For the past few weeks, collectors everywhere have been staking out Wal-Marts near and far chasing down the impossibly elusive store exclusive Legends Series Avengers. Wal-Mart’s terribly bad distribution, combined with the huge popularity of the movie have made these figures the hardest toys to find at retail this Summer, but they are absolutely worth the blood, sweat and tears it will take to find them.
I wanted to run a review knocking the Avengers Legends series for one simple reason– they’re Wal-Mart exclusives. Store exclusives can be frustrating regardless; if you don’t have whatever the retail outlet is in your area, finding something at retail can become very difficult, full of long and often fruitless drives or dabbling into feeding he scalpers on the secondary market. Wal-Marts may be virtually everywhere (at least in the US), but their stores are set up in such a haphazard way there is no guarantee they will carry something, even if it is their own store exclusive. From there, the lack of a decent inventory system (or many helpful employees) leads to toys often getting lost in the stock room, never to see the light of day at some stores. It’s more about luck than any other pattern when it comes to Wal-Mart exclusive items– I got lucky enough to find a helpful manager willing to pull a case from the stock room, even after the Toy Department manager swore to me minutes earlier that everything they had was “out on the shelf.”
Once I had the figures in hand, I knew I couldn’t run the scathing review I had been writing in my head during the weeks I spent hunting these figures down– the final release figures are so amazing, there’s no way to not give them their due diligence. With great, movie-accurate renditions of most of the Avengers team, plus their nemesis Loki, the Avengers Legends are quite frankly, probably the best toys we will see at retail this year.
The Legends series Avengers include Iron-Man in his Mark VI armor, with a new “battle damaged” paint job, Captain America in his updated modern costume, Hawkeye, Thor in his Avengers look with no helmet, Loki in his new outfit with a removable horned helmet and the star of the show, the massive Hulk.
The new take on Iron-Man looks good, and makes sense considering Tony spends the majority of the movie’s running time in this armor. The burns and paint chips, revealing black scoring and bare silver metal, is well-handled, and while I’d like to see a bit more damage for this alternate take (including some sculpted dents and cracks), it definitely conveys the battle damaged look, and makes this version stand apart from the previous version. Thor is the other reused figure in this wave, with the same body as the heroic God of Thunder featured for last year’s Thor Legends figure. However this time out we get a new head with no helmet, and a fantastic new portrait of Chris Hemsworth. Considering this is Thor’s main look for both The Avengers and his own movie, the new Thor is definitely worth picking up.
With what amount to two repaints, Hasbro saved plenty of tooling money for the other four, all-new figures. The villainous Loki is fantastic, featuring his gold and black armor, a removable helmet and his tesseract-powered staff. Loki’s wiry build is translated perfectly in figure form, and the helmet is thin enough to fit the God of Lies perfectly, without looking too bulky… or leaving the figure with a too-small, unhelmeted head. Once again we get an amazing portrait of actor Tom Hiddleston, and while it would have been nice to see Loki with his sinister sneer, the more vanilla facial expression works well and really impresses with its likeness. Loki has a few drawbacks… first, he’s on the short side, clocking in at around the same height as Captain America. In the movie, the villain is almost as tall as his mighty brother, so if the figure had another half inch, he’d be scaled perfectly. Other than the size, for some odd reason Loki loses the ab crunch featured on every other figure. While his cape would inhibit much movement for this joint anyway, it’s an odd choice to leave off a thin figure, where the joint could be applied easily.
Hawkeye makes his super-hero debut in The Avengers, and his movie-style figure is also in the Legends line. The Jeremy Renner portrait is as good as every other figure, and Agent Barton includes his bow and a quiver that stores on his back. Hawkeye is well-articulated, with great double-joint knees and elbows, a good range of motion on the head, and hinged wrists which lend themselves to plenty of very natural archery poses. The quiver is a solid piece with no removable arrows, and while there have been some complaints about this after seeing the movie I think it makes sense– Clint’s arrows were stored inside the mechanical quiver, not on top of it, and I’m glad this detail was included with the toy.
Captain America got a great, WWII costume figure in last year’s Captain America Legends, but the new one, based on his modern day Avengers look, is an improvement in every way possible. Standing a full head taller, the new Cap is perfectly in scale with his fellow heroes, and incredibly well articulated. His costume is bright and new-looking, with vibrant blues and reds throughout, making him stand out much more than the muted WWII look. There is an incredible amount of detail sculpted into the various textures of Steve’s costume, and the final result is one of the best-sculpted toys I have seen in a long time. Cap includes a new version of his shield, with an interesting, if not fully effective, strap setup. Created so the shield could be slung on his shoulders or in his arm, the straps of the shield are long and fully adjustable. This works great for extending them to sling the shield on his back, but the straps don’t get tight enough to fit perfectly on his arm. With a little rigging, you can get a decent pose of Cap holding his shield, and the concept behind what Hasbro was going for here makes up for any shortcoming in delivery.
Lastly we have the Hulk, and this figure is an absolute marvel to behold. Sculpted to match Mark Ruffalo’s green giant perfectly, this may be the finest Hulk figure ever produced, and the amount of detail and perfectly engineered articulation make him the best figure in this fantastic line. With a ball joint neck, ball shoulders and hips, double knees and elbows, ab crunch, hinged wrists and rocker ankles, this is one of the most poseable versions of Hulk ever, and each point of articulation is fully functional, which is impressive for such a massive and bulky figure. Hulk is huge, well over 8″ tall, giving him a good two inches on his teammates. Hasbro absolutely nailed the Ruffalo-esque portrait, although the goliath’s Avengers look was so classic, this Hulk can easily double as a comic version as well. Sometimes you find a figure you just cannot put down– they’re too fun to keep posing and displaying and tinkering with– and the Hulk is the perfect example of that. Brilliantly articulated, well-sculpted, and absolutely MASSIVE, this figure is too much fun to play with.
Since I saw the prototypes at New York Comic Con, I had a feeling the Avengers Legends would be great. When I heard they would be Wal-Mart exclusives, my heart sank with the thought that these figures would only be able to be enjoyed by the few lucky/ devoted/ crazy enough to go through the hardships of chasing them down. While the retail price for these guys is about sixteen bucks, in reality, factoring in gas and time spent chasing, or secondary markup, you’re looking at paying close to $30 each for them. I wanted to write this review based on this steep price, and as I said earlier, my review wasn’t going to be a positive one, since I felt there was no way these toys could live up to a $30+ price tag. I was wrong– they really do. With any luck Wal-Mart will realize what a potential gold mine they are sitting on with exclusive rights to this line, and continue cranking out more Avengers Legends while they can. I sincerely hope they do, as every fan– of toys, of Marvel Studios, or of The Avengers– deserves the chance to own these incredible figures.