By Christopher Troy
SHAMELESS PLUG: I’ll be speaking at MangaNEXT this weekend in East Brunswick, NJ at the “Mecha: A love letter” panel from 12:30-1:30 pm on Saturday. Swing by and mention this blog to receive a free high five!
Unlike their “Distinguished Competition”, it seems Marvel figures have always been on the toy shelves. And not just one character like DC with Batman, but a variety of figures from the mighty Marvel U! Toy Biz (back when they had the license) banged out a impressive number of characters through various lines in the 1990s through early to mid 2000s and now that Hasbro has the license, they’re slowing coming into their own. Today’s article will look at what there is to buy Marvel wise, and how much they vary from the DC Universe in terms of collectible.
Marvel Comic Select
This is the closest you’ll get to an in-house line for Marvel comics (Thinks DC Direct for Marvel). Originally introduced to create collectible figures Toy Biz usually didn’t handle, these bigger figures are usually released one at a time quarterly, the rare exception being when Iron Man 2 dropped and we got both an Iron Man and War Machine figure. Over the years, the line has been able to beat Hasbro to the punch when it came to premiering new versions of established characters (examples being Bucky-Cap, modern Thor and Red Hulk), and the upcoming Deadpool figures (pictured) is probably one of the best sculpted figures in the line to date.
Pros: Awesome sculpts, solid paint jobs, decent price when you factor in size, cool bases packaged with the figures, does not make the same 2 characters over and over again like DC Direct, although it is guilty of making a few different Spideys, Wolverines, Hulks and Iron Man.
Cons: Not as articulate as their smaller Hasbro counterparts, some sculpts are odd in terms of posing.
Overall: Cool for displaying, not as solid as the DC Direct stuff, but slowly getting there.
The toyline that refuses to die, even surviving a property transfer! Original introduced by Toy Biz, Marvel Legends disposed of action feature and gimmicks and simply gave us super poseable figures with awesome bases and accessories. Eventually, those bases were replace with build a figure pieces, enabling collectors to build HUGE figures such as Sentinel, Galatactus and Onslaught. When rights transferred from Toy Biz to Hasbro, the line suffered a bit in terms of quality, but they still exist to this day, returning after a brief hiatus in a series of two packs voted upon by fans.
Pros: Greatest. Super Hero toyline ever. Toy Biz left no stone unturned when it came to this line as a good portion of the Marvel Universe got sculpted. We’re talking from A-list characters like Spider-Man, Wolverine and the Hulk, to more obscure characters (to the public that is) like Taskmaster, The Sentry, and the Wasp.
Cons: Try as they might, Hasbro could not match the quality of the Toy Biz line, which we to have SOME figured from in stock, but be warned, they’re still sough after by collectors, so the figures are a little more pricey. Or extremely pricey, if you’re looking for some of the rarer figures like Deadpool, The Juggernaut and Cable. Also, some of sculpting on the female characters.
Overall: Much like the JLU, these figures are now only for the hardcore collector, but if you have the cash and the drive, they’re well worth your money. Here’s hoping the new 2-packs are a huge hit and the line is fully revived.
Super Hero Squad
The inspiration for the hit Cartoon Network Animated series, these super-deformed figures are aimed for younger nerds and collectors alike! They’re usually sold in 2 backs, although a few retailers have exclusive playsets and multi-packs.
Pros: Cheap, adorable, and varied as hell. Oh sure there’s no less than a dozen Wolverine’s and Spideys, but there’s also Taskmasker, Silver Samurai, Ronin, Deadpool and a whole slew of B,C, and Z listers.
Cons: Little to no poseability, marketed to the childrens.
Overall: I have a dozen of so of them myself, but they may not be for everyone.
That’s all for this week and,…oh wait, I’m forgetting something right? Well sort of. Next week we’re going to do an in-dept look at the smaller, GI Joe- esque Marvel Universe line, covering everything from the 2 packs, Oversize figures, and some neat exclusives from Marvel Digital!