It’s been a long, strange trip for Hasbro’s Wolverine Legends. Originally intended to be the collector-oriented toy line to go along with this summer’s The Wolverine movie, the series was ignored by mass retail, eventually finding a home as a Diamond exclusive to e-tailers and comic and specialty shops. Along the way, the line lost its two variants (Rogue and Phoenix Force Cyclops), but the core four figures, and the Build A Figure Puck, are finally here.
And ignoring the behind the scenes troubles this line faced, the figures themselves are fantastic! While Puck is the only new character in this assortment, the other four are all solid new updates to previously released figures, and they help to build the modern X-Universe in Legends scale.
Wolverine is included, of course, with a new figure that shares the excellent sculpt of the X-Force figure, but in his current yellow and blue deco. The figure remains the best 6″ take on Logan ever, in my opinion– he’s appropriately short, and quite stocky, sporting a great, gruff expression on his face and some excellent in-scale claws on his hands. The new paint apps replicate Wolvie’s modern/ Astonishing costume nicely, with a deep blue and rich yellow that avoids him looking too plasticky. The lines are clean and crisp, making this a great default Wolverine for any current Legends collector. If I had one gripe, I wish his mask would share the same navy blue of his costume, instead of black, which looks just slightly off in comparison to the body. Still, this new Wolverine features such a great sculpt and eye-catching new colors that he’s a welcome addition.
Cyclops also gets a new, improved figure here. Scott Summers is depicted in his (semi) current bodysuit, as seen in Avengers vs. X-Men, and he looks really good. Making good use of the excellent Archangel body, Cyke’s suit features a great dark navy with yellow trim that compliments the colors of this Wolverine. The new headsculpt looks fantastic, with his silver visor standing out nicely against the dark suit and deep yellow. While I understand the need for shortcuts, I do wish Cyclops went the extra mile to include sculpted piping and wrist and shin gauntlets, but the painted details are very clean and get the sense across without the need for additional tooling.
If there’s one figure I’m mixed on, it’s Sabertooth. Not that there’s anything wrong with the figure– design wise, this is the best Legends Sabertooth we’ve ever seen. But the figure features the villain’s modern costume, which I find painfully dull. I d love the sens of scale here– Victor Creed utilizes the Hyperion body, with its added height and bulk, making him taller than the average hero like Cyclops and allowing him to correctly tower over Wolverine. The new portrait is excellent, with a snarling intensity perfect for the evil mutant, and his new hands, with their claw-tipped fingers, came out incredibly well. The colors work okay, as a throwback to Creed’s classic looks, but the simplicity of the brown top and yellow bottom are not very arresting. The figure is great, but every time I see him it makes me wish Hasbro had opted to make the 70s or 90s Sabertooth outfit instead of the current one.
I think Emma Frost is the best of the bunch, which is a shame since she is short packed (more on that later). The White Queen gets a figure that improves on her previous Legend in every way possible… especially in that she looks gorgeous! Emma features one of the best female face sculpts we’ve ever seen from Hasbro, accentuated from her Astonishing makeup including subtle eye shadow and silver-blue lipstick. Her hair features a realistic flow and works like gangbusters with the rest of the face, making her one of the prettiest Legends of all time. Emma uses parts from the Black Widow/ Elektra body, with a new chest and high heeled feet. The new sculpting is incredible, and matches the rest of this great body perfectly. A lot of folks complain about the thin-ness of this body, but I think it works great for Frost.
Our Build A Figure is Puck, the diminutive Alpha Flight hero, and he’s pretty awesome. Puck stands about 3″ tall, right where he should be, and the all-new sculpt looks great. From the folds in his suit to the hair on his arms and legs, there’s a decent amount of detail to this sculpt, and for his size he’s fairly well articulated, with a ball neck, ball shoulders and hips, injection molded elbows and knees, swivel wrists and rocker ankles. I think an acrobatic character like Puck would have benefited from an ab joint, but its absence is not a dealbreaker. Puck comes packed in pieces with Sabertooth, Cyclops and Emma, while Wolverine gets a display stand instead of a BAF part. It’s a nice nod to collectors, making the purchase of yet another Wolverine (albeit a really good one) optional to complete the BAF.
So the figures themselves are great, and the whole wave would feel very collector-friendly as a retail line. I understand the game, especially in this current hostile retail climate where collectors are viewed by stores as subhumans, and big box retail buyers have become aggressively ignorant of their own retail culture… But that being said I don’t know why Hasbro kept this retail-style case pack for these figures when they went to Diamond. The Wolverine Legends come 8 to a case, and for specialty retail that seems tailor-made to pack each case with two sets of four figures. Instead, Hasbro limited Emma to one per case and added an extra Wolverine. Yes, that would have worked for retail, but for specialty market, this case essentially dooms retailers who are still willing to support this series into getting stuck with too few complete sets and way too many extra Wolverines.
It’s frustrating for retailers AND consumers… I know I had trouble even finding a shop willing to order these figures for me, let alone allow me to buy the set instead of dropping nearly $200 on a whole case, and winding up with four unwanted extras. The amount of orders left on the table due to this horrible case pack out doesn’t help anyone– aside from secondary market sellers peddling their Emma Frosts at inflated prices to offset the cost of getting stuck with way too many of the other three figures– and it seems like an easy change Hasbro could have made in their production process to make the series more evenly packed and specialty retail-friendly.
At the end of the day, the bad case pack definitely hurt the exposure these figures got, which is a shame, because all of them are definitely worth picking up. I’m really glad to finally have them in hand, as each figure is a great step up from their previous Legends release, but Hasbro’s growing pains are all over the distribution of this series, and there’s no reason that should have had such an impact on these outstanding toys.