Marvel Studios Blade II

I like Blade. The license, that is. Both films were decent comic book movies, and although they weren't without their problems, they were fun to watch. Of the first three figures being offered by Toybiz in the Marvel Studios 12" line - Blade II, Wolverine and Punisher - it was clear that Blade would be the one I grabbed.

Unfortunately, the figure doesn't live up to the hype. Similar to the Marvel Select premise, these are supposedly higher end figures geared toward the collector. And similar to Marvel Select, I find them tremendously disappointing.

If you don't want to hear me bash a) Toybiz, b) Marvel Studios in general, or c) this particular figure, I'd suggest skipping today's review.

The first series of these figures is available for $30 - $40, depending on where you find them. They haven't gotten much regular retail exposure, so most folks are buying from comic shops, both local and on-line. A fourth figure, Daredevil (based on the film) is now hitting Wal-marts from various on-line reports.

Packaging - ***1/2
If this packaging were slightly more collector friendly, it would be an easy four stars. The design is terrific, giving you a full clear view of the figure by using an entirely clear plastic box. The plastic is very heavy, and unlikely to crimp or damage at the edges as well. It opens up easy enough - just pop out the two little plastic plugs at the top or bottom and remove an end. You will have a few twisties to go through, and actually putting him back on the insert would be tricky. But that's the only negative, and this package is an early on favorite for best of 2003 due to its creativity and design.

Sculpting - ****
Hmmmm. I thought I said I was going to bash this figure. Two categories down, and two great scores - I must be crazy! No, it's just that these two areas are where they did things right.

The sculpting on the head is excellent, looking just like Snipes as the Blade character in the most recent film. The expression is perfect, and let's thank God (or Toybiz) that we didn't get some screaming, snarling, constipated look. Instead, we got a sculpt that says "You don't want to find out just how much of a bad ass I really am."

The hand sculpts are excellent as well. The gloved hands are the sculpt, and the fingers are in a position to hold the guns easily and correctly, but can also hold the hilt of the sword just fine.

I'm not including the accessories sculpting in this score, but will talk about that in that section later in the review.

Paint - ***
The paint operations are good - there just aren't many to really judge. The face is the only major area, and there they've done a fine job. The lips are a tad red, especially for a vampire like Blade (it's not like he just sucked a human dry), but it's not terrible. The only other paint work is on the accessories, and I'll talk about those again in the Accessories section.

Articulation - **1/2
Like the 12" Lord of the Ring figures, there's plenty of articulation with Blade. He has all the joints you'd expect in the top of the line sixth scale body, and some to spare. His funky shoulders will take some by surprise, but Toybiz is no stranger to bizarre shoulder joints. These might look awful nekkid, and you can't use the
body for someone wearing spandex, but they do afford a tremendous range of motion for
the arms.

You can't really do that with this figure though, since the bulky coat and vest makes using the arms to the fullest very difficult. Still, that's not the fault of the articulation.

What is the fault is something that I've had trouble with twice now - he can't stand. At least not on his own. Now, I've heard other folks say they had no trouble, but some have the same issue I do, and that's unacceptable at this price point. And what's the problem? Loose knees.

The knees on my figure are so loose that he can't support his own weight for more than a few seconds in any pose other than a straight, leg-locked, standing up straight like the nuns taught you pose. He has all the articulation to do some very cool fighting stances, but they won't last. I'll have to use a display stand with him, and that's not something that I expect or accept as the norm. If I'd never had this problem with another 12" Toybiz figure, it might not hurt him quite as much, but since this happened with the
Ringwraith as well just a couple months ago, I'm less inclined to cut them much slack.

Outfit - **1/2
The outfit consists of a great overcoat, vest, jacket, pants, belt, sunglasses, and boots. You might say he's dressed to kill.

The top coat is great, with a nice red lining, good stitching, and decent quality material.  He suffers a little from some oversized details - the pocket flaps are waaaay to big for example - but it still comes off looking solid.

The long sleeved jacket does the job, as do the stretch pants. They stay on easily enough, so he won't be saggin', but they don't fit the legs themselves too tightly. The vest has the scale issue again with the zipper (as does the jacket), which appear to be almost full size. They do make much smaller zippers, and this figure would have looked a lot better from the front if they had used them. The sunglasses also suffer slightly from scale issues, and are just a tad too big. They do look okay, but had then simply been a smidge smaller on his face it would have complimented the great sculpt all that much more.

The vest also has some snaps that could be used to hold small blade weapons, although it's not really clear if that's the intention.

One other comment about the sunglasses - they are held in place with a plastic band in back. That's understandable if you want to keep them on in the package, but they should have made them stay on the face a little better without the band as well. Small holes for little pegs to fit in, that sort of thing. When you remove the band, you'll find that they don't stay on quite as good, and are very likely to get lost. That might tempt you to leave the band on, but that simply looks cheap, so you're caught in a bit of a conundrum. It's not a major issue, but at this price point it's
something they should consider.

The boot sculpt looks great, and the soft material goes on an off the feet easily. It is possible to remove the whole uniform easy enough, so if you're thinking of a switch or kit bash, it's not too much trouble.

The scale problems with some of the details are really the only issue with the outfit...except for one major, very annoying flaw. I've included the belt with the outfit, rather than the accessories, and here's where I found one of the most glaringly stupid ideas that I've seen in ages. The belt itself is fine, and there's one attached 'holster' for the special double winged Blade blade and the small throwing darts. It works okay, although the quality isn't quite up to the rest of the outfit.

No, it's the second holster that's the problem, or really the weird excuse for the lack of a second holster that they came up with. When I looked at this figure in pictures, I noticed that one of the three guns was on his belt, hanging down on his leg. Great - I love the way the Cy-Girls holsters work and assumed the same level of detail here. Wrong. The gun that is hanging from the belt is put there with a plastic band. The same kind of basic plastic band used to hold things in the packages. Yes, a clear plastic band, wrapped around the belt and wrapped around the gun. The gun is then twisty tied to the leg.

What exactly was that supposed to be? If you don't want to cough up the margin for a holster, hey, that's fine, but don't fake it in the package just to try to make the figure look better. Big points off from me for this one.

Accessories - **
The next big disappointment was the accessories. Again, this figure is being marketed as a high end version, but the accessories scream 'kids toy'. There are a plenty of them, it's just that the quality isn't up to snuff.

There's three guns, two of which are automatic weapons and have removable clips. The third is a shotgun, with the 'spike barrels' mounted beneath. That's what I'm assuming they are, but the spikes don't fit in the tubes.  The plastic is extremely soft on all of them, as is the sculpt. There's not a lot of detail, certainly not at the level you'd expect. The paint ops are the most basic, with gray and black about the only color, and little detail is called out. With the lack of any holster, there's no place to put any of them other than his hands.

There is also his sword, double edged, which is held in a great scabbard that attached to his back. There's a hole in the jacket to allow the sword to slip in and out easily. The design is good, although once again the quality isn't above the average 'toy', and is very similar to the Ringwraith or Legolas stuff. The edge of the sword isn't clean, with an excess plastic burr, and the paint ops on the hilt are nothing to get excited over.

Their is also the trademark winged blade, held in the one holster on the left leg. Also in this holster are a set of throwing darts or spikes, and while both of these accessories are decent, the soft plastic haunts them. They are held in place with rubber bands in the package, and they were both fairly bent once freed. This is to be expected if I spent $20-$25 on a mass market sixth scale figure like the Lord of the Rings line - it is NOT expected on a a high end item.

I'm not sure if Toybiz made these figures for kids or collectors, and that lack of focus hurt the accessories the most. I can get better quality weapons from any $9 Soldier of the World figure, and if they want to play in the this market they  better set their sights a little higher.

Value - *1/2
If you're lucky, you can pick this figure up for $30 on-line. had him for a very brief period, but now only have Wolverine and Punisher listed. It's much more likely that you'll pay the going comic shop rate of around $40, particularly since he's the most popular of the three figures.

I can buy Scar or Carlos, both excellent figures with fantastic accessories and outfits, for $33. I can buy just about any Cy-Girl, including the new Aurora for under $30. I can buy just about any boxed Dragon figure from $30 to $40. And I can buy something like the Platoon figures from Sideshow, loaded with accessories, great uniforms and head sculpts AND a licensed product, for under $35 each.

That's the market Toybiz is trying to play in here, and they come up short. This is a $25 figure in a $40 box.

Overall -  **1/2
I'm disappointed in this figure, simply because it doesn't live up to the expectations set by both the marketing and the price. It amazes me that a company like Toybiz, that can produce such excellent lines like Lord of the Rings and Marvel Legends, ostensibly for 'kids', can then produce such sub-par lines like Marvel Studios or Marvel Select, claiming they are for 'collectors'.

I suspect that the people that like this set of sixth scale figures the most will be those that don't buy a whole lot in that scale. They won't have as much experience with companies like bbi, Dragon and Sideshow, and therefore don't appreciate what their $40 should be getting. They are simply happy to have ANY decent Marvel figures.

But these figures show no real major improvements over the 12" Lord of the Rings line. Yes, the head sculpt is good, but so was the Legolas (ignoring the shiny paint) and Gimli. The outfit isn't better, and neither are the accessories. Why are you paying a premium?

Some people have said that these figures are made to be taken out and played with, otherwise you won't appreciate them. I believe that Toybiz was hoping for the opposite - Blade looks far better in the box, in his twisty tied pose and his 'fake' holster, than he will once you get him out. Believe me, since two of my sponsors have these in stock and ready to ship, I wish I could give them a great score. But they don't deserve it at this price point.

Where to Buy:
I haven't seen them at any bricks and mortar stores, although your local comic shop may get them in.  On-line:

- Aisle Sniper has them in stock for $40, ready to ship, along with the rest of the series.

- Big Bad Toy Store has sold out of Blade, but still has the other two. They do have Blade if you buy the whole set of three for $95. DO yourself a favor and buy the 10" Sauron instead, which they have in stock for $22.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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