2015 was a big year for the Marvel Legends Infinite line with six full series of figures released as well as quite a few exclusive figures and
sets. And Hasbro seems to be ready to come out swinging in 2016 in an effort to top their efforts from last year. So less than a week into the
year and the first series of new Marvel Legends Infinite figures have already arrived on my doorstop. This latest series features seven characters
from the the Spider-man family of characters, most from the recent comics. Calling Speed Demon a legend is a bit of a stretch, but it is nice to see
a wide variety of characters getting a chance to be immortalized in plastic.
Packaging - Venom 5/10, others 4/10Hasbro made a few slight changes to the packaging design that they have been using for the last couple of years here. That should be a good thing as there are a few little issues that I've mentioned in the past that I didn't love about the design. And they addressed none of those. And the changes that they did make all seem to be for the worse. They changed the graphics on the front, switching the location of the Legends and Spider-man logos. But they dropped the Marvel Legends Logo in favor of simple stylized text. The banner on the bottom with the figure's name is now just a plain red stripe. They even changed the logo for the Build A Figure on the top of the card with a much simplier design that barely qualifies as a logo, it's just a vague shape with the text filling the space. Things don't improve on the back. The previous design had the figure(s) on a plain black background with short descriptions written in four languages. The new design has the figures shown only shown from the waist up against a backlit, smokey background, so you can't see much of the figures. The character descriptions are now even smaller so the text is almost hard to read. It's not that it really matters since none of the character write-ups actually tell you anything about the characters. In fact, with the exception of Venom, the only place to even learn the names of the characters in small red print on the back, red print which is often on a red background. I'm no graphic designer, but even I know that's not a great idea.
Sculpting - Speed Demon & Venom 5/10, Jack O'Lantern 9/10 Others 7/10There aren't many real issues with the sculpting on any of the figures in this series. It's really just a matter of how much effort was put into them. Venom is the best example. He's not a bad looking figure. But he's dull. It's just a plain, muscular male body with a Venom head. Even the teeth, the one place where Venom really tends to look pretty extreme, are just painted onto a particularly wide grinning mouth on the default head. And it's not like they don't have other Symbiote molds that they could have painted black and used for Venom. This version isn't bad persay, it just lacks personality. Speed Demon is similarly simplistic, but at least in his case, that is to be expected from his costume design. Jack O'Lantern appears to be a new sculpt and it is certainly not dull. There are a lot of costume details such as the shoulder pads, buckles and glove cuffs. And of course the pumpkin head is a new sculpt as well. The Beetle reuses the limbs from the recent Wasp figure, including the wings. But her head and body are new and recreate the Beetle's costume well. Ben Reilly and Spider-Gwen use generic bodies with the addition of the web shooters for Reilly and a hood for Spider-Gwen. The hood turned out quite well. And since it is separate from the head, it can be adjusted to create multiple poses for the head under the hood. Finally there is Morbius who has suitably ghastly sculpted face and hands. His huge collar and cape look great. But they didn't bother to sculpt the belt or any details for the boots unfortunately.
Paint - Venom 5/10, Ben Reilly & Speed Demon 6/10, Jack O'Lantern 10/10, others 8/10I said that Venom's sculpting was dull. And his paint work does nothing to improve that. It's not bad. It's not even sloppy really. They went just a bit over the edge on the eyes, but it is hardly noticable. Ben Reilly and Speed Demon have a bit more elaborate paint work to reproduce the details of their costumes, and all of it is well executed but still a bit plain. A bit more effort went into Morbius, Beetle and Spider-Gwen. For Beetle, that is just a matter of the difficulty of painting the fine sculpted details of her mask and shoulder straps on her costume. For Morbius they added a slight wash over the exposed skin to darken it a bit which worked out very well. He does have an issue with the black of the plastic bleeding through the red paint used to create his belt. Most of Spider-Gwen's outfit is simple black and white. But there are areas of red with webbing stripes under her arm and on the inside of the hood. Those are both tough areas to paint, but they were done quite well. They even added a slight wash on her head to replicate the shadow of the hood. It's a nice effort. Though the red areas and head don't match the clean look of the rest of the outfit well. Finally there is Jack O'Lantern who has a lot of painted details on his outfit, all of which turned out quite well. The pumpkin head is well painted too. The one thing I don't like is that the color of the smile and eyes of the head don't match the orange color of the flames surrounding the head. They wouldn't need to match perfectly. But if they were a bit closer or at least had some attempts to transition from one color to the other, the head would have looked hollow and filled with flame.
Articulation - 9/10No big surprises in the articulation department, most of the male figures have thrity-four points of articulation:
Accessories - Beetle 0/10, Venom & Morbius 4/10, Jack O'Lantern 9/10, others 7/10Lately it hasn't seemed like the Marvel Legends Infinite figures have many accessories, but they seem to be largely back to form with the Absorbing Man series. The Beetle is the only figure with nothing. Well, she has her wings. But they really aren't meant to be removed once attached, so I'm not counting them. Venom has an alternate head, one with his signature tongue hanging out. The head is nice. But the rest of the figure is so dull that I feel like I have to put the tongue out version on him just to give the figure any personality which just means the regular head was a waste of plastic. Morbius comes with two versions of his cape, one that hangs straight down and one flaired out and up like bat wings. That gives you some options for how you want to display the figure and still have the cape look appropriate. Spider-Gwen comes with an alternate, unmasked head as well as a replacement, lowered hood. Again, nothing surprising, but it gives you multiple options for displaying the figure. And speaking of options, Ben Reilly comes with two extra sets of hands, giving him matching sets of fists, web-shooting hands and hands spread out to walk up walls. He also has a spare symbiote style head and set of hands. I'm assuming that relates to recent events in the Spider-Man comics, but I don't know what they are. (Too bad they didn't include that kind of information on the back of the packaging.) And speaking of accessories to which I don't know the back story, Speed Demon comes with a head mounted on a toy car as well as a spare set of hands. From the design, I'm guessing it is Machine Man's head. But again, it would be nice if the packaging actually gave you that information or directed you to where you could find it, such as on Marvel.com. Actually, with the large library of digital comics they have available there, it would be really cool if they started including a code for a digital copy of a comic with each figure. It would be a nice nod to the early Marvel Legends figures at a minimal cost. And it might encourage people to try out Marvel's digital comic service and earn them some new readers too. But getting back to the final figure, Jack O'Lantern comes with a broom stick to ride, a sickle and a pumpkin bomb which makes him surprisingly well armed. But since they made the figure with his hands slightly curled, but still wide open, he can't really hold on to any of them well. So they had to tack on some silly looking guards to the sickle and broom so that he can hold them. I'd much rather they just sculpt the hands to actually grip them.
Build A Figure - Absorbing ManI'm conflicted about Crusher Creel aka, the Absorbing Man. Quite frankly I didn't see a point to having him as a Build A Figure. He's already had figures in the Classic Hulk line under Toy Biz and the Hulk Legends Fin Fang Foom Series under Hasbro. So why create a third version? But putting aside whether the character warrented another figure, I have to admit that the figure itself turned out well. I was expecting Hasbro to just reuse the Wrecking Crew body, but Creel appears to be completely new. And if you buy all seven figures in the series, you end up with a spare set of arms representing Creel using his absorbing powers on wood, metal and rock as well as a normal arm. You even get an extra head. He does reuse the same mold for his ball and chain accessory as Thunderball from the Arnim Zola series. It's a bit big for him since it should be a ball and chain, not a wrecking ball. But that isn't a huge issue. So in the end, even though I really didn't see the point of this figure, the fact that it is so well executed is enough to win my opinion of him over.
Value - Venom 5/10/ others 8/10I ordered my set of figures from the first online retailer that had them in stock. So I ended up paying a slight premium for them at just over $22 per figure. When they hit the large retailers, you should be able to save a couple of bucks each. But even for the higher price, this is the kind of series I really like. All of the figures turned out quite well. And the character selection for the series is terriffic. Out of seven figures, you get three completely new characters who have never been part of the Marvel Legends line. Morbius and Jack O'Lantern haven't had figures since Toy Biz's Spider-Man Classics line. And Even though we have seen Ben Reilly figures recently, this is a very different costume for him. Venom is the one figure that is a bit of a let down. And even he isn't a bad figure. He's just a fairly dull version of a character we've already seen twice in the last year or two.
Happy Hunting:Once again Hasbro's distribution seems to be working in reverse and the smaller, online retailers got the Absorbing Man series of figures first. In fact, I haven't heard any reports of these figures showing up in traditional brick and mortar toys stores yet. So if you are impatient like me, check your favorite web sites. My set came from Big Bad Toy Store. But they only offer the figures as a complete series or by the case. If you are willing to wait, they should be arriving in larger retailers such a Target, Wal-mart and Toys R Us eventually as well.