I wasn’t sure he would make it in time, but Hasbro managed to ship Cyclops before the end of the year. Cyclops marks the final figure (for now) in Hasbro’s X-Men animated series subline of Marvel Legends. It has been…a ride. What was once a dream line of mine to see brought to fruition, turned into something less. I won’t go so far as to get overly dramatic and juxtapose dream line with nightmare, but basically nearly every negative thought I had going into it came true. I don’t have a high opinion of Hasbro to begin with, but they are a giant toy maker that is pretty good at getting out a decent product at a good price. It’s just in 2022, most of those things have stopped being true. There’s been a reduction in quality, content, and it’s been paired with a rising price. Initially, I tried to be positive about a line based on the show X-Men. We had those Into the Spider-Verse figures to use as examples of what Hasbro is capable of when it decides to base their design’s on a particular source material, but the company chose not to do that with this line. Instead, we got previously released comic book figures with a dash of cel-shading and little in the way of new tooling or accessories. The line is best qualified as lazy, and I hate to use that word because I know there are people who work at Hasbro who are anything but lazy. The direction of the line has sucked. It’s been inconsistent, underwhelming, and yet, I’m still sad to see it end. To a degree. I want the company to just finish the main cast so I can take a step back and assess what we have, but that’s been put on pause with no guarantee of anything past this figure.
Given all of that, there’s at least a chance that Hasbro saved the best for last. Prior releases of Jean, Storm, Jubilee, Mr. Sinister, and Mystique have basically been of the straight repaint variety with varying results. Mystique and Storm got new hair parts, while Wolverine got a new head and hands. Morph has been the only new figure, though in Marvel Legends fashion, his body is mostly reused from past figures. He did get to debut new legs which were re-tooled to allow for his thigh and boot straps to be keyed in and it’s a part that’s going to be reused quite a bit in the figures to follow. Like this one! Cyclops, like Morph, is a mix of old and new. His costume is based on the show, which was based on the costume Jim Lee designed for the character during his run. It’s been a bit of a challenge to get this costume to look nice in plastic because of the unusual belt. Cyclops has a belt that goes up and over both shoulders, but only attaches to the waist at one spot on the rear and front. It’s sort of like a pair of suspenders, except one side of the belt has been clipped to the other side instead of the waist. It’s pretty goofy, but it’s been around over 30 years now so it seems pretty ordinary as a result. It just stinks for a toy-maker like Hasbro which wants to reuse the main body of its figures and add belts onto it, but past attempts have made the end result look ugly and chunky. Not to mention it can make any articulation in the torso seem pointless.
That’s why, like Morph, Hasbro decided to re-tool some parts to better accommodate the belt. The torso for Cyclops, which I think is the same as Vulcan, has been modified slightly so that the belt can now key-in like the straps on the thighs and boots. This means the belt no longer has to be one continuous piece, it’s actually “broken” at the ab crunch, but when the figure bends it creates the illusion that the belt is sliding around, but really it doesn’t move. The bottom piece of the belt just gets hidden by the ab crunch with no gap visible between the top and bottom piece. Is it totally seamless? No, but it’s an action figure and it needs to articulate and short of just making the belt part of the sculpt, this is probably the best solution. And by keying it in, it sits closer to flush with the rest of the costume. It’s not as chunky and awkward looking, and it’s easy to see why Legends collectors more interested in the comic line are excited for this release because you know Cyclops is likely to get re-released there. Possibly on a retro card or something.
Hasbro did some actual tooling and it’s for the better. Sadly, that’s a pretty major development for this line as standards are pretty low at this point. And it’s not all, as Cyclops has a new head and his gloves might be new as well since they’re a little different from other figures released on this buck thus far. And just taking him at face value, he looks fine. Maybe even good. The head seems a little too big for the body as superheroes (especially from this era and the show) tend to have smaller than normal heads. The shoulders still sit too low and the chest could use more mass. Cyclops is a big dude, and this figure doesn’t really capture that perfectly, but it does so better than before. There’s also an eyesore on this guy on the forearms. Vulcan has long gloves that go up his forearms and Hasbro decided to sculpt in a groove where that glove ends and the paint stops. Cyclops has short gloves and apparently Hasbro blew the budget for tooling on the torso modifications because they didn’t do the same for the forearms. It feels especially cheap because surely there are other figures who would benefit from forearms without that line? It’s so frustrating how Hasbro will go halfway to deliver an accurate product, but stop short of something so simple.
The major talking point of this line has and likely always will be the cel-shading. Again, I reiterate that I like cel-shading when it makes sense. I think figures seeking to emulate a specific look benefit from the effect, but only if it’s done well. This line has been an example of how not to do it well. It’s been applied in a cheap and lazy fashion. Cyclops really isn’t any different, but by virtue of much of the figure being cast in a dark blue, it’s not as bad. The darker blue used to shade the main body, arms, and legs looks good. A better figure still would have used three colors for the shading, but here it’s acceptable. The yellow parts still look terrible. They’ve been using this gold, mustard, color for the yellow which matches no source material I’ve ever seen, comic or show, but expecting them to change at this point would be equally stupid. It’s also applied the same as it was on Morph for the boots which includes this goofy, wavy, line on the right foot that makes no sense. The belt on his torso has almost no shading, so it really stands out as just being bare plastic, but the trunks and waist have a little. It’s still not good, but it’s not the worst we’ve seen in the line (that honor rests with Jubilee), but it is as expected so at least they’re consistent?
If this line has a strength (aside from the very well done box art by Dan Veesenmeyer) it rests in the articulation as it’s been pretty solid. I think at this point that’s the main strength for Marvel Legends given the changes brought this year. Cyclops still uses the ball-hinge head which works fine and his design doesn’t introduce any elements that would hinder the range up there so that is good. The shoulders are hinged and come out to horizontal just fine, rotate, and we get a biceps swivel that does what it does. There’s a butterfly joint in each shoulder that works well enough, though the left one will be hindered a bit by the chest strap. The elbows are pinless and double-jointed and he can bend his arm past 90 degrees. Even though we have that “cut” on the forearm, there’s no articulation there. It only exists to be ugly. The wrists swivel and hinge in typical fashion. In the torso, there’s an ab crunch that’s rather stubborn on my figure, though that seems to be unique to mine. It works, but bending him back makes him look pregnant or like he has a beer belly. The waist rotates as one would expect. At the hips, we have ball and socket joints and he can spread his legs enough, not a full split, but enough for Cyclops. He kicks forward just fine, not really back, and we have the usual thigh cut. A lot of people remain unhappy with the placement of these straps and how high they are, but I couldn’t possibly care less about that. The knees are double-jointed and bend past 90 and we get a boot cut below the straps. It’s ugly, but you don’t have to use it if you don’t want to. The ankles hinge forward and back enough plus they have a rocker. I’ve seen more than one person have issues with the ankle rocker snapping. It does feel a tad gummy, and even though these are the same feet as what we saw with Morph, the ones on Cyclops feel different. Just be careful. This guy is going to do what he needs. It’s disappointing that the ab crunch results in such an ugly look for the figure considering this is a mold Hasbro intends to reuse over and over, but it is what it is.
What is not a strong suit for this line has been the accessory count and Cyclops is no different. He doesn’t even get a second head. The only other items in the box are a set of open hands and a two-finger pointing right hand designed to be used with his visor or his X communicator. There’s no effect parts or anything like that which feels pretty damn cheap.They’ve done Cyclops effects in the past, but I guess they wouldn’t work here. For 28 bucks, he really should have a second head that includes a blast. The fact that the Mr. Sinister figure in this wave was a straight re-paint with no accessories should have created enough savings for the entire line to get a decent spread. The open hands are also reused from Morph (and likely from other figures) and, like the gripping hands we saw shoehorned into the Wolverine set, are sculpted to be bare hands so he has sculpted fingernails and it looks rather silly. Again, Hasbro couldn’t see a benefit with multiple figures of creating a gloved, open, hand? We’re moving well beyond “cheap” with some of these shortcuts.
Did Hasbro save the best for last? I wouldn’t go that far. I still think, given that this is a line of figures supposed to be based on the animated series, that Wolverine remains the best. He got two new heads which both look like they came from the show plus a fun little toss-in accessory in the form of the picture frame. Cyclops is sort of in a tie with Sinister and Morph. I can see arguments for all 3. Sinister is the most on-model, but also the biggest rip-off in many ways in the line given how little Hasbro had to put into it. Morph gets bonus points for just being Morph, but there was really no imagination put into that figure and the default portrait really looks nothing like the character from the show. As has been the case with most of these, Cyclops is a figure of half-measures. Hasbro did some good, but also did some bad, and the bad is mostly in what they chose not to do. His proportions are still iffy, but that seems to be a problem with Legends in general while the forearm thing is just annoying and it makes it look like Hasbro has zero pride in their product. Cyclops, like basically every release in this line, is a terrible value and I can pull up several other figures from different companies in a similar price-point that actually justify their cost. Nothing from Hasbro of late in the Marvel Legends line does that, but we keep buying it so it’s not likely to change.
Given all of that, I actually find myself really drawn to this Cyclops. I’ve always loved this look for him and that combo of a rich, royal, blue with yellow just does it form. There’s a ton of nostalgia at play here which has made this figure hard to put down. Certainly if you’ve been collecting this line you’re not going to stop before you get to Cyclops unless you’re just so dissatisfied that you’re bailing all-together and selling everything off. For what this line has been, he’s good, but overall he’s more fine than good. It’s hard to get enthusiastic about any of these. If you would like to add Cyclops to your shelf he’s available on Pulse and should be available at some point on ShopDisney. He’ll set you back 28 bucks plus shipping, but once he’s gone it’s unclear if he (or any of the figures in this line) will receive another production run. Some have already started to sell out so you may not want to sleep on it. At the same time, this is the last release in the line for now with no, true, assurances that it will continue. Hasbro called it a “pause” so that it could focus on doing figures from the Spider-Man 90s cartoon, but it’s not like they’re obligated to continue it. My guess is that it’s still under consideration, but if the figures sell out then it’s more likely they return to it. This clearly hasn’t been an expensive line to produce, so any hurdle it has to clear performance wise may not be very big. I think they just wanted to space out some of the retro card releases like Rogue, Gambit, and the new Beast a bit more before tackling them for this line. We’ll probably know the fate of this one come this time next year (likely a little earlier as I imagine PulseCon is where we’ll find out), but as always, buyer beware if you feel you need the team to be complete to feel satisfied. I am, for better or worse, all-in with this line so if more come you can be sure I’ll cover them. And if you just want more animated X-Men figures to talk about, I did order the Mondo Magneto so the discussion isn’t over with 2022.
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