While the action figure market in general seems to be slowing down, particularly for collectors, it is still a great time for action figures based on comic books. The Marvel Legends line is still going strong under Hasbro. DC Direct continues to produce figures even while Mattel begins to bring the characters of the DC Universe to the mass market. But never fear fans of the independent publishers, you are not being left out either. Marvel Toys, aka
Toy Biz, doesn't seem content to leave the comic book figure market just because Hasbro has the Marvel License. And their Legendary Comic Book Heroes (LCBH) line has already made an impressive showing with the first series and two packs. And now their second series has been released adding another seven characters from the worlds of comic books to our shelves. Series two includes Marv from Sin City, Stryker from the Cyber Force comics, Star from the Freak Force comics, The Darkness,Judge Death from 2000 AD and finally the titular characters from Monkeyman and O'Brien, Ann O'Brien and Monkeyman as the series' build a figure. So out of a series with seven figures, there are only two that I've heard of. But I guess that's why they created Wikipedia.
Packaging - 6/10The packaging for the second series is the same as the first series. It is a bit short on graphic design. But that is more or less unavoidable when you are creating a line from so many different sources. The cards do use cover images from each figure's comic. The back of the cards have the usual background information about each character as well as images of all of the figures in the series. I like the overall appearance of the packaging. But they need to improve the quality. The cards are quite thin given the size of the figures which are being packaged on them. Instead they rely on the bubbles for additional strength. My figures were ordered online so they never had to support any weight on the J hook at the top, but I doubt they could support Marv's mass for long.
Sculpting - Judge Death 9/10, Darkness, Ann & Marv 8/10, Star & Stryker 6/10This second series of figures has answered one of the big questions I had about the LCBH line. With characters coming from so many different comics and comics that may be drawn in very different styles, would they attempt to replicate the style of each comic book or create a single sculpting style for the entire line and try to translate the character designs to it. While Star, Darkness, Judge Death, Ann and Monkeyman all look like they would fit in just fine with Marvel Legends figures, Marv and Stryker are slightly different. Stryker in particular seems to have slight more exaggerated detailing that isn't as refined as it is on the others. It isn't a bad thing, it just doesn't match the other figures. Star is the only figure that didn't really meet my expectations. It appears that they just reused an existing body and slapped on a belt and new hands and feet. The belt doesn't fit the figure very well but otherwise I don't have a problem with the body that was used. But when I see the straps going over the shoulders that are just painted onto the figure, I can't help but think that they should have been sculpted on. The Ann O'Brien figure has some nice detailing, particularly on her jacket. But most of the figure is fairly simple. The face sculpt doesn't look bad, but it does stick out a bit more than it needed to. Marv is a big figure with a gritty look to him. It works well for the character. It's just a shame that you can't really see much of the figure since it is covered with his trench coat. Darkness is a nicely detailed sculpt, but the alignment for the legs is a bit off, particularly on the right leg. His knee and toes don't point in the same direction if the rest of the lower leg is lined up. It isn't a big deal, but it is a bit odd. Judge Death is my favorite figure in the series. I'm particularly impressed that they even sculpted the eyes behind the helmet. Now I don't know if I want to risk damaging the figure to pry the helmet off.
Paint - Ann O'Brien 7/10, Star 6/10, Stryker 4/10, others 8/10The paint work for most of the figures is very well done. Given the complexity of the paint applications on Marv, Judge Death and Darkness. Ann O'Brien is pretty good as well, but on my figure there are some areas on the jacket that didn't receive the same heavy yellow paint wash that the rest of the jacket received. Star has a few minor problems with the paint for his eyes, but in such a prominent location, it is very noticeable. Stryker is just a bit of a mess. Most of the areas of the figure received some form of paint wash, but the coverage is quite uneven. The right arms have a very heavy wash while the neck is completely clean. None of the areas are all that horrible, but the figure overall is a mess.
There are three paint variants available for the Monkey Man Series. The first is a translucent version of Judge Death with just a slight paint wash across the chest and shoulder pads. Ann O'Brien is available in either her regular green jump suit or in a blue jump suit variant. Finally there is a variant version of Madman who was originally shipped with the first series. The new version has the sides of his torso and insides of his arms painted yellow.
Articulation - Star 9/10, others /10Marvel Toys has been pushing the limits for articulation throughout the life of the Marvel Legends line, so it is no surprise that they continue the trend with the LCBH line. Judge Death is one of the least articulated figures of the series and even he has thirty eight points of articulation:
Accessories - Darkness 8/10, Stryker 4/10, others 0/10Only two of the six figures in the series come with any accessories, Darkness and Stryker. Darkness comes with two small, unarticulated demons. I have no idea if they are accurate to the comics. (I don't even know if they are even based on the comic.) But they are quite detailed in terms of sculpting and are even fully painted. Stryker comes with two guns, one pistol and a larger handgun. Neither is very well sculpted. And the only paint on them is a heavy and haphazard wash of black paint.
Build-A-Figure - MonkeymanAll right Marvel Toys, I have a bone to pick with you. This entire series is named after a character called Monkeyman. It is suppose to come with a build a figure of said Monkeyman. But one has only to look at the facial features to see that it is clearly a Gorillaman. I claim false advertising! But poor zoological classification aside, it is still a great figure. Monkeyman is slightly shorter than Pitt from the previous series of figures at just over ten inches. And he is much lighter since most of the parts are hollow. The sculpting is done in a slightly simpler style which matches the O'Brien figure well. The paint work is less complex as well. The articulation is top notch as well. On top of all of the usual articulation, each of Monkeyman's fingers and toes has two hinge joints except for the thumbs/big toes and his jaw opens as well. The range of motion is a bit limited for his elbows due to the size of his arms though. He even comes with a removable pair of reading glasses, as long as you remember to take them out of the packaging before you throw it away. While I still prefer Pitt if only because his heft means he can double as a deadly weapon in a pinch, Monkeyman is a great choice for a build a figure and very well executed.
Value - Darkness & Judge Death 8/10, Stryker 4/10, others 7/10 (add two points if buying the full series)$10 a piece, the retail price for the Legendary Comic Book Heroes line in regular retail stores, is a bit steep when you may barely know some or even most of the characters. Marvel Toys has a real challenge on it's hands trying to sell a line of figures that so few people will recognize. But these are some very well made figures and well worth a look for any comic or action figure fan.
Happy Hunting:Probably the biggest drawback to the Legendary Comic Book Heroes line is finding them. Walmart was the only one of the major retailers to carry the line at first. While Toys R Us have since started supporting the line, finding them in stores is more miss than hit. The second series has been even worse than the first since quite a few Walmart stores were still overstocked with Pitt Series figures. You best option is to order online. Toys R Us has them on their web site. You may also want to check KB Toys stores or their web site. They currently have some of the Monkeyman series figures in stock.