Friday, June 8, 2012

Marvel Legends Return! Review for Cap, Iron Man, and Thor

When I was much younger the best thing possible suddenly began pouring onto store shelves - that of Toy Biz's Marvel Legends line of action figures, which boasted incredible articulation and detail of many of our favorite Comic Book characters. I use to collect them all. Every single wave of figures. All other toy company seemed to follow suit with their own action figures, and began improving the quality of figures from just mere play-things for kids, and into legitimate collector items. I really couldn't have been happier about it - I recall, when I was even younger, I had this one Spider-Man action figure that I loved -- it had more articulation in the legs, joints, feet, arms, elbows, and waist, neck and head. In comparison, other figures with minimal articulation, like up and down-only arm and leg movement, where put to shame.

Growing up, the rising price and difficulty of finding figures in stores, eventually made me stop collecting. It was for the best -- too much stuff is packed away in the closet as it is. I make use of those figures, to adorn by book shelf, switching figures in and out, or putting together a theme - which find pretty satisfying. Eventually, though, the Marvel Legends line of figures faltered. Quality began to decrease - with some figures lacking more detailed paint jobs, and the figures simply where nowhere to be found in stores. (Collectors regularly stop at all the Targets and Walmarts, buy up their entire stock, and then resell the figures on eBay for a big profit.) So I wasn't as bothered when the Marvel Legends line of figures where canceled.

DC had begun putting out their own line of figures, in the same vein as the Marvel Legends - backed with the talent of the Four Horsemen sculptors. So that filled the void for a while - but, as the price of oil (needed to create plastics) raised more and more, I began being more selective about what I bought.

I'd hunt down a released figure here and there - of a favorite character I like; but for the most part splurging on action figures fell into the background. I'm still of that mind-set, but I was still trilled to see the Marvel Legends line of figures return to store shelves! I hadn't even heard any news about their return - I just suddenly saw them on the shelves in the comic store one time!

I generally ignored them, though - figuring I didn't need them. I had always wanted a Fantomex figure, but have passed on it on two occasions. Getting back into reading Thor, however, put my eye towards the released Modern Thor figure. Add all the excitement from the Avengers movie, and I decided it was one figure I'd like to get. I eventually added the Extremis Armor Iron Man - to put together with Captain America, to get that Trinity of heroes. I even wound up buying Captain America version of Bucky -- one of the few figures in the line more easily found on store shelves.

It's simply been a great revisit to an old hobby of mine - and I thought I'd share my opinion about the figures. (Also, unlike when I use to be collecting figures, I didn't have such easy access to a camera. This is the first time I've used my iPhone to try and capture any shots like these - so please forgive the quality. I was more often than not trying to go for dynamic poses - or something like that.)

Captain America (Bucky)

First, a little backstory: At the end of Marvel's Super Human Civil War, Captain America found himself on the loosing side against Iron Man, over requiring Super Heroes to register with the government. Captain America was shockingly gunned down on the courthouse steps, on his way to being arraigned. Before that, Ed Brubaker did the impossible: he brought Captain America's long dead kid sidekick, Bucky, back to life -- something that was long considered sacrilege by comic fans. Not only did Brubaker bring Bucky back right, winning over even the biggest naysayers - he also made the character incredibly cool. So much, in fact, that while Steve Rogers was busy taking a dirt nap, Bucky took his place as the new Captain America. Sporting a gun, redesigned armor, and Cap's old shield -- the New Captain America was loved by fans! Plans to bring Steve Rogers back from the dead where even pushed back, because they where getting so much good buzz about the character.

This figure is really phenomenal! The sculpt is detailed, accurate - and features well picked accessories and weapons. Captain America's shield, while having a bit more metallic sheen, more visible on the white parts, is otherwise a great accessory. There is a wrist piece, allowing it to snap easily onto Bucky's arm. This element of the shield also flips over - to a round peg - that can easily fit in the hole on his back; giving an easy way to show the character carrying the shield on his back, like in the comics. The older Captain America figures have always used either cloth or elastic straps - which work to do the same thing, but is harder to use without breaking said straps.

Since Bucky is more of a mercenary than a rough-and-tumbler like Steve Rogers, he carries a gun with him. When my sister saw this, she said he suddenly didn't seem like Captain America! The gun has an easy holster on the belt, which you can place the gun in - and perfectly fits his hand with a trigger finger ready to shoot.

He also comes with a knife, which I really like - I'd try to get him to hold it like Solid Snake, from Metal Gear Solid. The knife fits fine in it's sheath - but can't remain in Bucky's hand without balancing it really carefully -- the knife simply wasn't coordinated with the people who sculpted the hand.

It's a really great figure - all the articulation you'd expect - and with a bold and sort of luminous look to the blue part of his armor (which bounces off excellently with the red, white and black elements of his costume.

Iron Man (Extremis Armor)

Iron Man updates his suit every so often, so trying to get a "modern" version of his figure proves challenging. I thought I had that with the last "modern" Armor - which he was sporting for quite long while in the comics. Don't let the bad pose of that image fool you - I really loved this version of the armor.

As you can see, the next iteration, appearing in Warren Ellis' Iron Man revamp story arc "Extremis", isn't a complete departure from what the last version of the armor was sporting: it's simply sleeker. This new figure is vast improvement in both looks and design from the older version, which I'm pretty pleased about. Iron Man comes with an outstretched hand - for firing repulser blasts, and a fisted hand for, well, punching people. His arms are able to lift up entirely - but not without a bit of forcing, at first -- because the armor pieces on his shoulders block it a little bit.

There are two disk elements on both sides of the hips - which look like they could come off over the course of time, if the figure isn't taken care of.

Articulation in the legs is good, but not at the feet. You can't point them all the way down, for a flying pose. I also found a problem with his right leg - the piece was molded a little too wide, making it a little loose. It stays on and everything - but it worries me it might break. I've seen this on other figures before, and usually they turn out fine. Plus I just don't want to deal with sending it back and trying to get a replacement, or any similar aggravating issues. He still stands - and it doesn't impact the look of the figure. This default, however, probably isn't that common in the line - so wouldn't worry about it if you buy one yourselves.

Articulation in the waist in excellent - allowing you to lean Iron Man's chest back, for flying poses. His head, also, bends back all the way - which enhances the flying pose.

The paint job, and the sculpting, is excellent. This isn't a knock against it - but its worth nothing that this is (at least for me) one of the first Iron Man figures I've seen released without a removable faceplate. It was probably wise not to go with that, as such a feature can often inhibit the sleekness of a figures design.

Thor (Modern Day Costume)

This is the figure that started this hunt, and it was definitely the most challenging of all the figures to get. I tried finding it in stores - but was sold out everywhere, with no possibility of stores ordering them again. I believe cases only came with one Thor figure - so he was limited to begin with. He also seems to be one of the most popular figures in the line - as lots of fans have wanted a figure with his modern day costume. This has all, predictably, made the price to buy it online go sky-high! Usually around $40, sellers where ransoming the figure for an arm and a leg. Stores usually sell these figures for $20 -- I think their suggested retail price is suppose to be $15 to $16. So selling the rare and hard to find Thor, at a reasonable price, has become impossible. I've even seen prices on eBay go as high as $60!

I was lucky, though, to find an auction with a Buy it Now price of $25. The shipping, though, really hurt. There was no other option for shipping, just the $10 express shipping. I would have rather paid less and waited longer - but on the bright side it arrived on my door step within 3 days. I suppose it turned out ok - I ultimately paid around $35 - what other people where charging - but without shipping costs added to $35.

The figure, quite frankly, was worth it! It's a huge figure! The sculpt is detailed and well designed - and looks stunningly accurate to the way Oliver Copiel draws him. (You can see examples of that in this post here.)

The articulation is excellent - with wide movements for his arms - and joints on his wrists - which is excellent for posing him with his hammer outstretched into the air. His chest allows him to bend forward and far upright as well. His head can really only move left and right, as the mold of his hair prevents any extreme positions - but is otherwise good enough. The only thing to really criticize is you can't bend his legs forward into a sitting or kneeling position. The mold of his shirt below his belt prevents that.

The cape is molded and detailed. It doesn't move - but sometimes that's for the best - as a molded cape can give figures a consistent style and look no matter what. I do have a fear about the wings on his helmet breaking off at some point - so I'm going to put him in a box reserved for more fragile figures. (A box I don't rummage around in as much.)

There is a strap on Thor's belt which you can pop out and be put back in -- the reason for which, you can loop Thor's hammer onto the belt, like it does in the comics.

All in all this is an awesome figure! I only wish Hasbro had released more of it - lest that price on eBay continues soar higher and higher.

More Images

Thor versus the Silver Surfer!

I found that, with the way Thor's left hand is molded, it would be perfect for choking other figures; and perfect for pitting Iron Man against Thor, like in JMS' Thor #3. This is what Tony gets for defiling Thor and cloning a god.

Captain America died at the end of the Civil War. Tony kept his shield, for being all mournful and stuff.

Here's Tony if he had won the Civil War!

Eh, what the heck. Let's throw Bucky on that corpse pile too! (Now Iron Man gets two shields)

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