It's official. Toy Biz is trying to bankrupt Marvel fans. With this being their final year with the Marvel license, they
made it clear at Toy Fair that they were going to go out with a bang. And it looks like the flood of product has commenced.
With Marvel Legends series 12 still fresh on our shelves they already have the Walmart exclusive, Giant Man wave hitting
stores along with a fresh wave of Amazing Spider-man figures, new box sets, and Face Off two packs. But just in case all
of that isn't enough, they are shipping a new wave of figures for the new X-men line. So of course I had to buy some of
them. Series two includes at least five new figures: Cyclops in Stealth gear, Beast in Tech gear, Bird of Prey Angel,
Juggernaut and Air Strike Wolverine. I passed up Beast and Cyclops. But I couldn't help pick up the other three.
Packaging - 5/10The packaging for the X-men line takes a page out of the Amazing Spider-man line's book with a very simple design. The cards are cut in a vaguely X shape with a large round bubble. The top of the card has images of Juggernaut, Beast, Cyclops, Wolverine and Colossus in their Astonishing X-men style uniforms. It would be impressive if those characters were chosen because they are the figures in the line but they seem to be a simple coincidence. The logo for the line is placed on a sticker on the bottom of the bubble. The character information is provided on another sticker along the right side. The back of the cards have short character bio at the top. The lion's share of the card is taken up by the instructions for the figures' action features. Now, instructions are all well and good, but at least some of that space could be put to better use showing the other figures in the line. Judging by the number of collectors who have been having a difficult time telling which figures were in the new wave and which were part of the refresher shipments of the first wave, it would be a welcome change. They should also reconsider placing stickers on the outside of the bubble on the front. The stickers with the character information in particular seem to be prone to coming up along the edges and tearing.
Sculpting - Wolverine 7/10, Angel 6/10, Juggernaut 4/10From what I can tell, Wolverine is the only figure in the series that is based on a comic appearance. This is the uniform he wore as a member of SHIELD in the House of M mini series. Of course, he wasn't really in the uniform much. The details of the coat are nice. I don't recall if they wore the shin armor in the comic though. The biggest complaint I have about the figure is the scale. Proper scale has not been a strong point for Toy Biz, but with the release of figures like the Astonishing X-men version of Wolverine from series 12 of Marvel Legends, it seemed like they were getting much better. But this figure towers over the Astonishing X-men version.
Angel doesn't appear to be based on any of his comic book appearances. However, the design is close enough to the leather jumpsuit style redesigns that have followed the release of the First X-men movie. The addition of the metal X on the chest and the large hip pads make the sculpt quite a bit busier than most of the movie designs though. The straps around both biceps complete with comic style pouches further exaggerate the busy look. The wings are another disappointment. They are awfully small. Specifically, if you envision the wings as being two parts, the section from the back to the joint mid-wing and then from that joint out to the tip, the first half of the wings are all but nonexistent. The problem is hidden slightly when viewed from the front by having the mid-wing line up more or less with the edge of the figure. But if viewed from the side or back, it becomes more noticeable.
Juggernaut is a thoroughly modernized version of the character. The large size and punch bowl helmet are about the only things remaining from the classic design. This version of Juggernaut has much thinner limbs and waist. The only section of the figure that has the bulk I was expecting from a Juggernaut figure is the chest. And that bulk is simply the result of the chest armor being a separate, non-removable piece that is fitted over the figure's body. I like the bulk that it adds to the chest, but it is way out of proportion with the rest of the figure. The overall proportions of the figure are more like a lanky basketball player wearing a huge chest protector. I also think they went overboard with the armor. The Juggernaut is supposed to be unstoppable and physically invulnerable. So why does he need armored boots and shin guards? I guess this version is unstoppable but prone to stubbed toes.
Paint - Angel & Wolverine 3/10, Juggernaut 5/10The paint applications on all three of these figures are even sloppier than usual for Toy Biz figures. None of the edges are very clean. And the use of paint washes gets out of hand in quite a few places. All that being said, it sort of works on Juggernaut. The rough surface of the sculpt combined with the paint wash and bleeding along the edges help to blend the colors as if to mimic an artistic style. Angel and Wolverine are not so lucky. I actually took some time to try to pick out the best paint applications. Most of Wolverine's uniform turned out well. But the paint on the collar and epaulets is really sloppy. The real problem though is another paint wash gone bad on his face. Now my figure looks like he did a face plant into a mud puddle. (Actually, it looks like he face planted into something far worse than mud.) The paint work on Angel is just bad. Out of the three or four figures on the pegs, the best I managed to find was one whose arms weren't totally screwed up with stray marks, missing paint and general sloppiness. But after opening the figure, I now realize that it is the winds where I should have been watching for problems. The wings are cast in blue plastic and then painted white. But rather than having to go back and apply a paint wash afterwards, the white paint is just allowed to get quite thin in many spots so that the blue plastic shows. Where the amount of blue plastic visible was kept to a minimum, it looks okay. But near the base of the wings and in some areas there is almost as much blues showing as there is paint.
Articulation - Wolverine & Juggernaut 8/10, Angel 9/10Wolverine has thirty eight points of articulation:
Accessories - Angel 2/10, Juggernaut & Wolverine 7/10Juggernaut has just one accessory, his helmet. It is simple. It looks nice. And it fits securely. There really isn't anything else the figure needs. Wolverine comes with two guns and a projectile firing jet pack. His guns include a simple glock style pistol and a much larger hand gun. Both have a hole in the grips so that they can plug into pegs on the palms of either hand. The jet pack has a simple and fairly realistic design with the exception of the unnecessary inclusion of a pair of Wolverine style claws on the pack itself. Then there is Angel. He has two accessories: a pair of goggles and a huge cannon. The goggles are more like large glasses painted with solid light blue paint. The sloppy paint makes them look silly and the soft plastic makes them prone to falling off. The cannon is another winner. It is so large that you would never believe the figure could fly with it. That would be a problem, but the figure can hold it any way so it all becomes a moot point.
Action Features - Angel 3/10, Juggernaut 5/10, Wolverine 6/10Angel's action feature is his missile firing cannon. The light weight projectiles do travel quite far. But the strange thing is that only one of the two projectiles can be fired. The bottom spot is only for storage. Wolverine's jet pack has two features, a firing projectile and wings that pop open. Both features are controlled by buttons integrated into the sculpt of the pack as exhaust pipes. When one button is pressed, the wings will pop up from a folded position to straight out at the sides. The projectile has decent range thanks to its light weight. Its only down side is that the projectile doesn't actually fit into the pack. Only the very end is inserted into the pack. Juggernaut has two action features. The first is a spring loaded waist. It is a simple feature which works well, but it does limit the articulation. The other feature is a button on the back which causes the left arm to swing forward and the right arm swing back. The feature is all but worthless. The arms only move about 45 degrees and you are stuck with a large button sticking out of the back of the figure.
Value - Juggernaut 5/10, Angel & Wolverine 6/10Retail price for the X-men line is $8. As much as I hate to say it, that is pretty much the norm for action figures these days. None of these figures is a bad deal. But they aren't outstanding either. The reality is that there are better versions of all three characters in the Marvel Legends line. In the case of both Wolverine and Angel, those better versions are still readily available. But with the House of M box set and HoM style Spider-man figure due out this year, Wolverine is worth of considering just to fill out the group. And if you can get past the slightly garish colors, Angel is as close to a movie version as we are going to be getting for a while. As for Juggernaut, if you've been wanting a modern comic version of ol' Cain Marko, you're all set. Personally, I prefer the classic style.
Happy Hunting:The X-men line doesn't enjoy the wide distribution of the Marvel Legends and Amazing Spider-man lines enjoy. I found these figures at Toys R Us here in Madison, WI. Toys R Us seems to be where most reported sightings are coming from. The only other major chain that has been carrying the line up to now has been KB Toys. Finding them online isn't much better. KB Kids.com has some of the first series figures listed, so they may eventually have series two available as well. Big Bad Toy Store.com has them available for pre-order as well, but the price is a bit higher of course.