How do you follow two successful and popular series of highly articulated comics based action figures and try to make it better? You add in an extra figure and make another series of figures! That's the plan from Toy Biz on the Marvel Legends line of figures, and so far things are moving right along that plan.
Fans of Marvel Comics and Toy Biz are intimately familiar with the Legends line, but there are always new people joining the fold as characters they like better are added to the roster. For the uninitiated, the line pays homage to classic heroes from the Marvel Universe with figures designed to carry high levels of articulation. The sculpting and paint applications have steadily improved at Toy Biz and they have brought all this to bear for the line. The figures also include detailed bases (in most cases wall-mountable) and reprinted comics that spotlight the characters in their native element.
The first series of figures kicked off the line with heavy hitters Iron Man (with a variant), Captain America, the Hulk and the not-so-heavy hitter Toad (who was an unproduced carryover from the previous Evolution of X line). That cast was joined by a second set of four characters with villain supreme Dr. Doom (and his variant the Doombot), half of the Fantastic Four in the Thing and the Human Torch, and Doom's sometimes ally Namor (in his disco-inspired threads from the 70's). Toy Biz has also produced an assortment called the 'Best of Marvel Legends' with figures from the first three assortments and a Stealth Armor Iron Man variant and a Thing in trenchcoat disguise variant.
All the figures have reprinted issues of older Marvel Comics (some older than others) to showcase that particular character. These can be the jumping off point for new readers to get a feel for the richness of the Marvel Universe. Follow the link to a page that details the issues with this series of figures and short character biographies to learn more about the heroes and villains represented in the figures.
The figures use clamshell packaging to keep the figures, comics and bases intact through the rigorous shipping process (and sometimes more rigorous store waiting period). Inside is a strong backer card with a bagged comic attached, then a bubble with a figure and any accessories and display base. All the display bases for series three are wall-mountable, but Thor's and Magneto's can't be mounted with the figures attached because of the design and are best suited for a shelf or desk display.
The general scale for Marvel Legends is 1:12 or a six-inch scale where one inch equals one foot. The scale means that different figures will be different heights, and due to various artists' interpretations the heights of characters are notoriously hard to nail down. One character is too tall, though. That would be Wolverine, who has always been portrayed as being very short and in scale he works out to average height. Other than that, the scaling is there - aside from debates over just how tall Thor really is or how high Ghost Rider's flaming hairdo should be.
Dave Cortés and Phil Ramirez split the sculpting duties for this series of figures. Dave sculpted Thor and Magneto while Phil did Wolverine and Ghost Rider. Phil's work has been seen in many Toy Biz products including Marvel Legends first two series and Spider-Man Classics. He's also done some work for Palisades Toys on some future Muppets figures and might be seen in another line of Marvel figures in the future. Dave Cortés' work has been seen in toys (like the excellent Cave Troll from Lord of the Rings) and in some of the busts from Diamond Select Toys (such as the Magneto and Cyclops from the Ultimate Bust line). The bases for the series (except Ghost Rider's) were created by Bill Mancuso. Mancuso is the go-to guy for bases and he sculpted the bases for the Hulk in Marvel Legends series one and the Venom and Man-Spider bases for Spider-Man Classics. The Man-Spider base was re-painted and used for Toad in series one. He also did much of the sculpting work on the Gimli figure (discounting the actor likeness) for the Lord of the Rings line.
Click on a picture below to see more pictures of that action figure.
The Norse god of Thunder is a charter Avenger and the President of Hair Club for Gods. He's buff, blonde, has wristbands and packs a mean punch. He also carries a hammer - Mjolnir (pronounced mee-yol-ner) to right wrongs and pound nails into utter submission. He has one of the shortest super-hero names and he likes to speak in archaic English, as you would expect from a Norseman. Thor comes with a copy of The Mighty Thor # 541 and for more information on Thor and that comic, check out the comics and characters page.
Up front, here's the nitpicky mistake made on the figure - he has only four dots instead of six, as the character should, on the front of his uniform. In addition to confusing those blind comics readers who are used to the six dots in their Braille comics, the lack of two dots seems to follow the rumors that Jack Kirby often drew Thor with different numbers of dots from page to page. His reason? For Jack Kirby (and let's face it, he's the only guy you can say this about and be understating the truth) it was easier for him to design and draw a new costume from page to page than remember what he drew already. The man was that creative! Sometimes they would cover it up by having another artist come through and draw in the right number of dots, but they must have missed the toy. But dots are the only thing we can fault Toy Biz for on Thor, because the rest is there.
First up is Thor's mighty Uru Hammer Mjolnir. Hammer time is now available, and the hammer has a molded strap so it can either be held by the handle or the strap - just like in the comics. The hammer can help Thor fly and returns to him boomerang style in the comics, but you'll have to work that magic for the toy. The hammer does not have writing on it since the comics don't show it all the time, and it makes little sense that it would have been carved into the hammer in English. More likely it was a spell cast upon it to explain its purpose to Donald Blake when he found it. That's our story and we're sticking to it.
The helmet doesn't come off (or at least it isn't designed to be removable) and the chest is covered with a rubbery piece to bulk out Thor. We're not sure what body is used for the figure underneath, but it has a turtleneck on. Thor has an attached billowing cape, so he can look his godliness. He's the tall figure for this assortment at 7 ½ " tall, which means he can ride Space Mountain.
The dots may have been left out, but the articulation wasn't! The shoulders and thighs are ball-jointed, there are bicep twists, bending elbows and wrists, the wrists can also twist and the hands both have mid-hand joints so they can clasp around Mjolnir or nearly make a fist. The head looks to have a ball-joint but the sculpting of the hair prevents any movement beyond twisting, and that is limited as well. The waist twists (there seems to be no torso bend) and there are mid-thigh twists and the knees are double jointed. The ankles can bend, the feet have mid-foot joints and the ankles can move from side to side.
Thor's base depicts some skeletons and a giant's skull in armor that Thor is standing on. The base is designed with a wall-mounting bracket on the back but it doesn't really work because Thor doesn't mount well to it when it is sideways, and there aren't any mounting pegs on the top when it is sideways. It makes a better desk display.
A guy who rides a motorcycle is usually easy to remember, and it helps when it have flaming wheels and the guy has a skull for a head. Make it a flaming skull and you definitely won't forget him! This describes perfectly the Ghost Rider figure, who joins series three complete with a chain, hellfire and an impressive hog. There have been many Ghost Rider toys before (he even had his own line from Toy Biz), but this one stands out for the sculpting, articulation and mostly for being able to drive up a wall! Ghost Rider includes a copy of Ghost Rider # 2 (volume 2), and for more information on this issue and the character make sure you read the comics and characters page.
The nitpicky error on Ghost Rider is that his chain usually is worn going through the epaulet on the right shoulder of his jacket, and it can't do that for the figure. Are we reaching? Yep, with the level of detail and care that went into the figure we really have to. Plus, it's best not to let certain product designers' egos get too big and think they got everything right. Even if they did...
Dealing out pain, death, and judgment is much easier when you're loaded with articulation. Ghost Rider is about as qualified as you can be for a 7" figure (6 ¼ " to the top of the skull). He has ankles that bend and move side-to-side, he has twists in the calves (at the boot line) and double-jointed knees. The thighs are ball-jointed, the waist twists and there is a torso joint that twists and bends, for aerobics and the Macarena. The shoulders have ball-joints and they both are jointed to slide forward, though this leaves a hole in the back. The elbows are double-jointed, there are bicep twists on both arms and the forearms have twists at the glove line. The wrists can bend and both hands have mid-hand joints to grab the handlebars. The neck can twist and the head is ball-jointed on top of that. The jaw does not move on the figure we have (it is glued) but it was designed to be able to open and close and surely many customizers and other brave (or foolish) souls will free theirs. Just give the man a real metal chain with a clasp so he can wear it or whip people with it and that's all you'll need!
The base for Ghost Rider is none other than his motorcycle, and this makes perfect sense. He needs a ride and he needs a base - problem solved. The bike is fully sculpted and designed for him to fit on it and peg into the footrests so he can stay onboard. The flaming wheels are flat on the bottom but both have rollers to move it along. It also has wall mounting brackets so you can have the bike driving up a wall. If you want to be driven up the wall, visit your mother-in-law. The bike is 9" long and gets 24 mpg in the city, 31 on the highway when using Hellfire Premium. If you cheap out and get the lower octane your mileage may vary.
The mutant master of magnetism has a new medium to dominate, and that's the world of plastic figures. While his magnetic powers are useless against other toys, he can still look angrily at them and hurl something. Being the X-Men's greatest foe means you have plenty of people to fight, starting with the Wolverine in this assortment. Magneto has a copy of X-Men # 2 included to show off his character. More information about the issue and Magneto in general is one the comics and characters page.
Magneto uses some of the parts from the series one Iron Man, and that's the nitpicky issue with this figure. There isn't anything at all wrong with this, but to follow the theme going here we had to come up with something. His head might be a little too small to make sure he looks okay with his helmet, but we won't mention that. Too late...
Yes, there are body parts being re-used in the Legends line. This is pretty common practice and it usually stems from the fact that money set aside to develop new lines usually diminishes as the line goes on because like comics sales usually tend to dip after a while, so there is less money available to make new tools for parts (a very big expense). There is also the simple maxim that if you have a part already sculpted that works in a role, then just use it instead of sculpting a new one. Simple, but true.
Here's what was re-used as it was - the chest, torso, midsection (yes, they wear the same underwear), thighs and knees to the mid-calf, shoulders and elbows. Toy Biz decided to re-use parts from an armor-wearing character on, strangely enough, an armor-wearing character. What's different is the head, neck, feet and hands, forearms and calves. The forearms and calves have the pattern of Magneto's gloves and boots sculpted into them. He has a cape attached to the breast plate and there is a band around his waist like a belt to make the shorts look more accurate. Or maybe he's been losing weight. Magneto is about the same height as Iron Man at 6".
Articulation matches Iron Man exactly, with ball-jointed shoulders and thighs, bicep and mid-thigh twists, double jointed elbows and knees, and a twisting neck and ball-jointed head. Neither figure's heads can move much in the vertical direction, but they do have some motion along that plane. The shoulders can be moved forward and Magneto's cape does a good job of hiding the joint from the back when the arms are extended forward. Both wrists bend and there are forearm twists, plus the hands each have mid-fist joints that bend. There is a twisting waist and the torso is jointed, though it provides little movement. The mid-thighs have twists, as do the calves at the boot line. The ankles bend and move side-to-side and there is a mid-foot joint. Oh yeah, the helmet comes off. Best to mention that feature.
Magneto has a display base, just like the rest, and his resembles Thor's in several ways. For one, they both have a giant face on them, and for another, they are both wall-mountable but don't work very well on the wall and make better desk or shelf displays. Instead of a giant's skull, Magneto stands atop a Sentinel's broken face, most likely because the Sentinel made the mistake of taking on Magneto. Either that or the warranty ran out.
The wild man member of the X-Men is Wolverine. He's short in stature but big in attitude, and if you disagree he has a set of unbreakable claws that he keeps razor sharp for just such arguments. If you do happen to win, he can heal up in a flash thanks to his mutant healing power, and he can eat more than most men twice his size. We've seen it, and it's messier than any three normal guys! He's also one of the hairiest mutants around that isn't totally covered with fur, and even if you count them he's still pretty high on the list. Wolverine comes with a copy of Uncanny X-Men # 133, an issue that was part of the Dark Phoenix saga. For more about Wolverine and the issue included with him see the comics and characters page.
Getting nitpicky with Wolverine is easy - he's too tall. Wolverine has always been portrayed as a runt, and his height is just north of five feet tall, which would put him around five inches in scale. This figure ended up at just over 6" tall, making him about 6' and now he is about the same height as Magneto and Iron Man.
Wolverine takes after Magneto is re-using some parts from a prior figure, though not many. The Wolverine figure is based on the limited release Evolution of X figure from a two figure set (with a movie version included) and the man's new duds are better than before. The chest and midsection are about all that remained the same for this figure from the previous release, and the rest is just gravy. The body has been re-designed to add in loads of articulation and to top it off they made a variant of the figure, and that re-uses all the parts from the regular version except the head. The variant is unmasked while the regular (read easier to find) version goes masked.
Articulation is the name of the game (really it's called Life), and Wolverine is the best he is at what he does, and what he does is 'vogue'! Striking a pose is easy when you're loaded with ball-jointed shoulders and thighs, bicep twists and double-jointed elbows. The wrists twist and bend, he has claws for both hands, and the hands have mid-hand joints. The neck twists and the head has a ball-joint while there is no torso joint. The waist can twist and there are mid-thigh twists as well. The knees are double-jointed and the ankles can twists and bend, and there are mid-foot joints.
The base for Wolverine is a scene right out of X-Men #133 (thoughtfully included with the figure) with piles of boxes and beaten Hellfire Club guards. The base has two wall mounts (on either side at the top) and does work well when mounted. On a wall, sicko!
Pictures of Magneto
Pictures of Wolverine
Pictures of Thor
Pictures of Ghost Rider
Learn More about the Comic Books
|Where to buy Marvel Legends: The Marvel Legends action figures retail in the $7.99 to $9.99 USD price range. Some online stores sell them in sets of four, in the $36 to $40 price range. They are available at toy stores such as Toys'R'Us (and
Amazon.com, KB, Wal-Mart, and Target, as well as various online toy retailers.
Several such online stores are RTM sponsors AisleSniper.com, Big Bad Toy Store, NHAtoys.com, and The Outer Reaches. (Be sure to check the other RTM sponsors, listed on the Shop Center.)