The Toy Biz/Marvel goodness continues, this time with the eighth series of Marvel Legends figures. This may well be the best series of
figures that Toy Biz has put out yet, at least until I find the Galactus series. But in the meantime series eight delivers a great
assortment of characters with two of the Avengers heavy hitters (Ultimate Captain America and Modern Iron Man), Black Widow (another
Avenger), two X-men (Storm and Iceman), a Spidey villain (Doc Ock) and the truly obscure Man-thing. And then throw in a re-release of
the Doombot chase figure and you've got a winner of a line-up.
Packaging - 8/10The clamshell packaging remains unchanged from the previous series; if it ain't broke and all that. Each figure is packaged in a large bubble along with their accessories/base and comic. They are all nicely displayed in poses that are not too neutral or unnatural looking. The included comics do an admirable job as a card front, though the bases are large enough that none of the covers are very visible. The card backs do a great job of showing off all of the figures from the series except for the chase figure. They even included images of what the variants look like which is a nice addition. The packaging isn't perfect though. For MOC collectors there is a significant risk of the "J" hook at the top bending or breaking with prolonged stress. Most of these figures weigh much less than some of the previous offerings like Juggernaut and Apocalypse so the risk should be lowered significantly. The other problem which will face those who open their figures is that the packaging is the Fort Knox of toy packages. You are not going to open these figures with your bare hands. A knife or other cutting implement is a must. And even when the clamshell is open, you may want a wire cutter to make quick work of the twist ties.
Sculpting - Black Widow 5/10, Iron Man, Storm, Doc Ock, Ice Man & Captain America 6/10, Doombot & Man-thing 8/10,It is tough to create a figure with 30+ points of articulation that still looks like the character. The mechanical style joints can quickly destroy the organic flow of any figure if done wrong. Fortunately the Marvel Legends figures usually manage to strike a decent balance. Black Widow and Doc Ock both suffer due to the articulation though Widow is certainly a great improvement over the old Elektra body. Doc Ock's tentacles are also going to be the type of thing that you will either love or hate. The traditional cylindrical tentacles and squared off claws have been replaced with more stylized segments with suction cups molded on the underside and pointed claws similar to the movie version of the character. Captain America turned out quite well. The detail of sculpt such as the chain mail texture or the folds of the gloves and boots are very well executed. But I don't care for the shoulders and neck. The height of the shoulder muscles makes the figure look like he is sulking, with his head drooping. I always envision Cap as being and extremely proud, head held high kind of character. I don't know much about the design of this version of Iron Man, but in comparing him to the images in the included poster book he seems to be fairly highly stylized, not quite on model with any of the designs. Some of the areas, the shoulders in particular show just how stylized it is. The shoulder covers can be flipped up to reveal a shoulder that would be far too small to actually contain a human being's arm. It looks too robotic. Doombot is the same figure as the Doom from both series 2 and the Fantastic Four box set. Considering this is one of the first figures made for this line, it holds up extremely well. Compared to the current crop of figures, the armor is a bit simple. Unlike more recent figures like Apocalypse who had additional details added, Doom/Doombot's armor is very simple and clean. The tunic does have more detail but is largely covered by the cape. The Doombot face is not the old school robot face, but a much more modern skull like design. Ice Man uses the same body as the second Black Costume Spider-man with a new head. The body works fairly well but lacks the slightly squared off, angular look that you would expect from a classic Ice Man. The same goes for the new head sculpt which was probably sculpted that way to match the rest of the body. Man-thing is obviously a brand new sculpt. It is certainly very detailed, but since the limit of my knowledge of Man-thing is the three pages in which he appears at the end of the comic that is included with the figure I can't say much about how accurate the sculpt is. But it looks good, or as good as a humanoid wad of swamp weed can look. Storm has a pretty strong sculpt but the cape poses a serious problem. It is sculpted for the figure to have her arms outstretched. It looks good that way, but doesn't hang right when the figure's arms are down by her sides.
Paint - Doombot 4/10, Storm 5/10 Captain America 6/10, Ice Man, Doc Ock, Iron Man & Black Widow 7/10 Man-thing 8/10There have been quite a few problems with the quality control of the paint work on the Marvel Legends line in the past. While they seem to be largely under control, they have not been completely eliminated. Doombot is the only figure with a serious problem with the quality of the paint work. Unlike the original Doom which had just a black wash on his cape, the Doombot had its entire cape painted black. But the figure was packaged before the paint dried properly. As a result the paint stuck to the plastic bubble in several places and pulled off the cape revealing the dark green material underneath. Storm is very well painted with no serious problems with the execution, though the gold trim is a bit light in a few places. The real draw back is that the figure is the wrong color. This version of Storm's costume is not supposed to be black. Black Widow, Iron Man and Ice Man all have an unusual pearlized finish to the paint. It works well for Ice Man, and is passable for the Widow, but looks odd when used for Iron Man's armor. Otherwise all three look great. Doc Ock is a similar case, with a mix of flat and semi gloss paint finishes. The orange areas of his costume have a completely flat finish while the green areas have a slight sheen. When you then add the tentacles which have a moderate to heavy black wash on them, it is an odd combination, but doesn't have an overly negative effect on the overall appearance. Captain America probably has the most complicated paint job but mine turned out quite well. There is a tiny amount of sloppiness around the mask line, but it is only visible when looked at in extreme detail. Man-thing has the nicest looking paint job of the eight. This is due in part to the fact that most of the color comes from the plastic itself and the paint is limited to just a black wash to bring out the details.
Articulation - Doom 6/10, others 9/10According to the packaging, Storm and Doombot have 27 points of articulation. Man-thing has 37. Black Widow and Ice Man have 40. Captain has 42; Iron Man has 44. And Doc Ock tips the scales at 61 POA. But those numbers are actually low since many of the joints such as the hips and shoulders are two joints in one. I've already run down the basic articulation for a Marvel Legends figures several times in past reviews, so I won't repeat my self here. Captain, Man-thing, Ice Man and Iron Man have all the usual joints plus they now have individually articulated fingers. Iron Man has the distinction of having two sets of shoulder joints. There are the usual rotating & hinged joint where the torso and shoulders meet and then there is another joint of the same type under the shoulder armor where the arm attached to the shoulder. Doc Ock is a fairly standard Marvel Legends figure as far as articulation for the figure itself. He lacks the torso hinge and adds rotating thumbs though. But what really runs up the articulation count are his tentacles. Each one has seven additional joints: two hinges for each 'finger' and a rotating base. And of course, the tentacles themselves are bendable. Doombot and Storm both have a relatively low number of joints compared to the other ML figures, but the impact on their range of movement is limited. In the Doombot's case, the missing joints are the extra knee and elbow hinges and the torso hinge. Storm is a similar case. She lacks toe or hand joints but does add an additional hinge to the shoulders to allow them to be raised for her traditional arms-spread, flying poses. Finally we come to Black Widow whose articulation is going to be of the most interest to quite a few people. Toy Biz's previous Female ML bodies have been less than stellar, especially the hip joints. First there was Elektra and her mid-thigh hinge that made it look like her legs hade been snapped in half. Then there was Phoenix whose hips looked more like an artist's armature. Black Widow finally manages to deliver a well designed hip that still manages to offer a wide range of motion. They still need to improve on the neck articulation to do a better job of hiding the hinge. Using a ball joint similar to Storm's would be a much better option. Over all though, the articulation on the Marvel Legends figures just keeps getting better, and not just because they are adding more joints. Toy Biz seems to be well on their way to eliminating their previous problems with loose joints. Not only is the quality control generally higher, they have also begun using ratcheting hinge joints where possible to make it even easier for the figures to hold a pose.
Accessories - Man-thing 3/10, Black Widow, Captain America & Ice Man 6/10, Iron Man 7/10, Doc Ock & Doombot 8/10, Storm 9/10Series eight continues with the Marvel Legends standard assortment of comics and display bases for each figure but this time adds an additional bonus, a Marvel VS system collectible card game card. I won't waste time going into great detail about each one but the cards seem like a rather silly addition in general. You get a single card and nothing else. No instructions on how to play or use the card, no info on the game in general, so unless you happen to both collect the figures and already play the game they are going to be pretty worthless. Series eight is the last series of Marvel Legends figures to include display bases, at least for a while. And Toy Biz apparently wanted to go out on a strong note.
Man-thing is the weakest offering of the series for accessories. His display base, while well sculpted, is far too small too reasonably display the figure on it. And while it does have the bracket sculpted onto the back to hang it on the wall, it would look ridiculous if it were mounted to a vertical surface. His comic is a bit of a let down as well. The comic is Ultimate Marvel Team-up #10 which tells the story of the Ultimate Lizard. Man-thing doesn't even appear until the pages of the book and then only for four pages, though it does have a little more value since I just bought the Ultimate Lizard figure recently.
Black Widow comes with a large, round, Black Widow symbol base and a clear, adjustable support stand and a copy of Daredevil #81. The base looks nice, but is unnecessarily large, a major drawback for people with already crowded shelves. The comic is a decent choice even though it focuses more on Daredevil than Black Widow.
Doombot is one of the few figures with a traditional accessory, a small pistol. It looks nice and is light enough to be held easily in the figure's right hand. It can also be stored in the holster on his right hip, but it tends to warp the barrel. There is also the removable mask which fits snugly. His display base is a section of a castle turret. While it looks great, it really should have been larger. There is just barely enough room for the figure to stand on it and if it is mounted to the wall there won't be enough room for the cape behind him. His comic is issue #4 of Marvel Age Spider-man. Once again, it is a great choice of comics as it features both Dr. Doom and Doombot prominently while showing just how the Doombots are used by the not-so-good doctor.
Doc Ock comes with one of the most interesting bases of the line so far, a tangled mass of Spider-man's webbing in which to 'trap' the figure. There are pegs on the base for the figure to stand on, or there are two tall protrusions that the figure can be clamped onto to suspend the figure in the air and to hold the figure up when the base is mounted on the wall. The addition of a small canister marked radioactive caught in the webbing is a nice touch too. His comic is Marvel Age Spider-man #2 which is the Marvel Age telling of Doc Ock's origin.
Ice Man comes with yet another addition to the collection of damaged Sentential part bases, this time it is the left hand covered in ice. There actually isn't much of the hand visible, just the fingers. The rest is ice that rises up to form a platform for the figure to stand on. They even included a protrusion of ice coming up that the figure's hands can be stuck into to make it look like he is forming the ice. Very cool but a bit low; the figure needs to be positioned in an extreme crouch to use it. But the base has a major drawback; it doesn't work well at all when mounted to a wall. The platform only works when it is horizontal. But the platform can be removed to mount it on the wall, but there aren't any pegs to hold the figure that way. His comic is X-men #18. It is always nice to see some of the classic comics being reprinted. And this is a good choice of issues since it focuses on Ice Man as he battles Magneto alone.
Storm has the usual base plus a comic. I think her base is one of the best of the entire line. It is a storm cloud base which rises to form a tornado on which the figure can stand. A few lightning bolts add a bit more visual appeal. What is unusual and very cool about it is that the tornado is mounted at an angle and can rotate to work whether the base is mounted horizontally or on a wall. Her comic is The All-New, All-Different X-men #96. It is another great choice of a classic comic which features Storm prominently. It would have been a little better if they had included an issue that actually had Storm in the same costume as the figure though.
You can't really have a Captain America figure with out his shield. Despite being the same shield as the one that came with the first ML Captain America figure his is probably the best executed version of Captain America's shield. It is well proportioned to the figure and comes with both elastic straps and a clip to attach it to the figure. I prefer the clip since it holds the shield firmly in place. In theory, you can use the straps to store the shield on the figure's back, but his thicker build means it doesn't work well. His base is a large version of Captain's shield with an eagle on top of it. It has two pegs to hold the figure. It also has the option of using one of the clear adjustable supports, which is of course included. Unfortunately Captain doesn't come with a comic, but a poster book instead. Since this is the modern version of Captain, the poster book of course focuses entirely on Captain America as he has appeared over the last decade or so. I would much rather have a comic though.
Iron Man comes with a removable mask, display base and poster book. As with the masks from other Marvel Legends figures, the mask fits well, with little chance of falling off. The display base is similar to many of the past bases like the first Wolverine and Hulk, with a U shaped back and a fairly shallow base. This time it is an armored wall, sculpted to look as though Iron Man just melted through it with various bits of Ultron clones strewn about the floor, leaving just enough room for the figure to stand. Like Captain America, Iron Man has a poster book rather than a comic. And once again it focuses almost entirely on the character as he appeared for the last few years. And once again, I much rather have the comic. After all, I know what he looks like, I've got his figure right there in front of me.
Value - 8/10There really isn't a weak figure in this wave. Though individual interest, or lack there of, is certain to affect their perceived value, for the $8 that most stores charge for these they are great toys.
Happy Hunting:Ok, there had to be a catch, and this is it. Finding the Marvel Legends figures is hit or miss at best and an exasperating nightmare at times. In the past, the problem was due largely to the case ratios which often had just one of several of the figures in each case version as many as four of other figures. That seems to have subsided for the most part. Captain and Iron Man are packed more heavily than the others, but I've had little trouble seeing all of them except Doombot (who is of course one of the hated chase figures) on the pegs multiple times. The biggest challenge to finding them now is just finding a store that has them in stock. Wave Eight wasn't ordered in large numbers by retailers it seems, possibly since they were not going to ship until right around Christmas. And at the same time, many stores are still clearing out old stock of waves six and seven. An on top of all of that, series nine (the Galactus series) is shipping already. So if you do find a Marvel Legends figure on a peg that you want, buy it because it probably won't be there the next time. As for where you can find them, all of the major retailers sell the Marvel Legends line including Wal-mart, Target and Toys R Us. These all came from TRU since they were the first ones in my area to receive series eight. There are also more online options than you can shake a stick at. Amazon.com is one of the few that sell the figures individually for a reasonable price. But finding them in stock is very hit or miss, mostly miss.