The Marvel Legends line has managed to astounded me time and time again with the breadth of characters that they pack into
wave after wave of figures. No matter how obscure a character may be, it seems like there always at least some chance
that they will show up in the next wave. And just when you think the figures in the regular waves have pushed the envelope
as far as it can go, the latest box sets show up featuring characters that I would have never expected to see in plastic form.
The two latest box sets feature the Young Avengers with Patriot, Iron Lad, Asgardian and Hulkling and Marvel Monsters
featuring Frankenstein, Dracula, Werewolf by Night and the Zombie. How did a comic that has barely seen a dozen issues
hit the press and another group of comics that hasn't been in print for years get figures? I don't know, but far be it from
me to pass up what could be some great figures.
Packaging - Young Avengers 8/10, Monsters 7/10It should be no surprise that both box sets come in boxes. With only four figures in each set, the boxes are narrower than some of the recent box sets. Each has all four figures posed in the middle in front of the comic or poster book. Some of the poses are rather silly looking. Iron Lad, Asgardian and Werewolf by Night all look like amateur ballet dancers. The comic/poster books included covers most of the background which is no real loss since the backgrounds are fairly plain. After some of the great backdrops for the early box sets like the Danger Room for the X-men set, these are somewhat dull. Box sets have a fairly limited number of graphics on the boxes themselves. The front, sides, top and bottom are limited to the Marvel Legends and Monsters/Young Avengers logos, the names of each of the figures (along with how much articulation they have) and a reminder about the comic/poster book. The Young Avengers set makes good use of the back panel. It has power profiles for each character and a brief description of the origins of the Young Avengers. Considering how recent a creation they are, those two things are quite important since so many people are probably unfamiliar with the characters. Unfortunately, the Monsters set is limited to just thumbnail images of the covers included in the poster book. The thumbnails don't really provide any additional character information. And they don't even fill the back panel very well. There is a great deal of empty space left that is just a waste.
Sculpting - Young Avengers 7/10, Monsters 8/10The Young Avengers set has three terrific sculpts. But the fourth figure leaves a lot to be desired. The good news is that Hulkling, Patriot and Asgardian who form the core of the Young Avengers team all turned out well. Hulkling is my favorite of the four. The body has enough mass in the torso to give it plenty of bulk without appearing muscle-bound. I also think the sculptor did a great job of adding detail and texturing to a fairly simple costume without making it look busy. Asgardian turned out well for mostly the same reasons. But the details in several areas didn't come through very well. The gauntlets, headband and wings and the shin guards all have some texturing on them. But most of it is extremely faint. I'm not sure if this is the result of the original sculpt or due to the molding process at the factory. Also, Asgardian's right thumb is really stubby. Patriot didn't turn out quite as well, but is still a great figure. As with his teammates, Patriot has a good deal of texturing to his costume. But it doesn't extend to the entire sculpt. The back of the upper torso and the legs are smooth. Of course that is no big deal. What does hurt the sculpt is the way the articulation breaks up the lines of the costume, particularly at the shoulders. Finally we have Iron Lad, the one disappointments in the sets. The articulation is not integrated into the sculpt well if at all. Items such as the extra armor around the wrists and ankles really stick out as do the shoulder and hip joints. What's really too bad is that of the four characters, Iron Lad who is the least likely to receive another action figure due to his limited appearances, had to turn out the worst.
The Monsters set doesn't suffer from the extremes of the Young Avengers set. The Zombie is the best of the set. The texturing does a great job of creating the look of decaying flesh, though the details on the chest are not as sharp as they are on the rest of the figure. Frankenstein looks great, nice and bulky. But he seems pretty short, just barely taller than the Zombie. They also forgot a rather important detail on Frankenstein, the scars. There are large scars visible in the cover art in the poster book. But they are limited to the face and wrists on the figure. The Werewolf by Night figure captures the lean look of the character nicely. I'm not very impressed by the sculpted fur though. It isn't very pronounced. If not for the color, it would look more like body hair than full blown fur. Finally there is Dracula. The sculptor did a nice job of sculpting the tuxedo. But the final product is awfully bulky. Much of the problem is due to the layering of materials. Rather than creating a new body, Toy Biz used an existing body with a soft plastic/rubber covering on it. Then on top of that they add the coat and the cape with an oversized collar. That many layers adds a lot of bulk to a character that should be rather svelte. If your image of classic monsters is limited to the Universal Studios monster movies, you may not be thrilled with these figures. But they seem to be nice representations of the Marvel versions of the classic monsters.
Paint - Monsters 8/10, Young Avengers 6/10After several years of spotty quality control, Toy Biz finally seems to have their paint work under control. It's still not perfect of course. But for mass market figures they are pretty good. Once again the Zombie is the best of the Monsters box set. They use a light colored paint applied to the high areas of the sculpt to bring out the details. But just as the sculpting for the chest doesn't quite match the limbs, the color of the paint is slightly off. I would have also liked to see a bit more contrast between the color of the clothing and the body. But that appears to be accurate to the character from the cover images. Frankenstein has another excellent paint job. My only complaint with him is that they went overboard with the wash on the pants. You can't even tell if they are supposed to be blue pants with gray dust on them or gray pants with blue shadowing. They don't really look bad either way though so it isn't a big problem. Dracula doesn't have much in the way of paint work. Most of the figure is just the bare plastic. A little black paint is applied to add some glossier areas. The face and hands are fully painted. And with the exception of a small spot of paint missing on the tip of the dark count's nose, it looks good. I am disappointed in the Werewolf by Night. As I mentioned, the sculpting isn't very pronounced. On the limbs, they applied a black paint wash to darken the low parts and add shadowing. But on the body they just applied a light airbrushing across the chest and back. It helps a little, but still leave the sculpt looking a bit flat.
The Young Avengers set is another mixed bag. Patriot, Hulkling and Asgardian all look nice. Hulkling is pretty simple, but the glossy black replicates the look of leather well. The sheen for the skin tones on the face doesn't match the arms which are glossier. But the color is a good match. Both Patriot and Asgardian have a lot of detail work for their costumes. I'm not thrilled with the blue airbrushing on Patriot's pants, it makes it look like the blue color of the plastic is showing through. Of course the plastic is actually cast in white plastic. There is also a large glob of flesh colored paint on the sleeve of Asgardian's arm. (Fortunately it is mostly hidden by the cape. Finally there is Iron Lad. Since his sculpt didn't turn out well, you would hope the painting could help make up for it a bit. It doesn't. In fact it makes things much worse. From what I can tell, the figure is cast in dark red plastic and then completely painted. But if the goal was to create the look of metal, it failed. The red is a bit too bright and lacks any metallic sheen.
Articulation - 8/10These are Marvel Legends figures. And that means plenty of articulation. A standard ML figure has the following articulation:
Accessories - Monsters 5/10, Young Avengers 8/10This is one area where the Monsters set comes up a bit light. It includes four of the round stands that we have seen with all of the recent box sets and a poster book with images of twelve covers from Marvel's various monster comic titles. I would rather see an actual comic book be included, but in this case I guess I can understand how that would be difficult. Since each of the figures is based on a character from a different title, they probably couldn't find a single comic where all four character appeared.
The Young Avengers set has a little more to offer. It also comes with stands for each figure, complete with a sticker to identify which figure goes with which base. And of course there is a comic included as well, a copy of Young Avengers #1. It's an obvious choice, but also a very good one. Asgardian comes with a few accessories as well: a removable cape/cloak, a shoulder bag and his staff/wand. The staff and bag both look great. And the figure can hold it easily thanks to the left hand being molded into a fist. The cloak needs some improvement though. It is molded to stick out in the back as if blown by the wind. But the weight of it causes it to sag down, forcing the front to ride up around the neck. But if it gets to be a bother, it can always be solved with a tiny dab of glue. Patriot's shield isn't so fortunate. Unlike the shield which came with both of the Captain America figures, Patriot's shield has only a simple clip on the back and no elastic straps. The clip will hold securely on the right wrist. But it is too large for the left one, allowing it to fall off. Even on the right wrist, it only stays in place if placed parallel to the palm of the hand. Turn it slightly and it will fall off. It's not all that bad. But we have seen that Toy Biz is capable of better.
Value - Monsters 8/10, Young Avengers 6/10The box sets sell for between $29 and $35 depending upon the store. For four figures that isn't too bad. In the case of the Monster set, you are getting figures of four fairly obscure characters, at least in the modern Marvel Universe. But Iron Lad turned out so poorly that the Young Avengers set seems more like three figures with an Iron Lad accessory. For fans of the Young Avengers title, it is still worth picking up the set.
Happy Hunting:Both box sets originally shipped as part of a pallet display exclusively at Walmart. But they are now starting to ship elsewhere as well. I have seen fresh shipments at Walmart stores as well as Toys R Us. Unfortunately they seem to be shipping in solid cases. So stores are likely to have one set or the other. If you are fortunate, the store may get a case of each. Or the store may wind up with even more of the same set.