The bad guy. The villain. The nemesis. Call them what you want, but it's really hard to have a great hero without an
equally great bad guy. Unfortunately they rarely get equal respect when it comes to action figures. But the powers
that be at Toy Biz decided to buck that trend with the thirteenth series of Marvel Legends figures. Thirteen really will be
bad luck for heroes because this series is all villains. Abomination, Blackheart, Lady Deathstrike, Pyro, Loki and the
Green Goblin, there is someone to terrorize just about any hero. Even the build-a-figure is a villain: Onslaught.
Packaging - 8/10Another series of Marvel Legends and more of the same in terms of packaging. By now most fans are going to be well aquatinted with the line's clamshell packages. The entire figure is encased in plastic. It does help to protect the figures, but I've noticed an increased tendency for the packaging to be damaged. This is particularly common with the larger figures such as Abomination whose weight tends to bend the hook if not break it off entirely. There is one change from previous series. The front of each card now has a backdrop printed on it which, combined with the included stands, can be used when displaying the figures. It is a nice idea. And I'm glad to see that they are trying to do something to replace the display bases. But they have their drawbacks. They are too narrow to display more than one, possibly two figures. But they are too large to just use for one figure when you have limited shelf space. Otherwise, all of the elements of the packaging remain the same.
Sculpting - Pyro 5/10, Lady Deathstrike 6/10, Loki 9/10, others 8/10I've been very happy with the sculpts that Toy Biz has been turning out in recent years. And for the most part these figures show their consistent improvement. For most of the figures I have only basic nit picks. The Green Goblin for example is easily the best Green Goblin yet. But he seems to be slightly thinner than the recent Hobgoblin. I would prefer the bulkier arms. I was not lucky enough to find the last Abomination figure that was part of the Hulk Classics and then Spider-man two packs. But this one is obviously a new sculpt and much larger. Given the larger Hulk figures that we have gotten, the size increase is a welcome change even if that technically puts him out of scale. (His profile lists his height as 6'8" but in six inch scale, the eight inch tall figure would be eight scale feet tall.) The only thing that I don't like about the figure is the trunks. They don't have the same level of detail as the rest of the figure and the legs are ill defined. Based on the coloring, I assume they are suppose to be jockeys with short legs. But there is no indication of a cuff. Had they changed the color of the ball joints of the hips they could just as easily have been part of the legs. Blackheart is an interesting sculpt with a considerable amount of texturing to keep it from looking dull. The only thing that I don't like is the tail. It sticks straight out from the rear of the figure making it extremely prone to tipping over. Loki is the best figure of the series. Based on the cover art from the included comic, the fairly complex costume is rendered quite accurately and with considerable detail. The belt is off, too small. And there is no strap across the chest. But those are minor concessions. If the figure has any real drawback it is the weight of the cape which pulls the figure backwards. You will need either a stand or something to prop up the figure if you want him to stay upright. Pyro is a wholly unimpressive figure. While the design is right, or at least close enough to be believable that he wore the costume at some point. But the level of detail just isn't there. The head sculpt and backpack are passable, but the rest of the figure is just dull. There is a tiny amount of texturing but that's it. When you compare him to Green Goblin or Loki, it becomes even more evident. Lady Deathstrike is a similar case. The hat and arms have a reasonable amount of detail, though it isn't as sharp on the arms as it is on other figures. The rest of the figure has the basic form, but no detail work. The face sculpt doesn't fit the character well either. It is a little rounder than I would have preferred and too calm. Unless Wolverine's corpse was included as an accessory, I wouldn't expect this character to look quite this serene.
Of course, it wouldn't be Marvel Legends without a chase figure or two. In this case there are three. Abomination has a variant figure with an alternate, melted face. Green Goblin has an unmasked variant with Norman Osborn's face exposed and his mask in his hand. Loki's variant has a different head sculpt with an open mouth and smaller crown.
Paint - Pyro 4/10, Lady Deathstrike 5/10, Loki & Green Goblin 9/10, others 8/10Pyro is painted the same way he was sculpted, minimally. Beyond the head, there is almost no paint work at all. And then to make matters worse, the red plastic for the collar has several dark spots. They don't appear to be paint, just discolorations in the plastic. Lady Deathstrike is a little better but still pretty basic. There are black washes on the arms to highlight the detail of the sculpts. But the paint on the legs is limited to a light wash. The spaces in the vest have some paint to highlight them. The paint work on Blackheart, Abomination and Green Goblin is simple but well done. Blackheart has some subtle shading and red for the eyes, but that's it. I already mentioned the trunks for Abomination under the sculpting, but it is an issue that could have been easily handled with paint too. There are two things that do bug me about the paint. The first is that the wash on the head is quite a bit darker than the rest of the figure. The second is that the entire figure seems to be a lighter shade of green and then completely painted. But coverage on the joints isn't perfect. When the knee, elbow and hand joints are bent the lighter color is very evident. There's not much to say about the Green Goblin. There is no detail work or washes on the body. Even the face is limited to the eyes and teeth. They could have done more, but what they did turned out quite well. Loki has quite a bit more paint work due to the more complex costume design. There are minor problems with the lines, but nothing that is very noticeable. I would like to have seen them paint the seams on the underside of the cape.
Articulation - Blackheart 6/10, Abomination 7/10, others 8/10Green Goblin and Loki are listed on the packaging as having 34 points of articulation. That is counting the hips and shoulders as one joint each. (I would count that as 38 points.) The articulation includes:
Accessories - Green Goblin 8/10, Loki 7/10, Pyro 3/10, others 5/10This series of figures is a bit lighter on accessories than normal. All six figures have some basic extras included: a stand to hold up the backer card for displays, a Marvel Vs. System trading card and a comic book.
Loki and Green Goblin are the only figures to come with a traditional accessory. Loki has just one, his sword. It looks nice and has inscriptions on both sides. But I wish they had included a sheath for it as well. Gobby comes with his glider, a stand and his bag of tricks. You couldn't really have a Goblin figure without those things. But the glider and stand are very plain. They aren't even close to being as nice as the one we got with the recent Hobgoblin figure. Not having any accessories isn't a problem for Abomination, Blackheart or Deathstrike as they don't really have anything that is essential for the character. But Pyro has no flames! With all the flame accessories they have made for the various Human Torch figures, they could have at least recycled something.
Build-A-Figure - OnslaughtOnslaught, the build-a-figure that nobody wanted. In case you were not aware, this series was initially planned without a build-a-figure. Instead each figure was suppose to come with a second henchmen figure. The idea of being able to collect an army of AIM scientists or a squad of Hand Ninjas had a lot of fans excited. Sadly it was not to be due to costs. (Then, Toy Biz decided to further rub it in and showed us the henchmen figures we would never get at the San Diego Comic Con this year.) So instead we have Onslaught, the personification of the combined evil in both Professor X and Magneto. Then to make the figure more interesting, they went with a version of the character that didn't show up until very late in the Onslaught story. (I have the entire series in trade paperbacks and I still don't recognize him.) But if the point was to keep him from being dull, it worked. The figure lacks the impressive size of the previous BAF's. It's just a hair larger than Abomination. But there is more detail on this sculpt than all of the other figures in the series combined. But the bulk make the figure very top heavy and prone to tipping over. The paint work is equally impressive with subtle black washes used to highlight all of the details of the sculpt. The articulation is impressive in number, 48 points of articulation. But it has limitations. The shoulders in particular are a problem. They have the standard shoulder joints. But they are incredibly tight, too tight. I tried the old trick of putting the figure in the freezer to stiffen and shrink the plastic. It helped, but I still had to resort to using a vice grips to finish freeing up the joints. And even when they were freed up, the range of motion is pretty minimal and the arms are more prone to being pulled off at the shoulder than the joint actually moving. It's not a bad figure, but not the must kind of must have figure that the previous build-a-figures have been.
Value - Pyro 4/10, Lady Deathstrike 5/10, Blackheart 6/10, others 9/10 (add one point if you are buying all six)Green Goblin is a must have figure from this wave and easily the best version of Spider-man's greatest foe in any of Toy Biz's lines. Only the glider keeps it from being perfect. And $9 for the Marvel Legends version of Abomination is a much better deal than tracking down the previous version on the secondary market. Loki is just a nice figure. And a worthy adversary to the recent Thor figure. Blackheart is a decent figure of a more obscure character, but it does have some issues with its articulation. Pyro and Deathstrike are mediocre figures, but are worth picking up for X-men fans.
Happy Hunting:The Onslaught wave of figures has been out for a while now. I found them shortly after they began to hit retail stores back at the beginning of June. (I'm behind on my reviews, so sue me.) But the distribution has been hit or miss. I snagged a full set from Toys R Us when they first hit the pegs and another collector was helping himself to another full set. I've yet to find another full set on the pegs. With Toy Biz's contract coming up at the end of the year and two more waves to get to market before that happens, stores seem to be trying to clear out any old stock before the holiday season hits. Add to that the fact that this wave hit retail at almost the exact same time as the Wal-mart exclusive (in the U.S. any way) Giant Man wave which resulted in the largest toy retailer all but skipping this series and you have a series that can be as hard to catch as the villains which it includes.