We’ve known since San Diego Comic Con that Series 24 will be the final wave of the Marvel Universe collection that has won over, frustrated, and most of all impressed collectors for the last four years. Starting in 2014, the line will morph into an Avengers series which will still, supposedly, deliver comic book style, fan demanded characters. I’m hopeful for that on the horizon, but for now we’ve got one last great mix of classic Marvel Universe figures just starting to hit retail.
Alpha Flight (Aurora)
I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit confused by the inclusion of a swap figure in this final assortment of Marvel Universe figures, but we get Alpha Flight, which is a shared spot for twin mutant heroes Northstar and Aurora. Aurora is up first, and the Canadian hero is a welcome addition to the Alpha Flight team in this scale, fitting in nicely with Guardian, Puck and Snowbird. Aurora uses the new X-23 body with new hands– sculpted to hold hands with her twin brother– and a nice new headsculpt featuring her pointy ears and black hair. The lines of her black and white costume are decent, but there’s definitely some slop on all the figures I have seen. Overall, Aurora is a good figure, but she’s definitely in need of Northstar to get the full impact of what Hasbro had in mind… I really hope they figure out a way to release him as well.
I’ve always been a fan of Omega Red’s design, so I’m totally glad to see him surface in this series. The Russian villain makes for a very cool figure, big and bulky and very imposing when facing any of his X-Men enemies. Red sports smart reuse of some Hercules parts that fit his character design perfectly. His heft is accentuated by his big shoulder pads and belt, as well as his bulky forearm armor, which is also a brand new sculpt. The mutant’s tendrils are okay, thinner than Constrictor’s arm weapons but still lacking any wires or means of poseability. Still, it works for the figure overall, and helps give him a distinct look among the Marvel Universe. Omega Red has been getting knocked for his simple colors, but don’t be fooled– he’s both comic accurate and sports a good blue wash over his white skin to enhance the sculpt and add some depth to the figure’s look.
The new take on Nightcrawler is a simple repaint of the previous figure, now wearing his X-Force/ Age of Apocalypse colors. He remains a really good figure, although I do wish we’d seen the inclusion of some newer parts, especially the thigh cuts from the 70s style Spider-Man, which would have sent the new Nightcrawler over the top. The new black and grey costume looks good, a definite departure from his classic look, and the hero’s blue skin and red face tattoo stand out nicely against the dark, drab outfit.
Black Knight is one of the last major Avengers to be added to the Marvel Universe lineup, and he was worth the wait. I actually like this figure way more than I probably should– in essence what we get here is a repaint of Hawkeye, with a new belt, head and cape, but the smart paint apps and decent articulation make for a very cool figure. The armored Avenger sports a fantastic headsculpt, with plenty of attitude packed into the small amount of face he’s showing, and his classic color scheme works wonders for the overall character design. The cape, while bulky, doesn’t inhibit Black Knight from a wide variety of poses, and his sword is a great all-new piece that he can wield in either hand or leave stored in his scabbard. Black Knight isn’t perfect– I’d love to have seen some texture sculpted on his arm and leg armor, and his sword is made of a very soft plastic that tend to warp easily, but the overall look of this figure is just fun and cool and a perfect representation of the character.
Nobody is entirely sure what to expect when the Marvel Universe line transforms into the new Avengers collection in 2014, but even if this latest assortment winds up being a jumping off point for the overall line, this set really lets Hasbro go out on top. Each figure looks great and helps to round out existing teams, and they all feel well-earned within the overall Marvel Universe of toys.