Well, it has taken months of searching, but I finally found the elusive Power Blast Invisible Woman figure from the
Fantastic Four movie. I've been holding off on buying any of the movie figures until I could track down the entire team.
But now that the quartet is complete, it's time to see how they stack up.
First I should point out that with the two waves of figures already released, there are actually seven different figures which have seen wide distribution so far. The first wave of figures includes all four members of the team with Flame-on Human Torch, Power Blast Invisible Woman, Stomp 'N Clobber Thing and Mr. Fantastic (with bendy attachments). The second wave includes a second variation of the three male team members: Flying Human Torch, Clobber 'N Crush Thing and Shape Shifting Mr. Fantastic. I picked up Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman and the Human Torch from the first series but skipped that figure of the Thing in favor of the Clobber 'N Crush version.
Packaging - Invisible Woman 8/10, others 9/10The card design that Toy Biz came up with for the Fantastic Four movie line is quite simple but works well. Each figure is packaged in a standard blister card along with their accessories. Stickers on each bubble provide the line's logo and character information as well as a count of the amount of articulation each figure has. The card itself has the FF from the torsos up on the top and a large four symbol providing the background for the figure. The backs of the cards have a short personalized bio for the character, instructions for the figure, images of the other figures in the wave and of course the usual UPC and legal small print. Ideally I'd like to see Toy Biz dump the drawn artwork for their instructions and just use photos of the actual figures, but that is a very minor quibble at best.
Invisible Woman lost a point because of the apparent lack of substance in her package. Not surprising, the figure itself is smaller than the others. Toy Biz compensated for that by giving her a larger accessory. But that poses a problem in the package. The large accessory means the figure has to be moved to one side to make room which minimizes its presence. And since the accessory itself is completely clear, it doesn't stand out from the plastic of the packaging.
Sculpting - Thing 5/10, Mr. Fantastic, Human Torch & Invisible Woman 7/10Clobber 'N Crush Thing is a decent likeness of the ever lovin', blue eyed Thing. I skipped the Thing figure from the first wave in favor of this one mainly because of the better proportions of the legs and the head sculpt. The Thing should have thick legs, but Toy Biz went overboard with both of the Thing figures. Clobber 'N Crush Thing's legs may be tree trunks, but at least they aren't the grand sequoias that are under the first wave Thing. Unfortunately the legs also suffer from a problem that plagues all of the figures, Toy Biz went overboard with the texture for the clothing. Unlike the X-men and Daredevil movies, the Fantastic Four retained their spandex. But Toy Biz sculpted the clothing to cling tightly to every contour of the figure in a way that only occurs in comics rather than stretching across any low spots. But it is the head sculpt that is going to be of primary concern to most people. I like the Clobber 'N Crush Thing because he has the more pronounced brow that the other one lacks. And it just doesn't seem like the Thing without that. The nose needs some improvement. It isn't wide enough and sticks out too far. Over all it is a really nice sculpt, right up until you stand him next to the other figures. He is way too big! In the movie, the Thing is roughly the same height as the other three. But the figure towers over the others. Reed and Johnny barely come up to his shoulders. Someone has been eating his Wheaties.
Mr. Fantastic has a nice head sculpt. The nose might be just a little too large, but otherwise it is the best in the wave. The body sculpt really hurts the score. Once again Toy Biz greatly over did it with the texture of the clothing. It's particularly ironic that Reed, the elastic member of the team, is the one covered in wrinkles. It looks like Reed gave birth to the oversized Thing figure and is now covered in stretch marks. The boots and gloves are the worst areas. Rather than being the tight, form fitting items that they should be, they look like combat boots and work gloves.
Toy Biz did a much better job sculpting the Invisible Woman's body than they did with Reed, but the head sculpt is off. Fortunately the overly textured look of Mr. Fantastic though the boots and gloves are still a bit too thick. Her proportions are off as well. The waist and arms are too thin, especially the arms. Jessica Alba may be thin, but she does still have bones in her arms. There is one other minor error in that the black striping that comes down from under the arms to the torso isn't continued onto the lower part of the torso. The head sculpt isn't horrible, but needs some tweaking. The main problem is that the hairline is much too high. This throws off all of the other proportions of the face. The lips could stand to be a bit more pronounced and the jaw a little wider, but they aren't terribly far off.
The Human Torch's body sculpt is almost identical to that of Mr. Fantastic's with all of the same drawbacks. However, with all of the small flames glued onto the figure, the details of the sculpt are largely obscured. The head sculpt is pretty good considering that you can't really make out any of the detail. It could stand to be just a little wider though.
Paint - Human Torch 2/10, others 4/10The Human Torch's only paint work is the symbol on his chest which is almost completely covered by flames and the pupils in his eyes. The translucent orange plastic that the body is cast in does a reasonable job of providing color, but adding some yellow paint for the highlights would have improved it quite a bit. The other figures did pretty well in terms of the quality control, something that can be lacking with Toy Biz's figures. Unfortunately the colors don't match the final designs of the movie costumes very well. The grey strips which run down the sides of Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman are much too pronounced. The same is true of the Thing's pants and the black strip on them. On the plus side, by making the difference in color more pronounced the figures avoid looking dull.
Of course, you can't have an Invisible Woman figure without some paint variations. There are three versions of Sue available: fully painted, a completely unpainted version cast in clear plastic and a version that is half clear and half painted. All three versions are supposed to be evenly mixed into the cases, so there isn't a true chase version. But this does mean you may have to look for a while before you can find the version you would like.
Articulation - Thing 5/10, Human Torch 7/10, others 9/10Like most of Toy Biz's recent action figure offerings, the Fantastic Four movie figures pack in as much articulation as possible. The least articulated of the quartet is Clobber 'N Crush Thing who still has 28 points of articulation. The other three have between 38 and 46 points of articulation. Human Torch has the fairly standard set of articulation for a modern Marvel figure:
Mr. Fantastic is listed as having 42 POA, but like Johnny, the count is slightly higher when you account for double joints. By my count he has 46 POA. In addition to the 44 joints he shares with the Human Torch, Reed also has an extra joint in each shoulder which allows the shoulders to be moved forward or back. But at least Mr. Fantastic doesn't share the problem of soft joints.
The Invisible Woman's card lists 34 POA, but by my count she has 38. Her articulation is basically the same as that of the Human Torch but without the individually jointed fingers. There is one other non joint just above the torso hinge. It should be a rotating joint, but her chest prevents it from moving.
The Thing gives up the toe joints, rotating shins, jointed fingers, and the double jointed elbows (only single joints). The torso joint isn't a hinge like most of the figures. Instead it is a sliding joint which allows the upper portion of the torso to slide forward or backward slightly. It isn't as disruptive to the sculpt as a hinge would be, but it doesn't add much in terms of range of motion either. The lose of the joints doesn't hurt the range of motion available or poseablity much though.
Accessories/Action features - Invisible Woman 3/10, Human Torch & Thing 6/10, Mr. Fantastic 7/10Mr. Fantastic comes with ten additional body segments that can be attached to the body. The cut joints at the shins, thighs, waist neck, biceps and forearms can be pulled apart and the extra body parts inserted. With the exception of the extension for the waist, each section has a wire running through it which allows them to hold a pose to a limited extent. Each section is quite short, less than two inches, which isn't long enough to give you many options for positioning them. But most of them can be bent close to ninety degrees and hold the bend. The sections do have two drawbacks, the colors don't quite match those of the rest of the figure. To be more precise, the colors aren't to bad but the bendable sections have a completely matte finish while the plastic of the rest of the figure has a slight sheen. The other drawback is that they parts don't line up with the rest of the sculpt as well as they should. If you are the type of person who dislikes it when articulation breaks up the lines of a sculpt, this is likely to be quite annoying.
The Human Torch comes with a flame base that connects to the figure's back. It isn't too exciting and would have made more sense if it connected to the figure's feet instead. But I guess Toy Biz deserves some credit for not just reusing the base from the Marvel Legends Human Torch figure. The base also forms part of Torch's action feature. The figure has a LED in his upper chest and another in his head which light up when a button on his back is depressed. But when the figure is attached to the base via the three prongs on the base, the feature can also be activated by pressing a button on base. When the button is pressed, the figure blinks a have dozen times and a speaker in the base says "flame on." The feature works well and the button is remarkably well hidden, but the sound quality is horrible. It would also have been nice if the figure used yellow LED's instead of the red ones that were used in order to better replicate the effect from the film.
Clobber 'N Crush Thing has three action features and one accessory. First off, set aside some space in your useless accessory draw for the crushable car. This is supposed to be Johnny's car which the Thing destroys in the movie. But if Johnny was driving this car, he must be a Shriner. The car only comes up to the Thing's knee and sports some impressive six inch rims. They did at least try to get the license plate right, but it is obviously hand written which just furthers the impression that this has to be a toy car. (Yes, I know it is a toy of a car. But it looks like a toy of a toy car.) The car has the same action feature as the paper box from the Spider-man Classics Scorpion figure. The ends of the car can be pulled apart to stretch the center section. When the button on one end is pressed, the center section contracts, 'crushing' the car. The feature works, but the accessory looks so bad that it isn't worth keeping around. The Things other two action features are both built into the figure. The right arm has an upper cut action. When the arm is pulled down it springs back up. It works fairly well, but the range is limited. If the arm is turned more than about 90 degrees, the internal mechanism will click past its limit and do nothing. The other arm also has an action feature, a downward smashing action. When the button on the figure's back is pressed, the arm will swing down. But the range is even more limited than the right arm. It only moves about 45 degrees. On the plus side, with the exception of the button on the figure's back, the action features don't really have a negative effect on the figure.
The Invisible Woman has a clear base with some sort of force wave coming up in a spiral. It is suppose to serve several purposes. It acts as a stand for the figure as well as a display to represent Sue's force power. And it provides the action feature. Unfortunately it doesn't do any of those things well. As a display piece it is somewhat sub par as it is completely clear which means it isn't that noticeable. The spiraling make little sense as well since in the movie the Invisible Woman was only able to project a force shield. This looks like it was meant for a Storm figure instead. The action feature is very lame. There are four clear plastic disk that can be loaded into the base and then fired by pressing a button on the back. Since the disk launch out at the remarkable height of a quarter of an inch from the ground, they don't so much fly as go sliding along any smooth surface. If it isn't on a hard smooth surface the results are even worse. On the plus side, I believe Sue is the first action figure I have seen with a curling action feature. ( Don't know what curling is?) Even as a stand for the figure it doesn't really work well. There are two pegs on the base, one short one just in front of the button to fire the disks and another on the lid to the chamber for the disks. The problem is that the short peg is so short that the feet pop right off. The other one is in the middle of the hinged lid. A little hint for Toy Biz's designers: if you want to add a peg to hold the figure in place, don't put it on a moving part. Rather than holding the figure in place, the lid just flops open and allows the figure to fall over. Also, for some odd reason, my figure seems to have two different sized holes in her feet. The left foot fits on either peg, but the hole in the right foot is too small to fit on either peg. This is definitely a candidate for the worthless accessory drawer.
Value - Mr. Fantastic 7/10, others 6/10The Fantastic Four movie figures run between $7 and $9 each depending on the store. All four of these are solid figures and should make a good addition to most fan's collections despite their various short comings. But non of them are real stand outs over the other versions we've seen in the last couple of years. Mr. Fantastic scores a little better because of the excellent concept behind his action feature.
Happy Hunting:The Fantastic Four movie figures are widely available at most brick and mortar stores, for now. As the fall resets are taking place, their presence is slowly diminishing in many areas. None the less, Mr. Fantastic, the Human Torch and the Thing should all be fairly easy to find. The Invisible Woman may be another story. This is the first and only one I've run across after months of casual searching. She was only released in limited numbers, one or two per case. and was only available with the first wave of figures. Add to that the fact that there are three variations of the figure and finding the one you want can be quite a challenge. Online options seem a bit more limited. Both Amazon and KB Toys have the figures listed on their sites. Some of the smaller online retailers are also carrying them. Big Bad Toy Store is one of my favorite sites and has always been very reliable. Krypton Collectibles also has most of the movie figures available on clearance for $5 each except for the Invisible Woman of course.