The summer has been pretty slow in terms of new items hitting the pegs. But that does give one time to catch up on
some of releases that you missed the first time around. For me, that includes the figures from series one of Toy Biz's
X-men line. I've already reviewed several of the figures from series two, but it took a few more weeks before I was able
to track down the figures I wanted from series one which included eight figures. This review will cover only half of
those figures: Ninja Strike Wolverine and Archangel as well as Storm and Stealth Beast who, along with Magneto shipped
Packaging - 5/10The packaging for the X-men figures is pretty simple in design. While it looks nice, it has some significant drawbacks. It is a basic blister card. The card is trimmed to follow the shape of the bubble which also makes them more prone to warping than usual. The bubbles are smaller than with most figures which allows the figures to completely fill them. A sticker with the character's name wraps around from the front to the right side which tend to peal away. Another sticker at the bottom provides the line's logo. The top of the card features Juggernaut, Beast, Cyclops, Wolverine and Colossus which still seems like an odd mix of characters to me. The back has a brief introduction to the character along with the usual logo, UPC and legal disclosures. But the majority of the space is use for instructions. The thing is that for the most part, the instructions are unnecessary. Even a child should be able to figure out that Storm's stand plugs into her back or Wolverine's swords fit into their sheaths. I would much rather see the space used to show all of the figures in a particular series. At the very least, they could have used photos of the actual toy or the prototype instead of drawings. While it is serviceable, the packaging isn't very impressive.
Sculpting - Archangel 5/10, Storm & Wolverine 6/10, Beast 8/10Archangel is a very simple character design in terms of sculpting since the entire figure should be one body suit. There is one detail of the sculpt that I don't like which is that they sculpted regular ears on the head. I believe it should have protrusions to represent ears which are covered by the suit's hood instead. The overall poise and stature of the figure doesn't seem to fit the character well either. The neck is permanently bent forward slightly along with shoulders. While it looks all right for flying poses, the figure can't really stand up as proudly as either a billionaire or the angel of death should.
Storm is another mixed bag and a straight reuse of the Storm figure from series eight of the Marvel Legends line. The details of the outfit are nicely done, though I think they went overboard with the texturing. The boots in particular are wrinkled and creased in ways that they shouldn't, especially if they are leather. The cape is problematic as well. It doesn't flex well enough to allow the arms to rest naturally at the figure's sides. The final problem is the feet which are too small to ever support the full weight of the figure unassisted. Thankfully they included a stand with her. You'll need it.
Wolverine is a nice figure but a very unconventional version of the character. He doesn't have the short, stout build of the traditional comic book design. The face is much thinner than most Wolverine figures, so much so that I wonder if it wasn't reused from one of the movie figures. He is also in need of a manicure. His claws are much longer than any of the other Wolverine figures. These things are so long that if they were actually able to fully retract into the arm, they would reach up to his shoulders. The outfit is a nice mix of body suit and body armor. There are a few areas where they could have made the difference a bit more distinct. The shin guards for example, blend into the legs too well. The two sheaths, one for his knife and one for his sword, are permanently attached. Or at least they should be. My figure was actually missing the sheath from his leg entirely.
Stealth Beast is my favorite of the series, it is also the first version of Beast we've gotten with his newer feline appearance. The face sculpt is very nicely done. The sculpted detail of the fur works well. And if you are not a fan of Beast's new look, the figure is also available with a traditional style head sculpt. The outfit works well too. The accessories such as the belt, grenades and the rope slung over his shoulder dress it up without making it look completely unrealistic.
Paint - Storm 3/10, others 6/10When it was announced that they were releasing a white repaint of the Marvel Legends Storm figure, I was excited. But the final figure isn't really white, it's pale blue. The entire figure is cast is light blue plastic and then painted white. But the paint is so thin that the blue color bleeds through on most of the figure. You also have to be careful with the cape. It picks up paint rubs from other figures quite easily. I was able to remove them from my figure using a nail file, but that shouldn't be necessary.
The other figures are a mixed bag. Both Ninja Strike Wolverine and Archangel have great paint applications on their faces, but are a bit sloppy on the body. The pink areas on Archangel get pretty light in some areas and there are several splotches too. The red lines on Wolverine's outfit are inconsistent as well. But the biggest error is the arm hair. It is painted onto the arms but not the exposed portions of the arm below the forearm joint. Stealth Beast is just the opposite. The paint work on the body is very well done, clean and consistent. And the black highlights on the fur on his arms adds a nice touch of depth. But then you get to the face which looks like it was dunked into the paint. The black is caked on so thick that when I first saw the figure on the pegs, I didn't realize I was looking at the cat face version!
Articulation - 8/10These may not officially be Marvel Legends figures, but they share the same basic articulation:
Accessories - Archangel 4/10, Storm 5/10, Stealth Beast 7/10, Ninja Strike Wolverine 8/10Storm has just one accessory, yet another one of the clear adjustable stands that we have seen with many of the Marvel Legends figures. It's not terribly impressive, but the figure certainly needs a stand of some sort.
Archangel just wouldn't be complete without a set of menacing mechanical wings. These are a disappointment though. The design is nothing like that of the comics. They are more like metal bird wings. They are also hampered by a projectile firing action feature. There are two projectiles powered by coiled metal ribbon that plug into a backpack mounted on top of the wings. Press one of the two buttons and the projectile will launch. They can also be stored underneath the tail feathers on the bottom of the backpack where the coils will not be compressed as much during long term storage. The missile firing feature is unnecessary and actually harms the wings in two ways. They add too much bulk to the back of the figure, both visually and literally. The figure can only stand if you use the wings to prop it up. They also mounted the entire wing assembly on a short peg so that it can be aimed slightly. But that peg just keeps the wings away from the body instead of mounting directly to the body as they should.
Stealth Beast has just two accessories, a spring loaded grappling hook gun and a pistol. The pistol fits nicely in his right hand or it can be stored in the holster on the back of his belt. The grappling hook gun fits the theme of the figure well. The firing mechanism is quite strong, but the string limits its range to less than ten inches.
Finally there is Ninja Strike Wolverine who I purchased solely for his accessories. He has four: a combat knife, a sickle with a weighted chain, a set of nunchucks with blades on each end and a large, katana-style sword with three blades. Both the sickle and nunchucks feature real metal chains which is a great touch. The combat knife has a surprisingly stiff blade. It should also fit in the sheath on the figure's leg, but my figure's missing the sheath. The tri-bladed katana is styled after Wolverine's claws, but it is just so over the top. But if anyone ever wants to make a custom Shatterstar figure, it would be very easy to remove one of the blades to create his sword.
Value - Archangel 4/10, Wolverine 5/10, Storm 6/10, Beast 7/10The price for the X-men figures at most discount retailers is between $8 and $10 depending upon the store. But at that price you are paying the same as a Marvel Legends figure but without the extras like a base, build-a-figure part or comic book. Since this is the first, and most likely only feline version of Beast we will see anytime soon, it's worth picking up. I would like to say the same of Storm since so many fans wanted to see a white repaint of this figure. But the blue tint to the figure undermines that advantage quite a bit. However, it has been awhile since the Marvel Legends version was released. So for those that missed the figure the first time, this is a decent second chance. Ninja Strike Wolverine is a decent figure, but having no basis that I know of from the comics, its value may depend largely upon your interest in the accessories. Archangel however is a fairly prominent character in Marvel comics history, but the wings don't do the figure justice. And without them, it just isn't really Archangel.
Happy Hunting:Series one of the X-men line has been out for quite a while. So finding the figures should be pretty easy by now if any of the stores in your area carry the line. Toys R Us has carried the line in all of their stores. And Target picked up the line just before the second series began to ship. Storm and Archangel may be a little harder to find as they did not ship with the rest of the figures initially. Along with Magneto, they were added to the series later in what many collectors have called series 1.5. If you are unable to find them locally, there are some options online. Big Bad Toy Store has Archangel, Stealth Beast and Ninja Strike Wolverine in stock yet for a reasonable price and with a reputation for service that can't be beat. Unfortunately they don't distinguish which version of Stealth Beast (cat face or normal) you would get.