For the past 18 months, Hasbro has been kind of all over the place with the quality of their action figures. Big movie toy lines like Iron Man 3 and The Wolverine got the short end of the stick, with toy lines featuring simplistic figures with minimal articulation, which was a disappointment for many collectors. That’s what makes the new Thor: The Dark World series such a welcome return to the glory days of the 3/75″ Marvel movie toy line so great.
For this line, Hasbro has course-corrected their earlier design experiments, to deliver a line of highly detailed, fully articulated figures based on the upcoming sequel for the mighty Avenger, and each of the five new figures is pretty fantastic.
The Dark World collection includes two versions of Thor– one in his iconic armor, helmet and cape, and a second in what I can assume are his Asgardian civvies, with a blue cape draped over his shoulders– a new Loki, and two new villains in the form of the beastly Kurse and an army builder Dark Elf.
The sculpting on these toys is excellent across the board. They are loaded with details that appears to be quite faithful to the on screen appearances of these characters, including some excellent new portraits for Chris Hemsworth’s Thor and Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. Each figures sports articulation similar to– or better than– the 2012 Avengers series, and they all include at least one accessory, none of which are bogged down by oversized action features.
Both Thors share the same base body, showing off the slightly updated design of the hero’s costume. Their varying color schemes, and especially the blue and red capes, go a long may in making both figures unique. The armored Thor includes a new version of his hammer Mjolnir, cast in translucent blue plastic with some cool looking lightning streaks emanating from it, for an electrified effect that’s quite impressive. The other Thor’s hammer is more standard, and both it and the figures’ heads can be easily swapped to change the look of each figure.
Loki shares some parts with his Avengers figure, but his new, darker coloring suits the villain, and his all new headsculpt is the best version of Loki’s on screen likeness yet. He sports a sinister, determined scowl and includes three knives which he can hold in his right hand. Kurse is one of the new villains in The Dark World, and his figure is a good approximation of the towering monster. He stands slightly taller and much wider than Thor, and looks incredibly imposing, with his spikes, horns and tusks. Looking at this figure makes me very excited to check this guy out on the big screen when the movie hits in November.
Rounding out the set is the Dark Elf, a soldier builder figure for the film’s evil army. The elf includes three different weapons, all of which fit very nicely in his hands, and lots of detail on his asymmetrical armor. The elf is wearing his gold mask, so we don’t get a good look at his face underneath, aside from the ears that pop out of the sides of the mask and his braided ponytail stemming from the back of his head.
There’s an interesting, slightly organic aesthetic to the designs we’ve seen from The Dark World, and these figures do a great job of capturing that. They stand somewhere right between the first Thor and Lord of the Rings in their design, and I love that Marvel is inching that much closer to straight up fantasy.
These toys from Thor The Dark World are a refreshing change of pace for Hasbro’s movie lines, and I feel they really got it right this time. I do wish the Dark Elf hadn’t been shortpacked– it’s always a pet peeve of mine when an army builder is limited to one per case– but being a movie series I doubt even he will be tough to chase down for too long.
The five figures in this wave are apparently the start and end of the Dark World collection, something I have mixed feelings about. On the one hand, it’s a shame we likely won’t see a follow up wave with new versions of Sif or Heimdall, or never before released characters like Jane Foster of the new main villain Malekith. But on the other hand, it was extremely satisfying to be able to start and end a toy line with a single trip to the store, with no anxiety hanging over my head about when or if a second series would make its way to retail.
At this point, Marvel has enough movies coming down the pipe that I think this “one and done” concept could suit them well. And if all their future releases are as well sculpted, amply articulated and as much fun as the Dark World series, there’s going to be a lot of happy and hungry collectors waiting for more.