Tag Archives: hasbro

Star Wars The Black Series Mandalorian Warrior (Holiday Edition)

Straight from my Christmas shelf, it’s the holiday Mandalorian Warrior!

We’re getting to Christmas coverage at The Nostalgia Spot one day early this year with this look at one of the latest in the Holiday Collection from Hasbro’s Star Wars line of action figures referred to as The Black Series. I have previously looked at a figure from the very popular streaming show The Mandalorian from Hasbro’s The Vintage Collection. That’s a line of Star Wars figures that basically takes the old Kenner form and adds a whole bunch of articulation to it. I found that particular figure exceedingly charming and I’m a bit happy that I’m not a huge Star Wars fan or else I’d end up with a bunch of them (I’ve since only bought one more which I didn’t bother to review). Despite my preference, the clear most popular line from Hasbro in regards to Star Wars is the 6″ line known as The Black Series. I guess Star Wars collector wanted to see their favorite characters in a larger scale, or Hasbro simply ran out of 3.75″ figures and going to a new scale was an easier way to get someone to buy yet another Luke and Vader. Since I’m not a huge collector of Star Wars, it’s a line that’s never appealed to me. I always found the smaller scale for Star Wars as something that made the brand unique, plus it works way better for vehicles.

Special holiday figures demand special holiday packaging.

One way for Hasbro to get someone like me to buy a figure from its Black Series is to simply add some Christmas to it! Hasbro has been doing Christmas versions of Star Wars characters for a couple of years, if I’m not mistaken. This year’s lineup was actually supposed to drop last year, but delays at the factory or port, or both, caused them to miss Christmas 2021. Rather than drop them after the holidays, Hasbro simply held onto them to release later. There are a handful of these and they’re basically all just re-paints and re-decos of previously released figures to give them some holiday appeal. It’s been a desire on my end to add more Christmas toys to my annual display, so naturally this caught my eye. While I didn’t care for most of them, the holiday version of a Mandalorian Warrior stood out as being quite striking and festive so I decided to track it down. If you’re unaware, Hasbro arranged for each figure to be sold via a different retailer with this one landing with Target. It actually took me 4 tries to get this guy as I’d see him pop up on the app and I’d place an order for pickup only for it to be cancelled due to lack of stock. The fourth time was the charm though, and I even spied a couple on the pegs last time I was in there, so they appear to be shipping in some relative abundance. Perhaps the delay helped to make sure there would be enough product to meet demand. Nevertheless, lets rip this sucker open and give it a look.

“Fly away, Rodney!”

The Holiday edition of figures comes in a window box that’s desiged to resemble a wrapped present. The other benefit of these being delayed so long is that they retain the old window box packaging instead of the plastic free stuff Hasbro has switched to. I’m generally in favor of the move to eliminate needless plastic, but concede the window box is more attractive. I guess enjoy it while you can. It provides a straight-forward look at the figure inside and the accessories and if you’re an in-box collector it probably looks okay. Once removed, our nameless warrior stands a tick over 6″ at around 6.25″ and looks rather resplendent in his green and red attire. The helmet is rather striking at it’s predominantly red and green, but there’s a bit of shading applied in a dark red and, of course, we have the black visor. The shoulder pads, gauntlets, jet pack, and boots are done in green with red being applied to the belt, trunks, kneepads, and weapon holsters on his thighs. The rest of the figure is a reddish brown though his shin guards are white with thick, green, stripes. Much of the figure is done in molded, colored, plastic with the paint reserved for the helmet, shoulders, and shins. The only major deco is applied to the chest which has a festive, ugly, Christmas, sweater design applied to it. It’s the strong part of the figure and what basically ties it all together. The other colored parts look a bit cheap as a result, especially the trunks/belt and the jetpack. I’m left wishing they hit it with an enamel or clear coat that gave it a hard candy appearance. Just anything to apply a texture really would have helped.

I’m still working on acquiring Christmas figures, so it felt appropriate to pose him with some red and green figures from Hasbro for the time being.

As for the sculpt, this one is apparently an old one. I am not a collector of The Black Series, but my understanding is this was reworked from an old Jango Fett release from the earliest days of the line and it does show in places. I mentioned the finish as being cheap, but that’s more an issue of paint than sculpt. The feet are a bit odd as they’re very small. This guy looks like he’s wearing Crocs rather than boots. Maybe he’s supposed to and the feet are new? I’m not sure, but I suppose it doesn’t matter. By far, the worst offense this figure commits is featuring some sculpted wires that connect his biceps area to his forearms. Assuming it’s true that this is based on a Jango Fett figure, I suppose there was nothing Hasbro could do about the awkwardness involved in connecting two parts of the arm via wires, but here we have a fantasy creation that doesn’t need to be held down by that. Surely they had other arm molds without these annoying things they could have utilized? As it stands, we have two pieces of the figure joined by plastic. It can bend and flex, but stress marks appear rather quickly and I assume anyone that poses this frequently will eventually find these broken in short order. Hasbro must have determined they were too small to implement them like they do the cables on Apocalypse where they’re separate pieces that can be removed effortlessly. Not so here.

Though I suppose he could just battle Krampus.

I suppose that’s a good springboard to talk about the articulation. Here the figure shows its apparent age as well as this isn’t one to write home about. The head is on the typical Hasbro ball and hinge combo, but the boxy nature of the helmet means he basically can rotate and do little else. The shoulders feature the shoulder pads which prevent his arms from coming up to horizontal, but they can rotate around. The biceps do swivel, but as mentioned before, you need to be mindful of those sculpted wires when utilizing that function. There’s just a single hinge at the elbow, and the range is rather abysmal as he can’t even hit a 90 degree bend. The forearms swivel, which helps to keep those wires in-line, and the wrists swivel and hinge horizontally, not vertically as would be better. The armor means he does nothing in the torso and the waist is just a twist. The hips let the figure kick forward, but not back, and he can spread his legs far enough. There is a thigh cut and the knees are double-jointed. The ankles feature a hinge and rocker, but the range forward on the hinge is poor. The rocker is okay, but the feet are rather small so he can be tough to stand and pose. In addition to that, he’s a bit loose and floppy in the lower half which is unpleasant. The figure feels rather basic as a result, and it rears its head with the accessories as well.

You also get this little guy in the box. Cool?

As for those accessories, the Mandalorian Warrior comes with few. He has no extra parts, but his hands are trigger finger hands so he can hold his weapon in either hand. And that weapon is a long rifle, the Amban blaster, which can fit in either hand, but he can’t really hold it properly. I was amused when Target’s solicitation shot even featured him holding the weapon in an unnatural manner. He can basically just carry it, but the lack of butterfly joints and the proper wrist range means he can’t hold it as if he’s firing it. He also can’t holster it anywhere and it’s a shame the two holsters on his thighs can’t store anything. The deco of the rifle is a bit interesting as it’s primarily brown, white, and orange which was done to make it resemble the Nerf version of the same. It’s a bit of a deep pull so many who get this might wonder why they didn’t give it more of a Christmas deco, but it seems appropriate to make it a “toy” version of the gun. The only other accessory is a small bogling, which is done in all white with blue feet. It’s cute, I suppose, and it frees up Grogu for a separate holiday release which is probably what Hasbro wanted to get casuals like me to buy two. And that other figure is the Walmart exclusive Scout Trooper which I may or may not get. I suppose the jetpack can be considered a third accessory since it is removable. It just plugs into the back and, as I mentioned before, is rather plain looking given the lack of paint.

“Well little guy, we’re pretty mediocre, but at least we’re Christmas!”

The holiday edition of the Mandalorian Warrior presently retails at Target for $26.49. That seems really high for a figure that is, as far as I know, just a re-paint. It probably has a smaller run than some other figures which may account for some of the increase, but I’m guessing the added price is mostly to take advantage of people like me who will impulse buy a Christmas Star Wars figure. As an annual decoration, I think it’s okay. It stands out on a shelf because of the color combo and the Mandalorian design, which is basically just Boba Fett, is pretty timeless and distinct. As an action figure, it’s pretty mediocre though as the paint is scarce, the articulation poor, and the accessories lacking. I would have preferred pistols that actually fit in the holsters to the rifle, and they must have done a Mandalorian figure that can holster the rifle like the Vintage Collection version, no? I don’t understand why they would reuse this old mold when better ones exist. Maybe because if they just did the actual Mandalorian it would be even more obvious that they wanted to separate Grogu off for another release? If that’s the reason then that’s lame. Ultimately, I don’t necessarily regret my purchasing decision here, but it doesn’t endear Hasbro to me either. It certainly drives home that Hasbro is a big company out to make as much money as possible, and I’ve helped them out in their quest for that. If you want what is essentially a Christmas Boba Fett, then this might do it for you. If you’re expecting what is the current level of quality of a Black Series release with a Christmas surcharge then this might disappoint you. And if you never needed to see Star Wars characters dressed for Christmas, then you can certainly skip this.


Marvel Legends X-Men Animated Series Mystique

Mystique is bringing the big guns.

The penultimate figure in this series is a bit of a curveball. When one thinks of the animated series X-Men, the first villains that come to mind are Magneto, Sinister, Apocalypse, Sabretooth, and then it gets muddled. Graydon Creed made quite the impression in the show’s second season and may even be the most hate-able villain the show produced. Omega Red was certainly memorable since he was a very 90s sort of villain and being tied to Wolverine never hurts. And, of course, we have Mystique, the character Hasbro selected to be the second villain of the line (third if you want to count Morph). I think she has a claim to that fifth spot and I can certainly see an argument for Mystique as one of the most memorable villains of the show. It’s just that her character is very much tied to others. She does briefly cross paths with Sinister, and her box art appears to be inspired by that scene, but she’s not really associated with him. There’s her adopted daughter Rogue, biological son Nightcrawler, and her lackeys in the form of Pyro, Avalanche, and the Blob. All of those characters could certainly make an appearance in this line, and I would certainly argue that Rogue should be, but it strikes me as odd to get Mystique before some of these other characters. And it’s especially surprising considering she is, as I mentioned in the first setence, the penultimate figure of the line with the only remaining character set for release being Cyclops. Hasbro left open the possibility that they will return to the world of the X-Men animated series, but for now we basically have to consider it done which just makes this selection an odd choice.

Are we all in agreement that the box art is the best thing about this line?

I don’t know how Hasbro settled on the characters for this line, but my guess would be it’s largely sales related and cost-oritented. You can’t do this line without Wolverine, and basically any member of the team can’t be considered a surprise. I’m guessing Hasbro skipped over Rogue and Gambit because of their recent retro card released figures, and the same is true for Beast who has a new figure shipping now. Magneto also had some recent figures, so maybe that’s why Hasbro went with an older figure like Sinister. He was prominent enough in the show that it was hardly an upset to see him released as soon as he was, and he pairs well with Morph who was a character they absolutely had to do. With Mystique, it’s possible she’s a favorite of someone on staff who pushed for her, but it seems more likely to me that this release has more to do with Hasbro and the Legends team wanting to get her back out there. Like most of this line, Mystique is a re-paint with some minor additions and the previous figure was released as a Walgreen’s exclusive. Retail exclusives can be a pain to track down, so putting out another version that’s easy to acquire is often a welcomed development. I could be wrong, but that’s my guess on how Mystique made it into this 8 figure line.

I don’t hate this figure, but I would like it a whole lot more if it actually looked like the render on the box.

Mystique comes in the customary VHS styled box with artwork by Dan Veesenmeyer. It depicts Mystique in a shadowy area holding a candelabra which gives it a real horror vibe which mixes well with the character’s blue skin and affinity for skulls. It might be my favorite illustration in this line so far. On the spine is the usual profile shot and on the rear is the customary product shot, only with this figure the product on the back is not representative of the figure inside. In what has become an annoying and, frankly, unacceptable trend with Marvel Legends of late the promotional renders for figures have been using the wrong molds. The actual figure is on the same female buck that the former Mystique figure utilized, while the render on the back appears to be based on the newer Shriek figure. It’s a much better base for a superhero line as the figure is well proportioned, looks like a woman of impressive physical fitness, and it’s an all-together better looking figure than what’s actually in the box.

“I have some information about your daughter…”

The render basically gives Mystique an unfortunate hurdle to overcome right out of the gate and I’m going to try to not let it impact my feelings here, but the simple fact is this older female body is just okay. It’s very slight and not particularly heroic looking (granted, she is a villain). It has articulation limitations as well which we’ll get to and it’s just a base body that I would like to see retired. Mystique does feature her cartoon accurate costume of a white, sleeveless, dress with long gloves and boots. The head has been reworked to give her a new hair piece which looks fine. I love her wicked grin which is very appropriate for the character and they got the little skull on her hairline correct. Her body is mostly colored plastic as she’s basically a two-toned figure of blue and white. The controversial cel-shading is also present and, once again, Hasbro made the odd choice to use gray instead of black and it’s a shade of gray that looks too close to the gray-blue of her skin. It’s applied okay here, certainly not as bad as some of the other figures in the line, but it still comes across as half-assed. She really should have multiple shades of gray, black, and blue to do her justice and considering she’s a character who often featured heavy shading in the show it really feels like a missed opportunity. There’s no shading on her hair or on her yellow belt and it just very much feels like an afterthought. The only shading is applied to the clothing. The belt is a floating piece and the skirt portion of her outfit is a part of the belt which is a little odd. I think an overlay might have worked better, but then you lose the articulation in the torso. I am forced to reiterate, once again, that I love the idea of putting shading on these figures, but if they’re not going to put the effort in then don’t do it. She really needs some on her face to bring her to life, but I’m not brave enough to try my hand at customizing. She also has a hole in her back which is unnecessary and unwanted.

“Lord Apocalypse!”
I don’t know if she ever had a gun this large in the show, but at least it opens up the smaller gun for another figure.

Mystique comes with a fair amount of accessories, though most are just reused from elsewhere. She has open hands out of the box with her right hand being more “cupped” than the left like she should be holding a long-stem glass. She has optional trigger hands and they’re for her two guns. One is a large, machinegun, type and the other a pistol. Both are just cast in the same blue-gray plastic used for her flesh which is pretty damn cheap on Hasbro’s part and it makes the larger gun, especially, look stupid in her hands. The pistol is the same gun that came with the movie Deadpool. At least being blue makes it kind of resemble the gun she used in “The Cure” and the one Morph was seen with at times. Her final accessory is a more thoughtful one, but again, Hasbro’s cheapness ruins it some. That accessory is a baby Nightcrawler wrapped in a brown blanket which has better shading than most of the figures in this line. This is a callback to the show and the scene of Mystique preparing to toss her unwanted mutant child off of a waterfall. The problem is, this baby is repurposed from a baby Hulk figure. It lacks Nightcrawler’s defining pointed ears and he has this pompadour styled hair that looks stupid. He also has a yellow pacfier, which he did not possess in the show. Lastly, Mystique’s portrait is inappropriate for posing her with the child. Had they included a secondary one with tears streaming down her face that would have been something. Should we give Hasbro credit for at least referencing the show? I guess, but I’m also the type who sees little point in doing something if you’re not going to do it right.

And the other character in need of a gun is Morph. This blue one looks a little like the gun he featured in “Till Death Do Us Part.”
I appreciate the thought, but that’s not Kurt.

The last thing we need to consider with this action figure is the articulation. Mystique, being essentially on the same body as Jean, has few surprises. The ball-hinged neck lets her look in all directions save for up since her hair gets in the way. The shoulders can lift out past horizontal and rotate fine while the arm articulation is limited to single-hinged elbows with a swivel point in the elbow. She can’t quite hit 90 degrees and the lack of a bicepts swivel is a disappointment. The wrists rotate and hinge with the right trigger hand featuring the proper, vertical, hinge so that’s good. The torso has the diaphragm joint under the bust which offers little more than some rotation and tilt with very little forward and back. There’s no waist twist, and the legs can barely manage a 45 degree spread. She does kick forward okay, but not back, and there’s a thigh cut for rotation there. The knees are double-jointed and they feel less gummy than Jean and Storm’s. There’s no boot cut and the ankles hinge forward and back a decent amount and rock side-to-side. It’s a mediocre spread of articulation. She can at least pose fine with the hand gun.

“Oh, my beloved child. Wait…you’re not my baby!”

Mystique is another bare minimum type of release from Hasbro in this line. She looks okay, the cel-shading is at least passable, and there’s a tiny bit of re-tooling with the head. They still half-assed the accessories and really should have just used the new body they had already made for other figures as I bet this belt and head would have fit just fine. Why they didn’t is not something I can figure out. And making the guns the same color of plastic as her body is just weird and cheap. Imagine if everybody ran around with guns that matched their skintone perfectly. That’s Hasbro not wanting to pay to change the color of the plastic in the machines. And the baby Kurt is a nice thought, but a poor execution. At least the box art looks great.

“So long, imposter!”

Mystique is presently available via Hasbro’s Pulse website and the Shop Disney webstore. Like all of the figures in this line, she comes with a slight upcharge that’s not really reflected in the product. Chances are, if you’ve been collecting this line then you’ll probably want to add Mystique to your shelf. She could have been a lot better, but by the standards of this line she’s actually one of the better releases. I suppose I’d stick her somewhere in the middle, and I probably prefer her to any of the X-Men women. I’m still left wishing she wasn’t the character we got with one of these precious 8 slots Hasbro budgeted for, but at least she’s not a dud. That means we only have one more figure to look forward to in this line, Cyclops, before we say “goodbye for now.” Hopefully it’s a good one, but it’s not looking like it will arrive before the year’s end so check back in 2023 for my thoughts on Cyke.

If we’re only getting a few villains out of this line, at least they fit reasonably well thematically.

Marvel Legends X-Men Retro Card Series Apocalypse

“I know more of this world than you could even dream, that is why I must…destroy it!”

It is Halloween and that means it’s time for costumes, candy, and spooky fun. It’s also Halloween 2022, a pretty important date if you grew up loving those mutants who ran around in colorful spandex fighting for a better tomorrow. That’s because 30 years ago on this very night, the animated series X-Men premiered on the Fox network. The decision to debut a cartoon in prime time with characters still on the periphery of mainstream appeal was both a bold choice and one brought about by necessity. Fox had done the same recently with Batman – The Animated Series, but that hardly feels like a gamble considering that was coming hot on the heels of Batman Returns. You see, the show should have premiered in September on Saturday mornings, but the project was fraught with delays and the early animation sent back from studio AKOM was said to be a disaster. And since the show wasn’t going to be able to premiere as planned, the producers involved decided to focus on the first two episodes to get them ready for a Halloween premiere with the rest of the season to follow in early 1993. Marketing dubbed it a sneak peek, and it must have worked because before long the show was a ratings hit and the rest is history.

Given that it’s such an important day for an elder X-Men fan like myself, it only felt appropriate to forego something spooky this Halloween in favor of something celebrating that show. Now, I originally intended to debut my review of Hasbro’s Morph, but I received that figure in late September and I was just too eager to talk about Morph. The timing just didn’t make sense, so we’re pivoting to something else. Had Mystique, the next planned figure in Hasbro’s dedicated X-Men animated line, arrived this month she would have been featured here. And she even embodies a bit of that Halloween look with her blank eyes and affection for skulls. Instead though, I think we have the next best thing with one of the major villains from the show: Apocalypse.

This card is stupid big.

Hasbro’s retro card series of Marvel Legends has caused some confusion in the collector community, and I’m afraid this Apocalypse only adds to that. It started a few years ago as an homage to the classic ToyBiz line of figures from the 90s. Hasbro created updated blister cards based on those styles and packaged Legends in them. They had to be slightly oversized to accommodate the larger Legends figures compared to the classic ToyBiz ones, but who in the collector community doesn’t love a good dose of nostalgia? They’re definitely neat, and since the designs of the figures are largely based on their 90s appearances they hit pretty hard when it comes to nostalgia. It was successful enough that Hasbro then did the same with Spider-Man. Unlike the old X-Men line, the Spider-Man line from ToyBiz was a direct tie-in to the animated series that premiered on Fox (in sneak peek fashion as well since it worked so well with X-Men) in 1994. As a result, collectors weren’t sure if these new Spider-Man retro card releases were based on the animated series as well. I’ve seen many collectors refer to the Hobgoblin, especially, from that line as being animated inspired, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. The only one released that is definitely based on the cartoon is the PulseCon exclusive Venom from last year (which is being followed-up with an animated Spider-Man this fall).

The actual figure though? Not really that big. I would have actually liked a little more height out of this guy.

Now adding to any confusion that still exists out there is this Apocalypse figure. Apocalypse had multiple releases in the ToyBiz days so a retro card release makes sense. However, this particular figure features a purple and blue deco. That is significant because that’s the color scheme Apocalypse had in the animated series. No where else has Apocalypse ever looked like this. And to drive the point home further, he comes with an interchangeable gun attachment for his arm that is pulled right from an episode of the show which has left many to ask “So why is this not a release in the VHS line?” And the answer is, “I don’t know.” I don’t think any of the marketing team for Legends has explained that one. My guess is that someone on the team really wanted to do this character in this look, but the budget for the VHS line couldn’t accommodate it so they did it this way. It’s bizarre, because this figure does not feature the cel-shading paint job of the VHS line so it’s not just a difference in packaging. This figure is also based on the build-a-figure Apocalypse released a few years ago, so disassembling it to fit in a VHS box would not have been problem. Plus, as illustrated with Mr. Sinister’s VHS box, Hasbro is willing to adjust the sizing when necessary on those boxes so there’s really nothing stopping Hasbro from releasing the figure in that line from a design standpoint. I know the cel-shading is a bit of a contentious topic in the community, but this figure is so cartoon specific that I can’t imagine there was a ton of demand from collectors not interested in the animated series. This version of Apocalypse has always been viewed as a little “goofy” because of those colors so comic collectors are most certainly not the target audience, but here we are.

This is unquestionably supposed to be Apocalypse from the cartoon, you can’t fool me Hasbro!

Because of the colors on this guy, I definitely consider him to be part of the animated series line of action figures. It’s bizarre, and if it’s simply a matter of budget then I don’t know why they didn’t just hit this guy with more paint so he would fit in, but here we are. That said, I’m happy to have Apocalypse in this deco as it’s been perhaps the figure I’ve wanted most to come out of the animated line next to Morph. This funky color palette just hits right for me. Like most kids in the early 90s, I was confused why Apocalypse looked like he was painted for Easter in the show and would have preferred him in black and blue, but over time this look has just become a hallmark of the series for me and I appreciate it more as a result. Plus, Apocalypse is so bad ass that he can look like this and still be feared!

The figure does come on the aforementioned blister card and it is pretty massive. It’s almost comical to look at how big this thing is relative to other retro card releases and even more ludicrous compared to the 90s cards. It features some nice artwork, though not in the animated style aside from the suit colors, and definitely has that old school ToyBiz feel. Many like to keep these releases mint-on-card, but I am not one of them. If you want to preserve the card as much as possible, I recommend slicing the bubble from the bottom with a blade which will allow you to slide this big boy out. And once removed, he is indeed rather big standing at around 8.25″.

Even this gun attachment is taken right from the show.

In looking at this figure, what immediately stands out as “animated” aside from the colors is the sculpt of the chest. I mentioned earlier that this figure is based on the build-a-figure from a few years ago, but it’s been re-tooled in several places and the upper torso is one such place. The musculature has a very soft look to it which is in-line with the show. There’s basically just a hint of pectorals and nothing more. The other details of the costume, such as the shoulders and the collar area, look as they should. The only parts not exactly screen accurate are the boots and the gloves. The boots are just all-together busier in their design, something an animated show would strive to eliminate. The hands are similar, but they’re also just not sculpted right as he should have a blue knuckleguard on each hand. Lastly, the cables that connect his arms to his back should plug-in around the elbow and not the forearm. Obviously, these inaccuracies exist because Hasbro is reusing old parts and I would say it’s mostly fine. While I would love to buy action figures that are committed to matching the source material to a more exact specification, I know that’s not Hasbro’s approach. They do things mostly with cost in mind and basically think giving us a new torso is good enough. The issue now is that approach was more acceptable when these figures were a lot cheaper. It’s something that will bother some folks, and for others it won’t. In my experience Hasbro has done a good job of conditioning its fanbase to accept these figures for what they are so my expectation is most will be unbothered.

In typical Hasbro fashion, they give you some of what you want, but not everything. This gun has four barrels, but you get just 3 blast effects.

As a last bit of aesthetics, we should talk about the paint job. Apocalypse is quite purple and quite blue, as he should be. Hasbro prioritizes using as much colored plastic as possible with their figures and this one is no exception. The paint is mostly limited to the head, upper torso and the gauntlets. The head is where the most paint was needed and it’s done well enough. We’ll talk about the appropriateness of the expressions when we get to the accessories, but there’s enough paint to bring out the sculpted details of the face with minimal slop. He’s not the easiest face to paint as the lips basically wrap around the whole head and he has that gap in the blue on top of the head, so Hasbro did a very nice job here. What is unfortunate though is his head is in two pieces glued together and there’s a blue seem as a result between his forehead and the portion of his flesh that runs up his head and it looks stupid. Otherwise, the paint details are fairly simple and done well enough. The chest even has this really nice, matte, finish which looks great, but also makes the shiny, plastic, portions look worse by comparison. Where they had to match colored plastic to painted, the figure also looks fine.

The source material for the gun is clearly the show, though it was simplified a bit for this release.

The elephant in the room when it comes to paint is obviously the exclusion of cel-shading. This is a retro card release, so cel-shading isn’t normally expected, but he’s also animated Apocalypse and the other X-Men animated figures all have it. Personally, I would like characters based on a cartoon to feature a paint job that reflects that medium. On the other hand, I concede that the cel-shading in the VHS line has been applied poorly. Part of me would like to give Hasbro some credit here in thinking that with a bigger figure to work with, the cel-shading would turn out better, but there’s no guarantee of that. They seem to struggle just finding the right colors to use when shading (see the hideous mustard color they use to shade yellow). Ultimately, it is what it is. I would love some shading on the torso, especially, but it’s not here. Maybe that’s a good thing? I don’t know, but that’s just my opinion. I don’t think he clashes in a significant manner amongst the other figures in the VHS line so I guess it doesn’t matter that much. As was the case with the accuracy of the sculpt, the absence of shading is going to matter more to some, and not at all to others.

Would it have been hard to just give us one more teeny, tiny, piece to stich in that bottom barrel? Though the proper thing to do would have been to sculpt a new, double-barrel, blast effect that plugs into both at the same time.

Moving on to accessories, Apocalypse is pretty much par for the course when it comes to Legends these days. He doesn’t have a lot, but at least here what he does have is done well. First of all, he has two sets of hands: fists and open, “clenchy,” hands. That’s fine as it allows him to look menacing, dramatic, and you can even get those clenchy hands to grab onto another figure. He also has two heads: an angry one and a stoic one. The angry one is reused, and the stoic is new. As a comic inspired sculpt, I think the angry head is fine. As an animated Apocalypse? It’s terrible. He basically never looked like this in the show so I probably won’t be using it. The stoic head is more my thing. It’s still done in the Legends style so it’s not a toon-accurate look for the character, but that’s been true of almost every release in the VHS line as well save for Wolverine. I refer to it as stoic, but he is frowning and looks kind of ticked off. I do wish the shape of both was different as Apocalypse tends to have a wide jaw compared with the top of his head, in both the comics and the show, but these heads are pretty uniform. If it were up to me, I’d have gone with this head, but with less detail to remove the frown and paired it with a laughing head. Imagine a laughing Apocalypse on your shelf with his fists on his hips or his arms crossed? Perfection. Lastly, we have the optional gun part. It attaches to the forearm and the cable can even plug into it. It is taken directly from the “Beyond Good and Evil” plotline when Cable confronts Apocalypse at the start so it is pulled right out of the show. It looks nice and Hasbro even included some blast effects for it which I would not have expected. It’s nice to have as it allows you to display Apocalypse as a menacing overlord on your shelf, or as someone willing to get his hands dirty which was rather true of the character in the show. They could have loaded him up with more arm attachments, but this feels like a fine selection of stuff for Apocalypse. It just would have been nice to get a new effect part for the main part of the gun that plugs into both of the center barrels. Since they instead gave us three separate pieces, one barrel will always be empty.

The gripping hands are wide enough that you can make your Apocalypse perform chokeslams on Wolverine.

Time to talk about the articulation. Despite being a big boy, Apocalypse moves okay and is pretty standard for the line. We have the ball-hinged head that lets him look up and down, all around, and even tilt the head a smidge. The collar doesn’t really get in the way until you try to rotate the head, but the range is decent. The shoulders are just ball-hinged and he can raise his arms out the side and rotate them pretty well even with the shoulder pads getting in the way slightly. The elbows are single-jointed and he can’t quite hit a 90 degree bend, so that could be better. The wrists rotate and hinge horizontally. In the torso, we get an ab crunch that lets him bend back a bit, and crunch forward a decent amount. It’s mostly colored plastic here so paint rub shouldn’t be of great concern, but it’s worth being mindful of. The waist is just a twist and the legs are ball-pegs. He can damn near do a full split and is capable of kicking forward just fine, though the cheeks will prevent much rear leg motion. There is a thigh cut which does what thigh cuts do and the knees are double-jointed. There’s no boot cut, but down in the ankles you have the usual hinge and rocker combination which works just fine. More importantly, everything is nice and tight so he shouldn’t be toppling over on your shelf. Apocalypse really only needs to hit a few poses and this figure is capable of doing that.

He is here to crush the mutants, and seems capable enough.

All in all, I am quite pleased with this release for Apocalypse. Yes, I would have preferred this come in the VHS line for both the packaging and the cel-shading, but since it didn’t, at least we got a fairly robust release as far as accessories go. I’ve been pretty disappointed with the majority of the VHS line because of the poorly applied cel-shading, inappropriate reuse of some sculpts, and the dearth of worthwhile accessories. It’s really been a money-grab kind of line and at least this Apocalypse feels more substantial and like a better value. They actually did some re-sculpting to make the figure more cartoon accurate, and while they didn’t go as far as they could with that, I think most will find they went far enough. My preference would have always been to receive figures with sculpts actually designed to mimic the animated look, but Hasbro was never committed to doing that for one reason or another. This figure does suffer a bit as a result because the head isn’t right and the veiny biceps look stupid on Apocalypse (and they would look stupid on any version of Apocalypse so I don’t get the thinking here). The rest of its shortcomings are just par for the course with Marvel Legends, like the dearth of paint apps (the cables look especially plain), so regular Legends collectors will likely be content. Unless someone else can get the license to produce animated X-Men figures (highly unlikely), this is unfortunately the best we’re likely to get. And at least with Apocalypse, this one does indeed feel good enough. Most of the VHS figures are not and the feeling of settling is palpable with each one, but here I don’t feel that way. At least not as much.

Apocalypse does come at an inflated price though of $40 which is obviously a lot for a Marvel Legends release. This one at least feels more worthy of that price compared with the VHS figures at around 28 bucks. A comparable figure would probably be NECA’s Chrome Dome from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line which was also $40. I would argue that the NECA release is a better value than this as it came with more stuff, more paint, and was 100% new tooling, but it also came out a year ago so maybe in 2022 it would be $45. Value, as always, is rather subjective, but in this case I think the value is there. If you’re interested in picking this one up, you may have to dig around a bit as it is sold out in several places. Hasbro Pulse still has it open for order so that may be the safest bet. Amazon does as well, but they can be hard to trust. Re-stocks may be on the way too so I don’t think it’s one you’ll have to spend a fortune on eBay for, but I also would recommend acting fast since I don’t think this one is ticketed for big box stores which would indicate there will be fewer of these out in the wild than the Age of Apocalypse version, by comparison. More importantly, if you can find some time today (admittedly, difficult given the holiday) or maybe even just this week throw on some classic X-Men and take a trip through time. It’s incredible to think I was watching the show as a kid 30 years ago, and while it may not hit the same as it did for me then, it’s still a worthwhile nostalgia binge and a show I think is worth celebrating. Or if you want to read more about it, I’ve covered both Previously on X-Men and the X-Men art book and recommend both to fans of the show. Here’s hoping the sequel series due next year is able to carry on its legacy.


Marvel Legends X-Men Animated Series Morph

It’s everyone’s favorite mutant back in plastic!

This is it! This is the big one! Back on Halloween of 1992 Fox premiered X-Men and we were introduced to a character named Morph. For comic readers, it was a bit of a re-introduction as Morph was based on the character Changeling, but for copywrite reasons, had to undergo a name change. Changeling wasn’t a popular character and was only briefly considered a member of the X-Men, but he was somewhat famous for basically one reason: he died. Comics, like soap operas, tend to feature death that is rarely permanent. Characters either die or appear to die, but often return and usually with some new threads! Changeling was a bit unique because he died and stayed dead and that’s what made him appealing to the writers of the show.

When the team headed up by writer Eric Lewald got settled in to write X-Men they really keyed in on the social commentary that was present in the story. A group of individuals are outcast due to no fault of their own while one of their chief villains is a survivor of the Holocaust. It was very easy to draw a straight line from the civil rights movement to what was going on in X-Men. Because of that, even though they were writing a TV show that would primarily be watched by children, they felt it needed to be grounded and also needed some real stakes. Taking a character and killing him off in the second episode was a way to create such stakes. In hindsight, the death of Morph should have been easy to see coming. He was modeled on a dead character from the books and he wasn’t even included in the show’s intro. We don’t learn anything about him during his brief stay on the show, he’s just there to be likable and make others laugh via his unique shape-shifting powers.

“Wolverine! Fall back!” (I had to do it)

And yet, we loved him. When you present something to a child and then tell them they can’t have it, it tends to create even more desire for it. That was the case with Morph. He seemed fun enough, but had he been a character like any other it’s quite possible he would have been one of the least favorites on the show. Because he was killed though, it’s totally different. We may not have known him very well, but we did get to see how his death impacted those we would get to know which made it resonate even more. The network would go on to claim that he ended up being the stated favorite character of the majority of kids who chose to write-in and share their thoughts on the show. There was enough of such letters that the network convinced Lewald to bring him back, even though he had intended for Morph to die and stay dead. He eventually agreed, but on the condition that he come back as a villain. You can’t just have someone die and come back all sunshine and flowers, they’re going to be pretty affected by such a traumatic thing, which is how we got Evil Morph in Season Two.

Because Morph is viewed as a unique creation for the show it was assumed that he would show up in this line of action figures from Hasbro eventually. And apparently some of those child letter writers from the 90s are still among us as there’s been a lot of support for a Morph figure based on his toon appearance for years. As a result, it was expected that this figure of Morph would have appeal outside of the line and those who aren’t interested in cel-shaded X-Men would cave for a Morph figure. Which is why it was hardly a surprise to see Morph unveiled as the line’s sixth release. We knew he was coming, it was just a matter of when. I thought maybe they would save him for a convention or maybe even as a tie-in for the show’s 30th anniversary, but he was just tossed out there in May and made available for pre-order shortly there-after. I have not been shy about my displeasure with the quality of this line and the shortcuts Hasbro has been willing to take. My hope has always been that the budget on some figures was lower than others so resources could be put towards a proper Morph because, perhaps more than any other, this figure needs to be good because this is THE character from the show and unlikely to see another release. And in some ways, my faith was rewarded, but in others not so much. Reader beware, I have a lot to say about this figure and it might come across as nit-picky so if you just want a fluff piece this won’t be it.

No one left you behind this time, Morph. And take that Cyclops, Morph is here before you!

Morph comes in the same VHS styled packaging with art by Dan Veesenmeyer as the rest of the line. It looks nice and we have a joyful looking Morph running from the Mutant Control headquarters just as he did in the show before tragedy struck. The figure itself is contained within and comes in a little bag. Many collectors hate this approach, but I can’t say it’s really done any harm yet as all of the figures I’ve received have been fine. Once free, Morph stands around 6.5″ and is depicted in his blue and yellow costume with the flight jacket. Morph is a slightly tricky release because for a character with just a handful of appearances in the show, he did have some different looks. We saw him with the jacket and without as well as with yellow gloves and without. He also switched from black to brown hair in his later appearances which is what the old Toy Biz figure went with in the vintage line. He’s probably a bit oversized as represented here, but not egregiously so.

Why can’t his face just look like the reference art?!

Let’s first talk about this head. Like most figures in the Marvel Legends line, we have a lot of reuse here, but the head is unique. For it, Hasbro tapped the excellent Paul Harding to sculpt it. Harding is one of the best out there and we’ve already looked at some of the stuff he’s done for NECA’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line. A sculptor can only do as directed though, and for this figure Harding was instructed to do Morph, but make him in the “Marvel Legends style.” That style is to take a character from a comic, or in this case cartoon, and up the realism. Make them look believable. Unfortunately, I strongly disagree with this approach. You’re making a line of toys based on a cartoon specifically to match that look. We have Wolverine, Storm, Jubilee, etc in these costumes already in Marvel Legends, why do animated versions of them if they’re going to just be in the same style? It’s pointless! And it’s confusing, because we already received Wolverine and Hasbro gave him a new head that looks like the cartoon. Hasbro has done figures based on properties like Into the Spider-Verse within Marvel Legends which took a screen accurate approach, why not here?

Let me be clear, cel-shading on action figures is a good thing. It can really capture a certain aesthetic. Hasbro’s attempt at cel-shading is not. Why does the shading just stop at the shoulder, but pick up again after the bicep? Make it make sense!

As a result, this head-sculpt that comes on Morph leaves a lot to be desired. He’s very square-jawed when the show Morph had a very pointed chin and sunken cheeks. The extra detail on the face and painted lips (again, something Hasbro didn’t do with the animated Wolverine) further take away from the animated aesthetic had it been allowed to exist. They also did his hair in a dark brown. It’s too light to be the black-haired Morph we saw in seasons one and two, but too dark to be the brown-haired version we saw in “Courage” and later appearances. His expression is also very bland. It’s stoic, when anyone who has seen the show thinks of Morph in the same way he’s presented on the box art: with a smile. He’s a goof, that’s his defining characteristic. Practically every line out of his in the first episode is intended to make someone laugh, and if no one is around, he’s trying to make himself laugh as we saw when he’s watching TV. This head is so inappropriate for this character and release that I find it almost completely useless.

“I found your lifeless body…”

The rest of the figure is a mix of old and new. As far as I know, the entire upper body is recycled from a prior Cyclops release in a flight jacket. The main portion of the jacket is a soft plastic and features sculpted pockets and a zipper which looks fine, though the zipper is unpainted. The sleeves are molded, hard, plastic so the jacket is non-removable. The legs are new, and the floating X-Men belt might actually be new too. The legs are new so that they could make the thigh straps part of the sculpt which is a good move because they looked horrible on the old Cyclops figures. Some feel Hasbro placed them too high on the thigh, but I think they look fine and they’re obviously there to hide the thigh cut. And when I say “part of the sculpt,” I actually mean they sculpted out room for the straps on the legs as it still appears that the straps are a separate piece of plastic slid over the leg and glued in place. The knees are pin-less, and the straps above the boots are also sculpted in yellow plastic like the thigh straps. The body looks okay, maybe a little too thick for Morph, but not horribly out of place or anything. His hands do seem really large, but that’s a minor complaint. The neck is also inaccurate as there’s no end to Morph’s costume. Pretty much all of Morph’s neck is visible in the show, but here he has a turtleneck. Hasbro just had to paint the neck, but chose not to. And the paint in general is not great. The cel-shading is barely present on the jacket. There’s a swath of dark brown starting on the figure’s right collar going to the shoulder where it just stops for some reason, bypasses the biceps area, and then resumes at the elbow. On the figure’s left arm, it just starts at the biceps. There’s no shading on the front of the jacket at all and just a little under the pecs underneath. There’s a little hit of it on the belt which carries down to the trunks and one minor hit on each thigh and boot. Once again, Hasbro is using a mustard color to shade yellow which doesn’t look great, and for some reason the shading on his right boot is in a wavy line and mostly looks bad. Hasbro, if you’re going to do this bad of a job with cel-shading then why bother doing it at all?

“You will listen to me, Morph!”

It was my hope that Hasbro would go all out with Morph and really make him feel like an “ultimate” version of the character because how likely are we to see future Morph figures? Hasbro could have done so with accessories, but Hasbro declined to do much in that area. Morph comes with two heads: standard and evil. The Evil Morph head turned out rather well. He has a more gaunt appearance and the hair is a little darker. It’s also a little messy and he has the dark shading around his eyes as he has a hit of purple under the eye and black over it. Technically, his skin should be paler with a touch of yellow, but I’m not surprised to see Hasbro ignore that since then they would have had to do good and evil versions of his hands. Even ignoring that inaccuracy, it’s so much more livelier and on-model when compared with the standard head that I suspect most are going to display him as Evil Morph. Aside from that though, we get just two sets of hands: fists and open. Why not do a third head so we can have a brown haired option and a black haired one for standard Morph? Or a “Wolverine! Fall back!” expression? Why not a set of gripping hands, or at least one, so he can wield a gun like he did in the show? And how about said gun?! I personally would have loved a second set of arms to do a coat on or off look, but I didn’t actually expect that. I did expect more though and it’s a shame this is all we received. I really wanted Hasbro to go all-out for Morph, even if it meant tacking on a higher cost to purchase him, but they barely did half-ass.

Yeah, evil head all the way.

The articulation for Morph is basically what you expect out of Marvel Legends. He has the ball-hinged head that provides for good range, though looks “broken” from some angles. Even with the collar on the coat, he can still look up pretty well and range isn’t an issue. The ball-hinged shoulders let him get his arms out to the sides and rotate. There’s a biceps swivel, and single-hinged elbows that also swivel plus wrists that swivel and hinge. He does have a butterfly joint in the shoulders as well, but it’s functionally useless because of the jacket. The torso features an ab crunch that works fine though you have to work around the coat when bending backwards. The waist rotates and the hips go out to the side better than 45 degrees, but short of a full split. The legs kick forward to not quite horizontal and only kick back a touch since he has a sculpted bum. There’s a thigh swivel above the strap, so it’s well-hidden. The knees are double-jointed and work fine. There’s a boot cut below the straps and the ankles hinge and rock side-to-side and also work fine. It’s all pretty standard stuff and one of the things you can count on with Marvel Legends, be it the good parts or bad. I would like to see double-jointed elbows, but even without them his elbow can bend a little past 90 degrees and the aesthetic does at least look fine.

I don’t have any Marvel Legends hands to source, but a NECA TMNT Foot Soldier hand can work for Morph if you want him to wield a gun. The tone is slightly different since NECA paints it’s hands, but if you don’t pose it by his head like I’m doing here it probably looks fine on a shelf. The gun is from the Marvel Legends MCU Deadpool.

Morph is not the homerun I was hoping for, but he’s also not the dud that Jean was. The things holding him back are Hasbro’s direction and cheapness. I wish his standard portrait looked more like the show. I understand why it doesn’t, but I don’t agree with the approach. I don’t know who is responsible for the choice of expression on that head, but I also dislike that aspect of it. I also wish he had more stuff and that the cel-shading was better applied. One of those things is dictated by cost, the other by effort, and that’s a shame. No gripping hands is borderline unforgivable though. How much would that have cost? Twenty cents? Molds already exist for un-gloved gripping hands so it’s literally just the cost of plastic. If you don’t want to give us a gun, fine, but at least give us the hands so he can hold one from another figure. Mystique is on-deck, after all, and she has two guns! I could easily give one to Morph if he could only hold it. That’s less of an issue for those who are deep into Marvel Legends since they likely have some extra hands at their disposal, but I am not so lucky. If you’re collecting this line or have affection for the cartoon, you’re probably getting this figure no matter what I say. It’s an okay release, probably not worth the price Hasbro is charging these days, but most will be reasonably satisfied. It’s a shame that’s all we can seemingly hope for with this line, but it is what it is.

“Leaving without saying ‘goodbye?'” “Goodbye.”


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.

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