I'll give Hasbro credit for keeping the Marvel Legends line alive despite the success of the smaller Marvel Universe line. But
with the focus of most retailers on the 3.75 inch line, finding the 6 inch line can be quite difficult. Despite being released
months ago, the latest series of figures has only recently shown up in store in my area. But my patience was ultimately rewarded with
the Marvel Legends Hit Monkey series of figures. The series includes six figures: Ultimate Captain America, Wolverine in his X-Force costume,
Archangel, Protector, Red She-Hulk and Hyperion. There are suppose to be variants for four of those figures: Archangel in his
X-Force costume and chase figures of Sentry, Lyra and Iron Fist replacing Hyperion, Red She-Hulk and Protector repectively. But so far,
none of the variant or chase figures seem to have been released. And considering I still haven't seen any sign of the variants for the Epic Heroes
series that was released last year, I'm not holding my breath.
It should also be noted that while all six figures are part of the Hit Monkey series, only Red She-Hulk, Hyperion and Protector have any parts for the Build A Figure.
Packaging - Wolverine, Cap. America & Archangel 9/10, others 4/10The Hit Monkey series figures use the same blister card design as the previous Epic Heroes series figures. For the three figures with no alternate chase figure (Ultimate Captain America, Wolverine and Archangel) it is a great design. The figure is clearly displayed in the blister with individual character artwork at the top of the card. That unique character art makes serching for a particular figure in a store much easier. They also included small images of the artwork from the backs of the cards of other figures in the series along the right side of the card. That could be a nice touch if they weren't usually covered by the figure. The back of the card has a large comic image of the character and a very brief description of the character. The art work is great. I like that they went to the bother of including the artist signature on each one. But the bottom portion of each image is fairly sparse. I'm guessing that the intention was to leave room for more character info and to list the other figures in the series. But they don't do that on three of the six cards.
The problem comes with the remaining three figures. Hyperion, Red She-Hulk and Protector are all meant to share their cards with an alternate character. So each includes and image of both characters at the top of the front of the card and feature both characters in the art work on the back of the card. That I don't mind. The issue comes when Hasbro decided to not reference either of the characters directly. They don't even bother to give their names. You can get away with that when it is Wolverine or Captain America on the card. But I know the characters of the Marvel Universe better than at least 95% of the population and I don't know anything about two of the six characters. So that character information is sorely lacking. At the very least they should have the characters' actual names on the cards and inserts instead of generic labels like Hulkettes, Warriors of the Mind or Conquering Heroes. If the chase figures were actually shipping, this could at least be considered somewhat justified. But the chase figures never showed up for the Epic Heroes series and I've yet to see them for the Hit Monkey series either which makes the lack of character background info a glaring ommission.
Sculpting - Hyperion 5/10, Protector 6/10, Captain America 9/10, others 8/10The highlight of this series is the new Ultimate Captain America. Despite all of the Captain America figures that Hasbro has put out since the release in the last few years, they managed to come up with a unique look for the figure. There are a lot of great details on the sculpt, particularly on the items that are unique to this character such as the boots, gloves, belts and vest. Wolverine is another nice looking figure, but there isn't that much there to set it apart from past Wolverine figures. Archangel is a very simple figure. (I'm considering the wings as a seperate accessory.) To Hasbro's credit, they did do a new head sculpt when they probably could have found a generic head sculpt that would have worked. I was expecting Red She-Hulk to be largely a repaint of She-Hulk, but she appears to be a new sculpt. They went a bit overboard with the volume of the hair, but otherwise it is a very nice figure. Protector is another simple character design. But the only issue I have with him is that the belt is not sized properly. As a result, it rides really high on the figure. When you consider that a belt like that with two holsters should be heavy enough to ride quite low off of the waist, it looks quite odd. His hands are molded to hold his guns, but they don't hold them properly. They angle down slightly which looks a bit akward. Finally there is Hyperion. There is a lot to like about this figure. The body is large enough to look imposing even when standing next to Captain America or Wolverine. And that is exactly how a Superman analog should look. But there are two significant issues. The smaller issue is with the decorative piece for the top of the cape. It plugs into the back of the figure and is sculpted to match the contours of the body. But it doesn't sit down on the shoulder as it should. And with it hovering just over the shoulder, the gap is hard to overlook. The other issue is that every time I have seen Hyperion in the comics, the yellow portion of his costume covering his waist and lower torso has always been drawn as a thick material if not outright armor. But the figure does not have that. Given that it would have fallen right over the torso joint, I can understand not making it a separate piece. But the sculpt should atleast alude to it and have the rivit heads along the top. In my eyes, that is too important of a part of the character's design to be missing.
Paint - Wolverine 6/10, Capt. America 9/10, others 8/10The paint work for most of the figures is clean and neatly done. It looks good, but it is also generally pretty simple with little detail work other than Red She-Hulk's zipper. The only area with problems are the silver areas on Wolverine's legs which appear to have been done free hand. They aren't that sloppy. But they aren't up to the standard set with the rest of the figures, particularly sine the line work on Archangel and Protector is done so well. But then you come to Ultimate Captain America where they stepped it up to the next level. Straps are painted. Buckles are painted. His gun and vest buttons are painted. The paint work isn't completely perfect. But for a mass produced figure, it is very well done. The only down side is that my figure has the paint applications on his shield slightly misaligned and it has a stray silver streak on the shield. Cap's shield is incredibly iconic. That is not the place you want the mistakes to show up.
Articulation - 8/10Each of the figures has at least thirty points of articulation with Red She-Hulk having the least:
Accessories - Protector & Red She-Hulk. 4/10, Archangel & Captain America 6/10, Others 0/10Neither Hyperion nor Wolverine have any accessories. That is not a big deal for Hyperion. There aren't any accessories that the character should have as far as I know and he does come with parts for the Build A Figure instead. But Wolverine has no BAF parts and no accessories. And this is Wolverine, they should already have alternative hands that they could have included from the Wolverine figure from their first series of 2 packs from 2009. To not include anything with him is unacceptable. Protector comes with two pistols. They are well sculpted, though a bit undersized. And as I mentioned already, he can not hold them properly or securely. So I'm sure mine are going to end up in the parts storage just so they don't end up getting lost. Red She-Hulk comes with a large sword. The sword looks nice and the metalic red paint really looks great. But it is just too big for Red She-Hulk's hands to hold securely. Her hand is actually molded to hold it very well, but the sword is just so long that it comes loose far too easily. (I also don't understand why a Hulk character would want to use a sword, but I'm assuming that is just my ignorance.) Ultimate Captain America comes with his shield of course. This time they went with the design with the plastic clip and peg in the center of the shield. The clip allows it to attach to Steve's wrist or it can fold back in favor of the peg to store the shield on the figure's back. It is less impressive than the shields that had actual straps, but it actually works better, so I can't reaaly complain about that. I do think that since he doesn't have any BAF parts, they could have given him a removable gun for the holster on his hip. Finally there is Archangel whose wings are easily the largest accessory to be included with a Marvel Legends figure in years. Wings are not easy to pull off well. They need to look good both in a fully opened, in-flight mode as well as in a folded position. They also need to look good in a resting position. They need to be large enough to be impressive but light enough to still allow the figure to stand. The wings for Archangel can do all of those things, but does none of them entirely right. The wings attach to the figure via a peg that plugs into the figure's back. The base is contoured to match the figure's sculpt so that it doesn't move around despite only having the single connection point. The wings for each side connect to the pack with a rotating joint, though the size of the wings means that there isn't much range of motion to them. There are actually four wings, a large pair of main wings and a smaller pair behind them. Each attaches via a hinge joint to the pack while the large wings also have a second hinge joint in the middle of the wing. The end result is a set of wings that can't be fully extended when opened and can't quite fold up into a truely natural position when closed. But they do look alright in both positions. They can also wrap around the figure. The weight of the wings is still an issue. But with the rotating joints at the base of the wings, you can adjust them to use the tips of the wings for additional support. There is still a lot of room for improvement. These are by no means a perfect set of wings. But they do accomplish the most important goals reasonablly well.
Build A Figure - 6/10Hasbro went a very different direction with the Build A Figure for this series in just about every way possible. Starting with the character choice, Hit Monkey is a character that has only existed for a couple of years and hasn't really played all that important of a role in the Marvel universe. But the concept behind the character is strange enough to be worthy of a figure. It is also the smallest Build A Figure produced in the Marvel Legends line by far. I have to admit, this issue annoys me a bit. Even though the parts are only split between three figures, that still seems like at least one too many. The figure itself is not bad. The sculpting is fairly detailed. The paint work is sparse for most of the figure, but on the head where it counts, they really went all out. With twenty seven points of articulation, they didn't skimp in that category either. Hit Monkey even comes with four accessories: a pair of pistols and and matching pair of machine guns. So I have to admit that Hit Monkey isn't a bad figure. The only thing that holds him back is that he just isn't a great choice as a Build A Figure. He is a nice freebie if you are already going to buy the three figures that contain his parts. But if the purpose of a BAF is to encourage fans/collectors to buy all of the figures inorder to get a bonus figure, I can't see too many people buying even one more figure than they would have otherwise just to complete the Hit Monkey figure.
Value - Wolverine 4/10, Hyperion 6/10, Captain America 8/10, others 7/10Wolverine is the weakest figure of this series. He doesn't represent any particular improvement over previous Wolverines. Unless you are a fan of the X-Force series or just haven't been collecting Marvel Legends figures long enough to have any other Wolverine figure, then there isn't much reason to buy this one. The Ultimate Captain America figure is just the latest in a long series of Captain America's that Hasbro has produced in the last few years, but it is a very well executed figure. The other four figures are of less well known characters and are not quite as well done as Ultimate Captain America. But they are decent figures and help to expand the already impressive roster of Marvel characters that can grace your shelf in plastic form.
Happy Hunting:The Hit Monkey series of figures has been available for quite a few months now. In my area though, store shelves have been clogged with left over figures from previous waves. They have only recently shown up at the local Toys R Us and that was about two weeks after I finally gave up and bought a set off of eBay. They are also available online from a number of sites. You may have to shop around to find a site where you can get all the figures you want and only the figures that you want for a resonable price.