of it than what we got with the Toy Biz version.  Pyro’s paint work is, like Rogue, more on the basic side, but generally pretty clean.  My figure has a touch of missing paint on the top of his right boot, but is otherwise pretty sharp.  He’s certainly an eye-catching figure.  In addition to the extra head, Pyro is packed with two standard flame effects pieces to go on the hands.  It’s a little tricky to get them on there with the flamethrower attachments, and they’re clearly not *meant* for this figure, so something more tailored would have been nice, but these are far from the worst thing.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve never had much attachment to the Legacy Rogue design, and had no real drive to get the original release even before it was cancelled.  With the Lee version already on-hand, I wasn’t missing this one, but I do quite like how she turned out, even if she’s not going to be my standard Rogue.  The old TB Pyro, as goofy as he was, was still one I quite liked at the time, and he’s a character I’ve always enjoyed.  I was glad to see him get an update, and his design is quite well translated here.  All in all, this is a set I kind of slept on, and I actually didn’t realize quite how much I enjoyed it until I sat down to write this review.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with these guys for review.  If you’re looking for Marvel Legends, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2557: Domino

DOMINO

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

 

“With the mutant power to manipulate probabilities, the odds are always in Domino’s favor.”

Luck?  That’s her power?  Pretty sure luck’s not a super power.  I mean, what could luck as a power possibly do for you?  I mean, what’s gonna happen, is a character that’s B-list at best get a mass-release single-packaged figure from a movie where the title character and the arguable deuteragonist wound up in a two-pack and as a store exclusive respectively?  Wait, that’s…that’s exactly what happened.  Maybe luck’s a pretty good super power…which is my roundabout way of saying “let’s look at this Domino” figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Domino is a single-release in the X-Men movie sub-line of Hasbro’s Marvel Legends.  She’s one of three standard release single figures in the line-up so far, the other two being Mystique and Wolverine, both of whom seem much further up the list than Domino, who completes the main Deadpool trio whose other two pieces are currently not quite as readily available.  What a weird set-up, right?  Hey, I’m really not going to complain too much myself.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  The articulation scheme is really solid here.  It’s not terribly far removed from prior Legends female base bodies, but the range on the joints is generally a lot better, and they’re very well toleranced, meaning she keeps the poses without too much trouble.  She also stands pretty well, which is always a plus in my book.  The sculpt is an all-new affair, patterned on Domino’s main action-oriented appearance in Deadpool 2.  She’s got two different head sculpts,  one standard and one with goggles.  Both have a pretty solid likeness of Zazie Beetz, but I personally find the one with the goggles has just a touch more personality to it, and is subsequently my preferred of the two.  The body sculpt is fairly realistic and well-balanced in terms of proportions, and the detail work is nice and sharp.  Her costume details all look to be fairly spot on, and the articulation is well integrated.  In terms of paint work, I find Domino has a bit of a leg up on Cable, whose paint was a little uneven.  Here it’s pretty strong from start to finish, with clean work on both faces, as well as all of the important details being covered on her costume.  In particular, I really like the hair, which has been molded in a semi-translucent plastic and then been given some accent work on top of that.  It really helps to prevent the usual unnatural thickness that occurs with fuller hair styles, and allows light to pass through in a quasi-realistic way.  In addition to the previously mentioned extra head, Domino includes two sets of hands (gripping and fists), two MAC 10s, and a pistol.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When Domino’s look was first shown off back before the movie’s release, I was a little iffy on some of the design choices they’d made, as I felt there were definitely some shortcuts taken that made her less of a comic-accurate creation than Deadpool himself had been in the prior film.  Because of this, I wasn’t sure what I’d think of this take on the character.  Then I saw the movie, and I was really impressed with Beetz’s take on the character, and she was ultimately one of my favorite aspects of the final product.  I was definitely happy to see her show up among the earliest X-Men movie stuff, and I’m even happier that the figure’s as solid a final product as it is.

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

#2552: Wolverine Fang

WOLVERINE FANG

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“The adamantium-clawed Wolverine is the best there is at what he does – no matter what the venue! And, dressed in the guise of the Shi’ar Imperial Guardsman known as Fang, he intends to prove it – by doing battle with intergalactic evil on a cosmic scale!”

Wolverine’s had more than a few costume changes over the years, beginning with a somewhat unintentional change to his mask when Gil Kane drew up the cover to GSXM #1.  That one definitely stuck.  The ones that would follow had varying degrees of success.  Neither Dave Cockrum nor John Byrne was ever much for the tiger stripe design, and both attempted their own replacements.  Byrne’s was the brown costume, a rather successful alternate look for the character, which clung to the roots of the tiger stripe design.  Cockrum’s, introduced just before he left the book in issue #107, was more drastically different, and decidedly not quite as successful.  During a battle with the Shi’ar Imperial Guard, Logan’s costume is destroyed, and he has to quickly find a replacement, which he does by taking down the Guard’s own resident feral guy, Timber Wolf Fang, and stealing his threads.  It’s a unique look, to be sure, and when Toy Biz was looking for excuses for more Wolverine figures (before just deciding to start making stuff up), it proved worthy enough for inclusion as a toy.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Wolverine Fang was the Wolverine variant for the “Mutant Genesis” series, the tenth series of Toy Biz’s X-Men line.  It’s rather amusing that he didn’t arrive until two series after the Phoenix Saga, given that’s where the costume showed up in the comics.  However, not being in Fox’s animated adaptation of the story probably didn’t make it the most sensible inclusion there.  The figure stands 4 3/4 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  While this figure was an all-new mold when he was released, the following year saw it repurposed as Savage Land Wolverine, a figure I looked at during the Day of the Wolverines.  As I noted when I reviewed that figure, this is probably the best Wolverine sculpt to come out of this line.  Certainly one of my favorites, and definitely the closest we ever saw to anything really approaching Cockrum’s style for this line.  The paint work on the figure is pretty decent, albeit pretty basic and straightforward.  It’s certainly very brown, which is pretty accurate.  Wolverine’s accessories are the same as Savage Land Wolverine, so the weapons tree of blades from Spy Wolverine and the two additional blades.  It’s a little bit overkill, what with him already having the claws, coupled with him only actually having one hand to actually grip things with.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Fang Wolverine was not a figure I personally had growing up, but he was my Dad’s Wolverine for his collection, and I rather fondly remember when he got that figure.  When I went on my first real dive back into Toy Biz Marvel the summer after my Freshman year of college, this guy was one of the very first figures I picked up.  Toy Biz figures were being cleared out at frankly insane prices on Amazon at the time, and that’s how I got him, along with a nice little thank you note post-it from the seller, which honestly made my day at the time.  This figure’s really strong, and remains a favorite.  I’d really love to see him updated for Legends.

#2545: Cameron Hodge

CAMERON HODGE

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Once a mutant-hating businessman, Cameron Hodge had his entire body reconstructed into a biomechanical killing machine known as a Phalanx so that he could more readily pursue his murderous goal: the elimination of all mutants! Driven by hate and rage, Hodge is not the most stable of opponents – but his cybernetic abilities make him nonetheless a lethal one!”

Cameron Hodge was a good example of X-Men‘s ability to allow a recurring background character to really grow over the years, beginning as a seeming ally to the main heroes in the pages of X-Factor, before being revealed to be just as much of a bigot as some of the worst “normal” humans the mutants met.  After his original arc ended with his demise, he was eventually revived by the Phalanx, and wound up playing a role in a few more cross-overs, as well allowing him to play the role of main antagonist in one of the cartoons best episodes (I may be projecting some personal feelings onto that one).  And, since he did a bunch of stuff in the X-Men comics in the ’90s, of course he got a toy!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Cameron Hodge was released in 1995, as part of the “Mutant Genesis” Series, the tenth series of Toy Biz’s X-Men line.  Believe it or not, Hodge was probably one of the best known characters in that particular assortment, which had some serious second and third stringers.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 8 points of articulation.  Hodge is based on his appearance post-Phalanx-assimilation, which was firstly a relevant choice for when this figure hit shelves, and secondly a far more interesting choice than any of his other designs when it came to making toys.  Also, he looks like he’s got a thing of french fries on his head, and who doesn’t love that?  His sculpt was totally unique to him, which I guess makes sense, because, really, who’s he going to share with?  He definitely endorses the general bulking up of the line, which was getting near to critical mass at this paint.  Hodge was usually depicted as a little skinnier, but given the shape-shifting properties of the Phalanx, it’s not a crazy concept.  I particularly like the head on this figure, which does a solid job capturing Hodge’s particularly manic personality.  Cameron’s paint work is probably his weakest point, largely due to an issue of translation of what’s on the page into reality.  The technoarganic nature of the Phalanx just doesn’t look quite as impressive when it’s all just a rather unappealing yellow.  Later takes on the concept would make it work a bit better.  Hodge’s one accessory is a pump that plugs into the very large and very obvious spot on his back.  What does it do?  It lets him squirt water out of his gun hand, of course.  You know, like in the comics!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As much as I liked “Phalanx Covenant”, I never had much interest in this toy as a kid, and as such it went un-purchased by me for a rather long stretch of time.  I even avoided picking him up during my first real return to the line during college.  It wasn’t until very recently that I picked this figure up, and it was mostly because I was already picking up a bunch of other stuff, if I’m honest.  He’s not bad.  Not very exciting, but also not bad.  I’d say he’s better than I’d expected, in fact.

#2525: New Wolverine & Phoenix

NEW WOLVERINE & PHOENIX

MARVEL MINIMATES

In 2000, the X-Men hit the big screen in their first live action film, and found themselves a whole new audience that they hadn’t yet enthralled through comics, cartoons, toys, or video games.  To try and bring this new audience back into the original source material, comics scribe Grant Morrison was given the reigns to the franchise, re-envisioning it into something a little more in-line with what people had seen on the screen.  For the most part, the similarities translated to “putting the whole team in black leather.”  It did garner a lot of attention, though, and set the stage for the next decade or so of the comics.  So, I guess it kind of worked.  Of course, on the flip side, it made the team slightly less toy-worthy, so there’s a lot less coverage from that angle.  There were some Minimates, though!  Let’s look at those, shall we?

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

New Wolverine and Phoenix were released in Series 6 of the Marvel Minimates line, which hit shelves in Jul 2004….just in time for New X-Men to wrap and for the characters to all get new, slightly more classically-inspired costumes on the pages of Astonishing X-Men.  Isn’t it always the way?  Both of these guys were also available in a TRU-exclusive four pack with Xavier and Magneto the following year, and Wolverine also showed up in the 10-Piece gift pack and then got a new (far more hideous) face and was re-packaged in the Dark Tide boxed set.  Not bad for an abandoned look.

NEW WOLVERINE

Our fifth Wolverine from the line, and honestly the first sign of how over-popped the character would become, this was our second Wolverine in as many series for 2004.  At least this one had the whole team line-up thing going for him, and wasn’t just another civilian variant, although he certainly still skirts that line.  He’s built on the standard long-footed body, so he’s 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  Wolverine got three new add-on pieces, in addition to re-using the clawed hands from the last four variants of the character.  The new pieces entailed his hair, jacket, and belt.  All three of these parts would see a lot of use as the line progressed…and that’s honestly kind of sad.  The jacket and belt aren’t too bad, I suppose.  They’re rather basic pieces.  Of course, they were also less used than the hair, which was really the prime offender.  It’s the weakest of these early Wolverine hair sculpts, in terms of shaping and level of detail, and yet it still got used five times over the course of the line.  This far removed from its use, I still don’t miss it, but I guess I’m not quite as actively against it as I was.  The paint work on Wolverine’s not bad.  His face is really the best Wolverine we’d gotten at this point, and there’s a lot of detailing going on throughout the body, especially on the torso.  Also, rather than going for a stark black, the uniform is a very dark grey, which doesn’t look bad.

PHOENIX

Dubbed Phoenix, presumably so as not to double up on “Jean Grey” so early in the line, this figure is jus kind of not what I wanted, largely because she’s, you know, not actually Phoenix.  Made worse by the fact that we wouldn’t get an actual proper Phoenix for another five years.  So, that was great, right?  This marked Jean’s second time as a Minimate, and her second time with some very modern, ultimately not very Jean Grey-looking design.  She uses the same core body as Logan, of course, as well as sharing his belt.  Sensible, what with it being a uniform and all.  She also got a new hair piece and jacket.  The jacket suffers from the same issue as all of these early jackets, being boxy, and bulking up a figure that probably shouldn’t be quite so bulked up.  The hair is a perfectly fine piece, but like Wolverine’s hair above, it’s one that’s seven subsequent uses kind of made us all tired of it, especially given how many supposedly unique characters it was used for.  For Jean, it actually wasn’t too bad.  Jean’s paint work is pretty decent again.  It’s mostly basic stuff, but I do like that they actually got the pattern to her shirt under her jacket.  Also, thanks to using the same color of grey throughout, you can remove the jacket piece and it actually doesn’t look too bad!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve never been much for the New X-Men costumes overall, and I already had both of these characters, so I was in no rush to pick up this set when released.  I really only got them because I got the four-pack release, and I wanted Magneto and Xavier.  These two were along for the ride.  They’re okay, but ultimately, the parts seen here are some of the parts that almost spelled the end of the line after getting re-used too much, so my opinion’s a little bit colored.  They could definitely be worse, though.

#2518: Professor X & Magneto

PROFESSOR X & MAGNETO

MARVEL MINIMATES

After their first year had wrapped, there was a bit of a gap in Marvel Minimates releases, as DST mapped out the direction the line would take.  When they returned, there was a pretty heavy lean into the classic X-Men set-up, with the previously reviewed Giant Size X-Men set and one other exclusive, which is today’s focus, Professor X and Magneto!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Professor X and Magneto hit in January of 2004, and are notable for being the first Marvel Minimates exclusive to come out of Action Figure Xpress, who would serve as a major supporter of the line for the next decade of the line.  The two would then subsequently see re-issue in one of TRU’s four-packs the following year, alongside the Nex X-Men Wolverine and Jean.  Both would also get slight paint tweaks for one more additional release each in 2006.  Xavier’s suit was made blue and released at Target alongside Dark Phoenix.  Magneto got a new face and was released in the infamous Dark Tide boxed set that clogged up retailers everywhere for quite a bit.

PROFESSOR X

Before we had our fancy hover chairs and what not, this was the Xavier that had to hang around in everyone’s collection for a good long stretch of time.  Patterned on the character’s earliest appearances, Xavier is a ‘mate that could have been pretty basic, but actually has more going on than you might realize at first glance.  The core ‘mate is totally vanilla, albeit long-footed vanilla.  He gets the basic amount of detailing you’d expect from this era of ‘mate.  If I have one complaint, it’s that his ears are printed a little too close to his face.  That’s a problem that would be with most of the line’s bald characters, even to current day. It’s the accessories that really spice this guy up, since he’s got Cerebro, his wheelchair, and a blanket to cover his legs…or he would if that last piece wasn’t missing from mine.  I don’t know when it went missing, but it sure did.  Drat.  Well, the other two pieces are still cool, and the wheelchair in particular is a really solid, really fun piece.

MAGNETO

Charles Xavier’s sometimes nemesis/sometimes friend made for a pretty logical pairing, and makes for this set’s more outwardly exciting release.  He’s constructed on the standard long-footed body, with add-ons for his helmet and cape.  Both sculpted pieces are somewhat on the basic side, but they both do a really nice job of summing up the character’s classic design.  The paint work helps in that effort as well, as there’s actually a surprising level of detail going into this guy.  The torso not only got the costume details, but also some underlying musculature as well, making him look less flabby than the X-Men he was fighting.  Under the helmet, there’s a nice evil grin, which works perfectly for the character.  Sadly, extra hairpieces weren’t quite a thing, so it’s stuck hiding somewhat beneath the helmet.  In fact, Magneto doesn’t get any accessories at all, which feels light these days, but wasn’t really much of a surprise when he was new.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

These guys hit before I was really making many online purchases for myself, so I missed out on the initial release.  I actually ended up snagging the TRU 4-Pack versions a few years later, courtesy of All Time Toys, way back before I had any sort of official partnership with them.  See, even when I try to review something from before I was getting everything from All Time, I still review stuff from All Time!  Both of these guys were pretty solid offerings of the characters, especially for this early in the line.  It’s not terribly surprising that they remained the primary versions for as long as they did.

#2510: Archangel II

ARCHANGEL II

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“As the high-flying Angel, Warren Worthington III was one of the original members of the X-Men. Years later, Worthington’s real wings were dissected, replaced with razor sharp wings of steel, and he was transformed into Archangel, one of the four Horsemen of Apocalypse. Now, having fought against the conditioning that tainted and turned him into a living weapon, Archangel has embraced his humanity and strives to regain the purity that once surrounded him.”

The Toy Biz X-Men line came out of the gate pretty strong, marking off a good chunk of the core X-Men.  By a few years into the line, they were steadily supplying updates to those core characters.  While characters such as Wolverine or Cyclops were central to the then-running cartoon, and therefore higher on list for updates, Warren Worthington III, aka Archangel only had a guest-starring role on the show.  It was still enough to justify another figure, and so here we are!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Archangel II was released in the Invasion Series of X-Men, the eleventh assortment of the line.  Archangel was included in the initial cases of the series, but was replaced in later cases by the previously-reviewed Erik the Red, making this version of Archangel ultimately the rarer figure.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 9 points of articulation.  Archangel II debuted an all-new sculpt, one that would prove a favorite of Toy Biz over the years.  Though I haven’t actually managed to review any of the later uses (something that kind of baffles me, honestly), it was used *a lot* over the years.  This is where is kicked off, though, so that’s pretty cool.  It’s an okay sculpt, but what’s somewhat interesting is that it doesn’t really feel like it works as well for Archangel as it did for the later figures it was used for, despite being sculpted specifically for this guy.  The build seems perhaps a touch bulky for Warren, but ultimately, it’s the head that seems the most off.  It’s also rather bulky, and I’m not sure exactly what that facial expression is, but it seems a bit unpleasant.  The new wings were actually pretty decent.  They were certainly more sizable than the Series 1 version, and the detail work is a little more in depth.  The softer material used for them make it a little easier to keep him standing, which is definitely a plus.  The paint work on Archangel is pretty decent.  It covers all of the basics of his hideous colorscheme from the time period, and the application is all pretty strong.  Mine’s taken a little bit of a beating, but that’s kind of the usual for these guys.  Archangel didn’t include any accessories, but he did get a wing-flapping action feature.  It’s super goofy, but I enjoy it and all its hokiness.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Okay, so consulting my records shows that I *have* talked about Ageless Heroes here on the site, back when I reviewed Bespin Luke.  I got a good chunk of 5-inch Marvel figures that way, and Archangel was amongst that grouping of figures.  He was one of those figures that was kind of rare when he was new and I was getting into collecting.  I recall seeing him on the back of the packaging for a few of my figures, so when I found him at Ageless Heroes, I was pretty excited.  Ultimately, he’s maybe not the best Archangel, but I still appreciate him for what he is.

 

#2507: Maverick

MAVERICK

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Maverick absorbs the force of enemy attacks, converting it into hyper-concussive blasts of power.”

Hiiiiway through the danger zone!  Oh, sorry, wrong Maverick.  This one’s significantly less Tom Cruise-y.  Though, I bet he still plays a pretty mean game of volley ball.  It’s been quite a while since I reviewed a Maverick figure.  In my defense, that’s because there really aren’t a lot of them out there.  But now there’s one more, so that ups the quantity of Mavericks by about 30% or so.  Aggressive expansion and all that.  He’s very, very ’90s, so that does make him ripe for the picking in regards to the current Legends line-up, and, well, here he is, right?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Maverick is figure 4 in the Strong Guy Series of Marvel Legends.  While Black Tom eschewed the ’90s trend, Maverick is squarely in the middle of it.  He’s perhaps the central piece of it, really.  He’s Maverick.  Sorry, wrong Maverick again.  This assortment is really a mid-point between Deadpool and X-Force, and Maverick’s connection to both of those things is pretty tangential.  I suppose he and Deadpool are both products of Weapon X, so there’s that.  If it gets me a Maverick, I won’t complain about the circumstances.  The figure is almost 7 inches tall and he has 31 points of articulation.  The nature of Maverick’s design is that it’s somewhat restricting to movement.  Subsequently, that translates to this figure, especially when it comes to the elbows.  That being said, he still manages to be quite posable, and Hasbro’s definitely done their best with most of the articulation implementation.  He can even move his head mostly unimpeded, which is awesome for a Maverick figure; the ’90s figure didn’t even try on that one.  Maverick is sporting an all-new sculpt, which I was actually a little surprised to find out.  I had just assumed he’d be making use of some of the Deathlok tooling, but that’s not the case at all.  That means his sculpt isn’t playing double duty, or aiming for close enough, resulting in a figure that’s a quite solid recreation of Maverick’s original comics design.  For the most part, I’m a really big fan of how the sculpt works.  The details are clean and sharp, and I love how well they’ve captured his mop of ’90s hair under neath of the helmet.  The only part I’m not much of a fan of is the collar piece, which is a free-floating add-on piece for some reason, rather than being properly attached.  It doesn’t stay in place very well at all on my figure, and ultimately, I just kind of prefer him without it.  It would be nice if it could at least tab in or something to keep it in place.  Maverick’s color work is pretty decent overall.  The gold goes more orange-y than what we saw on the ’90s toys, but I actually think it looks pretty good.  It feels more in line with his comics depiction this way.  The actual paint application is decent overall, though there’s some slight bleed over from the mask to the face.  Due to the layout of the mask, though, it’s not terribly noticeable.  Maverick is packed with two different guns.  The smaller (based on the Nerf Vortex Proton; thanks Tim!) can be stowed in his holster, but he’ll just have to always be holding the other one.  He’s also packed with the left arm of Strong Guy.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I have a perhaps somewhat irrational love of Maverick.  There’s never been much to the character, but I always thought he was really cool on X-Men: The Animated Series, and I tended to have him on my team whenever playing X-Men: Under Siege board game as a kid.  His ’90s toy eluded me until I was an adult, but I was super excited when he was announced for this line, and he was definitely my number one want from this line-up.  I’m very happy with this figure, and he turned out even better than I was expecting really.  A very solid offering.

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