The general response to the All-New X-Men box set– the latest Marvel Legends release from Hasbro– has been strange. The five-figure Toys R Us exclusive popped on everyone’s radar a few months ago, taking us all by surprise with a release date less than two months after its original reveal. Featuring the original five X-Men– Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Angel and Iceman– in their classic blue and yellow togs, the set seemed like a winner, finally bringing these classic designs to the Legends collection.
However, when the set started to ship, many fans were disappointed with some design choices and quality control issues, and the general consensus seems to have really turned against these figures. The criticism is warranted– there are some big issues going on with most of these toys– but I do think they’re getting a particularly bad rap, and they don’t really deserve all the ire.
Let’s address the issues: The colors do not always match up. On Cyclops, Angel and Beast, the yellow plastic of their lower torso is a very different shade than the yellow paint on their chests. It’s very noticeable, and even the belt breaking up the two halves of the figure can’t really mask it. And while most of the paint work is fine, with clean, crisp costume lines and clear edges on the masks, Angel and Cyke both have chipped paint on the sides of their chests, with small flecks of yellow amidst the dark blue paint.
Much has been said also about Angel’s portrait. The all-new sculpt was clearly intended to show Warren Worthington with a perfectly in-character cocky smile on his face, but the end result looks more goofy than confident. I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as many have argued– Toy Biz did a LOT of worse faces back in the Legends’ first heyday– but beyond that I can’t defend it as the best of sculpts.
Beast’s all new portrait is fantastic, though, as is the sculpting on his stocky, oversized hands and feet. But his big drawback– the set’s biggest flaw, in my opinion– is the lack of articulation in his arms. While the hands look great, Beast features no articulation below the elbow, limiting what you can do with his forearms and wrists entirely. For an acrobatic character, that’s a major strike against him, no matter how good he looks.
So in short, yes– there are some big problems with this set. However, there’s also a lot to like. In addition to the previously mentioned Beast portrait, Jean and Iceman also get great new headsculpts. Not only is Ms. Grey one of the better female face sculpts we’ve seen from Hasbro’s Legends, she bares a strong resemblance to previous Jean figures, as well, especially the Marvel Girl two-pack figure from a few years ago. I totally appreciate that kind of continuity!
While Angel’s face doesn’t really work, his wings are incredibly well done. Packed with detail, the look and style of these wings is straight out of the classic 60s X-Men comics, and they’re very nice to look at. I actually don’t mind the wings not being articulated, as it allows the sculpt to flow un-interrupted, although they do tend to throw the figure off balance easily.
I didn’t expect it at all, but Iceman is probably my favorite figure of the set. Based on the Klaw body– which I believe ALSO gets an unfairly bad rap– this is probably my favorite toy version of Bobby ever. He’s cast in a semi translucent white plastic, with a pearlized effect that really reads as ice. Couple with that a subtle blue wash and this figure really captures the look of a man made of ice, better than any other toy has managed in my opinion.
The biggest appeal of this set, to me, is getting the entire team at once. Despite their flaws, all five figures really do fit well as a whole team, looking quite uniform and instantly recognizable. So why is the set being slammed so badly? I think it’s because these figures, while not bad, are a clear step down from the next level work in lines like Captain America Legends and Amazing Spider-Man Legends. The X-Men set feels like a throwback to Hasbro’s Legends of years past, and had this set come out in 2011 or 2012 even, it would be very well received. But Hasbro has set their own bar so high with the quality and detail of their latest releases that these guys pale in comparison.
It’s a shame, because they’re worth picking up. At the retail price of around $90 for the set, they’re an okay value… but if you can catch them when Toys R Us runs one of their 20% coupons, the set drops to about $70 which is a killer bargain for five figures.
The flaws are there with this box set, it’s true, and I do believe that smaller, more teen oriented bodies could have been used for Angel, Cyclops and Jean, but overall the positives still win for me, and I’m happy to have this whole team assembled on my shelf. I have a feeling this set will become more appreciated over time, as the initial disappointment fades away and the sets begin to dry up at retail. If you’re currently on the fence about this set, I’d say give it a go. The All-New X-Men are not the best toys you’ll ever own, but I think they’re still worth it.