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Marvel Legends

Marvel Legends – Smart Hulk Wave – Union Jack

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I am not always too familiar with whom these Comics characters are. Especially when they go off into people like union Jack here. That said, I often don’t mind picking them up for the sake of a BAF that I do care about. Or sometimes just because they seem neat. Union Jack pretty much falls into the latter, though there is a bit fo the former there.

What I can gather from reading some summaries of his story online, he’s sort of like a cross between Captain America and James Bond. There have been a few different people who used the mantle of Union Jack, so some of them were more Bond than Captain America, and visa versa. One thing that seems to be regular, aside from the very United Kingdom Flag themed suit, is his knife and handgun.

The base figure is pretty standard fare, nothing super detailed on his sculpt or anything. I do rather like the paint job of the Union Jack flag on his outfit. What helps him stand out is his belt, which has both a sheath for his knife and a holster for his gun. Both function well. He only has one set of hands, but they function well for his weapons. Which is kind of the point.

All in all, he’s a pretty decent figure. Nothing super noteworthy, but there could be worse figures in the line and at least he’s more notable than Rock Python.

Marvel Legends – Smart Hulk Wave – Rescue

A neat little surprise of sorts in Avengers: Endgame, though not totally unexpected, was the appearance of Rescue. Rescue is the name of Pepper Potts, when she dons her own Iron Man style armor. She sort of does this briefly in Iron Man 3, though not voluntarily, since Tony was protecting her from the collapsing Stark mansion. At the end of that film, thanks to the Extremis formula, she also gets a bit of a taste for being the hero. Plus, Rescue is a “thing from the comics”.

Basically, it’s not a huge surprise or stretch that Pepper Potts would eventually wear her own suit, especially after the extreme events of Infinity War. We got a comic version of Rescue a few years ago as an exclusive for Marvel’s comic subscription service, but this MCU iteration doesn’t share any of the same components. The design follow the design shown in Endgame pretty well, the whole suit is very sleak, which also fits in with the evolution in design philosophies we saw Tony go through over the course of the films. Unlike Tony’s armor colors of red and gold, Rescue is blue and gold.

For accessories, she is a little light on parts. She has no alternative repulsor hands, which is a bummer. Even more of a bummer is that she lacks and unmasked head. They even have a Gwyneth Paltrow head available from the recently release Iron Man 3 boxed set. Maybe they are saving it for a future line or boxed set, maybe it just didn’t seem important enough, but it kind of sucks that it’s not there. I don’t have the boxed set myself to test if the head fits on this body. What she does have is a swap out backpack part, to give her her little jet pack wings. This was also a look that Tony gained during the recent movies. I suppose from an armor evolution standpoint, it’s useful to be able to control your flight without relying on the hands and feet.

Also notable, the label on the back lists Rescue as 0049, so does that make it Iron Man armor 49? Or Rescue version 49?

So, on a basic level, there isn’t a lot wrong with this figure aside from the anemic extra parts. It’s somewhat to be expected since they probably won’t get a ton of reuse out of the mold, though if they ever bring iron Heart into the MCU, there could definitely be potential. I have to say despite that I really like Iron Man and his various armor, I actually find this figure really really kind of dull. She is plenty pose able, she even has double elbows and knees. I think it’s mostly just all the weird blue color or something. Plus the fists only kind of limits some of her posing since fists aren’t always appropriate for some action posts.

Marvel Legends – Smart Hulk Wave – Rock Python

So, this one will be pretty short and to the point for sure. Rock Python is definitely a beyond nobody level character in the grand scheme of things. Hell, I keep wanting to call him Rock Viper.

There’s not anything particularly new or special aside from his goofy snake helmet head. It’s not even particularly snakey either, unlike say King Cobra or Cottonmouth. Aside from the Smart Hulk BAF piece, he is mostly notable for being part of the Serpent Society.

I really think it’s neat how they keep slipping these guys in, since they also are kind of a big group of nobodies. But a band of snake themed villains hits the right notes for me on the goofyness level, so I’m trying to pick them up as they come out to build a little squad of Snake themed dudes.

So, there isn’t really much else to say about Rock Python. He’s not particularly snake-like and doesn’t have any accessories. His most notable traits are the BAF part and being an accessory to King Cobra.

Marvel Legends – Smart Hulk Wave – War Machine MK006

I’m assuming it’s War Machine Mark 6 here since he has a bit 006 emblazoned on his chest and the previous releases have different numbers. Anyway, moving on from some of the stuff that’s less interesting in this wave, the first of several MCU characters from this wave is War Machine.

I have to admit, for some reason I kept thinking Rhodes didn’t survive the Infinity War snap. I guess it felt redundant to have Iron Man and War Machine survive. But he did, and he ended up with some new armor for Endgame. Over the course of the films, War Machine has basically just been getting more and more bulky. It kind of fits with his more military motivations, versus Iron Man just trying to be a hero. It’s also not clear exactly how much input Tony Stark has on his newer designs either, I know for a while HAMMER was working on his suit as well. I imagine the USAF has some in put also.

It’s definitely a nice design though. It’s also nice that his suits aren’t just repaints of Iron Man figures, since they could have easily just gone that route. This iteration is quite a bit taller and definitely bulkier than previous Iron Man armors. It kind of makes me think of a small style Hulkbuster armor actually, though it’s still quite a bit smaller than the Hulkbuster Armor.

War Machine includes 3 accessories, one shoulder canon and two under arm gun… things. The shoulder gun is fine, but I am honestly not sure what the under arm weapons are supposed to be. They don’t really look like gun, they have these funky handle looking things, but not triggers and they can’t really be held like a shotgun or anything. I am sure they are accurate to something from the movies, but it’s also just kind of a crappy design. They don’t attach particularly well either and they don’t flow with the design of the armor at all and just look out of place.

There isn’t an alternate head, which kind of sucks but the open helmet from the previous release sort of fits on the armor, though it’s noticeably undersized.

The articulation on this guy is pretty good given his bulk. I mentioned this briefly when I talked about Beta Ray Bill. The shoulder pads have plenty of give on them flipping up that allows for the arms to bend upwards some. The legs don’t get in the way of themselves at all really either. A neck joint with more range of motion would have been nice so he could look up would have been nice, given that the suit is capable of flying. He also could really use a peg hole for a display stand as well, once again, because he is often seen flying.

Of this whole wave, I have to say War Machine is probably the stand out winner. He has very few real problems and the design is great. He’s bulky and looks bad ass, he is articulated a lot better than expected. He’s just a great all around figure.

Marvel Legends – Smart Hulk Wave – Loki (Comic)

I’m not super keen on Loki’s comic book look. He’s a little too, court jester in style for my liking. Still, he’s kind of a big part of the whole Thor and Asgardian world, being Thor’s brother and all, so not having a Loki to go with my other Asgardians was kind of a hole in need of filling. Plus, frankly, I kind of wanted everyone else in the wave.

I’m sure someone who keeps better track than I do would know which “buck” this is, but it’s pretty much just “Bulky dude in spandex”. The figure is honestly pretty basic overall, though it does match his look. The best part of this figure is the most unique part, specifically the head with the cheese eating grin. The face is goofy and fun. I do kind of hate how his pony tail is permanently swooshy in style.

Loki is the God of Mischief after all.

The only accessory he includes in a sword. I am kind of surprised he doesn’t have a cape or anything, I guess this costume design just doesn’t have one. Some extra hands could have helped flesh out the package as well.

I don’t have much else to say about this figure, he’s a notable character, but it’s just such a boring design.


Marvel Legends – Smart Hulk Wave – Beta Ray Bill

As a fairly popular secondary character of the Marvel universe, it’s kind of surprising that Beta Ray Bill doesn’t have more figures. He has a neat design that lends itself pretty well to being a “cool toy” and his outfit could easily be made from reusing most Thor figures. If you are unfamiliar with the character, you may notice that he looks a lot like Thor. His origin and history is very much related to Thor and the hammer Mjolnir.

He was one of, if not the first character, besides Thor, to be worthy enough to wield the hammer in the comics. His creepy evil looking design was done intentionally to throw readers off. Basically, just because someone is a creepy skull horse man, doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of wielding the hammer. After some battle with Thor he was given his axe Stormbreaker by Odin. Stormbreaker also being the Axe forged by Thor during the Infinity War movie to kill Thanos. The point I guess is that Beta Ray Bill being included in an Endgame themed wave of figures isn’t as random as it seems, certainly not as random as say, Union Jack.

This costume isn’t quite his standard fare, which usually has the larger, more centered circles like Thor has. This has a lot of fans kind of upset at this figure. I don’t personally care enough about the character to be that concerned about it, but it’s something that I’ve seen complained about enough that it’s worth noting. If i am going to complain about something here it’ll be the shoulders, which are pretty limited by the way the shoulder pauldrons hand. It’s extra annoying because the ones on War machine in the same wave are similar, except the ones on War Machine aren’t nearly as inhibiting.

I do like the way the cape operates with the pauldrons however. The cape has little rings that pop over some larger mushroom pegs sculpted onto the front of the pauldrons. It’s a design that I don’t recall seeing used before in Marvel Legends. It certainly holds much much better than other solutions I’ve seen, like pegs in the front of the shoulders. Plus, no ugly peg holes if you remove the cape.

The head is also pretty nice. Beta Ray Bill’s jaw is articulated, which is great for being able to give him a bit of change to his expression when posing him.

All in all, he’s a pretty neat figure, and his design makes him pretty unique among Marvel figures who are mostly just dudes in spandex suits.

Toy Fair 2019 – What I’m Excited For

This last weekend has been Toy Fair 2019, one of a few times a year when big toy companies show off a lot of their upcoming stuff. Wonder Fest in Tokyo also tends to happen around this time period, though that’s mostly overseas releases. the other big event is SDCC in the summer.

The clear big winner for this year’s Toy Fair definitely seems to be Hasbro. I’m biased, since I have an interest in a lot of their lines, but overall, they really pushed out a deluge of stuff, a lot of it looks decent, some of it could be better, some felt almost non existent.

Transformers

I’ve been in kind of a slump lately with Transformers. There is a lot of neat stuff being put out, but I feel like I’m reaching a point I hit with Star Wars 3.75″ figs years ago where I just sort of, have everything I want, in a good enough representation. I can’t get excited at all about Seige, I have a Hound, and a Sideswipe, and an Ultra Magnus, and several Primes, etc etc.

I was a little disappointed by the lack of Studio Series Devastator. There have been a few reveals of some of the components in the last few months, but we still haven’t seen the complete deal.

The only real exciting thing that came out of the Transformers for me was the Ectrotron ECTO-1 Ghostbusters tie in. I pre ordered it on Hasbro pulse (more on that later). It looks neat, but I am still a little wary, the robot is a little uninspired bot starters. It also looks like it has some elements of Combiner Wars Hot Spot to his torso and legs, which means he is a pricey Voyager at $40. Still, he looks neat, and it makes me wonder what else they might do in the future with crossover figures.

Star Wars Black Series

While I’ve been mostly done with 4″ Star Wars for a while, I still really enjoy the Black Series 6″ line. That said, it kind of felt like there was basically nothing for Black Series shown. I think there was maybe one wave, but nothing that really felt real exciting. There have been so many serious peg warmers in this line, I almost worry it’s on it’s way out. At least I’ve gotten the core cast.

Marvel Legends

Where Transformers and Star Wars felt lacking, Marvel Legends was really knocking it out of the park. It seems like maybe their recent efforts to branch out into some “Lesser” MCU characters and the Villains have been well received, since a whole slew of new figures I never really expected to show up.

Gransmaster Jeff Goldblum, Korg, Skurge, Luis and Ghost, Peggy Carter and Shuri, all minor character that I never really expected them to make. I’m looking forward to all of them. They also, thankfully, are coming in useful 2 packs. When I first say Grandmaster, I expected he would be in a set with another Thor and Hulk, for example. Instead he comes with Korg. Too bad Shuri didn’t get packed with Ross instead of “Another Killmonger” it would have really fit thematically.

There was also a lot of comic themed figures shown, though lately I’ve been kind of steering away from Comic stuff. Mostly for space and somewhat for money reasons. I am just not as interested in the comic figures as much, though I know a lot of people are stoked for the anniversary release figures and they look really nice. A couple stood out for me though, nothing super exciting.

Rock Python, as pointless and random as he is, is neat, because he’s another addition to the Serpent Society. These are a bunch of snake themed villains from the Marvel universe. I’ve gotten several of them over the years and now, because they are kind of all goofy nobodies, I kind of want to keep picking them up. Then there is Boom Boom. While her look is wrong, she is another member of Nextwave, which is totally awesome in my book. All that’s left now is a release of The Captain.

Overwatch

Last year, Hasbro teased their Overwatch license with Mercy. I’ve already been collecting Max Factory’s Figma Overwatch line, but the idea of Hasbro getting the license was exciting for one reason. Max Factory is very unlikely to put out any Tanks. Ok, yeah, we are getting D.Va, but more specifically, we are getting Hana Song, the Pilot of MEKA, which collectively is known as D.Va. Figma isn’t putting out a MEKA. Neither is Hasbro at the moment, but they are doing Reinhardt. And he is at a larger price point, so he will definitely be quite a bit larger.

In fact, the whole selection of the initial wave is pretty interesting. There isn’t a ton of overlap with the Figma line, only Tracer, Mercy and Pharah so far. Figma Reaper comes out this month, but the Hasbro line is giving us Blackwatch Reyas. They are also putting out Shrike Ana instead of regular Ana, which sort of just solidifies that they aren’t just going to focus on the “core designs”, which is something else I don’t really see happening with Figma.

On the other hand, the quality isn’t quite the same as the Figmas, which is understandable since they cost considerably less, but there’s a LOT of iffy going on here.

The heads all seem a little small, and Reyes and Tracer are both really weird looking. Figma Tracer’s face is off too, it’s like no one can pin point what she really looks like in 3D. The pose ability seems like it may leave a lot to be desired as well, though it doesn’t help that whomever photographed these seemed to have no idea what they were doing. Ana, for example, doesn’t see to be able to properly hold her rifle at all.

This makes wanting to pick these up kind of a confusing mess. The nicest looking pair is definitely Phara and Mercy, though they still don’t loo quite as nice as the Figmas. Rein is definitely one I want to pick up, even if he doesn’t seem like he can hold his shield properly at all. Still, this could be a photographer problem. Ana looks nice as well but something fels off about that Soldier and Soldier is pretty likely to get a Figma release eventually, being a popular normal human shaped character and arguably the most important character lorewise.

I will probably test the waters on the non Tanks with Sombra and Lucio. I’m blaming the photographer again on how stuff Lucio looks, and Sombra seems like a decently solid all around figure. Mostly, as awful as it sounds, I feel like Max Factory probably won’t do either of these characters in their line, because they generally aren’t super keen on doing “minority” characters.

Hasbro Pulse

So, it kind of felt like Hasbro also indirectly showed off it’s new online storefront at Hasbro Pulse with Toy Fair as well. They started pushing out pre orders for almost everything as it was announced and they are launching something called Hasbro Pulse Premium, though the details are a little sketchy at this point. The core seems to be discounts and free shipping. I’m kind of interested to see what all it involves. Hasbro Toy Shop really had been getting good before the whole upgrade/rebranding and it looks like they are doubling down. As frustrating as “the hunt’ has become at Wal-Mart and Target etc, and how Amazon seems to completely encourage over priced reseller cancer on their site, I would love it if Hasbro started pushing and selling their own stuff reliably even at regular retail, much less any discounts.



The Problems with Marvel Legends as a Line

So, as much as I like Hasbro’s Marvel Legends, I have a lot of problems with how the line is handled.  I really feel like it’s severely hindered by a lot of goofy choices about waves and whatnot that are all probably done intentionally to exploit the market for extra money.  Except as near as I can tell, it doesn’t really work real great and, if anything ultimately hinders the line.

The Build a Figure Gimmick

So, Let’s start off with one of the more obvious, the Build a Figure Gimmick.  This was started back when Toybiz had the line, though it wasn’t always part of the line.  The early waves didn’t have BAF parts and sometimes there would be substitute gimmicks in a wave like crappy “vehicles”.

Build a Figures create several problems.  First, it eats up part of the budget for the line and figure.  Budget that could be used instead for alternative heads, hands, a few more accessories or effect parts or better paint apps.  We have gotten a few figures in the past year without BAF parts and they are almost universally better in all of these areas.  The Walgreens exclusive figures tent to have better paint apps and overall QC, others like Deadpool in the X-men line are loaded with accessories.  In the case of the Walgreens Magik figure, it’s both.

It also creates somewhat of a waste issue.  Not every BAF is interesting, so over time, you end up with a pile of useless arms and legs and torsos for characters you don’t care about.  You could always resell them on eBay, but my experience has been that the ones worth the effort of reselling, are ones you’re probably going to want to keep anyway.  This kind of goes the other way too, where there might be a particularly interesting BAF in  wave, except now you’ve got to track down that one last figure for the last arm or head.  You can always buy just the part on eBay, but chances are, everyone wants that particular part, so it’s going to cost you as much as just buying the figure and the included part, especially factoring in shipping costs.

Now, even if it’s a character you really want, you’re still stuck with a pile of useless limbs and parts.  This goes both ways as well on the figures.  This is subjective of course, but I find it’s fairly rare that a wave of highly desirable individual characters matches up to a desirable BAF character.  So if you really want say, that Kingpin figure, you’re going to have to buy another couple of Spidermans and some of his D tier villains.

The only market this really helps is the secondary market, where prices get inflated on the stuff everyone wants and Hasbro doesn’t really get anything out of that inflation. 

Personally, I feel like the BAF gimmick has run it’s course and needs to be scrapped.  Most of the BAF characters these days aren’t even larger than the standard figures.  Back in the early days the build a Figure tended to be a large or complex unique mold, like the large Sentinel or Galactus, or MODOK or that blobby crab walker chair guy.  Introduce a slightly higher deluxe price point for those larger figures if needed.

Mismatched Waves

This kind of ties into the Build a Figure problem above, since removing the BAF would alleviate some of this issue, but I really wish the waves were more homogeneous  in their themes.  The primary line should be between comic themed and movie themed figures.  The waves really need to be one or the other on this point.  This is sort of getting better I’ll admit, but it’s not quite there yet.  For example, I think the recent Black Knight figure is cool, but he has zero to do with Infinity War, or MCU Thanos, whom he has a BAF piece for. 

This of course would be less of an issue without the Build a Figure bits, which just end up being a waste of plastic.  The end result is often an extra figure you don’t really care about or an extra limb you don’t really need.

This would also incentivize the whole concept of ordering a case of figures as well.  If you only really collect MCU figures, then it would be better to just buy the wave up front than to worry that the Thor of the wave is suddenly going to be impossible to find. 

Distribution Issues

The mismatched waves and BAF parts also really only hurts the line on the pegs, since it means undesirable characters just languish and clog the pegs longer.  Which kind of brings up the next problem, though there isn’t a super clear answer to this one since it’s partially the store’s fault.  If the figures weren’t tied to waves and BAF parts quite as much, it feels like it would be easier to ship out more of the individual figures people want.  If the pegs get clogged up with Hellcat figures, that sucks, but it doesn’t have to hurt the distribution on Captain America or Iron Man. 

Dropping the BAF part would remove the need for cases to be evenly packed as well, since there would no longer be a need to try to ensure say, 2 sets of BAF parts in a case.  Or even mix up later waves with repacks, the way Star Wars Black or Transformers is handled.   They sort of do this already with version variants, but straight repacks of older characters might almost be better overall for this.

Two Pack Repacks

Every so often there are multipacks released, often around movie figures.  There is a definite pattern to these 2 packs, they will include a rerelease of a previous figure, usually the main character, and a new release of another character, usually someone fairly popular who didn’t appear in the main line.  I don’t really have a ton of problem with this strategy on it’s own, reusing the molds is smart business or whatever and re-releasing a minor variant of the hero is understandable.  The MCU figures are so often mostly unique molds too, so it’s harder to get a lot of return on that investment for Hasbro.

The real problem comes, once again, when you couple in the Build a Figure gimmicks.  See a pattern here yet?  It would be easy to skip that single pack release for the later Two Pack release in many cases, except that often there will be a related, desirable BAF that’s included with the single pack release.

The Accessory Problem

So, this one has gotten better, but it’s still got some weird issues. More figures lately come with accessories, especially MCU based figures. Unmasked heads, are getting really common for movie based figures. What I’d like to see more of is extra hands, especially for figures that have them available.

So, one of the worst offenders, several years ago now, we got “Pizza Spidey”. Which was a really nice Spider-man with a ton of extra hands. This mold has been reused a lot for other Spidey Suits, but often, there aren’t any extra hand options included. You might get a fist and a thwip hand. Both fo these are available on this mold for left and right, along with an open fingers hand. I can’t imagine the hands cost a ton extra to produce and include. Having the hand options would at least help justify the sometimes “need” (due to the BAF) to pick up these boring repaints. I have this House of M Spider-Man that I pretty much have for the SP//DR limb. The suit design is kind of neat I guess but his lack of hands kind of hurts for making him look cool. It just feels like it should be a no brainer.

I’ll Say It Again, Build a Figure

Honestly, a lot of the issues feel like they boil from the need to include this huge chunk of another figure in the box and budget. I really feel like things could be improved if they just dumped the BAF. Star Wars Black Series is the best comparison, they have always felt slightly better in quality and have gotten better over time. Plus they have a ton of unique sculpts. They even have more recently added a slightly larger price point at $30, for slightly larger figures like the Gamorrean Guard.