Spider-Man and His Foes Get Superior Treatment From Marvel Legends [Review]
Hasbro's settled into a nice rotation with its Marvel Legends line. By alternating Avengers and Spider-Man series with whatever movie is hot at the moment, there's a seemingly constant stream of new and returning characters to continue building up the fan-favorite toy roster. While that means there have been a number of repeats since adopting this format a few years back, it also means the prospects for characters that once would have been a pipe dream for an action figure finally have a chance.
That's what the new Absorbing Man series brings for the first Spider-Man Marvel Legends wave of 2016. Sure we've gotten Ben Reilly Spider-Man figures, Venom figures and Morbius figures in the past, but when is the last time you got a Silvermane toy, let alone a Speed Demon. Of course Spider-Gwen is the new hotness, and her inclusion makes the most sense, but it's the fantastic diversity of this Spider-Man Legends wave that makes it a true standout.
Now that's the kind of head sculpt these figures deserve. As a starring member of the Superior Foes of Spider-Man, Speed Demon here got his first true shot at the limelight. The series might be over now, but this new figure, with its cocky smiling portrait, immortalizes the quick-witted rogue forever. Or at least until this wave stops getting refreshed later this year. Good on Hasbro though for giving ol' James Sanders here a face that shows a bit of emotion. He looks like he just stole your Hammerhead's wallet. It's perfect.
Interestingly, Speed Demon gets one of the more articulated body builds, giving him a great amount of range to create some cool poses. I'm not sure that a character like this needs as much poseability as a Spider-Man, but you can get rather creative if you try. That said, it is a bit of a challenge to keep Speed Demon at a standstill due to all that articulation. With so many different joints, there are very few solid portions to provide balance.
Speed Demon doesn't come with much besides two sets of hands (open and closed palms), but he does also come with Silvermane. Well, Silvermane's head attached to an RC truck at least. Superior Foes fans will be happy with the end result, though I'll admit I'm a bit disappointed the wheels on the truck don't roll. Still, it's a fun little add-on. With Boomerang already released, Speed Demon and Beetle in this wave, and a Shocker available from a while back, we only truly need to cross our fingers for an Overdrive figure. We will be crossing our fingers for a very long time.
Though we've seen a number of Beetle action figures since Spider-Man started getting his own toy lines, none of them have had the exquisite explosives taste of Janice Lincoln. This new Superior Foes Beetle is a little light on accessories (she only comes with wings), but it's still a faithful recreation of the comic villain. The only real detriment comes from the lack of variation in the female body builds Hasbro is currently using, so you end up with a lot of lady figures that all look almost identical. With the larger women Hasbro introduced a few waves ago, that's sort of fading, but there are more Marvel Legends built like Beetle than there are like Valkyrie.
To be fair, the same thing happens with the men, but there are number of different body builds that get cycled around, including the upcoming teen male body. For mass market figures, you can't really put too much fault on Hasbro for following the styles of the comics the figures are based on. Would it be great if the smaller female figure builds were a little bit more muscular? Yes. Will that change any time soon? Probably not.
Working with what we've got though, Hasbro's Beetle is another niche character that gets a shot at having an action figure legacy. For my personal tastes, the paint app is a little on the dark side, but the bit of metallic sheen applied to the purple elements does make her pop in the right light. The wings are a bit unwieldy for posing with other figures, but they pop in and out of her back with ease if you need to make some space.
That didn't take long did it? Spider-Gwen (and most of the rest of this line) were teased last year during San Diego Comic-Con, but the wait for Gwen has been particularly excruciating for those of us looking for merchandise of any sort featuring the Spiderverse star. I can't rightly recall the last time Gwen Stacy of any kind got a mass market action figure. Unlike most masked characters, Spider-Gwen comes with an alternate head sculpt to show what she looks like under the hood. Customizers should be thrilled at the idea of being able to pop that head on a number of other figures to craft a non-Spidey Gwen.
Oddly, I'm not in love with the Gwen head. It feels too old school and doesn't really capture the vibrancy or style of the modern, alternate universe Gwen. I do like that Hasbro included a folded hood to replace the full hood though, which really sells the illusion. With the hood up, the Spider-Gwen figure is a terrific collectible. The sculptors and painters really nailed the aesthetic, and all the small details in her purple and blue accents come through great against the predominantly monochrome outfit.
It's a shame thought that Hasbro didn't include more hands, or give Gwen the kind of hyper-articulate body standard Spider-Man figures get. As it stands, she has one hand permanently "thwipping" and the other is a fist. I get that she came with an alternate head, but you're really limited in what you can do with Spider-Gwen compared to other Spider-Man figures. This same issue happened with both of the previous Spider-Girl figures, and it's a tiny bit infuriating that we're still shorting the female Spider-heroes.
I'm not sure I'll ever understand what it is about Morbius that people find fascinating, but here we are with the Living Vampire getting another action figure to be frenemies with Spider-Man. This was the most troublesome figure in the bunch, as the all black cast left the paint job something to be desired. You could argue that painting the white elements of Morbius' skin over the black body provides a unique, unnatural look. That doesn't mean it looks good. Up close it actually makes the figure look a bit sloppy and rushed. It doesn't help that there were a number of paint errors, which is surprising giving how little variation there is in Morbius' outfit.
His articulation is fine, and the head sculpt is strong. I like the ferocity of the shouting portrait, and there's some impressive muscle detail in there upon further inspection. There just isn't a lot to get excited about when it comes to this character though. The two capes he comes with are adequate, and do give you some options for posing. Still, the character's lackluster final product leaves much to be desired, even if you think Morbius is the coolest vampire that ever lived.
It's been a long time since the classic-style Venom has gotten any figure love, and this McFarlane-era symbiote is a damn fine toy. Hasbro captured the hulking size of Eddie Brock's alter ego, but it really just comes down to the two head sculpts. Those are what set this Venom apart. One is a simple grinning face, but it has that trademark unattainable, ear-to-ear smile from his earliest issues of Amazing Spider-Man. He's also go more teeth than a shark. Like way more. The other head has that big, snarling, twisting tongue, complete with green slobber. I've always wondered if that was something Eddie Brock had to deal with when his sinuses got clogged. Does he blow his nose, and it's just miles of green grossness everywhere?
Unlike Morbius, Venom's paint app is immaculate. It needs to be because of how crisp and clean the symbiote suit is, and Hasbro doesn't disappoint. The eyes, the spider symbol from front to back, and even the white web shooter areas on his hands are all on point. Now because Venom is one of the larger body builds, he doesn't have quite as much articulation as normal Spider-Man, but he's still poseable enough. Technically Venom shouldn't really have an abundance of articulation anyway, but every time a figure like this releases, I hope this is the time we get an absurd 40 point figure.
Hey Ben Reilly, what's good? Your action figure, that's what. This is probably the best Ben Reilly figure we've gotten to date. Now it's not that hard to make a masked Ben Reilly Spider-Man figure since it's basically just a repaint of the standard Spider-Man figure we just got in the last wave. Yeah, Hasbro added the wrist shooters, but it's tip to toe the same Spider-Man you just got with a different paint app. And that's perfectly fine.
This suit is spectacularly rendered, and as a big fan of this outfit, it brings me great pleasure to actually have a version of it that is this good. Even with all the articulation, the suit looks good, and there are very few instances where the patterning gets broken up when posing. Ben here is also well balanced, and we could run him through a number of poses with no trouble. He comes with a few different hands too, but instead of a blonde Peter Parker alternate head, Ben here comes with a Carnage head.
Spider-Carnage didn't have a lot of time in the comics, but the head sculpt and dagger-fingered hands included with Ben here make an interesting variant. It's a cool homage to very specific moment in Ben Reilly's time as Spider-Man, and will make a few fans thrilled. Even if you're not super into the idea of Spider-Carnage, how dramatically the head and hands change the dynamic of the figure is impressive.
Say what you will about Spider-Man having a lot of animal-themed villains, but the dude just cannot escape bad guys who use flaming pumpkins as weapons. Why do some many Marvel foes use those things? And who is the guy making them? Does he offer discounts off season? That must be the case, considering all those Goblins and now Jack O'Lantern use the damn things. I can't tell you the last time I saw Jack in a comic book story, but Hasbro's figure has me seriously considering hunting some back issues down. I love this figure.
The jumpsuit sculpt looks good, but that's not the main attraction for the toy; it's the flaming pumpkin head sculpt. The flaming elements are outstanding, and really do make the figure stand out, even if you have no idea who he is or what he's from. The pumpkin head itself also well painted, and there's a real depth too the color. It's a shame he can't really hold onto his flaming broom or scythe (his hands are posed in ways that make this a challenge), so you don't get the most out of the accessories he comes with. You can balance the flaming pumpkin bomb easily enough, but prepare to crawl around looking for it if he falls over on your shelf.
The big draw for this entire wave is the build-a-figure Absorbing Man. Each figure in this set comes with one or two parts of the big man, which you'll then put together to create this oversized Carl "Crusher" Creel. His legs and torso are well-sculpted, but it's the alternate arms and head sculpts that give Creel all his personality.
The non-powered version of his head captures confused anger in ways I didn't know an action figure could. You can almost hear Spider-Man insults being flung at Absorbing Man just by that wide-eyed look he's giving in response. The powered, screaming head links up with the concrete arm to create a cohesive look, and one that is captured perfectly. The sculpt, texturing and paint app on these "absorbed" elements are fantastic, and not just on the concrete arm. The wood arm and the metallic arm (meant to tie to the wrecking ball) look strong as well, but for me the concrete portions are the stand outs,
Creel has just as much articulation and poseability as the rest of the smaller figures, and that's been true of just about every single one of the BAFs Hasbro's released since adopting this new window box format. Absorbing Man isn't quite as impressive as the Hulkbuster Iron Man was, but he also doesn't need to be. He stands on his own well enough, and is a perfect fit for that larger-than-life villain you wanted but didn't know you needed.
The Spider-Man Marvel Legends Absorbing Man Series figures can be found for ~$20 each. These figures were provided by Hasbro for review.