2022 was the year a dream toyline of mine was made a reality. Hasbro finally decided to do a line of Marvel Legends based on the animated series X-Men, which premiered 30 years prior on Halloween 1992. The line was staggered with a release coming every 6-8 weeks or so and ended up totaling 8 figures, pretty standard for a single wave. There was hope on my part that the line would continue into 1993, when the show really took off, but that was not Hasbro’s plan. As a result, several characters from the show are still outstanding, and while Hasbro has referred to this break as a pause, that’s hardly a guarantee of anything going forward. If this were a romantic relationship, it would be dead, and maybe it should be since the line was subpar. I am a glutton for punishment apparently so I do want to see it continue so that we can get the missing X-Men and some of their most notable villains, but I can’t count on that. That means I’ve had to take matters into my own hands. I’m probably playing right into Hasbro’s thinking in doing so, but so be it, which is why I now have Marvel’s Beast to talk about.
Beast, or The Beast, had an interesting run in the television show. He was part of the team, but basically written out of the first season pretty quickly as he was arrested and held for trial for the bulk of the episodes. He’d be released at the end of that first season and was able to become a recurring character as a result. Beast has always been one of those characters where the viewer is not supposed to judge a book by its cover. He looks like a beastly creature and adopted a name to play off of that, but in reality he’s pretty gentle, thoughtful, empathetic, and highly intelligent. Since he’s a well read individual, the writers of the show had a lot of fun with him as they could make him rather wordy and insert lines from famous writers and poets into his vocabulary as he was quite fond of quoting others. Some viewers found it annoying, but I was always rather charmed by Beast. And mostly, I just liked him because he was blue! Blue is my favorite color so a big, blue, furry, creature is aesthetically pleasing for me. Especially because I just really like the shade of blue used for his fur. It stands out and it’s a fun, somewhat ridiculous, design.
This figure of Beast is a re-release. There’s been a prior blue version as well as a gray version and Hasbro apparently felt now was the time for another re-release. This one differs in that the shade of blue is different, more of a cobalt, and it’s all together brighter than that past one. There’s also less shading and he comes with a new head and some new accessories. It’s my thinking that certain figures from the animated series were not in play last year because of planned releases like this one or figures that were recently released on a retro card like Rogue and Gambit. It’s also my feeling that if we get a Beast in a 2024 or 2025 from the show he’ll basically just be this figure with some cel-shading and maybe a new head. And since I just really like how this blue turned out, I took the plunge with this figure as a stand-in. Maybe a permanent stand-in? Who knows? I’ll probably want that damn box when and if it comes so, yeah, this could easily be a double-dip for me, but at least I’m future proofed.
The retro card is a throwback to the Toy Biz days and features artwork by David Nakayama. It’s a lovely card and many collectors like to keep one mint and open another, but I am not one of those guys. Beast stands right around 7″ if you stand him up straight, though practically speaking he’s a little shorter since this is a character that is almost always in some kind of a hunch or crouch. He comes out of the box sporting a white lab coat which is one of the new additions. It’s not an original idea to pair Beast with a lab coat as Toy Biz did the same early in the Marvel Legends line, but some people who already have the older Beast might want it. It’s decent, but the quality of the soft goods isn’t going to impress. Mine has several stray threads and if I intended to display Beast with this coat on I’d probably do some trimming. It does have a chest pocket on the left side which is neat.
Getting the coat off is rather easy and once done we have our furry blue boy in all of his glory. This Beast is clearly inspired by the artwork of Jim Lee, as nearly all of the retro card releases seem to be. He has a stoic expression which features his completely white eyes and his teeth poking over his upper lip. This is where the distinction between show and comic comes into play as Beast in the show always had pupils, but in the comics he was often depicted this way. I prefer my Beast with pupils, but I can’t hold that against a figure that is trying to emulate a comic look. His hair is a darker blue and the body has lots of sculpted fur on it. There are hits of dark blue shading in the middle of the chest and shoulders which makes up the bulk of the paint on this guy. Otherwise, there’s just the belt and upper legs. The trunks are sculpted in navy and the belt in yellow with the X logo painted on. The upper thigh piece appears to be sculpted in navy and the parts of his exposed fur are painted and Hasbro did a good job of matching the blue paint to the blue plastic. The area around his ab crunch though is less successful as far as color-matching goes as it appears that was sculpted in navy as well. The rest of the paint is basically reserved for the white claws on the hands and feet and it’s done okay. It’s not the cleanest application of paint I’ve ever seen, but at least it’s not egregiously bad or anything. The proportioning on the sculpt is very well done for a Marvel Legends release. His chest and shoulders have plenty of mass and so do the legs and biceps. He should fit in pretty well with your other X-Men releases from this era of the comics, or show, in my case.
I already mentioned the coat, but Beast does come with some other things as well. For hands, he has a somewhat tight gripping right hand and a loose gripping left hand. He also has a right fist and a left fully open hand. I would have preferred just two sets of gripping hands that match each other, so two tight and two loose, as the loose gripping hand is a nice style pose hand. The fist I find useless while the open hand is fine. It would be a bit more useful with better articulation, but we’ll get to that. The claw paint on all of the hands is pretty consistent in that it’s passable. Beast also gets a second head and this one is from the older release. It’s a screaming head and it’s pretty well painted and the inside of the mouth is sculpted. The hair on it is slightly more narrow, enough so that it throws off the aesthetic for me. I like the wider hair look of Beast, but this older head probably wasn’t going for that. It’s fine, but I’ll never use it as I just don’t think of Beast as a screamy sort of character, but artists have had fun drawing him like one for years. Beast also comes with a pair of beakers, one containing the X-Gene and another a green liquid. They’re fine and they look nice since they’re cast in transparent plastic with a colored fill to create the illusion of a liquid inside. They’re also two different designs with one featuring a more spherical base and they certainly work with the lab coat if that’s the look you want. Lastly, Beast has a pair of glasses. They’re cast in transparent plastic with the ear pieces painted black. They’re pretty terrible though because there’s nothing to hold them onto his face. They’re rubbery and soft so they don’t pinch at all and there are no holes or any way to key them in. I’m glad they didn’t do that, but these could have been manufactured in a stronger material so that they gripped his head better. Or they could have been designed to fit between his brow and his nose. Whatever, it is what it is, and at least they fit in his pocket. I received a Baxter Stockman figure last year from NECA that came missing a pair of glasses, and since NECA still has not sent me the replacement they promised, I’ll give these to Baxter for now.
Lastly, we need to rundown the articulation on this blue boy. Beast has quite a bit, and most of it I like, but he’s not without his problems. For starters, he has the usual ball hinge at the neck only with this figure the ball basically sits right on top of the hinge. His head is low so it affects the range. He can rotate and tilt a bit and he does have up and down, but since he’s a character who crouches a lot I would like even more range looking up. His shoulders are ball-hinged with butterfly joints. He can raise his arms to the side no problem and the butterfly joint goes way back, but hardly anything forward. He has a biceps swivel and double-jointed elbows that will bend past 90 degrees even with his rather generously sized biceps. The wrists swivel and hinge with all of the hinges being of the horizontal variety which is appropriate, in this case. In the torso, we have a diaphragm joint that runs along the bottom of the rib cage. It mostly affords rotation as any movement to the front, back, or tilt is minimal at best. Below that is an ab crunch that is mostly hidden behind the floating belt. It basically only has 3 positions so you get one click back and one click forward. It’s okay. At the hips we have some ball and socket joints and he can nearly hit a full split. He kicks forward about 90 degrees with no movement to the rear. There’s a thigh cut below that and double-jointed knees which work just fine. The ankles have a ratcheted hinge, from the feel of it. It will go back all of the way with two clicks of movement, but it goes forward only one click. He has a very nice ankle rocker and he also has a fairly well-engineered toe hinge as well. I wish the toe hinge was a little more firm, but it seems to be usable.
For Beast, it’s a solid mix of articulation points and approaches and, for the most part, I think it works. Where it’s lacking just a bit is with the ab crunch and the butterfly joints not coming forward more. Beast is known for that one-handed pose on the ground in a crouch not unlike Spider-Man. He has the big, open, hand for such, but he really can’t hit it convincingly. If you get him in a crouch with the hand down he looks silly because he doesn’t have the range in the head to be looking forward. More range back in the diaphragm would have helped. It does make me think his proportions might be just a little off in that his arms should be longer. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s a character where artists cheat at times and when he’s just standing around his arms look fairly normal in length, but when posed in a more “beastly” manner they mysteriously get longer. It’s just a bummer he really can’t do his classic Jim Lee pose from the cover of X-Men #1. He can stand on one hand though, if you’re patient. I wouldn’t recommend leaving him like that on a shelf without a stand, but I was able to pull it off.
This Beast is probably as good as a Marvel Legends version of the character is likely ever to get. Yeah, he can’t hit all of the “Beast poses,” with ease, but he still poses well. Mostly though, the sculpt looks great for the character so it’s no wonder why Hasbro has re-released it multiple times at this point. The extras like the lab coat do little for me, but this new, stoic, head is definitely more of what I envision for the character. Yeah, I want a smiling portrait with pupils in the eyes (like the box art, I might add), but I can’t really hold that against the figure since this is a comic interpretation and he has white eyes in the comics. Mostly, I just like this blue and I love how it pops on the shelf. I think the shading on the figure is enough, though maybe some hits on the calves and forearms would have livened things up, but it’s fine. The prior version looks over-shaded to me so I prefer this dialed-back approach. The only other thing to mention is the cost. This figure, for whatever reason, is considered a deluxe release so it’s going to cost you around $35 or more in some places to add him to your collection. Considering it’s nearly 100% reuse, there’s not much in the package to justify the price aside from Hasbro just doing whatever it wants. Compared to other releases at this price point it’s not a good value, but if you need a Beast (or have doubts about Hasbro doing more animated X-Men) you’re probably going to pay it. At least the figure looks nice enough.
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