Hasbro’s Dr Strange Book of Vishanti Box Set is a Treasure Trove of Mystical Legends [Review]
This year at San Diego Comic-Con, Hasbro is finally giving Dr. Strange and many of Marvel's other magical characters their due. For as long as Hasbro has been in charge of the Legends line, fans have been clamoring for characters like Magik and Brother Voodoo to show up. While those might sound like rather non-traditional choices for a mass market toy line, the roster for Legends has grown so much over the past few years that it's actually not that surprising to see heroes like Illyana Rasputin finally rendered in action figure form.
In fact, Brother Voodoo, Magik and Dormammu were characters Hasbro teased at SDCC within the last few years, but wave after wave of the Legends were released at retail with little hint of their inclusion. Finally, Hasbro unveiled the Book of Vishanti box set ahead of SDCC '15, which featured the aforementioned trio, as well as a variant of the just-released Dr. Strange and the all-new Hela. Oh, and there's this little thing in there called the Eye of Agamotto in there, too. As box sets go, it's an impressive piece of work, and one that's sure to make a lot of die-hard Marvel magic fans very happy.
As this is a limited edition item, Hasbro really went all out with the packaging. Designed by Ben Grimes and Jim Hunt, with art by Vincenzo Cucca, the Book of Vishanti includes pages of information about the characters included leading up to the figures packed inside. People would have been just as happy with a clever exterior that merely opened to reveal the figures, but the four pages of fantastic illustrations and backstories takes this set up a notch. It would have been cool to see some pages with actual mystical spells pulled from Dr. Strange's comic adventures, but perhaps someone will release more complete tome closer to the movie's release.
Once you get to the figures, you'll find them housed in a faux velvet encasing. All five figures are arranged nicely, and at first, the bright red container looks great. However, the faux velvet is a bit of an issue as the figures are packed so tightly, fibrous elements peel away when you try to pull figures out. This leaves the figures with some red staining, which is not terribly easy to get rid of, and may draw the ire of some collectors. It's also not easy to get these figures out without some force, so you'll want to pay extra attention when removing the more delicate characters.
The Stephen Strange included in the set is an astral projection variant of the very same Defenders-styled Legend that you can find in the Hulkbuster BAF wave hitting retail now. Personally, I love clear variants, and that's especially true when the clear variant has a reason for existing. Strange's astral projection lends some credibility to the necessity of such a variant, and is a treat for his fans. You still get all the great detail in the figure, but you have a version that's much more unique among a collection of similarly styled characters.
The sculpt itself is nice, and the paint app does a nice job highlighting key areas of Strange's outfit and face. The only accessory he comes with are the mystical power attachments we previously saw included with the Scarlet Witch. His hands are stuck in the classic Dr. Strange magic-casting pose, which isn't necessarily a big problem, but it would have been nice to get some variation there.
Though Dr. Strange is obviously a key component of the set, one of the stars of the set is the former Sorcerer Supreme, Brother Voodoo. Long known as an also-ran, Voodoo returned to prominence not all that long ago when the Eye of Agamotto left Strange to find a new host. Collectors have been waiting for this iteration of the cult-favorite character for some time now, and will be pleased with his final form.
The sculpt is strong, with lots of little details in his bone necklace and skull belt, as well as a version of the Eye holding his cape up. The paint app is what differentiates Voodoo, as he's got some nice green highlights in his face, as well as the signature skull painted across his brow and cheeks. He comes with a staff with spirits seemingly popping forth, and it gets a nice translucent green mold. As you can see though in the picture above, the red flecks from the packaging do stand out.
Another of the anticipated unreleased Legends, Magik, appears in the set in her familiar Uncanny X-Men garb. As great as it is to finally get a Magik figure based on the current incarnation, this figure draws the short stick compared to the rest of the bunch. She's an itty-bitty figure, and as such she's got itty-bitty joints and limbs. It makes for quite a challenge in posing her without a stand of any sort, particularly because her hips are also rather loose. The swords also throw off the figure's balance, meaning you'll have to precariously pose her in order to get any kind of action stance.
Additionally, because of Magik's long hair, there's next to no articulation in the neck and head area, as her molded locks keep her in a perpetual state of Batman cowl syndrome. Her face sculpt is also just a little bit off, and lacks any true defining features. It would appear in trying to capture the essence of Chris Bachalo's interpretation of Illyana, that the sculptor forgot to put any personality at all in the expression. It's appropriate that her eyes are solid white as she appears dead from the neck up.
Ah, Hela; the figure no one saw coming. Her inclusion in this set was a surprise when it was first announced, but I was excited to see the Norse goddess of the underworld brought to life in action figure form. I was not disappointed in the least with this figure. Hasbro really outdid itself with the villains in this set, but Hela in particular is a thing a beauty. Her outfit shines and sparkles in the light, and going with a cloth cape over a sculpted one adds a bit more haunted flair to the aesthetic.
It's all about that helm though, and Hasbro manages to capture the outrageous design with ease. The front is sculpted on, but the rear ornamentation must be attached manually. It's not very hard to get the pieces in place, but it is hard to get them to stay there while finagling with the figure. Once you're done posing, they stick in the small slits in the back of her head quite well, though. She comes with a sword, too, but her presence is commanding enough without it. From the paint app to the sculpt, it's hard not to love everything about this figure.
Dread Dormammu is another stud of a figure, and helps cement this set as one of the best Hasbro's released as an SDCC exclusive to date. He's a hulking piece of plastic that's both imposing and impressive all at once. Though there isn't a lot of flexibility in the hip area due to the armor he's wearing, nearly every other bit of articulation provides a solid range of movement. The flaming head sculpt is on point, and so are the two flaming skulls he comes with as accessories.
The standout feature though is in the tail of his armor. The texturing is all well and good, but around the edges you'll find mystical signs scrawled into the plastic. You can only ever see it if you're looking at the figure from behind, but it's a small touch that really shows Hasbro is thinking about its figures from every single angle. The sculptor could have just left the regular texture throughout, but every little bit of detailing makes Dormammu more than worth the wait since he was first announced.
At $104.99, the Book of Vishanti box set isn't exactly cheap, but considering on their own these figures would retail for $15-20 each, there's value here. That's on top of four really strong figures and one decent, if not a bit disappointing, one. The overall package is impressive, and for once I actually want to keep a display box for action figures. It's size might make it a bit troublesome to find the Book of Vishanti a proper home, but this is a set that's worth the extra effort.
This set was provided by Hasbro for review. The Dr. Strange Book of Vishanti box set will be available for purchase at Hasbro's booth (#3329) at SDCC for $104.99. A limited number will also be available on HasbroToyShop after the show.
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