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.

Marvel Legends: “Age of Ultron” Black Widow (AoU 4-pack, Part 2) by Hasbro

Last Monday I checked out Thor from the Age of Ultron Marvel Legends 4-pack and today I’m moving on to Black Widow. While Hasbro has been under attack lately for a perceived slight on female action figures, truth be told the Legends line has been producing its fair share of femme fatales. Yes, you can argue that even after being in a slew of MCU movies, this is only the second such release of Natasha in the current Legends line, but then again this is also the first time we’re getting Legends MCU versions of the boys in this box too. What’s my point? I dunno. Let’s look at the figure.,,

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Widow’s costume didn’t change too much from Avengers 1 to Avengers 2, but the AoU version is still my least favorite. I don’t hate it, but at the same time I’m just not a big fan of the added light effects for her widow’s sting. That all having been said, I was expecting a straight repaint from this figure and was surprised to see that wasn’t the case. Instead, she’s a kitbash between Winter Soldier Widow and the Maria Hill that came in the Agents of Shield 3-pack. As a result, the two Black Widow figures look very similar upon a cursory glance, but under scrutiny, there’s a fair amount of difference. The biggest changes are in that taught little tummy era. The WS version had her Widow emblem sculpted into the middle of the zipper and there was texturing on the suit itself. Here the suit is smooth and the widow emblem is gone and it’s all just zipper.

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The belt is the other easily notable change. Previously, the belt was part of the buck. Now it’s a separate piece, attached to the holsters, and just sort of floats with the articulation. Also, the widow emblem resurfaces here on the belt buckle. Everything else is more or less the same. The flat circles are still on the shoulders where the SHIELD patches were on the previous figure, but now they’re just left blank. Also, the finger-less gloves from the WS version are now full gloves. And yes, the biggest bummer about the figure hasn’t been fixed, her Glocks are still sculpted into the holsters and are not removable. BOO!

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The head sculpts on the two Widows are very close. Keep in mind, WS Widow came with two portraits, one from the first Avengers and one from Winter Soldier, and I’m comparing with the Avengers head because the hair is the same shorter style. And while the two heads are fairly close, the head on the AOU version is still notably better. The eyes are sharper, the contours of the face are a little better, and the lips a little fuller. She also lost the odd spray-on tan that the previous figure had. It’s actually quite a nice likeness for this scale and price point.

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Articulation here is identical to the previous Widow, but it’s been a while, so let’s run it through. The legs feature ball joint in the hips, double hinges in the knees and ankles with both hinges and rockers. There are swivels in the thighs, but the holsters impede that movement a bit. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. Yes, the wrists are still pegged in, so if you want to swap the hands out with the previous Natasha… go for it! Lastly, you get ball joints in the torso and the neck. Of course, it helps to have a figure stand handy, as those tiny feet don’t support her that well in action poses. Normally my clear NECA stands work fairly well for Legends, but in this case the pegs were too loose, and I had to dig out some of my Legends hexagon stands.

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Widow comes with her pair of taser batons. I really don’t like these, either in execution or concept. As accessproes. they’re just crappy little pieces of plastic painted blue at the ends. They’re very bendy and they don’t look like anything. Also, since she comes with gun hands (and remember, no guns!) she can’t even hold them well. It doesn’t matter. The widow sting shouldn’t require batons and these babies are going to the Tote of Forgotten Accessories.

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I was not expecting a lot out of this figure and she actually surprised me. Sure, it’s just a kitbash with some new paint effects, but the figure works surprisingly well and getting an improved head sculpt was a nice treat. And while I’m still not a big fan of the added light effects to the costume, I’ll admit the paint used for them looks rather striking on the figure. I can now retire the Avengers head on my older Widow and pop the Winter Soldier head back on it. So far this set is a solid two for two… next Monday, I’ll move on to Bruce Banner!

Marvel Legends: “Age of Ultron” Thor (AoU 4-Pack, Part 1) by Hasbro

I’m officially between waves of Marvel Legends, so before embarking on another one, I thought I’d spend some time running through this boxed set of four figures that Hasbro released based on the Avengers: Age of Ultron movie. I’m pretty sure this set was an Exclusive, but I’m not sure who had it. I never saw it in the wild, but I spent a lot of time hovering over the BUY-IT button on Amazon at the original price of eighty bucks. Fortunately, I hesitated and in this case it paid off, because shortly after the holdays, I snagged it for half that. Ten bucks a pop for Legends figures that I need to complete my teams? I’ll do that all day long!

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The figures come in a nice, long window box with a deco very similar to what we saw with the Agents of Shield 3-pack. The set includes the Age of Ultron versions of Thor, Black Widow, Bruce Banner, and Hawkeye. Considering that we already got single boxed versions of AoU Captain America, Hulk, and Iron Man, this set neatly ties up most of the loose ends by rounding out the core team. Yeah, we’re still missing Scarlet Witch, Vision, and Quicksilver, but I’m pretty sure we can forget about them ever happening. I’m going to cover one figure each Marvel Monday throughout February and I guess we’ll just run left to right, so let’s start with Thor.

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Ahhh, it’s damn nice to see this guy’s Cinematic Universe version finally getting a proper Legends release. Previously, the only 6-inch scale movie version of The God of Thunder that I own was the Walmart Exclusive figure based off his original movie and featured here way back in the beginning of 2012. It was a passable figure at the time, but times have changed, and he was also a little too small to really work with the Legends figures. This new version is an improvement on just about every level. Yeah, truth be told, I prefer the design of the armor that Thor wore in his first movie and in The Avengers, but I still dig this look plenty.

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Here you get the darker and bare-armed look that was first introduced in his second film and carried over into Age of Ultron. The sculpt of the outfit is beautifully executed here and it’s layered on in some places to give the armor a lot of credibility. Details include the tiny sculpted rivits and panel lines to the cross-thatch pattern of the exposed chainmail on his thighs. The contours of the boots are beautifully done and the silver, pale gold, black, and a little blue make for a striking deco, especially when framed against the vibrant red cape. The plastic cape is textured and looks great. The one thing I do like better about this costume is the prounounced set of discs that secure his cape to his shoulders. On the downside, the cape is rigid and unforgiving and since it’s plugged into his back, you can’t really pull it away from the figure. This means that the cape puts a major dampener on a lot of potentially great action poses.

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The portrait is leaps and bounds better than Hasbro’s previous effort. Depending on the angle, I’d say it runs from a passable likeness to a pretty good one. The short beard is particularly well done. The hair looks great, but like the cape, it’s at odds with the articulation. Getting the head to turn side to side works fine, but there’s no upward movement, which nixes a lot of options for decent flying poses.

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So, speaking of articulation, Thor’s got plenty of great points. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, swivels in the biceps, double hinges in the elbows, and rotating hinges again in the wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivels in the thighs, double hinges in the knees, and the ankles have hinges and lateral rockers. There’s a ball joint in the torso that offers a beautiful range of motion, and you get the ball joint in the neck, which thanks to the hair, might as well have just been a swivel. It’s a shame that the cape and hair work against what is some pretty decent engineering, but that’s sadly the case here.

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Thor features a nice version of Mjolnir, with sculpted wrap on the handle and a lanyard. Hasbro has done quite a few of these in the 6-inch scale and they’ve all been pretty good. This one is no different. He can hold it just fine in either hand.

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I’ve got to say, this first figure alone goes a long way to justifying me buying this set. Even if it’s all down hill from here (and from a cursory glance I have no reason to believe it will be), I’ll have something to show for my forty bucks. The hitherto absense of movie Thor in the Legends line made no sense to me. In fact, not having all of the movie characters in Legends makes no sense to me. Hasbro makes 6-inch Marvel figures. Disney makes Marvel movies that rake in tons of cash. Why would you not want to capitalize more on that? Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled to see comic inspired characters like Batroc the Leaper and Hellcat on the pegs, but waiting this long to get Thor and still not having a MCU Scarlet Witch, Vision, or Quicksilver? That’s just madness. Ah well, next Monday, we’ll keep this train rolling with a look at Age of Ultron Black Widow!

Marvel Legends (Hulkbuster Wave): Vision by Hasbro

As promised, it’s back to business as usual, folks, so welcome to the first Marvel Monday of 2016! I’ve got unfinished business from last year in the form of the Hulkbuster Wave, so let’s get cracking with a look at the next figure in the line… Vision!

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Oddly enough, Vision shared a slot in this wave with Dr. Strange, which made no sense to me for just about any reason I can think of. But let’s go with, he’s goddamn Vision and shouldn’t have to share a slot with nobody. Because he shares the slot his name doesn’t appear on the front, only the moniker: “Marvel Heroes.” Yeah, it had to be that generic to put these two together. The only other thing notable about the package is that Vision’s cape comes detached from the figure and upside down on the tray to make room for the bulky Hulkbuster crotch.

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I’ll confess I was hoping a bit for a Cinematic Universe Vision, but this is most definitely the comic version. That’s OK. I’ll take it. I need a Vision on my Legends shelf. The figure features one of the slighter male bucks and relies primarily on the paint for his costume, but it’s one of the more dynamic paint schemes we’ve seen in this line. There are three different shades of green making up the bulk of his costume, including a dark green, a metallic green, and a lighter flat used for his lower legs. This combined with the yellow “V” on the shoulders and chest and the red face and hands really make the figure pop nicely. If I had one nitpick about the paint on the body, it would be that the yellow paint makes the seams on the shoulders look rather obvious.

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The cape clips around Vision’s neck and also plugs into his back. It is rather narrow in the center, but bellows out at the end and it’s long enough to reach the floor and serve a little support assistance for standing him. That having been said, I really didn’t find it got in the way of the more dynamic poses.

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I really dig the head sculpt here. Vision sports a rather determined look and his features are a bit exaggerated to give him a nice, non-human, visage, with high cheek bones and a very pronounced brow. On the downside, Hasbro got a little sloppy with the paint and there are a couple of small drips of yellow on his forehead, which have proven to be rather stubborn to remove.

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There’s plenty of articulation to go around on Vision. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders with a satisfying ratchet to them. The elbows are double hinged, there are swivels in the biceps, and the wrists have rotating hinges. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, the knees have double hinges, and there are swivels in the thighs and the lower legs. The ankles feature hinges and lateral rockers. The torso has a swivel at the waist, an ab-crunch hinge, and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed. Vision features a fist on his right hand and an open left hand to offer a little variety in posing.

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Vision is a damn solid figure with just a couple of little quibbles that keeps him from being a slam dunk, and honestly, those issues could just be on my figure. It’s one of the ongoing pitfalls of having to buy my figures sight unseen and online. If there’s one thing I can say about 2015, it solidified my habit of buying my figures almost exclusively online because I just don’t have the time to go hunting and even if I did the stores here are so poorly stocked it probably wouldn’t matter. 

Marvel Legends (Hulkbuster Wave): Marvel Now Iron Man by Hasbro

I was going to start today by saying something about how many damn Iron Man figures we’ve had in the Legends line, but looking back, I don’t think it’s really been all that bad. Or at least, knowing Hasbro, it could have been a lot worse. On the flipside, this Marvel Now Iron Man is another example of Hasbro taking an older Iron Man mold and trying to make it work for a figure that it isn’t. We last saw this with the Space Armor from the Guardians of the Galaxy wave, which was reworked from the Heroic Age armor. Now we get the Marvel Now armor as a straight repaint of one of the earlier releases from the 6-inch Iron Man 2 line.

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We all know what the packaging on these looks like by now. The only thing to take away from this picture is that there is a precious Hulkbuster part in there, and man is it big and heavy.

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So, obviously the big departure for Tony Stark’s Marvel Now look is that he abandoned the familiar red and gold deco for a black and gold one. I can’t say as I have a strong opinion on this either way. Sometimes change is good, but things are called iconic for a reason. When it came to Kotobukiya’s ArtFX+ Avengers statues, I went with the iconic, but not accurate, red and gold deco, mainly to balance out the colors of the display more. As a result, I’m kind of glad to be getting this armor in its proper colors now. Unfortunately, it’s not really the proper armor. As mentioned above, this is just a repaint of Hasbro’s 6-inch Mark IV armor from Iron Man 2. It’s got the same basic contours, but it’s clearly not the same design. The original figure even came with a swap out head and hands, and this one doesn’t. Although in fairness, with the Hulkbuster leg in there, I don’t know that there would be room for any extras in the package.

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Now, with that all having been said, I think this is a pretty solid figure for what it is. The design looks great in these colors and the gold paint applications are clean and even. There aren’t many paint operations on the back of the figure, but that’s actually accurate to the design. In terms of the movie armors, my favorites tend to be the Mark III and Mark VII (in that order), but I’d say this is up there for a close third.

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The articulation is solid on paper, but runs into some limitations issue due to the sculpt. If you own a modern Legends Iron Man figure, than you’ll know what to expect. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and the extra shoulder armor pieces are hinged to help them move out of the way. The elbows are double hinged and have swivels in the biceps. The wrists have rotating hinges, but the plates on the backs of the hands really impede movement there. This is annoying, because it’s hard to get his repulsor blast pose right. The hand just won’t bend far enough back. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double hinged knees, and there are swivels at the tops of the thighs. The ankles appear to be ball jointed, but the sculpt there renders those points almost useless. I do really like the plastic they used on this guy and the joints are all solid.

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I should be a lot more cross with Hasbro for what they tried to pull here. You shouldn’t be able to repaint an old figure and call it whatever you want. On the other hand, since I don’t have the previous release of this mold, I’m happy to finally have it in my collection, even if it is in the Marvel Now colors. If I find it bothers me, I can always just call him the Mark IV-B Stealth Armor because that’s a thing that I just made up. In the end, I’d like to think Hasbro had to go the repaint route here to pay for the costs of the Hulkbuster, which is larger and more complex than previous BAFs. And if that’s the case, I’m fine with it.

Marvel Legends (Hulkbuster Wave): War Machine by Hasbro

With the craziness of one holiday behind us, we can now start the slow march to the next one. Decent Black Friday sales for action figures seemed few and far between in my neck of the woods, but I did manage to pick up a few Marvel Legends for cheap and today’s figure is one of them. Let’s check out Colonel James “Rhodey” Rhodes in the original version of his Marvel Cinematic Universe War Machine armor. He’s also the second rung on the ladder to me building the magnificent Hulkbuster BAF!

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There’s nothing new to say about the packaging. War Machine comes with the Hulkbuster head off to one side and a spare swappable portrait off to the other. It’s probably the lightest and least congested package of this entire wave, but hey… somebody had to come with the head!

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Does this guy look familiar? Yeah, it’s basically a repaint of the Iron Patriot that was part of the Iron Monger BAF assortment, a figure that I looked at back in the Summer of 2013. In fact the only difference in the sculpt here is the left hand, which has gone from the open palm repulsor attack to being a simple closed fist. The sculpt was pretty damn solid to begin with as it features plenty of panel lines and just an overall nice 6-inch scale version of the armor seen in the film.

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The paint is also beautifully executed. The black and silver deco looks sharp and reserved compared to the red white and silver of the Patriot deco. The black uses a subtle bit of glitter, which I really dig and all the paint lines are clean. This figure also features all the same tiny tampos as the original, which include Rhodes’ name stamped vertically on the left of the chest plate, the “FF 445” on the left shoulder and the Air Force emblem on the left forearm. These are all crisp and stand out nicely against the black paint. Considering the face plate paint on my Patriot was rather miffed, I’m much happier with what I got this time around.

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The alternate portrait features the open mask showing Rhodey’s face. Overall the sculpt is pretty good, but the eyes on mine are uneven and do their best to bring the whole thing down. How ironic is it that these factories seem to get people who can’t see properly to paint eyes? At least it’s probably marginally better than the Tony Stark face that I got with my Mark 42 armor. Either way, this extra noggin is about to go into the Tote of Forgotten Accessories with that Stark head.

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The articulation here is solid, but has some issues. The arms feature rotating hinges at the shoulders, and thankfully the shoulder armor is hinged so as not to inhibit movement. There are swivels in the biceps and nice double hinges in the elbows. The wrists have rotating hinges, but the sculpt there really limts some of the movement. The legs have ball joints in the hips, and again the armor sculpt interrupts some of the movement here. The knees are double hinged, there are swivels up at the hips, and while there appear to be hinges in the ankles, the sculpt allows no movement at all. There’s a ball joint in the torso and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed. Honestly, the poseability here is probably totally accurate to someone wearing a suit like this in real life, but in the films, the wearers were a lot more limber.

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While not really an accessory, War Machine comes with the same shoulder cannon as Iron Patriot. It is removable and can be pegged in two different positions, but it’s clearly intended to be worn to the left. It’s hinged so that it can be positioned in a prone position and then angled up over the shoulder when ready to fire.

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Despite some limits to the articulation and some rough paint on the spare head, I dig this figure a lot. The armor sculpt definitely carries it and I find myself liking the more utilitarian deco a lot better than the flashier Patriot paint scheme. Most importantly, I’m just happy to be able to represent Rhodes on my Legends shelf because he is definitely one of my favorite supporting characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I love the fact that he was teased as being one of the core Avengers in a future Phase and I really hope to see Cheadle take the center stage at least once in the MCU.

Marvel Comics: Wasp Bishoujo Statue by Kotobukiya

Kotobukiya continues to have their sites set on my wallet as they released no less than four Bishoujo statues in the last month or so. Marvel, DC, Tekken, Street Fighter, all the franchises have been represented and I’m dying over here. So far, I’ve picked up today’s statue and Zatanna, which I’ll look at next week, and I’ll likely be picking up Sakura and Anna Williams in the next couple of weeks. But for now, let’s check out the lovely Ms. Van Dyne…

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As usual, Koto’s comic based Bishoujos come in a white window box, decked out with the wonderful artwork of Shunya Yamashita, which inspired this piece. You get a great look at the statue inside the box and while the wings are detached, they are mounted in the tray to mimic how they will look on the statue when displayed. I’ll let you all in on a little secret. Janet was one of my first comic book crushes and I blame her for my lifelong attraction to chicks sporting a pixie cut. Wings have always been optional.

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The back of the package features some shots of the statue along with a little blurb about the character and the Bishoujo line itself. Everything is collector friendly, which is frustrating because it makes me save the packages and by now I have half a closet overflowing with my Bish Boxes. Also, Lady Deadpool from Deadpool Corps is coming soon. God dammit, Koto. You play rough. Wasp comes out of the package already attached to the base, so all you have to do is plug in those wings and she’s good to go.

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Oh yeah! Wasp is pretty adorable to begin with, so she was just made for this line and the design team obviously had a lot of fun with her. She’s sporting a playful, whimsical pose with one toe splashing down in a pool of water and the other foot kicking up behind her. Her arms are raised with palms out and fingers in a mischievous little flourish, her wings jut up behind her and she looks over her shoulder with an exuberant face that would light up the darkest dungeon of any secret AIM base.

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Janet is donning her modern costume, which is basically a skin-tight black bodysuit with the gold pattern cupping her breasts and running down to her nether regions. As far as costumes go, this one didn’t require a lot of detail, but I will say that I love how the pattern on the front of the costume is more than just slightly raised, When coupled with that sumptuous gold paint, which also appears on the insides of her gloves and the souls of her feet, this makes for a simple, yet quite striking piece. The paint is immaculate and contrasts beautifully with the slick, glossy black finish of the rest of the suit.

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The wings are also beautifully executed. They’re cast in a sturdy transparent plastic, which is nice because I had concerns about them being fragile. the top edges are neatly painted black along with the stems that come out from the suit. The wing membranes have a wonderful iridescent shimmer about them that catches the light to produce a myriad of colors.

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The portrait is lovely and again reinforces how well the character works in the Bishoujo format. Her short hair is sculpted to look a bit tussled and I’m still noting the lack of Koto’s age-old trick of using transparent plastic near the edges. I always liked that, but Wasp’s hair is so short here that it didn’t really need it. Her big beautiful eyes are precisely painted as are her lips. Her mouth is open and you can even see a row of sculpted teeth in there. Lovely!

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Also, lovely. Damn, Mr. Pym, you were a lucky man while it lasted.

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I’ll confess that while it’s nicely executed, I find the base rather puzzling.  I’m not sure why they decided to go with water, other than maybe to provide a medium to show her in flight and just barely touching down. The sculpting on the splash, and the subsequent ripples, does add a bit of energy to the piece. It might have been cool to have gone with something that would have put her shrunken form in context. Ah, what am I saying? This is a gorgeous piece, and I shouldn’t be nitpicking it.

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There are times when I think Koto has to work a little harder to make some characters fit the Bishoujo aesthetic, but The Wasp is one that is such a no-brainer that I’m surprised it took them this long to get around to her. I’ve been chomping at the bit to get this statue ever since the concept art was first revealed and in hand, she does not disappoint at all. I nabbed her via a pre-order for around $60, which is toward the higher end of what I usually pay to get my Bishoujo fix, but I feel like the value is still there. And with the way some of the few statues I’m missing are climbing in price on the secondary market, I’ve been less interested in hunting for bargains and more willing to drop pre-orders and not worrying about missing out. In the next week or so, I’ll swing back around and check out Zatanna, another lady that I’ve been desperately waiting to see make an appearance in this line.