We’re living in Legendary times. That is, holy crap, the Marvel Legends just don’t stop. Even as I type, the Caliban wave is up for pre-order and the first Endgame assortment landed at Toys R US Canada. People that pre-ordered the Professor X and Deadpool Scooter Riders have been getting them, and they’re hitting outlets by the end of the month. And that doesn’t account for the Kingpin assortment or, the subject of today’s write-up, the M’Baku wave.
We’ll be looking at a complete M’Baku, but not a complete wave. I didn’t get the Klaue; I managed to get the BAF torso piece on eBay for $4.50 (plus shipping). I also saved on this wave by getting two of the figures from Walgreens via their $13.99 ML sale (that runs until the 30th, and the ML Mystique exclusive is available online for the sale price); I ordered another on Amazon for $4 less than the regular price, too. So I ended up with five of the six regular figures, plus M’Baku, and I saved at least $40 overall in the process.
A Tale of Two Panthers:
This wave boasts two takes on T’Challa, one leaning on his look from the beginning of the Black Panther film, and the other a charged-up Vibranium look that’s labelled for Infinity War. Alternate heads are included with the “vibranium” figure, and both figures come with the same unmasked T’Challa head. Both of these are solid work with a lot of detail worked into the sculpting, particularly in the lines you find on the torsos.
The downside is that a lot of fans might pass on these since they’re similar to other releases. In all honestly, I almost passed too. However, weighing the high costs of the BAF arms online versus the costs of the figure, I actually saved money by grabbing one at Walgreens, spending less that I would have to obtain one of the auctioned arms. Not to get all Bob Ross here, but how you complete your collection is up to you. I like to get lots of things, but I like to save when I can. That said, these are both fine representations of the character, and they would be particularly good for someone that doesn’t have a T’Challa yet.
Hail to the Previous King:
T’Chaka doesn’t have any accessories apart from the BAF piece, but damn, it’s a nice looking figure. The head sculpt and other pieces are definitely different than the other Panther figures. And the ceremonial garb is tremendously colored. It’s a striking figure and, despite the BP base, it doesn’t look quite like anything else in the line. I wish there would have been swappable heads (maybe the young and old T’Chakas), but it’s a damn nice looking character as it is.
The Dora is the one I got on Amazon for just over $16. This is a terrific example of what Marvel Legends has been doing so well lately, and that’s creating extra pieces that allow you to transform figures or transition them into army-builders. The three heads here let you decide on the look of the Dora (the one that I used is clearly Ayo of “Move or you will be moved” fame). When you put this figure side by side with Okoye and Nakia, you can see that there are a lot of subtle differences (this article explains some of those notes, like the fact that Okoye’s gold elements are markings of rank). The included spear is different from Okoye’s; the rings, however, are the same. If you’re really into Black Panther and the Dora, this is a must have; I can actually see this one becoming rarer as people gobble up multiples for army-building. It looks great.
Erik Killmonger (Tactical):
No slight on the previous figures, but THIS is the Killmonger I wanted. The tribal mask is fantastic and the detail on Killmonger’s costume, belting, and holsters is incredible. The likeness to Michael B. Jordan is pretty top shelf, too. Amazingly, this was a $13.99 Walgreens grab, and I save two more bucks with a coupon. Ridiculous. It’s been remarked on that elements of the design were inspired by, or at least resemble, Vegeta from DBZ, so I tossed an old Bandai Vegeta in one shot to give you the look. This is easily one of my two favorites from the wave. I could see Hasbro taking parts of this (notably the legs) and repurposing them for other military-flavored figures down the road. Man, it’s solid.
Damn, kids. Can we just take a minute to praise Winston Duke? The actors from Black Panther have been widely celebrated, and Duke has been frequently remarked upon as a fan-favorite, but it bears repeating. M’Baku (Man-Ape from the comics) could have been a seriously, seriously problematic character. But a combination of top-flight direction, script, and performance made him a memorable break-out. Duke radiated charisma and unexpected humor in the role; when he showed up in Avengers: Infinity War, the theatre where I was broke out into a small cheer. I have to say: in a short amount of screen time, Duke transformed M’Baku into a bigger and better character.
Which brings us to the BAF. I was disappointed in the first BP go-round that M’Baku wasn’t in the wave. I was not surprised at all to find that he was the BAF this time. And Hasbro did it up right. One of my other favorites in this group, the figure nails the likeness and some of the intricacies of the costume. I’ve written before that the designers are paying more attention to hair and fur elements in costumes, and that’s evident here. They also made the right call on the height; M’Baku’s at least a head taller than the “vibranium” Panther. The staff accessory was the most appropriate choice, too. This is really, really fine work.
A word on Klaue:
I like Andy Serkis. But the figure didn’t do a lot for me. I may yet pick up a loose one on eBay someday, but it wasn’t a thing that I felt like I HAD to have. And that’s okay. I lucked out with a cheap torso pick-up, and this gives me the opportunity to invoke Ross again: get what YOU want.
Overall, this probably won’t turn out to be my favorite assortment of the year. But it’s a really good effort and I feel like it expands the universe of figures and my collection environment. That’s obviously a big positive.