When it was announced that Hasbro would be making the action figures for the second Fantastic Four movie and Spider-man 3 in
a different, smaller scale than what Toy Biz had been producing for the last half decade, it looked like collectors were
going to miss out on the chance to expand their collections of six inch scale figures. While the action figure lines for
both movies did make the conversion to the smaller scale, collectors were given some hope in the form of a promise of series
of both Fantastic Four and Spider-man figures done in the Marvel Legends style and scale. Well, the wait is over as both
series of figures are finally starting to hit the pegs. Locally, the Fantastic Four series managed to reach the stores first
and draw first blood from my wallet. While not based on the Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer movie, the series
does provide the complete Fantastic Foursome, the Silver Surfer and Dr. Doom as well as Mole Man, Namor in his traditional
green speedos and a bonus build a figure of Ronan the Accuser.
Packaging - 9/10This is Hasbro's third outing with their new packaging for the Marvel Legends line. They do a nice job of incorporating multiple images of the character both on the insert in the bubble and on the card itself. The cards themselves are about an inch thinner than those of the last wave of Marvel Legends figures. (the Blob series) This reduction in size still leaves room for even the largest figure in the series but eliminates the wasted space of the Blob series for normal sized figures like Mr. Fantastic or the Human Torch. As with the last two series, there is a biography of the character at the top of the back side of the card and some character information. But the majority of the card is used to show off the other figures in the series and the build a figure which is Ronan the Accuser this time. The packaging is simple, attractive, informative and quite durable. There isn't a lot more you could ask of it.
Sculpting - Invisible woman & Mr. Fantastic 4/10, S. Surfer 5/10, Thing 8/10, others 6/10When I first saw these figures, I thought Hasbro was going for a different style for the figures due to the lack of sculpted detail. Only as I opened them and had a chance to look at them in more detail did I realize that much of that difference in appearance had to do with the amount of paint work that was done and with the particular characters in the series (Namor and Silver Surfer) Still, there does seem to be a trend towards a slightly simpler style similar to what one would expect for a cartoon based license. While that change probably appeals to some people, I would rather see the figures stay consistent with the previous Marvel Legends figures. The changes that Hasbro is making to the articulation is also going to have an effect on what people think of the sculpting. I know some people didn't care for the way the articulation would break up the organic flow of the sculpting on previous figures. That is less of an issue with the new elbow joints used on half of the figures. But personally, I never really minded the sacrifice to the sculpting for the sake of the articulation. These are toys after all.
The Invisible Woman is the least impressive of the series. It is nice to have a version of Sue is a different costume design. But there isn't much detail here. The bigger issue is her face though. It is very generic in appearance. It isn't ugly, but it also isn't immediately identifiable as Sue Richards. Mr. Fantastic is a decent figure, but I have little interest in owning a Mr. Fantastic figure that can not return to his normal shape. The Human Torch is a nice addition to my collection as it is the best version of him not in his completely flaming state that I have. But at the same time, the flames glued onto his shins, forearms and chest keep the figure from appearing dull. I do think the expression they gave him is a bit too stern for Johnny Storm though. And my figure's legs have a slight bend inward. The Thing has a much more pronounced pattern to the rocks that make up his skin than previous Thing figures. But that detail work isn't consistent. It fades around the neck on the body. Plus there is a large lip where the body and head meet. While I also tend to think of the Thing as being taller, the profile on his card lists him as 6' tall. Which puts this figure right in scale. The Silver Surfer is a huge improvement over the previous ML version, especially the head and shoulders. But his neck seems extremely long. And I'm not sure why they put creases across his chest muscles. Namor is one of the figures that struck me as lacking detail at first. But really, how much detail can you put on a figure wearing nothing but speedos and wrist guards. Doctor Doom is the one figure that managed to fall short of even my initial assessment. It isn't a bad figure mind you. But it doesn't even come close to the level of detail of the original Marvel Legends Victor Doom on his tunic. The new figure does have more detail for his arms and legs. while his face does have some sculpting to produce the scarring effect, it is nothing compared to the past figures. Mole Man was a pleasant surprise. With such a simple character design; green pants and shirt, a belt and cape, this figure could have been very dull. But thanks to a terrific head sculpt and some texturing for the clothes, it turned out quite well.
Paint - Thing 5/10, others 6/10The paint work on all of the figures is fairly simple compared to what we have seen in the past under Toy Biz. But the quality is reasonably high. There is a slight wash applied to the Thing in order to add depth and shadow to him. But they could use more of it on the chest and neck. Namor also has a wash applied to highlight the sculpt. But the color chosen tends to give the figure a slightly orange tint due in part to the extremely pale flesh color used for the plastic. In natural lighting, it isn't too bad. But under the wrong light he starts to look like a pumpkin. As I commented in the sculpting section, Doctor Doom relies on paint applications for his facial scarring. The results for my figure are surprisingly good. But the rest of the figure is pretty plain.
Articulation - Mr Fantastic & Mole Man 4/10, S. Surfer & H. Torch 7/10, Thing 8/10, others 6/10One of the most impressive points of the Marvel Legends line in the past has been the articulation. With each series, it was refined and improved. Certainly there were problems and missteps along the way. But they were usually solved quickly. But since the changeover to Hasbro, the articulation as gradually gone backwards. Namor seems to be the best representation of the new standard of articulation at twenty eight points of articulation:
Accessories - Dr Doom 7/10, Namor & S. Surfer 5/10, Mole Man 4/10, others 0/10Namor has the most elaborate accessory of the series, his staff. It is a nice touch that they included it. They certainly didn't have to. The Silver Surfer's board on the other hand was a necessity. While it looks nice with a metallic silver finish, having just a single foot peg to hold the figure is rather limiting. It is a shame they didn't go for a magnetic mounting system like the first Surfer used. Mole Man includes his staff which he can hold in either or both hands. It's nice but kind of dull. Finally you have Dr. Doom who comes with a removable mask, cape and pistol. The pistol looks nice and can be stored securely in the holster on his belt. But as with the rest of the figure, it isn't as nice as the pistols that came with the previous Dooms. His cape is made of stiff plastic so that it sticks out a bit in the front. But the hood does hang nicely over the head. The helmet/face mask fits nicely and even allows you to see the figure's eyes through it. Its design which wraps around the back of the figure's head also means that there should be no issues with it falling off. The other figures have no accessories of their own. That's fine for the Thing and the Human Torch who really don't need any. But some invisible parts for Sue would have been nice. And the lack of normal body parts for Mr. Fantastic such as what was done with the figure for the first Movie is enough to tempt me to give the figure a negative score.
Build-A-Figure - RonanThe build a figure for this series is Ronan the Accuser. Unlike previous characters that received build a figures, the only thing I know about Ronan is his name. From what I can tell, the figure seems to be a fairly accurate representation of the character in terms of sculpting and scale. The paint work is simple but neat. He even has several accessories: a removable helmet and cape and his hammer. Aside from a slight looseness to my figure's torso joint, Ronan is a perfectly fine figure. I just can't figure out why he is a build a figure. Sure he is taller than normal, but he isn't so large that he couldn't have been made as a regular figure.
Value - Thing, H. Torch & Mole Man 7/10, Invisible Woman & Doom 5/10, Mr. Fantastic 2/10 others 6/10 (add a point if completing Ronan)Under Hasbro, the price for a Marvel Legends figure has jumped to $10 each. Meanwhile the figures themselves have become less impressive overall. Even the build a figure promotion is beginning to seem less impressive since it now means that you must spend $80 just to get the one figure that would have been most desirable had it been available separately. As for the eight figures themselves, Mole Man should be of great interest since it is the first time the character has appeared in a six inch scale line. Namor and Silver Surfer are significant improvements over their predecessors, one for being the more iconic look of the character and the other for simply being a better sculpt. While exposed armor on the arms and legs of the new Doctor Doom figure is better than that of the previous figure, I still prefer the original. Both the Thing and Human Torch are worthy additions to my collection. And it is nice to get a version of the Invisible Woman in an outfit other than a full body suit. It is too bad that we could not get a proper Mr Fantastic to go with the team.
At ten dollars each, these figures are enough to make me hope that Hasbro would decide to go with a five inch scale for their lines in the future since it would give me an excuse to drop the line. However, being under Hasbro has had a benefit in that it is easier to find the figures on sale. If you can wait and order them from Hasbro's web site when they have one of their 25% off coupon codes available, you can bring the price back down to where it should have been to start with.
Happy Hunting:The Fantastic Four series of Marvel Legends figures is just starting to ship. Presently, most of the reports I have seen of them showing up have been from Walmart stores. That is where I bought mine. They are also available, though currently out of stock from Hasbro's web site: Hasbro Toy Shop.com. Given time, they should start to show up more widely. But with three different series of Marvel Legends figures all hitting shelves at almost the same time, distribution could be quite erratic.