It's official, Toy Biz is out to take all of my money. I barely finished opening and reviewing series eight of Marvel
Legends when series nine arrived. But if I'm going to the poor house, at least I'll do it with a smile on my face because
these are some of Toy Biz's best figures yet. Series nine includes Professor X, Nightcrawler, Dr. Strange, War Machine,
Deathlok, First Appearance Hulk (with green variant that has a different head sculpt) and Bullseye (with angry head and
dirtier paint application). It is a nice selection of some more obscure characters. Oh, and there is a big, hungry, purple
guy in there too.
Packaging - 8/10Break out the pocket knives because the clam shell packaging is back once again. But why mess with what works? The figures are all fairly well displayed. Deathlok and Nightcrawler are in rather unusual poses to accommodate the piece of Galactus that is hidden at the bottom of the bubble. It actually works well for Nightcrawler since his character is usually shown crouching or leaping. But it seems out of place for Deathlok. Less of the contents of the bubble are visible with the figures in this wave due to the large image of Galactus on the front of each package. But this is advantageous as it generally helps to hide the parts of Galactus. The comics make a nice background. The back of the cards has all of the usual information: character's ability profile, a brief bio and images of all the figures in the series, including Galactus and the variants. I have noticed that the ability profiles seem a bit arbitrary for some of these characters. War Machine for instance has the same rating for strength as Nightcrawler, Dr Strange and Bullseye and is actually listed as less durable than Bullseye.
Sculpting - Professor X 5/10, War Machine & Deathlok 7/10, Hulk & Dr. Strange 8/10, Bullseye & Nightcrawler 9/10Toy Biz has really stepped it up when it comes to sculpting, especially for a line that incorporates so much articulation. Professor X is the only one I'm truly disappointed in, which is due primarily from the reuse of the movie version of Professor X as a base. The body is too slim for a truly comic accurate figure. And the suit is far too modern in its style to fit well with the rest of this line. But the head isn't quite right either. The cheeks and jaw in particular seem to be too narrow. Meanwhile Nightcrawler seems to be just the opposite. The body is all but perfect. But his jaw and nose seem too pronounced. Doctor Strange is very well done. The only detail which I can see that is missing is the bottom of the light blue cross on his chest which should extend to the bottom of his shirt. But his sculpt does have several limitations. His middle and ring fingers are permanently bent, at least partially. It works well for his conjuring hand gesture, but out of place for a more neutral pose. The cape is also limiting. I'm very glad they went with a sculpted cape verses using cloth, but even with the softer rubber like substance used it still can only flex so far from the default position. War Machine is slightly off model compared to the version shown in the comic that is included. But the changes are minor, mostly to better range of movement from the joints. Specifically, the body and shoulders appear to be the Silver Centurion Iron Man mold with a new pad over the top. But where it should wrap down around the shoulder it sticks out and slightly up to allow the arms to move. This makes War Machine look a little like he is wearing football pads. The center chest section should extend all the way down to the belt which it doesn't quite do. Bullseye is a fairly simple figure design and it turned out quite well. The only improvement I would like to see is the belt. It rides too high, slightly above the waist. Again, this is done due to the position of the waist joint and it is still better than the X-men Classics Cyclops which looked like he didn't have a crotch. But ideally the belt should be lower and the rotating waist joint moved up above the belt. I don't know much about Deathlok, but from what I saw in the included comic it looks quite accurate. In fact, he would be one of my favorites in the series if they had just sculpted the hands to be able to hold his gun. As it is, it has to be connected to a peg on the right hand and doesn't line up properly with the hand when it is. I'm also not sure if I like the screaming mouth though. First Appearance Hulk turned out very well. He's perhaps my favorite Hulk figure so far. The squared off head is certainly Kirby's style. The body is actually a bit too muscular. In the first issue the Hulk was drawn as an extremely large and strong man but not as beefed up as he was in later issues. But in the end, with the exception of Professor X, these are all minor quibbles and the six figures make great additions to an ever growing Marvel army. And even Xavier isn't a bad figure; it just doesn't make a very good comic book version.
Paint - Dr. Strange & Bullseye 7/10, others 8/10Toy Biz finally seems to be getting the quality control of the paint work under control. That or I was very lucky because the paint on all of my figures turned out well. There is the problem of the bottom part of the cross on Dr. Strange's chest not being painted. And the factory missed painting the top band of Bulleyes' gloves white. But that is still minor compared to some of the problems I have seen with Marvel Legends figures in the past.
Articulation - Dr Strange, Hulk & War Machine 7/10, Bullseye, Professor X & Deathlok 9/10, Nightcrawler 10/10Marvel Legends continue to be some of the best articulated figures on the market today. The packaging lists each figure as having between thirty three and forty four points of articulation. But those numbers are actually a bit low since Toy Biz usually counts the shoulder and hip joints as just one joint when they are really two joints in one, a hinge and a rotating joint. Nightcrawler for instance is listed as having forty four points of articulation, but by my count he has forty seven plus the bendy tail for a total of forty eight. The basic articulation for one of the figures includes the following:
First Appearance Hulk is one of the least poseble of the bunch with forty points of articulation. He loses the calf joints and the second double elbow joints but adds separately jointed thumbs, index fingers and a triple jointed torso. (See the Galactus description) Professor X actually has fewer joints than FA Hulk. He has most of the standard articulation except for the ankle swivels and torso joint. But his thinner physique still allows for a good range of motion. Also of note, this version of the Professor is capable of standing. The leg joints were not made excessively loose on purpose as the Movie versions seem to have been. Dr Strange is in the same boat, lacking the ankle swivels or torso joint. But he has an added encumbrance in that the slightly puffy sleeves don't allow his arms to be positioned straight down at his sides, but you generally can't see that under the cape any way. War Machine has a total of forty three points of articulation. He has the standard thirty eight, though the waist joint is actually a ball joint while the torso joint is the rotating joint, plus two additional shoulder joints to allow the shoulders to move forward. The extra shoulder joints are irrelevant though since the shoulder pad makes their use all but impossible. His shoulder mounted weapons add the final three joints with a hinge mount for the rocket pack and rotating mount and barrels for the gattling gun. Deathlok has forty one joints, adding an extra rotating joint above the torso hinge and hinges to move the shoulders up to the standard design. But the extra joints don't help much since the backpack keeps the shoulders from being raised very far and the extra torso joint is redundant. It is nice for posing though as the turning of the body can be more gradual over the length of the torso. Bullseye is the second most articulated figure of the series with forty six joints. Six of those extra joints come from each finger having a separate joint. (but not the thumbs.) The final two joints are swivels where the shoulders meet the chest to allow the arms to back or forward, and for once the sculpt doesn't interfere with the added joint. (Oh, and yes, Bullseye can flip the bird at Daredevil.) Finally there is the winner of the most flexible prize for series nine: Nightcrawler. On top of the basic thirty six joints, the Elf has six additional hinges in his feet, the second rotating torso joint like Deathlok, the bendy tail and two hinged fingers on each hand. The toe joints in particular are a nice touch since the double jointed toes and heel claw almost allow the figure to truly wrap his feet around items. This is great for hanging poses.
Accessories - War Machine 10/10, Deathlok 8/10, Professor 2/10, others 7/10In terms of the accessories for series nine, it was the best of lines. It was the worst of lines. Series nine marks the end of the display bases for the Marvel Legends figures, at least for the foreseeable future. While they weren't always the greatest and sometimes consumed too much space, I generally liked the display bases. And the ones that were wall mountable were especially nice. But in case you missed the numerous references to a certain tall purple guy in the review thus far, Toy Biz has provided a substitute that may well be better than the original. More on him later. What you are left with for most of the figures is just the comic for an accessory. Fortunately the choices for the comics are on par if not better than with the last few series. First Appearance Hulk comes with The Incredible Hulk vol. 1 #1 of course. Bullseye comes with Daredevil vol. 1 #132. Dr. Strange comes with the first four Dr. Strange stories from Strange Tales vol 1 #110 through #115. Nightcrawler is the only figure to come with a poster book this series which is strange considering how many issues in which he has appeared. I would think they could find one or two that could have been reprinted. Professor X comes with The Uncanny X-men vol.1 #117 which is a great choice for a Prof. X centric story. Unfortunately his other accessories, a cerebro helmet and his wheelchair, leave much to be desired. The helmet is actually pretty nice and fits well. It is Toy Biz's decision to reuse the wheelchair from the movies that disappoints me. I wouldn't mind the reuse of the movie version body had we gotten a chair that was accurate to the comics. As it stands, it feels like you are stuck rebuying the movie figure just to get his Galactus part. Deathlok comes with a reprint of Deathlok vol. 1 #3 and his gun. (The gun is actually permanently attached to the figure though. The gun is okay and looks accurate to the comic, but as I mentioned earlier, it isn't properly designed to be held by the figure. I also think that the plain black rubber hose used to connect the gun to his chest is too bland. Finally there is War Machine who not surprisingly comes with a veritable arsenal. On top of a reprint of Iron Man vol. 1 #281 (the introduction of the War Machine armor) and the removable face mask, War Machine has five little flames that can plug into the figure for his jet boots, the palm repulser rays and gattling gun muzzle, a string of bullets to plug into the gattling gun and another piece to clip onto the missile pack that has three of the missiles flying out of a cloud of smoke. Plus, it is the only figure in the series to have a display base, the clear adjustable one that also came with Vision and Deadpool. Put that all together and Mr. Rhodes is easily the biggest bang for your buck in terms of accessories for the series.
GalactusAt last we come to the big guy, the planet eater, the devourer of worlds, Galactus. For months fans heard that the Marvel Legends line was taking a new direction starting with series nine and this is it. Each of the figures in the series comes with one piece of a Galactus figure.
While I miss the stands, I love the build-a-figure idea for figures we wouldn't get any other way. But it does have its drawbacks. The Galactus pieces are a fair if not better trade for the stands if you are buying all of the figures in a series. But for those who want to just pick and choose which figures they buy, they loose the stands in favor of dismembered body parts. Worse yet, if you just want the build-a-figure, you end up with seven figures you didn't want otherwise. The final and perhaps biggest problem is with the case breakdown. Since Marvel Legends, like most figures, are shipped in quantities of a dozen, at least two figures have to be short packed. So even in a perfect world, not everyone can get all of the pieces of Galactus. Toy Biz has addressed this by offering two different case assortments though. And the next series is slated to have the same piece with both short packed figures, so a case will have two complete sets of build-a-figure parts. (That wasn't possible for Galactus due to the size of his head.)
Value - Professor X 5/10, FA Hulk 7/10, War Machine 10/10, others 9/10
At most discount stores, the Marvel Legends line runs between $7 and $9 per figure or about $56 for a set. For seven regular
figures and a large figure like Galactus who would probably retail for close to $20 alone, that's a great deal. Even resorting
to online ordering you should be able to find a set for around $12 per figure or $85 total. That's still not too bad. But as
individual figures, the lose of the display stand for random body part could really hurt the value.