With just a few months left in their contract to produce Marvel action figures, Toy Biz is doing everything they can to go
out with a bang. And it seems to be a hollow, echoing bang made as my empty wallet closes. It isn't enough for them to
have four separate lines running simultaneously. (Marvel Legends, X-men, Fantastic Four, and Spider-man) So they decided it
was time to launch number five, Marvel Legends Face Off. Face Off is a line of action figure two packs that pairs one of
Marvel's big name heroes and one of their enemies. The Face Off sets gave Toy Biz a chance to do two things at once,
produce some villains which may not have sold well on their own and produced some updated versions of heroes that we haven't
seen on the pegs in a while. Series One includes three sets plus a variant for each. The pairings
are Captain America vs. Red Skull, Daredevil vs. Kingpin and Hulk vs. The Leader. But is it worth buying two figures just
to get one new character?
Packaging - 7/10Being a spin off of the Marvel Legends line, the Face Off line adopts almost the same packaging. It's just larger to accommodate the extra figure. The figures are divided within the packaging by the display base. The comic and display background provide a backdrop for the figures. The back of the cards has a brief bio of the characters and a graph to show the stats and abilities of each character as well a photos of all three sets and the variant heads. The packaging is attractive and shows off the figures well. Another pleasant surprise was the minimal use of twist ties for once. There are some, but only a few for each figure rather than the five or six per figure they sometimes use. But there is a significant problem with scaling up the clamshell packaging from the regular figures, they can't handle the weight of two figures. The packaging is more prone to crushing. And bent or torn off peg hooks are fairly common. But as long as you are not a MOC collector, they figures should remain well protected.
Sculpting - Daredevil 4/10, Captain America & Leader 7/10, Hulk 9/10, Others 8/10The Face Off packs include some very nicely sculpted figures which should be no real surprise to people who have been paying attention to Toy Biz's recent figures. Hulk is arguably the best Hulk figure to date. He has all the bulk that you would expect of the Hulk without looking muscle bound. The head sculpt looks angry without going overboard as well. But the hands are a bit of a drawback. The right hand is sculpted in an open, slapping pose but not the left hand. So you can't do clapping poses. And the left hand is posed in a somewhat neutral pose that doesn't really work as either a fist or grasping. A Hulk figure that can't punch just isn't right. The Leader is less detailed, but still a nice sculpt. The face is nicely detailed while the rest of the head has a slightly more subdued. There does seem to be a rather ugly crack at the top of the shoulders on both sides. Captain America is a slightly updated version of the Marvel Legends series 8 Ultimate Captain America figure. The boots, arms, gloves and head have been replaced. The face sculpt looks great, though the chin is awfully large. But they are nothing compared to the huge cuffs on the gloves. The figure looks like he is wearing welding gloves. The over sized pouches on the belt seem out of place as well. But it is still a vast improvement from the series one figure. Red Skull is sculpted in a suit of body armor. The suit has a considerable amount of detail. I particularly like the spiked pads on the wrists and elbows. But like Capt., his belt has a lot of large pouches and what looks like a hockey puck for a buckle. All of that bulk makes his already narrow waist look down right tiny. But the most important part of any Red Skull figure is the head. It is a nice improvement over the previous version and looks quite a bit more like a skull. To start with, this version doesn't have lips. The texturing is more even as well. By comparison, the previous figure looks less like a skull than a skull covered in burnt flesh. Kingpin could use some refining, but for a big fat guy in a suit, he looks pretty good. There is a lot of detail for the three piece suit. The stretching of the fabric at the buttons is a nice touch. But the contours of the suit are not quite right. The shoulders are too round and the belly sticks out too far from the waistline of the pants. Getting a suit to drape properly while still accommodating the articulation can't be easy, but they've shown that they can do it better with the Professor X figure. Then there is Daredevil. I'm not sure what they were going for in terms of style. The gloves and boots look like they are a few sizes too large. But the body in general is bulked up to a comical degree. If his muscles got any larger, they would explode from his body. But it isn't all bad. The head sculpt is nice. Sculpting the glasses as an independent piece and then gluing them on adds some nice depth and detail. At the very least it should make for an easy Matt Murdock custom figure. The other detail I like about this figure is the inclusion of a separate piece for the mask around the neck. It even has the eyes and horns sculpted on it. It isn't terribly realistic, but kind of cute.
Each set also has a variant version available as well which usually consists of a different head sculpt and possibly a repainted figure. The Hulk vs. The Leader variant set has Hulk with an open mouth yell and the Leader with his older, pencil eraser shaped skull. The variant version of Captain America and Red Skull features an unmasked version of Captain America and a Baron Strucker figure. Baron Strucker is really just a repainted Red Skull with a new head. But it is an interesting way to produce yet another character. Finally there is the Daredevil vs. Kingpin set. The set I bought actually is the variant. The regular set has a masked version of Daredevil and a different head sculpt for Kingpin without the sneer.
Paint - Leader 4/10, Daredevil 5/10, Kingpin 9/10, Others 7/10The variant paint scheme was one of the big reasons why I picked the variant set instead of the regular one. The regular version has Kingpin in his traditional white suit. The variant has a black suit. While it may not be as accurate to the comics, the black suit looks great thanks to all of the small paint applications such as the buttons and visible portions of the shirt. There are a few sloppy edges but they aren't noticeable. But my figure also has a stray speck of black paint right in the figure's nostril. I guess he needs a tissue. By contrast, the Daredevil figure is wholly unimpressive. The gloves and boots have a very heavy wash that doesn't match the rest of the figure well. The body has a light wash on it to add some shading which isn't on the mask causing it to stick out. The head is neatly painted though. You can even see through the glasses. The Leader has a very simple paint scheme which would work fine for the figure. I say would because for some reason my figure has a ring of darker black paint around the collar, almost as if they were trying to seal the crack with paint. The remaining three figures all turned out well. There are the occasional stray mark. And the lines on Captain America don't quite line up with the edges of the chain mail. But none of it is noticeable unless inspected close up.
Articulation - Kingpin 5/10, Hulk 7/10, others 8/10By now we should all be familiar with the usual Marvel Legends articulation. But to review, the basic figure includes:
Accessories - Hulk/Leader 5/10, Capt./Red Skull 6/10, Daredevil/Kingpin 8/10The Face Off two packs feature quite a few accessories with each set. First of all, each set comes with both a comic and a Marvel Verses System collectible trading card. The comics included are Incredible Hulk No. 115, Daredevil No. 171 and Captain America No. 32. The issues selected do a nice job of showing the conflict between the two characters. Each set also includes a display base with a tag board backdrop. Each base has a different sculpted base into which two of the adjustable stands plug. There is also a small clip on the back which holds the optional backdrop. The clip will extend out to make more room for the figures and provide a larger base of support. They are an interesting idea that is in need of refinement. To begin with, both Hulk and Kingpin are far too large to be supported by one of these stands. And there are no pegs in the bases to allow a figure to simply stand on them. Even if the figures can be supported by the stands, the base is so small that they have to almost be on top of each other. That's it for the Leader/Hulk set. It has no other accessories, and really it doesn't need any. The Kingpin/Daredevil set has a jeweled cane for the Kingpin and a pair of nunchuks for Daredevil. The cane is remarkablly bland and difficult for the figure to hold in many poses. Daredevil's nunchuks are a bit oversized. But they can be held by the figure in either hand or stored in a holster on the figure's left leg. The Captain America/Red Skull set comes with two accessories. Capt.'s shield is one of them of course. It is recycled from the previous Captain America figures. Unfortunately they did not replace the clip with one that can accommodate the new, larger gloves. The clip can be used, but only on the narrowest portion of the palm of the hand which is a bit awkward. The figure can still hold the shield using the elastic straps though. Red Skull has a short sword with which to challenge Captain America's famed shield. It has a nicely detailed sculpt, but limited paint work. But the biggest thing the sword has going against it is its length. It's isn't tiny, but Captain America would have better range with his shield than Red Skull would have with that sword.
Value - Daredevil/Kingpin 5/10, others 8/10The Face Off two packs have been selling for $15 to $17 in the major toy retailers. At $15, you are getting two Marvel Legends figures for a couple of dollars less than if they were purchased separately. The problem is that unless you are new to collecting Marvel figures, you aren't getting two new figures. For both the Hulk/Leader and Captain America/Red Skull sets, the duplicate figures represent significant improvements over the previous versions. That isn't necessarily true of the Daredevil/Kingpin set. So in that case you end up paying almost double just to get the Kingpin figure.
Happy Hunting:The Face Off packs have actually been out for quite a while, but the distribution has been very spotty. They initially shipped out to Walmart stores at the beginning of the summer along with the Giant Man figures and Young Avengers and Monsters box sets. But not all stores received them. Only those that received the large pallet displays of figures received the Face Off figures. But they are starting to show up in greated numbers now. I have seen them at both Walmart stores which have been receiving fresh shipments and Toys R Us stores. You can also order them online. My favorite e-tailer, Big Bad Toy Store, has them available for a decent price and always have great service.