So what do you do when you are Hasbro and have the license to a property that is selling figures to collectors faster than stores can keep up and
still they are clamoring for more? Evidently Hasbro's answer to this question was to go retro. Earlier this year they announced that they would be
producing a line of action figures styled after the early Marvel Super Heroes toy line by Toy Biz, but with figures that were in scale and compatible
with their Marvel Legends toy line. I have to admit that as someone who wasn't a fan of Marvel figures before Toy Biz launched the Marvel Legends line,
I had intended to pass on these figures. But now just a few weeks after they finally began showing up at retail, I find myself the owner of the entire
six figure series. And I have to ask if these figures were really worth it or if I just need to seek professional help for this toy buying addiction.
Packaging - 8/10One of the big selling points with these figures was suppose to be that they were an homage to the Toy Biz Marvel Superheroes line of toys. And a big part of that was the packaging which is directly inspired by that toy line. And the designers did a great job with that. Going back to older style blister card style packaging with the graphic design for the card art taken almost directly from the vintage line, Hasbro did a really impressive job of making these look like they could have been part of the vintage toy line. They were still limited by certain modern requirements such as Hasbro's continuing insistence on making all of the cards multilingual. I also think it was a mistake not to give this line a proper name and logo on the cards. I don't know if they were unable to use the "Marvel Superheroes" name. If that is the case, they should have come up with some alternative that was close to it. Not only would that have allowed them to make the card art even closer to the vintage design, it also would have eliminated the rather unusual question of what to call this line. I ended up calling it the Retro 6 Inch line in the title based on how they were labeled on Hasbro's own web store. But nowhere is it actually made clear if these are part of the ongoing Marvel Legends line or if they are something completely new. On a positive note, Hasbro clearly realized that the packaging was likely to be a big part of the draw for this line and put more effort into the quality of the packaging as well. The card stock is far thicker than what they use for their other modern lines like Transformers. So if you do decide to keep a set of these figures in the packaging or display them that way, the packaging should hold up to wear and tear quite well.
Sculpting - 8/10Being as this line is supposed to evoke nostalgic thoughts of the toys that were produced back in the 1990's, they had to walk a fine balance between limiting the sculpted detail enough to match the vintage style without just looking cheap. That means that most of these figures use generic bodies from the Marvel Legends toy line with just a few sculpted details added to them. Iron Man is the one figure where they seem to have created an almost entirely new sculpt for the figure. I found that to be fairly impressive since they already produced an Iron Man in this style armor in the Epic Heroes series of figures back when they relaunched the Marvel Legends line. It's possible that this figure does use the same molds as that figure for the body and upper legs. But if it does, the mold has either degraded considerably or has been altered to soften the details and edges of the sculpt. While these figures aren't going to blow anyone away with the sheer level of detail present, I don't think they were ever intended to. But Hasbro has managed to walk a fine line with these figures and create a line of figures that won't look out of place within my collection of Marvel Legends figures. But could also be left on the card and hung on a wall next to their vintage counterparts and the sculpt would not have looked out of place either way.
Paint - 8/10Much like the sculpting, Hasbro had to find the right balance between a modern looking action figure and a toy made over a quarter of a century ago. And what they ended up producing strikes that balance well in my opinion. The figures all have a fairly clean look to them. So there are no paint washes and the colors are very basic hues. Iron Man did get a little bit of a metallic finish for his colors. But even that is greatly toned down from the Epic Heroes series figure. But they also included a number of details that you would never have seen on a vintage toy. So Wolverine has painted arm hairs. All of the web lines on Spider-Man are neatly painted. And Captain America has a scale pattern for his chain mail shirt. Again, Hasbro has managed to find a look that works both as a vintage figure and with the many existing Marvel Legends figures.
Articulation - 8/10This is one area where there is no balance between the old and the new. These figures all utilize modern bodies from the Marvel Legends toy line and therefore have modern levels of articulation. So that means thirty or more points of articulation for each figure. Coming from a Marvel Legends collector and as someone who started collecting Marvel Legends figures because of the impressive amounts of articulation they were incorporating, I am very happy with that. But if you are the type of person who values clean lines over articulation, especially if you weren't planning on opening these figures in the first place, all of that articulation may just be needlessly breaking up the lines of the sculpting.
Accessories - Black Widow 4/10, Iron Man 5/10, others 8/10Once again, Hasbro has done a wonderful job of striking a balance between the vintage aesthetics of these figures and modern standards. Everyone comes with some accessories. But none of them are overloaded.
Value - Black Widow 9/10, Others 6/10I am not a mint on card collector, at least not for Marvel Legends figures. So when I evaluate the value of these figures, it's based on how well they work as an addition to my existing collection of Marvel Legends figures. If you are interested in them as a way to scratch your nostalgia itch, these figures should fit the bill extremely well. For me as a long time Marvel Legends fan/collector, I originally thought I would be passing on these figures entirely. What changed my mind was Black Widow. Despite her prominent role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we haven't seen a classic, comic style Black Widow figure since the 2011 Fans Choice two packs. And that was the variant version which was extremely difficult to find. So I have not gotten a classic style Black Widow since series 8 of the Marvel Legends line back under Toy Biz. As a modern replacement for that figure, Black Widow is exactly what I wanted. But once you take them off the vintage style cards, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Captain America and Punisher don't really offer anything particularly noteworthy that we haven't seen in the Marvel Legends line relatively recently. You could make a case that this version of Iron Man was due for a new release since it has been five years since the Epic Heroes version was released. But that version of the figure still isn't that difficult to find and barely sells for more than the original retail and I prefer the more metallic finish and the display stand that was included with that version. The figures certainly aren't bad. But if I didn't have a completist's mentality and didn't want Black Widow, I could have easily have passed on them and not felt like I missed out.
Happy Hunting:The retro 6 inch figures line has started showing up at stores over the last month or so. I began to find them locally about two weeks ago at Walgreens stores in my area. And from the reports that I have heard online, Walgreens seems to be the best option for finding them so far. But buying them from Walgreens also comes with a caveat. Some Walgreens stores will place loss prevention stickers/RFID tags on the packaging. And those stickers are extremely difficult to remove without damaging the surface underneath. So if you are a MOC collector, finally finding the figure you want only to have a large, ugly sticker attached to it would be very annoying. I have found the Retro figures at Toys R Us as well in the last two weeks, and they are also listed on Hasbro's web store as well. So Walgreens may be the first place to find these figures, they aren't the only option.