Marvel Legends (Mantis Wave): Ex Nihilo by Hasbro

After a brief detour, I’m steering the good ship, Marvel Monday, back to Marvel Legends. These things are piling up around me like crazy and I’m beginning to think running a whole week of Legends is going to be necessary if I’m ever getting caught up. Maybe I’ll do that for the next wave, for now I think I’m going to double up on the shared slots, which means I’ll have a second review going up this evening. In the meantime, I decided to go for the second Guardians Vol.2 wave and I’m kicking it off with Ex Nihilo, straight from The Garden on Mars!

Of course, Marvel split this assortment into two waves so that they could include some comic-based figures along with the MCU Guardians. Call me crazy, but I was quite pleased to see Ex Nihilo revealed in this wave, as I am a big fan of Hickman’s run leading up to the Avengers: Infinity story arc in general and Ex Nihilo and Abyss were some interesting additions to the Marvel roster. Indeed, if anything about the news of this release disappointed me it was that there wasn’t an Abyss figure included in the wave as well. Hell, a Ex Nihilo, Abyss and Aleph three-pack would have been sweet. Anywho… Ex Nihilo shares a slot with Adam Warlock as the “Cosmic Protectors,” which is a pretty unlikely title for him at his introduction, as he was kind of a prick in the beginning, but he came around in the end.

No doubt, Ex Nihilo is a distinctive looking fellow, so much so that it’s hard to believe that he could be considered one of the budget figures of the wave. And yet, he makes use of a standard buck with just a new head sculpt. I’m sure I’ve seen those hands before, although I’ll concede that the bare feet are probably new. The only paint on the body is the Omega-like emblem printed on his chest.

The gold colored plastic looks pretty good, but not quite as good as the original promotional pictures. The final figure isn’t quite as vibrant and there’s some of that annoying swirly pattern evident here and there. So, yeah… it didn’t turn out quite as nice as the teasers, but he’s not bad at all. Under the right lighting the gold is very pleasing on the eye.

The head sculpt depicts Ex Nihilo with a toothy grimace. I think this was actually a good expression to go with, since the figure is pushing him not as a mysterious threat dropping Origin Bombs on the Earth, but as someone who eventually allied with The Avengers against The Builders. Either way, I think the sculpt is excellent, the teeth are exceptionally well painted, as are the green eyes. I really dig the subtle black outline around the eyes. Seeing as how the figure required only the minimum of painted detail, it’s nice to see they did it right!

The articulation is pretty standard. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, swivels in the biceps and double hinges in the elbows. The torso features an ab crunch hinge and a swivel in the waist. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivels in the thighs and lower legs, and double hinges in the knees. The ankles are hinged and have generous lateral rockers. And finally the neck is both hinged and ball jointed. The joints on this guy feel great and he is a lot of fun to play around with.

I would imagine that Ex Nihilo has a number of Legends collectors scratching their heads. He’s from a story that’s not old enough to be classic, and not recent enough to be all that relevant. To my knowledge he’s never really been affiliated with The Guardians of the Galaxy either, although he is part of Cosmic Marvel. Nonetheless, he comes from a solid run of The Avengers, and I’ve wanted some figures from this run ever since it debuted. The fact that we’re only getting Ex Nihilo now gives me hope that we could still see some other figures from this book. In addition to Abyss, I’d love to get a Starbrand, and while Captain Universe is part of a wave hitting the shelves now, I’d really like the Tamara Devoux version as well. Either way, I’d say this wave is off to a solid start. And as mentioned earlier, I’ll be back later tonight to check out the other half of the “Cosmic Protectors:” Adam Warlock!

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Marvel Legends (Giant Man Wave): Nick Fury by Hasbro

Marvel Legends continues to crank out bucket loads of 6-inch scale plastic comic book heroes and villains, making me a very happy and broke Marvel fan. But what really amazes me about this line these days is its willingness to take risks. Hasbro has not only been dipping into obscurity fairly often, they’re not afraid to confuse the hell out of moms, dads, and casual collectors alike. Case in point… in a wave that is more or less dedicated to the Marvel Cinematic take on Civil War, we get a very classic comic version of Nick Fury.

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The package is everything we’ve already seen before, so I’m not going to dwell on it for too long. The window box features some nice blue-tinted character art on the side panels and is sort of branded for the Civil War film. Well, it says Captain America on the front. Regardless, when little Timmy says he wants a Nick Fury figure and mom or dad goes to the store and finds a box that says Nick Fury and Captain America, little Timmy may be vexed that he’s not getting a Samuel Jackson. That’s probably why I only ever see middle aged dudes searching the Marvel Legends pegs these days. And that’s a beautiful thing. And yes, I do realize that in this day and age a good chunk of those moms and dads may also be Marvel Comics fans, but I think my point is still at least somewhat valid. Where the hell was I? Oh yeah… Nick Fury!

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Oh, hell and yes! This is the Fury that I grew up with and has been and still is the very definition of badass. Nothing against Jackson, I think he does a great job in the role, but I wish they had kept a little more of this classic uniform for the MCU rather than go for the tired and cliched black trench coat thing. Here, Fury features a dark blue buck with white boots and gloves and the SHIELD emblems printed in silver and blue on his shoulders. He’s also loaded with belts and pouches! These pieces include a rig on his right thigh, which includes a functional holster, two belts on his waist, and a shoulder rig with a holster that contains a gun sculpted into it. The white on the boots and gloves is both clean and bright, with no bleeding like we usually see on figures with white over dark bucks. The rest of his white gear features a nice paint wash to pick out all the sculpted details.

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The standard portrait here is a almost a home-run. It’s iconic Nick Fury with his graying hair, five-o’clock shadow, and eye patch. The sculpt is top notch, while the paint has just one issue. They left the area under the hairline unpainted and when you’re looking up at the figure from below, it looks kind of weird. Everything else is great.

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The figure features plenty of articulation, but I’m sorry to say that some of the joints here are a bit loose, floppy, and or gummy. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, double hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double hinges in the knees, and swivels in both the thighs and the tops of the boots. The ankles are hinged and have lateral rockers. There’s a swivel in the waist, an ab crunch hinge in the torso, and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed. So, where are the issues. The neck is extremely loose and the hinges in the knees and elbows are gummy. The ab crunch also has a little too much play in it for my liking.

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Fury comes with a gray pistol that appropriately looks like a cross between a Luger and a laser pistol. It fits nicely into his thigh holster. A rifle would have been nice, but I could pretty much complain that any figure needs more weapons. In this case, instead of more weapons, we got two alternate heads.

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First off is this helmeted head, which I presume is to turn Fury into a SHIELD trooper. It’s a nice idea, but army building this figure probably isn’t going to be easy, as it’s been tough to get at regular price. Granted, it’s come down quite a bit since its release. Either way, this head looks a little too much like GI JOE meets HALO for me to get excited about it on a Marvel Legends figure. I’ll bet customizers will go nuts over it.

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Next up we have a Dirk Anger head, which is a delightful way to troll the casuals. This is a pack-in that both befuddles and delights me and offers further proof that Hasbro is willing to take risks. Was anyone really asking for this? I can’t imagine they were. Am I ever going to display this on the figure? Nope. And yet I’m kind of happy we got it. It’s just a cool and outrageous little bonus.

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As you can probably have guessed, I was super excited to get a classic Nick Fury on my Marvel Legends shelf. And while I have a few issues with the figure, there’s nothing here that keeps me from enjoying it. Some tighter joints and a little more paint to fill out that hairline and this would have been a five-star release in my book. As it is, it’s still plenty good, and it may very well wind up being my favorite figure in this wave. Next time on Marvel Monday… I’m doubling up on Nuke and Red Guardian so I can get through all these goddamn figures a little quicker!

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DP: “OooOoooOoooh… Lookit all the POUCHES!! Saaay, that thigh rig looks familiar!!”

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DP: “YOINK… Gotyergun Fury!!!”

Marvel Gallery: Captain Marvel Statue by Diamond Select

I know, Marvel Monday was yesterday, but Mondays are going to be tied up with Legends figures for a long while now, so the Marvel goodness will be spilling out into other days now and then. Today I’m looking at Diamond’s first Marvel Gallery statue, which is, for all intents and purposes, a Femme Fatales statue by another name as she fits in at the exact same 9-inch scale and sits at the same price point. It’s my understanding that DST changed the name of the Marvel series because they will be incorporating dudes into this line. Fair enough!

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Despite the name change, the box is right in line with what we’ve been seeing out of DST’s Femme Fatales statues. You get the same four panels of windows to show off the statue inside and a deco that is personalized for the character. If anything this box feels just ever so slightly more premium with some nicer coloring and a spiffy satin finish to the art. The statue comes between two clear plastic trays and there’s no assembly required. She’s ready to go right out of the box.

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This statue looked amazing in the promo pics and I’m happy to say all that goodness transferred to the final product. In hand, the statue looks quite striking for such a relatively low end piece. I’m especially fond of the pose they went with here that has Carol levitating, one knee bent and her arms gently out to her sides. It’s a very graceful look and while far from an action pose, it still manages to convey a little bit of energy and majesty to a gal who has become one of my favorite modern Marvel characters.

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There’s a fair amount of sculpting involved in the costume. In fact, none of the detail is conveyed by paint alone. Instead, you get some great details like the brass buttons running up the sides of her boots and gloves, the sash tied around her waist and secured with a medallion, and especially the starburst symbol on her chest. Even her gloves have subtle stitching lines running throughout. Add all those little flourishes to her beautiful curves, and you’ve got quite an eye catching display piece. Carol proves that you don’t have to show a lot of skin to be a drop-dead sexy superhero. She’s class!

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The paint quality in the Femme Fatales line has been overall solid, but I’ve seen it falter every now and then, mostly on a couple of the DC Animated pieces. I’m happy to say, the paint is quite good on Carol’s costume. The shades of red and blue are vivid and smooth and contrast beautifully with the bright gold paint. There’s really no slop to speak of and the lines are clean thanks in part to the way they are integrated into the sculpt.

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Did I mention she has a nice bum? She has a very nice bum. The figure does feature some seaming from where it was assembled. You can see these in the shoulders and again around the right leg where it meets the aforementioned very nice bum. We don’t tend to see these in a lot of higher end pieces, so they may prove to be distracting for some. Considering the low price point here, I don’t mind them much here, especially since it mainly looks like the sort of cuts you would get in action figure articulation.

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The portrait sculpt is excellent. I’m particularly pleased with the way the hair came out. It’s wonderfully detailed and has a little bit of glitter in the paint that makes for a rather interesting effect. That having been said, the eye makeup is a bit much for me. The look to the eyes leans a little more toward the Dexter Soy art than it does the David Lopez run, but it doesn’t quite match either exactly. That having been said, I think what I’m seeing is more an artistic choice than a comment about the quality of the paint. I think she looks absolutely fantastic when viewed from straight on, but there’s something a little off when she’s in profile.

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The base is a jagged burst of energy with a gradient orange and red paint that gives it a rather brilliant and almost luminescent effect. In the right lighting it almost looks like it’s glowing. It does a nice job supporting the figure and I like that her lower foot is still suspended just slightly above it to give her that levitating effect.

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I’ve been a champion and collector of DST’s Femme Fatales line long before it started dipping into the mainstream comics, and I’ll happily categorize Captain Marvel as another win for this line. Or, if you want to get technical, a very nice debut for the Marvel Gallery line. I was looking forward to getting this one ever since she was first solicited and so I had her pre-ordered at the MSRP of $40, which is actually just a wee bit less expensive than what the DC Animated statues are being released at. On the other hand, if Marvel Gallery is anything like Femme Fatales, e-tailers seem to be rather competitive when pricing these statues, so shopping around for a deal may be worthwhile. Captain Marvel has already been follwed by Jane Foster Thor, which I’m still on the fence over because I’m not enamored with the sculpt. On the other hand, Spider-Gwen should be out next month, and I’ve already got both the regular and SDCC versions of her on pre-order!

Avengers “Age of Ultron:” Scarlet Witch 1:6 Scale Figure by Hot Toys

Captain America: Civil War has been blowing up the box office for a few weeks now (I did my part, seeing it twice in Imax and once on a regular screen), and while Hot Toys has plenty of pre-orders up for the Civil War versions of The Avengers, a few of the last Age of Ultron figures are still trickling out. In the case of AoU Scarlet Witch, I’ve actually had her on my shelf for a little while now, and it’s long past time I check her out.

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I already showed off the Hot Toys’ Age of Ultron packaging when I featured Hawkeye and Vision. This is the same deal only with a red deco and Wanda Maximoff’s lovely mug on the front of the box. It’s still basically a window box with an illustrated sleeve wrapped around it and while it looks attractive and certainly gets the job done, I can’t help but feel as if Hot Toys has been cutting costs in their package presentation while the prices of the figures continue to climb. All the goodies come on one tray and everything, as always, is collector friendly.

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Wanda comes more or less ready to go right out of the box. You do have to put on her two necklaces, which require popping off the head, but that’s easy-peasy. The hair required a little futzing, but all in all I was surprised how little I had to mess with it to get it where I wanted it. In fact, Wanda is a very simple figure, but the costume hits all the right points. The outfit consists of a thin black dress over a black and pink lacy slip, a red leather jacket, leather arm bracers, tattered black stockings, and some chunky boots. While this is about as far from any of Scarlet Witch’s comic designs you can get, I like this look a lot for the MCU version of the character and I was glad to see her wear something pretty similar for a good part of Civil War.

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The jacket is easily the most impressive of these sixth-scale garments. It’s beautifully tailored and textured and fits the figure perfectly. The coloring on it is also very nice, particularly the way it transitions to a darker color at the bottom. The costume design also does a good job of concealing most of the joints, preventing Hot Toys from having to go with seamless arms and legs. The stockings cover the knees, the bracers cover the wrist joints, and the jacket sleeves, well they cover the elbows most of the time, so long as your diligent about pulling them down while posing her. Still, with extreme elbow bends, you’re likely to see some hinge. If I were going to nitpick something it would be the boots. They look fine on their own, but if you compare them to say the sculpting on AoU Hawkeye’s boots, the detail here looks a lot more soft. It’s also worth mentioning here that while the boots don’t allow for lateral rockers, the rest of the costume is one of the least restrictive costumes I’ve seen on a Hot Toys figure in a long while. With no restrictions and very little fragility here, Wanda is a fun figure to play around with.

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I’ve got no complaints about the portrait. Hot Toys has worked their usual magic here. I will say that I find the likeness can go from spot on to just very good, depending on the lighting and angle, but even Hot Toys’ “very good” is usually better than everyone else’s best, so I’ll happily take it. The skin tones in the face are superb and the paintwork on the eyes is downright eerie. While some collectors still fight against rooted hair, I’m a fan of it in certain cases and this was one of them. Yes, there are some fly-away strands, but I don’t think this would have looked good with sculpted hair. I haven’t used any product or actually did any styling… I need to draw the line somewhere. While the arms and legs don’t feature the seamless rubbery”skin,” the neck and upper torso does, so you can get some articulation out of the lower neck despite no visible joint there. I do wish they made the charms on her longer necklace out of diecast, as it would have weighted them better. As it is, the longer necklace doesn’t really hang naturally.

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You know what time it is? It’s time in the Hot Toys feature where we talk about hands… lots of extra hands! Wanda comes with a total of eight, although in this case the count is weighted in favor of the right side. As many of you may know, I’m not an extra hands kind of guy, but in this case, the hands are actually a lot of fun, because some of them are very expressive and they tie in with her hex powers. The majority of the hands have red translucent finger tips to create the magic effect, and it works quite well. All of the hands come complete with all her sculpted rings. And that brings us to her other accessories…

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Effect Parts! If there’s one thing I’m usually even more ambivalent toward than extra hands it’s effect parts, but once again Hot Toys surprised me here, and in more ways than one. The hex magic effect parts that come with Scarlet Witch are both frustrating, and ultimately fun accessories. These are sculpted in clear plastic with a nice shade of red mixed throughout. They are designed with a very specific use in mind, to have the effect trailing behind the hands. The instructions sort of show how this is done, but not very well and the way the pieces are designed to fit the hands isn’t at all intuitive.

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However, with a little experimentation, I’ve found them to be pretty versatile and capable of creating some pretty neat poses. For people who like to have accessories that go in a proper way for a very specific look, these might prove more frustrating than their worth. But they had me playing around with Wanda a lot more than I usually do with a new Hot Toys arrival.

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Finally, Wanda comes with Ultron’s heart. It’s a decent enough accessory and it allows you to create a pretty cool moment in the film, but it’s nothing terribly special. At the prices we’re talking about, I would have preferred something metal and maybe with an LED.

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Scarlet Witch’s stand is patterned after the other Age of Ultron figures that I featured. The big difference here is that instead of a crotch cradle, it comes with a wire loop that hugs the figure’s waist, like a more traditional doll stand. The base is larger and more posh looking than the older Hot Toys stands, and I do appreciate that it offers a better sense of value. The only downside here is that it takes up more real estate on the shelf and doesn’t match the older Avengers figures.

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I could go on about how any sense of value is slipping away as Hot Toys’ prices continue to rise, but if I’m still buying them, then I guess I shouldn’t be complaining and in the end, I’m going to pay what I need to pay to get the characters I want. One thing I wish Hot Toys had done here was do a discounted bundle on Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, because I find that I wouldn’t mind having her brother on display with her, but there’s no way I would buy him on his own unless he hits some really deep discounts. And I can’t imagine that situation is out of the question. Of course, Hot Toys has already shown off their Civil War version of Wanda, and while it hasn’t made me regret picking up this figure (I’m big on getting first appearances), it has made me consider double-dipping on her.

And that should catch me up on my Marvel Hot Toys. I have Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy and Cap from Civil War on pre-order, but they aren’t due out until later in the year. I’d love to pick up Ultron, but I don’t think he’s going to be in my budget. Likely the next Hot Toys I’ll be featuring here on FFZ will be some of The Force Awakens offerings, which should be shipping sometime toward the end of the Summer. 

Avengers “Age of Ultron:” Vision 1:6 Scale Figure by Hot Toys

Yes, we already had Marvel Monday, but I didn’t want to interrupt my progress getting through the stacks of Legends figures in the corner. So, I decided to double up on Marvel content this week, because I’m also starting to fall behind on featuring my Marvel Hot Toys. Vision just turned up at my door this past weekend, and I’m pretty excited to check him out. I really dig what they did with the character in the film, although had they managed to keep him a secret, it would have completely blown me away when I saw it. Seriously, when he emerged from the casket, I probably would have screamed like a girl and rabbit kicked the seat in front of me in sheer delight. On second thought, probably better that they spoiled it.

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I have very little to say about the box, other then it’s the same window box with a sleeve around it that we saw with Age of Ultron Hawkeye. You get the usual character art, in this case a great shot of Paul Bettany looking every bit the part, and I like that the deco matches the packages for the other figures in this series. So, yeah, it’s attractive and serviceable, but it doesn’t feel up to par with the kind of presentation that a $220 figure warrants.

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Vision comes out of the box and ready to go. This is a relatively simple, but beautiful figure through and through. The rubbery body suit looks similar to what Hot Toys did for Man of Steel Superman, a figure which I admired a lot, but couldn’t bring myself to buy because I despised the film so much. The suit fits Vision perfectly and it strikes a nice balance between allowing for a surprising amount of articulation and still being tight enough to show the anatomy of the figure beneath it. The stitching is well concealed and while it can require some adjusting after re-positioning the arms and legs, it’s easy to get back into it’s natural state.  You get some nice piping throughout the suit and the coloring, along with the different tones of red patterns, looks perfect to me. The texturing on the suit is also quite striking.

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In addition to the suit itself, you get the plastic gorget around the neck, along with the wrist bracers, all of which are cast in plastic and painted with some sumptuous gold and a vibrant, metallic shade of… I’m not sure what to call this… magenta? Either way it’s beautiful. The boots are similarly colored, although a little closer to maroon and since the feet peg into the legs, and the upper part of the boots are sleeves, they allow for a decent amount of articulation in the ankles.

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The cape… oh boy, am I torn on this cape! Taken on it’s own It think it looks great on the figure. it has an interesting, almost Art Deco pattern printed throughout and it’s pleated where it attaches to the figure so that it’s natural state is almost entirely collapsed behind the figure. Overall, I like it. On the other hand… as a recreation of the cape we saw Vision wearing in the film, it’s a complete failure. Now, I’m pretty sure that cape was CG, so I’m willing to cut Hot Toys some slack here, but given the price of this figure, I think they could have gone for a material more like silk, which would have better approximated the on screen look. With all that having been said, this cape features some wires running through the edges that does allow it to work with some dynamic poses.

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While I may take issue with the cape, I’ve got no such qualms about the portrait. I was really interested to see how this one was going to turn out, as Hot Toys have more or less nailed the human element and skin tones of their figure portraits, but here was something entirely different. I’m not sure whether this qualified as being easier or more difficult, but whatever the case I am very pleased with the result. This is most definitely Bettany in the make up. The sculpt is beautifully realized from the panel lining right down to the subtle texturing around the eyes. And those eyes definitely contain that eerie Hot Toys spark of life. As for the rest of the head, you get more of that gorgeous magenta paint along with some green to match the suit. I would have really liked to see a light up feature in the Infinity Stone. At a price like this, I think that was warranted.

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In terms of accessories, well… we aren’t talking a heck of a lot. You get the usual parade of hands… four pairs total. In this case it’s a pair of relaxed hands, a pair of splayed hands, a pair of fists, and a pair to hold Mjolnir… which conveniently brings us to the only other accessory…

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Mjolnir is most likely re-purposed from one of the recent Thor figures, presumably the most recent Age of Ultron release. I only own the original Avengers Thor release from way back when and it has some notable differences from the hammer that came with that figure. It’s still diecast and it still has the lanyard. The biggest differences are in the handle sculpt. I won’t say it’s better or worse, just different. I love that Hot Toys included Mjolnir with the figure, particularly because of the way it was used in the film. The early scene where they’re establishing the link between worthiness and being able to lift the hammer seems to be played for laughs, but then it cleverly comes back to establish trust in Vision later on. Brilliantly done and to be honest, I can’t think of any other accessories that could have been included here.

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Vision comes with the new(ish) type of stand that was introduced to the Marvel figures with Guardians of the Galaxy and Age of Ultron. These are bigger and classier looking than the old style, which is both good and bad. From a presentation standpoint, I feel these offer more value. They’re sturdier, have nicer name plates, and while some have balked at the stickers, I think they look fine. On the downside, these do take up more real estate on my shelves and my OCD doesn’t like that they don’t match the older figures. This one, however, has the nice bonus of offering a swap-out flight stand with waist grabber…

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This is similar to the one that came with my Winter Soldier Falcon figure only not quite as long. The stands are easy to swap out from the base and yet they hold very firm. Considering how light the accessories are with this figure, I’m glad Hot Toys decided to include this. It does help justify where some of the extra money went.

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I really am in love with this figure, even though the cape keeps it from being perfect. Granted, there have been third-party capes produced for Hot Toys figures before and here would be a great opportunity for another. Then again, I’m usually too much of a pussy to try even simple custom jobs on these figures, so I’m happy to leave it the way it is, because I truly don’t mind the way it looks on the figure, only that it doesn’t look screen accurate to the film. Everything else about Vision is beautifully crafted and he really pops on the shelf even when surrounded by his fellow Avengers. As for the price, Vision retails at $220, which is pretty much the low end of the spectrum for Hot Toys pricing these days. Unless your Quicksilver, in that case they knocked another ten off because he’s Quicksilver. I shouldn’t poke fun at it, because I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t considering him as a purchase, if nothing else as a companion piece ot the next Hot Toys figure I’ll be looking at… Age of Ultron Scarlet Witch. Hopefully next week…

Marvel Legends (Red Onslaught Wave): Captain America by Hasbro

I’m finally past the halfway mark in my look at this wave of Marvel Legends figures… only three more to go before I can cobble together a Red Skull! With the wave branded in a Captain America theme, it’s understandable that Cap himself would make an appearance and that’s exactly who I’m checking out today!

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There’s really nothing new to say about the packaging, other than Cap and his accessories fill up that tray pretty well. It feels like we’ve been hit with a whole lot of Cap since the Legends line returned, but I’ve been more or less complete with these figures and I was surprised to find only a handful in my Legends drawers, and a couple of those were from the Cinematic Universe. With Rogers being one of my favorite Marvel characters, you won’t hear me complain about getting a fair share of different versions of the man. Oh yeah… see those shoulder straps?

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Well forget about them. They literally slid off the figure’s arms the moment I got him out of of the package. I see no way of making them stay on, so I just have to ask, WTF, Hasbro? Costume malfunction aside, I really dig this figure. He’s about as classic a version of comic Cap that we’ve seen in Legends since the line has come back. It’s a very clean look for the costume with no scaling or texturing on the top of the costume at all, just a large white star and pronounced red and white stripes in the mid-section. The classic comic goodness is further enhanced by the very wide belt and large belt buckle, the flared gauntlets and the traditional buccaneer boots. This here is good old-fashioned and unfiltered patriotism, soldier!

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The head sculpt is broad and beefy, which makes for a good comic look. The cowl features the extra large “A” as part of the sculpt as well as the protruding wings on the sides. Some of the paint lines could have been a little sharper, but there’s nothing too bad here.

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This version of Cap sports more or less the same articulation as most. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, double hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, with double hinges in the knees and swivel cuts in the thighs and tops of the boots. The ankles are hinged and have lateral rockers. Finally, you get a rotating waist, ab crunch hinge, and ball joint in the neck. I will note that the hinge in the neck does very little and I’ve really only been able to get side to side movement out of the head.

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The shield appears to be the same one that came with the Marvel NOW! version of Cap that was part of the Mandroid Wave. It’s the type that clips onto the arm and also offers a peg so it can be worn on the back. The paint on the surface is pretty crisp and clean.

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You also get an extra pair of hands, which include a saluting right hand and a pointing left hand. It’s the sort of thing we’ve seen before in Legends scale Caps and while I’m not a big extra hand kind of guy, I do appreciate getting these with my Caps. Almost as much as getting a spare werewolf head.

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Because of course, no Captain America figure is complete without an werewolf head. Wait, what? Yeah, this extra head in the package no doubt has had the more casual collectors scratching their heads. Wolf Cap was one of the more bizarre twists Captain America took a while (in the 90’s, I think?) back. I’ve never actually read that run, but it’s very possible I may be displaying this figure with the wolf head because, why the hell not?

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I can certainly understand some collectors getting Cap fatigue from Legends. Those people are obviously filthy communists. Me? I’m a patriot, and so I’m happy to get another stand out version of Captain America for my shelf. Indeed, this one fits right in between the version that came in the Target Exclusive 3-Pack (with Radioactive Man and Ms Marvel) and the aforementioned modern look from the Mandroid Wave. The bonus werewolf head is just a gravy. Very silly gravy.

Iron Man: Movie Masterpiece Diecast Mark III Armor (MMS 256 D07) 1:6 Scale Figure by Hot Toys

I’ve got more Hot Toys business to take care of before returning Marvel Mondays to its regularly scheduled parade of Marvel Legends figures. Actually, it might be a couple more weeks before I get back to Legends, which is fine because I’m at least a couple of waves behind and it’ll give me a chance to get caught up. Today, I’m looking at a figure that’s been on my shelf for a little while now, but I’ve only recently got the time to give its proper due. It’s Iron Man, a character that Hot Toys must thank god for every day because they’ve probably made enough money off of Tony Stark to buy themselves a small chain of islands.

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This is only my second figure in Hot Toys’ Diecast Series, the first being Robocop. The packaging here is very similar. You get a snazzy laminate top with line drawings of the armor. I really dig the art design on this package. In fact, I’d dare say it’s my favorite box out of any of my Hot Toys figures. The top three-quarters or so of the box lifts off to reveal the styrofoam cube that holds the goods quite securely. The sheer weight of the box is certainly impressive and this definitely feels like a package befitting of a $300 collectible. The original version of this figure came out in 2008 and was all plastic, so we can only assume that Hot Toys is going to be double dipping on as many of these armors as possible by upgrading them to diecast. After all, they couldn’t milk that House Party Protocol shit forever.

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Here it is, the armor that started it all. Well, sort of. The Mark I was the DIY monstrocity that Tony built in the cave, and the Mark II was the bare metal predecessor to this suit. But here’s the first armor worn by Tony Stark that bore the iconic red and gold in the MCU. While I was really partial to the Mark VII for a while, I always come back to this one as my favorite. I think it’s the lovely contours and less angular nature of the design that really does it for me. It’s not overly busy, it’s well proportioned, has clean lines, and the deco has just the right mix of red and gold in it for my liking. The base figure is stunning and it’s the paint that grabs my attention first. This is as close to a new car finish as one can imagine and the quality control here is stellar. There isn’t a blemish to be found on my figure’s paint to speak of and that in itself is rather impressive. In hand, the figure has a satisfying heft to it, even if most of what you’re touching when you handle the figure is plastic. About the only thing here to dispel the illusion that this is a shrunk down Mark III armor are the three screws visible on the back needed to access the battery compartments.

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There are plenty of little bells and whistles on the suit to enhance its display options. The chest piece and lower abdomen plate are removable to show off the beautiful detail under the armor. These are both held on by tabs and are pretty easy to remove and yet stay firmly in place when handling the figure. The flaps on the upper back are all articulated and can lift up. And the back of the lower legs are also hinged and can be opened to reveal all the mechanical intricacies of the suit’s inner workings. I can’t imagine actually displaying the figure with any of these opened, but it makes for a wonderful experience when handling the figure or showing it off to friends. Of course, these parts also demand extra care when playing around with the suit.

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The helmet looks outstanding and I really dig the exposed linkages around the “collar.” The faceplate is held on by magnets and can be removed to access the switch for the helmet lights. Of course, if you’d rather go with the Tony Stark open helmet look, this figure has you covered with an alternate head.

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It’s a simple ball joint pop-and-swap and very easy to do. The portrait here is excellent, but then again, Hot Toys has been doing enough Tony Starks at this point that their sculptors should be able to do his likeness in their sleep. This head also comes with a magnetic faceplate, which can be attached to the top so that it appears “flipped up.” While the visor is intended to sit on top of the helmet,  it can also be placed over the face for a closed helmet look, but it’s not a perfect fit and leaves a slight gap down near where the mouth is. Even with the tiny gap, though, I think it’s an acceptable option, particularly if you want to go from a closed to open look without bothering with the head swap. Of course, with the alternate head you won’t get the option for the eye lights.

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Speaking of lights, the Mark III has four separate light points on the figure: The Repulsor Beams in the palms, the Arc Reactor in the chest, and the eyes in the head. Each of these have their own independent battery compartment and on/off switch. The switches for the helmet and chest are concealed behind plates, while the ones for the hands are fairly well hidden under the forearms. The lights are pretty bright and visible even in a well lit studio. I also appreciate the fact that they were able to make the Repulsor Beams light up and still keep the swappable hands. There are a total of three pairs of hands. You get one set of fists (non-lit), one set with individually articulated fingers, and one set of open palm angled up to simulate him firing his Repulsors.

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The articulation on the figure is quite good, but it requires a lot of care. There are plates on the shoulders and hips that are attached to hinged flaps to keep them from hindering the limb movement, but it’s pretty important to work these out of the way manually as you pose the limbs. The care is not only to prevent paint scrapes, but to protect the potentially fragile hinges on the plates themselves. The result is that as satisfying as the articulation can be, moving each point can sometimes feel like an event in itself. The engineering, however, is designed to help as much as possible. The arms will pull away from the shoulders to allow for some clearance and the legs will actually pop completely off of the hip ball joints to avoid breakage. Of course even with all these points of articulation, it would still be physically impossible to get the suit into the iconic ground-pound pose. But fear not, because Hot Toys went above and beyond to accommodate by providing an extra lower torso that’s bent in a way to allow for the ground-pound. I love that they did this, but it’s quite a lot to go through and my personal results were a little lacking.

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Hmmmm. It’s close… but not quite. Now I’ll concede I have seen plenty of pictures of this figure in a perfect ground-pound. It’s definitely capable of it, but I just wasn’t willing to risk my figure to try to get a pose for a couple of shots. Indeed, I doubt I’d ever go through the trouble to try again. The process involves removing both plates from the front torso, then pushing a release button to wiggle off the top of the torso, so you’re basically pulling the figure into two halves. The first time I did it, it was a nerve-racking experience, because I just didn’t know how much force I was supposed to be exerting to get the figure apart. Next another release button detaches the lower torso. Now you pop in the new lower torso, put the two halves of the figure together, replace the front torso plates, and do some very scary extreme posing of the left hip to bring the knee up as high as it will go. Now, everything goes back on really easy, and a subsequent attempt at the process was less stressful because I knew what was going to happen, but there’s still the fear of damaging something when grasping the figure tightly enough to do all this. There are just so many moving parts on the figure and so much potential for breakage. In the end, I appreciate the effort, but I’m content to leave it at that.

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The rest of the figure’s accessories include optional display pieces featuring his various deployed weapon systems. You get the shoulder missile packs, the countermeasure systems on the hips, and arm rockets. The shoulder packs look great and are hinged for elevated targeting. The hip pieces are a nice touch, but it’s a rather subtle change. The shoulder packs are super easy to swap out, whereas the hip pieces can be a little stubborn to remove.

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The arm rockets are my favorite of the three weapon systems. I love the way they make the plates look like they actually shifted and the paintwork on the little rockets is beautiful.

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The figure comes with a very impressive stand. It’s designed to look like one of the alcoves in the Hall of Armor, complete with sculpted areas where the feet go. You get a very strong post with a waist grip that is spring-loaded and features foam to gently grasp the figure. The base even lights up. As magnificent as the stand is, I’m rather torn on it. It works great for a totally stiff, museum style pose, but it’s very singular in its intended purpose. If you want to go for something more exciting, the placement of the feet on the stand comes off looking awkward.

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The Diecast Series figures run right around the $300 point. This figure was actually $309. When you consider that the average Hot Toy figure is hitting the $220-250 mark these days, I don’t think the increase in price is all that bad for what you’re getting. Granted, I only have this one and Robocop, but keep in mind the $300 range is about as high end as I get, and both figures have left me more than satisfied. Indeed, both figures are absolute works of art and I’d consider them the finest pieces in my collection. And if there was ever a perfect example of why my Hot Toys Marvel collection is a rather eclectic collection of appearances, the Mark III here is it. There’s no way I can afford every release of every character and so I try to curate my favorite versions and appearances. That’s why I have a First Avenger Cap over an Avengers Cap and that’s why this is the first Iron Man armor I bought. That doesn’t mean I won’t be looking at the Civil War suit in the upcoming year and depending what my financials look like at the time, I’d be open to getting a Diecast Mark VII if and when Hot Toys ever gets around to it.

Avengers “Age of Ultron:” Hawkeye 1:6 Scale Figure by Hot Toys

Marvel Legends has been totally dominating Marvel Mondays lately, so let’s go for something different today. I was really hoping to be looking at Hot Toys’ Scarlet Witch right around now, but they keep bumping her back and now it looks like March is Wanda’s new target date. So, let’s look at Hawkeye instead. This figure has been out for a little while now, but the fact that it took me this long to get to him shouldn’t be taken as an indicator of any lack of love for the character or Renner’s portrayal of him in Age of Ultron. He had a lot of great moments in the film and they were well deserved considering he spend so much of the first Avengers as a brain-washed Loki-lackey. It was nice to see him take the center stage for some of the new film and considering how expensive the first release has become on the secondary market, this is a release that really needed to be out there.

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While I’m no stranger to Marvel Hot Toys, this is my first HT figure from the Age of Ultron film, so the package design is new to me. The figure comes in a window box with an illustrated sleeve wrapped around it. I do prefer the shoebox style as they tended to be more durable and feel more like premium packaging. This isn’t bad, though, and honestly I really just keep the packaging as a place to hold all those extra bits that never make it to display. The front of the sleeve has a picture of Hawkeye in action with the Age of Ultron logo and points out that this figure is #289 of the Movie Masterpiece Series. There are a lot of goodies in this box, so let’s get started with a look at the figure itself.

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Hawkeye sported two costumes in Age of Ultron, one being close to his original Avengers look and the other being this snazzy new jacket. I like this look a lot, as it’s sort of a mix between a trench coat and a modern take on the medieval arming coats worn by archers in the old days. The tailoring on the new outfit is superb right down to the reinforced sleeves (complete with straps and buckles) and the T-shirt he wears under the jacket. The zipper is a bit big, something that Hot Toys still struggles with, but it’s mostly concealed under the flap, so it’s not an eyesore. The extra padding on the jacket looks great, as does the purple nods to the character’s comic costume. I was afraid that the bulky jacket would be puffy and restrictive, but it’s neither. It’s a beautiful form-fit for the figure and as far as costumes go, this is one of the least restrictive outfits that I’ve seen on a Hot Toys figure in a while.

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The back of the jacket has another zipper, which I find is best left undone to allow for a wider range of hip movement. Also, there’s a cool mesh liner that can be seen through the gap, which just furthers my respect for whoever tailored this thing. The jacket also features a plate to attach the quiver. The pants are also beautifully done, with knee pads and reinforced patches, and the boots exhibit some great sculpting, especially in the laces . While technically accessories, the speed-loaders are as much a part of the costume as anything else. These are magnetic pieces that adhere to the outside of the boots. They stay on quite well unless you bump them, but occasionally I had to re-position them while I was posing the figure.

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The portrait on the original Hot Toys Hawkeye was pretty damn good, and I think this one pushes the envelope a little further. As with all of Hot Toys’ portraits, they tend to have a certain sweet spot that really drives the likeness home, but I’m pretty satisfied with this one all across the board. The realism in the skin tone is downright eerie and I especially like the hint of five-o’clock shadow. Very nice.

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If you prefer your Hawkeye with shades, there is a pair included with the accessories and they fit the figure perfectly. I’m really tempted to go with these as my default display, but then I feel guilty covering up any part of the hard work they did on the face sculpt and paint. Moving on to the rest of the accessories…

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Holy crap, look at all this stuff! In addition to three sets of hands (What? Only six hands? Oh, Hot Toys, you’re slipping!) You get a regular bow, a collapsed bow, two pieces that make up the quiver, a crazy number of arrows and shafts, an assortment of three basic tips, and another assortment of Clint’s “special” arrow tips, which include the one he used on Scarlet Witch when she tried to fiddle with his brain. At first, I thought a lot of this stuff was extra, but by the time I was done filling the quiver, I was left with one arrow for the outside slot and one for Clint to knock into the bow, plus the specialty tips.

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It takes a while to load up the quiver, but the end result looks amazing. The instructions show you how to position everything and since all the tips are removable, you can customize them to your heart’s content. Twelve of the arrows are complete arrows, and eight are just shafts to fill out the quiver. Once the arrows are all loaded, the two halves go together with the help of magnets and some pegs. The entire thing then slots into the plate on the jacket making it very easy to attach and remove. All the complexity and effort that went into the quiver is one of the things that really make these figures shine. They could have just as easily just sculpted the quivers and arrows as one piece and had one or two be removable, but it wouldn’t have looked anywhere near this good.

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The collapsed bow is one of those neat extras that sadly I will probably never use. It’s a beautiful piece with loads of detail and a checkered purple and black finish. The folded parts of the bow are on actual hinges too, making it really feel like it could deploy into the full weapon.

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Of course, the full bow is the baby that he’ll be displayed with and it is indeed a sexy piece of kit. It has the same checkered finish as the collapsed bow and it’s strung with just enough slack and elasticity that I’m not afraid to pose him with it drawn. Although, it’s probably not recommended to keep it drawn for long periods of time. It also functions surprisingly well. While posing him I accidentally fired off more than a few arrows and they had quite some distance on them.

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The figure comes with relaxed hands attached, but I imagine that I’ll be keeping the ones designed to work with the bow on him most of the time. My only gripe here is that the fingers designed to draw the bow doesn’t have any spaces between the fingers. As a result, you have to knock the arrow into the string above or below the hand instead of between the fingers. This is easily fixed with a straight razor cut between the fingers, but I’m not sure I’m going to do anything that extreme.

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Naturally, Hawkeye comes with a figure stand. This is the first of my Hot Toys Avengers to not feature the traditional black oval stand. Instead, it’s more in style with what they used for the Guardians of the Galaxy figures. There’s a silver name plate with the AoU logo and an illustrated surface with the Avengers “A.” I like it, it offers a lot more room to display the figure, but I’d be lying if I said the different stands on the same shelf doesn’t annoy my OCD.

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Hawkeye was the last member of the core team that was missing from my Hot Toys Avengers shelf. I didn’t start collecting these beauties until a good deal of the original Avengers figures had already sold out, so being able to finally add Hawkeye to the team is a big deal for me. He’s a fantastic figure, which usually goes without saying when it comes to this line, but more importantly, he comes with a very satisfying collection of accessories, and that’s something that’s been missing from a lot of Hot Toys’ releases lately. When you take into account all those extra bits, plus the beautifully tailored outfit and solid likeness, the $219 price point actually feels reasonable. Or at least as reasonable as you can get in the high end action figure market. I’ve certainly paid more for less. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I spent around $110 worth of Reward Points, bringing him down to a $109 steal. Now hopefully in a couple weeks, I’ll be able to revisit Hot Toys’ Age of Ultron line with a look at Scarlet Witch, with Vision due to follow on in April.

Marvel Legends: “Age of Ultron” Hawkeye (AoU 4-pack, Part 4) by Hasbro

And here we go with the last figure in the Marvel Legends Age of Ultron 4-pack. On a positive note, a Marvel Cinematic Universe Hawkeye in Legends scale was high on my want list. On the downside, I regret going from left to right in my coverage of this set because now I have to finish on a down note. AoU Hawkeye… you got some issues.

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Yes, this is a repaint and partial re-sculpt of the Walmart Exclusive figure that came out alongside the first Avengers film. The biggest differences are a new head, a more muted shade of red paint on his tunic, and while the space for it is still there, the SHIELD emblem tampo is no longer present. Finally, the shoulder strap running across the chest of the Avengers figure has been removed. Granted, Hawkeye spend part of Age of Ultron wearing something very similar to his first Avenger’s costume, so the reuse here isn’t unwarranted, but it would have been nice to get him in the brand new costume. As it stands, the texture and detail on the costume is pretty solid, although those ball hips are pretty f’ugly.

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With that having been said, right off the bat, something feels off about Clint and I’m going to say it’s the proportions. I can’t quite put my finger on it, because if I put him next to Dr. Banner, they’re almost the same height and their legs and torsos are pretty much even. And yet Hawkeye’s legs look really short and his torso looks really long. It seems to be an optical illusion, but every time I look at the figure I can’t un-see it.

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The new portrait features Clint without his glasses. I like that. Including the glasses on the old figure seemed like a lazy way out. The new head features a passable likeness, that would probably be a lot better with some decent paint to bring it out. Unfortunately, my Clint’s peepers are a little wonky. Hawkeye? More like Walleye… amiright?

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Hawkeye comes with two accessories: His bow and quiver and both are the same pieces that came with the WM Exclusive Avengers figure. Unfortunately, that means the quiver isn’t movie accurate, as he wore a rectangular one in AoU and not this drum-style quiver. Yeah, I get it, Hasbro was able to release this set by cutting some costs. I’m still going to mention it, though. The bow is on par with the last Legends Hawkeye figure that I got and I probably would have been a lot happier with it if I hadn’t just opened DC Icons Green Arrow a couple of weeks ago. That figure featured a real string on the bow and removable arrows in the quiver. After playing around with that ensemble of archery accessories, this one just leaves me flat.

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The articulation here looks good on paper, but I do have a few issues with it in practice. Those hips are the terrible rotating hinges that make me work harder to get all the movement out of them. The hinges in the elbows are super mushy and one of the hinges on my figure’s right elbow doesn’t want to sit properly. I have to squeeze the two halves together every time I work the elbow to keep it from wanting to pop out. Otherwise here’s the run down: The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, bicep swivels, and double hinge elbows. The legs have rotating hinges in the hips, swivels in the thighs, double hinge knees, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. There’s a ball joint in the chest and ball joint and hinge in the neck.

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I don’t think this is a terrible figure, but it did turn out to be the weakest one in the box for me. Although, granted the fact that I never got the Walmart Exclusive from the first Avengers film makes him a little more welcome. There’s some good stuff going on here, but the proportions still look off to me and a screen accurate quiver would have been nice. At the end of the day, I’m glad to have him to at least round out my Age of Ultron team. And thanks to Toy Fair we know we’re getting an MCU Scarlet Witch. Still no sign of Quicksilver, though. Next week, I’m going to take a break from Legends and we’ll check out the Hot Toys version of Age of Ultron Hawkeye.

Marvel Legends: “Age of Ultron” Bruce Banner (AoU 4-pack, Part 3) by Hasbro

It’s week three of my look at the Marvel Legends Age of Ultron boxed set and that means we’re moving into the final half. I know my maths! Continuing onward from left to right in the box, we come to Bruce Banner, a very welcome figure indeed as this is the first time we’re getting the character in the Legends scale. That may not sound to exciting to some, but Mark Ruffalo as Banner was one of the many high points of the Avengers films for me. As far as I’m concerned he deserved a Legends figure as much as any of them.

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And yes… it’s a guy in a suit! Banner appears to be built off the same buck Hasbro used for Agent Coulson from the Agents of Shield 3-pack and the recent Chameleon figure. Other than a fresh coat of paint the biggest difference here is the shirt, which is sculpted with an open collar and no necktie. Of course, the shirt does reflect the MCU Banner’s predilection for purple shirts (instead of pants), which is cool because I enjoy that not so subtle comic nod.

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There are just a few blemishes worth mentioning on this guy. Firstly, the coat on my figure is scuffed on the front making it look more like worn leather than cloth. On the back there are some extra glossy patches that look like it was touched by greasy fingers. I swear it wasn’t me! I can’t be sure whether that’s on all figures or I just got luck of the draw. Secondly, I’m not a fan of these feet. They look too long from the front and super weird from the back. They also make it hell to get him to stand. To make matters worse, the peg holes in the heels are so shallow, I don’t even know why they bothered.

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The portrait here is a decent likeness. It maybe leans more toward charicature than realism, but I’m sure I could identify him if someone handed me the figure. If a skilled person were to have at this head with some paint, it could probably be so much more than it is.

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The articulation here is a lot better than one might expect from a guy who spends his days in a lab doing science. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists. You get double hinges in the elbows and knees. There are swivel cuts in the biceps and thighs. The hips are ball jointed and the ankles have hinges and lateral rockers. There’s a swivel in the waist, an ab crunch hinge in the torso, and both a ball joint and hinge in the neck.
Sadly, Banner doesn’t come with any accessories. Some science stuff would have been cool. Maybe a laptop, a tablet, Loki’s sceptre, or anything. But hey, at least we got the figure.

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If today’s feature seems a little abrupt, it’s because I honestly don’t have a lot to say about Dr. Banner here. Don’t take that to mean I don’t dig him, because I most certainly do. And while I’ve liked all three figures from this set that I’ve looked at so far, Banner and Thor each made buying it worthwhile because they’ve filled some painfully vacant holes on my MCU Legends shelves. And Black Widow was no slouch either. So yes, Banner makes this set so far three for three. With only one figure left, is this set going to go four for four? We’ll find out next Monday and see if Hawkeye hits the mark. That’s archery humor.