It almost always feels like it takes forever for the next series of an action figure line to show up, almost. Thanks to
the long delays before series eleven of Marvel Legends reached stores locally, it seemed like just days before yet another
series showed up. Of course that might be because the set I pre ordered did show up just a week later. Series 12 features
a more reasonable six characters: Iron Fist, Bishop, Sasquatch, Maestro, X-23 and Wolverine in his Astonishing X-men
costume. Plus there is a build-a-figure Apocalypse for those who buy the entire series. As usual, it wouldn't be Marvel
Legends without some variant figures. Unfortunately for those collectors who buy all the variants, five of those six
figures have a variant figure. Wolverine is available with an unmasked face. Bishop's variant has him with a bald head.
Iron Fist, X-23 and Sasquatch all have repainted variant figures. And since I spend too much on toys already, I did not
spend my time or money tracking the variant figures down.
Packaging - 8/10The packaging design for the Marvel Legends line remains unchanged. But fortunately the quality issues of the Legendary Riders series have been rectified here. The plastic for the clamshell packaging has been thickened to better support the weight of the larger figures and Apocalypse parts. As with the previous build-a-figure series, they tried to hide the parts and keep the focus on the figures. But in the case of X-23 who comes with Apocalypse's head and upper torso, it is hard to tell the figure from the accessory. The comics help to make each package unique, but Wolverine is the only figure where the comic is reasonably visible. The back of the cards have a character profile and bio as well as photos of all of the figures in the series. Series twelve once again has the photos of the variant figures that were missing from the Legendary Riders series. But for some reason, only three variants with new head sculpts are pictured. Sasquatch's and X-23's repaints are not. I like the packaging design for the Marvel Legends line. But it does have two drawbacks. First, opening the figures isn't easy. Even with a sharp razor or box cutter and a wire cutter for the twist ties it took better than half an hour to open all six. And once they are all opened, you end up with a tremendous amount of garbage. Oh well, I guess recyclable toy packaging is still a ways off.
Sculpting - Iron Fist 5/10, X-23 6/10, others 8/10Iron Fist is my least favorite figure of this series which is a shame given how many people were looking forward to this figure. There aren't any major issues, just a few minor ones. The first and most obvious problem is that his collar sticks up too much. It is supposed to stick up from the body, but out of the package it is pressed right up against the sides of the head. It is a relatively easy issue to deal with. A few moments under hot running water followed by a dunk in cold water after adjusting it results in a great improvement, but not perfection. Another minor quibble is the gap at the torso hinge which is larger than most of the more recent figures. The final and biggest drawback is the design of the shoulders. The ball of the shoulders at the top of the arms is not integrated into the body. The result is arms that look like drumsticks stuck to the side of the figure. It is not a bad figure, but there is plenty of room for improvement.
X-23 is a character to whom few people were willing to ascribe the title of a Marvel Legend. Personally I suspect she was chosen simply as one of the only characters that would be small enough to leave room for Apocalypse's torso. But regardless of the reason for her inclusion, the figure is here and reasonably well done. The svelte body works well for the character and has all the necessary costume detail. But then there is the head which seems to be out of scale with the body. The face is a bit too round compared to the image on the cover of the comic. That roundness makes the nose seem small as well. Finally there is the hair. X-23 has quite fine hair from the images I've seen. But since the hair for the figure is a separate piece which is attached to the head, it had to be made thicker. That thickness added around the slightly oversized face exaggerates the problem.
Maestro isn't a terribly interesting figure as far as I'm concerned. As far as the character design is concerned, it's another Hulk figure with a beard and loin cloth. But that doesn't make it a bad figure. I do think Toy Biz missed out on an opportunity by not including some of Maestro's trophies of the super heroes he's beaten.
Sasquatch is the usual highly detailed sculpt. It does demonstrate one of the lines weaknesses, scale. According to the profiles on the cards, Sasquatch is 10 feet tall, twice X-23's height. But obviously the figure isn't twice as tall. It's nice that there is at least a relative sense of scale, figures of taller characters being somewhat bigger. But they have a long way to go to be accurate. Otherwise, the only thing I don't like about Sasquatch is the fur cuffs around the wrists. From what I've seen, they shouldn't surround the wrist. The longer fur should just be on the back of the arm.
The sculptor(s) put a lot of work into the sculpt for Bishop. The amount of detail to get all of the design elements of the character is impressive. But I am put off slightly by the style of the sculpt. Part of it is the belt which looks too cluttered, even by the belt and pouch happy 90's standards. But a lot of it is the texturing. The body has a slightly dappled texture similar to that of the Black Panther figure from series 10, though not as pronounced. But the entire figure has a slightly rough look, even the exposed skin of the arms. It's not the worst thing in the world, but doesn't quite fit in with the rest of the line.
Finally there is Wolverine in his Astonishing X-men uniform. Toy Biz didn't cut corners and gave us another completely new sculpt. The detail work is impressive right down to the stitching. They also improved the scale and made this wolverine smaller than either the first Wolverine or the brown costume version. This one is about the size of the Weapon X version. Of course there are a couple of areas that could be improved. The first is the placement of the waist joint which bisects the belt. I'm usually not a stickler about articulation breaking up sculpts, but in this case, the resulting gaps seems much larger than it actually is because there should be no gap there. The other item is the length of the claws. They scaled down the size of the figure, but left the claws alone. These claws would have to retract up to the middle of his biceps to be fully retracted into the arm. And of course, warping of the claws is just as much an issue with this version of Wolverine as it was with the previous ones.
Bishop, Iron Fist and Wolverine all have different head sculpts for their variants. Bishop's variant figure is his bald headed look and leaves off the handkercheif from around his neck. I had assumed previously that they would just leaving off his hair. But it appears that they created a second head sculpt of of the same original mold. The faces are identical, but there is a slight seam along the hair line. So unfortunately you can't just pop the hair off to make your own variant. Wolverine's variant head has his mask draw back and gathered around his neck. Iron Fist's variant head gives him a screaming face and a damaged mask with poking out in two places. It was a nice idea, but the hair looks more like someone curbed their dog out a window above him. They should have made the tears in the mask's fabric more exaggerated.
Paint - Maestro 6/10, others 8/10I've heard a lot of people complain about the paint work on Marvel Legends figures since the line started. But until the Legendary Riders series, I had never really had any serious problems. Thankfully it seems that Toy Biz must be using a different factory to produce this series because the difference is night and day. Sloppiness is minimal though not eliminated entirely. The use of paint washes is also toned down considerably. Sasquatch does have a paint wash that does a nice job of adding shadowing and depth to the sculpted fur. Maestro is the only other figure with a paint wash. And I really don't like the way it turned out. The darker green wash contrasting with the light green of the plastic creates an odd visual style. It actually matches the cover art of the included comic book better this way, but not the appearance of Maestro in the comic or the rest of the Marvel Legends line.
Three of the figures have variant paint schemes available. In addition to the new head sculpt, Iron Fist's variant has his red costume. Sasquatch's variant is a white repaint which could represent Windigo (though not accurately), Snow Bird imitating Sasquatch or the female version of Sasquatch from the Exiles comic book. Heck, buy three and you can have one of each. Finally there is X-23's variant. Originally the regular version of X-23 was supposed to have her in her black outfit with the variant being a purple repaint. However, it appears that that changed at the last minute. X-23's purple look is the regular figure and her black outfit is the variant. That is too bad because the black outfit looks better. The use of silver for the trim stands out better than the purple and black. There are also some slight paint differences between the two bishop figures. The regular version has a red "X" symbol on his chest and gold trim on his boots. The bald variant has a gold symbol and silver trimmed boots.
Articulation - 8/10Wolverine is listed as having 34 points of articulation on the package which is counting the hips and shoulders as one joint each. The articulation includes:
Accessories - Bishop 8/10, Maestro 4/10, others 7/10I'm not including the parts for the build-a-figure in the scores for accessories since you really have to buy all six figures for the parts to have any real value. Putting them aside, all six figures come with a comic book plus Maestro, Iron Fist and Bishop all include a few additional accessories. The comics included with each figure are as follows:
Build-A-Figure - ApocalypseSeries twelve marks the return of the build a figure concept. In case you missed the first two, the build a figures are larger figures which come in pieces, with one packed in with each figure. Apocalypse is broken down with the right and left legs coming with Iron Fist and Wolverine. The waist comes with Bishop. The Torso and head come with X-23. And the right and left arms come with Sasquatch and Maestro. There was however a mistake made at the factory and many of the Maestro figures that were initially shipped did not have the cable which attaches to the arms and waist. The error has been corrected in the later shipments. But if you do not receive the part, a simple call to Toy Biz's customer service number at 1-800-728-2018 will resolve the problem. If you give them your name and address they will ship out the cable free of charge. I actually called in advance figuring the cable would be missing and received the extra cable within two weeks. Once you over come the hurdles of collecting all the pieces, assembling Apocalypse is fairly simple. The arms take a considerable amount of force, your average kid probably will need help with them. The fully assembled Apocalypse stands just over 14" tall and is everything that the first Apocalypse figure wasn't. It is much more accurate to how he was originally portrayed in the comics. (Oh, and just for reference the reason for a giant sized Apocalypse is that in the comic he was able to change both his shape and size at will.) The figure is fully articulated with forty points of articulation. The fact that the elbows are just a single joint does limit the range of motion somewhat. But that is still impressive. The only thing that could have made this figure better would have been to expand series twelve to seven or possibly eight figures and include some additional transformed arms.
It is also worth noting that there is a running change on the Apocalypse figures' paint. The first figures, including mine, had all of the limbs cast in blue plastic to which a black wash was added. From the reports I have seen, the new ones have the limbs cast in black plastic. Which is better is going to be a matter of preference. I'm quite happy with the blue limbs. But it does mean that you have to be a bit cautious when buying the figures or risk having mismatched parts. Perhaps the best way to avoid the problem would be to buy all the figures at once. Since they would likely be from the same case, they should all be the same color.
Value - Maestro 5/10, Sasquatch 7/10, others 6/10 (add two points if you are buying all six)If you find these figures at one of the major toy retailers like Target, Toys R Us or Walmart you can expect to pay about $8 apiece. You should be able to find them for $10 to $11 apiece at specialty and online stores since none of them seem to be short packed. While these might not be the most exciting characters, they are great figures. Aside from the pieces of Apocalypse, they are a bit short on accessories, but the characters don't really need any. But if you aren't buying a complete set you end up missing out on a big part of the value.
Happy Hunting:I ordered a set from Big Bad Toy Store. They have a few sets left for $59.99 each. They are also available from Amazon.com or your favorite online e-tailer. They are also shipping to brick and mortar stores. I've heard reports of them being sighted at most of the usual stores, but it is hit or miss whether any given area will be restocking with series 11 or series 12 figures.