Marvel Legends (Crimson Dynamo Wave): Yelena Belova by Hasbro

It’s me! I’m back! After a terrible week of working nights, getting very little sleep, missing two days of FFZ content, and being generally burnt out, I’d like to tell you that I’m all rested up and ready for action, but I wouldn’t go that far… at least I’m here! And picking up from last week I’m back to open the last figure in the Crimson Dynamo Wave!

Yelena Belova, sometimes known as The Crimson Widow will apparently be a big part of the still yet to be released Black Widow film. I could have sworn reading something that referred to her as Natasha Romanov’s sister. I’m not sure if that’s was meant as her spiritual sister, since they both trained in The Red Room, or if the MCU is writing her as Black Widow’s actual sister, but I guess some day I’ll see the movie and all will be revealed. She’s svelt enough to be packaged with the biggest of the Crimson Dynamo parts, including not only his massive torso, but also his shoulder armor, and they still had some room in there for some accessories!

Let me start by saying that from a design standpoint, this is not a terribly exciting figure, but that’s not in any way Hasbro’s fault. They did the best with what the design that was given them. Yelena is wearing what appears to be a close copy of Black Widow’s white arctic suit, which we saw released as a Deluxe Legends figure a little while back. She even has the Widow’s Bite bracelets on her wrists. The biggest difference here is the green tactical vest that’s sculpted as part of the figure. And if I recall correctly we even see Natasha wearing something similar in part of the trailer.  It has some cross straps with painted silver buckles, and some black accents as well. Like I said, there’s nothing terribly flashy here, but it’s still pretty well done.

Yelena is wearing a belt, sculpted as a separate piece, with a silver belt buckle, donning the Black Widow emblem. The belt includes a holster, which is secured to her right thigh with two straps, and a brace of combat knives secured to her left thigh with a single strap. The holster works to hold one of her two pistols, but the knives are merely sculpted into place and not removable.

The head sculpt here is excellent. It’s not only a great likeness to Florence Pugh, an actress I’ve never even heard of before now, but there’s certainly a resemblance there to Scarlett Johansen as well, making me wonder if they aren’t supposed to be actual sisters in the film. I’ve never read anything that depicted them as blood relatives in the funnybooks, but if the push in the MCU will be to have Yelena take up the mantle as the new Black Widow, I wouldn’t be adverse to the MCU making that connection. Ah, but maybe that’s just me being sentimental. Anyway, the sculpted hair on this portait is especially well done, although the drawback is that it makes the neck joint extremely obvious from the back.

The articulation here is identical to what we saw with the Black Widow figure in this wave, and that’s to be expected. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double-hinges in the knees, swivels in the thighs, and the ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, hinged pegs in the wrists, and those super funky rotating hinges in the elbows, that I am not at all fond of. They give a decent range of motion for a single hinge, but they just look weird. The torso has a ball joint under the chest, and the neck is ball jointed. You get two sets of hands with Yelena, one set of fists, and one for holding her guns.

The guns are the only accessories she comes with, and I find it odd that she only has a holster for the one. It would have been cool to give her one perhaps on the back of her belt, but again Hasbro is just working with a film design here, and I’m not going to turn my nose up at an extra gun.

Despite a somewhat bland design, I actually ended up liking this figure a heck of a lot. Like Black Widow, she’s fun to pose and play around with. The outfit sports some sharp detail, the paint apps are used sparingly, but effectively, and the portrait is absolutely fantastic. All in all a great figure to end what has been an extremely solid wave. Now, normally, when I finish a wave of Marvel Legends, I like to double up and review the Build-A-Figure on the same day, but I’m still playing catch up on my rest from last week, as well as dealing with a bunch of other stuff that I need to tend to, so I’m going to cheat a little today and come back tomorrow and have a look at the Crimson Dynamo BAF!

Marvel Legends (Crimson Dynamo Wave): Taskmaster by Hasbro

It’s Marvel Monday, and I’m down to my last TWO figures to open in the somewhat Black Widow themed Crimson Dynamo Wave of Marvel Legends! I thought it was three, but it turns out somehow I wound up buying Red Guardian twice. That’s what happens when you have a huge backlog of these things. Anyway, if you told me back in January that we’d still be waiting to see this flick in August, I’d think you were nuts! And yet here we are. I was excited for this movie from the get-go, but once they revealed Taskmaster was in it, I’ve since gone to a state well beyond excitement! Come on, DIsney. Just put it on the streaming service!!!

We’ve had not one, but two comic versions of Taskmaster in the modern Legends line, and now it’s the ass-kicking mimic’s turn to debut on the big screen, here’s the MCU version. Taskmaster is the only figure in the assortment to not include a Crimson Dynamo BAF part. I’m not sure if that’s because they already crammed so much stuff into this box, or because Hasbro knew everyone would probably buy him anyway.

I think the costume designers did a pretty nice job on the MCU makeover. He’s easily recognizable as Taskmaster, and yet there’s enough of makeover to allow this design to work in the “real world” of the Marvel films. Actually, I think they gave him a little bit more comic flare than I was expecting, especially where the colors were concerned. Yes, he’s basically a dude in a tactical suit with some bits of armor strategically placed, but the metallic blue and the orange trim really make the otherwise muted dark blue suit pop, and they are certainly a nice nod back to his comic colors. That’s especially the case on this figure where the coloring looks fantastic. His cape from the comics has been reduced to a weird sculpted plastic scarf that is clipped onto his shoulders, almost like a reverse cape. On his back he has a rather understated backpack. One of the biggest surprises about this figure is his complete lack of holsters or clips to attach his weapons, but I’ll come back to that in just a bit.

Like the rest of the figure, the head sculpt teases the traditional Taskmaster look, but then goes and does its own thing. The skull motif on his silver mask is still there, but it’s very understated, and now the mask is dominated by a large black visor that looks like two giant bug eyes. It’s creepy and probably makes for some good psychological warfare when he’s facing down opponents. The hood is designed to turn with the figure’s head and features more of that snappy orange paint.

As expected, Taskmaster sports all the usual points of articulation, allowing him to mimic the fighting styles of my other Legends figures. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, double-hinged at the knees, have swivels in the thighs, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. The torso swivels at the waist, has a really well hidden ab-crunch under the chest, and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, double-hinged elbows, swivels in the biceps, and the wrists are on hinged pegs to allow the hands to be swapped out. Taskmaster comes with a whopping three sets of hands, including one pair for holding accessories, one pair of fists, and one pair of scratching claws. Looks like someone picked up a few moves from Black Panther! Let’s move on to the accessories!

FIrst off, he comes with this bow and arrow, and I am not at all fond of these. The bow looks OK, but it has a really thick plastic “string” which means you can’t really pose him drawing it to fire. The arrow, on the other hand, is ridiculously large and chunky, and he can’t hold it all that well. And since there’s no way to have him wear the bow on his back, nor is there a quiver for his arrow, I doubt I’ll be getting much use out of these.

Thankfully he also comes with his sword and shield, and these are much better accessories! The shield is smaller than I’m used to seeing him carry in the comics, but it still has a variation of his triskelion pattern printed in orange on the front. The reverse makes use of one of those clip-peg combos that we’re used to seeing on the Captain America shields and it works well for attaching it ot his arm, but there’s no hole in his back for him to wear it, so they may have just been reusing that piece for cost or convenience.

The sword is a modern looking piece of cutlery with an orange stripe on the blade, which not only matches the accents on his outfit but maybe nods back to Taskmaster’s laser sword. He can hold it very well, but like the shield, there’s nowhere for him to wear it on his person when it isn’t being used. And that all sums up my biggest problem with this figure is that none of his gear can attach to him. A hole for the shield on his back and a loop for the sword would have gone a long way. Maybe those GI JOE Classified figures have spoiled me. Speaking of which, I think this figure would make a great mercenary to add to the GI JOE Classified shelf.

This figure looks great and it went a long way to sell me on the MCU Taskmaster design. That’s no small accomplishment, since the Hot Toys figure didn’t manage to do it. Or maybe I like it enough to have it represented in a $20 figure, but not enough for a $220 figure. Either way, I think Hasbro did a great job with the sculpt and paint, but I wish they had made the figure a little more accessory friendly. Sure, that may be a design element carried from the film, but since I haven’t seen the movie yet, I can only blame the toy for now. Otherwise, I dig him a lot. Next week, I’ll wrap up this wave with a look at the final boxed figure and the Crimson Dynamo Build-A-Figure!

Marvel Legends (Crimson Dynamo Wave): Black Widow by Hasbro

Welcome back to another Marvel Monday! Last week I began my trek through the fairly recent Crimson Dynamo Wave with a look at a very comic-based Crossbones and today I’m going to tackle the first of the figures from the upcoming Black Widow movie. And hell, let’s just go with Natasha Romanov herself. Fun fact, whenever I see her final scene in Endgame I always manage to get something stuck in my eye. Weird.

Hasbro did some pretty cool and stylish art for the boxes on this wave and I whole heartedly approve. And I’ll confess that as I’m tearing open this lovely box, I’m thinking about how strange it will be watching a flashback MCU movie where we know the character is dead. Well, I guess at least we know she won’t get killed in this one, eh? I honestly liked Natasha’s heroic end, but it just drives the point home for me that this movie should have happened a long time ago.

And here she is and while you might think I’d be sick and tired of another MCU Black Widow figure, truth be told… I really dig this one! I didn’t pay much attention to the first solicitation shots, but now that she’s in hand I think that this outfit design is a fantastic blend of comic and film. Imagine my surprise to find that she’s actually almost a complete repaint of the Deluxe Black Widow that I reviewed back in April. Going from all white to this new deco makes for a big change. The costume also eschews the all black look that Natasha usually favors for a gray and black mix, which makes for a far more interesting look. The bulk of the black and gray has a matte finish with some high gloss reserved for the boots and the shoulder armor pieces. She still has that piping running down the front from the earlier outfits but the two-tone deco makes them pop a lot more. And speaking of pop, the gold paint on her belt and her Black Widow Bite bracers really transforms this figure into something special. Her belt is cast in soft plastic and includes holsters for her pistols with retaining straps around her thighs.

And from the back we can see Black WIdow is sporting a hardshell backpack with slots to store her batons. I do love a figure that can wear all her accessories! So what was changed from the previous figure? Mostly the upper torso, which was re-sculpted to give her the backpack and also that padding up by her neckline. They also reworked the buckle on her belt making it a little more prominent.

I’m sure I said this the last time we checked out an MCU Black Widow, but Hasbro has come a long way when it comes to sculpting Scar-Jo’s likeness. I seem to recall the original effort being a little rough, but this one is quite possibly their best. Yes, it seems to be the same as the Deluxe figure, at least the hair sculpt is identical. There are some differences in the face, but that might just be variances and not a whole new sculpt. It’s hard to tell. Either way, it really captures her lips and nose and the printing used for her eyes and the rest of the features is solid. Here’ she’s sporting a coif that is a little closer to her original Avengers look than we’ve seen in a while and I do like it a lot.

When it comes to articulation, we pretty much know what to expect from the ladies. And while the poseabilty here is great, I am not a fan of these elbow joints. Yeah, I usually bitch about Hasbro’s refusal to give the gals double-hinged elbows, but in this case I’m actually referring to these weird elbow hinges that stick out the back. I think I first noticed these on one of the Spider-Woman figures. Otherwise, her arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and pegged hinges for the wrists, which can swap out between fists and accessory hands. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double-hinges in the knees, swivels in the thighs, and the ankles have hinges and lateral rockers. There’s a ball joint under her chest and her neck is both hinged and ball jointed.

As mentioned, Black Widow comes with a set of batons, which can store in her backpack. These are really simple accessories and there’s really not much I can say about them. They’re sculpted in really soft plastic, which makes them very bendy and as such they don’t always look that convincing in her hands. But hey, in fairness I don’t think there’s much else Hasbro could do with these at this scale.

In addition to her beat-down sticks, Natasha comes with her dual Glock 26S automatics. These are tiny little guns and can fit snugly into the holsters. I have mixed results with getting her to hold them straight. Her right hand seems to work better with them than her left, which always seems to want to practice trigger discipline. But all in all, these are pretty nice sculpts for such small accessories. Remember that one Black Widow figure where her guns were sculpted into her holsters. Yeah… that sucked.

And so my hat goes off to Hasbro for producing yet another Black Widow figure and still keeping my interest high. I just love everything about the look of this femme fatale. The costume redesign lends itself well to an action figure and the gold just totally sells it. And while I thought her white costume was a nice change, I think this one just brings out all the detail so much better. Will this be the last MCU based Black Widow figure we ever get in the Legends line? Well, if so at least she’s going out on a high note.

Marvel Legends: Deluxe Black Widow by Hasbro

I know, I promised to finish off the Wendigo Wave this week, but then I got this new Black Widow figure in the mail and all bets were off. This figure was supposed to be hitting shelves about a month before the Black Widow movie hit, but then The Plague came and everything got pushed back. I think the new target date for Black Widow’s flick is sometime in November. Oh well, at least we can enjoy the toys now!

One look at the package and it’s easy to see what makes this figure Deluxe. Hands! Weapons! Effect Parts! And there’s even an articulated figure stand buried in there somewhere! Why the special treatment for Natasha? It all feels like some kind of mea culpa for Widow not getting a stand-alone movie a long time ago. There are some sweet pieces of character art on the side panels and the front of the package is branded with the Black Widow movie logo. Looks like there’s some cool shit in here, so let’s get it opened and have a look at Black Widow!

Or is that White Widow? I may have a handful of MCU Black Widows on my Marvel Legends shelf, but this one is certainly the most distinctive thanks to her spanking new white outfit. There are some panel lines sculpted into the suit itself, but it feels a refreshingly simpler than some of the hyper-detailed suits we’ve seen come out of the MCU. I think this is an all new body sculpt, but I’d be lying if I said I remembered all the little details in the previous Romanovs. The suit features a high collar with a plunging neckline, some sculpted armor bits on the shoulders, with painted silver “straps,” as well as knee and elbow pads. The wrist bracers are sculpted separately in black plastic and lifted straight from the comic look. She also has a black belt rig with holsters and thigh straps. She has a shoulder harness, which is part of the body sculpt and painted black, and two tiny red paint operations on her shoulder armor. All in all, I really dig the white, and I think the black extras look great in contrast with the costume.

The articulation holds few surprises, although it’s worth pointing out that the rotating hinges in the elbows are different from one we usually see. These are similar to the ones I seem to remember Hasbro using for some of the Spider-Woman figures. They’re a little weird but they get the job done. Nonetheless, I still think it’s well past time we get double hinges for the ladies’ elbows. The rest of the arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders, swivels in the biceps, and hinged pegs for the wrists so the hands can pop out and be replaced. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double-hinges in the knees, swivels in the thighs, and the ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers. The boots are sculpted with high-heeled wedges, which didn’t present much of a problem getting her to stand. The torso has a ball joint under the chest, and the neck is hinged and ball jointed. Unfortunately the hair sculpt prevents much in the way up backward head movement.

Hasbro has had plenty of practice casting ScarJo’s portrait into plastic, and I think that’s reflected here. They’ve come a long way since that initial Black Widow head sculpt from The Avengers. I think the likeness is spot on, particularly when viewed in profile. The nose and lips are just about perfect and the eyes are no slouch either. The portrait makes use of the now standard printed method, which continues to impress me, so long as you don’t get in too close. I do enjoy that they gave her a hint of a confident smirk, but here’s where I would have liked to get a more serious expression on an extra head for those action poses. My figure has a little smudge on her forehead, which isn’t a big deal, but might give me an excuse to pick up a second one for all the extra goodies.

Natasha comes with two sets of weapons, including extra hands to work with them. First off she has a pair of pistols, which I assume are supposed to be the same Glock 26’s that she carried in Avengers and Age of Ultron. And let’s not overlook how great it is to have these, since Hasbro has been inexplicably reluctant to give most of their Black Widow Legends figures her trademark guns. These are tiny, and while she holds them fairly well, they don’t always look straight in her hands. The pair with sculpted trigger fingers don’t quire do what they’re supposed to, as it’s tough to get the fingers into the trigger guard and have them stay put. I do, however, appreciate how perfectly they fit into her holsters. I’ve yet to have them fall out once.

Her other set of weapons are kind of like little sickles coming out of batons. Yeah, I have no idea what these are, but they remind me of those hooked pikes that rock climbers use. I’m sure they could be pretty deadly once you start swinging them around. Natasha comes with a pair of hands specifically for holding these.

Next up are the effect parts for her Widow’s Sting. These are just translucent blue plastic pieces that go between the hands and wrists. They look pretty cool and I’m surprised that it took this long to get something like this on a Black Widow Legends figure.

 

I’ve already showed off the stand in some of these pictures, and it’s kind of a big deal for Hasbro to pack something like this in with one of their figures. It’s actually a pretty elaborate and well done piece of kit. It draws influences from the Tamashii stands, but it’s not nearly as versatile as those. That’s not to say it’s bad. The chunky design feels durable and the base has the ability to work with some of the effect parts, thanks to a number of sockets and peg holes. There are also some pegs to allow the figure to stand directly on the base. For more dynamic poses, the figure is gripped with spring-loaded pincers and attaches to the vertical stand with ratcheting system to raise and lower the figure. Not bad at all!

And finally we get all sorts of explosion and blast effect parts. I feel like some of these might have been reused from Transformers or Star Wars lines, but maybe not. They look good and the stand gives more than a few options on how to plug them in.

I sincerely hope that this Deluxe release is the beginning of something for Hasbro. Considering the figure would have been $20, getting the stand and effect parts for an extra ten spot feels like a good value. And since the stand is just branded Hasbro, there’s nothing to stop them from including it in releases from the Star Wars and GI JOE Classified lines as well. No, I won’t be retiring my Tamashii stands in favor of this one, but I think this will be a welcome addition for collectors out there who otherwise aren’t going to take the time and money to track down one of those display systems. OK, next week I promise I’ll finish off that Wendigo Wave!

Marvel Legends (Deluxe Riders): Black Widow and Motorcycle by Hasbro

[ Edit: Shortly after I posted today’s Marvel Monday Review, I heard the news that Stan Lee had passed away. I debated whether or not to post a separate tribute, but the more I tried to outline a piece that measured his impact on my life, the more I found that impact was immeasurable. I grew up reading almost every comic book I could get my hands on, but Fantastic Four and Spider-Man were among my favorites, and those are two books that have stayed with me the longest. But it’s simply impossible for me to recount the ways in which Stan Lee’s creations and imagination helped to influence my life from a child to a middle aged man, and almost every moment in between. I will, however, thank him for the fact that I never really did grow up. I’m 46 and I still read comic books and collect action figures, and have framed posters of Super Heroes on my walls. I’d like to think a big piece of that was because of him. 

I don’t want to look at Stan Lee’s death as a tragedy. We should all be so lucky to live to 95. We should all be so lucky to leave this world with so many adoring fans. We should all be so lucky to leave this world with such an enormous positive impact. But I will say that I will miss him terribly. Obviously, I didn’t know him personally. I never even met him. But his creations represented hope, goodness, justice, morality, and I can say that from what I’ve seen of Stan himself, he struck me as a never ending well of positive energy. It does give me great comfort to know that he lived to see his creations break out of the comic book shops and become so massively mainstream. His influences escaped the comic panels and burst out on 50-foot movie screens across the world. He lived to know that the fruit of his imagination was both boundless and timeless.

I did not know you, Stan Lee, but I loved you. Excelsior! ]

This week’s Marvel Monday is not a random grab, because if this huge box were in with the others, I’d wind up grabbing it every time. Nope, this one has been sitting beside my Legends Unopened Box of Shame and I just decided that this was the week to check it out. So let’s have a look at Black Widow and her motorcycle!

Remember when Toybiz did that line of Marvel Legends Riders? Well, I guess this is kind of like that. Only in that case a lot of the vehicles were pretty shitty. Hasbro seems to be doing it right this time by offering these figures in bigger boxes (and bigger price points!) to get us some really cool, full-sized vehicles. And given the 6-inch Scale of Legends it should come as no surprise that they’ve all been motorcycles so far, but I’m not complaining. The packaging looks great, it’s collector friendly, and it really shows off the goods splendidly. So let’s open this set up and start out with the figure.

I was expecting a straight repack of Natasha in this set, but we actually get an all new figure. And with all the Black Widows in my Legends collection, I’m happy to say that she still manages to bring a new look to the table. Indeed, this version strikes me as a nice balance between a classic version and a cutting-edge modern MCU version. Her bracers are silver and made to look like angled metal. These remind me of the ones she had in her earliest appearances. On the other hand the high collar and low zipper give her a bit more of a modern flare. The rest of the costume is just a black body suit and the painted belt consists of silver discs and the red Black Widow emblem. The costume is clean and simple, but looks great.

You get two different head sculpts, one with short hair and one with long hair, and I really dig them both. The paint applications for the eyes, eyebrows, and lips is all quite sharp, and there’s a little wash to bring out the detail in her red hair. The only thing here I don’t like is the big ugly seam that’s running down the center of her neck. Seriously, Hasbro? You couldn’t have hid that a little better?

You get standard Legends female articulation. That includes rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs have ball joints in the hips, swivels in the thighs, double hinges in the knees, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. There is no waist swivel, but you do get a ball joint just under the chest, and the neck has both a hinge and ball joint. I’ve had the legs pop out at the hips a couple of times while posing her, but they pop right back in. It’s a shame she doesn’t have any guns, but the extra head is the figure’s only “accessory,” unless you count the motorcycle!

Like the figure, the motorcycle goes above and beyond what I was expecting. It’s a sporty bike with a red, gun-metal gray, and lighter gray deco, and you even get a Black Widow emblem on the right side near the front. Other nice touches include stickers for the instrument gauges, a tinted yellow headlamp cover, and I do believe the tires are made of rubber! Sculpted details include the engine and the chain drive, as well as a textured seat. The steering wheel turns the front wheel, you get a flip down kickstand, and holy hell, the suspension on the front wheel actually works!

Even with all that good stuff, I think what delights me the most about this set is how well Natasha can fit on the bike. There’s no compromising here. I can get her to hold the handlebars, keep her tushie on the seat, and have both feet on the foot pegs and she looks she looks totally natural on it. The only thing worth noting here is that Natasha works better on the bike with the shorter hair, as it allows her to look up more. Also, that long hair should be flowing in the breeze when she’s riding, so it doesn’t quite work on the bike anyway.

Even with pumping out an obscene number of figures, Hasbro is still looking for new ways to grow the Legends brand, and I think that’s fantastic! Especially in this day and age when vehicles are getting scarce in the toy aisles. What’s even better is this set seems to be around $30 at most retailers, I picked it up for a few bucks less, but either way it feels like quite a deal. The figure is excellent, and when you consider that Legends figures sell for around $20 these days, that leaves only about $10 for the bike. Not bad at all! It’s also got me pretty pumped to pick up the Wolverine and Ghost Rider sets then next time I see them!

Avengers Assemble: “Inferno Cannon” Black Widow by Hasbro

What’s Hasbro doing with their 3 ¾” Marvel lines? Who the hell knows? I go to Target and they have four pegs that used to be Marvel Universe. Now you can find everything from MU to figures from the first Thor movie and even Iron Man 2 for God’s sake. You also have a bunch of shitty looking 5-points of articulation Avengers and Wolverine figures. And then there’s this Avenger’s Assemble line, the latest assortment of figures to be tossed into the confused mess. I assume these are being branded off the current Disney cartoon, which I still refuse to acknowledge because Earth’s Mightiest Heroes was cancelled. Oh yeah, baby, I hold grudges. Anyway, I would have ignored this line completely, but then I saw Black Widow on the card and I decided to open a small window in my boycott and make this one exception.

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The packaging doesn’t seem to tie it into the cartoon all that much. The character artwork is quite good and looks more comic booky than the stylized portraits I’ve seen in adverts for Avengers Assemble. It’s a very nice card back and it was able to draw in my eye amidst the sea of confusion that makes up Hasbro’s Marvel pegs these days. Note the “SHIELD GEAR” and “Inferno Cannon?” You guessed it, we get some more goofy oversized weapons with these figures, but we’ll get to that later. First, let’s check out the figure!

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Some of you may remember how impressed I was with Hasbro’s Black Widow from the Avengers movie line. Just kidding, that was over a year ago. If you remember that, you clearly have too much time on your hands. Anyway, this figure uses a tweaked version of that same body, which is obviously a good thing. The paintwork on the outfit’s piping is gone and this version has high gloss boots and full gloves. The SHIELD emblem is curiously gone from her shoulder and her bracers are painted gold. Last up, her gun belt is gone and in its place is a more comic accurate beaded gold belt with an hourglass emblem on the buckle. The result here is a very nice hybrid design that straddles the modern movie version and the traditional comic character and the black and gold really make this gal pop. I like it a lot!

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It’s only in the head sculpt where I will take issue with this figure. Don’t get me wrong, the new head sculpt is pretty fantastic, especially for a figure in this scale. It’s a little more generic than the movie figure and definitely not trying to be Scar-Jo and that’s all fine. My issue here is just the windblown direction of the hair. Again, straddling the modern and the classic, this Widow has long hair, which is cool, but having it perpetually blowing off to the side works for me in statues, but not so much in an action figure. It’s not a deal breaker, but it’s not an artistic choice that I would have made. Fortunately, you can swap the heads between movie Widow and this Widow and I do rather like the results.

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It’s been over a year since I looked at the movie Black Widow, so let me recap the articulation here. The arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, double hinged at the knees, hinged at the ankles, and have swivels in the thighs. There’s no articulation in the torso, but the head is ball jointed. A ball joint in the torso would have really slammed the articulation home, but what we have here is still plenty good.

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So how about that “SHIELD gear?” Well, it’s just an excuse to give the figures some huge gimmicky weapon and in this case… hey, wait a second… I this inferno cannon looks familiar. Yup, it’s a repaint of the rocket launcher that was included with Red Skull from the Captain America movie. You may be fooling the kids with this Hasbro, but not me! Actually, I guess it makes sense since Nick Fury’s “Phase 2” was usurping a lot of Hydra’s weapon designs, so why not give Black Widow a repainted Hydra weapon? Ugh, I can’t believe I’m justifying this. It’s just another oversized missile launcher that is mandatory these days with every GI Joe and Marvel movie figure. I’d much rather just have a damn figure stand and a repacked assault rifle from the MU line. To the depths of my darkest accessory tote with you!

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I remember the movie Black Widow being a really tough figure to find. I eventually wound up paying a premium for her with another figure on Ebay. This figure fell right off the peg and set me back only ten bucks. Granted, it was the only one on the peg, but if I can find her with the horrible toy distribution in my neck of the woods, I’m guessing she’s got to be pretty common. She’s probably not a “must have” if you own the movie version, but I will say that after that simple head swap, I like this one the best out of the two because of the comic influences in her outfit. On the other hand, if you missed out on the movie version, you need to do yourself a favor and hunt this one down. She’s a solid addition to any 3 3/4″ Marvel collection.

Marvel: Bishoujo Black Widow (“Covert Ops Version”) Statue by Kotobukiya

While I haven’t featured many of Koto’s line of Bishoujo statues, I really do dig them a lot. At any given time, I usually have three or four of these beauties on my want list. But because I’m not really a statue collector, these gals often get pushed down the line in favor of action figures. I’m going to try to remedy that neglect in the months ahead by finally featuring some more of the Koto statues in my collection and by throwing a little more of my collecting budget toward some of these awesome pieces. Today we’re checking out the regular trade edition of Black Widow, and she’s one of the few instances in which I actually prefer a regular edition collectible over an exclusive. I should note that this is the second time Koto has graced Black Widow with the Bishoujo treatment. This statue, dubbed the “Covert Ops Version” to distinguish from the original, features an all new original sculpt and conforms to the slightly larger scale of Koto’s recent releases.

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Black Widow comes in a window box, safely nestled betwixt two plastic trays. Yes, I said betwixt! But as is often the case with these statues, she’s cocooned in a lot of protective plastic wrap and comes partially disassembled, so it’s impossible to get the full effect without getting her out. The box design is fairly simple with a plain white deco and Shunya Yamashita’s original artwork. The box isn’t as flashy as the ones used for my Ghostbusters or Tekken statues, but it gets the job done and should you need to use it again for storage, it’s totally collector friendly.

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Unwrapped and out of the package, you get the figure itself, the base, a swappable sniper gun hand, and Daredevil’s mask. Here’s where two of the differences between this trade edition and the San Diego Comic Con exclusive come into play. The exclusive version featured Hawkeye’s mask instead of Daredevil’s, and the swap out hand in the exclusive version features a combat knife instead of a sniper rifle. I could have gone either way on the mask, as either one is a nice little accessory, but I vastly prefer the sniper rifle over the combat knife.

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Black Widow plugs into the base via a robust peg on the bottom of her left foot and poses seductively with one hand resting on a brick wall and her right leg drawn up at the knee as she looks back over her shoulder. It’s a great, dynamic pose, which manages to convey action while also allowing the figure to show off her lovely assets. The anime styled face is beautifully sculpted and features excellent, precise paint work. I love those big green eyes! The hair is convincingly sculpted to be blowing in the wind. I could argue that the hair could have used a wee bit more red in the coloring, but she still looks damn fine the way she is.

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Her outfit is the other point in which this trade edition is distinguished from the exclusive. The SDCC version features a matte grey bodysuit, whereas this one is a high gloss black suit. No contest here. Not only do I prefer the more traditional black outfit, but the glossy finish on this statue is truly stunning, particularly the way it shines off of her ample booty. There, I said it. The detail work on the costume includes her wrist bangles and trademark belt, along with a partially unzipped zipper offering a token shot of cleavage. The sculpting on the outfit is capped off by some strategically placed wrinkles and even the seam lines where a suit this tight would presumably have been sewn onto her. Because Widow’s outfit is mostly black, there aren’t a lot of other paint apps here, but the silver on her zipper and belt is precisely applied, as is the little dabs of red polish on her fingernails.

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As already mentioned you can choose whether you want to pose Widow with her right hand free or holding her sniper rifle. The hands pull out and plug in easily and the rifle is permanently attached to the one hand. I suppose the advantage of posing her without the rifle is a better look at the figure itself, but I still prefer her with weapon at the ready.

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The base itself is simple enough. It’s a black octagon with a grey floor plate and a portion of a brick wall. The paint and sculpting on the wall is certainly convincing and as a whole the base accentuates the figure quite nicely. I am definitely partial to this sort of diorama setting over the clear base used on my Christie Montiero statue. The Daredevil mask is completely optional and is designed to be placed so as it is leaning against the base of the brick wall.

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From the moment I got Black Widow out of the package I was instantly smitten with her. She’s a gorgeous piece of work and a lot heftier than I expected. I got her for only $45 and I still consider the Bishoujos to be among the best values in collectible statues around. If you shop around, you can even splurge for the SDCC version and still probably come in at under $75. Either way, I can’t recommend her enough, whether you’re an age old fan of the character or have recently been introduced to her through The Avengers, this statue represents a great take on her and a beautiful piece of work.