It's been a fun run with Toy Biz and their Marvel action figure lines. In the last year of their license alone, Toy Biz
put out close to a hundred figures and a lot of holes in collectors' wallets. This review covers the last of their
offerings, series 2 of the Marvel Legends Face-Off line. This second set of two packs features Wolverine facing off against
Sabertooth, Iron Man against the Mandarin and the Punisher verses Jigsaw.
Packaging - 8/10The Face-Off line uses the same package design as the regular Marvel Legends figures. And by and large, that's a good thing. It is attractive and informative. The biggest drawback to it is the lack of durability of the peg hook. It has a hard time standing up to the weight of a single large figure. Hanging two figures and accessories from the same hook is just asking for damaged packages. On the plus side, these figures haven't really had a chance to hang on any pegs for long. So the only real risk is for MOC collectors who hang the packages without some supplemental support.
Sculpting - Mandarin 3/10, Punisher(s) 6/10, Sabertooth & Jigsaw (regular) 8/10, others 7/10The sculpting for the second series of Face Off two packs is pretty strong, but lacks any really impressive offerings. It does have a clear loser though; the Mandarin. The Mandarin's robes are formed from a single piece of softer, rubber like material that doesn't seem to hold a great deal a detail. Some effort was at least put into the parts of the Mandarin that are exposed, the hands and head. But the details on the rings aren't very sharp. The Punisher figures share the same body sculpt. It is a bit generic but works well for the character. It's the head sculpts that I dislike. The combination of the very pronounced chins and widow's peaks give both head sculpts an almost disformed look. It may be meant to match a specific artist's version of Frank Castle, but as someone who doesn't read Punisher comics, it just looks strange. The regular Jigsaw figure features a new body sculpt which surprised me. I was expecting them to just recycle the one used for Punisher. Both Jigsaw faces have an impressive amount of detail. But they look more like burn victims, lacking the pronounced stitching scars as seen in the comics. It should also be noted that the head sculpt for the variant figure isn't scaled down to match the slimmer body sculpt of the old Professor X figure. It is probably more realistic proportions. But compared to the other Marvel Legends figures, it looks too big. Both Iron Man and Wolverine have very nice sculpts. While they don't have any real stand out features, their problems are equally minor. For Wolverine, the biggest issue seems to be that his claws are even more prone to warping than any of the previous Wolverine figures I have. Iron Man's most notable problem is an inability to rest his arms down at his sides. Sabertooth is my favorite of the series. He has the extra height that the character should have and plenty of detail for the fur. I just wish he was a bit bulkier.
Paint - Mandarin 2/10, Jigsaw (variant) 7/10, others 6/10The paint work on the figures is a bit different from what I've come to expect. The regular Jigsaw figure is the only one with a heavy paint wash. But it is just enough to make the figure look filthy without going overboard. The other figures are fairly clean and neat. Perhaps a bit too clean. Sabertooth could use a little paint work to bring out the details in his face. There are some issues with sloppiness and stray marks on the figures as well, but no more than usual for mass market figures. One touch I really liked was the use of some pearlized finish paint on the lapels of the variant Jigsaw figure. The effect is barely noticeable but to go that extra step is worth a bonus point. But once again, the Mandarin fails to measure up to the other figures. The paint work on the Mandarin is just pitiful. The paint work on the robe is sloppy and the coverage inconsistent. The paint work for the head, hands and most importantly, the rings is better, but still below par.
Articulation - Mandarin 2/10, Variant Jigsaw 7/10, others 8/10All of the regular figures feature the usual thirty plus points of articulation. And not one of my figures has issues with overly loose joints. The three piece suit version of Jigsaw is slightly less articulated due to the lack of a torso joint. And it also seems to be more susceptible to the paint causing the joints to stick. And for the third category straight, the Mandarin takes the booby prize. Why? Because the robe makes most of the articulation worthless. Adjust the legs however you like, the robe will still cause the figure to stand straight up. The same is true of the arms. You can adjust them, but the robe will just move them back into place. And then to make things even worse, the long hair restricts the movement of the head too. But hey, he is a highly articulated statue.
Accessories - Wolverine/Sabertooth 5/10, Iron Man/Mandarin 6/10, Punisher/Jigsaw 9/10All three sets come with two basic accessories: a comic book and a display base. The choice of comics (Iron Man #311, Wolverine #10 and Punisher #36) is pretty good. They each showcase the rivalry between the two characters well. The stands are a nice idea but don't really work out that well. Each consists of a sculpted base roughly seven inches wide and a bit over an inch deep. Each has holes for two of the adjustable supports that have accompanied so many Marvel Legends figures. Then there is a clip which extends out from the back to hold a cardboard background. It is a cool idea, but the bases are too small for the figures to stand on them and lack any pegs to support the figures even if you wanted to try. You can use the supports, but then the figures are way too close together. You can just display the figures in front of the backdrop, but two of the three of them don't even make a great deal of sense. The Punisher/Jigsaw backdrop has the King Pin standing around in the background, something he isn't likely to do if the Punisher is anywhere nearby. And the Iron Man/Mandarin set has the Iron Man armory as the background. It seems unlikely that the Mandarin would make his way into there. The Wolverine/Sabertooth set has no other accessories. The Iron Man/Mandarin set comes with four additional accessories, a pair of blasts for the Mandarin and two weapons for Iron Man. Iron Man's weapons fit onto his forearms. They are nice, but too small to be very imposing. And with nothing but friction to keep them in place, they could be quite easy to lose. The Mandarin's blasts fit over his hands. They look okay. But the lack luster range of motion thanks to the robe also limit the usefulness of his accessories. The Punisher/Jigsaw set is the big winner in this category. Both sets come with a sniper rifle, an assault rifle, another rifle, a shotgun, a hand gun, a pistol with a silencer and a knife. The regular set also includes another combat knife for Jigsaw. Both figures can hold the weapons well. And the pistols and knives can be stored in the sheaths on Punisher's and Jigsaw's legs. It would have been nice if they had included the bazooka from the Urban Legends set.
Value - Iron Man/Mandarin 3/10, others 7/10The retail price for the Face Off sets is between $15 and $18. Unfortunately the limited distribution means finding them for the lower end of the price spectrum is unlikely. Still, even at $18 for two figures they aren't a bad deal. That is essentially the regular retail price for two individual Marvel Legends figures under Toy Biz. The problem comes with the Mandarin/Iron Man set. For a casual fan, Mandarin should have been the main attraction of the set given we have already gotten numerous other versions of Iron Man. But the Mandarin figure is the worst Marvel Legends figure in the entire line. So the only real reason to buy this set is the Iron Man figure. I know a lot of people were looking forward to this version of Iron Man. But now fans have to spend twice as much to get their Modular Armor Iron Man.
Happy Hunting:The second series of Face Off two packs never saw very wide distribution. I ordered my set from Big Bad Toy Store, but they are sold off now. Two of the sets are still available from Toys R Us.com. And with luck, the Iron Man/Mandarin set may still show up again.