The Nemesis series of Marvel Legends figures that came out a couple of months ago may have been the last full series of figures planned for the
immediate future, but Hasbro does have one last offering for fans for this year, another series of two packs. Following up on the
Wolverine/Forge, Ultimate Nick Fury & Captain America, Elektra/Ronin and Reed Richards/The Thing packs from the beginning of the year, this series
offers a set of Skrull and Kree soldiers, a new Nick Fury and Hand Ninja and Iron Man with Maria Hill of S.H.I.E.L.D. There are also three variants
available as well. The Iron Man set includes a Stealth Armor version of Iron Man. The Nick Fury set swaps out Nick Fury for Dum Dum Dugan figure
and includes a white Hand Ninja. The final variant does away with the alien soldiers in favor of a Sue Storm and Human Torch figure painted in classic colors
to match the previously released set of Reed and the Thing. So it looks like these may be the last Marvel Legends figures I buy for a long while.
Packaging - 8/10The packaging hasn't changed from the previous two packs. Each pair is displayed in a large bubble along with their accessories. The cardboard backer then wraps around the front and sides to form a rudimentary box while still leaving most of the front and all of the top and bottom panels exposed. The sides panels have two large comic images of each character. The back panels have a large photo of each figure and a paragraph describing each character's role in the Marvel Universe. Overall the packaging is simple yet visually interesting. They do a great job of both showing off the toys and tying them into their comic roots. The only real down side is that the cardboard material isn't very sturdy, and with so many exposed edges, it is very easy to damage.
Sculpting - Dugan, Kree, Maria Hill & Sharon Carter 9/10, others 8/10I certainly hope that this is not the end of the Marvel Legends line. But if it is, they are certainly going out on a high note. This is probably due in part to the fact that Hasbro has a considerable back catalog of existing sculpts from which to reuse parts. And reuse parts they did. The Human Torch is an identical sculpt to the Human Torch from the Ares series which was itself the same body sculpt of the Johnny Storm from the Fantastic Four series. The Hand Ninjas use the same body as Ronin from the previous series of two packs but with a new head sculpt just as the Invisible Woman is a reuse of the same body used for the Fantastic Four Series figure with a new head. The Skrull Warrior is a straight reuse of the Super Skrull sculpt. The Kree Soldier uses the generic male body that Hasbro has been using since their second series with Yellow Jacket and Quicksilver. The only sculpts which I cannot readily identify as being recycled are the male and female SHIELD figures and Iron Man. (Though I suspect that the body used by Fury and Dugan is one of Toy Biz's.) But I don't have any real issue with reusing parts as long as the final product turns out well.
Of the eight different bodies used, my favorite is the male SHIELD soldier body used for Dum Dum Dugan. While I don't know the character well, the bulky works well for him. And the use of separate pieces for the holsters and arm strap work better than if they had been integrated into the body sculpt. I do think that the body is a bit too bulky for Nick Fury. The female SHIELD body used for Maria Hill and Sharon Carter turned out well as well. They are slimmer and have fewer additions than the male bodies. But the small little touches such as the straps around their shoulders and treaded boots add enough detail to avoid just being a generic female. I didn't think that I would like the Hand Ninjas since the Ronin body is more elaborate than the generic Hand Ninja should be. But just by adding the new head sculpt, the sculpt works well enough as a generic ninja to be acceptable. The Kree Soldier was another surprise. I haven't been a fan of that body sculpt in the past. But adding a few accent pieces like the shoulder piece and belt are enough to give it the extra visual interest it needs. Of course, being that it is on what is suppose to be a generic Kree warrior helps as well. The Skrull warrior is a nice sculpt for a Super Skrull. But it certainly isn't a classic looking Skrull. I suppose some slack can be given since many people are going to have the more Super Skrull like designs from the Secret Invasion fresh in their memories. The Human Torch figure is a nice sculpt. And I do like this head better than the one used for the Fantastic Four Series figure. Really, my only complaint is that I already own two versions of this sculpt already. The Invisible Woman sculpt is also reused, but they did make a few minor changes. The Fantastic Four series version had the outline of her costume etched into the figure. Small traces of it can still be seen on this version where her belt would have been. But it is only noticeable if you know what you are looking for. The head sculpt is new. But it is no better a likeness of Susan Storm/Richards than the previous version was. the final figure, Iron Man is completely new sculpt and the first time that we have gotten the classic version of Iron Man's armor since the first Toy Biz series of Marvel Legends figures. Comparing the two figures, it is impressive how much more streamlined the figures have gotten. Hasbro may have taken it a bit too far though. It is hard to believe there would be enough room for a human under that armor.
Paint - Hand Ninja (white) 5/10, others 8/10Once again, Hasbro has hit a real high note with these figures. To start with, out of twelve figures, there is not a single significant quality control issue on my figures. Granted, I purchased all of my figures in person and did give them at least a casual inspection to avoid any issues. But I didn't actually find any reason to cherry pick these specific sets. The only figure I have an issue with is the variant version of the Hand Ninja. First of all, the Hand Ninjas are suppose to be red. I'm sure they have been portrayed in other colors at times and they probably felt that they needed to come up with a variant for both figures in the set. But I would rather have seen a second red Hand Ninja be included. The second issue with the variant is that the strong contrast of black details on gray bring out the details of the sculpt. That would be great if they hadn't reused the Ronin sculpt that is quite off model from a Hand Ninja. The regular red version's dark red on red color pallett deserves much credit for allowing such a completely off model sculpt to actually work as a passable version of a Hand Ninja.
Articulation - Invisible Woman 6/10, Fury, Dugan, Skrull & Hand Ninjas 9/10, others 8/10One of the biggest indications that Fury and Dugan were originally Toy Biz sculpts is that they still have the full Toy Biz level of articulation. They have a total of thirty eight points of articulation which includes:
Accessories - Hill/Carter 8/10, Dugan/Fury 7/10, Iron Man 6/10, Invisible Woman & Human Torch 0/10, Others 5/10Hasbro didn't really go out of their way when it came to the accessories for these sets. But most of the characters don't really need much for accessories either. The low point are the Human Torch and Invisible Woman who have no accessories at all. They don't really need any, but including something would have been nice. The Skrull comes with a spare set of arms. It is package with a set of arms replicating the powers of the Fantastic Four and a second, normal set of arms. Oddly, even though they kept the F4 powered arms, they gave them a drab gray paint scheme to make them less identifiable as having the F4's powers. His Kree counterpart comes with a second head, identical to the first except painted with a blue skin tone, and a pistol. (I know next to nothing about the Kree, but I'll assume that there is a reason for a head with frostbite complexion.) Both versions of the Hand Ninja come with three identical swords and a pair of nunchuks. Basically they recycled the accessories from the Elektra/Ronin pack. That's fine. But the fact that they would include three swords is a bit confusing. I don't think the third sword was intended for Fury or Dugan since they already come with an automatic rifle, a pistol and a knife. Each one also includes a spare head sculpt so that you can turn them into a generic SHIELD soldier instead. This is a very cool addition, particularly if you want to build an army of Hand Ninjas. Even better, the SHIELD soldier head has a removable helmet. The two Iron Man figures come with a second set of hands and a spare head. The hands are sculpted in a completely open position for "firing" Iron Man's repulsors in addition to the closed right fist and partially clenched left hand with which the figures are packaged. I personally prefer a removable helmet, but the second head does give you the option of displaying an unmasked Tony Stark without the risk of losing the helmet. The best of the bunch are the accessories included with Hill and Carter. They each have a pair of pistols and an assault rifle as well as a spare head. What gives them such a high score is that both versions include both a Maria Hill head and a Sharon Carter head. So you can have either figure just by buying one set and without having to track down the variant set if you don't care about Stealth Armor Iron Man. But at the same time, both sets have different hair colors for the heads, so there is some variation between the two sets. (This could also just be a running change.)
Value - Human Torch/Invisible Woman 3/10, others 7/10Just as with the last series, these sets sell for $23 at Toys R Us. Unfortunately they don't seem to be showing up in other stores which might have charged a few dollars less. So instead of saving money when buying multiple figures, you actually pay a dollar more than if they were sold individually. The value of the Fantastic Four set (or should that be the Fantastic Two?) is even lower since you are spending more to get two simple repaints of fairly recent figures with no accessories at all. The only reason to buy that set is if you are a significant fan of the light blue with black trim costumes and or to complete go with the previous two pack. The other sets do offer a better value given that each set includes at least one new character. Plus the ones that have been released before were either released so long ago that many fans were probably not collecting at that time (Iron Man & Nick Fury) or were just very difficult to track down even when they were first released (Super Skrull).
Happy Hunting:As far as I can tell, the only major retailer carrying these sets is Toys R Us. I bought all of my sets at the local Toys R Us, though they have also been listed from time to time at their web site as well. They have also been available through Diamond and thus your local comic shop may have them. And several web stores have had them in stock as well. Unfortunately these first started shipping over two months ago, so many places have already sold out.