When San Diego Comic Con was cancelled for 2021, many of the entities that would have sold exclusive merchandise at the event pivoted to web sales. And since the 2020 iteration of the famed event was also canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many seemed to expect the same for 2021, or the massive delays experienced by many industries just played a large role in delaying product intended for the event to sometime after. I talked about this in my review of the NECA Toys San Diego Comic Con set for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The wait for that seemed long, but it wasn’t as long as it was for my most anticipated release related to the event: Mondo’s 1/6 scale Wolverine!
Halloween 2022 is going to mark 30 years since the premiere of X-Men on Fox Kids. The animated series was the introduction to the famed superhero team for a generation of fans. It was what helped vault the already popular team of mutants from just a comic book phenomenon to something bigger. Since then, the X-Men have seen their standing relative to other costumed superheroes falter some, largely due to Marvel selling off the film rights to 20th Century Fox leaving them out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe which has turned also-rans, like The Avengers, into some of the hottest properties in the world. Seriously, as a kid if you told me The Avengers would one day dwarf the X-Men in popularity I would have looked at you as-if you had two heads. It was just unheard of at the time that Captain America or Thor would ever have that kind of appeal.
Well, 2022 is apparently the year the X-Men will attempt a comeback! In celebration of the animated series turning 30, we can expect a host of new merchandise to mark the occasion including a series of action figures from Hasbro. And it will spill over into 2023 with a new series set to launch on Disney+ continuing the adventures of the animated universe which ended in 1997. The appropriately titled X-Men ’97 is still shrouded in mystery, but we know a lot of the voice cast is returning to reprise their roles and there seems to be an energy about the franchise that hasn’t been there in recent years.
The first of this new wave of merch is now upon us. Mondo’s take on Wolverine from the show was the first such figure I saw announced. I’ve been pounding the drum for a dedicated line of figures based on the show for years now, and seeing Mondo enter the market was a huge development. Mondo is a company I’m not personally familiar with. I certainly know of the company and their wares, I’ve just never owned any as they tend to stick to larger scales. And larger scaled figures come with larger price tags and larger space requirements. Do I necessarily want a sixth scale version of the X-Men? No, but seeing how it’s just the first of what I hope will be more toys based on the property I had to jump in and support it. And to make the package even more special is the SDCC theming which positions Wolverine in his longing pose on a cardboard bed pining over his unrequited love for Jean Grey. It’s a scene, and a meme, brought to life and it certainly put a smile on my face. What didn’t was the hefty price tag of $200 plus $20 to ship it. I wasn’t certain of the price until I got into the website to order it, and by then I was past the point of no return. At least with Mondo charging upfront some of that sting has subsided in the ensuing six months since I ordered this item. Any bruises have been replaced by my own longing to get this thing in-hand and see how it turned out.
First of all, the packaging is quite fetching. It almost feels like a crime to open this guy. It’s an elaborate window box positioning Wolverine on his bed, photo of Scott and Jean in-hand, looking pretty miserable. He’s got himself a nice pillow propping him up, and it’s the type of package that I see many people never opening even though he’s got an assortment of parts for a more traditional display. If the price tag wasn’t so high, I’m sure more would entertain the idea of leaving this figure sealed and buying another for display. This is the SDCC exclusive, while a standard release is expected to follow that omits the packaging and some of the accessories that will cost less. How much less is still unknown as the figure has yet to go up for order anywhere. I am very entertained by this package, but I can’t leave him in place, so out he comes!
First of all, getting Wolverine out without destroying this box was a challenge, but one I successfully navigated. The ties on his torso aren’t actually twisted, so they can be pulled off once you slide the display out of the window box. Getting at the other stuff was more challenging as it’s under the bed and you need to open it up. I found going at it from the foot of the bed easiest and was able to slide out the inner cardboard box and the bagged accessory piece as well. From there, I found it easiest to just snip at the other ties holding him down to the plastic bubble. Mondo wisely put paper inbetween the ties and the figure so you don’t have to worry about scratching it as you remove them. The hands and picture frames are wrapped in plastic to hold it in place and that has to be just torn off. Once the restraints are removed he lifts out rather easy. The pillow is also tied down and I just left it for now. It’s funny, when the figure is in the box I never noticed that the pillow is basically just suspended in air on top of the plastic bubble, but once the figure is out it’s definitely noticeable.
Now that Wolverine is out, I can tell you he stands at about 10 3/4″ to the top of his head. The “ears” take him to around the 11 1/2″ inch mark. The sculpt is very neat as there’s not a lot of articulation showing. The cel-shading is also done in a manner where it goes from lighter on the figure’s right side to darker on the left. It’s most noticeable on the gloves as the top of the left hand is almost entirely painted in a dark blue while the right hand has just a bit of that on the left side and palm. The head features shading on just the left side of the yellow portions and it’s very subtle from the front. The exposed flesh on Wolverine’s face has some shading on the left side and above the chin. True to the show, the black ears feature no blue accents. The rest of the figure follows the same pattern with the paint getting progressively darker as you move from one side to the other. There are three shades of red and three shades of blue on the belt and trunks to accomplish the effect while a more saturated, honey-like yellow, is used to outline some of the muscles. It looks pretty damn terrific and accomplishes what it set out to do. One could quibble with the chest area as the shading is least pronounced there. Maybe adding in some white would have accentuated that as that was a common tactic in the show, but sometimes less is more.
The overall sculpt for Wolverine is also quite nice. His ears really fan out and are a bit narrow in keeping with the show’s look. It stood out in images to me as being a little odd, but in-hand the likeness seems more realized, or I’m just charmed to finally have it. He’s broad-shouldered and the musculature looks rather true to the show and not overdone. I like how they did the hair on his arms entirely with paint which keeps with the somewhat flat look of animation. The X logo on the belt is sculpted and is rather clean which does a fine job of drawing attention to it. Everything looks well-proportioned too, though it will be interesting to see how much taller future figures are in the line given that Wolverine is among the shortest characters on the show. Mondo pretty much nailed the look of the character and it’s nice to see.
And that’s just out of the box with the sad face and no clawed hands. Underneath that bed is the other stuff. For starters, Wolverine has an open right hand and a relaxed, sort of gripping, left hand for the packaging setup. In addition to that he has the following: left open hand, left curled index finger hand (maybe for a “Come here” gesture?), a right gripping hand, clawed fists, and clawed fists with the sparking effect arcing between them. The gripping hand is here for the turkey leg accessory, another frequent meme or gif shared on social media, and it could also hold the picture frame if you really want it to. The clawed hands feature long, hard, grey, claws. I think one could argue they should have been white in keeping with the show, or white with some blue shading, but they look okay. The claws on the arcing piece are perfectly straight and it’s a great looking item. The sparking part is a translucent blue plastic and it’s soft and bendy which helps make it easy to pop the hands in place. I’m surprised they didn’t just make the blue part removable, but maybe they feared people breaking the claws when putting it on. Swapping hands is mostly easy, but those claws are tricky to work as it requires some force to remove the hands and you have to be mindful not to break the claws (or stab yourself). I’ll probably display him with the arcing effect for at least a little while. The picture frame is really well done and you can remove the picture from it via a slit in the top. It’s not probably not going to be easy though as it doesn’t seem to move around at all in there. It might be easier to just continue to use photoshop instead.
Of course, it’s a lot easier to swap the clawed hands if you just take the claws off first! I actually had forgot about the teaser images for this figure which featured Wolverine with un-clawed fists or with just one claw extended to carve the turkey. The claws are in there pretty snug out of the box, or at least they were on one hand for me. Maybe swapping hands around caused the other one to loosen, but either way, I was able to pull them out of one hand easily enough while the other I dipped in hot water first. It’s a great idea for a figure at this scale since the claws can be thick and durable enough to withstand such use and they’re not tiny and likely to get lost. All of the channels on Wolverine’s hands feature holes for the claws, but they definitely do not go in easy. I think if I really wanted Wolverine to have claws in the non-fist hands I’d probably have to insert a paper clip or something into the channels first just to widen them and push some of the paint out of the way, but it’s probably do-able. I don’t particularly think he needs to be able to have claws on his non-fist hands, but I do like the option to have his fists without the claws if I want. It also makes it easier to straighten the claws, as they probably won’t look perfectly straight out of the box. Of course, I took most of my pictures before realizing I could even do this, so if you think his claws aren’t straight enough in my images at least you know that’s something that’s adjustable.
Wolverine also has extra portraits to work with. The default one is the sad face which is mostly good for a laugh, but isn’t one you’re likely to display outside of the pose he came in, but it will probably be something fun to use with photography. He also has a neutral head and a teeth-gritting, angry, head. Both expressions work very well for this version of the character and it’s hard to pick a favorite, or would be under normal circumstances, but I’ll explain that in the next paragraph. Wolverine also has an unmasked head that looks…okay. He’s making an odd shape with his mouth and I don’t know what Mondo was going for. Something more neutral would have likely looked better. I do like the shading on his hair though and his mutton chops are on display. It’s not terrible, but hard to imagine many using it.
Lastly, we have another odd, but welcomed, head in the form of Morph. He’s depicted with his black hair and a slight smile. His facial structure looks good, but the eyes are a bit off. They painted black lines on the bottom of the eyes and then additional lines below that and it makes them look like they’re upside down. I don’t think they needed the added lines for this particular expression and they probably should have outlined the whole eye. Still, it’s something people are unlikely to make much use of since Morph never changed his body to look like Wolverine in the show while leaving his head unchanged. He did the opposite with Gambit, though. I know Magneto is slated to come with an Evil Morph head, but beyond that I don’t know what the plan for the character is. Seems unlikely they’d go full build-a-figure with him at this scale, but who knows? Maybe they’ll just do Morph eventually and he’ll completely different portraits and these will be bonus extras for those all-in on the line.
Where things do come apart at the seems a bit with this figure is with the overall paint job. Bigger figures mean more opportunities for shading, and also more opportunities for things to go off the rails. The main figure is largely good, but there are parts where the paint gets a little iffy. The black teeth, or claws, on the torso aren’t always sharp. The worst spot is on the figure’s right just below the pectoral where the yellow and black meet to form a little green. There’s also a little paint rub on the left thigh where it meets the blue trunks. Yellow is tough to work with as any little instance of rub is going to show, but it’s still disappointing. By far though the worst is with the neutral expression head. That has a bunch of the black paint mixing with the yellow over Wolverine’s left eye. It looks like what happens when you go from using a black watercolor and dip it into yellow without cleaning the brush well enough. It’s terrible looking and renders that head unusable, as far as I’m concerned. I did reach out to Mondo in hopes of getting a replacement because it’s not acceptable for any figure to have that bad a paint app, and certainly not one that cost 200 bucks. All of the other paint imperfections I can live with and find acceptable, even at this price point, but not that head. I haven’t heard back as of this writing, save for an automated response, but I’ll update this post accordingly should I hear from them. UPDATE – not five minutes after this post went live I was contacted by Mondo to say a replacement was on the way and should arrive within five business days. Nice!
UPDATE Part 2 – A week and a day following my initial reach out and I had my replacement. Only, Mondo didn’t replace the one head I had an issue with, they replaced the whole thing! Yes, they sent me a whole other, unopened, still sealed, unit. It’s kind of crazy and I don’t know what I’m going to do with it. I want that head, but do I want it enough to open another one of these or should I just keep it sealed and deal with the initial crummy one? I did take the bad head out of the baggie it came in to find it’s more like a glue that is on the head. I don’t know if I can remove it without damaging the head further. I’m tempted to try and then paint it, or I could just open the new one and see if it has a better neutral expression then ship it off at cost to someone I know would like to have this and might not care about a bad head. Regardless, that’s certainly good customer service, even if I think Mondo is kind of crazy to not just have some spare parts on-hand.
The articulation for this figure might be the only other area collectors are likely to find fault with. Mondo likely prioritized the overall aesthetic for Wolverine with articulation taking a back seat. Personally, I’m happy with that decision and I think it’s the right choice as the animation was pretty stiff. Wolverine’s head sits on a double ball-peg so you get rotation and the ability to look up and down slightly. There’s also some tilt. Some of the heads seem to have more range than others as I could get sad Wolverine to look up a bit, but angry Wolverine not really at all. The unmasked heads are a pain to get seated properly on the peg and sit quite deep so their range isn’t any better. At the shoulders are standard ball-hinges and you will want to take care not to rub the shoulder pads. They come out to the side a decent amount, but not 90 degrees. There’s no biceps swivel with Mondo instead opting for a swivel just above the elbow hinge. It works okay and I admittedly like the look of his arms so I’m fine with the trade-off. This does mean the elbows are single-jointed so that’s a bummer as you’re not going to do better than 90 there. The hands are on ball joints so they at least move around just fine. Removing the default ones was a little scary and I did dip them in hot water just to air on the side of caution, but I have not had any issues swapping them.
In the torso, Wolverine has a diaphragm joint and a waist twist. The diaphragm joint is quite noisy so there’s a lot of rubbing going on so do be careful. It lets Wolverine tilt back a fair amount, but he doesn’t crunch forward hardly at all. You do get some twist too, but again, lots of rubbing and you have that black paint right underneath. The waist twist is just a twist and doesn’t feel like a ball joint. The belt and trunks are also all one piece so, again, be mindful of potential rubbing. At the thigh, it feels like we just have a simple ball and socket joint. Again, and I sound like a broken record, lots of rubbing on that crotch piece so how far forward he can kick is largely dependent upon how far you want to push it. There’s a twist there too which works fine and the knees are double-jointed, but really just present a 90 degree bend. At the ankles we mostly have a pivot, or rocker, joint as there’s very little up and down because of how deep into the foot the joint was set. He stands just fine, though Mondo did include a stand, but doing a running pose or something similar would be a challenge for Wolverine. The joints are all at a good tolerance. Nothing is loose, and none felt scary to move out of the box. It’s just not the most dynamic assortment of articulation, but it is very low profile. And really, the only thing that would have made him more exciting for me would have been butterfly joints so he could really reach out with those claws. Those tend to be ugly though so I understand why they aren’t present. Others may feel differently though.
Mondo’s first foray into the X-Men animated universe is mostly positive. Objectively speaking, this figure has some problems. The articulation isn’t great and certainly the paint on one of the heads is not acceptable. I also assume the more minor paint issues will vary from figure to figure and there are more subjective things to critique like some of the shading choices or the expression on the non-masked head. For me personally though, this figure is a ton of fun to both look at and handle. He looks like the character from the show I loved as a kid and I couldn’t be happier that this exists. Certainly, I wish he didn’t cost 200 bucks as this line will get very expensive if all of the figures are priced at that level. This is the San Diego version, but also the brown costume variant was priced at 200 so who knows what the going rate is going to be? On the other hand, if they only put out one or two per year then that certainly makes it a lot easier to budget.
This version of Wolverine was a convention exclusive limited to 3,250 pieces. If you want him, you’ll have to go to the secondary market or hope that Mondo does indeed release a stripped down version in the future. Again, Mondo has been pretty quiet about that release and future ones so I don’t know if that’s still the plan. The secondary market is basically you’re only source for this one now where it will likely cost more than the $200 Mondo charged. How much more remains to be seen. Right now, the listings are pretty high, but I don’t know if they’re actually selling. This is a rather niche item because of its scale and there’s a very real possibility that those hoping to make a buck have to settle for far less than they expected. Over three-thousand units isn’t a small number for this sort of thing so keep your eyes open if you want him. As for me, I can’t wait to have a more robust X-Men collection to display. Between Mondo and Hasbro, it figures to be an eventful 2022 for the almost 30 year old show.
March 28th, 2022 at 11:25 am
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June 1st, 2022 at 12:35 pm
[…] shade of yellow one need only look at the only other X-Men animated action figure out there: Mondo’s Wolverine. That Wolverine is obviously much bigger and much more expensive, but that doesn’t excuse […]