Tonight's review is an attempt to pick up a few random Marvel figures. First up is the Electric Power Dr. Doom figure from
the Fantastic Four Movie line. Then, from the renamed Amazing Spider-Man line is Howling Manwolf. Finally, after a long,
long wait, the Marvel Select Watcher figure has finally arrived to be figure number three. What do these three have in
common? Aside from being Marvel characters, not a thing that I know of. But I'm not so ambitious as to want to write three
Packaging - Dr. Doom 7/10, Manwolf & Watcher 5/10The packaging for the Fantastic Four Movie figures is simple in design, but that works well for it. The figure and accessories are neatly displayed in a standard rectangular blister with the Movie logo and character information are provided on a sticker on the blister while the card has the images of the four members of the FF. The back of the card has a brief description of Doom's role in the movie as well as instructions for the features and photos of all of the figures in the series. I don't care for the use of line drawings for the instructions, but in this case it may have been a wise choice. The figure's dark colors would have made it difficult to make out the important details in small photos. They did screw up one rather important detail, the warning about the battery. They forgot to print it on the card so it had to be placed on a sticker. But there was no place quite large enough to place the sticker so it was placed rather haphazardly above the logo on the back where it covers part of the logo. A rather foolish oversight the fix for which was poorly handled.
The latest series of figures for the Spider-man line marks a redesign to the packaging. The bubble hasn't changed. There is still a sticker on the bubble with the character name and a photo of the figure. Why you need a small photo sitting right in front of the actual figure makes little sense to me. The card art has been redone and simplified. It has Spidey curled up in a swinging pose in the upper left corner behind the new line logo. The background is a bird's eye view cityscape done in muted blue tones. They could have given the background a little more color as the cityscape isn't very recognizable at first glance. The back of the card gets a graphic overhaul, but few of the elements have changed. A large portion of the card is used for the instructions. It is remarkable how much room it takes for them to write "press button and figure lights up and howls." There are photos of the other four figures from this series, but no photo of the actual figure. But what the packaging really needs is some character information. There is a brief paragraph about Spider-man, but nothing about Manwolf. And at this point Toy Biz is getting to some pretty obscure characters.
The packaging is the same as the previous Marvel Select figures. It is a large card with a huge bubble that covers almost the entire card. The card wraps around the left side of the card to the front. The package makes nice use of images from the comics both for the background and a large head shot on the side. But the head shot is blown up so large that they couldn't even fit his entire head on the panel. And with the huge bubble plus the size of the figure, not much of the background is visible until the packaging is opened. There is one comic cover shown in full color on the back of the card, Fantastic Four #48. There are also photos of the figure and several past MS figures as well as a brief description of Uatu's role in the Marvel Universe. The packaging is reasonably attractive, though they really could do more to promote the character. But the biggest issue with the Marvel Select packaging design is how completely unfriendly it is to collectors who want to open the figure. Not only do you have the bubble glued to the card, you also have the card in turn glued onto the outside of the bubble where it wraps around on the side. There really is no good way to open the figure without all but destroying it. Personally I have no interest, much less sufficient space in my home, to store the packaging for every figure I buy. But this line is supposed to be targeted towards collectors, so they really should be trying to make the packaging more friendly to collectors.
Sculpting - Manwolf 4/10, Watcher & Dr. Doom 8/10From the neck down, Manwolf is a great sculpt. There's not a lot of intricate details, but the texturing keeps it from being boring. But the neck and head are horrible. The neck is far too long, almost twice as long as it should be. And the way the head is broken up into two pieces and the way it wraps around the neck give it a very flat look in profile. The overall look is more like someone tore the real head off, stretched out the neck and then slapped a Mardi Gras style wolf mask over the wound. The funny thing is that when viewed head on, the face looks good. But the way the neck is sculpted, it is very difficult to see the face. The extended neck is bent so far forward that most of the time you are looking at his forehead.
I was all set to write about how bad the sculpting for Doom was. Then I rewatched the last part of the movie on DVD and realized that it is actually a pretty good likeness. I just don't really care for the design of Doom in the movie. The details both for the coat and the masked face are all quite accurate to the movie. There are a few issues, most due to the use of soft rubber like material for the coat. It leaves a small gap between the hard plastic sleeves and the body of the coat. They also cut a flap out of the back to allow access to the battery compartment. But the flap doesn't fit back into the hole right. Since the flap then hangs loose in the back it makes the coat look more like a duster. Still, if you are looking for a representation of character from the movie, the figure fits the bill nicely.
Uatu turned out quite well. The costume looks good, though I don't understand why they put slits on the sides of his toga when they don't serve any purpose. I think they also over did the wrinkles in the gloves, particularly when compared to the rest of his clothing. The cape flows nicely. It billows out from the body a little, but not too much to be inappropriate for a character that generally is just standing around. The sash across the body looks good, though it would be nice if it were removable. But perhaps it is best that it isn't as it hides one of the sculpt's most noticeable problem areas. There is a small gap at the waist where the soft skirt portion of the toga meets the body. The gap is half of the problem. The other half is that the sculpted folds in the toga above the gap don't even come close to matching the ones below the gap. The result is an area that looks like there should be some sort of belt separating the two parts. But there isn't one there. I suspect this is why the production figure has the sash which wasn't found on the prototype figure shown at the conventions last year. Finally there is the head. What you think of the head sculpt is going to depend on which look you prefer for the figure. Looking at the different comic images used in the background shows just how much difference there has been in his look over the years. The Marvel Select figure goes for the super sized, bobble head look and does it well. The wrinkling of the face in particular adds a lot of character to the sculpt without going overboard.
Of course, if you are like me, what you really want to know is how well does the Watcher fit in with the Marvel Legends line. Unfortunately there is no simple answer to that question. The Watcher is supposed to be taller than a normal human in the Marvel universe. But his height has varied a lot over the years. Even in the few comic images used in the background images, you can see him portrayed as anywhere from 10 to 50 feet tall. The Marvel Select figure stands about eight and three quarter inches tall. That is tall enough that the average Marvel Legends figure such as Reed Richards or Captain America will come up just short of the top of his shoulders. Ideally I would have liked to see him be a little taller, as little as an inch would have made a big difference. But he fits in well enough for me.
Paint - Doom 4/10, Manwolf 6/10, Watcher 10/10There is an amazing range in the quality of the paint work across these three figures. The Watcher is hands down the best of the three. In fact, he is as close to perfect as I have seen on a figure. Particularly impressive is the use of shading. From the folds of the cape and toga to the shading on the skin, it looks great. Manwolf is more of a mixed bag. the yellow suit has some subtle green shading that turned out okay. But there is a drastic difference in the finish of the suit from the semi-gloss torso and waist where the yellow color comes from the color of the plastic to the flat finish of the legs that are painted. They also didn't paint all of the parts for the hip joints, so there is a gray section in the middle of each hip. But what you will really want to watch is the paint work on the fur. Toy Biz took a two step approach for the fur. The plastic is a light gray color upon which they applied some dark spray washes to create shadowing. Then they applied whit paint to some of the raised areas of the sculpt. Where the white paint is applied properly, the results are great. But there are areas on my figure where the white paint was applied too heavily resulting in a sugar frosted wolf fur look. Dr. Doom gets some credit for effort, but the end result is fairly poor. The biggest problem is that the character design itself makes for a dull looking paint job. But there are a few other issues. They attempted to replicate the metallic skin on the left hand with streaks of silver paint. But they went overboard with it. Now it just looks like a victim of excessive paint rubs. The face is the other problem spot. They tried to use paint to bring out the details of the sculpt, but it ended up being caked on in some areas. There is one huge glob of paint on the nose right next to the right eye that looks like about a decade's worth of eye crust built up. It was a decent attempt but it failed.
Articulation - Watcher & Doom 6/10, Manwolf 7/10The Watcher has fourteen points of articulation including a ball jointed neck, hinged and rotating shoulders, rotating biceps, hinged elbows, rotating forearms, hinged wrists and rotating waist. So basically, the arms are fully articulated while the rest of the figure is just a step above a statue. Fortunately, as his name implies, you don't expect the Watcher to be in a lot of wild action poses so the lack of articulation can be overlooked slightly. On the plus side, the position of the legs makes the figure quite stable even without its base.
Electric Power Dr. Doom has twenty-three points of articulation. The articulation includes a rotating neck, rotating shoulders, rotating left bicep, hinged elbows, rotating wrists, hinged fingers, rotating waist, hinged and rotating hips, rotating thighs, double hinged knees and rotating ankles. The lack of double jointed shoulders or a bicep joint on the right arm are necessary compromises for the sake of the action feature. But they do drastically limit the range of motion for the arms.
Howling Manwolf is the most articulated of the three figures with thirty-five points of articulation. Below the neck he is a standard Marvel Legends figure. Unfortunately from the neck up is a completely different story. There is no neck joint at all where the neck meets the body. The head and lower jaw are hinged to open as a part of the action feature. But they are spring loaded to close right away. So the only way to make Manwolf look forward is to either jam his jaw open. Otherwise Manwolf just looks like he suffers from a serious lack of self confidence.
Accessories - 5/10The accessories for all three figures are pretty dull. Watcher has just one, a small base molded to look like a chunk of the moon. Its small size makes the Watcher look more like the Little Prince. But it does help to make the figure even more stable plus adds a bit of height, so it isn't all bad. Manwolf has one accessory, a backpack containing the batteries and electronics for the sound effects. I don't know if the backpack has any basis in the comics. But for those who don't like the way it looks, it can be popped off and replaced later. Unfortunately while it is removed, the action features are unusable. Dr. Doom comes with three accessories: an energy ball, a flame shaped projectile launcher and a flame shaped projectile. The energy ball slips over Doom's right hand to light up when the action feature is activated. The sculpting is a bit over the top for my taste, but it does light up surprisingly well. The launcher is pretty powerful by today's standards. It can shoot the projectile up to two feet fairly easily. But what really irks me is that finally here is a character that actually USED a rocket launcher, and they give him a launcher shaped like a flame?!?
Special Features - Watcher NA, Manwolf 4/10, Doom 8/10The Watcher has no action features. Howling Manwolf actually has a three part action feature. When you press the button on his backpack his jaw opens, the jewel in his neck starts to flash and the backpack makes a howling noise. It is a nice idea. But the compromises it requires for the sculpt and articulation plus the fact that it can't be used without the backpack being attached means it does more harm to the figure than good. Electric Power Dr. Doom has two features. The first is the projectile launcher I already described. The other feature is a pair of LED's: one in the head and the second in the right forearm. The feature can be activated either by pressing a button on the figure's back or by pressing the right hand into the arm causing the LEDs to flash. The LED's are remarkably bright, particularly the one in the arm. I wouldn't count on them in place of a flashlight, but I'm sure Doom is the life of every Marvel Legends rave.
Value - Watcher 4/10, Dr. Doom & Manwolf 7/10Dr. Doom and Howling Manwolf are both mass market figures with the usual $7 to $9 price tag. However, now that interest in the Fantastic Four movie is dropping, many stores are dropping the prices on the movie merchandise. I picked up Doom for $5. It's not a huge savings. But it was enough to prompt me to buy the figure if only to round out the group of movie figures. Manwolf is a decent figure and a truly obscure Marvel character not likely to receive toy treatment again. Uatu the Watcher is just the second Marvel Select figure I've bought. And the price tag has a lot to do with that. Marvel Select figures usually sell for $15 to $20 depending on the store. Even though it is a great figure, that is a steep price.
Happy Hunting:Watcher is the latest release in the Marvel Select line and available through any store that orders from Diamond. The most likely place to find it locally is a comic shop. It is also available from many websites such as Big Bad Toy Store.com. But the few dollars you can save by buying online will likely be offset by the shipping costs. Manwolf and Dr. Doom are both available from all the major toy retailers. I've seen both at Target, Walmart and Toys R Us. Though if you are interested in Doom, you may want to pick him up sooner than later. He is one of the figures from the earlier series of Fantastic Four figures that are becoming harder to find.