In celebration of the release of Deadpool 2 I thought it would be a good opportunity to take a look at one of my favorite action figures from the Marvel Legends line – Deadpool! Marvel Legends is a series of action figures that originated with the now defunct ToyBiz and is now owned by Hasbro. The series launched around the turn of the millennium and was a sister series of sorts to the Spider-Man Classics line. It was a collector oriented line that likely grew from the diminished sales and interest in the standard ToyBiz figures. This was also after McFarlane kind of changed the game in terms of what an action figure could be with its Spawn line. McFarlane placed greater emphasis on the sculpting process realizing that spending just a little more time tooling a figure could give it broader appeal. Adding more detail to a sculpt really adds little cost to the individual toy and this proved to be a wise move. I’d even wager the Spawn toys were likely more popular than the comic.
ToyBiz, as well as other toy manufacturers, were forced to play catch-up. ToyBiz would end up not only improving its sculpts, but would also prioritize articulation correctly assuming that collectors who removed toys from its packaging would want to be able to create dynamic poses for their mini heroes. ToyBiz would only get better as the years went on before Marvel eventually decided it no longer wanted to be in the toy manufacturing business. ToyBiz was owned by Marvel and the Marvel toys it put out represented basically the entirety of the company’s catalog. Rising oil prices were making plastic more expensive and Marvel probably felt it could make more money, while assuming less risk, by simply licensing their intellectual properties to other manufacturers, which is how Hasbro eventually took over. It was a bit of a bumpy start for Hasbro and for awhile the line was discontinued all together, but its made a return of sorts over the last couple of years.
Marvel Legends Series 6 arrived basically during the height of the line’s popularity in late summer 2004. ToyBiz had yet to tap into all of Marvel’s hottest properties so there was still great anticipation for every line. They had also hit on some new sculpts and were packing their figures full of articulation. In particular, a figure of Daredevil for the Spider-Man Classics line (which had been rebranded as simply Spider-Man with an emphasis on a younger audience) that would go on to be the base of many other ToyBiz figures, including this one of the Merc with a Mouth – Deadpool.
Back when this figure first came out, Deadpool was far from a household name. He was largely a character getting by on his cool design, even if it was derivative of several other heroes and villains from comics. His comic was niche, but certainly unique given the character’s lunacy and penchant for breaking the fourth wall. This was in an age when the only popular Marvel properties were really Spider-Man and the X-Men. In a pre Marvel Cinematic Universe world, the likes of Iron Man and Captain America were for comic geeks only, though the Ultimate Universe was gaining in popularity and The Ultimates, the version of the Avengers for that world, were a pretty big reason why.
Marvel Legends Series 6 was a notoriously difficult series to find at retail. By now, the secondary market and specialty shops were fully aware of the line’s popularity and collectors were forced to battle with scalpers at the big box stores in order to land the toys they coveted. I don’t think I ever came across the entirety of this series at retail, which also included figures of Wolverine (brown costume), Juggernaut, Phoenix, Cable and The Punisher (Thomas Jane). Since The Punisher was based on a movie likeness, he was the only one I ever saw at retail because few people wanted him. I knew I wanted Wolverine, Deadpool, and Juggernaut especially so I actually pre-ordered them through an online retailer. I paid a premium, but it proved to be the right move as they quickly went up in price basically every where they weren’t sold out. I eventually traded with another collector for a Phoenix, and I never got my hands on Cable which is a shame since he would have paired nicely with Deadpool.
Deadpool was easily my favorite of what was otherwise a good series of figures. The Daredevil base is obvious given the tell-tale shoulders, but ToyBiz even left the holster on his right leg for Daredevil’s baton weapon. For Deadpool it makes a good holster for his sai, which were holdovers form a prior Elektra figure. In addition to those weapons he also came with two AKs, two katana, a handgun, and an alternate unmasked head. He also came packaged with Doop, not pictured because I never cared for the Slimer knock-off and didn’t bother to dig him out of storage. He also has an action stand which was becoming commonplace for the line in lieu of a more elaborate base. Eventually the bases would be dropped all-together for build-a-figure pieces to construct much larger figures. Deadpool also features a belt that’s separate from his sculpt. I suppose you could remove it if you really wanted to. It has holsters for his weapons plus molded on grenades and his adorable little mask-logo on the belt buckle.
Deadpool possesses extensive articulation which is befitting a ninja. He can be posed in almost any position you can think of. His joints are nice and tight and he really only needs the stand for more dramatic aerial poses as he can comfortably stand on his own just fine. The sculpting on the body is fairly simple and relegated mostly to just his musculature. His face features subtle, but effective, sculpting suggesting an angry expression is lurking underneath. His secondary, Freddy Krueger-like head, looks spectacularly disturbing and sports a character appropriate wild grin. The only short-comings with the sculpt lie with the hands and shoulders. The bulky shoulders were the cost of making the arms capable of posing in basically any position. They were the main draw-back to this character base. The hands are also articulated and we’ve come to learn over the years that articulated hands just don’t work well to hold weapons. Deadpool’s weapons are all nice and light, so he can hold them just fine, but you will be constantly tweaking them to get them just right (and don’t bother with the sai as they’re almost too thin for any worthwhile pose). If he were made today he’d probably just have swappable hands or just non-articulated ones capable of gripping both a sword and gun.
What always stood out for me with this figure is the simple look of Deadpool. The red on black is striking and there’s little that can be messed up as a result. The loads of accessories are also a huge benefit. Even if the sai kind of stink, they’re still nice to have and look good in that thigh pouch. The handgun is tucked away neatly on a holster while the katana and AKs can be stored on the back of his belt. The AKs don’t seat all that well, but it can be done. Lots of accessories plus places to store them is something i appreciate in any action figure, especially since keeping track of numerous little pieces can be a huge pain. The only thing he can’t store on his person is the second head, but that would be a little odd if he could.
As you can imagine, the Legends line has taken new stabs at Deadpool, especially in light of his growing popularity thanks to the film franchise. I have never been tempted to buy another though because I’ve always been happy with this one. Had I purchased one I’d probably be forced to concede it’s an improvement, but that wouldn’t diminish my fondness for this one. Deadpool is perfectly suited for the world of plastic and movies so it’s great to see this character’s popularity explode. And as a legacy piece, those who were at ToyBiz should be proud they made an awesome Deadpool when few people wanted one and it can still hang with today’s action figures more than 10 years later.