When it was announced that Toy Biz or Marvel Toys as they are now called, would be losing the license for Marvel Comics
properties and would no longer be handling the Marvel Legends line, a lot of fans were disappointed. In a few short years,
the company had helped the line develop and evolve into something truly impressive. While they went astray a few times,
the level of articulation, detail of the sculpts and character selection were all quite impressive. And the success of
their build a figure offerings has resulted in several other companies trying the same. While their involvement with the
Marvel Legends line has come to an all too early end, as one would expect of anyone who truly loved their work Marvel Toys
is not letting that stop them from producing toys for comic related properties. They are now back with their Legendary
Comic Book Heroes line. Rather than get the rights to one large license, they are going after a multitude of smaller
licenses to be bought together in one toy line.
Their first series includes six different characters along with a pair of build a figures. With characters like Savage Dragon and Witchblade in the first series along with Ripclaw, Judge Dredd, Superpatriot and Madman Marvel Toys seems to be putting an honest effort into giving us a mix of top tier and lesser known characters. Unfortunately, even those with a better than average knowledge of comic books probably are not going to know all of these characters. But then that's why we have the internet isn't it? A few quick searches on Wikipedia should bring you up to speed on any of the characters with which you are not familiar.
Packaging - 6/10The Legendary Comic Book Heroes come packaged on a blister card like many action figures. The bubble has an interesting geometric design with a trapezoidal shaped bubble for the lines logo at the top. The bubble is just big enough to fit the figures and build a figure parts. While the packaging is fairly generic graphically due to the fact that the license mixes so many different licenses together, they do include some images of comic covers for the different properties on an insert along the side and art work from the comics and their logo on the insert at the bottom. The back of the cards include a brief background for each character, more comic book covers and images of the other toys in the series. The background information is a necessity given the relative obscurity of some of the characters. The overall design of the packaging is nice, but they do seem to have some serious issues with shelf wear. The figures I bought had sat on an end cap display for quite a while. But even so, they show a lot of signs of damage including crushed cards and plastic and warping and bending of the cards. I'm not sure that they will hold up well over the long term, especially if they have to hang from pegs and support the considerable weight of the figures and build a figure parts.
Sculpting - Witchblade & Judge Dredd 8/10, others 7/10I should start this off by pointing off that I do not read any of the comics upon which these figures are based. As such, I really can't comment on how accurate they are or if they match the art style from the comics at all. But overall, the sculpting is impressive. It does appear that they reused an existing mold for Ripclaw's body, but it isn't overly noticeable. From the images I've seen, it appears that Mad Man's hair is thicker than it should be. Both Ripclaw and Savage Dragon also have problems putting their arms down by their sides because their torsos are so wide. The series does come with two variants. The Savage Dragon variant which wears a white shirt is a simple repaint. The unmasked Superpatriot has a different head as well as having a normal right arm and gun for the left arm as opposed to the regular figure which has a regular left arm and a gun for the right arm. Of course, that means that if you want a Superpatriot with two regular arms, a simple arm swap will accomplish that for you.
Paint - Judge Dredd & Ripclaw 6/10, Witchblade 9/10, others 7/10The paint work on the Legendary Comic Book Hero figures is fairly complex. When it works, it looks really good. But when they make a mistake it can be very noticeable. So if you have the chance to buy these in person, it might be a good idea so that you can avoid any obvious problems. The paint applications can very from fairly simple on Mad Man to very elaborate on Witchblade. But all of the figures came out looking pretty good. Witchblade has the most complex paint job of the series since all of her armor has to be painted with multiple colors. But there is no sloppiness on my figure. Superpatriot doesn't have the complex paint applications, but they did apply a wash to the torso and the limbs to add shadowing and depth to the sculpt. They might have gone a bit overboard on the limbs as they start to look worn and dirty. Ripclaw has a much cleaner look without much for paint washes. It is nice that they attempted to paint his red body markings across the shoulder joints. But for some reason they painted them while the arms were is a straight out to his sides pose. Mad Man is another figure with a fairly clean look. They did apply some brown highlights to his hair which can start to get rather thick in places. And it does have a slight blue wash on the white body. I have seen at least one figure where that got rather dark in places. they did a better job of keeping the paint washes under control on Judge Dredd. But the contrast of the wash on the boots, gloves and shin guards compared with the clean shoulder pads is kind of strange. Finally you have the two Dragon figures. They used a wash to give their jeans a denim pattern. But they skipped the washes on their bodies in favor of painted on chest hair. And of course the variant has a white shirt painted on.
Articulation - Dragons 9/10, others 8/10Oh Toy Biz, or should I say Marvel Toys, how have I missed you. After watching the articulation levels on Marvel Legends figures drop under Hasbro, it is nice to see Marvel Toys is still finding ways to improve the articulation on their figures. Mad Man seems to be the best example of the basic articulation for the figures. He sports an impressive thirty eight points of articulation:
Accessories - Mad Man 5/10, Judge Dredd 6/10, others 0/10Judge Dredd and Mad Man are the only two figures in the series that come with any accessories if you exclude the build a figure pieces. Mad Man has a small futuristic hand gun. Judge Dredd comes with two hand guns and a knife. I don't know that much about the weapons the character uses, but I do recognize one of the guns as a Lawgiver. They seem to have done their homework for the accessories. They would be much better looking though if they had put a little more effort into their paint work.
Build-A-Figure - Pitt & TimmyWhat can you say about the first Legendary Comic Book Hero build a figure? Pitt is huge. He looks great. He is well articulated. And you even get an unarticulated figure of his brother Timmy. Pitt is a perfect example of how the build a figure promotion should be done. So in short, get him!
Value - 7/10 (add two points if completing Pitt)The retail price for the Legendary Comic Book Heroes line is $10. That is an increase over what Marvel Toys used to charge for the Marvel Legends line. But it is also still in line with the new price for that line under Hasbro. And considering the difficulties that must be involved with producing a line that consists of so many different licenses and with more limited appeal, that price increase isn't a surprise nor unreasonable. And it is still cheaper than what the specialty market figures that have been produced of some of these characters usually sold for. More over, these are really well done figures and a line that should be well worth supporting.
Happy Hunting:Distribution is one of the biggest problems with the line right now. Of the largest toy retailers, Walmart has been the only one to stock the line widely thus far. And even their stores have been hit or miss. Both Toys R US and KB Toys now have the figures up for sale on their web sites. Hopefully they will be stocking them in their brick and mortar stores as well. (KB Toys may already. There is no longer a KB Toy store in my area.) The line also seems to be getting a fair amount of support through web stores. And since they are available through Diamond Distribution, your local comic shop may carry them too.