All good things must come to an end. And for Toy Biz's Marvel Legends line, that end has come. After sixteen waves of
figures (fifteen plus the exclusive Wal-mart wave) and numerous box sets, the license has passed on to a new company. But
fans need not fear too much. Hasbro, the new holder of the license for mass market Marvel figures isn't letting the Marvel
Legends line die just yet. In fact, they are literally picking up where Toy Biz left off, putting into production many of
the items that Toy Biz had in development. While I have not generally been a big fan of Hasbro, their efforts to continue
the Marvel Legends line gives me some hope that perhaps change is not so bad.
Packaging - Hercules & Planet Hulk 10/10, others 9/10One of the most obvious changes from Toy Biz's Marvel Legends figures is the completely redesigned packaging. The clamshells are gone. The figures are now packaged on more traditional blister cards. There has also been a complete overhaul of the graphics. Each figure gets a unique card with comic art of the character on the exposed upper left corner. There are also four images along the right side of the card showing off the character's different looks. (Beast, who is based off of the X3 movie substitutes images from the movie instead of comic images.) The back of each card has a brief biography of the character at the top as well as another photo of the figure while the bottom two thirds of the card is dominated by a photo of the build a figure and all of the figures in the series. Overall, I really like the redesign. The increased use of comic art work is a nice touch as are the more in depth character descriptions. But the rounded designs can be rather unruly. The larger size of the bubbles also means that normal sized figures have a hard time filling up the space. It's no problem for large figures like Planet Hulk or Hercules. But Beast, Ultimate Iron Man and Banshee all need to spread their arms and legs out to fill the space. And Emma Frost resorts to using the build-a-figure parts to fill the space.
Sculpting - Hercules 7/10, Ultimate Iron Man 4/10, others 5/10The sculpting for Hasbro's first outing with the Marvel Legends line is a respectable showing, but most of the figures suffer from at least a few problems. Hercules is the best figure in the series. He has plenty of bulk befitting of a demigod. t would have been nice if they had done a better job on the transition from his feet to his legs since his ankles now look like they don't really connect to either. But the most notable issue with the figure is his goofy grin. Banshee also suffers from a goofy head sculpt. But given the nature of the character, a screaming head sculpt was pretty much a given for the figure. More annoying is that there is a significant gap between the shoulders and biceps on each arm. But on the plus side, the fabric used for the panels under each arm works well and drapes appropriately in most cases. The X3 version of Beast turned out quite well, but the torso extremely bulky due in part to the use of a separate jacket. Planet Hulk is a fairly mundane figure. The head sculpt is very detailed, but with the exception of some texturing for the skin, the rest of the figure is pretty boring. There seems to have been no attention paid to his pants at all. And while the face has plenty of detail, when the head is tilted back there is a huge gap under the chin between the head and the neck. White Queen has taken a lot of flack. And it is not entirely undeserved. The top of her jeans stick out a bit from her body. And the fact that the joints for her hips are significantly smaller than the rest of her legs and hips just furthers the illusion that she is wearing a diaper. But her biggest problem is her head. A long neck, extremely thin face and hair that sits too high on her head all lead to a figure that is nowhere near as attractive as the character should be. There are also a couple of lines across the figure's forearms and just below the shoulders that seems like it was meant to be additional articulation, but it was removed in the final figures. Finally there is Ultimate Ironman, the weakest of the series. There are several things I dislike about this figure. The first is that he is quite bow legged. His legs curve in enough that if you do position both hips pointing straight down, his ankles will cross. It's possible that my figure is simply warped as the plastic for his leg and hip joints is fairly soft. (Not as bad as Longshot, but enough that the hip joints are just as likely to bend as move.) The detail on the figure is sort of hit or miss too. The torso has plenty of detail, at least on the front. But the legs are so plain that they barely look like they belong on the same figure and the arms are somewhere in-between. The face sculpt doesn't look much like Tony Stark so much as Moe from the Three Stooges with a foo-manchu mustache and beard. Still, as the worst figure in the series, he isn't that bad.
Paint - Hercules 8/10, Banshee 6/10, others 4/10The paint work on Hasbro's first series is a bit hit or miss. They don't make as extensive use of paint washes as most of Toy Biz's later offerings. Banshee has no paint washes at all. And the clean paint job works reasonably well, particularly since they would not have been able to get matching washes onto the fabric panels under his arms. But the remaining paint is a bit light, allowing the green color of the plastic to bleed through the yellow portions. White Queen uses a very light blue wash on the clothing to add highlights. Unfortunately the white for the costume is fairly sloppy. White Queen is also available as an exclusive cast in translucent plastic. Planet Hulk is a bit of a mess as well. He has a black wash painted more or less at random across the figure. The result is that instead of highlighting and adding shadowing to the figure, it ends up looking like the figure was in a Loony Toons style explosion that left it covered in soot. Ultimate Ironman falls a bit short in the paint department too. The vac-metal finish of the red portions of the armor is nice and clean. But the grey portions have a heavy black wash. It's too heavy in many places. And there simply isn't anything to highlight on parts of the legs leaving those areas just looking dirty. It's a sharp contrast from the vac-metal finish. Beast's fur looks very nice, with black paint used to shadow it. But his clothing is dull. The only coloring for either the pants or jacket are the yellow bars on his sleeves and the "X" logo. And those are sloppy! Hercules is the stand out of the series in terms of the paint. Even with difficult areas such as the leg straps, everything came out very neat. There's also some subtle shading of the veins in his arms that is a great touch. I have two minor problems with the figure, the first is that the leg straps are not continued over the joint pins. The second is that the figure's torso and arms have bronze paint applied to give the figure a slight tan. Unfortunately it is not a very natural looking shading. So the figure looks like he went to a discount sunless tanning salon.
Articulation - White Queen 6/10, Others 8/10The standard articulation for Hasbro's Marvel Legends figures seems to be thirty two points of articulation:
Accessories - Planet Hulk 8/10, Hercules 6/10, Ultimate Ironman 4/10, others 0/10The change over in the license has resulted in one other major change. The comic book pack-ins are no more. That's a shame. I always enjoyed reading them. And since half of the figures have no other accessories, they could use something to be included with the figures. Ultimate Ironman does have one accessory, his removable helmet. It fits well, but removing it repeatedly could cause the fit to loosen over time. Hercules has a scepter and a removable sash. Making the sash removable doesn't really add any thing to the figure though. But the inclusion of a belt loop to store the scepter is a nice touch. Planet Hulk is the only figure with a significant set of accessories. His gladiator armor includes a helmet, shoulder pad and a shield. All three items are removable. It is remarkable what a difference they make. Just another run of the mill Hulk figure becomes a very unique version of the character thanks to his accessories. The only thing holding him back from a better score is the lack of a belt and skirt armor or the armor for his arm. The belt in particular would have been a welcome addition.
Build-A-Figure - AnnihilusThe build a figure for this wave is Annihilus. Who is that? Previously the only thing I knew about Annihilus came from his brief appearance on the Fantastic Four cartoon in the Nineties. He was some sort of creature from the Negative Zone bent on causing destruction. After reading more about him on Wikipedia.org, I'm not entirely sure that there is anything more to the character. As for the figure, it continues the trend of the build a figures getting smaller. Annihilus is just barely larger than Hercules. And with the exception of his wings, he is smaller than Planet Hulk. The sculpt has enough detail though there is nothing particularly impressive about it. It is also slightly hampered by some odd choices for the pose. His right leg can not be posed completely straight. So either the other leg must be bent to match or the figure leans slightly. His abdomen is also slightly bent forward. His torso hinge allows him to straighten up, but then the two halves of the body don't match up properly. The pink color used for the torso and gloves is lighter than I expected and certainly not very imposing. Originally Annihilus was available with a darker, purple color. But the running change must have happened early on as the purple pieces are harder to find. The articulation on Annihilus is pretty similar to the regular figures. He does have individually jointed figures though and of course the wings are jointed where they attach to the back. Overall, Annihilus is a nice enough figure. But there is no reason why it needed to be a build a figure. Granted, a bonus figure is a bonus figure. But the build a figures should be an opportunity to get figures produced that wouldn't work as stand alone figures. That's not Annihilus.
Value - Hercules 7/10, Planet Hulk & Beast 6/10, others 5/10 (add a point if completing Annihilus)Hasbro's Marvel Legends line represents a step backwards in terms of value. The new line retails for a dollar or two more than it did under Toy Biz. And for that price increase you are getting less articulation and fewer accessories. The only area where the figures are an improvement is the packaging design. Still, these are not bad action figures. And considering that this is the first and likely last time we'll get figures of Planet Hulk or Hercules, they are worth picking up to fill out your collections. And if you happen to be lucky enough to find them on sale as I did, so much the better.
Happy Hunting:Okay, I just got done saying that the packaging is the only improvement over the Toy Biz figures. That's not entirely true. Hasbro also has the advantage of being able to get the figures into stores that may not have bothered doing business with Toy Biz. That has made Hasbro's Marvel Legends figures very easy to find. Pick your favorite toy buying spot and there is a good chance that they will be carrying the figures. However, since the second series has already begun shipping to stores, you may want to pick up the first series while they are still plentiful.