Today I have another Marvel Legends review that is long over due thanks to a busy holiday season and spending a month glued to my
Nintendo Wii system with the releases of Mario Galaxy and Guitar Hero. But since this isn't a video game review site, I guess I
had better get off my rear end and back to the toys. One might think that with both the Fantastic Four series (review) and Spider-man Movie series (review) both hitting
in the months just before Christmas, Hasbro would be happy to have over a dozen different Marvel Legends figures on the market. But of
course that would be quite naive. After all, why stop at sixteen figures when you can have a full two dozen out instead. And so the
Brood Queen series of Marvel Legends figures joined those already on the pegs. The third series of Marvel Legends figures (which is really
the fifth series) includes four X-men characters (Marvel Girl, Cyclops in is Astonishing X-men uniform, Danger and Colossus from the third
X-men movie), an Avenger in the form of Black Knight, both Bucky and Captain America and a Hydra soldier. There are also variants
available of Marvel Girl, Colossus and the Hydra Soldier.
Packaging - 9/10The latest series of Marvel Legends figures continued the slimmed down packaging design that was started with the second series of Hasbro's figures. There are multiple images of each character both on their individual cards and on an insert inside of the bubble. The back of the cards include an image of the figure and brief bio of the character with the lion's share of the space being used to show off all of the figures in the series. The overall design is attractive. It's only drawback is that the hooks used to hang the figures from pegs in stores are not very strong since the cards are made of corrugated cardboard. They did include plastic reinforcements, but they are too small to be very effective. At least the fact that there are no extremely heavy figures in this series reduces the chances of serious problems from this. It is also worth noting for variant hunters that in addition to the paint variant for Marvel Girl, there is also a variant of the variant which has the figure packaged backward to show off the Phoenix mark on her back. Good luck finding one though. According to reports from Hasbro, the backward variant was planned to be extremely limited. There were likely only around 500 produced.
Sculpting - Marvel Girl 8/10, Black Knight, Colossus & Cyclops 7/10, Captain America & Bucky 5/10, Hydra Soldier & Danger 4/10I haven't been very happy with the way the sculpting on the more recent Marvel Legends figures has been turning out. The level of detailing seems to be falling slightly. But more than just the amount of detail, the figures often seem to lack the sharpness to the details that previous Marvel Legends figures had. I'm relatively happy with most of the figures in the Brood Queen series though. Marvel Girl in particular turned out well. Unlike so many female figures, Marvel Girl's hair is part of the rest of the head sculpt and looks much better than previous figures. Her knees could use a bit more refinement as there is a considerable ridge along the knee on the lower leg when the legs are bent. The variant figure is identical in terms of the sculpt. While not surprising, it is a shame that they could not sculpt the tear in her shirt down her back. Black Knight is a character with which I am only vaguely familiar. Comparing the figure to the images at Marvel's website, the figure appears to be fairly accurate. The exact design of the chest armor appears to be a bit different, it rides a bit lower on the figure than in the images I have seen. But the difference is small enough that it is likely little more than the differences in artist's interpretations. I was expecting more detail on the figure though. A character which wears armor and chain mail is a perfect example of where intricate detail can be used to great affect. There is very little of that here, which is a shame. Cyclops is about a quarter of an inch too short, but from the waist up is an excellent sculpt. The legs, particularly the thighs are a bit off. They are too thick and slightly bent making the figure bow legged. Colossus is the only movie based figure in this series and a nice addition to my collection of X-men movie figures. He is tall enough and well proportioned. I do have two minor quibbles with him. The first is that both arms have several large marks on them from where they were cut loose from the molds, more so than any other Legends figure I can think of. The second issue has less to do with the sculpting than the plastic that was used. There are color variations in the plastic that leaves very noticeable lines across the silver areas of the figure. Captain America is a new sculpt and a significant step back in quality. The level of detail just isn't there. For instance, if you look at his belt and compare it with Bucky's belt the difference becomes obvious. On Bucky's belt you can make out notches in the belt and even the stitching on it. By contrast, Captain America's belt is just a black strip with a rectangle for the buckle. In some ways I can actually excuse the lack of detail since this is suppose to represent his early appearance and that artwork had less detail in it. But it is still a bad trend to see in the figures. His torso is very wide and not very thick which gives the figure a bit of a flat look to him. Bucky is simply the body from the Patriot figure (from the Young Avengers box set) with a new head, arms and boots. It works well for a figure which reuses so many parts. The new arms create the appearance that the shoulders slump a bit. And the head is a bit too round given the height of the figure. But those two things are minor. It's the height that is the biggest drawback. Bucky should not be taller than Captain America. Danger had the potential to be a very impressive looking figure. But much like Captain America, the level of detail just isn't there. Despite all of the open areas on the character, the figure doesn't give you much of a sense of depth like you are looking into the figure. The transitions between the the major areas of the figure such as at the shoulders, the midsection and the tops of the thighs do not blend together at all. The wing sections may look impressive, but they are far to large for the figure to handle their weight. The Hydra Soldier is one of the figures that many fans were looking forward to the most. But they are probably the worst figures of the series. The biggest issue is their size. They are just too large. They are bigger than any of the other figures in the series except Colossus. A Hydra Soldier should not look intimidating compared to the likes of Captain America. Other than that, the only other part of the sculpt I don't like is the skirt. It is made from softer material to allow more hip movement, but it doesn't take molded detail well. The holster in particular is so large that your eyes are drawn to it, the bright color doesn't help either. But it is no where near as nice looking as those that other recent figures have had such as the Doctor Doom figure from the Fantastic Four series. It is a real shame they didn't go the extra mile and include a working holster. If you hadn't noticed, there is a variant sculpt for the Hydra Soldier with an open, yelling mouth. Both head sculpts are a bit over the top for my tastes, but the variant figure looks like he is ready for his dentist to start a root canal. Still, it is nice to have a bit of variety for those that may want to have multiple Hydra Soldiers.
Paint - Marvel Girl 6/10, Captain America & Bucky 5/10, others 4/10The paint work on the Brood series is about what you would expect from a mass market line of figures. For most of the figures there isn't a lot of paint work and what there is falls short of being perfect. But major problems such as stray marks are rare. The biggest issue overall seems to have been maintaining clean lines especially on the Hydra Soldiers, but also on Cyclops Colossus. With Colossus there is also the issue with his "metallic" skin not being painted. I wouldn't mind the unpainted look if not for the inconsistency in the color of the plastic which I mentioned in the sculpting section. There is a variant or perhaps a running change for Colossus which has the "skin" painted in a brighter silver. I prefer that figure, but not enough to buy a second figure. The sloppiness on Cyclops is not a huge issue. What is a bigger issue are the areas where the painting was not done due to the articulation. When you have bright yellow piping on a dark blue costume like this, the missing areas really stand out. And in at least one area, the missing paint is completely unnecessary since the piping runs just under the joint. Personally, I would rather have the areas painted and not have them line up in some poses than left unpainted so that they always stick out. Danger received a slightly lower score not due to sloppiness, but because the paint work does so little to show off the detail that is present in the sculpt. The Black Knight should be one of the best looking figures in the series. The only problem is that he isn't black. (Or at least his armor isn't.) Just comparing the figure with his sword and it becomes apparent that the armor has gray and blue tints to it instead of truely being black. Both Bucky and Captain America have room for improvement on there paint applications. But neither have any serious issues on my figures. Marvel Girl has the best paint work of the series. as with Capt. and Bucky, there aren't any serious quality control issues on either of my figures. The yellow areas of her costume can be a bit inconsistent though. They did put a bit more effort into painting her facial features, hair and earrings though at that is worth an extra point. I would have given the variant version of Marvel Girl another point since the Phoenix mark on her back turned out so well. But the variant figure had a large area on her belt where the yellow paint either wasn't applied or rubbed off.
Articulation - Bucky 8/10, Cyclops, Captain America & Marvel Girl 7/10, Colossus 6/10, Danger & Black Knight 4/10, Hydra Soldier 3/10The overall decline in the amount of articulation since Hasbro took over the Marvel Legends line continues with the Brood Queen series. Cyclops is the best articulated of the new figures with thirty one points of articulation:
Accessories - Marvel Girl 7/10, Black Knight, Captian America & Hydra Soldier 6/10, others 0/10Only half of the figures in the Brood Queen series come with any accessories. Danger, Cyclops, Bucky and Colossus were all left empty handed. That's not a big deal since there aren't any accessories that are essential to any of those characters, but it would be nice if they had something. Surprisingly, Marvel Girl has three accessories: a necklace (not removable) and two flame accessories that fit over her hands. The necklace is nice since it probably would have been easier for them to just sculpt it on. And the flames are just icing on the cake for a figure that could easily have had nothing. Captain America comes with his shield of course. And I was pleasantly surprised to find that they did not just reuse the shield from the Patriot figure. It is very similar, but not the same. But the simple clip for this shield isn't nearly as nice as the elastic straps that where on the shields of other recent Captain America figures. Those missing straps really come into play once you realize that Captain's wrists aren't quite round which limits how the shield can be clipped to them. Black Knight has his ebony blade and shield. Neither is very impressive, but they serve their purpose. I do wish they had included a scabbard for the sword though. The Hydra Soldiers come with both a pistol and a rifle. It is nice that there are two options for arming your goons for those that want to amass an army. But both weapons seems slightly out of scale with the figures, and lacking in detail. The pistol in particular is huge, even for the over-sized Hydra Soldiers. Put them in the hands of a normal figure such as Cyclops and you would see just how big they are. I say you would see that, but since they won't fit in the hands of a normal figure it isn't an option. Both weapons are serviceable. But we have seen much better weapons made in this scale in the past.
Build-A-Figure - Brood QueenThis series of Marvel Legends figures is a bit heavy on X-men characters, and it has a build a figure to match, a Brood Queen. In case you did not know, the Brood is a race of insect like aliens in the Marvel Universe. They have tangled with the X-men many times over the years. The Brood Queen figure isn't very different from the regular Brood figure that was available from the Marvel Select line in terms of the basic design save for the addition of the wings. But she is much larger and has a considerably more detail to her sculpt. They also put a lot more work into the paint applications than any of the other figures in the series. The result is a figure that looks great. My only disappointment is that she isn't as dark as the regular Brood figure. But given that that figure was made by a different company, it isn't fair to expect them to match. The articulation on the figure is nice, but not quite great. Each leg is double jointed where it meets the body as are the front feelers which are also bendable. The neck and wings all have ball joints. Even the lower jaw is hinged. It would be really nice if all of the joints on the legs and feelers worked. But this is a reasonable compromise and doesn't creates issues supporting the weight of the figure. The Brood Queen isn't my first choice for a character to receive the build a figure treatment, but the final figure turned out well.
Value - Marvel Girl 7/10, Bucky & Captain America 5/10, Danger & Hydra Soldier 4/10, others 6/10(Add a point if completing the Brood Queen)The prices for a Marvel Legends figure jumped to $10 when Hasbro took over at the beginning of 2007. And since then, there has be a steady decline if only a slight one. Now a year and five series of figures later, the figures are not bad. But they are slipping closer and closer to being mediocre if not slightly below that in the case of Danger. While it is still worth the price to add new characters to your collection like Black Knight, Marvel Girl or Bucky, there isn't much reason to spend the coin to buy yet another Captain America figure if they can't improve on those that have already been produced. Even in the case of Cyclops, the only real draw for this figure is for those that want to complete a team of X-men based on the Astonishing X-men line-up. But it is still the Hydra Soldier which is the biggest disappointment for the series. Generic goons are something that the more obsessive collectors love to amass in great numbers. And when you have a character like the Hydra Soldier who is even listed on the back of the card as only having one power: "there are a whole lot of them", I really wanted this to be a figure that was worth dropping $20, $30, $40 or more to accumulate a whole lot of them. But it just isn't that nice of a figure. While the variant head sculpt adds some variety, I would much rather have seen a Bob the Hydra Goon figure from the Deadpool comic.
Happy Hunting:Distribution of the Marvel Legends line has improved slightly under Hasbro, at least in terms of the number of stores that carry the line. But even now, three months after they first began showing up in stores finding them is still hit or miss at best. This is mainly due to other Marvel Legends figures from the Blob, Fantastic our and even Spider-man Movie series taking up peg space. I ordered my set directly from Hasbro's web site. But after having my order delayed for a month as well as several other minor problems, I wouldn't recommend that option unless you are quite patient or if they run another promotional code that gives you a significant discount. As far as brick and mortar stores, Target, Walmart and Toys R Us all carry the line. But I have only seen the Brood Queen series in Walmart and Target. But with post Christmas resets and restocking taking place, they should be showing up more widely now. Of course there are online options too. Big Bad Toy Store is expecting them back in stock this month. Walmart also has at least part of the series available from their web site right now.