The first of three big movies from Marvel Studios in 2017 is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Hasbro is capitalizing on this runaway hit property with a ton of toy support at retail. The first figures are hitting now, including a new wave of Marvel Legends based on the cinematic and comic book iterations of the cosmic heroes.
We get a healthy mix of movie and comic in the first wave– Peter Quill, AKA Star-Lord, gets an all new figure, along with a revised Drax and an all new Yondu on the movie side, while Fan Choice Angela, fan wishlist mainstay Darkhawk, Vance Astro, and Kid Nova compose the comic book entries… along with renegade ex-Nova Titus, a truly left-field choice for the Build-A-Figure of the assortment.
Personally, I’ve been far more engaged with Hasbro’s movie figures over the past few years, and I couldn’t be happier with the new additions. Star-Lord is an entirely new sculpt, and he’s an improvement over the older figure in every way. The new body is highly poseable, remarkably film accurate, and sports excellent paint work (including a cool, funky tampo on his t-shirt) and remarkably realistic details and texture in the sculpt of Quill’s leather jack, pants and boots. Hasbro based this portrait off early concept art which carried over Star-Lord’s scruffy look from the first film, which means despite the uncanny likeness of Chris Pratt, his facial hair is inaccurate based on his Vol. 2 look. I’m fine with this, as what we get represents a spot-on Quill from the first movie, while the upcoming Star-Lord/ Ego two-pack will revise our hero with a Vol. 2 accurate portrait.
If I had any issue with the new Star Lord, it would be his accessories. Don’t get me wrong– he comes packed with a respectable assortment, in the form of his twin blasters and an alternate masked head… but I do miss the added nuances included with the original toy, such as walkman and headphones.
Unlike the all-new Quill, Drax is largely a recast of the previously release figure, but I’m totally okay with it. The sculpt remains phenomenal, offering a wide range of poseability despite Drax’s bulky proportions, and the intricacy of the scar patterns on his body remain visually dynamic. The new Drax improves on the original figure with a better portrait of Dave Bautista, new paint apps including an accurate green-grey pallet on his skin, and the navy blue pants Drax rocked for the lions share of screen time in the first film.
Of course, Drax still comes packing his twin daggers, complete with sheaths on his boots… but the big guy now also includes a rocket launcher as featured in the Vol. 2 trailer. This weapon,combined with the delightfully expressive screaming headsculpt, give the new Drax a perfectly unique and dynamic look, making his re-purchase perfectly justifiable.
One of the most unexpected breakout characters of the first movie was Michael Rooker’s space biker/ Ravager Yondu. Quill’s spurned surrogate father was not only badass, but charming in his own rough-around-the-edges way, yet Hasbro never brought him to the original toy line. They’re correcting that now, with another highly detailed move figure that gives the Ravager his due in plastic. Yondu’s look between films seems to have varied the least among the cast, and Hasbro took advantage of this by designing their figure to fit in with the original lineup or the sequel team.
Yondu features two alternate heads– one with the short red mohawk seen in the original film, and one with the expanded crest he rocks in Vol. 2. Both heads feature incredible portraits of Rooker, enhanced further by his scruffy facial hair, the intricate scar pattern on his right temple, and a pair of fun expressions– a shit-eating grin from movie one, and a whistling face from Vol. 2. The latter portrait is paired perfectly by Yondu’s only accessory, his mentally-controlled arrow, complete with holster and dynamic energy trail to connect its flight pattern to Yondu himself in a variety of directions.
I adore all three new Guardians movie figures, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the comic figures in this assortment. ’90s comic readers such as myself will find a lot to love with both Angela and Darkhawk. Originally created by Neil Gaiman for Todd McFarlane’s Spawn universe, Angela made her way to the Marvel Universe following an extended legal battle… and Legends collectors have been anxiously awaiting her addition to the toy line since her Marvel Comics debut.
Having the figure in hand, I can say she was without a doubt worth the wait. Another all-new sculpt, Angela looks absolutely perfect. She features a great range of motion, and the slick, pearlescent finish of her metallic armor adds a great visual dynamic to her overall appearance. From her layered rubber hair, to her thin scarf and the reverse loincloth and belt on her waist, Angela is a brilliantly engineered figure in terms of marrying smartly hidden articulation with design.
Darkhawk is the other long-time fan request Hasbro delivers in this wave, and he makes for a solid entry. His design is classic, which means simple silver highlights on a metallic navy blue base body, and it works like gangbusters. This guy is another dynamic figure who makes great reuse of the new Spider-Man 2099 base body, and his bright red visor and gem stand out brilliantly against his dark, metallic color scheme. Personally, I’m okay enough with how Hasbro designed Darkhawk’s wings… they are permanently fixed to his arms at the forearm gauntlets and triceps, which means they can’t be removed (as we saw with the 3.75″ Marvel Universe version). But the upside of this choice is, the wings are in essence poseable, and look good in a variety of ways based on how you move Darkhawk’s arms. I can’t imagine ever displaying this guy without his wings anyway, so the lack of removable parts really doesn’t hurt his overall design that much, in my opinion.
In a lineup less great than this, Vance Astro and Kid Nova would be instant highlights. It’s only by default that they rank toward the bottom of the list in terms of best releases in this wave. Vance is perfect, with a brilliant optic white and metallic blue paint app, an all new headsculpt, and a well painted Captain America shield accessory. The classic Guardians of the Galaxy insignia on Vance’s chest makes me dream we will one day see the entire vintage team brought to the Legends collection with this same level of care.
In the first series of Guardians Legends, Hasbro released a perfect Annihilation era Richard Ryder Nova, which makes me appreciate the inclusion of a perfect Sam Alexander Kid Nova in this wave all the more. The current Nova makes perfect reuse of the Ultimate Spider-Man teen base body, with a great sculpt of his helmet, and a striking deco of rich gold and navy blue which corresponds perfectly with this wave’s BAF Titus. Sam is a perfect choice for this collection, thanks to his simultaneous connection to Marvel’s cosmic universe, as well as the young generation of Champions Hasbro has been subtly assembling in the Legends lineup with releases such as Miles Morales and Kamala Khan.
Sam is actually one of three Nova Corps members rolled into this wave. He is packed with Phlish, the Starfish-like Supernova who appeared briefly in the 2013 Nova series by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness. Whether in terms of the overall Marvel Universe, or even the Nova Corps in specific, it’s hard to argue that Phlish is not a very minor character in the grand scheme of things, but his inclusion as an in-scale pack-in is appreciated all the same.
Finally, this brings us to Titus, the former Nova Corps member who comes as a bit of a surprise as our Build-A-Figure. He’s an obscure choice, to be sure, but it sort of makes sense since he was connected to Kid Nova’s appearance on the Ultimate Spider-Man TV show… and one benefit of releasing Sam and Titus in the same wave is their paint apps and color pallet are flawlessly in sync. I honestly know next to nothing about this guy, but a giant Tiger-man who was a former member of the Nova Corps makes for a cool toy regardless. And one look at Titus’ unnaturally super human chest to waist ratio and cybernetic cannon arm makes me yearn for a Random figure, as the 90s era X-Factor are one of the few corners of the Marvel Universe yet to be taken on by Hasbro’s Legends.
The first wave of Guardians Legends is incredibly strong, truly featuring something for everyone, whether you’re in to movie toys, modern heroes, or ’90s era throwbacks. For my money, the whole assortment was a must-buy, the first time I was more motivated to own each individual figure than to assemble the Build-A-Figure. But even Titus is a really fun, well made figure, making this perhaps the overall strongest and smartest wave of Legends I have ever seen from Hasbro. And that winning streak promises to continue with the upcoming second wave of Guardians Legends coming this summer.
Look– I know, realistically, Hasbro isn’t curating the character selection and following through with great execution on their Guardians Legends toy line for the sake of me exclusively. But when the end result is loaded with some of my absolute favorite Marvel characters past and present, perfectly executed from concept to finished product, part of me thinks yeah, against all odds… maybe they actually are.