Marvel Legends: Constrictor by Hasbro

Its day three of Marvel Legends Week and this time we’re looking at Constrictor! He’s another character in this initial wave that also had a recent release in the 3 3/4″ Marvel Universe line. I’m a little surprised that Hasbro has been double dipping as much as they have in this first assortment, but I happen to love Constrictor, so I’m not complaining. And as an aside disclaimer, forgive me folks, but my time spent boozing at the Pub yesterday and today reading books to orphaned kittens cut into my editorial duties, so if this one feels like a quickie, that’s why. Nonetheless, I’ll try to give Constrictor his due.

The new Marvel Legends packaging is still appealing to me, and I’m particularly happy with Constrictor’s character art, both front and back. The bundle includes Terrax’s torso piece, which is proudly displayed on the bubble next to the figure.
So far, with Ghost Rider and Iron Man, we’ve seen some figures that rely on some pretty specific sculpting. Constrictor, on the other hand, is one of those figures we all new was coming. He gets by with a standard body and a costume executed strictly with paintwork. Now, clearly this works for some characters, and I do believe this figure proves that Constrictor is one of them. The paintwork is nice and clean with no real bleeding or smudging and there is some unique tooling used for Constrictor’s adamantium whips, which are cast in soft, bendy grey plastic. I think they look a lot better than the translucent gummi worms that we saw on the 3 3/4″ Marvel Universe version of the character.
Of course, the head sculpt is brand new, and I’ve got to say it is pretty darn awesome. Constrictor sports a maniacal grimace with a prominant chin that would make even Bruce Campbell envious. The detailed sculpting in the teeth is exceptionally well done and overall this is a head sculpt that is brimming with character. He’s one twisted looking dude.
Articulation? Wow! Constrictor sports some seriously nice poseability. You get ball joints in the neck, shoulders, and hips. The elbows and knees are all double jointed. You get swivels in the biceps, forearms, lower legs, and waist. The ankles feature both hinges and swivels. The torso has a ratcheting hinge and hinges in the shoulders to allow for the arms to crunch together or apart. I haven’t seen those shoulder crunches since one of my older 6-inch movie Spider-Man figures, and I really dig them.
No doubt about it, Constrictor is a great looking figure and he’s amazingly fun to play around with. I’ve had him on my desk since I got this wave and I’m constantly picking him up and posing him. The 3 3/4″ Universe was a perfectly fine figure, but this ML version really turns things up a notch. If we’re keeping score, Constrictor definitely lands in the plus column, which currently puts the first wave of Marvel Legends figures at two out of three.

Marvel Legends: Extremis Iron Man by Hasbro

Welcome to Day Two of Marvel Legends Week. This time we’re checking out a character that has had no shortage of figures recently, and in just about every scale imaginable. Yes, its Iron Man, and I’ll bet you’re wondering what makes the Marvel Legends version so special that you should buy yet another Iron Man figure? Well, the answer is… really nothing, apart from getting Terrax’s right leg in the package.

Once again, the new Marvel Legends packaging. I’m still digging it. It’s cluttered, colorful, loud, and sort of obnoxious… just like any good action comic. Notice the bubble is actually deep enough to allow Iron Man to be packaged with his forearms facing outward. That’s pretty cool. The reverse of the card features a big piece of character art and shows off the BAF, Terrax, and the other figures in this wave.
In hand, Iron Man seems a little underwhelming. Its cool that he is a brand new sculpt, seeing as how there are a fair share of 6-inch Iron Man figures that Hasbro could have repacked for Marvel Legends. What’s not so cool is that the sculpt is a little bland. I realize that this is supposed to be the Extremis armor from the comics and not the film, and I suppose that could account for the fact that this 6-inch figure sports less sculpted detail than some of the 3 3/4″ Iron Man 2 figures. But that still leaves the figure wanting for some added panel lines. I’ll also take a little umbrage with the coloring on the arc reactor and the repulsor emitter on his open hand. They just look white and bland and I think some color was needed here. It almost looks like the armor isn’t even active.  All that having been said, the rest of the sculpt and coloring here is competant enough. But at $17.99 a figure, I want more than competant.
Like the sculpt, the paintwork is passable. I’ve already commented on the bland, white arc reactor and repulsor emitter. The rest of the figure’s paint job gets by but it isn’t particularly excellent either. I rather preferred the high gloss, new car shine look to the 3 3/4″ Iron Man 2 figures. This one just seems dull by comparison.

Another bone to pick with Extremis Iron Man is in the scale. He’s tiny. I don’t mind him being smaller than the Thor in this assortment, but put him next to Steve Rogers and he still looks tiny by comparison. He’s not even much bulkier than Hope Summers. If you’ve ever listened to the fine folks over at Fwooshcast, podcast host Craig has often made the great point that as a dude in armor, Iron Man should be at least a bit bulkier than most of his fellow superheroes. In this case, he’s actually smaller. It never bugged me so much on the smaller figures, but it sure does put me off on this one. On the other hand, this Iron Man is sized fairly well when placed next to Hasbro’s 6-inch Captain America and Thor from their respective movie lines, so at least he does have a place in my Marvel display.
Iron Man’s articulation is passable, but once again, it’s really nothing special. He has ball joints in the neck, shoulders, and hips. His shoulder armor is hinged so as not to impede the arm movement. He has double hinges in his elbows and knees. His wrists and ankles both feature hinges and swivels, and he has swivels in the biceps and thighs. He also features a ball joint in the torso. It sounds good, but the ball joints at the hips are terrible and beyond being able to achieve a wide stance, they don’t allow for much movement otherwise.
So far, the new Marvel Legends is one for two. This Iron Man is an ok figure. He looks good on the shelf and he’s fun to fiddle about with, but I don’t find him to be any great leap over past 6-inch Iron Man figures. His scale puts him at home with other 6-inch Hasbro figures in my collection, but he looks way too small to stand in this lineup with the Marvel Legends. I get that Hasbro wants to capitalize on the Avengers as much as possible, but I feel like this figure probably shouldn’t have been included in this initial assortment. At $17.99, this figure is coming pretty close to the price of a Marvel Select, and doesn’t match up. I’ve certainly had to buy worse figures to complete a C&C/BAF, but the only reason I can really recommend him is so you can complete your Terrax, otherwise he’s an easy pass.

Marvel Legends: Ghost Rider by Hasbro

And here we go… So I picked up the first wave of Marvel Legends figures at Toys R Us’ website, all except for Ghost Rider, which they didn’t have In Stock. That was cool with me since I really wanted to hunt down the orange variant rather than the bewilderingly standard blue flame version, or as I like to call him Hellespont Ghost Rider.  As luck would have it, I ran across the orange version the very next day at Walmart just standing there on the shelf and I snatched him up. It was the first time I’ve seen these at retail, so they must have just put them out because there was almost an entire case there.

Behold, the new Marvel Legends packaging! The first time I saw pictures of this my head almost exploded from sensory overload. It is a very busy package deco with word explosions coming at you from all angles. Overall, I like it for its “in your face” comic book style motif. I’d almost say I prefer Mattels more elegant and refined DC Universe Classics cards if it weren’t for the personalized character artwork on the front and back of the new ML cards. Yep, that’s Ghost Rider’s huge mug on the upper left hand corner of the card and I’ll always go for a personalized cardback over a generic one anyday. Among the scattering of declarations on the card is the figure’s name, the fact that it is part of the Terrax wave and includes both the left and right arms of the figure, and that this is indeed the “Return of Marvel Legends.” Whereas Mattel hides their C&C pieces at the bottom under the insert, Hasbro has chosen to feature them by putting them off to the side in front of a segmented part of the card. I think I like it!
Surprisingly, the back of the card is a lot less cluttered. You get a huge, really nice piece of character art with a little tag line about Ghost Rider. You get a picture of the BAF, Terrax, and you get pictures of each of the other figures in the wave and which BAF piece they come with. So, my only complaint here is that Hasbro should have included a little bio and stats on the character like Mattel does with the DCUC figures. At the very least a “First Appearance” stat would have been nice.
Wow. I was pretty nervous about what Hasbro was going to turn out here, but once out of the package, Ghost Rider has set a lot of those fears at ease. Yes, he’s a really solid and detailed sculpt. Let’s face it, a character with a flaming skull is not the easiest action figure to sculpt convincingly, but I really think Hasbro’s team did a great job here. The skull itself sports a lot of character with narrowed, squinting eyes and the a rictus grin worthy of The Rider himself. The use of the sculpted, orange translucent plastic on the top of the skull and the shoulders really looks fantastic, and I’m willing to bet it also looks pretty good in the regular blue version too.
With the exception if his forarms and lower legs, Ghost Rider’s armor and chains are sculpted in separate, softer plastic pieces and worn over the figure’s core body, with the trench coat style top coming down off of his back to just above his ankles. The leg and arm armor have a nice rough-hewn, pitted texture, as does his shoulder armor. The whole ensemble really delivers on Ghost Rider’s sinister and iconic look very well. In terms of overall sculpt and design, there’s really nothing I would change here.
The paintwork, on the other hand, doesn’t impress me as much as the sculpting. Here’s the problem: There’s some subtle orange paint wash on the armor, chains, and the inside of the collar that is probably meant to convey the flames reflecting off the metal. It was an incredibly nice idea that shows a lot of thought went into the deco. Unfortunately, its something that is probably hard to pull off with exacting detail on a figure in this price range, and I don’t think it turned out quite as intended. It just looks more like tarnish than reflected flames. It doesn’t spoil the figure for me, but I’d have preferred the figure without it.

How about articulation? Ghost Rider features ball joints in the neck, shoulders, and hips. You get double hinges in the elbows and knees. The wrists and ankles feature both hinges and swivels, and he has a ball joint in the torso. While the number of points may seem lacking, the truth is that between the ball joints and the double-hinges, you really can get an amazing amount of good poses out of him and overall he seems to have a bit more range of motion than Mattel’s DC Universe Classic figures.
Accessories? Nada. Unless you count Terrax’s arms, Ghost Rider doesn’t come with any accessories. That’s a bit disappointing since his right hand is obviously sculpted to hold something and even the Marvel Universe version came with a length of chain for him to hold.

And there we go. I’m going to give Hasbro a pass on the paint, since its more a personal preferance on my part than anything else. That being said, Ghost Rider is certainly a home run in my book. The inaugural wave of Marvel Legends really needed to shock and awe collectors in order to get them to bite, and I think that makes Ghost Rider a nice pick for this wave. In a line that will inevitably feature a fair number of figures with standard bodies and painted costumes, this guy flaunts a lot of specialized sculpting and shows off what the line will be capable of at its best. As the first figure in this line that I opened, I come away very satisfied and looking for more.                        Tomorrow… Extremis Iron Man!

Marvel Legends Week Begins… Tomorrow!

Yes, folks, I’m gearing up to write my features on the first wave in the return of Marvel Legends, and I’m pretty damn excited about it. But before getting into the figures, I wanted to have a couple belts of Jameson and say a few things about what the original Marvel Legends line meant to me. I actually started collecting the Toy Biz line back when I was on the hunt for Transformers or GI JOE or Star Wars and couldn’t find anything new. I got tired of coming home from my hunts empty handed and I decided to pick one up. I really don’t remember my first one, but it might have been The Thing because I’ve been a Fantastic Four fan since I was barely able to read a comic and I do remember having a special fondness for that figure. Either way, I brought that figure home and it was love at first sight. I was back at the store that weekend buying everything Marvel Legends that they had. What was at first a consolation prize had become a prized new line of figures.

So here was the amazing appeal of Marvel Legends. The figures used to cost me about $6.88 at Walmart. For under seven bucks you got a huge, super-articulated figure, usually a big diorama style display base or a Build-A-Figure piece, and a reprint comic book. All that for under seven bucks. And we aren’t talking about the ancient days of my youth. This wasn’t all that long ago. Compare that to the nearly ten bucks I’m paying for Marvel Universe figures (no offense, MU) where you get a much smaller, less articulated figure, sometimes no stand or accessories, and no comic book reprint. In retrospect, Marvel Legends was a deal that was almost too good to be true. And the whole idea of packaging a figure and using a comic book as the backdrop is still one of the coolest ideas the toy industry ever came up with.

Of course, then that dark day came when Hasbro took over the license. How could that be a bad thing? Hasbro made so many of the toys that I loved: Star Wars, GI JOE, Transformers. I waited with baited breath to see what was coming and then they started hitting the pegs. And they didn’t look so good. There was no comic book or display base. And the price was jacked up to about ten bucks. I made up my mind right then and there in the toy aisle that I wanted no part of these new Marvel Legends figures. In retrospect, I think I might have been too hard on them. I passed them all up and I even went so far as to sell off my entire collection out of misplaced rage. Well, now they’re back…
And there’s Wave One. Hasbro’s still at the helm and there’s still no comic book reprint or display base, but at least the BAF pieces have returned. I’m not only willing to give these guys another chance, I’m hoping against hope that Hasbro learned from their mistakes and are giving it a better go this time around. Well, starting tomorrow we’ll find out. The first wave consists of Iron Man, Thor, Hope Summers, Ghost Rider, Klaw, and Constrictor. And tomorrow will kick off Marvel Legends week here at FigureFan with a look at the first figure… Ghost Rider.