By Christopher Troy
YET ANOTHER SHAMELESS PLUG! First and foremost, thanks to everyone who swung by the Mecha panel at MangaNEXT last weekend! The panel went over well, and for all of those who missed it and are attending Anime USA next weekend in Virginia (http://www.animeusa.org/), my group of panelists and I will be running there again there on Friday night @ 8:30pm! END OF SHAMELESS PLUG!
Last week we’ve covered the majority of the current selection of Marvel Comic based action figures (Although we skipped over the Art Aslyum Minmates, which have been around forever, and are all sorts of awesome for cheap!), although I purposely left out a rather important series, the Marvel Universe line. The reason for that being that this current line of toys really warrants it’s own article by itself, which surprise, you are now reading!
To be honest, Hasbro was just asking for trouble when they announced the Marvels Legends line was going on (temporal) hiatus and being replaced with the smaller, less articulated Marvel Universe line, especially when the line launched with characters we’ve all seen before a million times (Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man, the Hulk, Wolverine). Not to mention launching smaller figures with a higher price tag for essentially less in the package. However, the line has certainly come along since the initial wave several years agos, finally beginning to prove it’s worth to Marvel Comic toy collectors.
Variety- Much like the Marvel Legends lines before it, The MU line offers a large variety of characters from the Marvel Universe. While this is nothing new for long terms collectors, the difference is how up to date the MU line is. Within months of their debut in the comics, we’ve gotten newer entries to the Marvel Universe like Red Hulk (Rulk if you will), Bucky-Captain America, X-Force Wolverine, the Dark Avengers, and several other characters that never debuted in the Marvel Selects or Legends line, and the trend seems to be continuing with upcoming releases like the Heroic Age Iron Man figure.
Army Builders- A.I.M., Hydra, S.H.I.E.L.D. all demand strength in numbers( as they usually serve at canon fodder), and that’s something the MU line has delivered. Collectors have been given the chance to create such teams as the X-Men, the Avengers and the Wrecking Crew (see variety!) time and time again, and now these (mostly) non-super powered factions have been represented, making the chance to own a small army of nameless goons possible for collectors. Or brothers-in-arms, in the event you decide to buy a few Multiple Man figures.
Giant-sized figures: Build-a-figures, as awesome as they were, usually meant casual collectors needed to buy characters they didn’t care for if they wanted to build their own Sentinels or something. The Marvel Universe line did away with that, by creating Giant-sized 2 packs, containing one large, over-sized figure, and a smaller MU figure, in scale with the larger one. The line of two packs launched with Skrull Giant Man/Buck Cap and Classic Giant Man/Classic Iron Man, but has expanded to such entries as Galactus/Silver Surfer (an incredible figure within itself) and upcoming releases like the Sentinel and a Frost Giant.
Universal Scale: Hasbro has ensured that all of their post Spider-Man 3 movie lines be in the same scale as the MU figures, offering comic book versions of popular characters in those lines. Loran highlighted some Iron Man villains that were released exclusively with the Iron Man 2 line, and the trend started with such characters as Deadpool, who were inserted into the Wolverine Origins lines.
2-packs: More for less. The average MU figure can run from 10-12 dollars, assuming you don’t buy marked up figures. The MU 2-packs, offer you 2 figures for 20 dollars, which is a steal, as they usually include figures not found in single packs.
Subpar figures: Smaller figures means less detail, less articulation, and shotty paint jobs. Several female characters have fallen victim to subpar sculpts and paint jobs, and I recently picked up a Dark Phoenix/Cyclops 2 pack to discover my Jean literally has 2 left feet. Not cool.
Overall, the Marvel Universe line of figures is a good line, but it could use some improvements overall. While a lot of improvements have been put into the line as of late, it still has to do some work to please the older collectors. Honetly though, it probably is the best line of Marvel-based toys on the shelf, and since a lot of the more popular characters are re-released from time to time, it’s also the easiest to get into.