Category Archives: Super-Articulate

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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.

Super-Articulate: Marvel Legends Deadpool/X-Force Strong Guy BAF Assortment

Greetings! We’re back, working our way through the last couple of months of stuff. Today we’re taking in the Strong Guy BAF wave, a grouping that includes some long overdue characters and some unexpected additions. Let’s get to it.

Sunspot: Sunspot has been due for a long, long time, and here’s hoping that we get a Bobby in his New Mutants costume in the near future. This outfit came from the Greg Capullo era of X-Force, and there are some great, colorful teams designs from it (Boom-Boom, for example, has already been represented). First off, Sunspot is officially on the list of “I’m just happy this exists” figures. It’s hard to believe that this is the character’s first Legends entry. Overall this is a tight sculpt. The mask detail is great and I’m glad that they chose to include a blackened version of the familiar energy crackle. Nicely done, and it’s about time.

Warpath: Warpath’s outfit is drawn from the same era as Sunspot’s, giving me some hope that we’ll see Siryn and Rictor sometime soon. Warpath is appropriately big, drawn more in line with his look in the early to mid 90s than when he was first introduced (when he first showed up as a Hellion in The New Mutants, he was downright trim). The shoulder pad details are of the time and I think that they did a nice job on the hair. He’s a fitting figure for the assortment, given its composition, and I was glad to see it make the cut. Again, nice solid job.

Maverick: A first-time Legend, Maverick was represented (like Sunspot before him) in the old 90s Toy Biz wave. It’s good to see him get an update, and it’s frankly a banger. This is a really nice-looking figure, with great detail and color applications. Maverick is an admittedly minor X-Universe character, but the figure is great and demonstrates once again that the Hasbro team puts a lot of effort into even lower-tier characters. The rifle accessories are well done, and representative of the weapons he carried when he showed up during Jim Lee’s run of X-Men. I really dig this one.

Black Tom Cassidy: Another “about time” guy, and certainly in the version that I wanted to see. Black Tom is a long-time X-Foe, and with Juggernaut getting two swings in recent years, it makes sense for his partner to get the Legend treatment. The old Toy Biz version was the character’s hybrid look, but this is his original classic depiction, and it’s great. I really like the shillelagh accessory, and the face sculpt is appropriately smarmy. He looks a bit like Bruce Campbell to me, which is just fine. I’m never going to complain about new X-foes making the cut.

Shiklah: Easily the most obscure Legend in a while, Shiklah is a Queen of the Underworld that first appeared in 2014’s Deadpool: The Gauntlet Infinite Comic #3. She was even Mrs. Deadpool for a while before leaving him for Dracula (it’s complicated). They definitely got the horror vibe of the character right, and did a fine job realizing costume details. I appreciate that the necklace is a separate piece. As a personal quirk, it’s cool to see purple show up in the palette (there just aren’t a lot of purple figures, when you think about it). I took a shot of the severe heels on the boot sculpt; they make the figure a little harder to stand, but it still looks good. Shiklah comes with Jeff the Land Shark who is, quite frankly, cute (and a fun little addition).

Deadpool (Blue X-Team Suit): Not much to say about this one. If you really wanted this version of DP, you got him. It’s a good solid figure and sculpt, but really made for the hardcore Deadpool fans or someone that wants an exacting team line-up.

Pirate Deadpool: Honestly, this is hilarious. I can’t believe that this exists. I find it fairly funny that Hasbro picked it, and I’m kind of glad it got made because it’s just so weird. Thumbs up for doing the completely unexpected.

Strong Guy: We’ve been missing Guido for years, so FINALLY, it’s great to see Strong Guy in the Legends line. This is a top-notch BAF, fully using the capability of a BAF to embrace and over-sized character. The proportions are dead-on in terms of the character’s comic book look, and that face sculpt is perfect.  This is a tremendous figure, and I’m really, really glad that he finally made it into the line. Honestly, it’s worth picking up those two Deadpools, even if you’re not a huge fan, just to fill this one out. Great work.

What do you think, readers? You dig this wave and BAF? We’ll be back soon with more recent releases. Thanks for reading!

Super-Articulate: And Hellfire is Their Name!

As promised for a few weeks, the mighty review catch-up begins! Rather than make them exactly chronological, I’m grouping recent releases in ways that make sense. Today, we’re checking out two Hasbro Pulse Marvel Legends exclusives: The Hellfire Club boxed set, and the “army-builder” Hellfire Club Guard.

Comics History: The Hellfire Club first appeared during the fabled “Dark Phoenix Saga” in (Uncanny) X-Men #129, cover-dated January 1980. Their appearance here informs the design of the four figures in the boxed set, as well as the Guard. You probably know that the Club tried to both recruit Kitty Pryde and seduce Jean Grey into becoming the club’s Black Queen, thanks to the manipulations of Jason Wyngarde, aka Mastermind. The idea of the Club, created by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, has its roots in both history (“Hellfire Clubs” were a real thing where powerful people would indulge in particular behaviors behind closed doors) and pop culture (one such club appeared in the “A Touch of Brimstone” episode of the U.K. series The Avengers in 1966; the updated look and name of Mastermind is inspired by actor Peter Wyngarde, who appeared in that episode). Two members of the Club, Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw, continue to play crucial roles in the X-books today. Frost and Shaw are included in the boxed set, as are Donald Pierce (who also appeared in #129) and Jean Grey (in her Black Queen garb). The set also produces an opportunity to make later Black Queen Selene, which you’ll see. The Hellfire Club guards debuted in the Dark Phoenix arc as well, and had a showdown with Wolverine in the scene that made him a breakout star in issue #133.

The packaging of the boxed set is very cool. The outside evokes the club gates. Inside is an invitation reminiscent of the one that Angel received. There’s an inset piece of art of the four characters represented, and the background art looks like the Inner Circle’s private chambers. It’s beautifully done.

Let’s take a look at the figure . . .

White Queen Emma Frost: There have been Emma Frost figures before, a couple of which were unfortunate. The Walgreens exclusive version was actually a terrific figure in a more modern costume, but fans had always wanted this original iteration of Emma. It’s fantastic. This is pretty much exactly how I always wanted to see Emma Frost represented. The cape detailing and the clasp are on point. The bright blue eye shadow is both comic accurate and of the period when Emma first appeared. Despite the hit or miss nature of heel-booted figures in the standing department, I found Emma easy to pose and stand. This is a really strong entry for the series.

Black King Sebastian Shaw: It’s about time. Shaw has been a significant antagonist for the X-Men for 40 years now, even appearing in X-Men: First Class. And yet, here’s the first-ever figure. I’m happy to report that it’s a good one. Yes, Shawn and Pierce appear to use the same body when Pierce should be thinner, but that’s almost a quibble, considering the fact that these even exist. The face sculpt is pretty much perfect, and the overall design is great. I like the slide off cuffs that facilitate easy changing of the interchangeable hands. I used a fist for the display because Shaw’s power (observing impact and converting it to strength) is obviously a physical one. Cool figure.

White Bishop Donald Pierce: Pierce is a cyborg, and later becomes leader of the Reavers. His cybernetic nature is reflected in the interchangeable cyborg hands included in the set. There’s also a blaster that I deemed him, considering his use of weapons with the Reavers and so on. Frankly, I’m just glad that this got made at all.

Black Queen Jean Grey/Selene: There was a previous Black Queen Jean Grey figure that was a Toys R Us Exclusive. It’s . . . not great. This one is, though. Yes, the body is basically a repaint of the Emma Frost body, but that Jean head sculpt is dynamite. I’m choosing to display mine with the Selene head; Selene was a significant antagonist for years, and deserves to be represented on the shelf. I really like the Selene expression, which reads as “queen bitch.” Not wrong. Unsurprisingly, the figure comes with a whip as an accessory.

Hellfire Club Guard (not in set): This is exactly what I want from an army-builder figure. He’s got the details right, he’s got appropriate accessories, and he doesn’t cost as much as the other figures. Thank you, Hasbro! Even if this guy is a low-frills affair, he’s still very accurate (mask looks great) and provides an extra layer to your Marvel collection. I’m a big fan of the army-builder concept, and I hope to see Hasbro continue to employ it in a number of ways.

Downers: The boxed set as a whole is great, and I’m glad to see certain figures addressed. However, there’s a downer in that two Club members are conspicuous by their absence: Mastermind, and Harry Leland. I can understand Leland not being here, as he would necessitate a bigger figure and might make an appropriate BAF or a bigger exclusive someday. Mastermind’s absence is noticeable because a) he’s one of the story drivers of the arc, and b) He first fought the X-Men all the way back in #4. I’d really like to see Hasbro do both the Hellfire Mastermind and the original Brotherhood of Evil Mutants take. I feel like they’re both pretty necessary for a complete, classic Hellfire Club (note to Hasbro: see, I’m not stomping my foot for Friedrich von Roehm or something.)

Tell us what you think, readers. Have a safe holiday!

Super-Articulate: Marvel Legends Age of Apocalypse

Marvel Legends: Age of Apocalypse

Greetings! We’re still playing catch-up here, but I did hold off long enough for my deluxe Apocalypse to arrive so that we could include him with the wave that bears his name. Let’s get into it.

What is the Age of Apocalypse?: For those that don’t know, The Age of Apocalypse was a massive 1995 crossover in the X-books, spreading through roughly 45 issues (including the LegionQuest prelude). When Legion went back in time to kill Magneto (perceiving that such an act would help his father, Professor X), he accidentally killed his father. The timeline radically shifted, and the regular X-titles were replaced for four months with various AoA books. While the timeline was righted at the end of the story, the AoA has been revisited in a 2014 series and in the Secret Wars event. With AoA giving us some radically different versions of characters, it’s a natural for producing figures; the original Toy Biz line of the ‘90s did a few of the characters. The Marvel Legends line has done four AoA characters previously: Weapon X (Wolverine), Sabretooth, Sunfire (as an exclusive) and, much more recently, Blink. Here’s a look at the most recent assortment, the Sugar Man Build-A-Figure, and the deluxe AoA Apocalypse.

X-Man: X-Man is one of my favorites of the bunch, in part because the little details are right. He has a somewhat complicated costume in terms of deco, but it looks great. The real winner is the power-effect piece constructed for his eye to mimic that flare that occurs when he uses his powers in the comics. That’s that extra bit of effort that puts the figure over the top. My only quibble is that the figure has weirdly small feet, which makes it a bit harder to stand in some poses.

Morph: Morph was one of the breakout characters of the original comic stories, and he got to carry on after that crossover in Exiles. The face here is excellent, totally capturing the fun-loving personality of the shape-shifting character. Morph has kind of an interesting history, as his resurrection and inclusion in the series was inspired by the popularity of a different version of Morph from the ­X-Men animated series (who was based on the Changeling character who a brief antagonist and brief ally of the team in the 1960s). The costume details are right on and the colors pop. It’s a fun figure.

Jean Grey: Jean is probably my least favorite of the bunch, but only because she’s a little vanilla. It’s a good sculpt, and well-done, but it pales against strong entries in the group.

Weapon X: This take on Weapon X is superior in every way to the earlier version. This head sculpt with the crazy hair is fantastic. He’s short, which Wolverine is supposed to be, and the hand accessories are tremendous. In the comics, Wolverine wore the cap over a severed hand, but a late surprise showed that he claws on that arm still worked as they came busting out of the cap. Hasbro gave you both the cap and the claws-extended-cap, which is great. The figure’s short stature looks even better next to Apocalypse. Rock-solid entry.

Sunfire: This was a fan-favorite design for the books, and the design team nailed it in the sculpt. Yes, a version existed before, but this is excellent. The flame effects, the molding, and the paint job are great. The power effects are a nice boost to the overall look. This is one of my favorites from the group; it’s a striking figure.

Wild Child: Poor Wild Child was made in the 1990s Toy Biz line, but only as a dinky sidekick figure to the regularly-sized Sabretooth. He gets much more due here. The crazy, feral face-sculpt is great, and I like that they worked hard to make him thin and wiry as in the comics. The chain accessory is comic appropriate, and I photographed him with the earlier figure for his “handler,” Sabretooth. If there’s another wave, I hope they update Sabretooth, as I think this figure will stand out more with an appropriately scaled Victor Creed companion.

Dark Beast: The Toy Biz Dark Beast was comically oversized with a face-sculpt that looked more like an orc that a sinister Hank McCoy. This figure (still big, but better) is a vast improvement, especially in the face. This figure has a terrific evil expression. There’s some tremendous detail in the hair, too. The metal finish on the pants comes off well against the gray fur body, too. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this one when it was announced, but in person, it’s great.

Sugar Man BAF: The gross, four-armed Sugar Man debuted as a new character in AoA, and Toy Biz did an oversized figure of him as well. However, that was more appropriate to the character, and Hasbro kept that in mind for the BAF. He’s huge. And ugly. And pretty awesome. This is a great realization of the BAF concept, breaking expectations with a design that took a lot of thought and original pieces to produce. It’s a pretty awesome thing to see on a shelf; it’s a really unique piece. (And that tongue, man; hilarious). Great job by all involved.

Apocalypse: I like Hasbro’s commitment to making larger-sized figures in separate, deluxe boxing. Apocalypse is big. Really big. Especially when you match him up to Weapon X.  Both of the included head sculpts are equally strong; you’re going to have to make your own call on “angry” or “maniacal laugh.” The cape attaches well, and the skull accessory (which can be cradled in an interchangeable open hand) is fun. I like the strategy of using the deluxe program to make bigger figures that would succeed easily on their own while using the BAFs to support other characters.

I know that there was some fan grumbling (shocking, I know) about this sub-line, but I liked it a lot. There are some great sculpts here, and it gives an added dimension to displays. I wouldn’t mind seeing more; I’m personally more invested in House of X/Powers of X getting filled out, as well as classic rosters for teams like X-Force (Rictor, Siryn, Feral) and Excalibur (Shadowcat, Meggan, Phoenix II). That’s my take; what do you think?

Super-Articulate: Marvel Legends Catch-up with FF and Exclusive Black Widow

Greetings, humans! I’m still playing COVID-catch-up and there’s more ground to cover, especially when new Legends, Black Series, and more are primed to hit in the very near future. First, some shopping details . . .

The Land of Pre-Orders: The Marvel Legends Stepford Cuckoos, previously a Walgreens exclusive, are now up for a January pre-order at Big Bad Toy Store. A number of new McFarlane Toys DCU figures just went up for pre-order at various outlets. I just received my ML Moon Knight from Walgreens that I pre-ordered four months ago, review pending. Backing is now closed for the enormously successful HasLabs ML Sentinel. A whole slew of Star Wars Black Series and Vintage Series figures just got posted across channels as well. Budget mightily, my friends.

Walmart Exclusive Marvel Legends Black Widow: God, how I loathe Walmart, Target, and Walgreens exclusives. I can’t think of ANYONE in the fan community that likes the mechanisms. Sure, some of the figures are great, but at this point, Hasbro is risking alienating fans when they have their own perfectly fine delivery system with Hasbro Pulse. I have ZERO complaints about my numerous Pulse orders. I have nothing BUT complaints about every exclusive I’ve obtained (or tried and failed to obtain) from the other outlets. I pre-ordered this particular figure from Walmart, had it cancelled, tried again, had it failed, and finally said f— it and got it on eBay for several more bucks that I wanted to pay.

The main reason that I wanted this Black Widow is that it’s finally doing Natasha in the Frank Miller design that she also wore during her ‘90s tenure in the Avengers as team leader. I really enjoyed a lot of those stories, and since I do shelves based on decades or particular line-ups, this was a must-have for me. Overall, the figure is great. The sculpt is solid, the jacket is well-done, and the hair is perfect. I also enjoy the various accessory pieces for the Widow’s Sting/Bite bracelets, particularly the “smoking gun” versions. I’m lukewarm on the jetpack, but it’s just one in a solid bunch of value-adds. I like the figure a lot, but I wish that it would have come from Pulse or a dependable exclusive partner, like Entertainment Earth.

Marvel Legends Fantastic Four Super-Skrull BAF assortment

Ah, the Super-Skrull. Previously done one time in the somewhat hard-to-find now FF waves that were ML adjacent, he became a much requested figure over time. His presence as the BAF in this group was the tipping point for me, as someone that has a couple of solid runs of FF figures. Let’s cover the six individual figures, and then Super-Skrull.

Mister Fantastic: The new FF figures take their visual inspiration from the art of the terrific Sara Pichelli, who began her run on the team with the new #1 in 2018. I really like her darker take on the costumes and other elements. The latest figures themselves have a lot of carryover from the Walgreens wave of a couple of years ago (which were MUCH easier to find), but there are enough new bits to make them a separate entity. My favorite thing about Reed here is that they finally gave us a bearded Reed. I think that the stretchy fingers are a little bit, well, silly, but it’s a new twist on stretching accessories, so I can dig it.

Invisible Woman: The figure itself feels a bit slight, almost too thin. However, the head sculpt is great and there’s a tremendous accessory in terms of the invisible shield. Honestly, I’m struck  by how much the figure just looks like Sue. I might prefer the Walgreens version to this one; overall it’s good figure that is just overshadowed by other pieces in the line.

Human Torch: The “human” Johnny instead of a fully “Flame On!” Johnny was a good idea, as where the various flame accessories. The hands were well-considered, and the trails of fire look great in a display. It’s hard to give an action figure a cocky attitude, but they managed to do that with the face sculpt. I found this to be really strong work.

The Thing: The big guy is massive. The body is pretty much the same as the Walgreens version, but I do really like the grumpy face. This is a full-on “It’s Clobberin’ Time!” take on Ben that I really enjoy. I think that the rocky surface detail work and the paint wash are really well done, adding some nuance where he could have just been a big, orange, well, thing. I also find the figure to be more poseable that I expected, given its size.

Savage She-Hulk: This is the modern take on the “Savage” She-Hulk that we began to see regularly with the Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness run of Avengers that began in 2018. Of course, Shulkie has a distinguished history with the FF, too. I like this figure more than I expected to, but it’s just not a favorite for me. I like the hair effects, but it feels like the design team trended a little more “sexy” on the body than the slightly more “muscly” look we see in McGuinness’s art.

Doctor Doom: Doom is great, full-stop. I like everything about this take on Doom, and he was the other tipping-point for me to get this wave. The mask and the visible eyes are perfect. Also, the clutching hand is key, in my opinion. Everything about this figure just nails DOOM for me. The cape is very well-done, and the notion of including two different heads with different interpretations of the hooded look is right on. This is peak Doom.

Super-Skrull: No pun intended, but this is one fantastic BAF. I went with the smiling head because, damn, that’s a great expression. I love that we got two arm options; I went with both powered arms. This is a much better treatment than the worst take, and worthy of a long-serving, and fan-favorite, character. This is one of the times that I see the figure and just think, “That’s it; that’s the character.” It’s not a HUGE build-a-figure, but’s it’s an incredibly well-considered use of the BAF idea, and the extra limbs and head are icing. It’s a strong and sensible use of the slot, and it just looks great. Like I said, this was the main driver in me getting the set, and I am not disappointed.

That’s all for now, kids. I’ll be back extremely soon with take on the ML Age of Apocalypse assortment, as well as the Walgreens Exclusive Moon Knight. We’ve got new Star Wars coming in soon, as well as that X-Force/Strong Guy line-up. Thanks for reading.

Super-Articulate: Catching Up on Marvel Legends with Beast, Rage and more

Greetings, lovers of plastic! I return with the beginning of a long catch-up on Marvel Legends. In short order after this installment, I’ll be hitting the FF Super-Skrull BAF wave and the Age of Apocalypse wave. Until then, let’s start with . . .

HASLAB SENTINEL: Holy crap, kids. No, I probably won’t get it. And yet, everything that Hasbro is packing into this guy looks amazing. The alternate Master Mold and damaged heads, the Bastion, the female Prime Sentinel . . .they’re putting in a lot for the $350. If you can afford it, you still have plenty of time (until before August 24) to get in on it.

Beast Fan Channel Exclusive: I know there were a lot of mixed feelings about this one, with people not being satisfied with the heads, etc., but I think it’s fun. I decided to shelve it with my ‘60s/’70s Avengers. Yes, Beast wasn’t the gray by the time he got on the roster, but it’s still from the era, and I just thought it looked kind of cool along with Hellcat, Black Knight, and so on. I really would like a hairless X-Factor-costumed Beast someday to complement the X-Factor Cyclops, but I have to say that I enjoy this figure.

Iron Man 2020 (Walgreens Exclusive): Ah, Walgreens . . . you continue to bedevil me. Still haven’t seen a Stepford Cuckoo in the wild, but I did grab Arno Stark. This was more out of nostalgia and the original Machine Man mini that anything else, but I have to say that a) I’ve always liked the shoulder-gear design and b) I really like the power effects. If one of the prime functions of a collectible figure is to just look cool, this one checks that box for me.

Rage: Hey! Another New Warrior! Finally! Yes, I’m well aware that Rage was an Avenger, but the New Warriors feels like his home to me. While I definitely think that ML needs to pick up the pace on the Warriors (seriously, why no Firestar after all this time?), I’m glad to see that Rage finally made it out. I feel like the creative team did an especially fine job here, particularly with the expression. The sheer size of this guy is great, and he looks appropriately big next to Night Thraser and the original Nova. A big winner for me.

Mach-1: I was a big fan of the original Thunderbolts, so more team progress is great in my book. I always liked Mark Bagley’s Mach-1 design, and I think that the figure captures it really well. The metallized paint apps are pretty great. This is one of those figures that’s a fairly exact representation of the character as presented in the comics. I think it looks even better with Citizen V and Songbird than Rage does with the other two (sorry; just my feeling). I’d like to see Atlas get the BAF treatment, perhaps in a ‘90s-centric wave that makes him an appropriate choice. As it is, it’s great to see another classic Thunderbolt make the cut and get on the shelf.

Talk to me, people. What have you been picking up, if anything? What are you most looking forward to? Guesses on Virtual SDCC reveals? Let’s talk.

Almost American
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