Hasbro skips ahead with their Marvel Universe series to bring a new assortment featuring Jubilee, Blastaar and the much-anticipated Professor Xavier. While this is only the third wave of Universe figures we’ve seen this year, it’s three for three in terms of great toys.
I’m glad it seems like the distribution issues of Hasbro’s Marvel Universe series are getting better, slowly but surely. It’s obviously nowhere near perfect– Waves 18 and 19 are starting to reach everywhere now, but Wave 20 has yet to even be solicited for preorder, and now Wave 21 is already hitting Wal-Marts. Fortunately, while distributions issues continue, none of these problems have been evident in the figures themselves, and Wave 21– bringing us Professor X, Jubillee and Fantastic Four villain Blastaar– is just as strong as the previous two stellar assortments.
The two new additions to the X-universe are both fantastic. Jubilee sports an all-new portrait complete with her pink shades, spiky hair and signature hoop earrings. It’s an excellent new sculpt that really does justice to the young mutant. She features her omnipresent yellow trenchcoat which fits her slim frame perfectly, and her modern black bodysuit underneath. While I would have liked to see a classic Jubilee, with her shorts, boots and pink tanktop, what we get does look good, and her use of the smaller, slender X 23 body works perfectly for the mutant.
As for Professor X, this is the Xavier collectors have always wanted, easily the best toy translation of the X-Men’s founder ever released. Xavier’s new portrait is perfect, packed with a controlled determination and his signature pointed eyebrows, and it just screams Charles Xavier. The figure cleverly reuses the suited Comic Con movie Destro body, cast in navy blue for the suit and vest. Not only is this the perfect buck reuse for Charles, but this release finally puts this long-desired but tough to come by suited body at mass retail, which is fantastic news– Xavier is great but the release of this figure is loaded with the potential for customizers to stock up on suits and expand their civilian (and secret identity) characters for a reasonable cost. The smart body reuse also leaves adequate tooling for Xavier’s hoverchair, which is every bit as cool as its owner. The chair features an excellent sculpt, a great metallic gold finish and is scaled perfectly for the Professor, who fits inside very easily. The only complaint with the chair is its in-package structure– to fit the bulky accessory, the hoverchair is split in the middle and the two halves snap together, leaving a line bisecting the middle of the piece. I can’t say I mind, considering we get a piece this nice for standard retail, but I can see the crease bothering some fans.
Rounding out the set is Blastaar, and the Negative Zone villain comes in two variants, seemingly even-packed. Blastaar uses the recent bulky body seen in figures like Thanos and Juggernaut, and the big, stocky buck works perfectly here. The villain gets an amazing new headsculpt with an awesome, snarling expression, exposed gnashing teeth and one bulging eye– there’s a lot of character in this portrait and, just like Xavier, it’s the perfect fit for this bad guy. Blastaar also sports new forearms featuring his gauntlets and a collar piece that completes his costume, while also adding some variety to the reused torso. I was originally only going to get the standard Blastaar. I mean, really– who needs two of this C-Lister in their collection?– but the variant version looked so cool I had to get him, too. The basic edition of the creature features white eyes, a dark blue costume with a semi-metallic finish, and grey skin with a wonderful wash to add depth and definition.
The variant actually uses virtually all different paint apps, including a lighter blue for his outfit, very cool orange glowing eyes, and a faded wash on his arms, leading to hands cast in orange, translucent plastic to replicate his energy blast powers. We’ve seen a similar design employed for figures like Electro, but I think it looks much better on Blastaar– the amber-colored plastic stands out brilliantly against the muted grey of his skin, and the matching glowing eyes is such a great touch. If you’re not going to be as ridiculous as me and get both, I’d honestly suggest getting the charged-up variant, as he looks so good.
With only three figures, this is the smallest wave of Marvel U. figures we’ve seen, but each one is a total winner. Overall paint apps and quality control seem to be strong, although there’s a few issues to watch out for on Jubilee– I’ve seen some with fairly drastic walleyes, and also the yellow paint on her jacket sleeves tends to stick to her elbow joints, making this a point of articulation prone to breakage. The sculpting on these characters remains outstanding, and they add quite a bit of variety to the shelf– there’s not a single “standard” male hero in this wave, which is kind of cool. It’s been a smaller year for the Universe collection, but right now I feel fine taking quality over quantity, and in that respect, Hasbro has certainly delivered.