Marvel Legends 9
Bullseye, Gray Hulk, War Machine, Dr. Strange,
Deathlok, Nightcrawler, Professor X, Galactus

Marvel Legends recently shipped the 9th wave, which is quite an accomplishment in today's tight market. A line like this, focused predominately on collector's, but still carried by some mass market stores, has gotten more rare a politician's ethics.

But Toybiz has gotten the formula to work, although there have been some fits and hiccups. They have experimented with 'chase' figures in every wave - and 9 is no exception - but have gotten better at guessing the amount to make, and picking variants that are less appealing to the casual buyer.

Series 9 includes some pretty weak characters - Professor X, Nightcrawler, Bullseye, gray Hulk, War Machine, Deathlok and Dr. Strange. Okay, maybe 'weak' is a poor choice of words. This is a series of B list characters though, and the likelihood of a someone buying the entire set, short of the plastic fume crazed completist, was small.

But Toybiz came up with a solution that, while tricky and risky, looks like it will pay off. With each of the seven characters, they included one body part of a larger figure, a 13" tall version of Galactus.

There are two variants this time around as well. One is a repainted version of Bullseye, that also has a snarling, open mouth, and the other is a repainted gray Hulk, done in green. Both were probably good choices for variants, since neither are likely to be big on the casual buyers list.

I picked my set up at K-mart for the ungodly sum of $9 each, but if you're lucky you'll find them at Wal-mart or another retailer for closer to $7.

I had to decide how I was going to deal with Galactus as part of this review. Was he just an accessory? Or should he be treated like his own figure, covered in every category? I went with the later, although his inclusion with each figure also helped their individual accessory scores.

Packaging - ***
They continue to use clamshells that show off the figures well, and have some personalization on the inside card for each figure. It's not a lot, but there's enough to make it a little more interesting for you.

The score did lose a bit to the damn twisties though. This is another of those cases where it looks like the Asian twisty tie cartel got involved. Thankfully, my four year old daughter loves to untie the twisties at this point, so I open them up and let her go to town. I don't think that's going to last too long though.

Sculpting - Galactus ****; Gray Hulk, Nightcrawler, Dr. Strange, Deathlok ***1/2; Professor X, War Machine, Bullseye ***
None of the sculpts in this series are poor quality, but some are simply more intriguing or interesting.

Galactus is the best part of this series, without any doubt.  His sculpt is detailed, high quality, and works almost flawlessly with the articulation.  The soft rubber skirt is the one exception to that, since it binds up the ball jointed hips a bit, but it's necessary and looks great.

One of the things that stands out for me is his lower face.  The texture and style of the chin and mouth make it look more detailed, and more like skin, than the surrounding hard surfaces of the outfit.

Galactus is the only figure of this bunch that has any real scale issues, and that's simply because he'd have to be huge to be in scale with a 6" - 7" line of figures.  Toybiz has done what they could though, and I can live with the compromise.

Next up in my ranking of favorites is the Gray Hulk.  He is very Kirby-esque, not quite perfect, but the closest we've gotten.  We see great comic book detail without sacrificing articulation.  I also really like the scale on this Hulk, and how well he fits in overall with the rest of the ML line.

Deathlok is the most detailed sculpt of the bunch, and every line and wrinkle of his suit and face are here.  There's more nice work with the textures, making different areas appear to be made from different materials, and the scarring of his face is very well done.

The gun is permanently attached, and I suspect some folks might have an issue with that.  It was no biggie for me, but it does effect his accessories score.

Dr. Strange has one of the best head sculpts of the bunch, although none are slouches in that department.  His hands are done in the classic throwing the goat, long considerred a sign of dark magic.  Or he's just an Ozzy Osbourne fan.

There's a ton of detail work in his clothing as well, especially the shirt, but the rubber used for his cape is VERY heavy and thick.  If he's wearing the cape, he's pretty much not going to be doing anything else.

Nightcrawler is another of my favorite sculpts, and it's nice to have something new other than the movie version.  He's always been a favorite character of mine, so it was nice to see him get the Legend treatment.  His scale is good as well, as is the scale across most of the figures in this series.

War Machine isn't a terrible figure by any stretch of the imagination, but his face sculpt isn't quite as detailed and lifelike as the rest of the line.  Actually, Professor X suffers from this a bit as well, along with the simple fact that he really didn't need the Legends treatment.  Finally, there's Bullseye, a rather uninteresting character for me, and a relatively uninspiring figure.  The detail work is solid though, and he doesn't look too constipated.

Paint - Galactus, Gray Hulk ****; War Machine, Professor X, Nightcrawler  ***1/2; Deathlok, Dr. Strange ***; Bullseye **1/2
The paint ops on this line are fairly good, but they do vary a bit across the set.

Galactus and Hulk are pretty close to perfect all around.  The colors are clean and neat with no slop, they are nice and consistent across large areas, and there's an appropriate use of wash and different finishes.

War Machine, Professor X, and Nightcrawler are close, but aren't quite as well done.  There's the occasional stray line, and the silver on on War Machine isn't as consistent as it needs to be to imply real metal.  Professor X's face ends up a tad too zombified, and in general there are small nits with this set of three.  It's nothing major though, and most folks will let it slide.

Deathlok and Dr. Strange suffer from a different problem - too much wash.  While some wash to bring out small detail work has become the norm, these two are good examples of going overboard.

And then there's poor Bullseye.  He suffers from a poor job on the white areas of his uniform.  Most of these, other than his coloar, are thinly applied, and allow too much of the paint beneath to show through. It looks like it's intentional, done as a sort of reverse wash, but it ends up not working for me.

Articulation - Galactus, Gray Hulk ****; Deathlok, Professor X, Bullseye ***1/2;  Dr. Strange ***; Nightcrawler, War Machine **1/2
These are Marvel Legends, so you'd assume great articulation across the board.  There's certainly plenty of points on every figure, but not all of them work particularly well.

I hadn't expected Galactus to have more than a few basic joints, since he was a 'snap together' type figure. When I put the parts together though, I was truly amazed at just what excellent articulation he had!

He has a pseudo-ball jointed neck (it allows for full rotation, and for the head to move foward and back, but not side to side), ball jointed shoulders, double jointed shoulders and elbows, cut wrists at the middle of the gauntlet, a pin wrist right at the hand, a pin joint for the four fingers, a ball jointed chest, ball jointed hips, cut calves at the top of the boots, pin ankles, and a pin joint mid-foot. Now you can see why I was shocked right out of my pants! Try explaining that to the police though.

Not every joint is perfect (the range of movement on the ball jointed hips is very restricted due to the rubber 'skirt', and the chest joint is a little hinky) but in general, they work extremely well, allow for a ton of poses I didn't think possible, are all tight, and all work quite well with the sculpt. When the figure that's built out of accessory parts from the rest of the figures is the best of the bunch, that's pretty amazing!

The Hulk articulation is also quite impressive, with a ball jointed neck, ball jointed shoulders, chest and hips, cut waist and forearms, pin elbows, wrists and fingers (with the thumb and index finger articulated separately from the other three fingers), double jointed knees, and pin ankles and half foot.  That's quite a bit for such a bulky figure, but it all works extremely well, and even with his size, he stands fine on his own in lots of poses.

Deathlok and Bullseye continue the ML tradition, with all the same articulation as the Hulk, minus the extra finger joints.  They also add the double jointed elbows that the rest of the line sports, but is missing on the Hulk.

Professor X and Dr. Strange actually add a couple different joints to the basic picture.  Strange has cut calves, but lacks the chest joint.  Xavier has cut biceps, cut thighs and cut calves, which work well for giving him a lot more sitting poses, but lacks the chest joint as well.

Strange scored a little lower on this category because the heavy cape makes most of the articulation fairly moot.

Nightcrawler adds even more articulation, with cut ankles, a bendy tail, and each finger and toe individually articulated.  On top of that, his little 'spurs' on the back of his feet are articulated!  War Machine has articulated weapons, along with cut thighs.  So why do these two rank so much lower?  Because these two had serious issues standing.

None of the rest of the line had any trouble keeping their feet, but War Machine tends to topple due to his large upper body, and weak knees and hips. 

Nightcrawler suffers from the same weak joints, and even without the heavy upper body, is mighty tough to get to stand for very long.  Hopefully I just got a bum figure, and this isn't a consistent issue, because he'd be a four star figure in this category otherwise.

Accessories - War Machine ***1/2; Galactus N/A; the rest ***
Since Galactus IS an accessory of the other figures, he gets a Get Out of Jail Free card in this category.

Every figure comes with a reprint comic book that is related to them very specifically.  The comics are nice enough, but I'm not a big fan of comics and cards as accessories.

War Machine takes the top honors in this category, with five different flame attachments for his hands and Gatling gun, a very cool 'launched' missile attachment, a clear plastic stand that attaches to his butt and holds him above the ground, and plenty of ammunition.

The stand is nice because it is articulated at two points, allowing you to do all kinds of flying poses.  This also helps negate some of the weak joint problems from the previous category.

The rest of the line does not have any where near the number of accessories that War Machine does.  Most have nothing else, but Professor X does have his chair of course, with rolling wheels, and his helmet for checking in on the mutant population.

They all get at least three stars though, because of the inclusion of the Galactus parts.  This was a good idea, but executed poorly, could have been a major problem.  Instead, it was executed extremely well, and will be a big hit. 

Fun Factor - Galactus, Gray Hulk ****; Professor X, Deathlok, Bullseye ***1/2; Dr. Strange ***; Nightcrawler, War Machine **1/2
Any kid will have fun with Galactus and the Gray Hulk, fan of the characters or not. The great sculpting and excellent articulation make them both fun to play with, and they can go up against any other bad guys or good guys in any superhero line.

Professor X has the wheel chair, which works pretty good. My four year old son kept pointing out that he had a boo-boo. Bullseye and Deathlok aren't going to be familiar to most kids, but have a look that might be enticing nonetheless.

Dr. Strange might be fun without the cape, but most kids will find that annoying. And unfortunately, both War Machine and Nightcrawler suffered from such loose joints, that most kids will turn them into lawn mower fodder pretty quick.

Value - ***1/2
I'm pretending you paid about $7 each for these. Considering the quality of most of the figures, the level of articulation, and the fun factor, they are a very good deal at that price.

However, if you paid $9 each like me, you can pull a whole star off this score.

Things to watch out for - 
The only issue is with the varying quality of the paint ops.  Pay attention if you're picking these off the peg, so that you can get the best possible paint job.

Overall - Galactus ****; Gray Hulk, Deathlok ***1/2; Bullseye, Professor X, Dr. Strange, Nightcrawler, War Machine - ***
This is a set of second and third string characters, and selling complete sets would be tough.  But by packing in the pieces to Galactus, a great character AND a great figure, they managed to guarantee that people would buy some of the lesser figures.

Fortunately, even the figures you might not have wanted are done extremely well.  Sure, a couple of them had nits to pick, but they were really just nits.  You might be a tad annoyed that you end up with some characters that you weren't really planning on buying, just to have the Galactus, but I can assure you that once you have him together on your shelf, you'll forget all about that.

Series 10 is going to be marketed the same way, with each figure coming with a piece of a Sentinal.  If he's anywhere near as good as Galactus, even I will be buying another entire series!

Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - Galactus ****; Gray Hulk, Nightcrawler, Dr. Strange, Deathlok ***1/2; Professor X, War Machine, Bullseye ***
Paint - Galactus, Gray Hulk ****; War Machine, Professor X, Nightcrawler  ***1/2; Deathlok, Dr. Strange ***; Bullseye **1/2
Articulation - Galactus, Gray Hulk ****; Deathlok, Professor X, Bullseye ***1/2;  Dr. Strange ***; Nightcrawler, War Machine **1/2
Accessories - War Machine ***1/2; Galactus N/A; the rest ***
Fun Factor - Galactus, Gray Hulk ****; Professor X, Deathlok, Bullseye ***1/2; Dr. Strange ***; Nightcrawler, War Machine **1/2
Value - ***1/2
Overall - Galactus ****; Gray Hulk, Deathlok ***1/2; Bullseye, Professor X, Dr. Strange, Nightcrawler - ***; War Machine **1/2

Where to Buy - 
I picked up my set at K-Mart, and Wal-mart, Meijers, Media Play, and perhaps even Target should have these at some point. Online options include:

- CornerStoreComics still has some of wave 9 available for around $12, depending on the character.  They also have pre-orders up for future waves.

- Krypton Collectibles is going to be selling loose versions of the figures, and building some Galactus' to actually sell separately!  They don't have their stock in yet however.

- has series 10 up for pre-order right now.


Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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