Hasbro’s not-Marvel-Universe Marvel Universe collection continues with a new assortment, including some all-new figures as well as a few that we’ve been waiting on for quite some time. It makes for a very eclectic new series, and one I’m pretty happy with.
Of the new assortment, our most obscure choice, Death’s Head, is definitely the winner. But a very well designed Red She Hulk, and a smart variant for our anchor character Thor (with beard and his face mask from the mid 80s) are perfectly nice additions as well. And while his figure leaves something to be desired, Whirlwind is a welcome character in the MU lineup.
Let’s start at the top– Death’s Head is awesome. This guy is big and bulky, and perfectly captures the look and feel of the robotic mercenary. I have always loved his strange design, and it’s almost unbelievable that he’s finally been captured in plastic after all this time. Making smart reuse of some Colossus parts, Death’s Head’s new head, weaponry and overlays make him feel like a wholly new release, and his metallic paint job accentuates his robotic style while also highlighting the wonderfully detailed sculpt. This guy was one of the passion project characters long in development by Dave Vonner before he left Hasbro, and I’m very happy to see him finally come to fruition.
Death’s Head features an axe, a shield and a mace, which he can hold in his hands or clip onto his back. I wish the weapons had been made of a firmer material– the soft plastic makes them feel gummy and it means they don’t fit very snugly in the figure’s hands or stored away– but their existence only enhances the value of a great, great figure. With his Marvel/ Transformers crossover potential, Death’s Head is sure to be one of the most popular figures in this new lineup.
I wish I could be as glowing when it comes to Whirlwind. It’s excellent to see this often-desired character realized in his classic look, complete with goofy bullet-shaped helmet and saw blade gauntlets, but the Warpath base body he’s built on is so outdated at this point, he fails to impress. The new parts are great– I especially love that this villain’s face is visible through the eye and mouth holes of his non-removable helmet. And the silver and metallic green paint job adds a sense of realism while also complimenting Whirlwind as a foe for his arch rival Iron-Man.
Overall, I still love the concept of this figure, even if the poor choice of base body holds him back as a great toy. If the Marvel team had used the far superior Cable/ Omega Red base, Whirlwind would be another all-time great. As it stands, he’s a nice character addition who looks good in the background of an Avengers villains display.
Death’s Head had been talked about for years, and Whirlwind made a cameo on the box art of 2012’s Avengers Helicarrier, but Red She Hulk came as more of a surprise when she was revealed at Toy Fair this year. Logically using the fantastic She Hulk buck as a base, Betty Ross’ super hero alter ego is obviously a well made figure, featuring a great sense of proportion and scale and loads of useful articulation. Her black bodysuit offsets her bright red skin very well, and like the previous She-Hulk, she’s a blast to pose around.
I would have liked to see Red She Hulk get a unique portrait, but the repaint of the She Hulk head in new colors and with solid yellow eyes makes her look unique enough that Hasbro gets away with it. Red She Hulk is essentially a repaint, but she’s one that features just enough effort– and a great base body– making her a perfect example of parts reuse done right.
Rounding out the series is the new bearded Thor. Based on the comic run when the God of Thunder’s face was disfigured, he wore a new helmet with a mask and grew out his beard. This makes for a unique portrait among the litany of Thor figures Hasbro has released, and they went the extra mile to repaint his torso to open up the sides of his tunic, which was his style at the time.
It’s a necessary evil that each wave of comic-based Marvel figures is going to include at least a few A-lister anchor characters. Big box retailers, with their lack of insight and soft grasp on their customer base have ensured that. But if we’re going to have to receive this parade of big time hero variants, I’m glad Hasbro is doing what they can to change them up and deliver alternate looks which many fans, myself included, will welcome into their collection.
I have no idea what the future holds for Avengers Infinite. The line has produced some great figures thus far, but I have to admit it still kind of feels like a clearing house, a line meant to close the book on the long running 3.75″ Marvel Universe. Half the new Avengers figures were originally intended for that line at one point or another, and the all-new figures, the Red She Hulks and ionic Wonder Mans, feature no new tooling.
But I guess it’s best to not get too hung up on the future of this collection, and just enjoy what we have right now. And with this new series in mind, we have one GREAT new figure, another long-desired character, a smart repaint and a logical variant. It’s hard not to call that winning mix, in my opinion.