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Marvel Legends Has Returned

It’s been a long time coming– Hasbro first announced that they were bringing back Marvel Legends almost two years ago and they have now made good on that promise with the first new wave of figures hitting retail now. Marvel Legends were aptly named, as the much-revered toy line revolutionized the 6″ toy market, and I couldn’t be happier to report that the latest installment to the series stands among the best of them.

If you’re reading this, you probably already know the history of Marvel Legends– started by Toy Biz, the series delivered many definitive editions of our favorite Marvel comic heroes and villains with a combination of great sculpting and excellent articulation. When Hasbro acquired the M ravel license, they kept Legends going, but early figures suffered from the transition and the line was placed on hiatus. While Hasbro has kind of sated fans with offshoots like the movie-based Legends, Iron Man Legends and the Toys R Us two-packs over the past few years, their full-fledged return to the series couldn’t come at a better time– in addition to seeing some great new characters captured for the first time in this scale, the new Legends are also delivering modern takes of some of Marvel’s heaviest hitters.

In the first series, we get three such heavy hitters, in the form of Thor (from his current Heroic Age look), Iron man (Extremis), and Steve Rogers (Captain America, for the uninformed). In addition, the wave also includes a new modern Ghost Rider, classic villains Klaw and Constrictor, and X-Men’s Hope Summers. The new Legends also bring back the Build-A-Figure, and we are treated to an awesome all-new Terrax figure this time around. I am really impressed by these new Legends figures– the great new headsculpts are on par with the finest classic Toy Biz figures, with the added sturdiness we’ve seen in recent Hasbro figures such as the Fan Choice Two Packs. While some will claim the scales vary too much in this new series, I think that’s just getting too nitpick-y… they look great assembled together.

The heavy hitters are all pretty exceptional. The Extremis Iron Man is fantastic– everything a fan of this armor design could ask for. From the accurate depiction of the armor, to a great articulation scheme that masks nearly all the joints and offers lots of great posing options, this is my favorite version of the shell head yet. There has been some feedback that Tony is too small and thin, but I find the slender look of this armor very comic accurate, and he measures just above the “skinny” body characters, which is just about perfect.  Iron Man features a stealth variant in two tones of dark metallic blue, which looks just as good as the classic colors look, and is a wonderful nod back to the first set of Legends by Toy Biz. Thor features the same great sculpt as the Comic Con exclusive from last Summer, but without the lightning deco. This figure really captures the awesome current design of Thor, with a portrait pulled straight from Strazynski’s comic, great plating detail on his armor, and a massive heft that makes him incredibly fun to hold and play with. Rounding out the modern “big three” is Steve Rogers in his post-Captain America/ Secret Avengers look. Using a redesign of the SHIELD agent body, Steve strikes a commanding pose with his shield and twin pistols. His belt, shoulder straps and boots and gloves are all new and very accurate to the comic style, as is his headsculpt, which goes for an older, more weathered look for the framer Captain that absolutely works. Steve is the only figure in the wave whose scale issues have some grounds, as he stands clearly above other “human” figures, due to the extended shins under his new boots. It’s by no means a deal-breaker, as the figure looks fantastic, but he is too tall, and I really miss the hinged wrists of the SHIELD agent, which open up many gun-toting posing options. There are two pretty similar Steve variants available, one with a lighter blue outfit and a solid shield, and the other with a darker uniform and the correct clear photon shield he wields in Secret Avengers.

I wasn’t that crazy about the new Ghost Rider at first, but I have to say having the final figure in hand, he’s pretty impressive. Using the Ronin body as a base is a very clever parts reuse, and it’s impossible to tell due to the new jacket, gauntlets and boots on the demonic hero. Ghost Rider is available in two variants, featuring either a classic orange flame effect, or a ghostly blue one. While they both look pretty good, especially the glow paint effect incorporated onto his jacket, I think the blue version is the real winner, since it makes him stand out from previous versions of the character so nicely. Constrictor and Klaw are the two most basic figures in this wave, due to their mostly featureless costumes, but both sport some great new head sculpts– Constrictor is loaded with personality with his snarling grin, while Klaw goes for a straight-up Kirby open mouth design. Constrictor features his tendrils which allow for many great posing options (although there would be even more if the tendrils had been bendy instead of solid), and Klaw gets a great new sculpt on his mechanical sonic arm.

Rounding out the basic figure set is the all-grown-up Hope Summer, who features one of the nicer female portraits Hasbro has pulled off, along with some great armor pieces, a Cable-style big gun and a cool tattered cape. I honestly know very little about the character (I gave up on the increasingly nonsensical and labyrinthine X-Men mythos years ago), but the figure is very striking, with a cool metallic finish on her costume that plays well off her dull armor and tattered cloak.

Hasbro certainly didn’t skimp on our first Build A Figure since 2007, and Terrax is pretty fantastic. The cosmic villain features an amazing portrait complete with clenched teeth and a characteristically angry expression. He stands just above the modern Thor, and towers over the rest of the wave, which is very appropriate for the Fantastic Four nemesis. In addition to a great interpretation of his classic costume, Terrax includes his giant axe, as well as some great articulation, including rocker ankles, ball wrists (which helps for a multitude of axe poses), and a nice ab crunch that is unfortunately slightly inhibited by the structure of his chest armor and belt– the two pieces connect together, but there isn’t enough give if you arch the back, causing the armor to pop off the peg holding it to the belt.

Adding to the excitement of these great figures is the package design, which is very dynamic with a great comic book feel to it. With all-new original art by Ed McGuiness, each package showcases both the figure and character, as well as the Build-A-Figure, and even has a comic bookish caption bubble in the corner touting the return of Marvel Legends! It’s a fantastic package design that really pops on the shelf and it fun to just look at… This design here is the best ever seen in the long life of the Legends series, and I would be surprised if it doesn’t keep its place as my favorite packaging of 2012.

There’s been a lot of excitement over the long-awaited return of Marvel Legends, and the debut series of the new line really delivers. By taking all the things that made this line such a classic in the first place– great articulation, excellent character portraits, an awesome Build-A-Figure and some very cool variants– and catching up with new updates of the biggest characters in the Marvel Universe, Hasbro already has a certified hit on their hands. If future assortments stay as exciting, fun and cool as this premiere series, I think we can all celebrate the fact that Marvel Legends will be sticking around for a while!!

FULL GALLERY: RETURN OF MARVEL LEGENDS

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