The upcoming Fantastic Four movie means that a flood of movie related merchandise is inevitable. In fact, the first figures have already
started to hit pegs. But being the retro kinda guy I am, I thought I would look back at the Fantastic Four box set from last year. (The
fact that I'm cheap and it took this long for its price to drop low enough for me to actually buy it had nothing to do with it. Seriously.)
Packaging - 7/10The Fantastic Four set comes in a large window box similar to the past box sets. Fortunately it avoids the silly poses of the Sinister 6 set since there are fewer figures and therefore more room. It does share the bland background with the Sinister Six set. This time it is a field of Fantastic Four emblems. The back of the box has pictures of all of the images from the posterbook that is included as well as profile cards of the five main figures and an expanded explanation of who the FF are. The packaging does have several shortcomings. First and foremost is that there is no explanation of who Dr. Doom, Franklin or HERBIE (the little robot) are. Now it is a reasonably safe bet that anyone even remotely familiar or interested in the Marvel Universe should have at least some idea of who Dr. Doom is. But Franklin and HERBIE are far less well known, especially for those of us whose knowledge is limited to the cartoon from the 90's.
Sculpting - Reed, Franklin & Sue 4/10, Doom 9/10, others 6/10There aren't a lot of surprises in this set since four of the five regular figures have already been released on individual cards in past waves of the Marvel Legends line. Reed, Thing, Torch and Doom are all the same as their previous figures except for new head sculpts and the addition of articulated fingers for the Thing. Torch turned out well. In fact, he is my second favorite of the set. Dr. Doom takes top honors. We finally get a proper Victor Von Doom with a fully mutilated face. Granted, Doom has been portrayed as having just the single facial scar that the carded figure had. But the fully scarred face on this version is much closer to how most people envision him. The Thing is not too bad. He comes with a scoweling, teeth bared face instead of the more even tempered look of the carded version. I don't particularly care for the look of the jaw. The way it extends down reminds me too much of some of the faces Bart used to do on the early episodes of The Simpsons. The fingers also seem just a hair too thin. Reed is the biggest disappointment The body has too much muscle definition. The face doen't suit the caharacter at all. It is too youthful and has a slightly arrogant smile. Sue is not that bad. The body is a far cry better than the earlier Elektra body. And the face sculpt is decent. But the choice of short hair instead of the far more iconic. I'm going to guess HERBIE is correct since I've never seen the 70's cartoon he is based upon. Franklin has some serious problems with his proportions. The legs are too short and the head is way too large.
Paint - Thing 3/10, Reed 5/10, Torch & Doom 7/10, others 8/10The paint work on most of these figures is very well done. The colors also serve to differenciate the box set figures from the regular carded ones. The box set figures have a darker blue with white along the waist band. With the exception of Doom's cape and Thing's paint wash, there is very little sloppiness or stray marks. Once again they gave Doom a green cape and painted it black. And once again, there are a few run marks or areas where the paint was wiped off due to being handled while wet. Torch came out well and the paint helps the mid flame look. But they goofed on the four symbol. It is entirely orange despite the fact that the flames only come half way up the symbol. It would have looked better if they had made the top half white or better yet, not painted the flamed on portion. Reed takes a serious hit due because they screwed up his grey hair on the sides. It looks more like he has concrete mortar stuck in his hair than graying temples. Finally there is the Thing, who looks more like a scorched marshmellow than his Aunt Petunia's ever loving blue eyed thing. The black wash applied is too dark. It also is splotchy in some areas.
There is also a varient set with an unpainted, clear Invisible Woman and the Human Torch cast in translucent plastic instead of the painted orange for his flames. However, they are quite rare.
Articulation - 9/10
Accessories - 3/10The box set has just a few accessories: a plastic ball version of Mr. Fantastic, a lab coat for Reed, Doom's removable mask and pistol, six stands and a poster book. Doom's mask and pistol are great. The mask fits snugly and the pistol can be held in the figure's right hand or holstered. Reed's lab coat fits well, though perhaps a bit too tight. Toy Biz once again went to great lengths, hemming all the edges but you will have to clean up the loose threads from the seams. The blue balled up Reed is an interesting idea, but poorly executed. I was expecting a real rubber ball. But instead it is a hollow plastic ball with a poor quality image of Reed's face on one side and the FF logo on the other side. The stands are pretty basic. Five of the six are simple round stands with two foot pegs. Four of them have the FF logo on them while Doom's has a take off of it with a "D" inside of a circle. They certainly are a poor substitute for the display bases of the carded figures. None of the figures' feet can reach both pegs easily. Thing can't fit on his base at all. The final stand is one of the adjustable clear stands for HERBIE. Finally there is the poster book. It has roughly twenty images of the characters. There are quite a few different styles represented, yet they didn't bother to include a single vintage image. I guess Kirby doesn't hold much clot in the modern Marvel empire.
Value - 3/10 to 7/10The Fantastic Four box set started at $40 though Wal-mart had it for $30. It has also been clearanced at many stores, reaching as low as $10 or $15 dollars. The value is really dependent on whether you already have the figures and how many of them you have. Since Sue is the only new figure, you could essentially be paying $40 for a just her and Franklin. (Who really wants HERBIE?) I found the set on clearance for $15. That price still seems steep for getting the one figure I wanted, but bearable.
Happy Hunting:This set has largely disappeared by now. Most stores have tried to clear out old figures in preperation for the coming waves of movie merchandise. The only place I still run across them now is at the few Walmart stores which haven't put them on clearance.