Marvel Legends Face Offs Series 2

Jin Saotome is back with a new guest review of some latest ML product - what's the word, Jin?

Marvel Legends Face-Off series 2

Punisher vs Jigsaw
Wolverine vs Sabretooth
Iron Man vs Mandarin 

Hiya all, it’s me Jin Saotome back for another Marvel Legends review! ToyBiz is on it’s last days in producing Marvel products before Hasbro completely takes over and there’s a LOT of ToyBiz product hitting the shelves now! The Face Off series 2 has arrived and with it, six characters to add to your Marvel Legends collection. There’s Punisher vs Jigsaw, Wolverine vs Sabretooth, and Iron Man vs Mandarin. Before we get into the actual review tho, let me take a moment to reflect. ToyBiz had an excellent run with its Marvel Legends series, various ML boxed sets, and ‘Classics’ assortments over the many-year course of its license. 

This fall two of the best Marvel legends were produced, that being the House of M Boxed set and Series 15 (Modok series). They have the quality, design, and paint apps of series 6, which in many people’s opinion was the last, truly ‘good’ series ToyBiz made. Recently ToyBiz’s figures went through a lot of changes with softer plastics, less paint apps, and other quality issues. At the end of their production tho, I’m happy to say ToyBiz is going out with a bang! I’m proud to of collected their product and look forward to see what Hasbro will do with the Marvel license.

Ok.. On to the review! 

Packaging - ***
Clamshells are clamshells, no matter how big they are. These are almost double the size of a normal Marvel Legends package and do their job of housing/displaying the figures. The backdrop is actually a separate piece of cardboard instead of being the backer like the new assortments of ML 13 and up. There’s about five twisties holding each figure in place, decent graphics on the front with the ML brand name displayed, and character descriptions/bios on the back. Nothing spectacular here.

Sculpting - Wolverine ***; Sabretooth ****; Punisher ***; Jigsaw ****; Iron Man ****; Mandarin **1/2
The sculpts of these figures (most of em anyway) are pretty good, on par with the Face Off series 1. Wolverine starts us out and has a nice, stocky look to him. He’s got good overall detail and is perhaps my new favorite Wolverine body type now. His claws unfortunately are still made of soft plastic and come warped right out of the package. His shoulders are more oval than round and don’t really come down to his sides, leaving him with his arms sticking out at an angle. Also, they reused one shoulder and just flipped it around on both of the Wolverines I saw. It only detracts from the look if you notice it, one side being a little smoother than the other.

Sabretooth has an excellent look to him, tall and somewhat lanky yet with the fur and muscles filling him out. His facial detail is rocking and is very reminiscent of the comics. It gives him a good pissed look The fur is well sculpted and looks very natural hanging from his limbs and chest. There’s lots of detail on his hands and feet, and while his claws may look a bit odd in some poses, they’re very well done. One thing I love about him is all the slight wrinkles around the muscles. This makes it look like he is indeed wearing a suit and not just painted-on spandex. 

The Punisher has a very ‘early comic’ style about him and his sculpt isn’t overly detailed or pronounced. His hands are weird looking because there’s almost no ‘back’ to his hands as the articulated finger and wrist joints are cut so far back together it looks like a little bar. I guess this is so he can hold his weapons closer to his sides? The head has a slight dip in the left side like Prof X’s did, as if they pulled it from the mold too fast. I’m not sure if they’re all like that but it’s only really noticeable if you look at him up close. It looks a little small for his body too, but that’s just my opinion. He has a holster and knife sheathe glued on and the holder actually has a closing flap that buttons down! Overall he’s a decent sculpt but not spectacular.

Jigsaw’s sculpt shines, wow… The first thing you’ll notice is his ‘Two Face’ looking mug, that’s horribly scarred with some awesome teeth and that bulging eye. The rest of his costume, mimicking the Punisher’s, has some great detail. There’s lots of tiny stitches all over it, the belt pouches and waist guard, straps with tiny buckles on his boots, and everything else about his costume looks fantastic. He has a collar around his neck that spins but can’t be removed unless you want to rip off his head. Jigsaw’s hands look normal with the regular sized back of a hand there. He too has a holster and knife sheathe on him and while the holster doesn’t have a flap, it’s more detailed than the Punisher’s.

Iron Man is yet another great sculpt! He has a cool looking faceplate with a good representation of Tony Stark underneath. His arms and hands have great detail as well as his body. His legs have detailed, armored, squares on them and the kneepads/grating looks great. This is the most accurate ‘Modular Armor’ Iron Man we’ve received, which happens to be the ‘Marvel vs Capcom’ version of him too. He’s got a very dynamic style and it shows when you pose him. I especially like the hands, one in grasping mode and the other able to make a great fist. Both have little repulsor ports on the palms.

Mandarin gets the short end of the sculpting stick because of his robe, which is permanently attached and covers most of his body. The sculpting on the helmet is pretty decent and the robe work is ornate, if not a little sophisticated. His hands aren’t that great unfortunately, not nearly as detailed as the other figure’s hands in this asst. His fingers are pointed straight out and you can’t do much with them. They looking kinda goofy in fact. The rings are there but have a soft sculpt and the thick paint apps don’t help that any. His body underneath is a reuse of the Xmen Classics Archangel body with a new waist apparently. The hips on this waist are so wide he’s put into a permanent wide-legged stance. I guess this is good because it helps him support the weight of the rubber cloak. The cloak tho is too stiff to do anything with and has only one look to it. I would of much preferred a cloak sculpted as his body with joints.

Paint - Wolverine **1/2; Sabretooth ***; Punisher **1/2; Jigsaw ****; Iron Man ***; Mandarin *1/2
Wolverine’s paint job is decent but not great. He does have nice orange shading and his yellow is crisp. The hair on his arms looks a little thick like they drew it on and the flesh tone is far too thick, probably because they had to cover up the dark blue plastic. Another case where molded in color would of helped. His legs are also dark blue plastic underneath so the yellow/orange paint there looks darker than on his chest. There’s slop around his mask although his whiskers are done cleanly. There’s slop on the belt, boots, some of the bare plastic shows through in various spots, and it just looks like an average mass-market figure. He has good silver on the claws tho with no slop there.

Sabretooth has a great paint job here with just a tad darker orange shading to his body and limbs. The fur is great and has a base brown with highlights of white dry brushed on, but not too thickly. His face is pretty clean with just a little bleed where the hair meets the skin. The top of his head has a cool darker orange shading where the part is and you can tell it apart from his costume fur. The black on his costume is clean with almost no slop. His feet and hands, while brown like the fur, have a darker tinge to them and the claws have been detailed so they stand out. There’s a little slop around the hands and you can see where the factory workers painted up over the pins with a darker colored touch-up paint. Other than that he’s really spiffy.

Punisher’s paint job would be great if it wasn’t for the fact the matte white has picked up every color scratch on it known to man! The gloves, chest, and boots all have paint nicks right out of the package and look really bad. The main body is black with dark blue highlights sprayed on. It’s very subtle tho and probably could have been left out because you’re only going to notice it in bright lighting. The white on his belt is sloppy and there’s bleed where the white meets other colors. Punisher’s face is painted decently enough but with solid black pupils that give him no personality. While I like the different body style of this Punisher, I much prefer the paint job of the old ML one.

Jigsaw’s paint job is excellent because he’s supposed to look dirty. There’s a dark brown wash to his white that’s just right, seeping into all the crevices and really bringing out his sculpt. He has scuffed ‘mud’ as highlights to the suit too. All those individual stitches are silver with black outlining making them really pop. But his face... wow! Jigsaw’s mug is really well done with glossy eyes and realistic teeth. There’s just enough wash to make his scars show up well and his overall facial features are very cleanly painted. Jiggy’s boots are dirtied up quite nicely and have clean silver buckles to them. This figure is another example of how a good paint job can really enhance the sculpt and overall appearance!

Iron Man has a bright ‘video game’ look to him. I’m not sure if that’s what they were going for (but thanks ToyBiz!) but he’s done with no shading or highlights, just base colors and a little black outlining. The yellow is pretty crisp and clean in most places. There’s black outlining that looks good along the sides of his face, neck, and belt to break up the plain colors. There’s a good gold tone in the center symbol and belt, along with some nice clean yellow markings on the top of his head too. Under the faceplate is Tony Stark’s face, which is pretty well painted right down to the little wisp of hair showing. Unfortunately he suffers from the single black dot as a pupil with no reflective dot that gives him a stoic look. The yellow boxes and grating on his legs have some slop to them too, but nothing horrible. The one, major thing everyone will notice is that the red chin on his faceplate isn’t painted! ToyBiz is aware of this and hopefully has a running fix. For now you can just dab a little red, acrylic paint on there if it bugs you.

Mandarin again suffers this round. There’s slop everywhere, and I mean everywhere on this guy. The green of the helmet is showing through the yellow, which is painted sloppy to begin with. The skin is far too pale and the green is showing through that too. ToyBiz really tried with the robe, God bless them, with the orange highlights on yellow and black detailing. Even the underneath is airbrushed! Unfortunately the whole thing is one big sloppy mess with green showing through all over and most of the flames not even filling their sculpted lines. The hands suffer too, thick flesh paint with the ring’s gold paint slopped on and not even covering them all the way. I do give them props on having the gem of each ring a different color tho! Oh.. and let’s not forget that Mandarin has bright, pink, glossy, nail polish… eeech. 

Articulation - Wolverine ***; Sabretooth ****; Punisher ***; Jigsaw ****; Iron Man ****; Mandarin * (if that)
I probably could of give all of them the basic ML score of three and a half to four stars but certain aspects of each character need to be addressed. One common one is that all the characters have old-style ankles with the bottom hatch glued underneath. Recently ToyBiz has been molding the ankle and foot together like one piece which not only helps the sculpt but keeps the articulation tight in the foot. I wonder if these figures were designed a while ago and not brought to use until now?

Wolverine has your basic ML articulation that we’re use too. His arms don’t move as great as they should because of the oval shoulders and round shoulders would of made his arm movement 100 times better. His hands are articulated but only to the point where he can make a fist when closed. With his fingers opened he looks like he’s doing a kung-fu palm-attack. Overall everything else works fine and he has a great ab hinge that gives him that menacing Wolverine crouch! 90-degree hips help this as well.

Sabretooth has excellent articulation in all his joints and a good range of motion He can almost perform a crouch but has 45-degree hips that limit his crouching. Each finger is articulated, tho some curled and some outstretched on the same hand. You have to position each one to get a proper hand look and it looks like ToyBiz couldn’t decided on half of the hand being closed and the other half open to claw at something. The fur helps hide the cut joints on his limbs and doesn’t impede them at all.

Punisher has your basic ML articulation as well and with decent range of motion. The nitpicks are 45-degree hips and almost no side-to-side ankle movement. Oh, and the back of his hands again! There’s like nothing back there except a little bar of plastic allowing you to bend his fingers back almost all the way to touch the back of his wrists! While cool for posing as if he’s holding something flat over his head, it looks pretty odd.

Jigsaw yet again, has your basic ML articulation (I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, heh). While he has 45-degree hips, they seem to work better because of higher waist cuts at the hips. Um, everything moves and turns, and his ab crunch is really cool because it makes the skull look like the mouth is snapping! Yeah… and that’s about it. Oh, his hands are normal and can grip the weapons great.

Iron Man… say it with me… has basic ML articulation. His neck has two separate joints, one at the base of the neck and one where it connects to the head. This allows for some really cool flying poses where he’s looking up but can tilt his head to either side and scan for enemies! Hooray for 90-degree hips! This gives him some great stances. Everything else is golden.

What the hell happened to Mandarin? You can’t put him into any pose except one. That being arms partially out to the side and up a little while standing straight up. The robe is thick rubber you see and practically lets him stand on his own, eliminating any hope of posing him. As it turns out his robe was suppose to be really thin like Logan’s jacket from ML series 11. As Jesse Falcon said, the factory made it too thick, thus encasing him in a solid hunk or unmovable rubber. Mandarin is also looking down permanently because the hair in the back limits head motion pretty much completely. You can spin his wrists and move his hands up and down.. and that’s about it. You know what’s really sad tho? Underneath he has a great, articulated, body underneath and he can’t even use it! Mistakes like this are why people ask for clothing to be sculpted on as part of the figure and not separate. 

Accessories - ****
Because of the amount of accessories I’m grouping the figures together here in their respective twin-packs. In all cases you get a terrific backdrop and display base with two flight stands. You also get a cool comic that highlights a fight between the two characters.

Wolverine and Sabretooth don’t come with any character-specific accessories and I’m not sure what they’d be if they did. Maybe retracted-claw hands for Wolverine but Sabretooth never used anything. The display base looks nice if a little plain, being just a crack in some ice with brown markings. The backdrop is a great mountain-lake scene with little bunker doors in one side of the mountain. Maybe it’s Alkali lake?

Punisher and Jigsaw get a wonderful range of accessories and win this round! Punisher comes with a sniper rifle with folding legs, a generic rifle, luger-looking pistols that fits into a holster and tiny little commando knife on his left leg. The trigger holes are just big enough to fit his fingers through with a little work. Jigsaw has a heavy machinegun, pump-shotgun, 9mm pistol, and tiny commando knife. The shotgun seems to be severely out of scale and looks rather tiny with the trigger hole nowhere near big enough for his finger. The other weapons look great and all the accessories are made from moderately hard plastic, which means no warped weapons! The knives look small in the character’s hands and more like throwing knives, tho their design are defiantly commandoish. 

Their display base is extremely detailed with weapons and ammo strewn all over the floor, a broken windowpane, etc. The backdrop shows Kingpin meeting with some sort of military convoy with some nondescript thugs behind him, probably making a shady trade of some sort.

Iron Man and Mandarin each come with personal accessories. Iron Man has two snap-on wrist armors/weapons. One looks like a video camcorder and the other like a tiny missile-launcher? They’re cool in their own right and have little gold details, even underneath. Mandarin has two pretty basic ‘energy blasts’ that attach on to the front of his fingers that are the same color and design. If I remember right in the comics, his rings shot different colored/looking energy blasts because they all did something different. The display base is all technological looking and says ‘STARK’ in the middle. The backdrop is one we’ve been waiting a long time for… It’s the inside of Stark Armory showing off all his different armor suits throughout the years! Only weird thing is the Armory is either set in space? It works for me tho and you can see his Extremis, First Appearance, Classic, Silver Centurion, and Stealth suits, all of which have been Marvel Legends figures.

Fun Factor - ****
You know kids love superheroes and there’s enough backgrounds, accessories, and articulation here to please any kid who likes action figures. They might not know who the Mandarin or Jigsaw are but will recognize them as the bad guys. Also, expect a kid to loose the tiny commando knives within the first five minutes of playing if they take them out of the sheathes.

Value - ***
The price has gone up since the first Face Off series from $14 to $17 bucks here. That was the Toys R Us price and I’m not sure what Wal Marts will charge for them as they haven’t shown up there yet. It’s pretty much a good deal as you are getting two figures that would usually run you $8-$9 each, accessories, a backdrop with display stand, and a comic.

Things to Watch Out For -
Check the paint jobs! Arrrgh, this series is rife with mass-market sloppy paint and you’ll want to snag the best paint job for whatever character(s) in the set you’re looking forward too most. The figures themselves don’t have rubbery joints thank goodness and are pretty sturdy. There’s Variants of these sets by the way. You have a War Machine vs Mandarin set with a MvC looking War Machine (just a straight IM repaint but with Jim Rhodes under the faceplate) and an un-helmeted Mandarin. The Variant of Wolvie and Sabes just has them both with open ‘screaming’ mouths. Why they didn’t give Wolverine a classic tiger-stripe head/bigger shoulder pads is beyond me because so many people want a decent version of him. The Punisher/Jigsaw set has Punisher with a modern skull and open mouth while Jigsaw has a smiling head and a white-suited Professor X body. 

Overall - ***1/2
Wolvie and Sabretooth are a decent set. Punisher and Jigsaw are a very decent set. Iron Man and Mandarin just make your teeth hurt unless you’re absolutely looking forward to just the Iron Man and backdrop like I was. You’re pretty much just paying for the best Modular Armor Iron Man at this point. This is the last Face Off series we’re getting from ToyBiz and will probably be pretty scarce after Christmas as all Marvel products get turned over to Hasbro. While nowhere near the quality of ML 15 and the House of M boxed set, you’ll probably want to grab these for specific characters. What does Hasbro have in store for us? We’ll find out soon enough.

This is Jin Saotome saying thanks for checking out the review and look forward to more! 

Packaging - ***
Sculpt - Wolverine ***; Sabretooth ****; Punisher ***; Jigsaw ****; Iron Man ****; Mandarin **1/2
Paint - Wolverine **1/2; Sabretooth ***; Punisher **1/2; Jigsaw ****; Iron Man ***; Mandarin *1/2
Articulation - Wolverine ***; Sabretooth ****; Punisher ***; Jigsaw ****; Iron Man ****; Mandarin * (if that)
Accessories - Wolverine & Sabretooth ***; Punisher & Jigsaw ****; Iron Man & Mandarin ***
Fun Factor - ****
Value - ***
Overall - Wolverine & Sabretooth ***; Punisher & Jigsaw ***; Iron Man & Mandarin **1/2

Figure from the collection of Jin Saotome.

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