Sometimes I catch myself feeling bad for Hasbro’s Marvel Universe, a toy line that seems to perpetually get the short end of the stick with distribution, limited shelf space, an uneven release pattern and too many “refresher” cases that get stagnant on shelves for months at a time. Then a new set of figure is released, and I realize that despite these issues, the figures Hasbro’s team continues to create are truly representative of Hasbro at the very top of their Marvel game.
The latest assortment brings us three all-new figures, along with some nice variants, for a satisfying mix of figures. Cloak, half of the super hero team Cloak and Dagger, is one of the new heroes, and he’s handled very well. While the Marvel Knight employs the old Black Spider-Man body, the tall, thin build works for his all black body. And that saved tooling money is well spent on a great new head and, of course, the cape, which features a great shape and lots of nice texture. The dark blue stripes of the cape stand out well against the figure’s dark body, and his gold pendant and piercing eyes contrast wonderfully, for an almost glowing effect.
One of the Hulk’s most iconic foes, the Abomination, also makes his debut. Like many, I was a little off-put by this guy at first, with his slightly enlarged head and lack of shorts, but having him in hand, he’s really quite cool and his design grew on me fast. The gamma-irradiated villain cleverly employs the Rhino body, which is loaded with great articulation, allowing for plenty of posing options even on a figure of this considerable bulk. And while the head is a bit big, it’s incredibly well sculpted, featuring a scowl that’s packed with personality. Abomination looks like more than a match for last year’s newly designed Hulk, and when it comes to this villain, that’s what matters most.
The final new figure is a new Iron-Man, based on his Black Armor from late in the Invincible Iron-Man run. I had assumed this guy would be a repaint of the Bleeding Edge figure, but to my surprise he gets an all-new sculpt which is loaded with nice detailing and a solid articulation pattern. I like this color combo a lot– the gold face plate stands out well against the black suit, the grey gauntlets and boots compliment well, and the bright blue trim breaks up the dark color pattern. The figure came out looking very sharp, with steady, even line work, making him one of the most visually interesting Iron-Mans out there. The only drawback are his knees, which are made of the super soft, gummy plastic we still see occasionally from Hasbro. This makes posing his double knees a chore, and the soft plastic is very prone to warping, in the package or if you keep him posed a certain way for too long.
Rounding out the new assortment are Baron Helmut Zemo and a new Grey Hulk. The Hulk is a repaint of the 2012 Hulk, and enjoys the same great articulation and excellent sculpt of that figure. Zemo is mostly a re-release of the 2012 Comic Con exclusive, but with new flared boots instead of his classic fur-trimmed ones. I’m not sure why Hasbro made this change, but I am glad to see them reissue a slightly unique version of this highly demanded, hard to find character.
One last note– like many Marvel Universe series, there are two variants to this wave. Cloak will feature a variant of his partner Dagger, while Abomination’s variant is Rick Jones’ A-Bomb from the Red Hulk series. Early cases of this wave seem to feature little to no presence of these variants, but allegedly the refresh case for this set, dubbed “2013 Wave 4” will change out both figures entirely with their variants. This is the first wave of variants to hit since Hasbro made the claim that they “figured it out,” so for now I’ll take them at their word… although I wish “figuring it out” meant they included all variants in the case, as we all enjoyed last year with Blastaar.