Ah Hasbro, I can't decide if you love fans of the Marvel Legends Infinite line or hate us. With three entire series of figures
plus three exclusive sets released in a period of roughly two months, it has been both a really good time to be a fan and a really bad
time to be a collector's budget. Having already reviewed the Ultron, Hulkbuster and Rhinos series of figures as well as the Guardians of
the Galaxy and Ant-Man box sets, the only thing left is the Book of Vishanti box set that was released as a Comic Con exclusive. Featuring
four characters who are completely new to the Marvel Legends line including Brother Voodoo, Hela, Magik and Dormammu as well as Dr. Strange
in his astral form, this was one release that I was certainly looking forward to. I can only hope that it can live up to the hype.
Packaging - 10/10Hasbro has come up with creative package designs for past comic con sets like the hammer shaped box for Thor and the box for the Thanos Imperative set that was shaped like Galactus' head. But this may be their best design yet. As the name implies, the Book of Vishanti set is designed to look like a book. Actually, that isn't quite true. The packaging IS a book. Once you remove the slip cover around it, the front cover opens to reveal several pages containing descriptions and illustrations of the figures and items included in the set. At the end of the four pages, you come to the actual figures which are packed in a plastic tray lined in red flocking. The book design was a creative and somewhat ambitious idea. And it was extremely well executed so the effort paid off. The pages of the book are put to excellent use providing much more detailed background information than would have been possible on the current multilingual packaging used for Marvel Legends Infinite figures. And the flocking on the tray does a great job of making the figures look like they are carefully laid out rather than securely held in a plastic tray. There are two minor improvements I would like to see. The first is that the figures may be packaged in a tray, but they aren't covered. If you are a MIB collector you could leave the book open to show off the figures, but some parts may fall out and eventually the flocking will become dirty. A clear plastic cover could protect against either of those things at minimal extra cost. The second issue is that they went to a lot of trouble making the artwork for the pages of the book look like they are aged, but then printed them on pristine material. It would have looked a lot more realistic if they could have actually aged the material of the pages themselves. Those are minor complaints though. Probably the biggest issue with the packaging is that as a loose collector with precious little space to spare, I feel guilty just throwing it out but I have no room to save it.
Sculpting - Magik 9/10, Brother Voodoo 8/10, Dormammu 6/10, others 7/10Doctor Strange is the exact same sculpt as the Hulkbuster series figure. It is a decent looking figure, but a lot of the costume is not actually sculpted. The same can be said of Hela. She has a new head sculpt, but the body is just a generic female body. They were more ambitious with the other three. Brother Voodoo has sculpted wrist bands, a new belt and a new collar piece that sits on top of his cape. The fit for the collar piece is a bit off, but otherwise the figure looks great. Magik is my favorite figure of the set. She has a new torso and left arm both of which have a fair amount of detail. Her legs are pretty generic, but there isn't any real costume detail that I could say is missing. Finally there is Dormammu. While he should be the biggest, most imposing figure in the set, there is something about him that I just don't care for. And I can't quite put my finger on what it is. The sculpt seems to be accurate to the modern version of the character. There are a few minor issues that I have with the figure as well such as the armor on the shins making it hard to adjust the feet so the figure will stand firmly and the material for the skirt armor being slightly warped so it doesn't hang properly. But those aren't enough to account for why I am so unimpressed with this figure. For some reason the individual parts of the figure just don't seem to work together to form the impressive figure that this should be.
Paint - Magik & Hela 7/10, Brother Voodoo & Dr Strange 5/10, Dormammu 4/10The paint work on this set is not its strong point. But it is definitely the area where the set could use the most work. Magik is the best looking figure of the set. I have to say that the white eyes really gets across the idea that this otherwise sweat looking girl will tear your soul out and wipe her boots with it. The only issue I have with her is that the paint wash applied to her armored arm doesn't blend well with the perfectly clean appearance of the rest of the figure. Hela has all of the details of her costume painted onto her generic body as well as paint for her helmet and the piece that attaches her cape to her shoulders. The paint work for all of the figure is simple and clean. But that isn't enough to make up for a lack of sculpted detail on her body and legs. Doctor Strange has very little paint work for his astral form. There are just a few details on his face that are painted along with a few lines on his outfit and the amulet on his belt/sash. He doesn't really need more. The problem is they got a bit sloppy with the paint on my figure's sash. With so little paint work, screwing up what is there is not acceptable. I would also like to know why his hair is translucent like the rest of his body. But his eyebrows and mustache remain black in his astral form. If they wanted to paint them, they should have chosen a color that would not have stuck out as much, and painted his hair to match. Brother Voodoo has a lot more paint work on him. And it has some issues as well. In terms of quality control, the white on his chest and legs is a bit thin, allowing the black of the plastic to show through. The edges are also somewhat rough making it appear like it is replicating the look of hastily painted graffiti. I don't think that is the way the character is meant to look. I'm also put off by the perfectly white appearance of the bones on his necklace while the skulls on his belt are mostly brown and gray. Dormammu doesn't seem to have a lot of paint work on him. And the one application that really stands out is the red on his chest and skirt armor. But whatever they were trying to do with that paint work, what they ended up with looks like a sloppily applied first coat that they just neglected to go back and finish. That's a shame because there is some detail work such as his face and the red on his belt that turned out well. But it is completely overshadowed by the bleed through of the plastic color on the chest and loin armor.
Articulation - Dormammu & Magik 8/10, others 10/10Brother Voodoo and Doctor Strange have the usual Marvel Legends articulation:
Accessories - 8/10The Book of Vishanti comes packed with quite a few accessories and even a neat little extra. Every figure has a couple of accessories. Starting with Doctor Strange who once again comes with a pair of magic effects that can clip to his hands or wrists, the same ones included with the regular Doctor Strange and the recent Scarlet Witch figure, but this time in silver. Brother Voodoo has a staff with several spirits emerging from it and a removable cape. Magik has her soul sword and a regular sword. Hela has a sword as well, recycled from Gamora and the Guardians of the Galaxy box set, and a removable cape. (Though her cape is permanently attached to her shoulder armor.) Dormammu has a pair of dark purple skulls with matching purple flames coming out of them. (They are actually recycled from the Terrax series Ghost Rider figure.) Finally there is a full sized, wearable version of the Eye of Agamotto. That is a cute addition. But in reality, the medallion is pretty cheap looking.
Value - 5/10The Book of Vishanti set sold for $105, if you were lucky enough to be able to get it directly from Hasbro. At that price, the set is a steal. You are getting four new characters, and ones that are not likely to get a figure in the regular series anytime soon, plus a variant of Doctor Strange that actually makes sense and a lot of fans have been hoping for. And you are getting all of that in a very cool package and for almost the same price per figure that you would have paid if they had been released in the regular line. I wasn't as lucky. I purchased my set on eBay and paid almost double the original price. At that price, the set certainly isn't a great deal anymore. But even at that price, I'm still glad I got my hands on this set.
Happy Hunting:The Book of Vishanti set was an exclusive at the San Diego Comic Convention this year. And as with previous exclusives, Hasbro also put a limited number of sets up for sale on their web site afterwards. But those sold out in a matter of minutes. So at this point your only option is to look for the set on the secondary market. There are no shortage of them on eBay. But even those are likely to sell through eventually. And when that happens, the cost of this set is likely to climb even higher.