Jan 6, 2012

Looking Back on Marvel Legends (The ToyBiz era)

Marvel Legends, the line that revolutionized toy collecting in the year 2002 Its humble origins began on a Spider-Man "Collector's Line". The First Incarnation of Spider-Man Classics (circa 2000):

As you can see on these six figures, the card EVEN LOOKS LIKE Most of Toy Biz Marvel Legends. So these are the Proto-Legends... (yes there were more figures, but I chose the six that I actually own(ed) some broke, others were lost. (More on that later)
Now fast forward 1 or 2 years into the future and Marvel Legends began it's journey to change the action figure world. Why are the SMC important? Well, aside being the Proto-ML the figures Before them left a lot to be desired in Sculpt and Articulation.

OK, so The First ML Wave were mostly an Avengers Line-Up and Toad... (Probably a Remnant of a cancelled project)
This wave I bought it almost completely. I never bought the Iron Man Variants, but it was mostly cause I wasn't interested in the Stealth Armor and I never Saw the Gold Armor. My ML Cap died on a shelf diving accident that broke his neck into pieces. (During the Hasbro ML years, so I already had a Superior Ultimate Cap)
I'd say that the sculpts ranked from best to worst would be: Hulk, Toad, Ironman/Cap (tie)
The Best Articulation ranking would be: Cap/Ironman (tie), Hulk, Toad.

Wave II was Pretty Much a Themed Wave: Fantastic Four... More Like Fantastic 2, Doctor Doom, and Namor.
This wave had 2 variants: Doombot (Never saw one) and The Thing: Trenchcoat and hat. (This one I got for Free back when K-B Toys had a promo that for every $100 spent on toys (in 4 Separate $25+ Purchases, excluding videogames/consoles.) you get a $25 gift card. I got "Disguised" Thing and Mekaneck for "free" and something else to round up the $25.
The Thing is AMAZING!! His hands were bendy and his body looked awesome. The Trenchcoat variant makes him even cooler. Torch was OK, but a non-flamed variant would have been cool to have. I kinda wished we could have seen the Traditional Speedo Namor. His spear is really brittle.
From Best to Worst in the Sculpt Department:
Thing, Doom, Namor, Torch.
Torch, Doom/Namor (Tie), Thing

Wave III was a bit more varied: Magneto, Wolverine, Ghost Rider (Dan Ketch), Thor, Affleck Dare Devil. (Wolverine had a Variant... Unmasked.)
First of all Affleck SUCKS!! Very Little Articulation, but the Sculpt is OK-Ish. On the Other Hand, Ghost Rider kicked ALL sorts of Ass! His base is his flaming bike, he has a real chain... Heck! you can hang him on a wall as if he was riding them! Wolverine is a bit too big to be well, Wolverine... Magneto is The Ironman buck redressed a bit. It's not bad, but the crotch is kind of obvious tell-tale of parts reuse.
Ghost Rider, Thor, Wolverine, DareDevil,Magneto
Ghost Rider, Thor, Wolverine/Magneto (tie), DareDevil.

Wave IV was a trailblazer... It ended the Sausage-fest that was ML.
Punisher,Beast,Gambit, Elektra, and Goliath.
I did NOT have Goliath, and he's something about him that looks 90s-ish... His features seem softer and 10 PoA... I never saw him...
The Best Sculpts are Beast and Punisher. That Frank Face is PURE BAD ASS! Elektra's articulation is a bit weird Since she's got a sort of V crotch and her buttcheeks rotate with her legs. Gambit is the average guy here... he's got a couple of new parts and a cloth coat.
(I did go through 2 Elektras) 1 broke her neck peg and I got a replacement after she became a perennial peg-warmer. (She was really tough to find at first.)
In sculpt the best to worst would be:
Punisher, Beast, Gambit, Elektra, Goliath
In Articulation:
Beast, Punisher, Gambit, Elektra, Goliath
There were 2 gift packs released between waves 4 and 5. I only owned the X-Men Pack, but I will discuss both.
X-Men Legends:
Beast (With Cloth Lab Coat and glasses), a New Unmasked Wolverine (NEw HEadsculpt),Magneto (with a new headsculpt), Gambit with a Pleather Coat) and Rogue (who fell off the Ugly Tree, hit all the branches on the way down, then the tree fell on her face.)
The only reason to get this is Rogue and DAMN! She Fugly! (She shares the Elektra Buck...)

Urban Legends:
Elektra, DareDevil, Spider-Man, and The Punisher
The Daredevil seems a reuse from the Second Version of Spider-Man Classics (Not the Proto-ML one, but the newer one with action features and sometimes reduced Articulation) As I was saying The Daredevil seems to be the one with a base that has a Twirling flagpole so it looks like DD is doing a stunt on the Flagpole. Elektra is the same as in ML IV, but painted white... The Headsculpt seems to be different though. Punisher is the same figure but with a new headsculpt, a rocket Launcher and a coat. Spidey is a reuse from the Spider-Man Classics Line (The kiddified one) He's the Parachute Spidey... (The Best Spidey with Painted Webs) The best things from this set are Angry Frank and DareDevil.
Wave V: This one brought some Big Guns... and a Pretty obscure Chase Figure that reuses the Affleck Buck! DAMMIT! DAMMIT! DAMMIT!
Reed Richards, Silver Surfer, Nick Fury, Sabretooth, Blade, Howard The Duck, Red Skull, and Colossus.
I never saw the Skull... I thought he was a myth until I saw him at a scalper's... I wasn't paying $125 for a barely unarticulated figure. I also never saw Blade... He was at a slightly more reasonable price compared to Red Skull, but still too high for my tastes. Also Blade looks like Wesley Snipes... I wanted a more Comic Book-like Blade.
Reed seems to reuse the Paratrooper Spidey buck, while Silver Surfer the Urban Legends Dare Devil buck. Howard is a 3 PoA PVC mini-figure that comes with the Surfer. Nick Fury reuses the Namor Buck (which we will see again at least 2 more times) The cool part about Fury is that his mouth has a space for you to put a piece of chopped toothpick to simulate his Cigar!

Colossus/Sabretooth (tie) Reed Richards, Blade, Nick Fury, Red Skull, Howard
Colossus, Blade, Red Skull, Nick Fury, Reed Richards, Howard The Duck, Silver Surfer.

Wave VI: Oh How I loathe thee... One of the Hardest waves to find. I got a present from a friend who bought me a Phoenix at Scalper prices... I repaid that friend cause I felt it wasn't fair... So Indirectly I bought her from a Scalper. I also got Juggernaut and Cable from that Wave. NEVER Saw Deadpool, I skipped on Tom Jane Punisher, saw Brown Wolvie once, but I chose to take Cable and Juggernaut that day thinking that Wolvie might still be around... Boy was I wrong...
There seems to be a brown straps variant of him, but I'm glad that I got my yellow straps Cable... I reused a Castle Grayskull Gun from 200X and the Trident to give Cable his MVC2 Weapons. A MGS 2 Fortune Railgun served as his Placeholder Viper Beam. Juggernaut, that baby is MASSIVE!! Phoenix has a new Female Buck From the waist up, she's still the Elektra buck. The Crotch is new. She features normal Ball joints, which will become the norm after some Experiments with the female crotch. Now Everyone is on the same level in Articulation (except the pack ins) So there is little difference. I THINK Deadpool reuses the Daredevil buck... and instead of an unmasked variant, DP had a swappable head.
I think Punisher is the most meh... in sculpt. He kinda looks like David Duchovny instead of Tom Jane...
Spidey got a second Set in ML... Still he has not appeared on a numbered Wave... but let's go into The Sinister Six Set:
I know what you're thinking: Sinister Six... So we're getting, Doc Ock, Kraven, Mysterio, Electro, Vulture, and Sandman... Well, you've got 3 right. Dock Ock, Kraven and Electro... The other 3 are Green Goblin, Venom and Black Cat. Spidey is in it too...
Where do I start:
Black Cat seems to have fallen down the ugly tree after Rogue broke off a few branches... She also shares the Elektra buck...
Doc Ock is a reuse from the SMC Ock that was a bit undersized... Ock will get a chance to redeem himself in MLVIII.
Kraven is a reuse from the SMC Kraven (which reuses the Namor Buck) but with a screaming headsculpt... I gave this Kraven away and used the SMC Kraven which is better looking.
Venom is pretty much Sabretooth... Down to the elbow fins... that's the only drawback he has. I Love the non-Slobbering face that most venoms have.
Electro seems to use the Paratrooper Spidey buck... Simple and effective.
Green Goblin is a reuse from the Demonic Hobgoblin buck from SMC... Love the headsculpt cause the Goblin eyes are see through and you can see a bit of Norman's face... Creepy!
Spidey... Ooh This Spidey is pretty cool! I love that headsculpt! The body is a bit too bulky for my tastes, but I switched that head with a McFarlane Spidey from SMC and made my definitive ML Spidey!

Why get this box set: ML Electro, Black Cat, Green Goblin, Venom and a kick-ass Spidey!

Fantastic Four Sets:There were 2 of those...
The First one which I own has a variant. In one Sue is visible and in the other she is not.
The other set is just the F4. (No Herbie, no Doom and No Franklin)
The headsculpts on the 4 are stylized and Doom's face is more burnt than his ML II Counterpart.
Sue has the Elektra Buck but with a new Experimental hips used on ML VIII for Black Widow.
Reed is reusing the Para Spidey buck, Torch is the same as ML2 Torch but with a Johnny Headsculpt. Ben is ML II Ben but with new non-bendy hands. Doom is the same as his ML II counterpart, minus the head. Franklin and Herbie are brand New.
Why get this set?
Sue Richards, Franklin and Herbie... Ben is good, but Reed and Johnny are meh.

Marvel Legends Wave VII I Skipped Silver Centurion Ironman cause he was a lightly redeco'd ML I Iron Man... and I regret it to this day. I also skipped Phasing Vision cause I wanted a Solid one... (and I saw 5 Phasers and only one normal...) Never saw the Ghost Rider Variant.
Favorite Figures form this wave: Apocalypse and Weapon X.
Least Favorite: Hawkeye. This was due to his perennial bowlegged issues. The man can't stand and he looks a bit too wimpy!

Wave VIII (IMO one of the BEST ML WAVES) it came with the Man-Thing (I can't stop chuckling whenever I say his name... Man-Thing.), Doctor Octopus (Yay!), Black Widow (with BW II as her variant that I never saw in stores), Ultimate Captain America (Classic inspired Cap Variant), Modern (back then) Iron Man, Storm (Mohwak Variant), and Iceman.
I can't choose a bad figure from this wave. Some people might have had some translucent plastic issues with Iceman and bendy issues with Doc Ock's Tentacles. Ultimate Cap is a SUPERB Figure... As an Ultimate Universe hater, I got to say that Ultimate Cap's design is cool and the poseability of the toy kicks so much ass! Also he can flip the bird at Ironman! Black Widow is basically a reuse of the Sue Richards Body, but it works... I guess you could say she's the low point of the line.

Wave IX: Enter the BAFs... Toybiz implemented the Build A figure for Marvel Legends on this wave... and they started with Galactus!! Whoa... A 16" Galactus with ML Articulation! That's HUGE!!
The wave consisted of:
Soctor Strange, Charles Xavier (With a Picard X chair... The 90s Hoverchair was not possible due to Logistics...), Gray (First Appearance) Hulk with a Green Variant, Deathlok, Nightcrawler, Bullseye (with a more fierce variant) and Sexy War Machine!
Sadly War Machine reused the Standard Ironbuck, which is a little under articulated compared to the modern MLs. Also his face seems a bit off... His WM weapons and clip-on effects make up for the reused buck's shortcomings. I'm surprised that Doctor Strange did not get an Astral Body Variant...
I've never cared much about Deathlok, but that figure is pretty cool.

Now we'll take a break with a Box Set I never Saw...
Spider-Man: Fearsome Foes set...
It contains a Spidey, duh... (The MacFarlane Spidey with a new head.), a Brand New Rhino with more Articulation than the SMC one, a Brand New Lizard that looks more like his earlier appearances. There is also Carnage (who may or may not be a resculpt of the SMC Carnage with a crappy pyramid trap.) And The Vulture... Hey! We're a Sandman and a Mysterio short of the Original Sinister Six!!

Reason to buy this set? Uh, EVERYONE OF THE CHARACTERS!!
Now On Carnage: I am disappointed in Toy Biz... They gave Reed Richards swappable hands to simulate his stretchy powers, but no swappable arms or clip on Symbiote blade attachments for Carnage... An Ax hand would have been so cool to have with him!!

Wave X The Sentinel Wave: Guess who's Officially become a Marvel Legend (even if he's been on 3 out of the 5 box sets) Spidey!! There's also a Cyclops (That reuses the Namor buck), Omega Red who reuses the Sabretooth buck (but with a few new pieces... no fins for Red's elbows) Mystique, Angel, Black Panther and Mr Sinister round up the wave.
Aside Sinister, Black Panther, Omega Red and Angel this wave is a bit meh... Especially when Sentinel is a Freaking Army Builder... AND the line gives you an extra Sentinel crotch with Mystique or Omega Red!
This was a wave to fill up with Army Building folks like:
AIM People, Ultron, Shield Agents (swappable heads), Hand Ninjas, Multiple Man, Scrier, Hydra Soldiers. It would've made it easier for people to double dip on their figures...

Now we enter a small break on BAFs with the "Legendary Riders" wave... This wave has one of the UGLIEST Figures EVER!! Scarlet Witch! I think that ML Rogue's Ugly came from when she kissed Scarlet Witch. There were rumors about she being short packed because she was meant to be scrapped and redone again... (which hasn't happened yet) We also have another Thing (his First Appearance Look) Days of Future Past Wolverine (Reuse from the New X-Men Wolverine from the X-Men Classics Sub-line) with an awful rubber jacket. (He had a "Cowboy Logan variant) Hulkbuster Ironman, Taskmaster, Vengeance, Wonderman (wth Ionc Variant) and last but not least The Infamous "Bunny" Ultron that was sculpted by the 4 Horsemen.
I only got Fugly Witch, Wonderman, Taskmaster and Logan... missed on Vengeance and HB Ironman and willingly skipped FA Thing... I own The Bunny Ultron too... I just tend to forget about its existence.

Now This next Wave brings forth The Apocalypse!! Wave XII The BAF is Apocalypse... Which helps those who collect both ML and SOTA SF figures cause we can have a Marvel vs Street Fighter or a display of X-Men vs Street Fighter!
Now this Wave consists of:
Astonishing Wolverine (with unmasked Variant)

X-23: Purple suit, Black Suit variant (Own black Variant... Face looks weird on Purple variant.)
Bishop (there's a Bald Variant)
Sasquatch (White Variant... Is it supposed to be Wendigo?)
Iron Fist (w red suit/battle damaged variant)
Maestro (Cool figure but mine broke after a 16 inch shelf dive to my bed!)

Aside Maestro Breaking This wave was OK... Weird that this wave wasn't as X-Heavy as I expected... No Archangel? X-23 would be the most meh of the whole set.

Before the Next Wave, I'll discuss the First Wave of Face-Off packs AND The Young Avengers Set. (I didn't own a YA Set, nor the Cap Face-Off pack)

Hulk vs. Leader:
This set has THE BEST ML Hulk I've seen So far... Now The Leader... his toy is a bit too fragile and I never found the Classic Leader Variant... (which I found better looking than Scrotum-head Leader.

Captain America Vs. Set(s):
Now this was the BEST of the wave... On one hand you have a partial Reuse of Ultimate Cap, but made into Classic Captain America. His variant is a Steve Rogers head, but the Enemies are what made this set more interesting:
Normal Cap's opponent was Cosmic Cube Red Skull... A Super Articulated Red Skull!? AWESOME!!
The Steve Rogers Variant did NOT have Red Skull as an opponent... It had Baron Von Strucker as his opponent (in a Red Skull buck repainted with a BVS head)

Dare Devil vs. Kingpin:
DD vs White Suit Kingpin
DD with a Matt Murdock head (WITH GLASSES) vs Kingpin in a black suit.
It was a pain for me to find a White Suit Kingpin... While I love the Black suit Kingpin's head sculpt, the DD was not of my liking, especially wearing those MM glasses.

The Young Avengers set: It exists, I don't care much about it... some of the pieces here will be reused by Hasbro when they get their chance at ML...

Marvel Monsters set: I knew of it's existence, but never saw it in person. Not much to say about it... That Dracula looks pretty much like a Prof. X reuse.

Onslaught Wave (MLXIII):
This wave has kind of a cool roster, but the smaller size of the BAF kinda sucks... (If they had no choice to go Smaller, they should have done Onslaught's first Form)
This wave consists of:
Green Goblin (w/unmasked variant)
Loki (w/Crown of lies Variant)
Abomination (w/Melty face variant)
Lady Deathstrike (w/Undershirt painted to avoid scandals from mommies about too much sideboob)
If I have to choose the "worst" figure of the wave then Deathstrike it is. Her face looks too happy and friendly.
I freaking HATE Wal-Mart cause of their Giant Man Wave:
Kitty Pryde
Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers)
The Sentry ("Jesus head" Sentry Variant)
Captain Britain
Age of Apocalypse Wolverine (With Charred face variant)
Age of Apocalypse Sabretooth

A really good wave with a nice BAF... yet Wal-Mart never stocked it!! My local Wal-Marts
only had one of these (due to me only finding Pegwarmers Sabretooth and Wolverine... I only REALLY wanted Kitty and Ms. Marvel, was that too much to ask?

Wave XIV: The MOJO Wave:
Before I comment on this wave, I must say that Toy Biz was on a roll trying to clog the Market with ML since their time working on the line was close to an end and apparently Hasbro was going to take charge of making Marvel toys... Some of these later toys seem rushed and some even seem crappier than the worst of earlier ML...
This wave is composed of:
First Appearance Iron Man (w/Gold Variant)
Luke Cage
Baron Zemo (unmasked variant)
Falcon (Classic Variant)

I got the normal versions of all of them. I have to say something: Luke Cage's hands SUCK!
Also that Psylocke is beyond wrong: She looks like British Betsy, but she's supposed to be Betsy in Kwanon's body. Also Where the heck is her Psychic Knife!! That's like making a clawless Wolverine!
CLassic Falcon looks a lot better than modern falcon (and uses the Vulture larger wings)

Before entering the Final Toy Biz Wave, we must discuss the second wave of Face-Off 2 Packs:
Iron Man/Warmachine vs Mandarin:
Alright, we've got Modular Armor Ironman or Modular Armor War Machine vs The Mandarin.
The Ironman and War Machine are the true reasons to buy both versions of this set. (Especially if you love to combine the MLs with SOTA's SF figures to create MVC Displays.)
Mandarin is a whole new level of suck!
He Has a super articulated body like all MLs... Only that his is strapped on a rubbery tunic that returns his body to the original position... (There was no point in making a new sculpt for Mandarin since TB was going down...)

Punisher vs Jigsaw:
Well both versions of this pack are really worth it. The one with "Punisher Jigsaw" has a Very Classic Punisher, while the White Suit Jigsaw has Jigsaw in a suit, with a more modern looking Punisher.

Wolverine vs Sabretooth: That's the most meh of the 3 packs. Sure you get a First Appearance Wolverine and an alternate look for Sabretooth, but the variants are just the Screaming version of the normal pack.

Now for the Last Toy Biz Wave: MODOK!
Now this wave consists of:
Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew, Variant is Julia Carpenter... got both versions)
Wasp (Short hair version, this one broke so I bought the variant)
Mar-Vell (Genis-Vell variant bought both)
Beta Ray Bill
Moon Knight (Silver Variant, bought both but made non-Silver Moon Knight into a custom Deadpool)
Thor Buster Ironman (Destroyer Variant) Never saw the Destroyer.
There's not much to say other than Wasp is a bit crappy on the QC side.

There's a House of M Box set, but I cared little about house of M... I was losing interest in Marvel at the time.
HoM versions of Hulk, Iron Man, Torch and Thing... Kinda cool that they revisited 4 figures from the first 2 ML waves.

That was the end of the Toy Biz Era on Marvel Legends. It had its highs and lows. There were QC issues but not as dreadful as the QC nightmares from Mattel. The line redefined the tastes for collectors who began choosing Articulation over gimmicks as a reason to buy toys.
The Toy Biz ML Line lasted 16 waves, various box sets and being complemented by Sub-lines like X-Men Classics, Hulk Classics, Fantastic Four Classics, and Spider-Man Classics. That's nto counting the Movie based lines. It also spawned the DC Superheroes line from Mattel (who blatantly copied ML in adding a comic with the moderately articulated figures. Then when the line became DCUC it copied the BAF concept.) Other companies saw the benefit from Articulation on figures. SOTA brought Articulation to Street Fighter, then NECA did it to a couple of different licenses (Like the TMNT) and the rest is history... Roughly 6 years after ML, He-Man was finally bitten by the Super Articulation bug... (To be fair, the 4 Horsemen wanted to have super Articulated MOTU since 2002... it only took 5 years for Mattel to get the memo.)

Part two will touch Hasbro's turn at bat with ML and the collective fear of fans...

No comments:

Post a Comment