Tag Archives: hasbro

Marvel Legends X-Men Animated Series Jean Grey

Another teammate has arrived for the animated X-Men.

For some reason, Jean Grey has never been treated well by toy makers. Back in the Toy Biz days, Jean had to wait several years to finally show up in the X-Men line of action figures, and once she did, it was in some gimmicky line in a costume that looked made-up. Her first, good, figure came in the Onslaught subline which was like a precursor to Marvel Legends. The scale was different, the sculpts were better, but preposed, and she was featured in her Jim Lee costume. By then, I had checked out and when Marvel Legends brought me back Jean was again left wanting. Seemingly, Toy Biz felt collectors only wanted a Jean Grey figure if she was in her Phoenix costume. Was it the gender bias working against her? Maybe, but then why did Storm, Psylocke, Rogue, etc. seem to have no trouble getting figures? Has Jean just historically been less popular by some metric with Marvel? I don’t know, but it bothered me when I was a kid that my team of X-Men was always missing a Jean and Phoenix just wasn’t a suitable replacement.

I haven’t been doing this with this line, but for this figure I feel like I have to. Here is Jean from the show. Note how she is NOT ORANGE!

Hasbro’s latest release in its line of action figures based on the animated series X-Men introduces a new hypothesis: maybe Jean is just hard to produce in plastic? I don’t really think that’s true, but it would be an understandable take for anyone who picks this figure up. Yes, we have yet another subpar release by Hasbro. When the line was announced, the fear on my part was that Hasbro would just grab a previously released figure, add a touch of cel-shading to the paint, and call it a day. With a figure like Mr. Sinister, that was the approach, but it worked because that old sculpt was suitable enough for the show version of the character and the paint job was pretty good. It was not without its problems and disappointments, but at the end of the day I felt like Sinister was a worthy addition to my shelf. With Jean, that’s not really the case.

She can’t even put her hands to her head for her traditional pose.

Hasbro finally did right by Jean and released her in her Jim Lee attire a few years ago. In a three-pack with Wolverine and Cyclops, that version of Jean came with two heads and four hands and had a decent enough sculpt at least. Perhaps to no one’s surprise, this release is exactly the same. That’s fine in some respects, and not in others. For one, Jean’s costume in the show and comic is basically the same excepting the colors. In the show, she had a tan and blue scheme instead of yellow and blue. I’m not sure why that change was made, maybe they just felt tan would look better on TV than yellow, but that’s a pretty easy thing to correct for. The other change is Jean went with a ponytail instead of wearing her hair down. This was likely just to differentiate her from Storm and Rogue and it’s basically her defining trait in the show.

“See the woman in this picture? You’re not her!”

So how did Hasbro screw this up? For one, she’s not blue and tan, she’s blue and orange. And when I say orange I mean very orange. Why couldn’t they cast her in the right shade? Beats me, but it looks terrible. Hasbro also chose not to retool her ponytail head from the previously released 3-pack. That head was meant to work with her long hair, except just tied back, only Jean in the show did not have a huge swath of hair that went all the way down her back. Her ponytail is huge and ridiculous looking, and I suppose just to annoy me a little more the part in her hair is off to the wrong side. Those inaccuracies are annoying, but to add to it her face just doesn’t look like Jean. The face might be re-tooled from that old release, or maybe just better painted, but either way it’s not good. She’s duck-mouthed with this weird smile and her eyes are really narrow. At least they’re green, but the paint job is also messy. It looks like they cast her head in blue and painted her face on and you can tell there’s a darker shade of plastic behind it. Usually the figure is cast in the lighter color and painted with the darker, but not here. The figure also has the same problems as the first release, and many of the Legends women, in that there’s little shape to the figure’s body. Yes, like most super hero women, she is pretty well endowed, but the silhouette is off. The body doesn’t taper much from the shoulders, to the bust, to the abdomen, and hips. She almost looks like a tube when viewed head-on. Hasbro is also seemingly afraid of letting their women have some muscle-tone in their arms and calves. These ladies are superheroes, sculpt them like superheroes!

No effect parts (big surprise) so I gave this Power Rangers one a shot. Meh.

Is anything done well? Aside from the box (and it looks like Hasbro supplied artist Dan Veesenmeyer with a sample or something to base his art on), the only compliment I can give this one is the cel-shading on the torso looks good. It’s probably the second best after Sinister. It’s easy to find reference art for how the black was applied and it works here. The shading on the legs is less successful as the orange paint is too close to the color of the plastic so it barely stands out. It’s limited to just two, thin, swashes on her thighs and doesn’t stand out on a shelf. I wish they did some around the textured portions on the sides of her legs or something, but someone must really like the Creamsicle look of these legs. The paint on her hands suffers from the same issue as the paint on her face, and the edges of the blue on the torso aren’t as crisp as they could be.

Why is this so hard?

Hasbro tends to short-change its female figures when it comes to articulation and Jean is no exception. She’s not going to do a whole lot and is very similar to Storm. Her head is on a ball-peg and it can look in most directions except up because her hair gets in the way. The ball-hinges at the shoulder work fine, though the shoulder pads are a hindrance going up. There’s no biceps swivel, just a swivel at the elbow which is a single hinge that only provides for about 90 degrees of bend. The hands rotate and hinge and need to work around the gauntlets. They should have sculpted the padding for the back of the hand to the hand itself, but chose not to. There’s a ball-joint in the diaphragm under the figure’s bust. It basically just lets her rotate with a little tilt. She can bend back a bit there, but not forward at all. There’s no waist twist and the legs only come out to the side about 45 degrees. There is a thigh cut, but like with every release in this line, it breaks up the shading so for me it’s kind of useless, but then again, the shading is barely visible so maybe it won’t bother me. The knees are double-jointed and really gummy, but they work. The ankles hinge and pivot and they’re the only joints I have no issues with. The others stuff is either too limited, gummy, or poorly engineered.

She can wear her down, if you wish. I don’t know why you would though.

Accessories have not been a strength for this line and that continues with Jean. We get open hands on the figure in the box and a set of fists since Jean is known for punching people. There’s also a second head and it’s recycled from the 3-pack and features her hair down. She has a neutral expression that I think is supposed to look mildly seductive, but it’s not working for me. It’s a totally useless addition though since Jean never looked like this in the show. The only time she had her hair down in costume was in the very last episode of the show when her costume was yellow and blue like the comics. Her hair was still not that massive and the figure isn’t colored properly for it to matter anyway. A completely wasted accessory. Why not junk that and toss in some effects parts instead? Or maybe spend a small amount of money to sculpt a Cerebro helmet for her to wear, since she was seen wearing that in the show on more the one occasion. It’s just as if the people working and designing this line don’t give a shit about the show or never watched it.

To the back with you, Jean!

Jean Grey is a phoned in release that Hasbro assumes you will buy because it vaguely looks like the character and you’re all-in anyway. And they might be right since I bought this despite it missing the mark by a wide margin. She might be the line’s new low point since it at least feels like some effort was put into that Jubilee figure, even if she doesn’t look like the character in the show and features an awful paint job. I only have this figure because I want to tell Hasbro there’s money in doing figures based on the cartoon, but if I wasn’t buying it for that reason there’s no way I would have bought this one. It’s not good, and I can’t recommend it especially at the price Hasbro is charging.


Marvel Legends X-Men Animated Series Storm

Storm is here to summon the full power of…a gentle breeze?

Despite featuring a gap of about 4 months between their solicitation dates, my figures for Mr. Sinister and Storm arrived the same day from Hasbro Pulse. Storm, from the new figure line based on X-Men the Animated Series, went up for sale in February and arrived at my door just recently. A five month turn-around from pre-order to delivery is something I haven’t really experienced since the pandemic broke out in 2020 so that is at least a step in the right direction. Hopefully, that’s indicative of the figure itself as this line has been all over the place through its first 3 figures. After looking at a figure in Mr. Sinister that was essentially just a straight repaint with nothing new added (unless you count his silky, smooth, neck), we have a figure in Storm that is a bit more like the first two figures in the line and more of what I expected out of the line. That’s both a good and a bad thing, and while Jubilee is still secure in her position as worst in the line, I don’t think Wolverine is feeling threatened by Storm for his crown of best, but we should probably just get into it.

The tallest shall lead.

Storm comes in at close to 6″ to the top of her forehead making her the tallest of the hero characters released thus far. If you factor in her voluminous hair then she’s closer to 6.5″. Like the other figures, there’s a lot of reuse here as a retro-carded Storm was clogging pegs at Target not that long ago. I’m fine with reuse when it makes sense, and for the most part, it makes sense here. Her costume is pretty show accurate as it’s sculpted mostly in white plastic with the yellow belt and stripe down the figure’s right side. The shoulder pads and excess material around the biceps is present along with the yellow stripes on said shoulder pads and the cuffs of her sleeves. The cape is done in a light gray with yellow trim and she even has her very fashionable lightning bolt earrings. Really, the only obvious miss here with the costume are the boots which are basically standard, soled, boots. That’s certainly the functional way to go, but the Storm of the cartoon series wore heels so that’s a disappointing omission (I doubt it’s an oversight) since there must be some heeled feet they could have swapped in, but Hasbro opted not to.

I appreciate the new tooling, but I wish she looked more like the box art as this just doesn’t look like Storm from the show.

Where this figure differs from the prior Storm is with the hair and the paint. Hasbro re-sculpted the hair to give Storm that lovely, 80s, look she had in the show. Storm, and many of the women, often had some big hair and this sculpt reflects that. When removed from the show, it does look absurd, but the shape is fairly accurate to a lot of scenes. I would have preferred they just go with the interpretation of her hair on her box art, which is still voluminous, but not to this degree. What would have made it work better is if it fit the head better. It looks a bit off and that might have to do with the sculpt itself or with Hasbro trying to just to fit it on the prior Storm head. There’s also no paint on the most visible portion of the hair, it’s just sculpted, white, plastic when a wash would have helped out a lot here and been consistent with the cel-shading Hasbro is going for. It may have also worked better with a new headsculpt, which is my biggest issue with the figure as this face just does not look like Storm from the show. Marvel Legends tends to take a character from the comics and add some realism to it, which doesn’t work well for this line in many cases. Storm’s complexion looks off as do the shape of her eyebrows and lips. I suspect this will be a complaint going forward with other figures. The more inhuman look of Sinister didn’t suffer, but unmasked characters are just going to look off because the show took Jim Lee’s already fairly simple face structure (especially for women who all seemed to look the same) and simplified it further for animation. And Hasbro wants these figures to look like Marvel Legends first, animated characters second, and that’s a philosophy I’m just going to disagree with them on for every release.

Note that in order to make the shading on the right leg line-up her toes need to point in. Also, I do really wish her costume looked more like that box art.

That said, Hasbro’s attempt at cel-shading with this figure looks okay. It’s not on par with Sinister, but the shading here at least looks logical. It’s even pretty easy to just image search Storm from the show and see how Hasbro came up with the shape for the shading for this figure. The issue here is it just doesn’t go far enough. Storm, whose costume has a bit of a shiny quality to it in the show, really demands a third color for the shading but Hasbro just went with black on white. A gray or gray-blue added to places would have really helped this figure pop. As it stands, the shading makes her look passable on a shelf, but in-hand and up close it’s far less impressive and feels half-assed. And even on the shelf, white just dominates for this figure. And it’s true that many sequences in the show featured Storm with a white costume that even matches her hair, but there was also a lot of shading on both the hair and the costume to lessen the impact. What really should have happened here is Hasbro should have sculpted the costume in a very light gray and then shading with black and white. Hasbro obviously doesn’t want to spend that much money on paint despite asking for a higher price on this figure and it’s a bummer. Hasbro did shade the portion of her hair behind her head a light blue, which is an odd choice for the color and it almost stands out more than it should. Again, a wash or just gray would have worked better and it should be applied to all of her hair. The end result is that, yes, the costume is sculpted accurate enough and the black linework looks good, but this just doesn’t look like Storm from the show.

Well, it’s the thought that counts.

Which brings us to Storm’s accessories. Maybe the paint isn’t impressive, but there’s still another way to justify the cost in the accessories. And with Storm, the accessories are just okay on their own, but bad in another sense. Hasbro included open hands on the figure and an extra set of lightning hands. They’re more spread open and the fingertips end in lightning bolts which are cast in translucent, yellow, plastic. The issue here though is that the whole piece had to be cast in that translucent plastic so the hand portions are painted brown. They look super shiny and the paint on the fingers is awful so some of the lightning is painted over making her fingers look like melting, Snickers, bars. The other problem is that whenever Storm uses her lightning power in the show her eyes always change to an all-white look, but our Storm features standard eyes with no alternate head to pair with it. Plus her expression is very generic to the point of looking bored. It basically renders the extra hands useless if that’s something you care about, and I’m guessing most collectors do. I suppose some might repaint her eyes, but that won’t make her look any less bored. I guess there was just no budget for an extra head with this one.

“Face me, evil doer!”

Which brings us back, once again, to the concept of value. Here we have a reused figure with the only new addition being the hair, accessories, and some black paint. On top of that, this figure tacked on an extra buck to the price moving from $27 to $28 before taxes and shipping. Where’s the extra money going? The VHS packaging is nice, but if that’s preventing us from getting a better face or heeled boots then I don’t want it. Again, this line is one I am happy to have, but I’m continually disappointed by the shortcuts these figures are taking and by the overall direction it seems to be taking. It’s not what I want, but I’m buying it because it’s the only product of its kind and I’m paying a tacked on premium at that when compared with a standard Marvel Legends release. It’s not a great feeling.

Ahh, damn.

All right, with that out of the way we do have to talk about the articulation. Storm has the usual ball-hinge head, but her giant hair locks her head down more than Sinister’s. She cannot look up at all and barely rotate, but she can look down a little. Her shoulders are ball-hinged and work fine, but the shoulder pads will get in the way for certain poses. Plus Hasbro designed them to peg into the front of the shoulder and they’re prone to popping out as a result when just moving that peg to the rear of the figure would have prevented this. The elbows are single joints with swivels in place of a true biceps swivel, but it works okay as she can get a little better than 90 degrees on a curl. The hands swivel and feature horizontal hinges. In the torso, she has a ball-joint just below her bust. She can bend back a little there, but it’s mostly for rotation and tilt and she gets really no “crunch” forward at that spot. The waist twists and she has standard joints at the hips that give her a decent spread. There’s a thigh swivel, but the shading goes over it so it looks ridiculous when not aligned. The knees are double-jointed and the range is good, but the quality is terrible as she feels really gummy. The lower right leg even appears warped so if I want to line up the shading I need to point her toe in, though it matters little since this figure stands like crap because of the hair. The ankles feature the usual hinge and rocker combo and work okay, but again, super gummy feeling.

A flight stand is probably the way to go with this one, though I need to find one that fits Storm better than this MAFEX one.

This figure is just not fun. The hair is too outlandish and the facial likeness is terrible. Combine that with the gummy legs and this one is a pain to stand. I suspect most will go with a flight stand of some kind, or just toss it somewhere. This is the first figure in the line where I’m tempted to just buy the retro card release and take a marker to it for the shading. It’s just such a bummer that Hasbro re-sculpted the hair, but not the face, to make this look more like Storm. If they at least nailed the likeness I could be more forgiving of the other stuff. Instead, the only thing they got right is the basic look of the costume (excepting the feet) and the black lines for the shading. Otherwise, the accessories suck, the cape feels cheap, and the quality of the figure feels suspect despite being the most expensive in the line so far. I still dislike Jubilee more than this one, because her likeness is just so bad, but it’s hardly a compliment to say this Storm is less bad than that one.

Well, at least I like half of the figures in this shot.

If you read all of that and still want to add this to your collection, then your only option right now is via Hasbro Pulse. This figure will likely show up at Shop Disney’s website eventually, but it could be awhile. Both Jubilee and Sinister showed up on that site first, while Wolverine lagged pretty far behind the Pulse release. Maybe Storm will be the same? I don’t know. Up next for this line is Jean Grey and I’m more dreading that than excited for it because the promotional shots are not good, but I’ll withhold judgement until then. Maybe she can at least do better than Storm? Here’s hoping.


Marvel Legends X-Men Animated Series Mr. Sinister

“My name is Sinister, Mr. Sinister.”

This week, the long wait for an in-person San Diego Comic Con comes to an end. For the first time since 2019, attendees, creators, and the like will be invited back into the city of San Diego for a celebration of all things comics, movies, and general “nerd” culture. One of the many panels this week will even focus on the 30th anniversary of X-Men, the animated series that capitalized on the rising popularity of a comic book and helped make a generation of kids lifelong X-Men fans. Because of that, the timing could not be better for the delivery of some new toys in Hasbro’s Marvel Legends subline of figures based on X-Men. And today, we have the first villain of the line: Mr. Sinister.

A lot of fans were probably a little surprised that the first villain in this line went to Sinister. I’m guessing most expected that honor to go to Magneto, who has always been thought of as the X-Men’s main villain. He even has the honor of being the true, first, mutant adversary introduced in the show with the third episode, “Enter Magneto.” Perhaps Hasbro is holding him back for something a little more special, and if you’re going to go to a number two villain it’s hard to do worse than Mr. Sinister. Sinister was the main villain of season two of the show. He’s teased at the end of the first season, something that was added in after the show’s late renewal, and has a presence all throughout that second season as he resurrects Morph, strands Xavier and Magneto in the Savage Land, encourages Mystique to go after Rogue, and the like. He’s just a general pain in the ass for the X-Men during that time, and while he does basically drift away following that, he did show up here and there following that season. As such, his original action figure and the show were how I, and I assume many others, were first introduced to the character and I always associate him with the cartoon.

He sure is a happy guy.

The obvious other reason why Hasbro went with Sinister in this spot is because he has a fairly recent action figure that can be reused and repainted for this line. If you read my reviews of Wolverine and Jubilee, then you know I’ve had a very mixed reaction to this line. Wolverine is largely fine, there are some errors and shortcuts that are inexcusable with him, but overall I like the figure well enough. The Jubilee figure was one I was far more harsh on that resulted in me going off on the concept of “value” when it comes to an action figure line. And a lot of those value criticisms I had with Jubilee will apply to Sinister, even more so. This figure is a bit of an odd thing to review as I’ll tell you right up front that I like this figure, but it’s also a terrible value.

This probably comes as no surprise, but Sinister is the tallest in the line so far.

Mr. Sinister stands at around 7″ to the top of his head and is depicted in his show accurate blue and red costume. The body has sculpted lines, or grooves, on it as the character is often featured with such a detail and he’s sporting a rather wicked grin. Sinister’s cape is basically impossible to do100% accurately given its unusual design, but Hasbro did a decent enough job with it here. It’s a very dark blue on the back and black on the inside. There’s an effort made to make it appear that all of the strands of the cape originate from around the collar, with some going straight up from there and cresting well over the figure’s head with others curling more at chin level. Some of the strands are molded together, which is odd, but maybe they were concerned about the durability. It’s a weird cape, so whatever, it’s fine. The only exposed skin on the character is on the head and neck and it’s bone white. He has the red diamond on his chest with red around the wrists and waist via the belt. His legs are a bit odd as he almost looks like he’s wearing thigh-high boots, but he also has boot cuffs down around the ankles, but that’s not a shortcoming with the figure as that’s how the character looks.

We really need a Cyclops to pair Sinister with, but Wolverine will have to do for now.

Sinister has a pretty wacky design that must have been a chore to bring to animation, especially with the budget X-Men had. The figure is fairly accurate to the source material, but it does differ in places. There’s a sculpting bit around the neck area where the cape is intended to “attach” to the costume proper. It adds a bit of realism to the look, but is something that isn’t captured in the animation. The thigh seams, or parts that looked like thigh-high boot cuffs, are angled when in the show they just cut straight across the thigh and were kept fairly simple. Sometimes they were given more of a diamond shape, but it was inconsistent as the character was a nightmare to animate. The figure also just plain looks chunkier than the character in the show. Sinister isn’t what I’d call skinny in the show, but he basically had typical super hero/villain proportions while this figure looks like it’s a bit beyond that. I’ll be interested to see how the figure scales with a future Cyclops as comparing it to Wolverine and Jubilee doesn’t really tell me much since those characters are among the shortest in the show.

The spine on the boxes can be arranged in such a fashion that it looks like the good guys are staring down the bad guys. Also of note, Sinister’s box is way chunkier than either Wolverine or Jubilee.

This being the animated line, the thing that’s going to stand out the most is the paint. To Sinister’s credit, this is the best paint job in the line so far. Sinister is fairly easy to shade as he’s just dark blue and black and Hasbro did a solid job of following the rules of the source material when applying the shading to this figure. It’s even fairly easy to find images from the show that appeared to give them a guide as to how to shade with the dark parts. The only odd part is that Hasbro opted not to use black, but a dark, almost slate, gray. It looks okay, but in some pictures and in certain lighting it gives the character a washed out look, like a poor quality digital image that didn’t capture the fullness of the colors. It’s weird, but does look better in person than in pictures. Like Wolverine and Jubilee, there’s no shading on the skin which is a bummer, but at least this character has paint details on the face in the form of the black around the eyes and on the chin, though the chin looks off-center on mine. There’s also some shading on the belt and inside the collar and it’s pretty striking. Hasbro even painted the inside of the boot cuff which I wasn’t expecting since it’s only noticeable from the rear. And speaking of the rear, there’s no shading on the back of the figure nor is there on any joints so you do get instances where blue plastic is poking through a shaded area like the ankle hinge. And that blue plastic is quite shiny, which normally is turn-off for me, but it’s not really bothering me much here. Maybe because I just like this shade of blue? This guy looks rather nice on the shelf and hopefully the figures that follow can match this paint job because I think few will complain about it.

This foot is ugly. There’s so much empty space between the heel and ankle. Yeah, it does let the foot pivot backwards very far, but why would Sinister ever need that much range in his ankle joint?

The thing I haven’t touched on yet is where this figure comes from. If you’re a Legends collector you may even be screaming at me because this figure is 100% reused from an earlier Mr. Sinister figure released about 3 years ago. Everything is the same except the neck. On the first release of this figure, the costume went all the way up the neck and even featured the same linework so Hasbro had to ditch that and replace it with a neck they could cast in white. That’s it though, that’s the only new piece and I doubt they had to actually re-tool a neck for this guy, they probably could source that from somewhere else. That first figure came with zero accessories and this figure does too. That means no extra head, no extra hands, and no effects parts even though the box art features him creating an energy DNA strand of some kind that would have been awesome to have. You’re basically paying a premium price for the VHS box and some extra paint. This is where I bring up the concept of value again as this figure is objectively a pretty terrible value, especially if you already have the old figure. A figure that is 100% reuse should have some room in the budget for at least some extra hands or a fireball. Even Jubilee, another 100% reuse character, got an extra head and some additional accessories, you mean to tell me there wasn’t some blast effect hanging around that couldn’t be tossed into the box? That’s the type of thing that literally adds pennies to the cost as opposed to whole dollars. I can only assume this line has a budget, not the individual figure, and the Legends team is forced to take from some figures to fund others, but that’s still not the problem of the consumer. If we’re being asked to pay more for this figure versus a standard Legends release, we need to see that reflected in the product and it’s just not here.

What do you do with a character that lacks accessories? Steal them from another figure! This is from a Lightning Collection Yellow Power Ranger.

Okay, rant over, so let’s talk about articulation. Again, if you have that old Sinister you’ve been here before. If you’re like me and you do not, then this is pretty new, but it’s also pretty familiar as Sinister doesn’t do anything other Legends don’t do. He’s got the same hinged ball joint on the head that lets him look up, down, and rotate, but it’s going to feel more locked down because of the collar. The shoulders are hinged and can go out to the side while the shoulder pads affect his ability to rotate all the way around, but it can be worked around and they are soft. There’s a biceps swivel, double-jointed elbows, and the hands rotate and feature horizontal hinges. One is a closed fist and one is open. The torso features an ab crunch that works okay. There doesn’t appear to be much parts rub so I don’t have any fears about the paint and the figure can crunch forward and back an acceptable amount. The waist features a twist and the hips allow for the character to spread its legs beyond what a Mr. Sinister figure really needs. There’s a thigh twist hidden by the way the legs are sculpted and the knees are double-jointed and work fine. There’s a boot cut above ankles which appear to be attached via ball pegs. They can rock side-to-side and bend very far forward and back and that’s because there’s a ton of plastic cut out on the back of the feet. It’s great for range, but the feet basically look like they’ve been mis-matched and don’t fit the figure when viewing it from the side. It’s pretty ugly and I would even go so far as to call it inexcusable. There’s nothing impressive going on here with the articulation, but there’s really nothing to complain about as this is a guy who doesn’t really do much in the show beside stand around and occasionally raises its arms to fire off some energy blasts.

Or if you prefer, the Black Ranger’s blast effect which kind of looks like an exploding pumpkin.

Mr. Sinister is one of those figures that I like, but I can’t fully recommend because the value is so terrible. If you’re collecting this line then you’re probably getting the figure since he did play a significant role in the show, but if you have that old Sinister you’ll probably feel a bit conflicted. They didn’t even fix the feet which were an apparent issue with the old figure. I at least do not have that original release so this figure is all new to me. Even ignoring that, it’s still absurd to see a Marvel Legends figure at this price point come packaged without any accessories at all. It would be one thing if Sinister was a figure that didn’t call for any, but even the box art depicts an energy effect. And if Hasbro wanted to do a show specific accessory (and I really wish they would make that a priority for every release) they could have given Sinister his Morph controller or that weird, little, robot bug he stuck in Morph’s head. I’d still rather a simple blast effect to those, and some alternative hands (I’m guessing the fist and open hand are a nod to the old Toy Biz figure, but a fist on Sinister is kind of useless), but I also would have appreciated little details like those. The VHS boxes are cool, but Hasbro seems to think they’re all the fan service this line needs and the result is that this line feels less like a celebration of the TV show and more like a cash grab.

If you want to add Mr. Sinister to your collection, he’s currently available at both Hasbro Pulse and Shop Disney. If you time it right, you may be able to get the figure with free shipping from the Disney website, or if you’re ordering the figure alongside 50 bucks in other Disney merch (free shipping can be triggered at $75). Shipping is free on the Pulse storefront only with a Pulse Premium membership. Those are your only options though.


Marvel Legends X-Men Animated Series Jubilee

“My name’s Jubilee and I blow…stuff up.”

There’s a belief when it comes to children’s entertainment that the young audience needs a surrogate on screen, someone who they could believably place themselves in the role of. For the animated series X-Men, that character was Jubilee. The role was of such importance to the property that the earlier pilot, not affiliated with the 1992 Fox Kids program, “Pryde of the X-Men” had the exact same role written into it. Only with that would-be series, the character would have been Kitty Pryde. Kitty was the kid X-Men character of the 80s, but come the 90s she had been aged out of that role in the comics and even moved to a different team of mutants in Excalibur. When it came time to create the same character for the 92 show, it was Jubilee who the writers ultimately settled on.

It’s easy to see why such a role was envisioned for the show. Both versions of X-Men were presenting the super hero team as something already established with a large roster of heroes. By introducing a kid character just coming into contact with the X-Men it would mean the kids watching at home would learn about them along with the character. And even though the comic was white hot in 92, the cartoon was still likely to hit a wider audience of kids who had never even looked at a comic book.

The getup looks okay, but that doesn’t really look much like the Jubilee I know from the toon.

Young Jubilation Lee, played by Alyson Court after a lengthy search to find the right voice for the character, is introduced in the show’s first episode and has the distinction of being the first X-Men character we really meet, even if she isn’t technically a member of the team yet. Her origin was changed to be an orphan in foster care and her well-meaning foster parents recently signed her up with the Mutant Control Agency. Her foster dad thought they would help her and her budding mutant powers, but man, why would anyone trust an organization with such a name would be helpful? Jubilee refers to herself as a kid, though her actual age is never given. Eventually we’ll see that she’s being taught how to fly a plane and drive a car, so I guess she’s around 15 at the start of the series though she looks younger. After her initial arc, she mostly fades into the background popping up here and there to head a plot, often paired with Wolverine who is like a big brother to her.

Decisions, decisions…

When Toy Biz was making action figures in the 90s based on the X-Men, two characters from the show seemed to get short-changed: Jean and Jubilee. Perhaps Hasbro considered that when it decided to make Jubilee the second character in this series of Marvel Legends based on the cartoon. Or it’s because Jubilee was released not that long ago as a Marvel Legends figure and the tools were on-hand to make this one. Either way, this figure is similar to the Wolverine one in that it’s mostly reused from past figures. In this case, two different versions of Jubilee were utilized to settle on this one. Unlike Wolverine, basically nothing new was created here as Hasbro mostly just updated the sunglasses. There’s also no show specific accessory included. Instead, we get some effects parts to go along with the VHS packaging featuring new art by Dan Veesenmeyer. Is that good enough?

Transparent on the left, solid pink on right. I think I prefer the ones on the right, but it’s nice to have choices.

Jubilee is depicted in her show accurate costume: pink shirt, blue shorts, blue boots, yellow gloves, and her traditional yellow trench coat. Is it supposed to be a rain coat? I don’t know, Jubilee’s style has always been bizarre and unique to her. She also has her pink sunglasses and the only inaccuracy about her look here is that her earrings are gold instead of red and black. And yet, this one misses the mark. Jubilee’s portrait makes her look much older than she was in the show and the hair style is wrong. Standing at 5.75″ she’s also too tall to be an animated Jubilee. Mostly though, I think it’s her coat that makes her look off the most. In the show, she’s practically swimming in the thing, but for her figure it’s lovingly tailored to fit her physique. When I hoped for a series of Marvel Legends from Hasbro, my fear was that Hasbro would just repackage it’s existing Jim Lee era figures and call them animated versions and that’s basically what’s happening here and it’s a bummer.

If you don’t like either set of glasses, there’s the alternate head with the glasses molded above the eyes. This is from a prior build-a-figure Jubilee.

The main change with this figure from past ones is obviously the paint. Jubilee is cel-shaded like Wolverine, though it’s not as noticeable. I suppose that’s due to the coat as it hides most of the shading on her torso which is also just limited to a block of red paint on her right side and a streak by her neck. There’s also very little shading on the coat which is limited to the sleeves and the area around her collarbone. It’s strange to see none on the creases of the coat. They also used that same mustard shade of yellow that was used for Wolverine which doesn’t look right. There’s not much rhyme or reason to the shading on her though. With Wolverine, there was more shading on one side of him than the other which is how most characters are colored for animation. With Jubilee, it’s just haphazard and the shading on the coat especially is rather ugly. I suppose I’d rather the shading be present than not at all and her boots and shorts look fine, ignoring that her boots aren’t the proper shape. There’s no shading on the flesh portions of her arms and legs which is true of Wolverine so I guess that’s going to be a thing going forward. There is some shading on her sunglasses which turned out okay, but like basically everything with this figure, could have been better. It’s the sort of shading I wanted to see on the windshield pieces of Super7’s Optimus Prime.

While I prefer this look for young Jubilee, that head is just so sleepy and boring. Where’s the smile?

Jubilee doesn’t nail the look of the character from the show, and unfortunately, her accessories don’t sweeten the package much. Her default look is a head with her hair trimmed short and no glasses. She has two pairs of shades that can slip over her eyes: solid pink, and translucent pink. Both feature the shading on the front and both fit on the character’s head just fine. I prefer the solid pink ones as that looks more like the character from the show, but she also rarely wore her sunglasses in a traditional manner. And because of that, Jubilee has a second head with the glasses permanently above her eyes. This look is more faithful to the show and her hair looks better, but she still looks like an older version of the character. Plus she’s missing her earrings – come on, Hasbro! I’m torn on which head I’ll ultimately display, and it sucks that I’m trying to decide which is the least worse. Lastly, we have two effects parts cast in translucent pink plastic. They would be fine if they at all resembled her powers from the show (or comic), but they don’t. These look like the same parts released with Scarlet Witch and Negasonic Teenage Warhead just colored differently. I didn’t love them then, and I like them less now since they don’t make sense. There had to have been better effects parts for Hasbro to recycle, right? Dazzler’s parts would have worked better than this.

These effects pieces seem inappropriate for the figure. There were better options out there.

One, final, bone I have to pick with this figure is the articulation. Hasbro, for whatever reason, seems to always shortchange the female characters when it comes to articulation. For some reason, they think double-elbows and ab crunches can’t work with them and Jubilee is no exception. Her head is on a ball hinge that lets her look up, down, and around with some tilt. The shoulders are ball-hinged and they’re fine. There’s no butterfly joint or biceps swivel as the top of her arms have the sleeves sculpted on. She does get a swivel at the elbow and single hinges that let her bend her arms at a 90 degree angle. Her wrists swivel, and interestingly, one wrist has a horizontal hinge and the other vertical. It’s not necessary, but I kind of like it. In the torso, we have a ball joint in the diaphragm that does little. It gets almost no range forward, back, or tilt and it’s mainly just a swivel point. No waist twist, and we have ball-jointed hips. She can kick forward, but not back, and her legs go out to the side an acceptable amount. There’s a thigh cut just below the shorts which looks good, and double-jointed knees. The hinges at the knees feel a bit gummy and the top one is quite tight, but if you get both to move properly, she can bend past 90 degrees. There’s a boot cut below that and the usual ankle hinge with rocker that works very well. Jubilee is pretty conventional for a female Marvel Legend. The elbows are okay and the torso stinks, but at least she’s not worse than usual.

Jubilee should get used to finding herself behind better looking figures.

As a final bone to pick, we have to talk about value. This figure is $27 and sold exclusively through Hasbro Pulse and Shop Disney, so you have to order it. There’s no brick and mortar option, so tack-on the cost of shipping to that 27 bucks, or the cost of a Pulse Premium subscription (which is what I ended up doing as I figured this line would pay for itself through the free shipping perk) unless you happen to catch her on Disney during a free shipping promotion (otherwise you have to order $75 worth of merch to trigger that perk which you actually could right now just by ordering the three figures from this line currently available – Wolverine, Jubilee, and Mr. Sinister). That’s not cheap, and to illustrate that I have the below picture. All four figures were released or solicited around the sound time so there’s no COVID impact to the price of one that wouldn’t affect the other, and in comparison this figure is just not a great value. Let’s go left to right:

Not included is the DC Collectibles Batman from the animated series I reviewed previously. It’s a better value than Jubilee and features good cel-shading, but I don’t know if it was available to purchase around the same time so I left it out.

NECA Turtles in Time Raphael – the cheapest at $26, not sold exclusive to any retailer. 100% reuse from a past figure save for the new sais and hoverboard (though the mold for that is used for other figures). He also has his own unique deco via the pixel shading. It’s a reissue of a figure from 2020, but so is Jubilee basically.

Jubilee, who is $27 plus the cost of shipping because she’s not available at retail. 100% reuse, bad paint job where the cel-shading is concerned.

NECA Groundchuck – This guy is sold in a two-pack for $65, so he’s $32.50 and found at Target and pretty comparable in price to Jubilee. And unlike Jubilee, there’s no reuse with this guy and likely won’t be any future use for these tools unless NECA does a variant. Tons of paint, tons of hands, and a gun. Terrific value. And if you think I’m cherry-picking from the set I’d say his box-mate Dirtbag is just as good and actually has more accessories.

Bandai/Tamashii Nations Goku Black – this guy is the most expensive, but he’s $35 and sold at Target. It’s a reissue with a new paint application on the hair. This is Bandai reissuing an older figure and giving the consumer a discount as a result. Jubilee is a reissue of an old figure, but more expensive. Plus this is an S.H.Figuarts release, a much higher quality product than Marvel Legends. Normally the comparison would be unfair and ludicrous, but it’s $35 so it’s very much comparable to what Hasbro is giving us.

Value is a subjective concept, but I don’t see a strong argument for this Jubilee being comparable to those other 3 where value is concerned. Basically we have two companies offering up a reissue or variant of an older figure and giving the consumer a price break, while the third figure is all-new and just so happens to be right around the same price. They’re also all licensed figures and not an in-house brand for any of the companies above. I don’t doubt that the Marvel license is more expensive than TMNT or Dragon Ball, but that is meaningless to the consumer since we’re just judging the product for what it is and how it compares elsewhere. Unfortunately, Marvel is exclusive to Hasbro in this scale so there’s no alternative unless a non-US company like Medicom wants to start doing animated X-Men. If this were down at 20 or even 22 bucks then I’m not making this comparison, but if Hasbro wants to charge a premium for this line then we’re entirely within our rights as consumers to expect better. If they have to charge more to do these figures justice then charge more, but don’t repackage old figures at a mark-up and expect people to just smile and accept it. If this line fails it’s going to be because collectors saw it for what it is and not a reflection of the desire out there for a line based on the cartoon X-Men.

I think it’s pretty clear which figure Hasbro sunk more money into.

Jubilee as just another Marvel Legends release would be fine. Probably a little on the subpar or average at best scale, but ultimately fine. The sculpt is okay and the paint effects are applied well with minimal slop. It’s as a representation of the Jubilee we know and love from the classic animated series that this figure fails. This just doesn’t look like that Jubilee. She’s too tall, the proportions aren’t right, the cel-shading on the coat is bad, and she looks much older. Had Hasbro at least given her a more show accurate head-sculpt, like it did for Wolverine, I would be satisfied and able to overlook the other inaccuracies. And if they gave her more expressive effects parts that would have helped too. Instead, we have a figure destined to lurk behind the other figures in this line. Hopefully, she ends up being the least accurate of the bunch (though that Jean isn’t looking too hot) and all future figures are better because I’d hate to see one that’s worse. Hasbro has its hooks in me though, and as long as they’re the only ones giving us a line of figures based on the animated series, I’ll probably keep on buying. Not enthusiastically, but I guess if Hasbro is getting my money regardless that’s all they care about.


Marvel Legends X-Men Animated Series Wolverine

Ah! There you are, Wolverine!

The toyline of my dreams was announced last October. In celebration of the 30th anniversary of the television series X-Men, Hasbro is doing a dedicated line of Marvel Legends with figures based on the look of the show. The show was obviously inspired by the designs of Jim Lee, but there are differences in the look of a character made for print and one made for television and it was something I always wanted for my favorite, childhood, TV show. Batman got his own line based on his show, the Ninja Turtles are receiving the same from NECA, now it’s time for the X-Men. And who is leading things off for Hasbro? None other than Wolverine, so lets make this a Wolverine Wednesday!

This should be a time of joy. The toyline I’ve wanted for years now finally happening? Of course, nothing is guaranteed. Since the announcement of the line, Hasbro has really underwhelmed when it comes to figure reveals. It even started off right away. While I think most were pleased with how Wolverine was shaping up, Jubilee was announced the same day and looked decidedly unlike her animated counterpart. Mr. Sinister would follow not long after, and while he looks solid, he comes with zero accessories. No extra hands, no extra head, no show-specific gizmo, nothing. I don’t need to go into it further, since I already did, but 2022 has really sucked some of the life out of this line before the first figure arrived in the hands of collectors. That’s a discussion for another day though, as today I get to talk about Wolverine.

I love that box!

Wolverine was already a popular character to comic fans, but it also feels appropriate to call him the break-out star of the cartoon. Voiced by Cal Dodd, this iteration of the character is still the first that comes to mind when I hear the name Wolverine. Wolverine arrives in the new, plastic-free, VHS-inspired, box created for this line. Artwork of Wolverine adorns the box which was done by artist Dan Veesenmeyer who was a storyboard artist for the show and was responsible for the artwork featured on the actual VHS releases of the show back in the 90s. I love this approach by Hasbro as it’s creative, nostalgic, and just plain fun. Did they get the idea from NECA with their VHS-styled packaging for TMNT? I don’t know, but Hasbro still deserves praise for at least nailing this aspect of the line.

I appreciate the commitment to preserving the VHS aesthetic all around the box.

The figure itself comes in a little baggie and the accessories are packaged in a separate bag. Collectors have rightly pointed out that this style of packaging prevents potential buyers from actually seeing the figure they’re buying, but that is mitigated by the fact that this line is presently sold only online. Once removed from his little baggie, Wolverine will stand approximately 5.75″ on whatever shelf you deem worthy of his feet. Much of this figure is reused from past Wolverines, but that was to be expected. And the base figure works well enough for what this is. If I have any nitpicks about the appropriateness of this body for Wolverine it’s really just in that his arms are probably too big and too detailed, but that’s minor. Helping me to look past that is the fact that Hasbro gave Wolvie a brand, new, head. It looks terrific with the ears of the mask accurately representing what we would see in the show. The quality of the animation wasn’t fantastic so Wolverine’s head shape had a tendency to be all over the place, but this is how I feel he was supposed to look in every frame and Hasbro did a good job.

How do we feel about cel-shading? I personally like it, though I admit it’s been done better with other figures.

The most talked about aspect of this line though seems to be the paint job. Hasbro, wanting to properly emulate the look of the show, has opted for a cel-shaded approach. I, for one, like that decision. If you’re going to make an action figure from a cartoon, why not try to make that figure look like it came out of that cartoon? The argument against that is always “these figures exist in the real world, let natural lighting provide shading” but that misses the point. What shading in cartoons (or comics, for that matter) resembles real-world shading? The shading with this figure looks good. I like how it’s applied as it was done in a consistent manner. My only issue with it is the choice of color for the shaded yellow portions. Hasbro went with a mustard color, which is not at all in-line with the show. For an example of a better, more appropriate, 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 Hasbro just plain whiffing on the choice of colored paint. The other thing I don’t like is that Hasbro didn’t use this as an opportunity to engineer some pin-less joints for Wolverine. Wolverine is a character who will see numerous re-releases over the years so the cost to do so seems immaterial as Hasbro will make it back. The pin-less approach is just far more appropriate for a figure with this style of paint job as the yellow pegs poking through the shaded portion of the knee looks stupid. It’s the same problem Hasbro has been running into for years with its Spider-Man figures.

The claws look pretty good.

Joining Wolverine in his box are a handful of accessories. Wolverine comes with his clawed hands deployed, but he can also swap to a set of non-clawed gripping hands. Unfortunately, these are some generic hands Hasbro must be recycling from another figure because they’re missing the channels on the back of Wolverine’s gloves. I’m surprised Hasbro didn’t have proper Wolverine gloved gripping hands available for this figure to utilize, but apparently not. The hands are noticeably undersized and look a bit ridiculous on the figure. There’s even sculpted finger nails on them to drive home that these are repurposed from somewhere else. There’s also a second head which features Wolverine with teeth-gritting and it looks good. My only critique here is that they probably shouldn’t have bothered sculpting the teeth since they’re rarely drawn-in for the show. Lastly, we have a show specific accessory in the form of the picture frame containing an image of Scott and Jean. It’s a great idea for an accessory, and the image is removable, though it’s a shame Mondo beat them to it. Since I have that figure, part of me wishes they went for another meme-worthy accessory like a big slab of salami, but I can’t deny that this is a fun thing to include for an animated Wolverine. Plus, they can always do a civilian Wolverine later that comes with salami.

The non-clawed hands, unfortunately, look like they’re meant for a different figure. And that’s because they probably are.

The articulation for Wolverine should be pretty familiar to anyone who has purchased a Marvel Legends figure over the past few years. It’s certainly a familiar sight if you have one of the prior Wolverines using this sculpt, but in case you don’t (like me), let me run down everything for you. Wolverine’s head is on a big ball hinge. He looks up, down, and all around with a little wiggle too. The shoulders are ball-hinged and work okay, but they have to work around the shoulder pads which peg into the meat of the shoulder. It’s a bit of a pain, but it does at least let the arms go all the way around. There’s a butterfly joint, but the shoulder pads get in the way when bringing the arms forward, but work okay going back. There’s a biceps swivel and the elbows are double-jointed though Wolverine’s beefiness limits his range to about 90 degrees. The wrists peg in and are hinged horizontally. There’s an ab crunch in the torso that works well enough, and the waist swivels. The legs connect via ball pegs and they don’t go out to the side very far or kick back, but they do kick forward. There’s a thigh cut past that, double-jointed knee, boot cut, and ankle hinge that pivots side-to-side. It’s a suitable batch of articulation, pretty standard for a Legends release, and my only complaint really is one of the pegs on the left knee doesn’t go all the way through and it’s exposing the hinge there more than it should. I don’t love what Hasbro did with the shoulder pads, but I don’t know that there’s a better solution.

Don’t do it, Wolverine!
It’s amusing to me that two different companies decided this accessory was essential for an animated Wolverine.

This Wolverine presents a solid template for how this line of figures should be handled. We get some re-tooled parts to match with some reused ones plus a unique paint job, which isn’t something Hasbro is known for. Yes, I have some issues with it. I think the color choice for the shading is off, and I think some added black linework would have really made this guy pop. And those extra hands are garbage, but how likely am I to display Wolverine without his claws? Not very, but he does come with an episode specific item to hold so the non-claw hands shouldn’t have been the afterthought they clearly were. A final nitpick is a similar one I had with the Mondo figure and that’s the claws should have been painted. They were usually white in the show with a little blue added, but both figures just went with a flat gray. At least they arrived in good shape and only my figure’s right hand may take a trip to the faucet and that’s a first for me with a Wolverine Marvel Legends figure. Granted, the last one I bought was probably made by Toy Biz.

“Hello, son.”
The bigger, more expensive, one obviously looks better, but I think it would be a lot closer if Hasbro matched the colors Mondo used and added some linework to their figure.

If this Wolverine was a perfect representation of what to expect from this line then I think most everyone would be happy. And maybe it is. I don’t have any other figures yet, but with Jubilee set to arrive tomorrow I’ll have a better idea soon. This figure is largely what I would expect of Hasbro and it’s plenty good. It’s fun to have a new 6″ Wolverine after so many years and it’s especially fun to see my favorite TV show from my youth get celebrated. It already seems clear to me that if you only get one figure from this line make it this one. Now lets hope that Hasbro spends the money to do a proper animated Sabretooth to pair him up with.

I suppose I should include a comparison between this figure and the only other, dedicated, animated version of a character Hasbro has done (not including the Spider-Verse figures).

Wolverine is presently available to order at Hasbro Pulse (www.hasbropulse.com) and the other figures in the line are up for preorder there as well with Jubilee being the only other one in-stock. It’s expected that all of these figures will also be sold at http://www.shopdisney.com at some point (Jubilee is already there). Each figure retails for $28 and a Pulse membership is required to get free shipping. They’re not exactly cheap compared to other Marvel Legends releases, but for now, Hasbro is really the only company doing a dedicated line based on the animated series. Maybe that will change one day, but for now I’m all-in and I hope we get the full team and select villains. Hopefully this is just the beginning of a fun display.


Super7 Transformers Ultimates! Optimus Prime

Super7’s take on the classic 80’s toyline has finally arrived, but is it any good?

I think we’re over discussing the merits of non-transforming Transformers, right? It’s been done for a long time, but was really pushed to the forefront with the Hasbro RED series in 2020 and while there will always be a section of the fanbase that wants nothing to do with such a concept, it’s still an easy thing to justify. When the Transformers arrived on television sets in the early 1980s, they were giant robots that generally went from some kind of automobile to a humanoid robot. And those transformations were pretty unrealistic when compared with the toy. The character models needed to be kept neat and tidy for animation’s sake and if something looked a bit janky on the toy the cartoon could remedy that. As long as a kid could at least tell the character and the toy were one-in-the-same it was fine. And now there are collectors who want their Transformers to look, and move, like the characters from the show and what’s wrong with that? There will always be transforming toys to please the masses and these sublines can go off and do their own thing.

This should be a familiar sight for anyone used to Super7’s Ultimates! line of action figures.

When Super7 announced it had grabbed the Transformers license many people were shocked. Transformers is basically an in-house property for Hasbro, so what benefit is there to Hasbro licensing it out to a company that is just going to make something it can already supply? Well, money, for one. Hasbro clearly doesn’t view Super7’s offerings as direct competition with their own stuff. And Hasbro, being much bigger, was able to pump out the RED series before Super7 was able to announce they’d be doing something similar (and apparently the RED series kind of caught Super7 off-guard). And they are different, to a degree. While both seek to replicate the Generation 1 look for its characters, they operate in a completely different scale and at a completely different price. Time will tell if Transformers collectors need both, but for now both seem to be doing all right.

Optimus certainly knows how to fill out a window box.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not big on Transformers. I basically missed it by about a year or two, so my first love when it came to a toyline was The Real Ghostbusters, while my cousin who was two years older loved Transformers and G.I. Joe. I had a toy here and there, but nothing I can even cleanly remember (I think it was a yellow car, but memories can be funny). I did get into the Generation 2 re-releases briefly. I thought Grimlock looked cool in blue, and I saved up some money to get Optimus Prime. I’d also add the tank version of Megatron, but I kind of stopped there since Transformers were way more expensive than an X-Men figure. It was basically a 3:1 ratio with basic Transformers, while that Optimus cost me 30 bucks in 1992 money! All that is to say that Super7’s line of Transformers really shouldn’t be my thing, but I have a nephew that really likes the brand and when he got setup in a new bedroom I decided to make him a clock in the shape of Optimus Prime because my grandfather had done the same for me and my sister (his mother) when we were kids. My clock was Leonardo and my grandfather modeled it after my giant sized action figure of the same. I wanted to do something similar with my nephew’s clock and the reference that worked best was Super7’s art for their figure. Now, he’s too young for this type of toyline, but I still thought it would be cool if I also got him the toy. And since I was buying one for my nephew, well, uncle needs one too! I don’t know when I’ll give him his figure, or if he’ll even care about Transformers come then, but these are the specific circumstances that lead me to owning this figure so I’m going to tell you all about it.

The figure certainly looks similar to past incarnations of Optimus Prime, but it has a decidedly different flavor.

Optimus Prime is one of four figures in the inaugural wave of Super7 Transformers and he’s the only Autobot in the lineup. Super7 appears to want to go a bit deep, or obscure, with its choices while also recognizing it needed to include the Autobot leader in the first wave. This line is a 7″ scale line that seeks to emulate the look from the original cartoon. There’s going to be a lot of solid colors, less detail, and a bunch of stuff included as accessories pulled from the show. It’s a good approach as even the RED line from Hasbro deviates from the look of the show with its figures as both Soundwave and Optimus featured clear “glass” on their body when the toon would use a solid color. I believe this wave is also the first one released under the new pricing model of $55 a figure. Previously, Ultimates were $45, but then COVID happened. These went up for order in March of 2021, so a turn-around of 14 months actually isn’t that bad given the state of things.

Sick of working for Michael Bay, Optimus is looking to audition for Quentin Tarrantino.

Optimus comes in the familiar Super7 Ultimates! packaging. The box is a bit beefier than some of the other figures I’ve purchased from them, but it’s still the same slip-cover over window box. The outer slip-cover is rather nice as it has a reflective outline of the character and the window box has the familiar red and black grid pattern with an old school character power level grid on the back. Optimus takes up quite a bit of real estate in the box and the inner cardboard is mirrored, but the figure (and accessories) are so big that it doesn’t really add anything. I didn’t even notice it until I pulled him out.

This is pretty much as best he can do when it comes to a gun grip. Why not just straighten out the handle so he can actually grip it properly? The first in many questionably decisions to come.

Out of the box, Optimus stands at about 8″ in height, maybe a tick over. He’s a very blocky, chunky, figure and at first blush I’d say that, yeah, he looks like the cartoon character. He does not, however, give off that “Just walked out of the television set,” vibe as there’s almost no paint on this guy. Most of what you’re looking at is molded plastic. It’s not super shiny, which is good, but definitely lacks pop. It’s most apparent on the windshield panels on his chest which are just a light, flat, blue. Pull-up almost any image from the cartoon of Optimus Prime and you’ll see some white accents on the glass part. Why not paint that on? Super7 used decals with that effect for their vinyl version of this character, but decided against it here. I wouldn’t expect cel-shading out of Super7, but a little flourish would have been nice. Aside from that, most of the paint is found on the crotch because they used a plastic overlay (affectionately referred to as a “diaper” in most collecting circles) that’s quite soft and requires paint. The gray band in the torso is also painted and there’s the Autobot logo painted, or printed, onto the left shoulder. I wish the logo was raised or stamped in, but it’s clean so I guess it’s fine. The smaller details on the face are well-painted too.

I’m not sure how obvious it is on camera, but the fist hands have this nice, matte, coating applied while the rest are just bare, glossy, plastic.

The low detail approach just makes Optimus a little plain looking. I think the figure would have benefitted from at least some panel lining which would be in-line with the cartoon’s presentation. Obviously, Super7 tends to think less is more, so I’m not shocked by their choices, but a little let-down. For $55 this could have been better. I also find it interesting they opted for an off-white or light gray shade for the crotch, thigh, smokestacks, and fuel tanks when the cartoon was pretty consistent about making those parts white. I associate the gray coloring more with the toys so it’s a bit of an odd choice. It just looks a bit dingey, so I would have preferred white, but it’s more of a nitpick than anything. Worth pointing out is that the right smokestack on mine came rather warped. It’s nothing I don’t think a little hot water or blast from a hairdryer can’t remedy, but I review these things as they come out of the box to give you the best idea of what to expect.

But hey! He comes with a surf board! Also, that’s as far as his elbows can bend. Yeah, not good.

Where the design is going to cause further problems is with the articulation. Now, I have the Voltron from Super7 so I had an idea of what to expect here. Plus I know from experience and just from what the company has told us that they prioritize the look over the articulation. Super7 believes articulation is fine, but that most collectors are going to put their toys on a shelf in a fairly basic, or neutral, pose. I don’t really agree as I think that’s what five-point figures and vinyl toys are for, but I’m not the one running the company. As far as I’m concerned, Super7 can take whatever approach it wants so long as it’s consistent which is why you won’t hear me complain about the lack of double-jointed knees and elbows. Super7 just doesn’t do them. This toy is, however, still an action figure so it should be judged as one and in doing so there’s some good stuff here, and some very not so good stuff.

If you don’t like the toony head you can switch to a toy-inspired one.

For starters, Optimus has a head that sits on a double ball-peg. This is a welcomed sight as the last Super7 figures I looked at featured a single ball-peg. Since he basically has no neck though, his range is going to be limited. He can look up and swivel with a little tilt, looking down is basically impossible. Once you introduce the ab crunch can the figure look down a bit. And that ab crunch is well-hidden and feels smooth. I’m not too worried about paint rub on the grill piece, though the figure doesn’t get any reverse crunch movement out of it. It strictly allows him to bend forward a bit. At the shoulders, we have an interesting setup. There’s a hinge inside the housing for the shoulder, with a pivot point just outside that, and a hinge just beyond that. This allows the bulky shoulders to swing out and come over the top of the torso allowing Prime to raise his arms out to the side past the usual 180 degrees. He can basically be the “Y” in a performance of “YMCA”. Unfortunately, Super7 apparently used up all of their creativity here because the elbow is a different story. There’s a biceps swivel above it, but the actual hinge bends maybe 45 degrees, if I’m being generous. The general accepted range on an elbow is 90 degrees, and that’s considered passable. My Hasbro RED Soundwave can do full curls and touch his shoulder with his hand to illustrate how big a difference this is. The comparably bulky Voltron could nearly get to 90, which I felt was satisfactory given the character. Not even getting close with Prime though is really unacceptable for a premium action figure, and at $55 a pop, that’s what this is. All Super7 had to do was cut out some relief on the forearm or elongate the piece where the elbow exists. It wouldn’t cost anymore to have done it right, nor is it going to ruin the look of the figure. It just feels like they hit a mild trouble point and decided not to address it at all thinking this amount of range was acceptable, but it’s not.

“Good thing you don’t have an eject button you need to be able to press!”
I think this is how I’m supposed to use this thing.

Moving past that unfortunate piece we have hands that peg into the arms and feature a single hinge which is fine. The waist has standard rotation so I’m assuming it’s a peg joint and not a ball. At the hips, we have the usual ball-pegs that Super7 likes and they’re fine. They’re pretty big so they don’t look as scary as some of the pegs on the TMNT figures and you get a swivel and range out to the front, back, and side. If you read my Voltron review, it was this spot that I deemed unacceptable on that figure as it just had pegs with no ball so that figure only kicks forward and back which is terrible. Optimus thankfully has normal leg function, though that diaper piece limits how far his legs can move. It will flex, but I wouldn’t want to leave the figure posed with too much stress on it. The knees are single-hinged and can achieve a 90 degree bend with no problem, it’s the ankles where we hit another roadblock. Optimus has rigid plastic alongside the lower legs so the ankles are effectively in splints. They hinge up and down and there is an ankle rocker, but it’s functionally useless because there’s just no room. Again, this could have been solved without cutting into the sculpt much. They could have brought the toe portion of the foot out a little further and it actually might have been more screen accurate. Doing so would have allowed them to just put a swivel point there. They also could have done what Hasbro did and do a drop-down ankle joint. That’s probably the better way to go, but there’s a number of things that could have been done, but Super7 opted for none. While Optimus can actually widen its stance, unlike Voltron, it can’t be widened much because eventually the figure can’t stand on its feet because there’s no rocker. It’s just a bummer.

He’s got a jet pack, if you think he needs one.
Check out my Matrix!

Super7 is certainly not known for articulation, but what it’s Ultimates! line is known for are accessories, and Optimus does okay in that regard. We get two heads with this figure, the toon accurate one that comes on the figure and a toy accurate one for those who prefer that look. I had that toy and loved it, but I really have no use for the alternate head. For what it is, it’s fine. Optimus comes with fist hands in the box and the figure can swap to a trigger right hand, pointing left, open right hand, and an open left hand with a peg on it. What’s missing are just normal gripping hands, which is a problem I’ll get to in a second. Interestingly, the fist hands have a matte coating on them and you can see where it ends near the peg. The other hands don’t have this and as a result are a bit glossy. It’s not something everyone is going to notice, but given the choice, I would have liked all of the hands to have this matte finish. For the trigger hand we have Optimus’ gun which matches the old toy and the show. The handle is at an angle though and I can’t get the trigger finger onto the actual trigger. If the angle wasn’t so steep it would be fine, but it looks kind of dumb as a result. The gun is also just molded, black, plastic with an ever so subtle graphite finish. For a more melee approach, Optimus has his orange, Energon, axe. It pegs into the forearm in place of a hand and it’s done in orange, translucent, plastic with a frosting on the shaft portion and it looks pretty damn cool. It’s just tough to find a natural axe-swinging pose given the figure’s articulation limits. There’s also this energy net thing (Energon binder, per the listing) that’s sparkly and made of soft plastic. I guess you can wrap it around a figure. It’s fine for what it is.

Spike isn’t really meant for close-up shots.
He’s probably not going to make it as a Globetrotter.

For the peg hand, there’s a basketball. The lines on it are sculpted in, but the black paint in those lines isn’t well done. I’ve seen images of people with pretty nice looking basketballs so mine might be worse than most (the second Prime I bought looks to have a better basketball). The ball fits nicely into the peg, and it’s this sort of goofy accessory that people may find charming about the figure. It would be nice if the peg hole was smaller though so it could better fit on the end of the pointing finger hand. It’s do-able, but the ball sits so low that it doesn’t convincingly create the illusion that Optimus is spinning the ball on his finger. There’s also the Matrix of Leadership thing that would normally go in Optimus Prime’s chest, but without gripping hands he can’t really hold it so it feels rather perfunctory since he doesn’t have a chest cavity to place it in. There’s a little, painted, Spike Witwicky that’s mostly in scale with Optimus which is kind of neat. There’s a big surfboard for Optimus as well which is pulled from an episode of the show. It’s rather plain looking as it’s just a gray-blue shade of plastic and it could really use a stand of some kind. There are peg holes on it and it’s pretty easy to get Optimus onto the thing, but I don’t know if I’ll ever use it. Lastly, we have a jetpack which is just a big old hunk of plastic that snaps into the rear of the figure. I like that Super7 was able to make it removable without a peg hole, but it’s rather boring looking. It’s at least really light so it doesn’t throw off the figure’s balance, but again, I’m not sure if it’s something I’ll ever use.

“I bet you wish you could ball like me!”
“I bet you wish you could hold a gun like me.” “Aww, that hurt”

In many ways, this figure is largely what I expected. I knew the blocky design would present issues with the articulation, as it had with Voltron, and I expected Super7 to keep it simple. With the shoulders and even the ab crunch, Super7 actually surprised me in a good way. They also surprised me in a bad way with the very limited elbows and ankles. I do strongly believe that for a figure to be considered articulated in this day and age we need elbows that hit 90 degrees (or near enough) and ankle joints that provide for better stances on the shelf. The ankle is hugely important for a figure because that’s the joint closest to the surface. Bad ankles limit posing or cause figures to fall over. Optimus Prime doesn’t have the falling problem, but that’s because he pretty much has to keep things vanilla. Which is a real bummer because I was hoping to be able to pose this more dynamically than my Masterpiece Optimus which is really too heavy to attempt much out of fear of it falling over. And if the figure isn’t going to move great, it needs to make up for that with the paint and this figure doesn’t really try to do that. I don’t think the included accessories make up for that either.

Some of the figure’s shortcomings when it comes to articulation could be more easily overlooked with a paint job as exciting as what Voltron received.

I’m not a huge Transformers fan so it’s hard to say if my reaction is more forgiving than the average fan or more harsh. If you’ve been on the fence about this one then there’s a good reason for that. At least the solicitation images paint a fairly accurate portrait of what you’re getting. If you want a more toon accurate Optimus in a much bigger scale than the Hasbro RED series, then this might do it for you. If you were expecting a dynamic posing figure that looked like it stepped right out of the TV then I don’t think this figure is for you. A subpar action figure in 2022 is also not without value. There is certainly a “fun” aspect to this figure just in the size and the some of the silly accessories, mostly the basketball. On a subjective level, I can be okay with this thing and not regret my purchasing decision. Objectively though, this is a real tough ask at $55 and it’s not something I can give a blanket recommendation for. If you know what you’re in for and like what you see, you may feel differently.

He’s here. He’s flawed, but you can probably still have some fun with him.

Hasbro MMPR x TMNT Shredder

Now you face the morphed Shredder!

We’ve looked at the two-packs from Hasbro’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers x Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line of action figures based on the comic book crossover, but have we saved the best for last? Coming in on his own is the arch nemesis for the turtles: The Shredder! And since this is a line specializing in combining the two properties, he can’t just be regular old Shredder, he needs to be something more! Now, maybe there was a thought to having Shredder somehow acquire Lord Zed’s staff or even Rita Repulsa’s magic (imagine Shredder in a Rita costume), but rather than do that they just gave him the powers of the former evil Power Ranger, Tommy, and his Dragonzord coin.

Is it just me or does he look huge in the box?

Shredder as the Green Ranger is a design unique to him. There’s obviously elements of both the traditional Power Ranger costume and Shredder’s, and the design is involved enough that he couldn’t be directly lifted from an existing figure. That is likely why this figure did not arrive in a two-pack but as a single carded figure with the MSRP of around $30. He comes in an oversized Lightning Collection box with new art and he looks sort of massive from the outside, though he’s not demonstrably larger than other figures in the line standing right around seven inches. Some of the body here is likely recycled from other figures in the line, or from other Hasbro lines in general, but there is quite a bit that’s new for us to dig into.

There’s a lot of good here, but some not so good.

First off is the head sculpt. Shredder comes with his helmet permanently affixed to his head, which is often the right way to do a proper Shredder. The base look of this Shredder gives me strong 2003 vibes as his face is all black with red pupils and the mouth guard is painted silver. It makes him look pretty bad ass, but also accomplishes the task of merging the helmet with the Green Ranger helmet since having his exposed flesh painted black conforms to there being a visor there. Atop the helmet is the Green Ranger’s dragon theme with the red eyes and ridge in the center. The center diamond is there as well and then it’s rimmed with the silver “tines” customary to Shredder helmets. The sides are silver and they’re staggered in the design resembling blades one after the other. It’s a very striking Shredder design and I think the artists involved did a great job blending it with that of the Green Ranger. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of the factory as the main head and the top of the helmet are separate pieces glued together. The top of the helmet is on crooked and set back too far on my figure and looks terrible. He should look like the box art with the center of the top piece lining up with the center of the mouthguard and the two should nearly touch. It’s not terrible enough for me to attempt an exchange or try to order from somewhere else, but terrible enough to drive me nuts. I’m very tempted to try to pry it off and re-attach it because it really does ruin what is otherwise a solid sculpt.

That mis-aligned helmet is driving me nuts. Even more so than the yellow knees.

Below the head we have the customary Dragon Shield. Shredder’s version of it is a bit weathered looking with sculpted spikes near the shoulders. They’re less pronounced than the comic art, but it’s still cool that Hasbro sculpted a new Dragon Shield. His arms are bare and end with his Shredder gauntlets, only now they’re gold with the actual blades on the back of his hands in silver. His belt is a purple sash and the Power Morpher is off-center, which is a nice touch to differentiate Shredder from the others, and he’s sporting a soft goods, purple, tattered, cape. It would have been cool if it was a wired cape, but it has some personality by virtue of the holes cut into. The only thing, design wise, I’m not crazy about with this figure is below the waist. He has the same gold and silver combo for the greaves on his shins, but the knee portion is a separate piece so there’s visible green in-between the knee and boot. From what I can tell, this isn’t the case in the book either and it’s supposed to be one piece. I’m not sure why Hasbro did it this way as they didn’t have to and it wouldn’t have cost any more money. And they also sculpted the kneepad in gold which creates unsightly gold lumps of plastic above the knee on the joint. The better move would be to simply paint the kneepad, especially since it’s actually the top of the boot, but Hasbro likes to cut paints apps wherever possible.

I always like open hands with Shredder, even going back to the Playmates original.

The boots and misaligned helmet are the only true eyesore to be found on this guy from a design point of view. The straps on his forearm gauntlets aren’t painted, so on the open hands he has “flesh-colored” straps that look kind of dumb, but not as bad as the knees or helmet. Those looking for true comic accuracy will likely be a little disappointed that the blades aren’t more pronounced, but this is a toy intended for a mass market release so some safety measures likely play a role. Aside from that though, the only other issue from a presentation is one also found on the standard Green Ranger and it’s the omission of the white diamonds on the shirt. On the Green Ranger, Hasbro kept the white pieces for the butterfly joint so he had a hint of the side diamonds, but with Shredder they just ignored them all together. This is fairly common with Hasbro and the manner in which they cut costs as they often eliminate painted details. It’s been acceptable for the company when their prices made them perhaps the best bargain in the hobby, but with their prices creeping up into NECA territory it’s becoming a problem. I’ll have more to say on that subject in the not-too-distant-future. Here, it’s relatively minor though I do think a little dash of white on the torso would have done the figure well.

Go ahead, Tommy, try and take back your Dragon coin.

This guy commanding a premium price might have lead you to believe he’d come with a bunch of stuff, but that’s really not the case. He comes with open hands in the box and a set of fist hands. The claws were straight on 3 of the 4 hands I got, with the open right hand being bent in the package. It’s nothing a little hot water can’t remedy though. He also has a pair of effects pieces. I guess they’re an energy effect or something? The claws slide into them and they’re a translucent blue. They actually can poke all the way through as there are slits on both sides so you can adjust the effect as you see fit. You could also have them shooting forward from the blade, but I think they’re intended to be more of a slashing effect and that’s how it’s depicted on the box. They’re fine, though personally I would have gone with more of a lightning look as the flame look Hasbro appears to be going for makes them look like water. One of mine also has some black flakes of plastic within it, which is a bit of a bummer, but honestly only noticeable from up close. That’s it though. No sword, no alternate head, just two sets of hands and two effects parts. It’s not terrible, but not exactly overwhelming either.

Shredder triumphant!

The articulation on Shredder is mostly as expected. If you’ve handled a Lightning Collection Ranger or a Marvel Legend then you should know what to expect. He has a ball hinged-head and probably some articulation at the base of the neck, but if so, it’s useless given the cape and Dragon Shield. He’s able to rotate and look up and down fairly well with basically no tilt due to the size of the helmet. His shoulders are ball-hinges with a butterfly joint. The spiked pauldron is pinned above the actual shoulder so it moves with the butterfly joint and doesn’t really interfere all that much with the range. It’s quite good and the cape and shield help hide any gaps left behind when the butterfly joint is fully extended. The left shoulder on my figure is really tight and hard to rotate, but I don’t feel like I’m going to break it, it just needs more breaking in. He has a biceps swivel and double-jointed elbows that give you about a 90 degree bend. No forearm swivel which stinks because the gauntlets are frozen in place which makes posing a bit annoying at times. The hands peg in, per usual, and can rotate and also feature a horizontal hinge.

There are some out there who wish the green on Shredder was a bit more like the Green Ranger, but I enjoy the muted shade.

In the torso, we have a diaphragm joint that’s pretty floppy. I don’t really like it as a result, but you can swivel there and get Shredder to bend forward and back an acceptable amount. He has an ab crunch below that, but the sash gets in the way so it doesn’t offer a ton. It’s a floating belt, but it’s way too tight. There also appears to be a seem underneath it that might be a waist twist, but I can’t get him to go. At the hips we have the standard ball pegs with thigh cuts below them. He can kick forward to about horizontal, but his cheeks prevent his leg from going back. The knees are double-jointed and work fine, which is good since I already mentioned they’re ugly. He does have a boot cut and at the ankle we have hinges and a rocker. The rocker works fine, though it’s a little loose while the hinges appear to be ratcheted. They’re annoying though because I can’t quite get the feet into a neutral position. The toe seems to always be pointed up a little, or down. I guess it’s not a huge problem as it just makes the most vanilla of posing difficult, but it is odd. I don’t have too much trouble getting him to stand even with the loose rockers. The only hindrance, really, is the floppy upper torso as he tends to bend back after being set down.

I think they scale pretty well. Shredder is taller and leaner, but still pretty damn beefy.

What we have with Shredder is what should be the best figure in this line if not for a few errors. I genuinely like the color palette on this guy as the muted green contrasts well with the bright Turtle Rangers and original Green Ranger. The gold paint and texture of the metallic parts of the armor look awesome, which is why the gold plastic knees really stand out as an eye sore. That torso really could stand to be tightened up though as I don’t like it. I’m more forgiving when it comes to the ankle hinges as I’m sure they had to use that ratcheted design for a reason and a standard one probably would have been too loose. The low accessory count is a bit of a bummer, but he does look great just armed with his claws and, even though it isn’t wired, I think the cape turned out very well. He’s a striking figure, but he is sold at what is a premium price for a Hasbro figure so I do think some of the flaws should not be readily overlooked. At the same time, he looks a million times better than the monsters released in the Lightning Collection so at least he has that going for him.

Group shot!

Shredder is the final figure in this line and is currently still available for preorder at various online stores. Gamestop is stocking this line as well and they can be found both online and in-store while supplies last. I would say normally if a line like this is a success then it will likely get reissued, but I have no idea what kind of arrangement Hasbro made with Viacom when it comes to the TMNT license so it’s possible they’ll be one and done. I wouldn’t wait on it if you’re interested. Given how terrible the helmet turned out on my figure, I would say take a look locally if you can to make sure the one you’re buying looks okay, but I suspect most will have to resort to online orders and hope for the best.


We Need to Talk About this X-Men Toy Line

As a kid, I was introduced to the X-Men without even knowing it. Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends was airing in my region and it was a show I watched when I could. That show featured Spider-Man (naturally) alongside Firestar, a new character created for the show, and Iceman. I had no idea Iceman was a member of the X-Men, or even what the X-Men were, and I wouldn’t for years after. I barely knew anyone from the Marvel Universe as outside of that show I basically saw Spider-Man PSAs and that Marvel Productions tag that would roll at the end of shows like Muppet Babies. Captain America? Wolverine? Iron Man? Totally off of my radar. Actually, the only other character I knew was the Hulk due to his television show.

In the early 90s that obviously changed. I was properly introduced to the X-Men via the inaugural line of action figures from Toy Biz. Despite not having a television show to cross-promote with, Toy Biz released the first wave of figures in 1991 complete with advertisements during the shows I watched. That’s how I learned who Wolverine and Cyclops were alongside Storm, Nightcrawler, Magneto and others. My friend from down the street loved the line, and at first that’s how I experienced the toys, but once the cartoon series launched in 1992 I too was hooked.

That show was X-Men and it was a ratings hit in 1993 when it was properly launched following “sneak peaks” in the fall of ’92. Once the show got its claws in me I was hooked and ready to turn aside the likes of Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. X-Men became my life, and even though I also got comics and trading cards featuring my favorite mutants, it was always the cartoon series that was my first love and primary method of interacting with the brand (aside from the toys, of which I had many). As my passion for collecting action figures has reignited over the past five years or so, a dedicated line of toys based on that show has become my grail line, of sorts. It was on my mind so much that I had to get it out in this space, and despite not being an avid collector of Hasbro figures, I always kept tabs on the company and anytime a question was asked of the community about what they wanted next, I was always there to tell them.

Aside from the odd choice of shading the figure that gold or mustard color, Wolverine looks fine.

With 2022 marking the show’s 30th anniversary, it has long been in my sights as the most logical time for such a toy line to come around. And sure enough, last fall Hasbro confirmed it was indeed heading to the animated universe when it announced a new line of toys based on the show starting with Wolverine and Jubilee. Since then, we’ve seen reveals of Mr. Sinister, Storm, and Jean Grey with Wolverine and Sinister starting to make their way into the hands of collectors in the UK. Presumably, their arrival in the US is imminent, but before I even have these long sought toys in hand I’m feeling a bit letdown by this whole thing.

Hasbro is one of the biggest toy producers in the world. The company produces mass market toys sold all over the place and often at a fairly affordable price relative to other goods in that space. They have tremendous negotiating power with the likes of Target and Walmart and even own their own factories so they’re far more insulated against some of the challenges faced by smaller outfits dealing in the same type of goods. For awhile, their Marvel Legends and Star Wars: The Black Series have been consistently good at a relatively low price. While a figure from NECA might cost you 30 bucks, a figure from Hasbro would sit at $20. Over the last year though, things have changed and prices have gone up. Now that same NECA figure is around $37 while Hasbro’s is $25. And when it comes to the new X-Men line, we’re talking $28. And while the gap still remains around 10 bucks, the NECA figures continue to come with loads of accessories and are often uncompromised when it comes to necessary tooling, while Hasbro has gone in the other direction. Fewer accessories, fewer paint apps, and more reuse have made Marvel Legends no longer the value it once was.

Hasbro saw fit to sculpt new hair for Storm, but kept a face that doesn’t match the show.

With the animated X-Men line, Hasbro is targeting a rather specific audience. It’s one that experienced the show as a kid 30 years ago and is an adult collector now. In truth, almost every action figure line Hasbro produces is consumed by more adults than children, but with this line Hasbro can’t even pretend like it’s aiming to attract children. It’s being sold exclusively through Hasbro’s own online store, Hasbro Pulse, and will eventually be sold on Disney’s website and maybe at some of their physical stores. It’s simply a line meant to appeal to collectors, and since they’re promising figures based on the show, you would think accuracy would be important, no?

Apparently that’s a foolish assumption as it appears Hasbro is looking to cut corners wherever it can. When the line was announced, it became obvious right from the start that Hasbro would be re-releasing some older figures with cel-shading paint apps to mimic the show. The encouraging part though was some of the little details. Wolverine had two, newly sculpted heads that better reflected his appearance on the show. He also came with a little picture frame from the episode “Captive Hearts” that is quite popular in the online meme community. These figures may not be on the level of high grade imports, but at least the love was there (aww). Jubilee, on the other hand, looked almost nothing like her show counterpart aside from her gloves being color-corrected. She was coming with effects parts that looked nothing like her fireworks, but it was Jubilee, a character I’m not particularly fond of, so I could overlook it.

The face is wrong, the hair is wrong, and even that orange they used for her costume looks off. They literally just needed to give her a new head and match the cartoon colors, but weren’t willing to even go that far.

The reveals to follow have been uneven, at best. Sinister is an almost straight repaint of the previously released Marvel Legends figure. He looks fine, and Hasbro fixed his neck by making it bare instead of featuring the riveted costume, and applied a good paint job. He has zero accessories though, which is beyond cheap at this price point. Storm followed and, again, she’s mostly a repaint. She gets a new hair sculpt that looks okay in some stills, but her complexion is wrong, her costume is wrong, and she has a lighting effect, but no white-out eyes to pair with it. It’s just all wrong if it wants to be what it claims to be. Jean Grey is the latest reveal, and once again, Hasbro is just repackaging an older figure. For this one, they seemed to even instruct artist Dan Vessenmeyer to model the artwork on the inaccurate figure. Or, they gave him shots of the figure and he just went with it. Either way, her hair is wrong, the coloring on her costume looks off, and they’re including a second, non pony tail head when it doesn’t even make sense to do so in the context of the cartoon. Yes, she went without a pony tail for the series finale, but her costume was also more yellow than the usual tan. And you may be wondering why I would complain about a bonus accessory, but it sucks to get a useless accessory when a more appropriate one could have been included like a powers effect piece or a Cerebro helmet. All things that would make sense for the character.

What it comes down to, is that I look at these solicitations so far and I just get the sense that whoever is in charge of this line has no real attachment to the source. Or, they’re being so severely restricted by corporate that it’s completely stifled their attempts at making the best figures they could. And that’s Hasbro, in a nutshell: they’re not interested in delivering the best possible product. They want to deliver an acceptable product at as cheap a cost as possible. And I get it to some degree, the Marvel license is probably expensive, but so is Star Wars. Their Star Wars output looks a million times better and is far more accurate than what’s being done with the X-Men. Clearly, they value that line more, and I’m not saying they shouldn’t as Star Wars probably sells well. They’re going after a somewhat niche audience with this line, but I’d argue it’s not a tiny one. Literally millions of kids tuned into that show every Saturday, and I bet millions are still interested in it. What would it cost to do this line properly? If these figures had to be $35 to make that happen then so be it! I think collectors, generally speaking, will pay more if the product warrants it. We’ve seen prices go up this past year and spending habits don’t appear to be wildly affected by them. Everything has a limit, but Hasbro doesn’t appear interested in seeing what that is with this line.

Compare Hasbro’s Jean to what Diamond is doing and it becomes even more frustrating. I wish I could be happy with just collecting busts from this show.

It becomes even more frustrating when this X-Men line is compared to other lines based on 90s television properties. NECA’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line strives to match the cartoon as much as possible and it looks great. And the actual figures in that line cost similar to what Hasbro is doing here, and they often feature unique tooling that’s not likely to be reused. DC Direct did a Batman: The Animated Series line that, while imperfect in some respects, at least looked like the source material. Even Hasbro has done better as their Into the Spider-Verse action figures looked terrific! I pondered on more than one occasion picking those up despite not really feeling an impulse to collect figures from the film just because they looked so good. Mondo’s sixth scale Wolverine looks great, and Diamond Select has a line of busts based on this show that look fantastic. If Hasbro didn’t want to do this line right they should licensed it out to Diamond because they clearly seem to have someone onboard who values this show more than anyone at Hasbro does.

When this line became a reality, I knew it wouldn’t be exactly what I wanted. How could it? I knew there were going to be compromises, and in some respects it’s gone as well as I thought it would because my expectations weren’t terribly high to begin with. Still, I’m bothered by it as I’m preordering all of these figures out of obligation rather than a desire to actually have them in my possession. Perhaps my enthusiasm will rise when I have them together on a shelf, but voicing criticism now is really my only weapon as a consumer. Again, I was happy with the initial Wolverine reveal. I think he should have represented the standard for the line: some parts reuse, new toon accurate head, and one accessory clearly inspired by the show. That’s all! That’s a pretty low bar, it should have been manageable, but Hasbro is fucking it up. That Wolverine isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough, and I’m not sure I can say that about the other four. I hate to prejudge anything I have yet to experience, but it’s hard not to in this case. Will my opinions change when I’m actually reviewing these toys for this blog? It’s possible, but right now, it does not seem very likely. What was a dream line for me, has turned into a joyless obligation and that’s not something I anticipated happening. Do better, Hasbro.


Hasbro MMPR x TMNT April O’Neil and Michelangelo

The end of the road…for now.

We have arrived at the last two-pack in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers x Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line of action figures from Hasbro and it’s that bodacious dude, Michelangelo, along with the ravishing reporter April O’Neil. There’s not going to be a whole lot to say about these figures at this point as, if you read last week’s review of Leonardo and Donatello, then you know that the turtles in this line are all essentially the same figure. And when it comes to April, she’s basically just a standard Lightning Collection pink ranger with some minor differences.

The two best Starburst flavors.

Michelangelo, like Donatello, has to assume a different preferred color and for him it’s yellow. This isn’t completely foreign to Mikey as the original arcade game had him as yellow instead of orange for some reason, and even the follow-up, Turtles in Time, kept the yellow buttons and joystick (though his character sprite was corrected to feature the orange pads and mask). Mikey is the standard turtle ranger body sharing more similarities with Raph due to both having a belt without a shoulder strap. His weapon slots on the belt are unique to him as is his helmet, which takes the form of the sabretooth tiger from MMPR. Mikey can actually claim to being the best looking ranger in this set since it’s very easy to paint white over yellow. He’s a very a bright yellow and the white paint on his gloves covers up the yellow plastic quite well. Unfortunately, the yellow diamonds on his boots are painted terribly because nothing can be perfect. He also has a red spec under the tiger nose on his helmet that I’ve been trying to scratch away. There’s also still a lack of paint, in particular with the helmet, but that’s par for the course with Hasbro. The lower part of the shell does stick out more with my figure. One could attribute that to Michelangelo’s almost exclusive all pizza diet, but it does look like the tab underneath the gold piece isn’t seated properly and it doesn’t seem to want to go in. It’s a minor imperfection, but an imperfection nonetheless. His articulation is exactly the same as his brothers, so I don’t feel a need to go over it a third time. It’s good though.

Not sure about that effect piece for Mikey.

For April, she is essentially just the pink Power Ranger with one obvious difference: no skirt piece. I don’t know why that was eliminated, but it appears to be consistent with the comic. I don’t mind as the skirt is just a restrictive piece when it comes to articulation and doesn’t really add much to the look of the character. In comparing her with my Lightning Collection Kimberly, I do notice a new helmet design. This one is noticeably taller and not nearly as long when viewing it from the side. I don’t know if this was a running change for the pink ranger figures or if it’s just more accurate to the source material for this comic. I am surprised that Hasbro would re-sculpt it though and I do think it’s more pleasing to look at. Otherwise, her shade of pink is also noticeably brighter. Her torso is still a darker shade of pink than the rest of the figure, but it’s less noticeable here and at least the limbs, diamonds, and the pink portion of the helmet look to be a similar shade of pink. The prior figure was all over the place and my pick for worst in the line, so at least if Hasbro is making me rebuy it, it looks better. The only thing that looks worse is the morpher on the belt as Hasbro omitted the silver paint, as it did for the turtles as well. Her articulation is the same as the previously released yellow and pink ranger so if you want a complete rundown check out that review.

It’s so hard to get April into a good bow pose.

The accessory loadout is also quite familiar here as both figures come with extra hands, an alternate portrait, weapons, and an effect piece. Unlike the last set, we do have some extra stuff which I’ll get to. First though, let’s talk about Mikey who has fists, gripping hands, and open hands. These are the same hands released in the other sets, only Mikey can actually benefit from the wide-fingered sai grip hands as his weapon can fit between the fingers. And his weapon is a mash-up of the power dagger and nunchaku. Basically, he has four daggers instead of two and they’re joined by a chain. The chain is sculpted plastic, which I’m kind of torn on. I like the look of real chain, but that sucks for posing and would look terrible in the combined blaster (not that these look much better). The plastic chain here though is just boring gray with no paint applied to even simulate steel. They’re also not very long so most classic, Mikey, two-handed poses are unachievable. I also wish the chains were bendy to the point that they held their shape for better swinging poses. There’s a purple effects piece that doesn’t look great because it’s hard to come up with a convincing swinging pose. Even the box art just kind of gave up and depicts Mikey just standing there with the piece dangling. It’s a good concept for a weapon, it’s just the execution that’s cheap. The dagger portions of each ‘chuk also key together which looks better on the combined weapon and when inserting them into his holsters. His weapons are the toughest to holster, though rather, getting them in isn’t too hard, but getting them out can be a pain. I feel like I’m going to break them every time so I’ll probably refrain from doing it too much.

Go Team Yellow!
Hasbro at least improved the coloring on the pink ranger body.

As for April, she comes with the weapons one would expect, plus some extra stuff. She has a pair of gripping hands out of the box, and strangely, Hasbro didn’t include Kimberly’s arrow nocking right hand which works much better with the included arrow than the standard gripping hand. She also has a left fist and right open, chop, hand. As for weapons, she has the same as Kimberly including the line’s only blade blaster. It has the white and red deco as opposed to the silver Kimberly’s came with, but is otherwise the same. The bow is now silver instead of white and the included arrow is a hot pink that basically matches her costume as opposed to Kimberly’s gray. She also has the translucent, pink, blast effect arrow that is slightly darker than Kimberly’s. Since this is April, to make her feel more like that character Hasbro included a stick microphone and camcorder. The mic has a white, triangular, box on it, but there’s no graphic for the station April works for so it looks kind of stupid. The camcorder is a shoulder-mounted design and it’s fine. It’s just black, molded, plastic and the only paint is on the lens. I get why she comes with this stuff, but I don’t know if I’ll actually use it. I’d definitely trade the microphone for a proper collapsed blade blaster she could holster, but that’s a criticism I have of the Lightning Collection as a whole.

That’s not an ugly portrait, but it doesn’t look like April.
This portrait, on the other hand…

Like the other figures, these two come with an unmasked portrait. Michelangelo’s is a wild, open-mouthed, expression that’s befitting of the character, but could use more paint. Hasbro painted his tongue and teeth, but left the rest of his inner mouth green which is a bit odd. Maybe it’s the expression, but this one looks especially goofy on the turtle body. As for April, it looks like Hasbro recycled the Evangeline Lily head from its MCU line for her and stuck a different hair sculpt on it. It doesn’t look bad, but it also doesn’t look anything like the character from the comic so I suppose that does make it kind of bad. It at least looks better on April’s body given she’s better proportioned, but I doubt I’ll use it since I plan to keep the turtles with their helmets on.

Mikey’s daggers peg into each other to at least keep them tidy on here (or when holstered), but they still look goofy.

As promised, I will mention the combining effect that’s available to all who collect the entire line. Just like with the standard Lightning Collection releases, the weapons can combine to form the giant, blaster, the Power Rangers are fond of using. The turtle version is mostly the same, and yet not as fun. The bow and power axe are exactly the same so they combine in the same manner. One of Raph’s sais slots into the top where the power sword goes, but it’s not as long as said sword so it doesn’t look quite as neat. Leo’s swords and Mikey’s dagger-chuks clip underneath the bow and this is where it starts to look dumb. Because Leo’s swords tab together to form a lance, only one actually has a hole on the bottom to resemble a gun barrel with the other having a plastic tab. Mikey’s chuks apparently go in chain forward which just looks ridiculous. I mean, the whole thing is supposed to look ridiculous by nature, but this takes it further with the weapons appearing to not even be able to fire. If the chains could detach on at least one set of the ‘chuks that would be fine, but Hasbro didn’t want to go that route. This could also be comic accurate, for all I know, and if so then this is a criticism of the design and not the toy. It’s still a fun novelty, but it’s not as neat looking as the MMPR version.

Group shot!

That’s it though. Again, if you have enjoyed the prior two-packs then you’ll like this one. This might be my least favorite of the three though as Mikey’s weapons aren’t as fun to mess around with and April is just a basic Power Ranger, with an odd, unmasked, head sculpt. I’m at least relieved to see that Hasbro made some improvements to the Kimberly figure I was so down on, but it also could have been improved further given her torso is still an odd color. Hasbro also did a comic shaded variant of the pink ranger which might have made more sense for this line, though she would have clashed with the other releases so I get why they didn’t go that route.

Lets bring Tommy in.

This may be the last of the two-packs for this line, but it’s not the last release. That honor falls to Shredder as the green ranger. I haven’t been able to get my hands on that one yet, but rest assured, when I do I’ll be back to tell you all about it.

And now with the OG team. Billy’s back there, I swear.

Hasbro Power Rangers x TMNT Donatello and Leonardo

Donatello and Leonardo are here to join the team.

It’s been a minute, but we’re back with another two-pack from Hasbro’s Power Rangers x Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line of action figures. If you’re unfamiliar, this series is born from the Boom! comics crossover in which the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers meet the turtles and somehow their powers end up getting handed over to them. I haven’t read the story, so I don’t know why any of that took place, but it did lead to some cool character designs and that’s why we’re here.

The first set I received was the Raphael and Tommy Oliver two-pack which was my introduction to this morphed turtle character sculpt. Because of that, this set is pretty damn familiar because, like many TMNT toy lines, the sculpt for each turtle is essentially the same. The only differences separating the turtles in this line are the unique, unmasked, head sculpts and the belts and weapons. And the other major difference is just the color scheme. With this set, Leonardo is logically the blue ranger, but since there is no purple ranger, Donatello had to take the black. It might have been kind of fun if the black ranger simply became the purple ranger in the hands of Donatello, but this is fine and I don’t fault Boom! for sticking with the traditional colors for MMPR.

It’s morphin’ time…dudes!

If you read my review of Raph and Tommy, then you know that I generally like this ranger turtle sculpt. It’s chunky and embodies enough of what makes the turtles unique while also mixing it with the classic MMPR look. For turtle fans, the biggest change from what we’re accustomed to is in the scale and proportions. These guys are big when the turtles are traditionally on the shorter side. They make Tommy look like a chump as they’re about the same height (six inches), but far more muscular. April, who is in the other two-pack I haven’t reviewed, is a little shorter than the turtles this time. The other big change is in the proportions as it relates to the head. The turtles usually have pretty big domes relative to their body, but here they’re much smaller and closer to more human proportions. It’s not something that I really notice with the masked heads, but swap to the unmasked ones and the contrast becomes obvious. Hasbro has to go off of the art, but I do think they could have gone a little bigger. Aside from that, the sculpt is fine and captures the fun mash-up this crossover embodies.

Both turtles get alternate methods of utilizing their weapons. For Leo, that means his swords combine, but for Donnie he just has a separate, standard, power axe.

Leonardo and Donatello, as mentioned before, are the same as Raphael. The only difference is they feature the chest strap on their belt (just like the vintage toys) which contains the center diamond. On Raph, that diamond is glued into the chest, but on Leo and Don it just pegs in as part of the belt and can be pulled off. Leonardo’s belt crosses over his left shoulder while Donnie’s comes over his right. The insignia on the morpher is unique to each turtle: triceratops for Leo and mastodon for Don. The holster on the rear of the belt is also unique as it’s catered to the weapon of choice for each turtle. Donnie’s is interesting because we’re accustomed to companies making a tube on his back, but Hasbro chose to do the same, but with a slit through the side. Instead of jamming the staff portion of his weapon through one end and out the other, you can just push it in through the slit which is made of a soft plastic. It doesn’t look as neat, but it is easy and there would be less of a chance of paint rub with this design, though his weapon isn’t painted on the staff portion.

If you want, they can go mask-less, though I don’t know how many would want to do that.

The body of each turtle is essentially three colors: white, gold, and the primary color. Hasbro is able to engineer these guys in a way that allows them to use mostly colored, unpainted, plastic. The only paint appears to be the gold bands on the arms, the white on the forearms, and the diamonds on the gloves and boots. On Donatello, the white isn’t really opaque enough on the forearms so the black plastic shows through a bit. It contrasts with the white plastic hands which have a slight off-white hue. By contrast, the boots are quite clean, but that’s because Hasbro was able to do them in white plastic. Oddly, the knees and elbows are an ever so slightly different shade of black. Since they’re a joiner for the articulation it could be they’re a different type of plastic. It was more noticeable on Raph, but with Don it’s probably only apparent to me because I’m looking for it. On Leo, it’s slightly more uniform than Raph, with the exception of his left knee which looks darker than the rest. His forearms at least look a little better, but there’s more paint slop in general on him than Don as well as mold release imperfections on his limbs.

Weapon storage!

On the helmets, we have a little more going on. There we get some silver for the mouth guard and some of the features like the triceratops horns and mastodon tusks. Maybe it’s the shape of the turtle head, but Leo’s helmet comes across a little plain. He still has the black visor with red eyes inside as well as the yellow triceratops eyes on the side, but it feels like there could be a little more going on here. It could also be just the shiny, blue, plastic which gives off a cheap look. Donatello’s helmet is a bit better as the mastodon design has more linework. None of it is painted though so it’s not as striking as the black ranger figure from the Lightning Collection nor does it look like the art on the packaging. The silver paint on his mouth guard also isn’t as clean. Both come with an unmasked option which look okay. The design for these turtles is a bit more froggy than I personally like, and the heads look really small on the body. Leo gets a stoic expression while Don has a traditional turtle mouth and features goggles and a skull cap instead of the standard mask. I’ll probably never use these heads in my display, but I like that Hasbro gives collectors options.

There’s a very different approach to the shade of blue used when it comes to Leo vs Billy.

On the accessory front, we have weapons, effects, and hands. Like Raph, Leo and Don each come with a set of gripping hands, fists, and open hands. The gripping hands are the same from turtle to turtle so they have a vertical hinge and a wide gap between the fingers to accommodate Raph’s sai grip. That’s not really useful for the other turtles, and the grip isn’t perfect for Leo which is on the loose side. I love the vertical hinge, though I wish Hasbro had cut out a bit more room for it as there isn’t a ton of range there. For weapons, the blue ranger’s lance has been split into two, short, swords. They can connect like the lance to form basically a really dangerous looking weapon, but I suspect most will have Leo dual wield swords, per usual. Donatello gets two versions of the power axe. One is basically the standard axe, only the quality is less than what was released previously as it’s very soft and gummy and I had a hard time getting the “pump” action to work. Trying to move it just caused the entire barrel to bend, but some hot water freed it up, though it’s still not a smooth action. He also has a pole axe version which is what fits into his belt. It’s kind of neat, though the paint job on it isn’t terrific. The bulky turtle hands also don’t grip the standard axe very well in a firing pose. They also each get an effect part. Donatello has a green, flame, effect while Leonardo has a blue lightning effect that’s very similar to what the blue ranger came with. I don’t know if I’ll use either, but I’d rather have them than not. And there isn’t really anything missing, just shortcuts taken to keep costs down that harm the figures in a mild fashion. I’d rather have better gripping hands than what was packaged with Raph, but it’s more of a nitpick than a true criticism.

The power axe mold is unchanged from the black ranger release, just the paint and overall quality is different, which means the blast effect from the prior release works with this one as well.

The articulation for both turtles is the same as what we saw with Raph, which is mostly very good. The pin-less engineering on the double knees and elbows works very well as they look nice and the range is better than 90 degrees in both places. The range in the ankle pivots helps to make standing them fairly easy, though the shell does add weight to the rear of the figure making it a little tricky to do just a standard, vanilla, upright pose. They have articulation in the torso, but the shell limits it to basically just a waist twist. Hasbro did cut the bottom of the front of the shell in two to better facilitate this. The joints are all pretty tight, but not to the point where I needed to heat anything. The only joints that don’t really work are the butterfly joints in the shoulders. There’s just no clearance because of the shell on both sides, so I don’t know why it’s here. Even with that limitation, these are some of the most dynamic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ever produced, probably surpassed only by the S.H.Figuarts versions. Obviously, the costume makes these almost a completely different animal in terms of aesthetics, but I can see why some people are interested in seeing what Hasbro would do with a proper line of TMNT figures.

For a ninja, balance is key.

Reviewing this set is pretty easy after having reviewed the Raph and Tommy set. If you liked what you saw there, then you’ll be pleased with what’s present here. Hasbro does skimp on the paint, but the sculpts are interesting and the figures are pretty well engineered. It all comes down to style: do you like this mashup of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? If so, then you’ll enjoy what Hasbro has put together. I think these make for a fun display whether you’re more of a MMPR fan or a TMNT one, and if you happen to like both, well then this was practically made for you. And I do like how Leo and Don turned out especially. The black and gold color scheme just works, while I’ve always been partial to Leonardo. I like the lance/katana cross more than Raph’s sai/power sword combo (it helps that Leo’s weapons are painted better) and I definitely like the versatility of both weapons here. Even though this two-pack is essentially the same figure times two, I think I like it a little more than the Raph and Tommy set. Sorry Tommy, you’re just not nearly as interesting as a turtle in a Power Rangers costume. Check back next week when we take a look at the final two-pack in this series: Michelangelo and April O’Neil.

Come back next week and I’ll tell you all about how the weapons combine!

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