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Superhero Showdown
Ghost Rider, Doc Ock, Punisher

 

We have a new reviewer tonight, Ridureyu, and he's checking out the Superhero Showdown!  Give us the scoop, Ridureyu!

For the uninformed, Marvel Superhero Showdown is the new Marvel Legends-inspired 3-3/4" toy line/collectible game. While the game seems pretty well developed, there's no doubt that one of the main reasons for this toy line is to capitalize on Star Wars, G.I. Joe, Microman, Evil Dead, and the other toys in that scale. The figures are super-articulated, and touted as "miniature Marvel Legends." They also come with the supplies needed to play the associated game - one that involves punching, kicking, and shooting your opponents. The figures come in "starter" two-packs and "booster" single-packs. I wasn't aware that they'd been released until this afternoon, but a pleasant surprise is always a nice thing. Of Wave 1, I picked up three boosters - Ghost Rider, Dr. Octopus, and the Punisher.








Packaging - **1/2
It's a standard, ordinary bubble card in roughly the same size and shape as the Lord of the Rings figures. There's nothing really outstanding about the packaging, although it does a really good job of telling you what the toy is and what it comes with. It's also not a clamshell, which will please some and infuriate others. It also doesn't take very much effort to tear into the pack and pull everything out. The back of the card shows off the current Starter pack plus both waves 1 and 2 of the figures. Again, it suffices, but it's nothing special.

Sculpting - Ghost Rider, Doc Ock, ***, Punisher **
in one sense, the toys really ARE shrunken Marvel Legends. In another sense, they're really not. I fear that inconsistent sculpts are going to plague this line. Ghost Rider looks good for his size - there's an incredible amount of detail packed into his sculpt. they managed to capture his flaming skull quite nicely, considering that it's only one piece of plastic - and if you look carefully, you can see that he even has a little bony neck! His proportions are somewhat off, though - he's barrel-chested and his shoulders look weird. Certain parts of Ghostie's outfit, like the upturned collar, are sculpted in softer rubber - it works out really nicely, even if the collar seems a little large. His articulation is also the best-hidden in the group, partly due to the nature of his clothes. One big problem that I have with this toy is the fact that his fists are closed. This means that he can't hold anything - not the handlebars to a motorcycle, not his chain, not even a lightsaber! I like the sculpt a lot, but it has a few odd problems.

Doctor Octopus also has a really nice sculpt - it's the ML8 figure, only shrunken. He has all of the correct proportions, the articulation isn't too obvious, and he's even in scale with the other figures (read: slightly shorter). Why doesn't he have a higher score than Ghost Rider? Because the figure literally fell apart out of the package! I was able to easily snap the pieces back together (more on this under articulation), but Doc Ock seems to be the most fragile of all of them. This is a pity, seeing as how they really captured Spider-Man's arch nemesis well.

Sadly, the Punisher suffers a lot in this category, and it's mainly because of his articulation. Even though he's obviously based on his ML sculpt, it can be hard to tell at times. Whereas the larger figure is big and bulky, this toy is tall and lanky. His proportions seem totally off - his legs are too long, his arms are too skinny and stick out too much from his shoulders, and he has the neck of a giraffe. It's almost like they stole a Microman figure and tossed Frank Castle's head on its shoulders. Speaking of that, Frankie's really let himself go - I saw this figure's face and immediately thought, "What is Bela Lugosi doing in the Punisher's clothing?" Basically, the Punisher is a scowling version of Dracula. All of this isn't to say that the sculpt doesn't have any good points, though - detailing on the clothing is really nice, and I like the addition of a holstered gun. He just could've been better, that's all.

Paint - Ghost Rider ***1/2, Doc Ock ***, Punisher **1/2
Notice a pattern here? Once again, dear ole' Frank falls short. Ghost Rider's paint job is pretty minimal, but good - his leathers are black with a dark brown wash and some white highlights, I couldn't find any obvious paint slops, and the pattern fits very well, serving to bring out the details of the character's complicated sculpt. His head sculpt is also very well-done - the fire is cast in translucent red-orange-yellow plastic, and the shading changes very nicely. His skull-like face is also well-painted, without a single splotch that I could see on mine. Of course, I might have just been lucky, but that's still a superb paint job. Also due to the design, his eyes "light up" if you shine a light through the back of his head.

Doc Ock also fares pretty well. His costume is green of course, with a couple different washes to add texture to it. His gloves and boots are yellow, and we all know the color of his tentacles. The paint on his face is nicely-applied, but there's some minor bleeding around the hair and sunglasses - nothing worse than what you'd see in a Star Wars figure, though. His costume is less-complicated than Ghost Rider's, which is why it has a lower score.

The Punisher, on the other hand, barely receives a passing grade. While his uniform is just fine, save for some really minor bleeding on the skull, his face is just plain wrong. To further promote Frank's "I am Dracula" phase, his skin tone is extremely pale, and his lips are bright "I've just been drinking blood" red. At least the eyes are on straight.

Articulation - ***
This is one category where every figure gets a high score, in spite of a few problems. The sheer range of articulation in this line is tremendous, averaging roughly thirty points a figure! Of course, not everything from Marvel Legends is here - Punisher has both torso joints while neither Ghost Rider nor Doc Ock do - and of course nobody has articulated fingers. Strangely, Ghost Rider can't lean his torso forward, and is thus ill-suited to ride a bike yet again. Still, you can pose any character pretty much however you want. Now for the bad news. I would argue that it IS possible for a toy to have too much articulation - loose joints will eventually plague this series, and breakage seems entirely too possible. Ock's tentacles are floppy rubber instead of bendy, which means that they might get in the way. The Punisher's articulation is most of the reason why he looks so strange, and I fear that Ghost Rider's head is just going to snap off his little bony neck someday. There is also the fact that these figures come apart really easily, but that might be a blessing in disguise. Rather than simply break at the shoulder, leg, or waist joints, the sockets are just large enough to allow most limbs to simply pop off. As I mentioned, Ock practically came in pieces, but he was easy to put back together. Still, this may be a problem with some people. Speaking of durability, at least have of the joints were stuck to some extent on most of the figures, so be very careful when loosening them.

Accessories - As a Game ****, As a Toy **
The accessories included with these toys are entirely designed to match with the gameplay. Each figure comes with a stand, a missile launcher, and some cards to represent gameplay. The cards are all useful in the game, and change character's stats dramatically. The stand is quite useful, as a little telescoping arm plugs into your figure's back so you can pose him standing, balancing on one foot, leaping in the air, falling over, or what-have-you. The missile launchers, on the other hand, are strange. They all fire little fireballs - Ghost Rider and Punisher's are orange while Doc Ock's is green - and the launchers themselves are sculpted differently for each character. 

They attach by claming on the figure's forearm, although some fit better than others. The level of quality control in these things varies tremendously - Ghost Rider's launcher could put somebody's eye out at twenty paces, while the Punisher's barely makes it out of the weapon. Doc Ock's has to be wiggled a bit before it'll actually lock in place. There are some serious quality control issues with these accessories, which I hope will be solved in time. What's really sad about this is the lack of unique character accessories. Ghost Rider has no bike (not that he could hold on to the handlebars. I bought one of the OC Choppers for him), Punisher only has a missile launcher that barely works, and Doc Ock is lacking... well... um... never mind.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
This is where even the Punisher gets a high score. Unless you're a customizing master, this is your only chance for Star Wars to meet Dr. Doom, or Destro to fight the Punisher. The figures are a lot of fun to play with for something this small, and the included game is a nice bonus - I haven't played it yet, but it looks like it could be a whole lot of fun. Not complicated dice-rolling fun, but fun nonetheless.

Value - **1/2
I was on the fence about this. each individual figure costs $7.99. In and of itself, that's nasty. However, they do come with a lot of game pieces, and they are articulated much like Micromen (which retail for a lot more). So, I gave them a passing grade - but it's a QUALIFIED passing grade.

Things to Watch Out For:
Pay close attention to the paint jobs when you buy these figures - the ones I saw didn't vary too much, but that's definitely not going to be true for all of them. Also, durability will become an issue, with some of the tiny joints being inherently fragile.

Overall - Doc Ock, Ghost Rider ***, Punisher **1/2
The Punisher got a passing grade only because he's fun to play with in spite of his severe problems. Doctor Octopus and Ghost Rider are both quality figures, although Ghost Rider has strange shoulders and clenched fists. This entire toyline reminds me a lot of the first series of Marvel Legends - well-made, innovative, but with serious quality control issues that need to be corrected in future waves. I for one hope that they'll be fixed soon, but only time will tell. And let's hope that Cap is going to get his shield. Ultimately, these may not be perfect figures, but they are really good if you're into the 3-3/4" scale.

SCORE RECAP:
Packaging - **1/2
Sculpting - Ghost Rider, Doc Ock, ***, Punisher **
Painting - Ghost Rider ***1/2, Doc Ock ***, Punisher **1/2
Articulation - ***
Accessories As a Game ****, As a Toy **
Fun Factor - ***1/2
Value - **1/2
Overall - Doc Ock, Ghost Rider ***, Punisher **1/2

Where to Buy - 
You can find these at Toys R Us stores right now, or online at:

- Killer Toys has the two packs for $18, or a case of 12 for $100.


Figure from the collection of Ridureyu.

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