Marvel Universe Iron Man, Black Panther, Wolverine and Punisher

Marvel Universe Iron Man action figure by Hasbro

It's been the year of the 4" action figure, and now Hasbro is hitting us with their entry in the Marvel arena - Marvel Universe. These figures are a lot like the old Superhero Showdown figures from Toybiz...and yet, there's some real key differences, including size.

They are also part of an online experience, although I can't report too much about that as it doesn't seem to be active quite yet. Each of the figures comes with a code that you enter into the site at, and something happens, but what that something is isn't apparent yet. Of course, with the success of Webkinz, every company is trying to tie their physical products to some sort of online experience, but whether that aspect is worthwhile or not is to be seen.

I'm looking at four of the first nine figures that I've come across tonight - Black Panther, Punisher, Iron Man and Wolverine. I'll also have a packaged shot of the Stealth Armor Iron Man in this review, and over at Quick Stop this week I'm also reviewing Spider-Man, Daredevil, Human Torch and Silver Surfer.

These are just starting to hit retail, and run around $8 each. I snagged them at Meijers, but the other mass market boys should have them any day.

Hasbro has taken a page from the Mattel Superhero playbook, and there are supposed to be several variants out there. I've heard about a Torch variant, as well as a variant Hulk, so keep your eyes peeled.  All the figures in both this review and the QSE review are the regular versions.
Marvel Universe Iron Man Stealth Armor action figure by Hasbro
Marvel Universe Wolverine action figure by HasbroMarvel Universe Punisher action figure by Hasbro
Marvel Universe Iron Man action figure by Hasbro
Marvel Universe Black Panther action figure by Hasbro
Marvel Universe Wolverine action figure by Hasbro
Marvel Universe Iron Man action figure by Hasbro
Marvel Universe Black Panther action figure by Hasbro
Marvel Universe Punisher action figure by Hasbro
Marvel Universe Wolverine action figure by Hasbro
Marvel Universe Punisher action figure by Hasbro
Marvel Universe Black Panther action figure by Hasbro
Marvel Universe Wolverine action figure by Hasbro
Marvel Universe Punisher action figure by Hasbro
Marvel Universe action figures by Hasbro
Marvel Universe action figures by Hasbro

Packaging - ***1/2
The cardbacks and bubbles look great on the peg, and bear a striking resemblance to some of the recent (pre-Clone Wars) Star Wars packages. Their best feature is their personalization, with a drawing of the specific character on the front, a photo of the actual figure on the back, plus a decent bio. They also briefly explain the online feature, although until you can actually enter the code, how useful it will be is unknown.

Sculpting -Iron Man ****; Wolverine, Black Panther ***1/2;  Punisher *1/2

I have to say that I like three of these figures far better than any of the four I reviewed at QSE. Oh, Surfer and Spidey are still good to pick up, but Iron Man, Wolverine and Black Panther are all better looking, better posing figures.

Not so for the pathetic Punisher. What the Hell happened with his head? He looks like the Punisher as drawn by Seth McFarlane. I don't know if he looks more like Peter Griffin or Stan Smith, but he sure as Hell doesn't look like a human...even a comic book version of one.

His head is easily three times the size of the Blank Panther, who is pretty much the exact same figure with some minor sculpt differences. And yet the score is a mile apart, because of how badly they flubbed those minor differences.

As I said, there's that head. It's so bad that I have to assume there was some sort of manufacturing mistake where the pantograph was set to the wrong scale, or someone had a seizure while doing the math.

And then there's his left hand. If you thought the hands on the DCIH figures were big, you ain't seen nothing til you see the gorilla paw this guy has. It's too widely sculpted to hold any of the weapons properly, and it looks just like when a cartoon character gets an appendage ran over by a steam roller.

Let's talk about the better figures, like Black Panther. He has pretty much the same body as the Punisher, but with slightly retooled boots and gloves, a properly sized head, and better sculpting on the hands. The left one is still a little big, but after seeing the flapjack Punisher is carrying around, anything would look better.

Wolverine is the same style body as Daredevil, and it's stumpy here too. But unlike Daredevil, this look actually works for Wolverine. Oddly enough, I didn't have nearly as much trouble getting good poses out of him either, making him one of my favorites of the bunch. I'm not real keen on how the uniform is sculpted like it's bunched up on his thighs, but the soft claws are easy to form into fairly straight lines with a little hot water/cold water, and the expression is stern without being silly.

While the Panther and Wolverine are good, Iron Man is great. The sculpt is crisp and sharp, with well defined armor and proper scale all around. The hand poses work perfectly, and even the expressionless mask emotes a kind of tough determination. Even with the bulky armor, the design allows for the improved articulation (more on that in a minute) to work extremely well, making him the most poseable of the bunch.

The average height here is about 4", which is a little bigger than Star Wars or Joes. Folks looking to pose these with DCIH figures will be a bit disappointed, as they are slightly larger. It wasn't as noticeable on the thinner, more svelte figures like Torch or Surfer, but with figures like Iron Man or Black Panther, it's much more obvious. Because these different figures are slightly different heights and use different body parts, how any one specific figure is going to look with any one other specific frgure from a different line is going to vary quite a bit.

Paint -Iron Man, Black Panther ***; Wolverine **1/2;  Punisher **
Keep in mind that these guys are all only about 4" tall. Paint in that scale can be quite a bit more tricky than with 7" figures.

Considering that these are mass market, I thought the quality on these four was generally solid. Black Panther really only has his eyes, which are clean, but his body is cast in the black plastic you'd expect. There's some slight variation in finish and color between parts, but it's fairly minor.

Wolverine has quite a few operations, particularly for a Hasbro figure. There's some overspray on the uniform, and not all the cut lines are completelly clean, but these issues are really only noticeable under magnified scrutiny.

Iron Man is the best of the bunch, especially when you consider how tricky vac-metalizing can be in any scale, let alone on a four inch figure. There's still a couple blips here and there, including one right under his left eye, but you really have to be looking for them to see them, and a close up photo sure helps.

Poor Punisher is the worst of the bunch again, with a sloppy hairline, bad eyes, and lots of overspray between the gloves, boots and black costume. The chest symbol is fairly clean though, at least on the one I picked up.

Articulation - Black Panther, Iron Man ***1/2; Wolverine, Punisher ***;
Now here's a weird thing - there's quite a variety in the articulation across this series! I had expected these four to be much like the other four I reviewed at QSE, but no - only Wolverine is similar, and he actually poses far better then they did.

He has the ball jointed neck, but he has a slightly thinner neck (or perhaps it's the higher jaw line) that allows for a bit more movement. He also has the ball jointed shoulders with the bicep joint, pin elbows, cut wrists, ab-crunch, ball jointed hips, double pin knees, and pin/post ankles that allow the feet to turn.

I complained about this body with Daredevil, but I had much better luck getting it to pose with Wolverine. Not sure why, and your mileage may vary.

The other three figures have a very different articulation scheme. The ball jointed neck is there, as is the ball jointed shoulders, but there's no bicep joint. The elbows are pin/post style, considered ball joints by some. Since there is a post that goes up into the bicep, the elbow can turn as well as move forward and backward, making the bicep cut unnecessary. In many ways, this joint design works far better than the cut joint by the shoulder and the simple pin elbow. The cut wrists are also present, and the arms pose quite well.

While Iron Man has the ab crunch (which does not gap as badly as the one on Silver Surfer or Human Torch), Black Panther and Punisher both simply have cut waists. I suspect a lot of folks will prefer this in this scale.

All three have the same ball jointed hips, but the sculpting on Panther, Punisher and Iron Man allows for a greater range of movement. All three also have the pin/post style ankles, where the post goes up into the calf, allowing the foot to turn. But rather than relying only on this joint to turn the foot in or out from the body, they've made the knees pin/post on all three as well! The post goes up into the thigh, so that the calf and knee can turn. This really adds to the posability of these figures, and I hope we see more of this and less of the double pin knees in the future.

Iron Man has one more articulated piece - his shoulder armor. The armor moves on pins so that the shoulders aren't quite as restricted.

Accessories - Wolverine ***; Iron Man, Black Panther, Punisher **1/2
Each figure comes with some paper extras, including a small baseball style card that's fairly thin, a small paper with a secret code on it to be entered in at the website, and a small sheet of paper with some sort of 'classified' information on the character. These are interesting to read once, but it's unlikely they'll last long, and you probably won't find a reasonable useful way to display them. I didn't include a photo, but trust me - you won't be buying the figures just for the paper extras.

But these figures do generally fair better in the extras department than the other four I reviewed.

Iron Man comes with a large 'blast' flame that can attach to his wrist. The flame doesn't quite line up with his palm but it's reasonable close considering the scale.

Black Panther also only comes with one weapon, but it's a terrific looking bladed staff. It fits nicely in his hands, and looks terrific.

Punisher and Wolverine actually come with more than one weapon each, quite the surprise. Wolverine has a machine gun, which fits pretty well in his hands, and a sword that does not. The sword is a solid piece of red plastic with no paint ops, and it's pretty silly. The gun is solid black plastic, but at least that doesn't look as goofy.

The Punisher also has a machine gun, very similar to Wolverine's. In fact, in the photos I *may* have gotten them mixed up. The Punisher also has a small handgun, as well as some ridiculous huge gray cake mixer. Or maybe it's a gun. It's hard to tell, and even harder for him to hold it.

Holding his weapons is his biggest problem, what with the poorly sculpted left hand, and the short grips on both black guns.  At least the smaller guns help improve what is otherwise a really dorky looking character.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
While I have some issues with various characters (and the basic design in some cases), I have to say that these are really fun toys. The joints are far sturdier than the old Superhero Showdown line, and while there's a couple more points of articulation they could use, they didn't go so far overboard as to make them too fragile and difficult to pose.

Value - **
Sorry, but I'm not quite feeling the eight bucks a pop. At least with Punisher and Wolverine, there's a couple accessories to make it worth a bit more. But in general, it just seems like these are a good buck to two bucks overpriced, particularly with the recent extreme drop in worldwide oil prices.

Things To Watch Out For
Hasbro has had issues with paint quality, at least when it comes to consistent paint quality, so pick out the best examples you can find on the shelf. And while the joints seem very sturdy, you may still want to stick with the freezer trick to loosen any stuck ones, just to be safe.

Overall - Iron Man ***1/2; Wolverine, Black Panther ***; Punisher *1/2
I wrote the review of the first four - Spidey, Silver Surfer, Human Torch and Daredevil - for Quick Stop first, then worked on this review. While I didn't select the figures for each review in any non-random way, it turns out that three of these four are far superior to the rest of the 8, and one...poor Punisher...just plain sucks.

In fact, I almost gave Wolverine and Black Panther an extra half star here, just to highlight the fact that I like them better than the Daredevil or Spider-man. But the problem is that they really are about three stars overall, and to be honest, so are Daredevil and Spidey. They aren't amazing, but they are certainly solid and well worth picking up.

Iron Man is the outstanding figure in these eight, with terrific articulation, sculpting and paint. If they did them all this way, it would be a complete geekgasm.

Unfortunately, the Punisher is just awful. Avoid this figure at all costs. From the huge head and goofy hand, to the silly accessories he can't even hold, to the weak paint ops, this is a figure you don't want to spend $8 of your hard earned money on..Hell, you don't want to spend $8 you found on the street on this thing.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpting - Iron Man ****; Wolverine, Black Panther ***1/2;  Punisher *1/2
Paint - Wolverine ***1/2; Iron Man, Black Panther ***, Punisher **1/2
Articulation - Black Panther, Iron Man ***1/2; Wolverine, Punisher ***
Accessories - Wolverine ***; Iron Man, Black Panther, Punisher **1/2
Fun Factor - ***1/2
Value - **
Overall - Iron Man ***1/2; Wolverine, Black Panther ***; Punisher *1/2

Where to Buy -
Like I said, these are just starting to hit retail, but there's a couple online options as well: - Past Generation Toys has a huge bunch up for pre-order. Expect to pay $9 - $12 for most, depending on the figure. - or you can search ebay with

Related Links -
I've reviewed another four of these figures over at Quick Stop Entertainment, and don't forget to check out the Fury Files where you can be part of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Want to chat about this review?  Try out one of these terrific forums where I'll be discussing it!


Reader Ratings!
Here's your chance to weigh in!  Select your rating for this figure(s) to the right.  Yea, it's a five star system and not a four star system like mine, but it's the best I've been able to come up with so far.  You can only rate once from any particular IP.  My score converted to a five star system for comparison: 3.44

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Marvel Universe Black Panther action figure by Hasbro
Marvel Universe Iron Man action figure by Hasbro

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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