Marvel Icons
The Human Torch (times 2) and Silver Surfer

I finally saw the second Fantastic Four movie last week when it hit DVD.  Now, there were an awful lot of people going on about how they were looking forward to this movie, and how it looked fantastic...pun intended...but I never did quite understand that.  A reasonably interesting looking trailer does not a great movie make.  Especially after the rather lame first film.  And so it was with no big surprise that I watched the second film and realized it was worse than the first.

But at least the special effects were nifty, particularly those of the Silver Surfer.  He's a character that has some real potential, even if this film did a craptacular job with his characterization.

I finally got the Human Torch and Silver Surfer Marvel Icons off of Amazon, including the variant Torch.  I suspect these might eventually show up in big numbers somewhere, but for now it's still a bit tricky to hunt them down.  When you do, expect to pay around $20 each.

The regular Human Torch is the guy all in flames, and the variant is the version wearing the costume, but with only a few flames around his body.

Packaging - ***
The packages are far from collector friendly, but they do show the entire figure off and are pretty impervious to shelf wear and storage damage.

Sculpting - Surfer ****;  Torches ***1/2; 
This is an excellent version of the Surfer, and while I wasn't thrilled with the on screen version due to some rather...leaden acting...but the style and design of the character were great. Yes, he's simplicity itself, but simple can be tough to do well.  Here, they've done it just right.  The body looks far better here than it did with the Magneto and Cyclops figures, with none of that awkwardness or disproportionate physique.

The sculpt of both the flame off and flame on versions of Torch is exactly the same.  And yet, if you were to ask me at first glance which of these were the 'better' sculpt, I'd have a clear winner.  The flame off is much better looking to me than the flame on...but as I said, it's the exact same sculpt.  Amazing what a difference a paint job can make, eh?

Both figures stand well on their own, and the sculpt is designed to work well with the articulation.  The hand sculpts are a little awkward and difficult to work with - one fist and one open hand - but you'll find some good poses.  It's probably not so much the sculpted pose of the hand as the slightly odd sizes of the hands that make them awkward.  The left hand seems a bit small, while the right hand seems a bit big.

Both Torches also have the neck sculpted pretty far forward on the shoulders.  This works alright from the front, but they look a little weird from the side.

Their scale is good in comparison to the rest of the Icons line, and these will look great on the shelf with previous releases.

Paint - Silver Surfer ***1/2; Flame Off Torch ***; Flame On Torch **1/2
For a mass market toy (which might be hard to believe, since this figure is harder to find than a specialty market figure) the paint job on the Surfer is amazing.  The silver color isn't super bright and shiny, but that's actually a good thing for me.  It's shiny enough, especially in a well lit room, and the color is fairly even.  There's a few swirls and smudges here and there, but silver is such a difficult color to get even and consistent, and yet they pulled it off quite well.  Sure, it's not like there's a lot of small details, but the broad application of the main color is quite well done.  And just let me say thank GOD they didn't try to use some black wash over the silver.  That could have been disastrous.

Both Torches have excellent hair streaking.  In fact, the hair color on the burning Torch is the high point of his paint job.  It's shiny, bright, and well done.  The rest of his paint job is...very toy-like.  You've seen this use of red lines to simulate fire before, and it's just as lame here as it has been in the past.  That's not to say that dong flames in plastic isn't extremely difficult, because it is.  But just because it's difficult doesn't mean they get a break.

The Flame Off Torch doesn't suffer from the goofy all over orange and red paint job.  The work on his costume is much better, and the hair and face are really, really clean.  The only reason he didn't get as good of a score as the Surfer, is that mine has an annoying spot right on the end of his nose.  If you have the chance to pick them off the shelf, make sure yours is zit free. 

Articulation - ***1/2
These figures have exactly the articulation you'd expect, if you've bought previous versions of Icons.

The neck is the disk/peg that allows the forward and backward movement, as well as turning side to side.  There's no tilting though, unlike a true ball joint.  Still, they work pretty well.

There's ball jointed shoulders and hips, and I was able to get these to work MUCH better than the Magneto and Cyclops joints.  They were tight, but they hold positions well, and I was able to get quite a bit of movement out of them.

The elbows and knees are both double jointed, and again these are tight but once you free them up a little bit, you can get plenty of great poses.  There's post/peg wrists and ankles, a cut waist, and the usual clicky chest.  In fact, most of the joints are the clicky variety, and this works to their advantage.

That's a nice, large number of joints, and the majority of them are very useful.  These figures are fairly poseable, although it's easy to get a little goofy with the poses if you're not careful.

Accessories - Silver Surfer ***; Torches Bupkis
Neither of the Torches come with anything, although I'm not too surprised.  The Icons generally don't come with much, and the Torch isn't exactly a guy that uses a lot of accessories.

But the Silver Surfer can't be the Silver Surfer without his surf board.  The board comes in two pieces to be able to fit within the package and the pieces snap tightly at the seam.  For a toy, that's certainly good enough.  For the collectors, it's nice to know that you can easily glue the two halves together, fill gap with sculpy, and give it a quick repaint.  Voila, solid board!

Of course, had it been in the package that way, this score would have been higher.  But you have to understand that this is a toy for kids first, and that consideration probably resulted in the less than perfect version of the board.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
All three of these figures, despite any individual issues, would be terrific fun for any kid that loves the movies.  I just wish they'd produce as good of a Thing.

Value - Surfer ***; Torches **1/2
Considering the current market, it's unreasonable to think that these would still be the ultra-cheap $15 that they once were.  At $20, the Torches are a very average value, nothing special but you won't feel ripped.  However, the Surfer gets a bit better grade due to the inclusion of the large surf board.

Things to Watch Out For - 
The only real issue here is with the paint.  I suspect that these guys, like many mass market toys, might have some inconsistent quality issues with the paint ops.  Hopefully, you'll get luckier than I did and find these on the shelf where you can pick out the ones you want.

Overall - Silver Surfer ***1/2;  Torches ***
The Silver Surfer is one of the best Icons in the entire series, going back through even those produced by Toybiz.  If you're a fan of the character, movie or not, you should really snag one of these.

The Torches are a bit more of a mixed bag.  The Flame Off Torch is good, and would have been much more likely to get another half star if he didn't have the goofy spot on his nose.  Even so, he's not a bad version of the flame head.

The Flame On version isn't quite as good.  He's not the worst Icon to ever hit the street, but the orange and red paint job is a tad silly.  I do like the work on the hair, but if I could only own one of the two versions, I'd go for the slightly less scorched version.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpt - Silver Surfer ****; Torches ***1/2;
Paint - Silver Surfer ***1/2; Flame Off Torch ***; Flame On Torch **1/2
Articulation - ***1/2
Accessories - Silver Surfer ***; Torches Bupkis
Fun Factor - ***1/2
Value -  Silver Surfer ***; Torches **1/2
Overall - Silver Surfer ***1/2; Torches ***

Where to Buy -
You might get luckier than I did and find them at your local Target or Toys R Us.  Sponsors that are carrying them include:

- CornerStoreComics and Amazing Toyz had them, but appear to be all sold out.  You might want to pre-order the upcoming waves.

Related Links -
Other Icon reviews include: 

- the last review was for Magneto and Cyclops.

- then there was Doom and Punisher.

- Ghost Rider (with his bike) is perhaps the best that's been produced in the series.

- Others include Thor, Venom, Spider-man and Beast, and Wolverine.



Share this review with others!
  Digg it!     StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!     Reddit

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

This page copyright 2003, Michael Crawford. All rights reserved. Hosted by 1 Hour