The backlog of toys to be reviewed continues. This time it is the House of M box set from the Marvel Legends line. For
those don't know, the House of M was a story line from a few years ago where the Scarlet Witch sent many of the heroes
from the Marvel Universe into an alternate reality. While the story is long since over, some of the character designs
managed to strike enough of a cord to get an action figure. We have already received House of M based versions of both
Wolverine and Spider-man. Now
we get to add Iron man, the Hulk, the Human Torch and the Thing to the list of House of M figures thanks to Toy Biz's final
Marvel Legends box set.
Packaging - 7/10This box set come in much the same packaging as the previous ones. It is a large window box with all four figures displayed inside. The box itself seems to be quite sturdy which is good given the heft of these figures. And the figures are easily visible inside. But they do seem to be a bit cramped inside. I am also surprised at the general lack of graphics on the box. Aside from the various logos and character names which are repeated on every panel, the only images of the actual characters are some smaller images on the back. But graphics aside, the packaging is fairly attractive. But be prepared for quite a few twist ties.
Sculpting - 8/10The sculpting work on this set is terrific, particularly when you consider that Toy Biz had little hope of being able to reuse the new sculpts. The It is nearly perfect. The slouching pose and face sculpt capture the emotion of character. Even the articulation is integrated into the sculpt well. The Inhuman Torch is a close second for sculpting. The only qualm I have with the Torch is the way the wings are mounted to the back. They just stick out from the back with no serious attempt made to blend them into the body. Iron Man seems to be a fan favorite. I like the design of the character and it is the only one I'm familiar with. But the figure leave me a bit flat. It looks more like a hodge podge of parts shaped like person. On the plus side, with the exception of the hip joints, the articulation is well integrated. Based on the spring built into the waist, I suspect Hulk is a reused mold, but I don't recognize it. Of course that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with it. But aside from the head sculpt, there's little difference in the sculpting between this and the many other Hulk figures.
Paint - 8/10The paint work on my set is very good. There are no issues with sloppiness, paint runs or smudges. And once again the It is the stand out of the set. The paint wash makes the detail of the sculpt stand out. But there is a slight difference in the finish on the body versus the limbs of the figure that doesn't look quite right. The Inhuman Torch has a lot of paint applications, most of which consists of washes over the limbs and wings. The black paint for the body and face is very clean and a lot of contrast for the figure. The paint work on the Hulk is more or less the defining characteristic of this version of the Hulk. And they look pretty good in the default position. But since so many of them go over points of articulation, most of the time they look somewhat random. Finally there is Iron Man whose paint work is a mess. There is a mix of finishes and an extremely heavy wash that just make the figure look dirty.
Articulation - 10/10All four figures have the normal articulation you would expect from a Marvel Legends figure and then some. Thirty eight points of articulation for Hulk, thirty nine for the It, forty for the Inhuman Torch and fifty for Iron Man. Being bulkier characters, the Hulk and It lack double jointed elbows and have fairly stiff torsos. But they make up for that with added articulation for the fingers. It has two joints for each finger and a hinged thumb. And happily all of the articulation is nice and tight to allow the figures to hold poses easily. I did have one stuck joint on the It figure's hip. But a quick trip to the freezer solved that issue.
Accessories - 5/10The House of M set comes up a bit short when it comes to the accessories. The one major accessory is Iron Man's backpack jets / gattling gun. The massive backpack adds some needed bulk to the figure to make it look more imposing. But when seen from the front, it lacks detail. It just looks like two massive bricks hanging off of the figure. As with previous box sets, there are also some stands included for the figures. The set has two of the clear adjustable stands for the flying figures and then two large round stands with House of M logo decals on them. But both the Hulk and It can easily stand without any stands. But they do allow Iron Man and the Inhuman Torch to stand up instead of flying. The final accessory is the biggest disappointment, the House of M Handbook. What's wrong with it? Well to start with, it never really explains what the House of M story line was really about. If you are a Marvel Comics reader, that may not matter to you. But if you don't know, this handbook is going to do nothing to clear it up for you. The second problem, is a serious lack of images. Most of the book consists of a head shot of a character and written description. Of course, there is almost no difference between the faces of the House of M versions of each character and the regular version. So you really just have a lot of text that does nothing to explain what the House of M really was.
Value - 8/10The retail price on the House of M set is $35. If you were lucky, a few stores had it available for $30. Considering that a normal Marvel Legends figure is $8 to $9, $35 for four figures isn't unreasonable but not a really great deal. While I do like being able to add some more House of M figures to my collection, there isn't any sense of completion to it either. You don't have a complete team. You don't even have the biggest players from the story. That's not the fault of any of the figures, but it is going to leave some collectors, particularly completists, feeling unsatisfied.
Happy Hunting:The House of M set never saw very wide distribution. I found my set at Toys R Us here in Madison. And they did show up in limited quantities in other stores. But with the change in the Marvel toy license at the end of 2006, old Toy Biz products have been cleared from the shelves of most stores. Check Toys R Us or KB Toys if you have one locally. Or you can order the set from Toys R Us' website.