Throughout the last decade there has been one (and only one) toy company that has made a consistent commitment to toys based on comics, and that company is Toy Biz. The reasons for this are myriad, including the fact that Avi Arad (who was the head designer at Toy Biz for many years) loved Marvel's characters, the royalty-free license that Toy Biz had from Marvel and now that Marvel Comics and Toy Biz are both part of the same parent company. There's no doubt that super heroes are hot (and Marvel's in particular with the success of Blade, X-Men, Blade 2 and Spider-Man in recent years), but Toy Biz was doing them when they weren't cool, and now that they are they've doing them better than ever.
Building on the successes of the Spider-Man Classics line (with the high level of articulation), and higher quality control gained through the Lord of the Rings line, Toy Biz has created the series of Marvel Legends figures. With the Legends series they have built a line of highly articulated, well sculpted and decorated figures celebrating the biggest heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe. They have also carried over the practice of including display bases for either desk display, or in some cases for wall mounting, to enhance their display potential.
This is the second series of figures in this line (RTM covered Legends Series 1 in April 2002) and it might as easily been called the Fantastic Four (FF) wave since all the characters either made their first appearances, or first modern appearances in the pages of the World's Greatest Comics Magazine!! Dr. Doom (plus the variant Doombot) and the Thing were both created in the pages of FF, while Namor, the Sub-Mariner, was introduced to modern audiences through the book and the Human Torch was a new version of the classic Timely character from the Golden Age of comics. Since it has an overall theme the figures in it are a bit more cohesive than the mix from the first series, but they include the same high levels of detail and articulation that mark the line.
The third series of Legends will be comprised of Ghost Rider, Magneto, Thor, Wolverine and a movie version of Daredevil, and is due around February of 2003. There will also be some re-releases of figures from the first series through the ubiquitous chain of Wal-Mart stores that will also include variants of some of the first series figures. A fourth series is in the works, but no information has been officially released for the make-up of that group.
One of the hallmarks of Marvel Legends is that complete comics are included in the package, reprinting significant issues from the history of that particular character. Toy Biz included comics with the Spider-Man Classics line and has continued the practice for Legends, which also serves to help promote Marvel Comics and the source material from whence these creations sprang. There is detailed information on the characters and the comics included on the page linked from the picture by this paragraph, and through this link.
All the figures come in sturdy clamshell packaging with the figures (and their bases) in clear view and a full sized comic reprint behind them with a backer card. On the backer card under the comics is an offer for a free 3-month trial subscription to Ultimate Spider-Man, so not only do you get a comic to read with the toy you get three free comics delivered to your door! Talk about service! The display stands for Doom and the Torch are wall mountable, and the back lists the four figures in this wave (omitting the variant of Dr. Doom). The figures are designed around a six inch scale, meaning they are produced to the ratio of one inch to one foot. The scaling isn't that well maintained though, since The Thing, Doom and Namor should all be the same height and Thing is significantly taller than the other two. They are all taller than the Torch, which is as it should be.
Click on a picture below to see more pictures of that action figure.
Dr. Doom (he holds a PhD in Bad) is the premier antagonist of the Fantastic Four, and to his credit he usually fights them to a standstill alone when there are four of them. He was originally planned for the first wave but was moved back to the second as they tweaked his sculpt and design. Doom's turn-on's are ruling the world, beating Reed Richards, full body armor and the color green. His turn-off's are losing, dolts, curs, idiots, Reed Richards, democracy and lawyers. (The guy isn't all bad!) When he isn't thinking up or executing a scheme for world domination he likes to lounge around his huge castle with only his mask on. He doesn't do this much.
Dr. Doom is far more articulated than any Reed Richards figure, and numbers aren't always the best way to describe them. Doom had ball jointed shoulders and thighs, bicep twists, bending elbows, twisting wrists, joints in the hands for moving the fingers in unison with the left had sculpted like a fist and the right hand sculpted more along the Uncle Sam 'I Want You' pose. Doom's head can twist and bend forward and back, he has a waist twist, mid-thigh twists, bending knees, and bending ankles. The ankles incorporate the same joint from earlier Legends figures that allows the foot to move side to side on the ankle, and the feet have mid-foot joints so they can bend.
Doom's cape is removable and is made of a softer plastic material so it isn't rigidly in place, and it covers his back (which is complete with jets sculpted on). The skirt of his tunic is also the same softer plastic, so it doesn't hamper the thigh articulation. Doom's mask is removable to reveal the face of Doom underneath. The model for the face is relatively unblemished with simply a small scar on the cheek, and comedian Andy Secunda was used as a basis. While this face is inconsistent with Doom's comics history (he did have a relatively minor scar until he visited the monks who built his armor and he was so impatient he put it on while still hot and it scarred his face severely), it still works for the figure. The mask fits very snugly and does rub the face when being removed and replaced, so if you do this often you will see marks on the figure's face (perhaps making his scars more like the true Doom).
Doom has a comic included (Fantastic Four # 247) and comes with a wall-mountable base. The base is a castle parapet from which Doom may survey all he is master of. He can also spit on people who walk underneath him, providing hours of amusement. Doom also carries a pistol, which can be removed from the holster to pop a cap into any nuisance, like door-to-door salesmen.
Doom has a variant figure in the ever-popular Doombot. The Doombot figure is identical to the regular version with the exception of the face, which is mechanical in appearance. The Doombot (which more properly should be DoomDroid since it is an android) is the rare one of the two, which is in sharp contrast to the Marvel universe where Doom is one of a kind and there are many Doombots. Actual numbers are not available for the ratio of Dooms to Doombot, but since with their masks on they are identical (and Doom always wears his mask), you can always 'pretend' that the real Doom is a Doombot. You can also 'pretend' he's a red wagon, though it will require slightly more imagination.
Doom and the Doombot were originally going to be packaged with their masks on so you wouldn't know who you got until you opened the package, just like in the comics. The Doombot was also planned to be the most common figure with the real Doom as the chase figure.
Namor, the Sub-Mariner (not to be confused with Neemor, his second cousin once removed who is known as the 'chicken of the sea') is Marvel's first mutant and one of the oldest as well. The prince of the sea has been portrayed as a good guy and a bad guy over the years because he just can't make up his mind! One of his partners in crime was often Dr. Doom, though Doom was definitely a fair-weather friend and tended to manipulate Namor. Now that he's an action figure you can 'pretend' you are Doom and manipulate him as well. He's wearing his hip 70's duds (and not his traditional green trunks) that he designed to try-out for the Village People. The Indian beat him.
Namor and the Human Torch have the most articulation of this wave, and Namor will need it to swim around in his hip outfit. He also uses it to impress chicks, especially a certain invisible one. His head is ball jointed so he can look up and down and then imitate the Exorcist, He has ball-jointed shoulders with hidden mid-bicep twists, double jointed elbows, twisting wrists and mid-hand joints so he can grab things or make a fist. His waist has a twist, then ball-jointed thighs, mid-thigh twists, double-jointed knees, bending ankles and mid-foot joints, and the ankles can also move side-to-side.
Namor has tiny wings on his ankles that allow him to fly and these are made of softer plastic. His vest is soft plastic and can be removed along with the trident embossed belt he wears. The vest doesn't have wings under the arms like the actual costume did. He comes with a larger trident that he can use to spear fish and change the channel without the remote control. Namor's base is a wave base that he can fit into, and the base isn't wall-mountable. He comes with a comic (Namor, The Savage Sub-Mariner # 67) and a bad attitude towards those of the surface world. Did we mention his cute little wings on his feet?
The Human Torch (aka Johnny Storm) is the brother of the Invisible Woman, the youngest member of the Fantastic Four and he drives the coolest car. The guy can also burst into flame, which is a great party trick. He's also able to combust parts of his body and unleash the Nova Blast (usually after a night of Taco Bell). He was the member of the FF who found the Sub-Mariner in the Marvel Age of comics, and he's been known to grab an ultimate nullifier when Galactus gets hungry and starts looking his way. He has a '4' on his chest, which seems to appear in the action figure version of the character. That's better than number 2!
The Torch is based on the Daredevil figure from the Spider-man Classics line and it was simply a matter of the right body for the right figure. He has a twisting neck (no ball joint so he can't look up), ball-jointed shoulders, mid-bicep twists and double-jointed elbows. He also has forearm twists, bending wrists and mid-hand joints so he can make a fist or imitate Fred Sanford with arthritis. He has a chest joint for getting jiggy, a waist twist and ball-jointed thighs. He has mid-thigh twists, double-jointed knees, calf twists, ankle bends and mid-foot joints. With the side-to-side joint in the feet he's the most articulated figure in series 2.
The base for the Torch is the same as the one designed for X-Man in the Marvel's Most Wanted line. Toy Biz has modified it in color and added a wall-mounting slot, so he can hang out on your wall. It can also be displayed on a shelf or desk, but burning out of a wall seems like a lot more fun. The Torch comes with a reprint of Fantastic Four # 233.
The Thing gets his name not from a character in the Addams Family, but by Sue Storm's reaction to his transformation from Ben Grimm into a lumpy mass of rocky material. Over the years his appearance has changed, but he still smokes cigars and is among the strongest guys in the Marvel Universe. He still can't beat the Hulk, so don't even go there. He's a founding member of the Fantastic Four, always gives Reed Richards the 'I told you so', and is allergic to pop rocks. He loves Fruity Pebbles, though!
The Thing doesn't wear much except a pair of trunks, which kind of goes against the theory that no one would buy a male figure just wearing some boxers. Just think, you can tell your buds that you just got 'a thing in some boxers' and you'll be the envy of the cell block. The shorts here have a black waistband, which is indicative of the more classic look for the FF and differs from the later uniforms with white trim. The white trimmed shorts are planned as part of a Wal-Mart exclusive version of the same figure with a trench coat and glasses.
The uniform may be sparing, but the articulation for this figure isn't. He has a neck joint like a ball-joint so he has motion in a twisting direction and some up and down motion. His shoulders are similar to those of Legends series 1 Iron Man and the Hulk in that lets the shoulders pivot forward. Like the earlier figures, it also leaves a gap in the back, even though there are pieces to mask this. The shoulders themselves are ball-jointed, the elbows bend and the wrists twist. The hands are done with bendy material and the fingers can be moved individually and posed. This was planned for the first series Hulk, but Hulk's fingers were too thin and so he ended up as the patty-cake hulk. The Thing's fingers are bendy, but it's limited and he can't even make a fist so he's more a 'slappin time!' Thing that a 'clobberin' time!' one.
The waist has a twist and the chest is jointed to allow for some aerobic exercise. The thighs only swivel but there is a mid thigh swivel cleverly designed at the seam of the shorts. The knees and ankles bend, there is a mid-foot bend and the ankles have the side-to-side joint included. The Thing comes complete with a slice of the Big Apple - a display base that depicts a wall from New York City. The wall already has some graphitti, though are the Yancy Street Boys dumb enough to sign their own vandalism? The wall comes apart in four pieces after a slap from the Thing, and the base has peg holes (and some garbage) in front of the wall. This base doesn't have a wall-mounting hole, so it would display best on a table or shelf. It can also be broken apart with your hand by using 'karate'. The Thing comes with a reprinted comic - Fantastic Four # 263.
More pictures of the Human Torch
More pictures of the Thing
More pictures of Namor
More pictures of Doctor Doom
Spider-Man DVD at TowerRecords.com
|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, in the $36 to $40 price range. They will be available in Fall 2002 at toy stores such as Toys'R'Us, KB, 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.)