Hasbro’s Marvel Legends Break Out of The Raft in Spectacular Fashion [Review]
Back in 2005, Brian Michael Bendis and David Finch teamed up on New Avengers, which spun out of the events of "Avengers Disassembled." The book's first arc introduced an all-new Avengers team --- the first of about eleventy dozen Avengers roster shake-ups in the last decade. "Breakout" served as a reason to get the new team together, but also showcased some of Marvel's most forgotten supercriminals, and it also provided the inspiration for Hasbro's Marvel Legends San Diego Comic-Con exclusive this summer.
With The Raft superprison serving as the foundation, the Marvel Legends team crafted a well-made, well-rounded box set focused almost entirely on some of Marvel's notable big bads, and a few that would like never have gotten figures in the standard retail line. Of course Spider-Man is there to keep them all in check, as best he can anyway. We all remember how well it worked when he was the first through the door back in the comic.
Using a comic story from a decade ago might not seem like the best idea for a toy line, particularly given how frequently Marvel has changed courses in that same timeframe. That said, it's not a "storyline" Hasbro has tapped before. In fact, Hasbro doesn't really go in on storylines for its toy waves much at all, so when it does, it's actually kind of cool. This isn't like a standard release wave, where a few characters mostly related to one another find their way to pegs at your local retailers; The Raft box set tells a tale all its own, which is bit of a forgotten art among mass-market toy lines.
Sure you get the biographies, which are a tiny bit more detailed than they are on the traditional Legends packaging. Here the box features all the culprits in their cells on the frontside, with mugshots and important details on rear. When you open up the set, there are even more criminals adorning the box art, though they aren't in the set itself. However, Electro, Eel and Hobgoblin did just get released in the most recent Spider-Man and Captain America waves. Ostensibly you could recreate the entire scene, provided you put in the extra effort to track down the other figures.
Unlike most of the Marvel Legends you'll buy, the packaging here isn't just a pretty picture, it can also double as a diorama for your collection. The inner packaging slides completely out, including the illustrated prison cell backing. It is just a cardboard piece, but it's well detailed, and it includes some outcroppings to make it look like the cells are separated. Some of the figures can barely be contained, but it still provided a nice backdrop for this review, which is more than we can say of most of the exclusives offered at SDCC, let alone the typically basic Marvel Legends offerings.
As the only hero in the set, Spider-Man at least makes sense narratively... provided you do remember the New Avengers story. Spider-Man has been a busy guy for Marvel Legends as of late, so his addition to this collection only pushes him further into oversaturation. While this is an exclusive set, the Marvel Legends fanbase is a devoted, and likely has more than a few of the Spider-Man figures released by Hasbro in the past year already. It's doubly frustrating since this Spidey is a slight rework of Pizza Spider-Man, who released at the start of 2015, and has had his head swapped out with the Scarlet Spider sculpt, also from 2015.
If you somehow didn't have one of the handful of Spider-Man figures released in the past few years, this is a good Spidey to have. The Pizza Spider-Man body is incredibly articulated, allowing you to really get all McFarlane-y with your poses if you want. The Scarlet Spider portrait also has those traditionally huge Todd McFarlane eyes, which sort of seals the deal on the inspiration for this Spider-Man. Thankfully Hasbro didn't opt to go with the David Finch route, though the paint app here is a bit of a darker hue than the earlier version of the body, which calls back to "Breakout" and its bleak coloring.
Spider-Man is joined in this set by his longtime foe Sandman, who is brought to Marvel Legends for the first time in his sandy form. Sandman is one of two larger figures, or what would be considered build-a-figures in a normal wave, offered in this set alongside Abomination. Using the Absorbing Man base, the only real distinction between the two is the paint app and the head sculpt. While I like the browns and tans used to bring Sandman to life, there's no texturing on the figure to give him any kind of sandy feel. He's very smooth, and it doesn't really suit this powered-up version of the character all that well.
The lack of sand weapons formed with his hands doesn't help, but this box set is rather light on the additional accessories. A giant mallet hand may have helped, but even then, without any kind of sculpting to give it a sandier vibe, this figure would still have been a bit lacking. I do like the portrait though, which has a very angry expression and great detail in bringing it to life. The hair also has Sandman's trademark waviness, it too gets some nice detail. It's just a shame the rest of the figure lacked those elements.
The debut of Enchantress in the Marvel Legends line goes over much better. She'll also be appearing in the upcoming Doctor Strange wave, though she'll have a slightly different colorway when that set arrives this fall. Here, she's in a decidedly traditional green outfit, with her blonde hair providing a striking contrast to the rest of her outfit. Like many of the female Marvel sorcerers of late, Enchantress does have a bit of trouble standing upright without any assistance. Those pesky heels continue to be a problem for posing, and the thinner legs and bodies don't help offer much support in way of balance either.
Her head sculpt is fantastic though, so it almost makes up for the long running shortcomings of Marvel Legends' female figures. She's got a great smirk, which gives her an air of confidence. The headdress frames her face and hair terrifically, and has just the right amount of Norse influence to keep her grounded as one of Thor's oldest foes. It's tough to see at first glance, but Enchantress also has a really fantastic make-up application, with a subtle touch of sparking green eye shadow adding that much more personality to the figure.
Purple Man is a stupid jerk, and a box set like this is pretty much the only way it makes sense to get a figure of him out to the masses. The success of the Jessica Jones on Netflix is great, but characters in plainclothes are a hard sell at the mass market level unless they are big names. Purple Man is not a big name, particularly for kids who Marvel Legends are traditionally aimed at, so even though I hate his guts, his inclusion in this collection makes sense. Hasbro even went so far as to make him the impetus for the prison break (even if the original comic story was slightly different), so his being a part of The Raft set is narratively solid, too.
Despite my distaste for the character, the Purple Man figure is about as good as a Purple Man figure can get. The body borrows from the Chameleon figure released last year, but the portrait is a new visage that captures his menacing stare well enough. The paint app could have been rather one-note, but there's some nice variation in the hues used, and the red shirt with black tie contrast nicely with the rest of the monochromatic suit. Articulation isn't bad either, and you put him in all kinds of perilous poses that show him getting the snot beat out of him with ease.
Dreadknight's bounced around villainy over the years, stirring things up with the Frightful Four and taking on Iron Man. He's been absent for a while, but that's apparently because he's been locked up in The Raft. This is probably the deepest cut as far as characters go in this set, but he's also one of the better figures in this collection. Head to toe, the sculpt is strong, with the head being a frighteningly good replication of his cybernetic helm. The mail armor looks impressive, and the sculpted cloth elements are capture well while also giving the character breathing room for posing. It wouldn't be out of the question to expect this body to be reused down the line for a Black Knight figure.
What really sets Dreadknight apart from the rest of the inmates is his paint app. The glistening, bright blue used for his armor really pops against his purple tunic, and the darkness of the rest of this set. Even the dark blue cape and belt strike a chord calling your attention to the shimmering elements, giving Dreadknight one of the most distinct looks in the Legends line. Your eye can't help but be drawn to him, even in a crowd of other figures.
Like Sandman, Abomination is a giant among the rest of the figures in this set. That's because he too is using a build-a-figure body mold, which was repurposed in the recent Captain America retail wave. This version is a much darker Abomination, and thus one that has a bit more of a frightening vibe. Abomination's sculpt is strong enough that either of his figure versions are terrifying, but going with the deeper greens gives the iteration from The Raft set a much more menacing feel.
That's all bolstered by the tremendous sculpt. Using the Rhino BAF as a base, Hasbro's improved on the figure just enough for Abomination to give it a more distinct appearance. The neck, shoulders and head in particular have some fantastic new elements, including more reptilian scales and skin down his back and great texturing on his head. The big fin ears are a nice touch too, as are the open claw hands and two-toed feet. This is a great BAF version of Abomination, and is exactly the kind of monstrosity Legends should strive to achieve with those bigger figures every time.
The Raft set is another of Hasbro's successes with Marvel Legends exclusives, which honestly hasn't had a miss since they started doing these more elaborate sets in 2012. They come at a premium, but as last year's Book of Vishanti and this year's Raft have illustrated, that extra cost is often supported by great packaging and some excellent figures we may not otherwise have seen. Though a few of the figures have already found homes in newly released or upcoming sets, that doesn't take anything away from The Raft's impressiveness.
The Marvel Legends Raft set was available exclusively at San Diego Comic-Con. This set was provided by Hasbro for review.