Blog Archives

SPIDER UK (2017)

marvl-spider-uk-fullMARVEL LEGENDS

For my birthday last week my brother Doug bought me Ms. Marvel and Spider UK from the latest wave of Marvel Legends. Each of them came with a piece of a build-a-figure Sandman so, between them and the Shocker, Green Goblin and Spider-Man 2099 I recently purchased for myself, I’m only one leg away from a completed Flint Marko. That means I’ll be on the lookout for the Jackal, which is not a figure I would have bought otherwise but, since I need it to complete Sandman Hasbro is gonna get another thirty bucks out of me. Damn them and their clever ploys.

After acquiring 2099 and Shocker I was tempted to skip the rest of this wave. I love the Green Goblin as a character but I don’t like the new Legends figure, I know nothing of Ms. Marvel and I’m not interested in learning, I never liked the Jackal because he looks idiotic, Symbiote Spider-Man is rather bland and I’ve bought multiple variations of it in the past, and Spider UK is arguably  just another Spider-Man figure.marvl-spider-uk-back

However, when it comes to action figures my resolve is weak. I caved on Goblin right away because it’s likely the only Goblin we’ll get for the foreseeable future. It’s really only the face I don’t like and it may grow on me in time. When Doug asked what I wanted for my b-day I informed him that Ms. Marvel would be  suitable choice. It saved me from spending my own money on her and prevented me from missing out on her entirely. She seems to be a popular character these days so I was worried if I didn’t get her now she may be hard to find later. It was less about her and more about the crucial Sandman piece she came with (the torso). I also told him Spider UK would make a decent gift. He’s a good dude so he got me both of them.

If Spider Uk was just Peter Parker in a fancy outfit for adventures abroad I would not have wanted it. But Spider UK is actually a completely different character.  He comes from an alternate universe much like Spider-Gwen or Spider-Man 2099. His name is Billy Braddock and he’s a member of the multi-verse spanning Captain Britain Corps. Really he’s as much Captain Britain as he is Spider-Man. He supposedly has the powers of both men (minus Peter’s spider sense) which would mean he has superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability, reflexes, and the ability to fly at supersonic speeds.

marvl-spider-uk-art

In 2014 there was a storyline published by Marvel Comics called Spider-Verse which saw the Spider-Men (and women) from every alternate reality team-up to battle against a group of vampire-like villains called the Inheritors. That was the storyline that introduced a bunch of new Spider-Man variations including Billy here. He was the leader of the group of misfit spider people until the one-true Spider-Man took charge. The group proved popular enough to get their own series called Web Warriors after Spider-Verse ended.  Sadly the book sucked so it was cancelled after only one year.

To the untrained eye this might look like just another Spider-Man figure but there a few key difference which set him apart.  When compared to the default Peter Parker: Spider-Man Marvel Legends action figure you’ll notice that UK is quite a bit buffer.  I believe this is a brand new body sculpt and it’s a great base for future tough guys.  Clearly Billy hits the gym more than Peter does. Also of note, the blue and red are darker shades, the web pattern is different, UK has smaller eyes, lacks red gloves and boots, has no spider emblem on his chest, and features a Union Jack pattern in his costume akin to Captain Britain. I wish he had a more CB like helmet as opposed to a standard Spidey mask to further differentiate him but there are enough differences regardless that I don’t feel like I’ve been duped into buying the same toy over again.marvl-spider-uk-britain

I probably shouldn’t like this figure as much as I do because it is so similar to the dozens of other Spider-Man toys I have but knowing there’s a unique character under the mask makes him much cooler than he would be if this were just an alternate costume.  If I were a kid I would want to play out the Spider-Verse storyline and this figure would be essential. This is a solid figure with crisp paint apps and plenty of articulation. 8 out of 10.

p.s. I apologize for the extra crappy photos today. My camera refused to agree with me.

Spider-Man size comparison

Spider-Man size comparison

Advertisements

SPIDER-MAN 2099 (2017)

marvl-2099-fullMARVEL LEGENDS

Way back in 1992 Marvel decided to launch a comic book series about a future Spider-Man set in the year 2099. They also launched 2099 books focusing on the Punisher, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and others. Spider-Man 2099 was the only one I was interested in so I never read any of the other titles. Though years later, long after it was cancelled, I was drawn into collecting Ghost Rider 2099.  I may have given the other 2099 books a chance back in the day had I actually liked Spidey 2099 but unfortunatley I didn’t. I really liked the concept of a future Spider-Man facing off against future versions of his greatest villains, there was lots of potential there, but I found it poorly executed. Peter David co-created the character with artist Rick Leonardi and he wrote 44 of the 46 issues. I appreciate that Spider-Man 2099 was David’s creation but I feel another writer could have made the stories more interesting so I wish someone else had gotten the opportunity to take a stab at it. I don’t say that lightly as Peter David has written some amazing comics, including the first Spider-Man comic I ever bought (Spectacular Spider-Man 119) that featured Black Cat vs Sabertooth which I still love to this very day.marvl-2099-back

 

The Spider-Man of 2099 is Miguel O’Hara, a latino fella who works for a shady mega-corporation called Alchemax. When he tries to quit his job (upon discovering the shadiness) his boss doses him with something which leads to a series of unfortunate events; the end result being Miguel gets spider powers. It’s been 25 years since I read those comics but as I recall Miguel spent the next bunch of issues battling against Alchemax, a robot cowboy, some lame Thor worshipping cult, and crappy future Vulture. The stories never wowed me and Leonardi’s art didn’t help matters (though I’ve really enjoyed some of his other work too). It takes a lot for me to quit collecting a comic (I just quit Spawn after collecting 267 consecutive issues…it also launched in 1992) but I dropped Spider-Man 2099 after only 12 issues. Even though the book didn’t live up to my expectations I always had a fondness for Miguel O’Hara and hoped to see him back someday.

marvl-2099-art

 

 

He’s had a few scattered appearances over the years but Spidey 2099 finally got a second shot at his own on-going series in 2014. I added it to my pull-list at Strange Adventures but unfortunately it was still written by Peter David and it was still hella-boring. Regardless, I stuck it out until the series was cancelled a year later. I  got back on board when a third series was launched shortly afterwards under Marvel’s “All-New, All-Different!” campaign. The third series featured Miguel wearing a brand new costume but that was about the only new thing about the series.  It was still written by David and it continued on with the same boring storylines from volume 2.  I bought it for a while but quit a couple of months ago. However, I just recently learned that Mr. David is the writer of a new Scarlet Spider book launching this spring. I haven’t seen anything official but that probably means that a new writer is getting a shot at 2099 or, more likely, 2099 has been cancelled again.  In either case I may jump back on board to see how things pan out.

 

marvl-2099-pose

Even though the books have never been very good in my opinion the character has always looked really cool. He wore the same costume from 1992 right up until the All-New, All-Different relaunch in 2015. It consisted of a metallic blue bodysuit with a red skull design and a web cape. Miguel supposedly had the costume in his closet because he wore it to a day of the dead festival once. It wasn’t a particularly spidery outfit but it looked great. I especially loved the mask with the open eye design. I have purchased several Spider-Man 2099 figures over the years in various sizes (12″, 6″, 5″, 3 3/4″) and they’re all sporting that same costume.

I don’t usually like costume changes for the sake of costume changes, it’s almost always a marketing gimmick to get fans to buy more comics and merchandise, but when I saw the All-New, All-Different redesign of Spider-Man 2099 I was sold.  I guess I was ready for a change after all these years and I loved the bold contrast of the red, white, and black design. It retains all the best elements of the original, such as the open eyes, the abstract skull logo, and the Batman-esque arm spikes, but it just feels so…new and different. As soon as I saw the promotional art I thought this costume would make a great action figure but I didn’t imagine the book would last long enough to warrent Hasbro actually making it into a toy. As it turns out the book probably is doomed but thank goodness we got this action figure beforehand.marvl-2099-compare

Hasbro has been absolutely killing it with their Marvel Legends figures for the past few years. I went from only owning a handful of them to buying a new bookshelf just to house them in a matter of months. I named 3 of them on my best of list for 2016 but honestly I could’ve filled the whole list with them. I feel that this Spidey I acquired a few days ago is an early shoe-in for my 2017 list.

This figure feature an excellent sculpt. It’s not as slim as the previous Spider-Man 2099 Marvel Legend which is a good thing. The extra bulk makes him look much tougher and I feel Miguel should look more dangerous than Peter Parker: Spider-Man. The articulation is spot on  with rocker ankles, double jointed knees and elbows, ball jointed hips, shoulders, and neck, swivel joints at the boots, thighs, wrists, and forearms…what more could you want? The paint apps are beautiful with crisp white paint on the torso, metallic red on the logo, and a few bright blue highlights all on greyish-black base. Everything about this figure is awesome. Some extra hands or an unmasked head might’ve been nice (the only accessory he came with was a build-a-figure Sandman arm) but who needs accessories with a figure this good. 10 out of 10.

P.S. It’s my birthday in an hour so I should have new toys to tell you about soon. 🙂

ELECTRO (2016)

MarvL-Electro fullMARVEL LEGENDS

The last few months have brought a steady stream of new Marvel Legends releases.  I just purchased Rogue and Havok from the latest X-Men wave when a week later another Spider-Man wave hits.  I still haven’t come across the recent Captain America wave and the Dr. Strange series is right around the corner. Hasbro is relentless with these things and they’ve clearly got their hooks in me because, yet again, I purchased an entire wave in a single outing.  Doing so saves me from hunting down individual figures for months but man does it ever hurt the wallet.

The newest Spider-Man wave consists of Ultimate Spider-Man, Miles Morales: Spider-Man, Silk, Hobgoblin, another Spider-Girl, and Electro. Plus they all came with parts to build a Space Knight Venom. It’s a solid wave but I find myself asking “Didn’t I just buy a Spider-Man/Spider-Girl/Hobgoblin/Venom?”  Yes.  Yes I did. Multiple times.MarvL-Electro face

Since the other characters in the wave are all a little over-exposed I’ve decided to take a look at Electro first.

Electro is a classic Spidey villain who first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man issue issue 9 published in 1964 and he’s been a thorn in Web-Head’s side ever since. Originally he wore a green costume with yellow lighting bolts running up and down the arms and legs and a crazy mask I can only describe as a lightening star. It was the kind of over-the-top design that could only work in comic books. Electro has made some alterations and ditched the mask in recent years but elements of the original costume remain. Electro first shed the mask in a 2009 storyline called “The Gauntlet” in which many of Spidey’s classic villains received power upgrades to make them feel like real threats again since many had been relegated to punchlines for years. Electro’s increased electrical powers came with a newly scarred face; a burn mark with the same star pattern as his mask.

MarvL-Electro back

This action figure is the first time that Electro’s modern look has been translated into action figure form. I was dead set against the change at first but the gritty artwork of Paul Azaceta eased me into it. Over the years the bald look has grown on me.  As much as I like the original, I must admit that it was hard to take Electro seriously in that mask. The shaved head and scarred face provides a more street-level, less theatrical look that makes Electro more menacing.

I already have Classic Electro figures from the  3 3/4″ Marvel Universe and 5″ 90s Spider-Man toy lines so it’s refreshing to get a new take on the character for this 6″ figure. The head sculpt is very well done and perfectly adapts the comic book look without directly homaging any artist in particular. He’s got a furrowed brow and gritted teeth. He looks pissed off and scary. He has solid metallic blue eyes that reflect light to give the look of beady white pupils. It’s a very effective paint job that make his eyes seem to follow you around the room.MarvL-Electro hand

The body is the same one we’ve seen a few times already for characters like Spider-Man.  It’s lean and muscular. At first I thought it was a little too lean for Electro but he’s never really been a bulky bad guy so I concluded that it actually works quite well. It’s got loads of articulation that allows for many poses. The paint job is relatively simple but looks crisp and vibrant. The black pants is not something we’re used to seeing but as with the head I’m glad to get something a little more contemporary.

MarvL-Electro mask

My only gripe about this figure is the hands.  He has powered-up blue electric hands which would be fine if he had swappable regular gloved hands but he doesn’t.   Many poses look odd with the blue tendril fingers.  Some Legends figures get up to three pairs of alternate hands so I can’t imagine why Hasbro didn’t provide one extra pair with Electro.  Complaints aside the translucent hands are kind of neat looking.

Thankfully he does come with one accessory (besides the build-a-figure Venom piece), an alternative head sporting the star mask.  If you want a classic Electro this head gets you pretty close.  It’s features a beautiful sculpt and I think it’s sized just right. The smirk looks more mischievous then it does angry and I like that. Ditko-era Electro shouldn’t be too scary.  It’s awesome to have the masked option but I’m going to display mine with the modern look. The hands knock this figure down a peg but its still a solid 7 out of 10.MarvL-Electro zap

 

JACK-O-LANTERN (2016)

MarvL-Jacko fullMARVEL LEGENDS

In my last post I reviewed the first ever Jack-O-Lantern figure which was released by Toy Biz in 1998. Today I’m going to review the brand new 2016 Jack-O-Lantern figure produced by Hasbro.

Before I start talking about the actual figure allow me to continue my history lesson on the character. In the last post we left off after Jason Macendale had ceased being Jack-O-Lantern in order to assume the guise of the Hobgoblin after he’d had the Goblin murdered.  Things only got more complicated from there.

Macendale sold his soul to a demon in order to gain enhanched powers.  As a side effect Macendale began to turn into a demon and go insane. He was later separated from the demon entity which went on to become a Spider-Man villain in it’s own right named Demogoblin. Macendale went back to being a mercenary and he was later cybernetically enhanced by the mad scientist named Gaunt.  Despite the enhancements he found himself in prison where he was killed in his cell by the original Hobgoblin who apparently hadn’t been as murdered as Macendale originally thought. End of the line for the original Jack-O-Lantern 😦MarvL-Jacko back

His pumpkin headed alter-ego lived on though through a number of confusing resurrections. A second Jack-O-Lantern who looked the exact same as the original first showed up in Captain America issue 396 in 1992. That guy made a handful of appearances before getting his head blown off by the Punisher during the Civil War storyline in 2006. This Jack later returned as a super natural character in the vein of the Headless Horseman but Ghost Rider re-killed him. End of the line for the second Jack-O-Lantern.

In the Spider-Man comics another Jack-O-Lantern showed up in 1996. This version went by the name Mad Jack and used a lot of Mysterio’s illusions because he/she/they had ties to the original Mysterio.  I don’t feel like explaining their whole stupid backstory but supposedly they were both killed off panel so we don’t have to worry about them anymore.

MarvL-Jacko art

Most recently, a brand new Jack-O-Lantern was introduced in the Agent Venom series written by Rick Remender.  This guy was a sadistic kid raised by the new Crime Master (another updated version of a classic Spidey villain).  The new Jack wore a costume that was significantly different than those worn by his predecessors.  He traded in the green spandex for a black costume covered in belts and buckles.  He also swapped out the classic bouncing disc for a rocket powered broomstick like the one the Green Goblin flew around on in his early appearances.  The new Jack-O-Lantern’s appearance had a creepy Halloween vibe to it that I quite liked.  Remender wrote him with personality and it was the first time in a long time that a Jack-O-Lantern received some character development so I actually like him as an individual character and not just as a Macendale knock-off. During an battle in their feud, Venom tossed a grenade into Jack’s pumpkin helmet horribly disfiguring him so that he had a sort-of pumpkiny face even without his mask on.  It was a neat idea that further distinguished this version from the others.  I hope this version sticks around for a while.MarvL-Jacko head

This brand new Jack-O-Lantern figure was included in the latest wave of Marvel Legends; a Spider-Man focused line with an Absorbing Man build-a-figure. As I mentioned in my Spider-Gwen review a couple weeks ago, I scored the entire wave of seven figures from Strange Adventures thanks to my pal, Dave Howlett who manages the place (Sidebar: Dave does a lot of cool stuff online and in print. Check out his comic, Slam-A-Rama, or his podcast, Living Between Wednesdays).

I would’ve preferred a classic 1980s Jason Macendale Jack-O-Lantern Marvel Legends figure but getting this version is pretty great too. The head on this figure is exactly what I wished my 1998 figure looked like. It’s got the small triangle eyes, the big grin with the 4 pointed teeth, and no nose. It looks awesome. The flame effect is really well done too with some translucent plastic on the back of the head as well as flames coming out of the eyes.

MarvL-Jacko broom

For the body Hasbro has reused the body of Ghost from their Thunderbolts boxset which was a San Diego Comic Con exclusive a couple of years ago. Surprisingly this body works just as well, if not better, for Jack than it did for Ghost. When I compare this figure to the Jack-O-Lantern drawings in the Venom comic I’d swear this figure was designed specifically to match the art. The body is lean and lanky with lots of belts and buckles and long creepy fingers. The addition of a new belt seals the deal. I have zero complaints about the reused body.

For accessories Jack comes with a piece of the Absorbing Man, a pumpkin bomb, a gnarly scythe weapon, and his rocket broomstick. Finally, Jack-O-Lantern has his conveyance. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for a Marvel Legends version of the original Jack-O-Lantern (complete with his hover disc) but in the meantime this figure fills my Jack-O-Lantern figure needs. 10 out of 10.MarvL-Jacko venom

JACK-O-LANTERN (1998)

Marv-Jacko fullTOY BIZ: SPIDER-MAN

This is part 1 of a 2-part review. Originally I had planned to review my new Marvel Legends Jack-O-Lantern figure today but since I was hauling out my 90s figure for a comparison shot I decided I might as well review him too.

I know I say lots of characters are favourites of mine but Jack-O-Lantern truly is one of my favourite comic book characters. I started collecting comics at 8 years old.  The very first comic I bought was Amazing Spider-Man 281. It featured Spidey and Silver Sable facing off against the Sinister Syndicate; a group comprised of Beetle, Hydro-Man, Boomerang, Rhino, and Speed Demon.  You’d think that would be enough to make for an action packed issue but the B-story was even better…

The Hobgoblin was Spider-Man’s arch nemesis at the time and he had just framed Spider-Man’s friend Flash Thompson for his crimes.Marv-Jack art

So Flash was awaiting trial while the real Goblin was at large and scheming with the Kingpin. Jack-O-Lantern was a bad guy on the rise trying to establish himself in New York’s underworld. After first appearing in Machine Man’s book in ’81, Jack tangled with Spider-Man a couple of times but he had never been a major player in Spidey’s rogues gallery. In this issue he determined that breaking the Hobgoblin out of prison was a way to make a name for himself and get into the Goblin’s good graces. He liberates Flash not realizing that he’s actually screwing up the real Hobgoblin’s plan. Gobby goes after him and the two villains end up in a glider dog fight over the streets of New York.  Jack takes a beating but actually gets the better of Hobgoblin and makes his escape.  I was hooked.

Marv-Jacko 284

I absolutely loved Jack-O-Lantern’s design. He had dark green tights with a lime green chainmail leotard over top, buccaneer boots, a flaming pumpkin on his head and he bounced around on a hovering yellow disc.  I know it sounds ridiculous but it looked super cool I swear. Just glance over at the cover to issue 284 when a gang war erupted stemming from Jack-O-Lantern’s criminal ambitions. How can you not love this guy?

Jack-O-Lantern, whose real name was Jason Macendale, cemented his place as one of Spidey’s main villains when he had the Hobgoblin assassinated in issue 289 and then took over his identity.  It was a total baller move pulled off by what was considered a low level villain.  I hated to see Jack’s flaming pumpkin disappear from the comic pages mere months after discovering him but I loved seeing the character grow into a real threat as the new Hobgoblin.Marv-Jacko back

This figure was released by Toy Biz in 1998 as part of it’s Spider-Man toy line based on the 90s cartoon.  Macendale never actually appeared in the show as Jack-O-Lantern so I was surprised, but delighted, that this figure was even made.  I’d wanted a Jack-O-Lantern figure desperately as a kid so it was cool to finally be getting one even if it was a couple of years after I graduated high school.

This figure is still pretty cool looking even 18 years after its release.  There’s some really nice sculpting in the face and plenty of detail in the chainmail torso yet the figure manages to retain a look inline with the other animation-based toys.  The colors are vibrant and the translucent flame on the back of the head effectively captures the comic-book look.  It’s fair to say that I was happy with this figure. However it wasn’t without it’s problems…Marv-Jacko carded

This figure has really over-sized weirdly sculpted arms and I can’t for the life of me figure out why.  They either hang at his side like a couple of salamis or you have to pose him like he’s constantly scratching at his crotch.  A swivel joint at the wrists or forearms would have helped this figure dramatically.

Why doesn’t the paint on his boots and gloves match the chainmail bathing suit?  They’re supposed to.  I appreciate that Toy Biz put a brown paint wash on the torso to show off the sculpted detail but it makes for a dark and weathered chest piece that looks odd with the clean and neon-bright limbs.Marv-Jacko face

Jack came packaged with a big pink bug that spit pumpkins.  Lots of Toy Biz figures came with big useless accessories that I immediately tossed into a spare parts bin never to be seen again. If you want to pack big useless missile-launching bugs with characters like Spider-Man, Swarm, and Tarantula in order to appeal to little kids I’m fine with that; those characters wouldn’t need accessories anyway. But don’t give a bug to Jack-O-Lantern if it means robbing him of his trademark pogo ball.  Stupid decision.

Marv-Jack madLastly, as nice as this face sculpt is, it does not look like Jack-O-Lantern…at least not the original version. Macendale usually had two triangle eyes and a smile with 4-pointy teeth.  It was a very simple design which I have replicated on plenty of real pumpkins over the years.  This face is too detailed.  It’s got too many teeth, too many wrinkles, its eyes are too emotive, and worst of all it has a nose.  This is not the Macendale Jack that I love.  This is the face of the imposter who ripped off his gimmick many years later and went by the name Mad Jack.  I’d be fine with getting a Mad jack figure but not at the expense of an original Jack-O-Lantern figure.

As you can see, I have mixed feelings about this figure but at the time I was sure it was the only Jack-O-Lantern figure I’d ever get so I made peace with its problems and rejoiced that I had it at all. 7 out of 10.

 

 

SPIDER-GWEN (2016)

MarvL-Gwen fullMARVEL LEGENDS

Last year there was a storyline that spanned many Spider-Man related comic books called “Spider-Verse”. The premise was that a group of vampire-like dudes called the Inheritors were traveling to various dimensions and sucking the life force out of each dimension’s version of Spider-Man. Once the “real” Spider-Man got wind of this he teamed up with all the other spider-pwered men and women from across the multi-verse to defeat the Inheritors. I didn’t think it was great, largely because the inheritors are rather bland villains, but there was a fair amount of fun to be mined from the premise. Spider-Verse featured appearances by every Spider-Man you can think of including the 60s animated Spider-Man, Star Comics’ Peter Porker: Spider-Ham, and the black & white newspaper strip Spider-Man. It also brought back all of the transformed and mutated versions of Spidey we’ve seen over the years such as Cosmic Spider-Man and Spider-Hulk. There was no shortage of Spider-Men to pick from and yet the writers and artists went ahead and created a bunch of new variations anyway like Spider-Punk and Lady-Spider. One of the new spider people was from an alternate reality where it was Peter Parker’s girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, that got bit by the radioactive spider instead of him. The result was Spider-Gwen. She didn’t actually call herself that in the comic because that would make her secret identity obsolete but that was the title of the book that introduced her. In Gwen’s world she goes by the name Spider-Woman (yes, another one).MarvL-Gwen back

 

Spider-Gwen’s costume design was really cool and quite different from any spider costume we’d seen before. She caught on with fans immediately and within weeks of her introduction you could find pictures of multiple Spider-Gwen cosplay outfits online. She was given a fairly large part to play in the Spider-Verse saga and as soon as it wrapped up Marvel gave Gwen her own on-going series. She’s also a member of the ensemble cast featured in the new team book Web Warriors which features a bunch of the other fan favorite spider heroes from Spider-Verse. It’s fair to say that Spider-Gwen is a bit of a phenomenon. I think she looks cool but I haven’t bothered to read her solo series. I picked up her introduction story and the first issue of her on-going but they failed to reel me in. At this point I feel I’ve read a few too many variations of a teenaged spider-hero coming of age. Even alternate reality versions of established Spidey villains used to be fun but now they feel played out. That said, I’m glad Spider-Gwen has found an audience and I’m sure it’s exciting for younger fans who haven’t seen these storylines a hundred times before.

MarvL-Gwen face

 

 

Spider-Gwen’s popularity is further evidenced by how quickly Hasbro produced an action figure of her. She was included in their latest Spider-Man themed wave of Marvel Legends which features an Absorbing Man build-a-figure. I’ve been eagerly anticipating this wave so I was pretty excited last week when my pal Dave over at Strange Adventures Comic Shop texted me to say they had them in stock and he was giving me the first crack at them. I said I wanted them all and he gave me a good deal which was awesome (you rule, Dave). That text saved me from hunting these figures down one-by-one all over the city and it enabled me to build a complete Absorbing Man. Dave also hooked me up with the final pieces I needed to complete my Rhino and Hulkbuster build-a-figures so my Marvel Legends shelf just got a whole lot more crowded.MarvL-Gwen art

I’m very pleased with how Spider-Gwen turned out. The body is the same one we’ve seen on fellow teenaged spider-powered females like Spider-Girl, Black Widow, and Arana. The eye-catching paint job distinguishes this figure from the others though. The stark contrast of black and white always looks good and the powder blue webs on the purple areas looks really sharp. The removable hood is sculpted very nicely and it sits proportionately on her shoulders.

As an added bonus Spider-Gwen has a couple of awesome accessories. She has an alternate unmasked head which is something I wish all figures included. Why don’t I have a Peter Parker or a Mayday head? My new clone Spider-Man figure would be so much cooler if it had an alternate Ben Reilly head. I hope the inclusion of Gwen’s unmasked head is a trend we see continued. I would’ve preferred a long haired John Romita style Gwen but the head provided is a pretty good representation of the Emma Stone Gwen which isn’t a bad substitute. Another neat little extra detail is that Gwen includes a downed hood that can be put around her neck with the unmasked head. Lastly, she came with Absorbing Man’s ball and chain which is a must-have for any respectable Absorbing Man figure. This Spider-Gwen is a home run which I’m sure will please her legions of new fans. 9 out of 10.MarvL-Gwen group

TOP 15 ACTION FIGURES OF 2015

As 2015 comes to an end it’s time for my annual “best of” list.  It’s hard to believe that this is my fourth year-end list and even harder to believe that since I started this blog I’ve reviewed over 800 action figures (and I’ve still barely scratched the surface of my collection!).  Thanks to all of you who have been loyal readers and thanks to those of you checking it out for the first time, I hope you come back.  Now, Before I begin the list let me clearly state that this list features the 15 BEST ACTION FIGURES I COLLECTED IN 2015.  I am not saying these are the best 15 action figures released this year, just the best ones I managed to get my hands on.  In order to qualify for my list the figure must have been released in 2015.  I’ve gotten some great action figures this year that don’t qualify because they were originally released prior to 2015.  Now that the criteria has been clearly stated hopefully any nerd rage will be quelled.  I don’t need anyone calling me an idiot because I didn’t name the Hot Toys Hulkbuster Iron Man the best toy of the year (I know it’s awesome but its also $800 and I don’t have one).  So let’s get started…

2015-Cardinus15. Cardinus– This is a figure from the Gothitropolis line by Four Horsemen Toy Design Studios.  It’s a completely original toyline by the sculptors extraordinaire made famous for their work on Spawn, DC, and Masters of the Universe.  At present I don’t have a link to a review of Cardinus but you can check out my review of another figure from the line, Eagalus. All the Gothitropolis figures share the exact same body and they come with the same staff as an accessory.  The only differences between them are a uniquely sculpted head and a paint job specific to each bird species.  I raved on about the intricacies of the sculpting in my Eagalus review so I won’t dwell on it again here but the armour is spectacular.  Both Eagalus and Cardinus have amazing head sculpts that look very life-like.  Either could have made the list but Cardinus edges Eagalus out due to the beautifully regal paint job. Cardinus features a black and gold paint scheme which looks fantastic against his crimson red feathers.  I could totally display Cardinus with my Masters of the Universe collection or any other fantasy figures.  Eagalus’s obnoxious American paint job makes him seem more like a novelty item than a fantasy figure.  This is an amazing figure and I wish I could afford to collect the entire line .

 

2015-First Aid14. First Aid– This figure makes the list primarily because I happen to love the character but it’s also a great toy.  The original First Aid figure from 1986 was one of my favourite vintage Transformers and I’ve always regretted getting rid of it. First Aid’s portrayal in IDW’s Transformers comics in recent years have only made me like him even more.  For years I’ve been hoping that Hasbro would release a new version of him and this year they finally did.  There’s nothing particularly spectacular about the actual figure. The sculpting, paint, accessories, and articulation are on par with just about every other Transformer that came out this year under the “Combiner Wars” banner but that’s not a bad thing because those things were done well on all the figures.  Almost any one of the combiner-bots could have made this list (i.e. Breakdown, Alpha Bravo) but due to my personal affection for First Aid he gets the shout out.

 

 

2015-Jaws13. Jaws–  I love the movie Jaws.  Love it.  When I was a kid that shark scared the crap out of me and fascinated me at the same time, it still does.  I have yet to see a movie shark even come close to being as terrifying as the original Jaws.  I was so stoked to get a Jaws action figure this year courtesy of Funko’s ReAction line.  The retro style of the line was perfectly suited for the task of giving fans the first ever Jaws action figure line.  The 3 human characters are awesome but its the shark that steals the show.  I could’ve easily named this my number one action figure of the year but due to its lack of articulation it didn’t seem fair.  This toy belongs in every bathtub around the world.

2015-He-Man

 

12. Snake-Armor He-Man-This is another figure that I haven’t yet reviewed so there’s no link available yet.  I had every intention of reviewing all my list candidates by years end but I got busy/lazy.  When I was a kid I had a bunch of Masters of the Universe figures including the main hero, He-Man.  He was always my least favourite of the bunch. He was so uninteresting when compared to guys like Buzz-Off and Mer-Man.  It wasn’t until the 2002 MOTU reboot that I actually liked He-Man.  The ’02 cartoon and toy line featured anime inspired designs which I thought did wonders to up He-Man’s cool factor. When the Classics line kicked off in 2008/2009 He-Man reverted back to his boring old bowl-cut self. Multiple re-releases (Thunder Punch, Battle Armour) didn’t help. Finally, in 2015 Mattel has given us this Classics He-Man in the 2002 style, and that didn’t simply mean a new head sculpt, they decked him out in his snake armour which was heavily featured in season 2 of the animated series.  The armour features great sculpting and paint work but it’s the shaggy hair that really wins me over.

2015-Wonder Woman11. Wonder Woman-No link here either folks but thats because I just got this figure the other day.  I didn’t buy many DC figures this year.  The only one I requested for Christmas was Superman from the designer series based on Jae Lee’s artwork.  I’m a big fan of Jae Lee’s work but of the 4 figures in his designer series Superman was the only one that appealed to me based on the images I saw online.  The Batman kinda sucked and the Catwoman was too similar to the Greg Capullo Catwoman that made my list last year. The Wonder Woman looked good but I already have what I feel is the best Wonder Woman figure ever made (DC Direct-2007) so why buy a lesser one?  Well I was checking out Giant Robot Comics’ boxing day sale the other day and saw the Jae Lee Wonder Woman figure “in-person” for the first time.  The sculpting and paint work were so good that I couldn’t resist buying it. I don’t think it’s better than the 2007 figure but this toy is a work of art and had I passed it up I know I’d be kicking myself for years to come.

 

10. Otachi– I just reviewed this figure the other day so I don’t have much to add at the moment.  This figure is big, has great sculpting, great paint apps, and good articulation.  Most important of all it’s a big monster.  I love big monsters. I have a lot of big monster toys in my collection but few of them are designed as well as this figure.  I’m still pissed about the price and the lack of wings but I didn’t buy anything else even remotely like Otachi this year.  He’s a unique looking piece in my collection and he’s a joy to look at.2015-Otachi

 

 

2015-Kylo Ren29. Kylo Ren– I just reviewed this figure the other day as well.  This was a tough call because I got quite a few excellent 6″ Star Wars Black Series figures this year and I wasn’t sure who was going to make the cut.  Captain Phasma is pretty rad looking and the First Order Storm Trooper is awesome too.  For Christmas Vanessa got me a 4-pack of figures which included a red classic Storm Trooper that I absolutely love and he very nearly dethroned Kylo from this list (as I write this I realize he probably should have. Sorry, Honey). Kylo held his spot though because he was such a compelling character in the movie and because this figure is made up of all new parts including plastic and cloth blended together wonderfully. The standard white Storm Trooper ranked number six on my list last year and it would have seemed a bit lazy to award essentially the same figure again this year.2015-Calix

8. Calix-This is a great figure that I’ve been meaning to review for months.  It’s one of the six figures included in Mattel’s MOTU Classics mini-subscription based on the 2002 cartoon I mentioned above in my He-Man write up.  Over the past 7 years a handful of 2002-inspired characters have found their way into the main Classics line but they’re few and far between. A whole subscription devoted to them is something fans of that era (like myself) have been clamouring for. I have three of the mini-sub figures in hand at present and they’re all great.  I expect to have the last three this week or next and they all look great too; there isn’t a dud in the bunch.  Any or all of them could have made this list but I narrowed it down to one and I went with Calix.  This guy is a member of the Evil Horde and he appeared ever so briefly in one episode before getting destroyed.  It’s a shame this guy was created as a throwaway character because he is awesome.  I hope he gets a second chance at greatness in the comics or maybe even a future animated series.  He’s a dude made of rock, which is nothing new for MOTU, but this guy is WAY cooler than those geeks Stondar and Rokkon.  The newly sculpted pieces are fantastic and they do a great job of hiding the fact that this figure is primarily made up of the standard Classics body.  The paint work is subtle but really brings out the details of the sculpt.  I love the stone beard.  I love the axe/crossbow. I love this figure.2015-Frostbite

 

7. Frostbite– A lot of people online like to hate on the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club.  I get that they’ve screwed up a few things (like losing members’ credit card information) but how anyone can stay mad at them when they produce figures like this is beyond me.  They gave us so much gold this year from the Figure Subscription Service (Spearhead was a contender) and the Convention set (Wreckage was a contender) to the Free Membership figure (Dr. Mindbender was a contender) and the online store exclusives (Old Snake was a contender).  Frostbite was the mystery 13th figure that shipped with the final FSS 3.0 shipment this year.  It wasn’t much of a surprise but it was a figure everyone was happy to receive.  Frostbite is a classic character that desperately needed a modern-era makeover and the Club did not disappoint here. The Frankensteined body looks good but what really elevates this figure to another level is the new head and collar by Boss Fight Studios. Frostbite has never looked so good.

 

 

 

2015-Marauder6. Marauder Task Force– Speaking of Boss Fight Studios, I was really hoping to have their first ever original toyline, Vitruvian Hacks, in hand by the end of the year.  I bought into their kickstarter campaign in June 2014 and the figures were expected to be delivered in February 2015.  No such luck. The figures are going to be more than a year late but they look spectacular and I’m sure you’ll see some on next year’s list.  One of the reasons for the delay is because the production factory in China got held up making these figures, the Marauder Task Force (MTF).  This is another original toyline funded by a kickstarter campaign courtesy of Marauder Gun Runners who actually hired Boss Fight Studios to do the sculpting.  The concept behind the line is completely customizable military action figures. The base figures are all the same but you can buy a variety of guns and accessories from Marauder’s website.  I ordered the base figure in all 8 color varieties: red, blue, green, black, arctic, desert, urban and jungle camo. You can mix and match all the parts right down to the pouches on their sleeves and the logos on their helemts.  There are literally hundreds (probably thousands) of parts combinations.  No one figure is better than another so this slot belongs to the whole line in general.  Do yourself a favour and order some of these guys.  Four new color variations were just stocked (mine are in the mail).2015-Hobgoblin

5.  Hobgoblin– Here we go, top five.  The fifth spot on my list belongs to the Hobgoblin.  This is a Marvel Legends build-a-figure meaning you had to buy six different Marvel Legends figures to get all the parts to build this guy. I didn’t mind the concept back when the build-a-figures were giant figures but it kind of pisses me off now that build-a-figures are no bigger than the standard releases.  Despite the hoops I had to jump through to get this guy I am very happy to have him completed.  This is my favourite Marvel Legends figure to date.  Not only is Hobby one of Spidey’s all-time great villains, this is a version of him we’ve never seen in action figure form before (Phil Urich) and it’s faithful to Humberto Ramos’s artwork which I love.  The sculpt is perfect, he’s got great accessories, he’s well articulated, and he’s just fun to look at.  He’s bright and bold and I would think any kid would love to have him.

2015-Gung Ho4. Gung Ho– This guy was never one of my favourite Joes.  Partly because Doug owned both the 1983 and ’87 versions when we were kids.  Despite my lack of personal attachment to Gung Ho he is one of the most recognizable faces on the team.  His importance was evidenced by his inclusion in the Joe 5-pack that launched the modern-era in 2007 along with key characters Duke, Snake Eyes, Scarlet, and Roadblock. In the 8 years since that pack came out 27 more Dukes have been released, 40 more Snake Eyes’, 6 more Scarlets, and 8 more Roadblocks.  This is only Gung Ho’s third and he didn’t get any new parts in last two.  The 2007 Gung Ho and it’s two subsequent repaints are extremely dated and they did not do justice to the Joe team’s original Marine.  In 2015 we finally got a Gung Ho we can be proud off. This figure was released as part of Hasbro’s 50th anniversary line and it is both a beauty and a beast.  It’s beastly in its size and manliness and it’s beautifully rendered.  This figure looks more like Gung Ho than any figure ever before released including the original Gung Ho.  The stache is epic, the chest tat is massive, the arms are thick, and the uniform is seafoam.  To top it off he has a gigantic SAW heavy machine gun with matching seafoam bullets.2015-Machine Man

 

3. Machine Man-If Hobgoblin is my favourite Marvel Legends figure how is this guy higher than him on the list?  I don’t know.  It must be the power of Jack Kirby.  This figure isn’t necessarily based on his creator’s artwork but it sure looks as though the sculptor was referencing some Kirby drawings when creating this head sculpt.  I love everything about this figure from the sculpting to the shimmery purple paint job to the telescoping Inspector Gadget arms.  It’s perfect in its simplicity.

2. Devestator– In a year where every Transformer released is a member of a combiner team I had to put a combiner on the list.  Defensor and Superion would have been contenders had Hasbro not released this behemoth this past fall.  Devestator towers over the other combiners.  They seemed so impressive at first but they look like children in Devestator’s shadow.  I have some issues with the individual Constructicons that make up Devestator but for the most part I’m even impressed with them.  As a whole Devestator is near perfect.  He’s still a bit wobbly but he’s much better than the original.  This toy has everything you’d want in a Devestator; he ‘s big, he’s green and purple,  and he’s cartoon/comic book accurate.  I’ve been wishing for this figure for decades but never did I expect to receive something as impressive as this.  This toy is boss.2015-Devestator

2015-Bombstrike1.Bombstrike– I tried to curb any nerd rage in my opening paragraph but I’m aware this may illicit some.  In a year filled with stellar Transformers and Star Wars figures, a year where Marvel Legends are at the top of their game and a year where Funko further established itself with a wealth of Pop!, ReAction and Legacy figures, you might be wondering how could some chick you’ve never heard of top this list?  To be honest I didn’t know Bombstrike was going to top the list until I started ranking the figures I had selected earlier today.  I always knew Bomstrike would make my year-end list but even I didn’t know I liked her this much.  I laid the figures out in front of me and, after painfully eliminating great toys like POP Godzilla and Shanna the She-Devil, I began ranking the final 15. As I went, Bombstrike kept getting shoved up the ranks and this is where she ended up.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised because I’ve been a big fan of this character ever since version 1 was released in 2005.  The sibling rivalry storyline hinted at in the file cards of her and her brothers (Barrel Roll and Black Out) made for some interesting play scenarios that I would’ve loved as a kid.  As much as I cherish the classic Joe characters I think the brand needs some fresh blood every once and a while to stay interesting and relevant.  The Stall siblings were exactly what the brand needed and I was really disappointed to see them swept under the rug when the new-sculpt era came to a close in 2006.  When The brothers were resurrected in the Collector Club’s first Figure Subscription Service I knew Bombstrike was likely to follow in FSS 2.0.  It took a year longer than expected but in 2015 she arrived and she totally lived up to my expectations even after 10 years of anticipation.  This figure is feminine, petite and cute but she’s ready for combat. She’s camouflaged, she’s armoured, and she’s packing multiple firearms, a computer, and a drone.  I love the character, I love the toy.  What’s not to like?

2015 group

 

VENOM-The Symbiote (1997)

Marv-Venom Sym fullSPIDER-MAN: VENOM

Venom is a character that was first introduced in Amazing Spider-Man issue 300, written by David Michelinie and drawn by Todd McFarlane, way back in 1988. I bought that issue off the rack and I remember it well. It was actually issue 299 where we got our first look at Venom. Mary Jane had just returned home to her apartment when she saw who she thought was her hubby Spider-Man standing in the corner. Spidey was wearing his black costume in those days so all that could be seen in the shadows were the large white eyes of the mask and the white spider logo on his chest. As MJ approached the shadowy figure he stepped out into the light and Mary Jane and readers alike were shocked to discover that it wasn’t Spider-Man in the corner but a hulking new villain wearing an identical costume with an evil sneer full of pointed teeth . Todd McFarlane drew the f**k out of that Venom reveal.  I was on the edge of my seat waiting for issue 300 to come out so I could learn all about this new character.Marv-Venom Sym reveal

 

That first Venom story was great. The return of Venom story, also drawn by McFarlane and written by Michelinie, that began in issue 315 and ran for several issues was pretty good too.  Soon after that Eric Larsen took over the art chores on Amazing Spider-Man.  I like Larsen but Venom’s already exaggerated features became ridiculously amplified. His jaw stretched down to his chest and his tongue was all over the place. Micheline was still writing the character but Venom quickly became an over exposed one-note character and I got bored of seeing him. Other readers seemed to enjoy him though because his popularity continued to grow.Marv-Venom Sym carded

 

As a result, Marvel turned Venom into an anti-hero and gave him his own book. He starred in his first solo mini-series titled “Lethal Protector” in 1993. I bought the first issue but didn’t bother to collect the whole thing. I completely ignored the many Venom mini-series’ that followed (Death Trap, Funeral Pyre, The Madness, The Enemy Within, etc.). Those comics watered down the character even further by having Venom’s alien costume spawn a bunch of offspring which grew into a bunch of Venom knock-offs of various colours ( Scream, Lasher Phage, Agony, Riot, Hybrid, etc.). Venom and his flock proved so popular that they even got their own spin-off toyline from Toy Biz in the late 90s. Since I wasn’t buying the Venom books I had zero attachment to those multi-coloured clones and therefore wasn’t interested in buying their toys. My little brother had a few of them though.Marv-Venom Sym back

I did however buy one figure from the venom toyline and it was this funky version of Venom himself. The package describes it as “Venom the Symbiote”. Venom has changed up his look a few times ( i.e Agent Venom) but I don’t ever recall him looking this bizarre. I know for certain that he never looked like this in a Spider-Man comic but I can’t say for sure that he didn’t sport this look in one of his solo comics. It is a very other-wordly take on Spidey’s alien nemesis.

I’m not sure if the fact that this toy is call “the symbiote” is meant to imply that this is Venom without Eddie Brock inside. That would make more sense as the symbiotic black suit always takes on a much more alien appearance when separated from its human host. However, the hostless symbiote usually looks more like a blob of goo. This Venom is more Xenomorph than it is Barbapappa. Perhaps it’s supposed to be the symbiote merged with a monster of some kind. I don’t know this figure’s origins  but I don’t really care. I just thought this was a damn cool looking toy back when I bought it back in the 90s and I still do today.Marv-Venom Sym hands

Most of Toy Biz’s Marvel figures stood about4 to 5 inches tall. This guy is about 8”. He doesn’t always look it because of the way his double-jointed legs are designed to give him a hunch but when stood straight up he towers over other figures in the line.

The head sculpt on this thing is just crazy looking. It’s long and flat with weird bunny ears and the entire thing is  is lined with individually sculpted teeth. He’s like a clam from hell. It’s extremely cool but I think it could have been even cooler if the mouth opened.  The body is lean and muscly with randomly armored and veiny bits.  His torso and neck seem to have a bio-mechanical vibe.   I should also mention that he has a tail; thats new for Venom.  Its long and curved with boney spikes running the full length.  It’s articulated  at the base only which is unfortunate because this thing would look great posed in different ways.Marv-Venom Sym legs

There isn’t much to say paint-wise but I like the addition of some greys to the character.  They break up the solid white and black colour scheme you would expect to find on a Venom figure. I also like how the boney parts aren’t just solid white.  There’s a splash of yellow on all them which make them appear weathered.

My favorite things about this figure are the appendages. The arms, especially the hands, are just awesome. Each finger is a pointy bone protrusion that is the stuff of nightmares. His hands are sculpted with open palms and spread fingers which gives him a very wide grip. This guy could choke slam Galactus with those bad boys. This figure’s feet are just insane and very H.R. Giger-esque.  Instead of toes his feet come to long thick boney points. Could you imagine getting kicked by this guy? Ouch.  It’s just all kinds of cool.Marv-Venom Sym compare

 

This figure doesn’t make much sense and it doesn’t look anything like the Venom everyone knows but as far as random oddities go this thing is killer. 10 out of 10.Marv-Venom Sym tall

ULTIMATE BLACK WIDOW (2015)

MarvL-Widow fullMARVEL LEGENDS

In my recent review of Hobgoblin I told you how I had to buy six figures I didn’t necessarily want in order to get all the pieces required to assemble Hobgoblin. The figure I wanted the least from that assortment was this one, Ultimate Black Widow; or Spider-Woman as the packaging states. I don’t think she’s ever actually gone by the name Spider-Woman but there are so many spider powered girls swinging around these days and they’re constantly changing their names and costumes so it’s easy to get confused. Let’s recap:

First there was Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew) who first appeared in 1977. For a long time she was the only spider-powered lady so things were easy to keep straight. Then there was a second Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter) introduced in 1984.  Two characters with the same name, a little confusing but manageable. In 1996 a third Spider-Woman was introduced (Mattie Franklin).  Then in ’98 we got our first Spider-Girl (May Parker).  She was Spider-Man’s daughter from an alternate reality but just to confuse things further she recently travelled to the mainstream Marvel Universe and changed her name to Spider-Woman.  A second Spider-Girl (Anya Corazon who went by the name Arana for a while) was created in 2004.  Meanwhile, in another alternate reality known as the “Ultimate” Universe there existed a teenage version of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. He died in battle with the Ultimate Green Goblin but prior to his death (and later resurrection) Ultimate Peter got cloned into a girl.  The clone took the name Jessica Drew (not to be confused with non-Ultimate Jessica Drew) and started superheroing under the name Black Window (not to be confused with other Black Widows Natasha Romanov or Yelena Bolova).   New additions to the spider lady roster include a chick named Silk and a web-slinging version of Gwen Stacy called Spider-Gwen (but only we readers call her Spider-Gwen, people in the comic world refer to her as yet another Spider Woman).MarvL-Widow back

So you see how it can get confusing.

The spider hero concept has been absolutely beaten to death ( Don’t even get me started on the dozens of male variations) but I can usually still find something to like about each character. But in the case of Ultimate Jessica Drew/Black Widow I can find nothing. The fact that she’s a clone of Peter just seems creepy to me. If I remember correctly she even has all of Peter’s memories so she’s quite literally Peter Parker in a girl body. It’s just weird.  Mind you, her strange origin could lead to some interesting stories about cloning and gender identity but I don’t believe any writers have bothered to delve to deep into her character.  The fact that she’s super boring to look at doesn’t help her case.MarvL-Widow art2

 

 

 

 

It’s clearly tough to design an iconic costume for a female spider character.  Most of the ladies mentioned above have changed their costumes numerous times. My favorite of the bunch is probably the black and white costume worn by Julia Carpenter.  Spider-Gwen’s is pretty cool too and I’m a fan of May’s costume even though it’s the exact costume Ben Reilly (another clone of Peter) wore when he was Spider-Man for a while. Of all the many various spider lady costumes I think Ultimate Black Widow’s is one of the worst. It’s just so damn dull. A solid maroon unitard with white eyes and a white spider on the chest is just lazy. It’s essentially a rip-off of Spidey’s black costume.

I’m sorry to say this but I think Marvel needs to kill this character off. There’s absolutely nothing original about her. Her DNA is lifted from Peter, her name is lifted from Jessica, her codename is lifted from Natasha, her costume is lifted from Venom, and her origin is lifted from Ben.  There are too many spider women running around and somebody needs to go.  Marvel already took Mattie off the board and Jessica should be next.MarvL-Widow art

As for the actual Marvel Legends figure, its fine but nothing to call home about. The body is made up of the exact same parts as the the previously released Arana. From the neck down they’re identical.  It’s a well-proportioned body and it has lots of articulation. It actually has so many joints that it can be a little tough to make her look normal when just standing upright.  The left leg in particular is quite awkward. The head sculpt is the only new piece.  It’s satisfactory but I just don’t like the character so it’s hard to get excited about her flowing brown hair, as nicely sculpted as it may be.MarvL-Widow pose

I probably should’ve just bought the Hobgoblin leg I needed loose on ebay for $10 rather than wasting $30 buying this figure to get it but the die-hard Marvel fan in me kind of wanted this figure.   The reason being, despite all that stuff I said bout her not being original, she is technically a unique character who has never been made into a toy before and I can’t resist adding unique characters to my Marvel Universe.  What can I say, I’m a sucker. 4 out of 10.

Spider Women

Spider Women

HOBGOBLIN (2015)

MarvL-Hob fullMARVEL LEGENDS

Build-a-Figures have to be one of the best and worst things to happen to toy collecting in recent years. If you’re buying all of the figures in a toy line anyway then getting parts to build an additional figure packaged with each toy is pretty rad. Unfortunately, none of the lines that I collect as a completist (or near-completist at least) such as G.I. Joe, Transformers, Masters of the Universe, and Marvel Universe, have build-a-figures so there are no “free” figures for me. As luck would have it the only toy line making use of the concept at present is one that I only collect casually; Marvel Legends. By casually I mean I only buy figures of characters that I REALLY want and generally they’re characters who haven’t already been released in the smaller 3 3/4″ Marvel Universe scale. My small Marvel Legends collection consists of characters like Agent Venom, Anti-Venom, Machine Man, and  Arana. All characters omitted from the “Universe” line.MarvL-Hob back

One of the most recent waves of Marvel Legends featured a figure that I REALLY wanted, the Hobgoblin. I already own multiple Hobgoblin figures but I really wanted this particular one and it just so happened to be the wave’s build-a-figure. This is why build-a-figures can be the worst.  I didn’t really want any of the other figures from the wave but I needed them all in order to get the 6 separate piece required to build the Hobgoblin. So of course I ended up buying an entire wave of figures I otherwise wouldn’t have.  Damn you Hasbro.

Ever since I was a little kid the Green Goblin was my favorite Spider-Man villain. That likely stemmed from watching re-runs of the 70s cartoon and seeing him on various merchandise. I’ve had this toy for as long as I can remember.  Sadly, by the time I started collecting comic books at 8 years old the original Green Goblin, Norman Osborn, was long dead. His son Harry took up the mantle a couple of times but he was never as good a villain and even he eventually died too.

The 1st appearance of the original Hobgoblin from 1983

The 1st appearance of the original Hobgoblin from 1983

However, it was right around the time that I started collecting comics that a new character was introduced, the Hobgoblin. A mystery man discovered one of Norman’s old hideouts filled with goblin gear and decided to become a super villain. He changed the color of the costume, donned a hood, and immediately became a huge thorn in Spidey’s side. In many ways the Hobgoblin was even cooler than his predecessor the Green Goblin. His costume made him look as though he was a yellow skinned goblin wearing blue chainmail on his arms and legs as opposed the Green Goblin’s costume which gave the appearance of a green-skinned goblin with bare arms and legs. Also the hood allowed for artists to draw Hob with only his red eyes showing in an otherwise black void of a face. It was a much creepier visage than the long purple sleeping cap and luscious eyelashes worn by Norman. Plus the Hobgoblin was a rational and cunning villain instead of a total whack job like the Green Goblin. MarvL-Hob art

After a few red herrings and retcons the original Hobgoblin’s identity was revealed to be Roderick Kingsley. I have an old 5” Toy Biz produced Hobgoblin figure which I feel represents the Kingsley version quite well. The second Hobgoblin was Jason Macendale. If I’m being honest he was a lesser Hobgoblin but I was a big fan of the character anyway because Macendale was formerly the villain known as Jack-O-Lantern (one of my all-time favorite characters who’s slated to get his own Marvel Legends figure soon).  The Macendale Hobgoblin was more maniacal and his costume was tattered (especially after getting possessed by a demon but that’s a story for another time). I have a couple Hobgoblin figures that I feel are decent representations of the Macendale version.MarvL-Hob face

This new Legends figure of the Hobgoblin is neither of those guys. This is Phil Urich, nephew of Ben Urich who is a long-standing supporting character in both Spider-Man and Daredevil comics. Phil actually had his own series for a while in the mid-90s back when he was a heroic Green Goblin. Just as Kingsley had done many years earlier, Phil stumbled upon one of Norman’s old hideouts but instead of using the goblin gear for evil he decided to become a super hero. I quite enjoyed the series and was sad to see it end after only 13 issues. Thankfully Phil return years later in a team book called the Loners.

I still don’t understand why Phil went bad all of the sudden and decided to become the new Hobgoblin but that’s what he did in 2011 courtesy of writer Dan Slott. The Urich version of Hobby was quite different from the previous versions. He had a much more “Lord of the Rings” look about him and he had wings instead of the usual glider. I didn’t care for the unexplained change in attitude but I was happy to see the character being utilized and I really liked Phil’s new costume.  It didn’t hurt that artist extraordinaire, Humberto Ramos, was the one to design it. He had given Norman Osborn’s Green Goblin a similar LOTR make-over a few years earlier (Norman was back from the dead by then.  Oh, comics.).MarvL-Hob attack

So this figure is the first and thus far only version of the Phil Urich Hobgoblin which is why I wanted it despite already owning multiple Hobgoblin figures. To get it I had to buy Anti-Venom, Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2099, Black Widow, Daredevil, and Spider-Girl. I actually wanted Anti-Venom so that was fine and the Spider-Girl figure is pretty cool too.  Spider-Man, Daredevil and 2009 are all decent figures but I have multiple versions of those guys and I didn’t need them. I don’t have any figures of the Black Widow but I really don’t like the character and did not want to buy it (This isn’t the Russian red-head we’re talking about by the way, this is a female clone of teenage Peter Parker from an alternate universe with the unimaginative costume and she sucks). I wanted a complete Hobgoblin though so I bought them all and so this bonus “free” figure ended up costing me over $150 to build.  The price point hurts but this figure does not disappoint.

This sculpt on this figure is amazing.  There are so many great details on the body like the buckles on the boots, the chainmail in the skirt, and the padding in the chest but its the face that is truly stellar. He’s got an evil scowl and an open mouth with individually sculpted jagged teeth.  It’s very true to Ramos’s artwork.  This figure is loaded with articulation such as double jointed knees and elbows and ball jointed limbs so he can be posed all sorts of ways.  For accessories he has a flame sword sculpted in translucent yellow plastic, a separate de-flamed version of the sword’s hilt, a pumpkin bomb and a killer set of wings that he wears like a knapsack. I really wish he had been available as a single packed figure that way more people could enjoy him and I would’ve saved some money but other than that I can find nothing to complain about.  I love it.  10 out of 10.MarvL-Hob compare