Marvel Legends (King in Black): Knull & Venom by Hasbro

If you read yesterday’s post than you know that Marvel Mondays are living on borrowed time. I’m planning on phasing them out in a couple of months and will try to get through as much of my backlog as possible before the end. After that whatever is left will just get tossed into the usual daily rotation of whatever strikes my fancy. And boy is today a perfect example of why I’m trying to ween myself off my Marvel Legends habit.

It’s safe to say that King in Black didn’t grab me when I tried to give it a go, and that’s no big surprise since I’m definitely not a fan of Donny Cates as a writer. And yet at some point during the Holidays, this set got discounted enough to get me to buy it. I was mostly drawn in by the Venom figure, but Knull looked like an interesting figure too, and so here we are. I’m positive booze was involved. It usually is. The set comes in Hasbro’s plastic-free packaging with the figures and accessories wrapped in tissue paper. Let’s start with Venom…

Venom comes out of the box sans wings, so we might as well start there! It seems like a while since we last saw a regular Venom as part of The Absorbing Man Wave, but we’ve had a number of different Symbiotes since. This fellow isn’t anywhere near as beefy as the Space Venom BAF, but he’s still pretty sizeable with a lot of upper body bulk and borderline scrawny legs. Still, overall I like the proportions here, especially once we get the wings attached. And speaking of those wings, you can see the sockets in the back where they will get connected. I would have liked to see a couple of filler pieces for those, but oh well. The black finish on this figure has a nice sheen to it, and I really like the fact that it isn’t all smooth, but rather rippled in places, especially up near the shoulders. It’s like a crinkled trash bag look and it’s really creepy. So much better than just painting a muscled buck black and calling it a Symbiote! As for the white markings, I don’t think I’ve seen an instance of white painted over black on a Legends figure that looked this clean and fresh. There’s a wee bit of bleed through on the backs of the hands, it isn’t perfect, but overall it’s a very nice job. I also love his disgusting alien feet.

You get two head sculpts with the figure and both are quite good. The standard portrait has his rictus grin and white inkblot eyes, while the other option has his mouth open and his tongue lashing out. The second head adds a lot of red to the mix and the way the jaw line extends all the way up the sides of his head is just awesome. I’m really torn on which one I’m going to display him with the most. Tongue head definitely goes for the biggest impact, but there’s something marvelously creepy about the more subdued head.

The articulation here is pretty standard, with double hinges in both the elbows and knees, rotating hinges in the shoulders, pegged hinges in the wrists, ball joints in the hips, swivels in the biceps and thighs, ball jointed neck, and hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. The biggest departure is the use of a ball joint under the chest instead of the usual ab crunch hinge, and it works fine. You also get two pairs of hands, which include fists and grabby hands.

And then you get these absolutely majestic wings! They have a black framework with red flaps in-between and some tattered holes throughout. The red only shows on the interior of the wings, whereas the backs are all black. The wings attach to the back via pegged hinges, and they also have hinges at the midpoint of each wing. Those mid hinges don’t really do a lot, as the sculpt makes them separate if you try to close them up too much. I’m almost convinced they were added just so that the wings could be disassembled for the box, rather than for actual useful articulation. I am, however, really impressed at how well the connections to the body support their weight, as I have not had them droop at all while posing him. They do of course make him extremely back heavy, as they are some pretty substantial plastic appendages. With all that being said, I was able to get some decent poses out of him without the use of a stand.

Sure, the whole, “Oh look, now all Symbiotes can just sprout dragon wings” seems like a stupid marketing ploy to sell action figures, and sure enough it worked well on me. I just love the way this guy looks, and I sure didn’t need to be a fan of the comic to want to add him to the collection. OK, let’s move on to Knull.

To me Knull was just the other figure that came in the box, but when I got him out I was kind of smitten by how much he looks like he could stand in as a Kain figure from my beloved Legacy of Kain video games. I know NECA made one a while back, but I only wound up getting Raziel and not Kain. Yeah, you can tell how much affinity I have for this character by the fact that I’m going off on a tangent about the Legacy of Kain games, but it really is an uncanny resemblance. And the figure certainly ain’t bad. He’s big enough that it feels like he could have been a BAF, but most of his size is in his height rather than bulk. The armor sculpt is well done with some pitting, and I like that his chest emblem is sculpted and not just painted on. I also think they did an exceptionally nice job with the tattered edges of the skirt and the sinewy texture in his upper legs. I wish they had done a little something with the paint to vary things up a bit between the armor plating and the sculpted cloth.

As with Venom, you get two head sculpts for Knull, one is just plain perturbed, while the other is a maniacal grimace. The highly stylized and exaggerated contours of his face definitely up his creepy appearance, and there’s some absolutely fantastic detail in the lines of definition in his face. The dramatically blown hair is sculpted separately from the head to give him a sharp hairline, but it’s too bad that he has a seam running across the top of the hair. The second head dials up the creep factor quite a bit with his toothy grin and adding even more severity to his facial features. I also dig the red beady eyes. This sculpt is a spectacular piece of work!

Knull comes with the Necrosword, which is big and beefy weapon. It’s black, almost amorphous body has an organic flavor to it and there are gross red tendrils all over it that resemble a circulatory system. It’s a shame that it’s cast in very soft plastic and I had to put some work into unbending mine, but it eventually straightened out pretty well.

In the end, I have no regrets at having picked up this set. I don’t have to necessarily have any attachment to the source material for me to appreciate a pair of outstanding figures, and these two are indeed that. The set originally retailed at around $69, which is right about in line with Hasbro’s ever increasing prices. I think I wound up getting this set on sale for about $52, which certainly makes it a lot more palatable. Both figures are decently sized, but it’s the sheer enormity of Venom’s wings that adds the most value here, and thereby probably justifies the price.

Marvel Legends (Kingpin Wave): Symbiote Spider-Man by Hasbro

No random draw for this week’s Marvel Monday. Instead, I went straight for a Spider-Man figure so I can be sort of topical in light of the Spider-Man movie news. I’m not really going to go into that here much, instead I’ll just say that I haven’t given up hope that either Sony or Disney will see reason and reach some kind of new agreement. Then again, if he’s done I’ll just be grateful for every miraculous moment we got of him on screen. Another reason for this week’s pick is that I’m hankering to finish off another Build-A-Figure, and since I’ve already opened and reviewed two of the six figures needed to build Kingpin, this one will get me halfway there. Oh yeah, it’s the new Symbiote Suite Spidey, so don’t expect a lot of enthusiasm out of me for this review.

Since I don’t have anything to really say about the packaging, I’ll throw it out there that Hasbro has recently announced the decision to remove plastic from their packaging. How’s that going to work with Legends? Will there be enclosed boxes? Will we no longer be able to scrutinize the paint on the figures we buy? How will we know someone hasn’t stolen the BAF part, or swapped the figure for a Toybiz version and returned it? These are all questions that interest me a lot more than how it will effect the aesthetics of the package. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, let’s tear in and see what we’ve got.

As many of you probably remember, Hasbro gave us a Symbiote Spider-Man as part of the Sandman Wave, and it wasn’t that long ago. Of course, that was the Classic version and this is the more recent look of the Symbiote black suit as it appeared in last year’s “Go Down Swinging.” And while I don’t want to sound like a broken record, I am not a huge fan of a lot of the newer Marvel costume designs, and this one ain’t about to change my mind on that matter. Ah, but I’m here to review a figure and given what they had to work with I think Hasbro did a fine job on this one.

The Symbiote suit doesn’t require a lot of fresh sculpting, so Hasbro was able to save a few shekels on this release. From the neck to the ankles it’s just a recycled buck. The body is cast in black plastic and you get the white pattern painted on the chest and back, and wrapping around the shoulders. This is usually a recipe for disaster when it comes to the black bleeding through, but it doesn’t look too bad on this figure. I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for monochrome suit designs, so this one does gain some points in that category.

The feet are sculpted into monster-symbiote feet and you get two sets of hands: Fists and claws. As for articulation, at first I thought this was a reuse of the Miles Morales figure, but it actually has the extra shoulder crunches, so that’s pretty cool. Everything else is standards stuff. As a rule, Hasbro’s Spider-Man figures are always loads of fun to play around with and this guy is no exception.

And then you have that head and those eyes. I wasn’t a big fan of this look in the comic art, and I’m sorry to say that I think it’s even worse when translated to an action figure. And yeah, personal taste aside, I think this is just one of those cases where 2D art wasn’t meant to be depicted in 3D. Hasbro did their best, but I just can’t get past how weird it looks. Why did Marvel decide to go with such a strange design? Well, why does Marvel do half the things they do in the comics these days? It’s a mystery. I understand the desire to update and make things look fresh, but I don’t get what they were going for here at all.

So, to sum it up, this is a decent figure based off a design I don’t like. Personally, I think it would have been much cooler to see the classic black suit return in the comic, but then Hasbro and Marvel couldn’t have sold another figure to idiots like me, so I guess they know what they’re doing. As much as I consider Legends a universe building line, I would have easily passed on this one if it weren’t for my desire to not own a headless Kingpin BAF. Then again, the same could have been said for the modern Black Cat included in this wave. And, I think I’ll keep the whole controversial update theme going next week with a look at another figure in this wave, Red Goblin.