The Marvel Cinematic Universe has proven to be quite the hit for Marvel and Disney. And with each success, Hasbro has grown more and more
confident in the movie merchandise. Where as previous films often received only a few figures and they often arrived well after the films on
which they were based, with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Thor Ragnarok last year we saw Hasbro actually get the movie based figures onto
store shelves well in advance of their movies. But those were sequels to hit movies with well known characters. In just a few weeks, the Black
Panther movie will be hitting theaters. And unlike those two movies, and despite his appearance in Captain America: Civil War, the Black Panther
is not nearly as well known a character. And yet Hasbro was ready for the up coming release with a fresh wave of Marvel Legends figures featuring
multiple characters from the movie and Black Panther comics. They have also released two exclusive Black Panther figures and an exclusive two
pack as well. That is a lot of support to throw behind a character/property that even most comic book fans will barely know. Of course, the
fact that I don't know who half of these characters are didn't stop me from buying them all. So while I still have a few weeks before I'll be
able to check out the movie, now seemed like as good a time as any to check out the Black Panther toys.
Packaging - Two Pack & Killmonger 7/10, Others 8/10There are no significant changes with the packaging for this series from those of the last few years. The consistiency is nice for MOC collectors. And the packaging is attractive. It works particularly well for a Black Panther themed series since there is so much black used for the backgrounds. But as usual, the lack of character information is a serious shortcoming. Nakia is the only character whose description on the back of the packaging really spells out anything about the character. The description for Erik Killmonger doesn't even mention that he is either a rival or enemy to T'Challa in the movie. (Granted, with a name like "Killmonger" that is probably a safe assumption anyway.) But by far the worst example of this issue is with the two pack which contains Klaw and Shuri, the latter of which I've never even heard of as a character. But the description simply states: "Armed with their own expertly designed weapons, these master innovators prepare for battle." That is a reasonable description for the guy with a weapon for a hand. But Shuri appears to be a female version of the Black Panther character and is armed with what appears to be a wooden spear. That's not exactly what I would call an expertly designed weapon.
Sculpting - Invincible Iron Man & Black Panther movie figures 8/10, Others 6/10These figures are really a tale of two extremes. Namor, Black Bolt, Klaw, Shuri and both exclusive versions of Black Panther all use fairly generic bodies with very limited sculpted detail, much of it recycled from previous figures. While I would certainly like more sculpting work, I also have to give them credit that thanks to the character selection and wise use of existing molds, the figures all work fairly well. I would prefer a Namor who isn't quite as buff as this one. I tend to envision him as having a swimmer's build instead of that of a weight lifter for obvious reasons. And a calm and in control Black Bolt seems like a more versitile figure than this angry version. But I can't say that they look bad. And all of that reuse of existing molds allowed them to put more effort into the remaining figures. Invincible Iron Man seems to be a completely new sculpt. I'm not familiar with the design though it appears quite accurate to the images that I have seen. The three Black Panther movie figures are all new sculpts and each one has quite a lot of detail. I just can't really comment on how well they did at matching the movie designs until I get a chance to see the film in a few weeks. Though it does seem like a good sign that they didn't just reuse the mold from the Movie Giant Man series that was released for the Captain America: Civil War.
Paint - Namor & Iron Man 5/10, Black Bolt, Exclusive Black Panthers & Nakia 6/10, others 7/10The paint work for these figures is reasonably well done. None of the figures have any significant issues with quality control or sloppiness. The big difference from figure to figure is just the amount of work that is put into each figure. Shuri and Klaw from the two pack both have fairly complete paint jobs. There's still some room for more fine detail work on both, but there's nothing that is obviously missing. I think that the same can be said for the movie version of Black Panther. But I'm not sure if the trim of the suit should have more painting. I am fairly sure that Killmonger's suit should. They did a nice job of painting the small dotted details on the face. But when it came to the other areas, it looks like they tried to paint them but did not apply enough pressure. There is a little color there, but not nearly as much as on the face. Nakia has more paint detail than either of her fellow movie based figures. But there is also a lot of detail on her costume that has no paint. The two exclusive Black Panthers and Black Bolt all have a decent amount of paint work. But the paintwork is really simple to a point that it isn't very impressive. Namor and Invincible Iron Man both have just the paint work that they need to look passable with no extra effort put into either.
Articulation - 9/10The articulation for all of the figures is what you should be expecting if you are familiar with Marvel Legends figures. All of the figures have just over thirty points of articulation with the female figures having slightly less articulation than the males. All of the joints are tight without any of them being frozen, though a few of the shoulder joints took a bit more force to get moving than I am comfortable with. But overall, Hasbro and the Marvel Legends line continues to have some of the best articulation overall of any line I collect.
Accessories - Klaw/Shuri 2 Pack, Black Bolt & exclusive B. Panther with purple trim 5/10,
Movie B. Panther 6/10, Nakia & exclusive B. Panther 7/10, others 8/10 There are a lot of accessories included with these figures. The two pack comes with an energy blast effect for Klaw and a spear for Shuri. (I'm not including Shuri's cape or necklace here despite the fact that they are both removable.) The exclusive Black Panther with purple trim comes with spare set of fists as well as purple flames that will fit over those fists and a second head which is identical to the first in terms of sculpt, but lacks the purple patterns on it. None of these accessories seem particularly interesting and most are obviously recycled from previous figures. But at least no one comes empty handed. Black Bolt comes with a spare head without the shouting sculpt or energy coming from his headdress. That's not very impressive, but it really needed to be there considering how rarely Black Bolt is portrayed as using his powers. Movie Black Panther has an unmasked head and a spare pair of fists. I don't really care about the fists, but the unmasked head is extrememly well done both in terms of the sculpting and painting. The second exclusive Black Panther also comes with a second set of hands. But instead of the seemingly out of character flame effects of the other exclusive figure, this one has a spear and a necklace, both of which seem to be far more in keeping with the character of the Black Panther than some purple hadouken blasts. Nakia comes with two circular weapons and a long blade for herself. But she also comes with the spear for the Okoye Build A Figure. That was a really cool idea. This way if you are not buying all of the figures to complete the BAF, the spear can just be given to Nakia. (I'm not sure if that was intentional on the part of Hasbro, but I'll give them credit for it either way.) Namor comes with a very decorative trident, a spare pair of hands and a spare head sporting a beard. That spare head is the only thing that allows me to even slightly justify having to buy another Namor. Now I only need to feel bad about it every time I watch the Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy episode of The Simpsons. (But he has a new head!) Invincible Iron Man comes with a comic book style Tony Stark head, two extra hands, two energy blast effects and a cannon that can clip onto his forearm. I really wish Hasbro would come up with an inexpensive flight stand that they could include with figures like this one. But until they do, what's included here covers most of what I would want for an Iron Man figure. Killmonger has a spare set of hands and two weapons. I really like the detail and paint work that they put into the weapons. And since I haven't seen the movie yet, I'm just going to give Hasbro the benefit of the doubt that these weapons are accurrate and represent all of the accessories he should come with based on a movie I have not yet seen.
Build A Figure - OkoyeThe Build A Figure for this series is a fourth character from the upcoming Black Panther movie, Okoye. So of course, I know nothing about the character or her role in the movie which makes rendering any sort of verdict about the figure nearly impossible. At first glance I thought that she was extrememly similar if not mostly identical to Nakia which I would have found to be quite annoying. But once I assembled the figure and was able to compare her to Nakia, I was able to see that she is a completely new or almost completely new figure. (They may have reused the same sculpt for the legs from the hips down to the knees.) But that is not surprising since both characters seem to be in the same group of royal guards in the movie. I'm hopeful that come the 16th of February and the release of the movie, I'll be even more impressed with this figure.
Value - Namor, Black Bolt, exclusive Black Panthers and two pack 7/10, Others 8/10The retail price for a Marvel Legends figure is still holding at $20 or $40 for the two pack. That's a very reasonable price for figures of this quality and this much articulation. The only concern is that with half of the figures being very similar to versions that were released since Hasbro's relaunch of the line five years ago, these releases may seem unnecessary. On the positive side. If you don't want to buy the entire series, you could still put together a reasonable version of the Okoye Build A Figure by purchasing an extra Nakia and swapping the heads. And I feel a lot more comfortable with buying the complete series when I know it was my decision and not something that I was forced to do just to complete the one figure I really wanted.
Happy Hunting:The two comic designed Black Panther figures are both exclusive to Walmart stores. The Klaw/Shuri two pack is exclusive to Toys R Us. And the remaining Okoye series figures should be available from all retailers that carry the Marvel Legends line. All of the figures are showing up in their respective stores as January shelf resets occuried over the last month. And they should be fairly widely available in stores by the time the movie hits theaters in two weeks. Of course if you are impatient or just don't have much luck with your local stores, you can order them online as well. I bought my set of Okoye series figures from Big Bad Toy Store. But they are also available on Toysrus' website as well as the two pack.