Hasbro Marvel Legends Series 1
Planet Hulk, Emma Frost and Ultimate Iron Man

Earlier this week, I had a guest review of the entire Hasbro Marvel Legends wave 1, plus my own review at Quick Stop Entertainment of Hercules, Banshee and Beast. Tonight, I'll be wrapping things up with my coverage of the other three figures in the wave - Emma Frost, Planet Hulk and Iron Man - along with the BAF of Annihilus.

Lots of folks were mighty upset when the ML torch passed from Toybiz to Hasbro, but I'm not the only person stepping up and saying that things have not turned out as dire as all predicted. In fact, in some ways Hasbro has already improved upon the line, but there are still some others that they need to pick up what Toybiz was laying down if they expect to keep things rolling. And don't even get me started on the increase in price.

I think once folks get these out of the packages and play around with them, they'll start to convert. The real test for Hasbro is going to be over the course of this year, as we see whether they maintain, improve or start to slip over several waves of different lines.

Packaging - ***1/2
Hasbro has dumped the clamshells in favor of cardback/bubble packaging, so you won't have to worry about losing a finger opening the package. Of course, this also means that they are more prone to shelf damage, and are harder for the MOCers to store.

Even with the negatives, these packages are a real improvement. This is largely due to the excellent graphics and design of the overall look. Each cardback is personalized to the specific character, something we rarely get in a mass market presentation. As I said in my earlier review, Hasbro gets the edge in this category.

Sculpting - Hulk, Annihilus ***1/2; Iron Man ***; Emma **1/2
Of the entire series, my favorites are easily the Hulk and the BAF, Annihilus. Both have excellent sculpts, but in the case of Hulk, this really isn't shown off well by the paint ops.

Hasbro is using a harder plastic here, which means that it can take and hold sculpt detail in a mold much better. And there is some great detail here, especially in the faces of Hulk and Annihilus. They're body sculpts are also solid, and scale is certainly appropriate in my book. Hulk's a bit smaller than some other versions at about 7 1/2" tall, but this guy still looks impressive with other 6" scaled figures. Annihilus comes in at about the same height.

If I have one issue with Annihilus, it's the softer rubber they used for the large wings. It's quite difficult to get them to snap into the holes in his back because they're so soft, and to keep them there when posing him. Also, they tend to droop, and I believe that because they are softer rubber, they had to be thicker and heavier than had they been made of a more rigid plastic.

Iron Man has some good detail work too, especially on the armor, but without much in the way of paint work on the gray, much of it is lost. It looks like there's an attempt at a wash, but it didn't work particularly well, and didn't really do a lot to bring out the detail. His face work is clean, but the face itself is cast in skin tone plastic, which makes it a bit cheap looking.

Poor Emma - what is it about women in the Marvel Legends line? While Toybiz did manage a few good looking ones, the vast majority were just plain butt ugly. Hasbro does nothing to improve that track record with Emma Frost. Of course, bad paint can ruin a good sculpt, let alone a mediocre one, and Emma's paint is very bad, especially the face. This makes it difficult to get a real assessment on the quality of the underlying sculpt. But the long horse face, oversized lips, and long neck don't do her a lot of justice.

Her body sculpt isn't bad though, especially comparing her to many of the Toybiz females. They've covered the ball jointed hips more with the pelvis, although the range of movement is still very good. She isn't nearly as stick thin as past ML females either, although she certainly won't be buying her costumes from Lane Bryant any time soon. The hand sculpts are an improvement over the men, like Banshee or Beast, and have a much more natural appearance to their sculpted pose.

Paint - Hulk, Iron Man, Annihilus ***; Emma *1/2
One occasion that Hasbro hasn't quite risen to is in the paint department. While some of the paint work here is decent, none of it is at the level or quality of the better Toybiz ML's.

Hulk does have a decent wash on his body, bringing out some of the detail of the sculpt, but the face doesn't have quite enough. The sculpt is much better than a quick glance will show, largely because there is no paint ops to support it.

The silver arm looks fine, but if you'd rather have a green one, just wait. There's a running change in place that swaps out the silver armed Hulk with a green armed version.

Some folks have had issues with the red vac-metal parts on Iron Man's armor, but mine looks terrific. I'm very happy they went with the vac-metal look, and they pulled it off better than I expected, especially in multi-colors. The knee pads on mine don't quite have the same gloss as the rest, but it's a fairly small issue. Unfortunately, the gray body isn't as good, since the parts are cast in that color, and there's little in the way of additional paint work to make it pop.

Iron Man's face work is also fairly bland, but at least it's clean and neat. Emma doesn't fair as well. Her face and hair work is not only ugly, but sloppy as well. Of the series, she's easily the dog.

Her face paint is what will grab you first. Heavy on the makeup, light on the pretty. The lips are awful, and the eyes aren't much of a step up from there. The hair isn't bad, with a slight wash to pull out some of the detail, but that's certainly not enough to save the poor girl. The white of her outfit has traces of blue, the color of choice to create false shadows with white costumes, but it seems a bit too inconsistent, and some of the areas it's been used don't quite make sense. It's also the same (or very close, but I'm betting same) color that's been used on the interior of the cape, probably in an attempt to keep costs down.

And of course, she sports the most slop of the bunch, especially on the bare sections of flesh, where there's a fair amount of white bleeding over, and even some stray marks.

Annihilus has that odd purple or pink color to his gloves and torso, but if you can manage to get past that, looks terrific. There's more use of washes here, especially on the legs and arms, but nothing overboard. I think they managed just the right number of paint ops with Annihilus, and he's probably the only one in the series to pull that off. They don't need to go overboard though, which is something Toybiz did at times.

It's worth noting in this section that there are two versions of the Annihilus. The arms, torso and upper legs started out pink, but switched to purple fairly early on. Be sure to pay attention to avoid ending up with an Annilihus built out of parts that don't match.

Articulation - Hulk, Iron Man, Annihilus ****; Emma ***
I preached this in my review of the other three figures, but I'll preach it here again - Hasbro has done the unthinkable, and not only maintained the level of useful articulation on the outstanding Marvel Legends line, but IMPROVED on it.

Oh, they've dropped some joints. Most notable is the loss of finger articulation with characters like Iron Man and Emma. Emma gets a lower score due to even more dropped joints, although it appears to be an attempt to improve the look of the female body (which they did do, in general) rather than as a cost cutting measure.

Hulk has the pin style neck, and because of his wide, short neck, he has an excellent range of movement in the joint. He can look straight up at the ceiling, or almost straight down at the floor. A ball joint is still preferred for me, since I'd like to be able to tilt his head, but this is the next best thing.

He has ball jointed shoulders and hips of course, along with single pin elbows and knees, cut and pin wrists, a ball chest, cut waist, pin and rocker ankles, and half foot pin joints. His fingers have the most articulation of this wave, with an individual pin joint for the thumb, first finger, and then the other three fingers together. That means he can pinch things, like Emma's butt. The guy's a sexual harassment suit just waiting to happen.

Speaking of Emma, she has less articulation than the past ML females. Her neck joint is also a pin joint, but because of the hair has almost no forward and backward movement. She has ball jointed shoulders, but they are only jointed at the torso, not at the arm, and she has no cut bicep, cut forearm or cut wrist, so there is no way to turn the arm. EDIT - the elbow joint does turn at the top, but tends to push out from the socket due to the design.  Be careful when twisting as well! She has single pin elbows but double pin knees, pin wrists and ankles, and a ball jointed chest. She's reasonably articulated, but not at the 'super' level of past wave females.

Iron Man also has the pin joint neck, but his is just like Hulk's - he can look almost straight up and straight down. His turns well from side to side too, since he has no huge chin or hair to get in the way. He also sports all the standard ML articulation you expect, including ball jointed shoulders and hips with joints on both sides (having joints on both sides that actually work removes any real need for cut thighs or biceps), double pin elbows and knees, chest, waist, pin and rocker ankles, and pin and cut wrists. Again, he lacks the finger articulation, and his hand sculpts are the new standard style.

Annihilus has plenty of articulation as well, although not as much as Iron Man or Hulk. Same neck, but with the color there's less ability to look up and down. The ball jointed shoulders and hips work great, as does the chest joint. He has double jointed elbows and knees, pin wrists and ankles, and is the only one in the series to have individually articulated fingers.

All the joints on all the figures are tight and solid. No cheap pegs, and the harder plastic makes the joints seem much more likely to maintain poses for the long term. I only had issues posing Annihilus due to the heavy, large wings, but even he could find and maintain some pretty interesting stances.

Accessories - Hulk ***1/2; Iron Man ***; Emma **
For the most part, the Hasbro ML's don't have the range or quantity of accessories that we saw with the average Toybiz ML figure.

However, Hulk does pretty good at setting the kind of standard I'd like to see. That's particularly surprising since he is the largest of the figures, and usually more plastic for the figure means less for the accessories.

He comes with the head and collar for Annihilus, along with his battle shield, battle helmet, and shoulder armor. All three are removable, and with the running change from a silver left arm to a green one, you can take them off and have a 'normal' Hulk as well.

Iron Man doesn't fair quite as well. He does have the torso/pelvis piece to Annihilus, and he comes with his removable mask. There's a packaging variant with him as well - in one tray, the mask is off, and in the other, he's wearing it. The mask looks good and fits well, and the figure looks better in it than out of it. As I mentioned in the sculpting section, the head was sized for it to be worn, so without it, the head is a bit puny.

Finally, there's Emma. She comes with the right arm and leg of Annihilus, and that's about it. Her cape is removable though, so that's a huge plus. Considering how weak she is overall, and the higher price point on the series, I was expecting a bit more.

Now let's talk specifically about Annihilus. Once you have all six figures and put him together, you'll be very pleased. Some folks have complained about the color of his outfit, but I like it - it adds some panache to the shelf. The sculpt is the really amazing part though, especially in the face. The harder plastic really does hold deep, fine detail well, and no where is that more apparent than in Annihilus' face. The wings are made from a softer, more rubbery plastic, which makes it difficult to get them to pop into the shoulder blades, but which looks fine once they're in place. This is a BAF that actually makes it worth picking up all the figures, even the ones like Emma that didn't turn out quite as well as you'd hoped.

Fun Factor - Hulk, Iron man ****; Emma **1/2
These are fun toys, no doubt about it. The sturdy, solid articulation is a big improvement not just for the ability to pose, but for the play factor as well. Kids get frustrated with floppy joints, and hopefully these Hasbro 'clicky' versions will stand the test of time and rough housing.

Value - Hulk, Iron Man ***; Emma **1/2
Toybiz ML's were always an excellent value at $8, with not just the BAF piece, but cool accessories and the add in of the comic book. Unfortunately, Hasbro raised the price and reduced the goodies, effectively hurting the value.

Still, at ten bucks you're getting the best articulated 6 - 7" action figure currently on the market, plus a BAF, and in some cases (like Planet Hulk), a few extra goodies to boot. They aren't the amazing value they once were, but they're holding their own. Well, except for Emma. Without the BAF piece, you'd be hard pressed to find a good reason to pull her off the peg.

Things to Watch Out For - 
Paint is the big issue, which seems to be the general standard these days for toys from every company. Look through them carefully on the peg before committing.

In the case of Iron Man, it's the vac-metal parts that you have to pay extra attention to. I've heard plenty of reports of flaking or damaged areas, so be sure to look over these sections twice. Or maybe three times.

And remember what I said about the variations in the paint work on Hulk and Annihilus. With two versions out there, you'll have to choose which one you prefer.

Overall - Hulk ***1/2; Iron Man ***; Emma **
In looking over the entire wave, it's clear that Hasbro has NOT dropped the ball on this line. The two large negatives are the higher price point, and the reduced number of paint ops, but the plus' include better, tighter articulation, and excellent sculpts (for the most part). I have my hopes that they'll work on the QC for the paint work, and free up a little of their larger profit margin on these to add some more ops.

None of this is particularly surprising though, since many of the same folks that worked on the ML line for Toybiz are now doing the same work - product development and sculpting - for Hasbro. The real test for Hasbro will be over the long haul of three or four waves, where their true colors (either good or bad) will shine through.

There has to be a pretty cool BAF for me to pick up an entire series, since I'm not a huge Marvel character fan. Fortunately, Annihilus was just such a BAF. Unfortunately, they packed his head in such a way in the tray that it's very hard to impossible to see, making it difficult for people to realize in person (without buying the line) just how cool he is. That was a mistake on their part, and hopefully they won't do it again.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - Hulk, Annihilus ***1/2; Iron Man ***; Emma **1/2
Paint - Hulk, Iron Man, Annihilus ***; Emma *1/2
Articulation - Hulk, Iron Man, Annihilus ****; Emma ***
Accessories - Hulk ***1/2; Iron Man ***; Emma **
Fun Factor - Hulk, Iron man ****; Emma **1/2
Value -  Hulk, Iron Man ***; Emma **1/2
Overall - Hulk ***1/2; Iron Man ***; Emma **

Where to Buy -
Mass market retailers should get these in, but without any important variants, going online might be your fastest route:

- CornerStoreComics has them in stock, with the exception of Emma, for individual sale at $12 each. They do have Emma if you buy the set of six for $70.

- Killer Toys has the singles for around $12 each, or the full set for $59, but I'm not sure if they have them in stock yet.

- Amazing Toyz has the full set of 6 in stock for $70.

- and if you're in the U.K., Forbidden Planet has them for about 10 pounds each.

Related Links:
Well, first there's the obvious - 

- you'll want to check out my review of the other three figures at QSE, and don't forget the guest review of the entire wave earlier this week.

And if you still pine for the days Toybiz -

- in the 12" Icons line, there's Spider-man and Beast, Wolverine and Venom.

- The Face Offs series 1 (with Hulk/Leader in one review and the other two sets in another) and series 2 both had guest reviews.

- there's the guest review of the Fearsome Foes of Spider-man boxed set, Urban Legends box set, X-men Legends boxed set, and the Fantastic Four boxed set, along with my review of the Monsters boxed set.

- The previous Sentinel BAF was guest reviewed.

- then there's the various series reviews, including the Wal-mart series, series 13, series 12, series 9 (including Galactus), series 8 Captain Marvel and Doc Ock, series 7 Vision, series 6 Juggernaut, Wolverine and Deadpool, series 5 Blade, Nick Fury, Sabertooth and Colossus, along with series 5 Red Skull, Silver Surfer and Mr. Fantastic, series 4 Goliath, Punisher, Beast, Gambit, and Elektra, series 3 Daredevil and then the rest of the series, series 2 Thing and Namor, and finally, from three and a half years ago, the series 1 review.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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