Tag Archives: x-men animated series

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.


We Need to Talk About this X-Men Toy Line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


It’s Finally Happening – The Animated X-Men are Coming Back in Figure Form!

Eric and Julia Lewald have something to share!

It was almost two years to the day where I made an entry here expressing a wish for Hasbro to tackle the X-Men. And not just any X-Men, the now classic animated series from 1992. That was probably my greatest obsession as a kid. I loved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but I grew out of it after 3 or 4 years. X-Men filled that void and my obsession lasted longer. I collected the toys from Toy Biz and it was the first time I displayed my toys like collectibles instead of just dumping them in a large bin when I was done playing. I still played with them too, but when I was done I had makeshift shelves to pose them on. It was a large shelf that went three or four rows deep and eventually I had to add another. I was able to separate heroes and villains, though with how quickly things can change in the comics, sometimes I had to move guys back and forth. I don’t think I stopped collecting though until I was in high school in the very late 90s. By then, the X-Men line was nearing its end anyway and Toy Biz was pivoting to more collector-focused lines for their legacy properties while the kid-friendly stuff was focused on new shows like X-Men Evolution and the movies.

There weren’t a lot of toon-specific figures back in the 90s, but Morph was definitely one of them.

Like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles though, the thing with the old X-Men toyline is that it wasn’t really an animated focused line. It started as a comic book line with the inaugural first wave reflecting the 80s costumes and lineup for the team. It was only once the show became a hit that the toyline started to mimic it to a point. One of the first instances of that I can recall is the wave one Storm, who was released in a black costume, getting repainted silver with two ring-capes added on to kind of match her show appearance. Toy Biz would also repackage some of the previously released figures with new card backs advertising them as from the show, but the figures were basically the same comic book inspired releases we already had. Wolverine, for instance, still had his giant buckle on his belt instead of an X logo. Storm did get repainted yet again though, this time white and with a more elaborate cape. The most well-remembered instance of the line matching the show was in the Morph figure. Morph was famously created for the show, though he was modeled after the character Changeling from the comic, and killed off in the second episode. Kids loved him though, so Toy Biz made a figure with swappable heads to mimic his shape-shifting powers. He didn’t look much like the cartoon character aside from the general costume, but it was still one of my favorite figures because it was freakin’ Morph! Toy Biz would also do a Phoenix Saga wave of figures clearly inspired by the cartoon, and other figures here and there appeared to match some show designs, but for all intents and purposes the toys from Toy Biz were comics first and the show a distant second.

2022 will mark the show’s 30th anniversary, and as I hypothesized two years ago, Hasbro is finally going to do proper action figures based on the show. This past week saw Hasbro host its own virtual convention, Pulsecon, and the guests of honor for the final panel on Saturday were Eric and Julia Lewald, authors of the wonderful X-Men: The Art and Making of the Animated Series. Eric was the showrunner for X-Men and his wife Julia a veteran TV writer who contributed some scripts as well and the mere fact that they were announced as guests had my juices flowing all last week. Surely, they were there to pitch their book, but also to reveal something. What we didn’t know is what that something would be. It would likely tie into the animated series, but did we dare hope it would be an actual line of Marvel Legends based on the show? Maybe it would just be more retro card-back releases, which is what Hasbro has been doing for the Spider-Man cartoon lately. There’s also the new retro, five points of articulation, line. I was both optimistic and guarded, but I’m happy to report my dream has come true!

This is glorious!

Hasbro had the Lewalds show off two figures for the new X-Men animated series line of toys: Wolverine and Jubilee. The figures will come in an oversized VHS styled box with new artwork and product shots. They’re meant to be displayed as one would those old VHS releases and they look positively striking. I don’t know if Hasbro got the idea from NECA’s TMNT releases, or if it was an organic thing, but either way it looks fantastic. Not to be outshined though, are the figures themselves. They are indeed Marvel Legends-styled releases and I’m sure there will be a lot of parts reuse between these figures and previously released editions. Wolverine could very well be the same Wolverine body that’s been released before, though it looks like he has new heads to better reflect the show art design. What stands out most though is the paint application which has that cel-shaded look to better match-up with the show. He’ll come with the now standard swappable hands, one with claws out and one claws retracted, but he also gets to bring along the photo of Scott and Jean (just like the upcoming Mondo release) so fans can reenact the most memed scene of the show. Jubilee, for her part, appears to mostly be the same release as before too only I don’t think she’s getting a new head. She’s less impressive as a result since she’s lacking her show-specific earrings on one head, but she does have yellow gloves now. Like Wolverine, she’ll have two portraits and she also has some effects pieces. I do wish they worked in a show specific accessory for her as well (maybe some chili fries? A Genosha collar?) to up the fun factor. One show specific accessory per figure would be a nice goal for Hasbro to have.

Only thing missing is a turkey leg.

These two figures are definitely promising and they’re pretty much exactly what I hoped for, even though they weren’t announced as one big wave as I had previously hoped for. There are a few things to nitpick based on the few shots we were given. Wolverine’s hands appear to lack the claw channels on his non-claw hands which isn’t show accurate, and Jubilee’s head just doesn’t look very “toon” to me. I’m hoping Wolverine is more indicative of where the line is going as opposed to Jubilee, but only time will tell. Otherwise, I like this direction and that parts reuse doesn’t bother me. Now if they try to re-release Sabretooth and pass him off as animated that will be worth criticizing because the Sabretooth on television was pretty different from the comics. He was just huge and honestly a little weird looking, but not in a bad way. Hasbro is a company more focused on price and keeping the price low. These figures already run high by their standards as they’re currently available for preorder at $27 a piece. Wolverine is slated for a May release with Jubilee following in June. Not shown, but announced, are figures for both Storm and Jean, two characters who should be easily adapted from recent releases with some paint modifications. No release date was announced for them, but maybe July and August? A monthly schedule would be fine with me and maybe we’ll learn more in early 2022. Or maybe Hasbro is saving something for Halloween, the 29th anniversary of the show’s premiere, to give us a peek at either Storm or Jean.

Less impressive than Wolverine is Jubilee, but there’s still time for things to change.

What is great is the goal of Hasbro’s to make this a full line. It’s going to be a slow release compared to some of the others, but I can be patient. I’ve waited nearly 30 years for this, I can wait longer. I know some fans were disappointed in the character selection. Wolverine is a given, but he’s also a character that’s been made and released over and over while Jubilee is…Jubilee. A lot of fans were hoping for Morph as he’s become synonymous with the show and is a character that collectors have wanted for years now. I feel very confident that Morph is coming, so I’m not sweating his exclusion for now. He’s the character Hasbro has to hit a homerun with, and hopefully they do. He seems like the most obvious candidate if they want to time a figure with the 30th anniversary on Halloween of 2022. Will they time the reveal or the release with that date is the big question. This is a good time to be an X-Men fan though, and I’m already brainstorming ways to display this line. It’s going to be a long wait until May, but it’s going to be worth it!

Preorders for Wolverine and Jubilee are currently available on Hasbro Pulse (no premium membership required) with an expected release on Disney’s shopdisney website at some point. These are not planned for mass market retail so get your orders in if you want them.

UPDATE: Just a few days after the big reveal, Hasbro went and revealed a third figure in the wave. And despite having already soft announced Storm and Jean, the third figure shown off is none other than Mr. Sinister! He’s available for pre-order on Pulse and currently has the same release date as Jubilee. He is almost a straight repaint of a previously released Mr. Sinister (they may have had to swap out the neck, or it’s just now painted white instead of blue) and will come in an oversized box. Needless to say, it’s a good sign that Hasbro is willing to do villains alongside the X-Men!


X-Men ’92

X-Men '92 (2015)

X-Men ’92 (2015)

Nineties nostalgia is running wild over pop culture like never before. Apparently enough time has passed for the 90’s to truly be considered retro. There’s a new Power Rangers movie in development, Jaleel White is appearing in Scion commercials, Nickelodeon has resurrected its 90’s programming via The Splat, and now Marvel Comics has turned to the X-Men for a new series of comics based on the early 90’s team featured in the popular cartoon. X-Men ’92 is a tie-in to Marvel’s ongoing Secret Wars, it too a resurrected plot from the past (only this time, the 80’s) that appears set to bring about more 90’s relics. Written by Chris Sims and Chad Bowers, X-Men ’92 is not exactly a continuation of that team from the cartoon series, but seeks to emulate it’s tone and characters in telling a new story in a new setting.

Being a tie-in with Secret Wars, X-Men ’92 has its origins rooted in the story that preceded it. Not being a regular comic book reader myself, I found it to be somewhat confusing but also not really important how we reached this point. Magneto has apparently been defeated and the X-Men are celebrities of sorts residing in Westchester, New York. Baron Robert Kelly, complete with cape and warwolves, rules over Westchester as an ally to the X-Men and Dr. Doom is some kind of god entity. The story begins much like the animated series did with the X-Men getting into a tussle with some sentinels at a mall. The camp is strong in this scene, particularly with Storm, and the first chapter of the story (which consists of four books split into two chapters apiece) reads more like a parody than an homage to the X-Men cartoon.

The plot moves fast and consists of the X-Men traveling to Clear Mountain, a sort of Betty Ford clinic for evil mutants. The director of the facility is Cassandra Nova, who longtime X-Men fans know as the clone of Charles Xavier from the New X-Men comics. The mission is one of peace and the X-Men are Nova’s invited guests. Of course, it’s a trap and Nova, allied with the Shadow King, imprisons the X-Men and back at the mansion psionically attacks Charles Xavier, rendering him unconscious. Nova’s plan is then to psychically infiltrate each member of the X-Men to determine which ones she can take advantage of through their personality flaws and ultimately brainwash. The ones she cannot are tossed into a cell. Her ultimate goal is to create her own X-Men and assassinate Kelly with a monstrous sentinel referred to as Ten-Sentinel (because it’s ten sentinels in one, naturally) while making his death appear to be the fault of the X-Men.

Cassandra Nova is the chosen villain here, which is odd considering she's a villain from the 2000's.

Cassandra Nova is the chosen villain here, which is odd considering she’s a villain from the 2000’s.

As the situation grows dire for our heroes, some familiar allies resurface in the form of X-Force. Consisting of Cable, Domino, Bishop, Archangel, Psylocke, and Deadpool, X-Force attempts a rescue mission at the mansion and Clear Mountain. As they too seem to have been left behind in the 90’s, it makes sense to resurrect the alternate X-Men for this story (though Cable is severely lacking in the pouch department) and they seem mostly true to their old personas (save for Deadpool, who’s more in-line with his current one). X-Force is able to free the X-Men, who are then left to do battle with the Ten-Sentinel, Nova, and their brainwashed former teammates. Everything ends with multiple epilogues and cliff-hangers, so apparently X-Men ’92 won’t be limited to these four issues.

X-Men ’92 exists seemingly purely for its nostalgic value. As I mentioned earlier, the personalities of the various X-Men are very much inline with their personas from the first season of the show. Wolverine is stubbornly independent, Beast is bookish, Gambit flirtatious, and Storm takes herself way too seriously. If anything, certain characters are magnified in their portrayals with the Gambit/Rogue dynamic being a point of emphasis. It’s sometimes hard to tell if the writers are poking fun at the old nineties team or just having fun with it. In the backgrounds lurk many cameos from the era and the final issue even features a few surprise cameos that I was not expecting. Easily the greatest joy in flipping through X-Men ’92 is scouring the pages for all of these callbacks, some of which are also worked into the dialogue.

Issue #3 is my pick for best cover. Note Deadpool's 90's era "selfie stick."

Issue #3 is my pick for best cover. Note Deadpool’s 90’s era “selfie stick.”

Unfortunately, the plot for X-Men ’92 is severely lacking. While the characters feel like parodies of the old cartoon, the story feels more like a rejected plot from the cartoon. It’s messy and Nova is such a typical children’s cartoon villain that it renders her as dull as a butter knife. The confrontation with the massive Ten-Sentinel is actually pretty boring, and the art is too busy to really appreciate what it’s trying to depict. The art, in general, is basically good enough, though the style of artist Scott Koblish doesn’t really fit the whole 90’s theme. Cyclops in particular is rather lean and appears a little short compared to how he would have been drawn 1992. Given how Sims and Bowers seem to enjoy poking fun at the era, it’s surprising they didn’t take a few shots at how over-muscled and glamorous the characters often appeared in that era.

If you are like me and expected X-Men ’92 to be a tie-in with the old cartoon then you’ll probably be disappointed by it. It has some nostalgic value, but the plot and pacing is so poor you would be better off just grabbing one issue out of the four (and it doesn’t really matter which, but I suppose the first issue was the overall best) if you really want a dose of X-Men nostalgia. The ending of the final chapter is slightly interesting in terms of what it foreshadows, but I suspect the featured villain will not be handled well by this writing team. The series must be selling well for Marvel to be continuing it beyond issue #4, but I bet those who have latched on would not mind it at all if Marvel hit the abort button and started over with X-Men ’92 where the animated series left off. That’s a comic I’d consider buying.


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