Category Archives: Super-Articulate

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Super-Articulate: More Lucasfilm 50th and Bad Batch Hunter

Greetings! For your May the Fourth, we have five Star Wars Black Series figures here for your perusal. Four are new versions of previously released figures, all available on the Lucasfilm 50th Anniversary Archive Series card. The fifth is part of a brand-new Disney+ show that debuts today. Let’s check ‘em out.

The Bad Batch: Hunter: Hunter is the leader of Clone Force 99, nicknamed “The Bad Batch” because each Clone member possesses an advantageous mutation. Hunter himself benefits from enhanced senses. The characters’ armor is styled after the common Clone armor, but in a stylized gray.  In figure terms, Hunter comes with a number of accessories, including a removable helmet, a DC-17 hand blaster, a vibro-knife, a backpack, and a DC-17m repeating blaster rifle.

Right off, this guy looks great. The figure really captures the look from the animation, and they really tried to nail the face tattoo. The vibro-knife slides into a wrist gauntlet sheath, and the backpack fits on the figure via a t-shaped plug. The tendency today is to make two heads for a figure when you have a helmeted or unhelmeted look, but I really like that this comes with a (slightly flexible) helmet that you actually put on and take off of the figure.

I also find that Hunter is a touch more poseable than is the norm for the armored figures. Maybe that’s just my impression, but the fighter posed easily and the helmet managed the trick of both fitting snugly and coming off easily. I really like Hunter, and I’m looking forward to filling out the team.

Tusken Raider: I never had the first SWBS Tusken, so if this guy is basically the same . . . he’s new to me. I love this guy. The face is pretty exacting, the cloth robe hangs well, and the details sing everywhere. The figure includes a cycler rifle and a gaderffi stick with three interchangeable ends. When shooting the pictures, I was a little more interested in shots with the cycler rifle, probably because my original 12-back Kenner figure didn’t have one. However, I did include one triumphant gaderffi-hoisting shot. I think that this is just great overall.

Death Trooper: I’m a sucker for Stormtroopers and all their variants, so I jumped at the chance to pre-order that last three figures we’re covering this week. Up first is the Death Trooper, distinguished by its black armor. The figure comes with a pair of accessories: the SE-14r light repeating blaster, and the E-11D blaster carbine. Death Troopers were first seen in Rogue One, and have since appeared in The Mandalorian.

One of the cool things that you can tell under direct light or in the camera flash is that the figure isn’t totally black; it has gray and greenish accents at the joints. I like the Death Trooper design, and I’m glad it got a re-release for the people that didn’t get it the first time around (like me).

Shoretrooper: Like the Death Trooper and the Hover Tank Driver (coming in a minute), the Coast Defender Stormtrooper, aka Shoretrooper made its debut in Rogue One; like the other two, it’s also been seen in The Mandalorian. The Shoretrooper armor was designed for just that: operating in coastal environments. Like many Stormtroopers, the Shoretrooper carries an E-11 blaster rifle.

One distinct element of the Shoretrooper is the lack of full leg armor, and that’s reflected in the figure. Like the film character, the figure has that visor build-out on the helmet. I like the discoloration on the armor; it what armor would look like if it had to stay in a sandy, salt-heavy environment over a long period of time. It’s a good looking figure, and it can add some versatility to your displays.

Hover Tank Driver: This armor got a lot more play in Season 2 of The Mandalorian as Mando and Mayfeld. Hover Tank Drivers (aka Imperial combat assault tank pilots or tank troopers) did exactly what their name implies: they drive hover tanks and other heavy vehicles. In Rogue One, the operated hover tanks at Jedha City.

The armor bears similarities to the Shoretrooper, especially in terms of the unarmored thighs. The helmet is stylized differently, maybe evoking a heavier feel as befitting a helmet for an armored vehicle. Like the Shoretrooper and other Stormtroopers, this one comes with an E-11 blaster rifle. It might not be the most exciting divergence of the Stormtrooper armor, but I think it looks pretty cool.

All of these figures are available now in stores (if you can find them) and at various online outlets. So what do you think, collectors? Are you liking the Archive selections? How about the Bad Batch? Let’s hear it.

Super-Articulate: The rest of Mr. Hyde (and Katy!)

Welcome back, figure hunters! As you’ve read in recent weeks on Graphic Policy, the Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Marvel Legends assortment has had a bit of a strange release. Figures slipped out ahead of the April 25 street date at some stores, the pre-order information didn’t go up until April 24, and it was generally a very odd roll-out. But that’s over, the figures are in stores all over the place, and I’ve obtained the remaining four in the Mr. Hyde BAF wave, as well as the Target exclusive Katy. Let’s break it down.

Wenwu: There’s no way around this: Tony Leung Chiu-wai, aka Tony Leung, is a f——g legend. LEGEND. A massive star of Asian cinema and one of its greatest actors, period, the casting of Leung as Shang-Chi’s father Wenwu (and *cough*TheMandarin*cough) is a coup of epic proportions. So obviously, they have to do a good job with the figure’s face. And they DID. Hasbro has really improved the facial rendering on MCU figures by leaps and bounds.

The whole assortment has some really great costume detailing. There are intricate patterns and textures on the figures that you can tell took time. Those are also pieces that wouldn’t easily be repurposed, meaning that this is a case when those parts were created expressly for this wave without a huge chance they’d be used again. The Wenwu figure benefits from the double-elbow joint, which is great for posing. You’ll notice the five rings on each forearm; advance buzz is that this is how the Mandarin’s ten comic book (finger) rings are represented in the film. That’s a striking look, and another unique pair of pieces. Like other figures in this assortment, Wenwu comes with various hands for fight posing. Nice work overall.

Death Dealer: The cinematic Death Dealer has a great look. That mask is awesome, and the figure captures it. Like Wenwu, there are highly detailed vinyl elements. The paint color on this figure in particular pops; the blue is very deep and rich. DD comes with multiple hands, two of which are devoted to knife throwing effects. One holds a single knife as if it’s about to be thrown; the other has two in flight. I like dynamic accessories like this that can suggest action even in static posing. There is a slight bit of posing difficult on the figure’s left side, as the cut of the tunic and the stiffer vinyl prevents that leg from accessing full poseability.  Nevertheless, it’s a great look, and there are creative ways to address that if you’d like. This might be my favorite on the group on sheer look.

Xialing: Shang-Chi’s sister Xialang gets an excellently poseable figure. Like the other Shang-Chi figures, this one comes with multiple hands for fight choreography posing. I realize that it’s specific to the character design from the film, but it’s always refreshing when a female figure isn’t in heels. For one thing: much, much easier to stand. While this figure isn’t quite as visually interesting as some of the others, I feel like the utility of being able to pose it well makes up for that.

Civil Warrior: The Civil Warrior figure is based on the character designed used in the Contest of Champions game. Some parts appeared to be repurposed from the previously released “Hydra Cap,” but I have to say that this one looks great. Nice color choices and great paint apps, particularly on the distressed shield, really stand out. And this figure has some great poseability as well. I realize that this won’t be everyone’s bag; hell, I wasn’t super-excited when it was announced. But it was definitely one that makes a strong impression in person. Solid.

Mr. Hyde: I’ve been waiting for Mr. Hyde for a long time, mainly because he was part of the “Under Siege” Masters of Evil line-up. Also, with Mr. Hyde in the line, that should theoretically move Quake closer to reality. I might have preferred the earlier look to the slightly more dapper Hyde, but this is a GREAT BAF. My favorite detail is the bloodshot eyes. What a great idea, and what fine execution. Love the cane as a big-ass accessory. It’s not often that the BAFs get an accessory that large designed for them (Cull Obsidian and armored Thanos aside), so it’s great to see the work go into it. Suit color is great and the figure comes out appropriately huge. I really like this and, for “Under Siege” reasons, I’m glad he’s bigger than the Wrecking Crew. Well done.

Katy (and Morris) Target Exclusive: If you’ve read this column, then you know that Exclusives are a bane of my existence. I had very good luck ordering the Target exclusive Retro Rogue and Gambit online a few months ago, though, so I tried to be optimistic. A few hours before the stores opened for the April 25 onsale date, the Target app added this one for order. I placed a pick-up order online, paid with Red Card (5% off, kids), and picked it up later. Incredibly easy.

Outside of being an exclusive, this one has been contentious online for a few reasons. One, people have mocked the name Katy. Y’know, it’s the character’s name. If she has another, hidden identity, they’re hiding it, and that’s fine. Two, the comparison between her outfit and Mulan. Seriously, that’s your gripe? Three, that it’s Awkwafina. That’s your own problem. And Four . . . Morris.

Morris (whose name we know because he comes in a Lego set, and is named on the box) is a DiJiang. It’s a divine bird from Chinese folklore. Obviously, the movie plans to lean into more of the wuxia genre; if you’re unfamiliar with the term, it means “martial heroes,” and references legendary heroes from ancient China, frequently represented in fantasy literature or film (notably, to American audiences, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero). It makes sense to incorporate the genre, especially if the film contains a rumored appearance by Fin Fang Foom (a Great Protector dragon character has already been spotted in action toy and Lego form) and also features guardian lions (glimpsed in the trailer). So, as far as all that goes, Morris is cool. He’s a great value-add to the figure.

As for Katy herself, I think that the figure landed a good likeness of the actor. The bow, quiver, and arrows are all new accessories, and the quiver in particular is tailored to fit the figure. The long dress outfit is restrictive for posing, but it’s definitely distinctive and doesn’t look quite like any other figure in the line. In fact, one of the best things about the Shang-Chi figures in general is that have a unique identity, which is great on a number of levels.

If one thing characterizes this assortment, it’s EFFORT. You can see it in the detail, you can see it in the elbows, and you can see it in the willingness to make new pieces and accessories. They’re primarily new characters, they’re colorful, and they’re not like any Legends assortment we’ve seen before. I like them even more than I expected to, and I always consider that a fine compliment.

Super-Articulate: Marvel Legends Shang-Chi and Iron Man (A.I.)

So, this is a weird one. On Saturday, my friend Billy Cooper (of the Indiana Toy and Comic Expo and Indiana Toy Collectors Unite) posted a message on that Facebook group that he’d seen figures from the Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings/Mr. Hyde BAF wave at a nearby Target. And while we’ve seen some leaked pix of that wave online, there has as yet been no a) official announcement, b) solicitations that we’ve seen, or c) pre-order listing.

I rolled over the check it out later, and there were indeed five of Shangi-Chi and six of Iron Man (AI) on the pegs. The other four figures (Civil Warrior, Death Dealer, Wenwu, and Xialing) weren’t out. I asked an employee for help, and she scanned the backs. Normally, the scan will show if they have the rest of the assortment. This time was odd, as the scan of Shang-Chi only correlated to the five figures preset; same with the Iron Man, leading us to believe that the individual figures were solid cases. She even graciously checked the back to see if the other four were present, but they weren’t. I had no issues at check-out; they rang up for $19.99.

Again, this is unusual precisely for the reasons that I mentioned. Also unusual is the fact that their assigned system numbers (087167874 and 087163271) don’t show anything when you search them on the website. This is the opposite of what normally happens; in the case of the recent ML Storm and Thunderbird two-pack, for example, the number pulled up a listing even weeks before the on-sale date and arrival in stores. These two numbers, which obviously have to be active for the employee’s scan and completed sale, just don’t pull up anything.

Granted, this isn’t a mystery on the order of the Mary Celeste, but it’s just very peculiar. In our hyper-regulated retail world, it’s unusual for a previously unannounced product to just show up. It’s weirder still for coming the day after HasbroPulse Fan Fest, which teased a new Domino/Cannonball two-pack and set up the Iron Man/Ursa Major BAF wave for pre-order and didn’t release any information on this wave at all. Everything we’ve seen so far has been leaks to the likes of Rektangular and various Instagrams. Those figures showing up in a Target in the middle of Indiana is just . . . odd.

Fortunately, I have photos. This isn’t Bigfoot hunting, people. I’d also like to thank Jay at www.toynewsi.com who posted some of my photos as well. But here you can take a look at the figures, which include out-of-package shots. Each one comes with a Mr. Hyde BAF leg in addition to appropriate accessories.

Iron Man (A.I.): A comic-specific figure, the only real new part of this one is the holographic head. If you’ve followed the comics in the past few years, you know this iteration comes from a point where Tony spent some time dead, and an A.I. version of himself occupied an armor. The figure sculpt itself is a redecoed version of the 80th Anniversary figure; this one has a bright and shiny red-and-yellow scheme that kind of echoes that Secret Wars Iron Man figure from the ‘80s. It would almost be a perfect classic Iron Man as is were it not for the more modern blue on the chest. It’s a decent figure, and the A.I. is fun in you know the story.

Shang-Chi: Our first MCU Shang-Chi comes with a staff and four extra hands for various fighting stances. The overall poseability works out great for a figure like this, especially the double-elbows. I didn’t go super-deep into all of the possible fight poses, but you get a feel for the scenic versatility that the figure can carry. The Simu Liu likeness is pretty good, too. I feel like this is a good entry for the MCU section of the line, and I look forward to seeing the others.

Well, there you go, campers. If you’re interested in this line, happy hunting. I can’t guarantee their release pattern, as we just don’t know. I’ve reached out to my regular contact for comment, and we’ll pass it along if we have anything to share. Until then, if you have comments or questions, drop ‘em below.

Marvel Legends Shang-Chi Wave Spotted in Target

Our own Troy Brownfield scored two figures from Hasbro‘s upcoming Marvel Legends Shang-Chi and the Legends of the Ten Rings Wave.

Pictured are Shang-Chi and Tony Stark (A.I.) neither of which are spoilery and might have been released early due to that, though Civil Warrior would have been part of that too since that’s comic not movie related.

The first wave contains:

  • Shang-Chi (Movie)
  • Death Dealer (Movie)
  • Wenwu (Movie)
  • Xialing (Movie)
  • Iron Man (Tony Stark AI) (Comic)
  • Civil Warrior (Comic)

The figures also have a Build-A-Figure Mr. Hyde from the comics.

The film picks up on “The Ten Rings”, a terrorist organization that has been mentioned throughout numerous Marvel properties. The Mandarin, who wears the mystical ten rings, is the assumed leader of the group. But, as we learned in Iron Man 3, the Mandarin we were introduced to was in fact not the real one. We later learn that the real organization is pissed at the individual who “played the role”.

The toys that have leaked have given hints as to the plot of the film which will now debut on September 3, 2021 after delays. The figures have dropped before even a trailer.

Check out the figures below and we’ll have more to come!

Super-Articulate: Star Wars Black Series Lucasfilm 50th Jawa and Qui-Gon Jinn

I’m writing this just ahead of the Hasbro Pulse Fan Fest on Friday (April 9). Obviously, the event promises a lot of news. It’s almost certain that some of the Star Wars info will contain more items carrying the Lucasfilm 50th Anniversary branding. Two of those items are in the wild now, and we’ve got them here. One is the Jawa (pre-ordered from Amazon) and the other is Qui-Gon Jinn (Best Buy Exclusive).

Jawa: The Jawa is part of a cluster of anniversary figures (including Greedo and Obi-Wan Kenobi) inspired by a) the original 12 Kenner Star Wars figures from 1978 and b) the specific looks of those figures. If you know those original figures, you know that the Jawa initially hit shelves with a vinyl cape, and then quickly had a running change into a cloth robe. The new Star Wars Black Series figure is specifically based on the robe iteration.

There have been Jawas before in the Black Series, including a standard and an “Offworld” modeled of their appearance in The Mandalorian. I like this one the best. Maybe that’s informed by nostalgia for the original Jawas (which were my first experience with having a bitch of a time finding a particular figure in the stores), but I think that the look is great. The soft-goods robe is a well-considered idea, and lends an authenticity to the figure. The blaster sculpt is great, and the overall look is really sharp.

Just for fun, I took some photos of the new figure next to one of my original Kenner Jawas. It puts into stark relief just how small those original figures were. But you can also appreciate how far the figures have come in terms of detail and visual impact.

Qui-Gon Jinn: There’s been a Qui-Gon in the Black Series before, but I feel Hasbro refined the head for this one. It looks shockingly like Liam Neeson. That resemblance for a movie-based line should definitely be something that the design team shoots for. I felt like they landed it here.

The figure comes in a really outstanding bit of packaging. Made to resemble the original Phantom Menace blister cards, the package has a shiny quality that really makes it stand out. As I’m an opener, this is partially lost on me, but I can appreciate the look and think that people that display their carded figures will probably really like it. It’s well-done.

Qui-Gon comes with a single (appropriate) accessory, his green lightsaber. I found the figure to be fairly poseable. Occasionally, those vinyl/plastic tunics can hinder poseability, but I don’t find it restrictive on this figure. I decided to take a few extra pix with other characters to give a little perspective; Qui-Gon, like Neeson, is fairly tall. Overall, I think that this is a solid figure and a good anniversary choice. The original Qui-Gon can go for three figures online, so this will allow fans and collectors that made have missed the first one to catch up.

The 50th: So far, the 50th Anniversary program seems charged with figures that fit specific needs or address holes collectors might have in their line-up. It’s going to be interesting to see what comes out of the Fan Fest. The easiest guest might be Tech and Echo from The Bad Batch, as that’s the only new Star Wars we’ll be getting for several months.

What do you think, readers? Let us know.

Super-Articulate: Marvel Legends House of X

Greetings, mutants! This much is true: Jonathan Hickman and an army of collaborators totally reinvigorated the X-books with the twin House of X/Powers of X minis and the subsequent wave of related X-titles. The overall storyline gave the subline a much-needed shot in the arm and propelled the X-Men back to the forefront of comics conversation. Anyone that even vaguely pays attention knew that the story would get represented in figure form sooner rather than later. The (first?) House of X Marvel Legends is in stores now. Let’s take a look.

Overview: The initial figure selections are totally sensible. Charles Xavier, Magneto, and Moira McTaggert are crucial to this particular story. Cyclops, Marvel Girl, and Wolverine are likewise pivotal and among the most important X-characters (in fact, those three, Xavier, and Magneto appear on the House of X #1 cover). The Omega Sentinel appears as an antagonist early on, and the Tri-Sentinel looks cool as hell. So, onward.

Moira McTaggert: It’s about time. Moira McTaggert is about as important as a supporting character in the history of X-Men that I can think of. She should have been made years ago in her classic yellow and purple costume. I thought it was excellent that Hickman’s story elevated her profile and gave her an amazing and surprising backstory. Hasbro cleverly expounded on Moira’s multi-faceted role by making the figure in such a way that in can have two distinct looks. One is jaunty, mod-ish look with the cap and scarf, and the other, which I prefer, is the scientist look with the lab coat. This is another good example of Hasbro creating maximum value with extra parts and accessories that can completely change a figure. Here you have an extra head, two extra arms, extra hands, the removable lab coat piece, and the scarf, as well as a science book. The design team obviously put a lot of thought and care into the look. Amid iconic mutants, they made Moira stand out.

Professor Charles Xavier: The helmeted Xavier was an instantly iconic look. Nevertheless, the figure also comes equipped with an extra regular head and an attachable psionic power effect. The figure’s slim build is evocative of the fact that Hasbro really has developed a broader array of body types to more accurately capture a character. Maybe I like it more because I like the story, but I appreciate that it’s sometimes more difficult to nail the simpler design. This is a solid piece.

Magneto: I’ve been waiting for a white-costumed Magneto for some time, and I was not disappointed. This is a figure with presence. Great head/helmet and cape sculpts pull this together, and the extra grasping hands are perfect for poses to would illustrate Magneto using his powers. The stark white next to the primarily black costume of Xavier is a great contrast, and they look really good next to one another.

Marvel Girl: There were those that were unhappy with Jean taking back the Marvel Girl name and costume in the House storyline, but it’s hard to argue with an iconic name and look. In figure terms, this is an excellent representation of Jean from the storyline, and a solid take if you want to get a second one for your classic-era display.  The only negative for me is that the stiff vinyl of the skirt makes leg poseability a little bit difficult. Apart from that, it’s a good version.

Cyclops: As Cyclops is one of my all-time favorite characters, I’m always down for another version. I like the new blue-on-blue costume; it’s a deceptively simple, but cool, design. In terms of the sculpt, it’s a really good representation of Scott Summers. Like the previous Retro Cyclops in the X-Factor costume, this employs a second head and an attachable optic blast. This is another strong entry.

Wolverine: Let’s hear it for the fat claws! I vastly prefer the broader blades to the slimmer ones, and this figure gets that exactly right. And again, I’m happy that Hasbro makes a consistent effort to keep Wolverine shorter to be in proper scale with the other characters. While this costume is specific to the House/Powers story, this is actually a really strong Wolverine for those that collectors that just want a good version of each character.

Omega Sentinel: I’m always up for a previously unmade X-villain, so I was pleased to see this one added. The Omega Sentinel comes with two heads; the bald one reflects the House/Powers appearance, and the head with hair is an earlier look. Yes, the hair is a different color than the comics appearance, but the volume and detail of the hair sculpt is impressive. The interchangeable weaponized arms are great; they really make the figure pop and stand out from the other figures on the shelf.  This is a dark horse favorite for me in this wave.

Tri-Sentinel: I’m going to be completely honest: getting the three heads into the body was a MASSIVE pain in the ass. I can’t recall the last time I had this much trouble fitting a BAF piece in, let alone three. I had to go the hot water route on the neck joints in order to finally get them to fit. By contrast, the arms and legs fit extremely easily. Difficulty aside, I think it’s a great-looking BAF. As a big Neon Genesis Evangelion fan, I like the subtle referencing here. I also like BAFs that are big, and this fits the bill. It’s also surprisingly poseable. This and the Omega Sentinel look great next to each other; when I get a chance to do some shelf adjusting, I’ll be putting them next to Nimrod, too.

This is another strong showing from the Marvel Legends team. I do hope that we get some more House/Powers figures; I’d like to see a Marauders Kate Pryde, more New Mutants, and some undone characters, like Quentin Quire, in particular. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next. What about you, readers? What’s your take?

Super-Articulate: Marvel Legends Deluxe Thanos

Marvel Legends Thanos

Gather ‘round, kids. Here’s a story of how I almost passed up on what turned out to be a really great figure. So, when the Deluxe Thanos was previewed a few months back, I thought that it looked really good, but I figured I’d pass. While I have a pretty substantial Marvel Legends collection, and while I also have few qualms about getting another version of a character (or even the same character twice, if they go on two separate teams in my set-up), I thought I was set for Thanos. I had the MCU regular and armored versions, the previous Thanos BAF, and the Walmart Exclusive with the Infinity Gauntlet hand. Even though I thought that the King Thanos head looked great, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pick up the figure.

However! As the figure was hitting shelves, Target ended up having a 25% off a single toy coupon (both in store and in the app). With a small credit that I had already and the additional 5% percent I got off for having a Red Card, I thought it would be worth it to apply a fairly significant discount to the figure. And I’m glad I did.

The Deluxe Thanos is an excellent representation of the character. He’s big, both height-wise and in terms of mass, and definitely captures the Perez/Lim look of the character from The Infinity Gauntlet. The colors pop in a tremendously comic-accurate way. The heads are great, and I love the two interchangeable versions of the Gauntlet, particularly the “snap” hand. In fact, I thought that the “snap” hand and figure in general were so true-to-page that I included a photo of the figure next to that particular scene in the trade. It’s a fantastic adaptation. To give you some sense of the size and scale of the new version, I took a couple of pix next to other Thanoses (Is that right? Thanosi?) for some perspective.

Marvel Legends King Thanos

In display terms, I opted to use the King Thanos head. This is the future version of the Mad Titan that hails from the 2016 Thanos series; that series, incidentally, also brought us the introduction of Cosmic Ghost Rider (pictured) and The Fallen One/Silver Surfer (out now as a Walgreens exclusive; I’m still looking). In my (deeply irrational) mind, it made sense to go with the different version for the display. He does look damn cool with the Cosmic Ghost Rider.

I really appreciate that Hasbro is putting out these Deluxe figures, even though I know I probably won’t be gunning for all of them myself. (Contrary to what my wife might think, even I have my spending limits). But I’m glad that they exist, and I’m glad that they bring some wider character selections to the line. In fact, I’m hopeful that this might even be the avenue that manifests what is possibly my personal longest-asked-for Legend, Lockjaw. (Hell, how about a Pet Avengers boxed set? We’ve had versions of Zabu, Redwing, Ms. Lion, and Lockheed; give us Lockjaw and Throg, throw in Cosmo, and we’re golden).

Overall, this is a really good piece of work. Collectors that might have missed earlier offerings have a chance to add Thanos to their collection, and insane people like me can add another version to their universe. It’s another solid win.

Super-Articulate: A (Marvel Legends) Firestar is Born!

One of the most (don’t say it, don’t say it) hotly-anticipated (I said it) Marvel Legends, perhaps ever, is Firestar. Firestar had a unique trajectory for a new character entering the Marvel Universe, and it’s worth taking a look at that before we dive in on our review of the (remarkably) first-ever Marvel Legends Firestar figure.

Background: As you probably know, Firestar is one of those rare comic book characters that debuted outside their universe before moving into it. Other examples include Perry White (who appeared first on The Adventures of Superman radio show), Harley Quinn (Batman: The Animated Series), Agent Phil Coulson ( 2008’s Iron Man), John Diggle (Arrow), H.E.R.B.I.E. (the Fantastic Four cartoon), and X-23 (X-Men: Evolution). Her debut came in 1981’s Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends; originally, the Human Torch was supposed to be the third character (along with Spidey and Iceman) but the same legal and rights issues that plagued the 1970s FF cartoon (thus, H.E.R.B.I.E.) precluded the Torch’s involvement. The creators instead introduced the original character, Firestar.

Within the context of the animated series, Firestar (college student Angelica Jones) was a mutant and had previously been a member of the X-Men. The character was very popular among viewers of the show, which ended its run in 1983. Two years later, Firestar debuted in the Marvel Comics Universe in Uncanny X-Men #193; she was originally one of Emma Frost’s Hellions and helped her then-love interest James Prodstar (Thunderbird/Warpath) with his plan to take revenge on the X-Men. Shortly after, Firestar headlined a self-titled four-issue mini-series in 1986.

In Firestar’s new major appearance, she joined the New Warriors and was a member of that group from 1990 to 1996 throughout its original 75-issue run. Firestar and her New Warriors teammate (and love interest) Justice joined the Avengers in 1998’s Avengers (Vol. 3) #4, and the characters spent a few years on the team. After that run (and the dissolution of that relationship), Firestar bounced around as kind of a “value-add” character in projects like Marvel Divas and Young Allies. In 2013, Firestar finally joined the X-Men as part of the Amazing X-Men team. She’s been recently seen alongside the X-Men in the House of X mega-arc.

What About the Figure?: The figure? Oh yeah, the figure’s great. Let’s break it down, staring with the best, and funniest, accessory: Ms. Lion. If you recall, Ms. Lion was Angelica’s dog from the cartoon. Ms. Lion has her own little spot in the comics as a part of the Pet Avengers alongside the likes of Redwing, Zabu, Throg, Lockheed, and Lockjaw. Including this accurate (and admittedly, cute,) PVC figure is the right touch.

As for Firestar, the figure is packed with two sets of hands, two flame effects, and two heads. One head has a hair-swept sideways look, and the other head has its hair down (more closely resembling the animated version). The costume here is the classic look from both the cartoon and the character’s early years in print.

This is a very-solid piece of work from Hasbro. The paint really pops and the creative team has definitely captured the look of the character. I had a bit of difficulty switching heads; my figure seemed particularly tight, and I was a little worried about bending the collar. Ultimately, the other head went on fine. I prefer the hair-down head because when I think of Firestar, this is how I picture the character. That’s the best representation for me.

I had a little bit of a debate with myself as to where to display the figure. There are good arguments for a place near Spidey and his allies, and a valid one for the X-Men, too. I decided to go with my original impulse and put her with the New Warriors. (Note to Hasbro: Justice, Speedball, and Namorita, please). Firestar is a great, long-overdue, figure. I also appreciate that the figure was solicited as a single that could be ordered outside an assortment. Frankly, as much as I like the BAFs, I wouldn’t mind seeing more of that. I’m just glad that, after 40 years, Firestar has gotten a great, modern-scale figure.


Purchase: Entertainment Earth AmazonBig Bad Toy Store

Super-Articulate: Marvel Legends Into the Spider-Verse/Stilt-Man BAF wave

Let me get this out right up front: I like this wave a lot, even more than I expected to like it. Obviously, we’re dealing with a wave that is half-pulled from an absolutely outstanding piece of work in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, but Hasbro made a tremendous effort to make the four figures from the film match the particular stylized look of their animated counterparts. As for the other two, one is an early contender for the year’s best.

Peter B. Parker: I know that some people don’t like this figure. That’s crazy. This is a perfect representation of what the character looked like in the film, right down to the fast-food drink cup. From the “I’ve let myself go” body to the mismatched shoes, this is a figure that was crafted with care to match the source material. I like the inclusion of the second, partially unmasked head, but I prefer the completely unmasked version. This is a case study in interpreting the look of an animated character and realizing it in figure form.

Gwen Stacy/Spider-Gwen/Ghost Spider: Let’s start with the unmasked head. You know that I pay close attention to hair sculpts, and this one is just great. It totally captures the (accidental) asymmetrical haircut that Gwen has in the film. The masked head is solid. I find that the overall figure is faithful to the film and doesn’t simply copy the earlier comics version of the character in the ML line. In particular, the detail on the ballet-style slippers is well done. Gwen also comes with Spider-Ham, which is essentially a PVC with a moveable head. However, the design is tremendous and it looks great standing with the other figures.

Miles Morales/Spider-Man: This is top-notch work. Obviously, the two heads are great. But the figure really exists in layers, as real effort was made to differentiate the shorts, the hoodie, and the shoes. The figure also has thinner legs that the normal teen body, demonstrating the extra care and tooling that went into making the figure. It’s a complicated paint-app, too, with several different colors evident in the overall body. I hate to totally belabor the point, but if you’re gonna recreate an animated character, you recreate the character. And they nailed it.

Prowler: The Prowler is a cool figure, and the design is neat overall, but it falls a little short of the sense of menace that the character conveyed on-screen. It still looks pretty great, but given the choice between the two, I would take the earlier comic-centric version of the character every time.

The Hand Ninja: The Hand Ninja looks good in general; it does exactly what’s it supposed to do, which is be an army-builder. The pair of kamas and the katana are natural accessories, and well-rendered. I’m glad that the figure exists, but I don’t find it tremendously exciting.

Frog-Man: This is hands-down my favorite figure in the wave. I love the fact that this figure even exists, and it’s the kind of deep-bench selection that keeps me excited for future Marvel Legends announcements. This is a perfect realization of the character from the comics, and the figure is festooned with so many great details. Check out the springs under the flippers! Hell, check out the flippers! But the crowning touch is that you can see Eugene’s eyes inside the open mouth of the Frog-Man mask, just like his entry in The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. Another bonus is that Frog-Man is a much-different body-type that your standard heroic figure, acknowledging that Hasbro really put in the work to bring him to life (seriously, what other figures are gonna repurpose flipper feet with springs on the bottom?). Again, I love the commitment to producing “lower-level” characters. Which brings me to . . .

Stilt-Man BAF: My second-favorite figure in the wave!  Just look at this guy. Yes, of course, yes; Stilt-Man is a somewhat goofy concept. But look at it; that’s awesome. And he comes with the briefcase! (The briefcase even opens to show sculpted-in money). Of course, there’s a hilarious bonus here in that multiple pairs of legs (packed in with each Hand Ninja) can be added to make Stilt-Man ridiculously tall. I’m only showing one set in the photos. There’s also a secure base to keep the figure standing upright. I just love both this and Frog-Man, both of which are just plain fun. Which is what this hobby should be, right?

What do you think, campers? Tell us your thoughts. Frankly, I want to see some more secondary heroes from Spidey’s books, like Rocket Racer, and other related characters like Will-O-the-Wisp and Cardiac.  How about you?

Super-Articulate: Dawn of the Dark Elf (Hasbro’s Dungeons & Dragons Drizzt & Guenhwyvar)

Dungeons & Dragons

Welcome back to Super-Articulate! We’re taking a momentary pause in my running catch-up with a few lines to take a look at the brand new Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms Drizzt & Guenhwyvar two-pack. The Exclusive set is still up for pre-order on Hasbro Pulse (specifically, here) for $39.99, and has a projected shipping date of December 18. We would like to thank Hasbro, as this set was provided free from them for the purposes of review. And since we have it in hand, let’s get to it.

Historical Note: The first thing that I want to say about this is: it’s about time. I’ve been looking forward to the notion of some of D&D’s big characters making it to figure form for years. Yes, I do indeed remember the LJN line fondly and have a number of them in a tub in the basement (that’s right; even with the pictures you’ve seen, I still have stuff that isn’t displayed. Fear me.).But as for the characters based on the novels, this is uncharted territory. I think it’s fair to say that the Drizzt and the Dragonlance crew are the most popular of all of these characters, but Drizzt certainly enjoys the single greatest cult of personality. If Hasbro is exploring D&D in the upscale 6” figure style, he’s absolutely the logical first choice.

It also makes a lot of sense for Hasbro to tap into this audience. They own the property, they know that there are a lot of crossover fans of this material and figure lines they already have, and they have the craftspersons to make it worth while.  While I was never the most intense or devoted gamer, I got into it a long time ago (photographic evidence presented), and I’m quite excited to see what else they might come up with in this way.

Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms Drizzt & Guenhwyvar two-pack

Literary Note: If you aren’t familiar with Drizzt Do’Urden, here’s a bit of background. D&D originators TSR successfully launched Dragonlance in 1984 as both a new campaign setting AND a series of novels. Ed Greenwood had created his Realms setting in the ‘60s, and it was introduced into D&D as the Forgotten Realms in 1987. That same year, the Realms hit novels with Darkwalker on Moonshae. The publisher decided to dig into another area of the Realms for a new series, and writer R.A. Salvatore elected to set a trilogy in Icewind Dale. In the first book, The Crystal Shard, readers met Drizzt as a supporting character. The ranger soon became wildly popular, playing against the typical presentation of Drow (Dark Elves) as bad guys, instead of becoming an honorable badass with internal conflicts. Drizzt has appeared in 36 books as of this writing.

The Figures: Hasbro rolled a nat 20, kids. First off, the packaging is terrific. It’s got great art including a town backdrop that you could remove and use. There are also cards included depicting familiar D&D monsters, like a Beholder. And Hasbro saw fit to include an oversized 20-sided die. (Assuming that Hasbro makes more D&D figures, and I hope they do, they should include different types of die with each figure offering).

Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms Drizzt & Guenhwyvar two-pack

As for the figures themselves, this is some terrific work. Let’s look at Guenhwyvar first. Guenhwyvar is the magic panther that first appears in Homeland from 1990, the first book of The Dark Elf Trilogy. The panther was originally summoned a statuette, which is included as an accessory. The creative team did a nice job of sculpting Guenhwyvar; there are multiple points of articulation on the body, allowing for different poses of the legs and feet, and the tail moves as well. There’s some mobility in the head, and a hinged jaw for open-mouth poses. You see in the photos that there are hairlines sculpted in, showing  as a solid attention to detail. This is a great companion for the Drizzt figure.

As for the Drizzt sculpt itself, it’s extremely well done. The figure comes with additional hands and one additional head (the attached head is more of an angry or battle expression; the second is more relaxed, even sardonic). Drizzt’s outfit and armor have a great detail of detail and subtle color.  The cape is solid but not so rigid that you can’t pose the figure within it. The figure also comes with his necklace that depicts Mielikki, the goddess of rangers.

Two major accessories are Twinkle and Icingdeath, Drizzt’s scimitars. They look great and were clearly sculpted so that fans could tell them apart, given the different hilts. The swords were also made to work with two other accessories, which are sculpted enchantments that slide down over the two blades. That makes them look, well, awesome.

Altogether, this is a tremendous effort on the part of Hasbro. Everything about the set, from the box art to the accessories to the figures themselves, looks top-notch. If this turns out to be a one-shot deal, I understand. But I hope that this set opens the way for many more D&D characters to make their way to collector shelves. Anything else would be, frankly, cold.

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