Robot Round-Up #9: T-800 Terminators

Arnold Schwarzenegger Fun Fact: Terminator was the first time he'd ever say "Your clothes...give them to me" but it wouldn't be the last, just ask the maid. (Image courtesy of the Terminator Wiki)
Arnold Schwarzenegger Fun Fact: Terminator was the first time he’d ever say “Your clothes…give them to me” but it wouldn’t be the last, just ask the maid. (Image courtesy of the Terminator Wiki)

When you think of robots, you’ve got two kinds in pop culture: the helpful, friendly robots and the ones who want to kill all humans. The number nine entry on the Robot Round-Up started out in the second category and then kind of moved into the first. I mean, it still kills a lot of people, but it’s done to protect a very important human. That’s right, I’m talking about the T-800 Terminator….aka robo-Arnold.


Nothing strikes fear into the hearts of rebels like metal skeletons, apparently. (Image courtesy of the Terminator Wiki)
Nothing strikes fear into the hearts of rebels like metal skeletons, apparently. (Image courtesy of the Terminator Wiki)

In universe, the T-800 model terminators were designed by Skynet and used as the basic foot soldier of their “kill all humans” army. For some reason, despite wanting to replace humans, Skynet thought the standard, bipedal human design was the best design for their robots and the T-800 is basically a walking skeleton that carries a big machine gun. It’s not the fanciest design, but it works. In the real world, the T-800 was designed by Stan Winston Studios. It’s a solid design from one of the premiere special effects houses. When we first meet the original T-800, it’s sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor. Skynet knows that the only way to stop the human resistance is to kill the man who would be their leader and what’s an easier way to do that than by killing him before he’s even born, eliminating his mother from the timeline. John Connor sends a man named Kyle Reese back in time to protect his mother (and possibly become his father—time travel in the Terminator universe is a bit confusing). In another bit of time travel confusion, the laws of time travel in the Terminator universe prevent Skynet from sending robots back in time unless they’re covered in flesh. So, Skynet coated the T-800 in synthetic skin and sent him back in time. For some reason, Skynet thought Arnold Schwarzenegger would blend in well enough in the 1980s, so that’s what the Terminator wound up looking like. (Funny behind the scenes story about Terminator: The casting director originally wanted O.J. Simpson to play the T-800 but James Cameron thought no one would believe O.J. as a homicidal robot.) Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor would work together and defeat the T-800 by crushing him in a hydraulic press (meaning we’ve got machine-on-machine violence), but that wouldn’t be the last time we’d see one in the movies.

The glowing red eyes are a nice touch, though it doesn't exactly scream "stealth." (Image courtesy of the Terminator Wiki)
The glowing red eyes are a nice touch, though it doesn’t exactly scream “stealth.” (Image courtesy of the Terminator Wiki)

The next time we see a T-800, John Connor has managed to reprogram one and send it back in time to protect his younger self from another Skynet assassin, the liquid metal T-1000. I don’t know how liquid metal gets around the “no robots unless they’re covered in flesh” time travel rule, but that’s how it happened. Still looking like Arnold, the T-800 finds John Connor and kills or wounds a lot of people protecting him. Seriously, there’s a pretty high body count in T2: Judgment Day, and it’s not all the T-1000’s fault. The T-800 eventually sacrificed itself at the end of the movie to prevent Cyberdyne from getting the technology from him that they use to create Skynet. Yes, I know, that doesn’t make much sense either. If the T-800 never goes back in time from a future where there is a Skynet, Cyberdyne can’t create the technology that would eventually become Skynet so then Skynet wouldn’t exist, but Skynet can’t exist without the T-800 coming back in time…sigh, sometimes I hate time travel.

However, the T-800 would come back in time one last time in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. This time, it’s clear that Judgment Day is more of an inevitability so all the talk of John Connor being able to stop it from happening in previous movies is rendered moot. One again, future John Connor sends an outdated T-800 back in time to protect his younger self from a more advanced cybernetic assassin. Even though Skynet developed liquid metal technology, which is really quite useful, they went back to the standard robotic endoskeleton model with a new after-market feature: boobs. The T-X model Terminator was a lot more dangerous because of the advanced technology inside, but it was still no match for a standard T-800 model reprogrammed by John Connor which begs the question of why Skynet keeps sending back new models when they apparently hit the pinnacle of killing with the T-800.

I wonder how Pops actually aged the meat on his frame. Does he smell like jerky? Is he teriyaki flavored? (Image courtesy of the Terminator Wiki)
I wonder how Pops actually aged the meat on his frame. Does he smell like jerky? Is he teriyaki flavored? (Image courtesy of the Terminator Wiki)

We would see the T-800 one last time (sorry, I don’t count Terminator: Salvation because that really turns the timeline on its head and I’ve already burned enough brain cells trying to figure out the time travel here). This one was sent back in time by an unknown agent to 1973 to protect Sarah Connor. This Terminator, called Pops by Sarah and John, protected them many times and helped them travel through time to prevent Judgment Day. However, if Pops has been around since 1973, why didn’t he protect John or Sarah Connor in 1984 or 1992? Those seem like pretty important times to act as a protector but instead, John Connor had to send a different T-800 terminator back in time to do the protecting. Does that mean this one was just watching, saw another one of him kicking ass and just decided to sit this one out even though it was smarter due to the additional years of experience online and could better fight the T-1000? Again, time travel makes my head hurt…at least with robots, you don’t have to worry about aging, though Pops did age to blend in with humans better because we needed to find a way to justify old-ass Arnold Schwarzenegger playing the T-800 again since when they tried making a Terminator movie without him (Terminator: Salvation) it didn’t really work out all that well.

Let’s be fair, the T-800 was not a complicated robot design. However it was probably one of the earliest major pop culture examples of the robot as a relentless killing machine. Even losing is lower body in the first Terminator movie wasn’t enough to stop it from trying to kill Sarah Connor. It was that devotion to its job that allowed Sarah Connor to destroy it. However, it’s clear that the T-800 isn’t a bad robot. It was just programmed by an evil computer. When John Connor captured a few T-800s to send back in time, they were just as adept at fighting off robots as they were trying to kill humans. The T-800 endoskeleton is surprisingly resistant to a lot weapons and can take a lot of damage before failing. There aren’t any built in weapons systems, which seems like a bit of a design flaw for a robot soldier. Why wouldn’t you just build guns in so it could never get disarmed? Regardless, the T-800 is a robot that’s hard to stop and it was built that way. It’s nice to see some organization viewing robots as something other than disposable cannon fodder. Yeah, it was an evil super computer, but seriously, robot soldiers are a threat and they should be threatening. The T-800 definitely has that in spades.

Robot Round-Up 10: Robby the Robot (Forbidden Planet)

Oh God, the robots are coming to take our women! (Image courtesy of Wikipedia)
Oh God, the robots are coming to take our women! (Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

It should be no surprise that we here at Sarcastibots love us some robots (but not in that creepy we-want-to-have-sex-with-them way that some people do). Since our Scoundrel Round-Up was popular, we figured the next logical step was the Robot Round-Up (or as I like to call it “The Bender is Great! Bender is Great! Bender, Bender, Bender! Great! Great! Great!” list). We’ll be covering robots from all over pop culture, so we’re starting with an oldie, but a goody. First appearing in 1956, I figured I’d talk about the real star of Forbidden Planet—Robby the Robot.


Every super-scientist needs a good robot companion. (Image courtesy of Wikipedia)
Every super-scientist needs a good robot companion. (Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Unlike a lot of entries in the Scoundrel Round-Up, Robby doesn’t have that much of an actual history to delve into. The robot was originally designed for the film Forbidden Planet. Robby was a mechanical man created by Dr. Morbius to be his servant. Dr. Morbius, apparently a bit fan of science fiction himself, ripped off Isaac Asimov rules of robotics when programming him—keeping him subservient but also, in an ironic twist, preventing him from saving Dr. Morbius from the Id monster because Robby was programmed not to harm humans and Robby understood the Id creature was just an extension of Dr. Morbius’s psyche. Destroying the Id creature would be tantamount to destroying Dr. Morbius, so he was unable to do so. Robby also originated quite a few modern movie robot traits since he does have his own personality and a rather dry wit. I almost see him as Marvin the Paranoid Android’s more optimistic grandfather. Unfortunately, Robby was a victim of anti-robot prejudice in the movie’s marketing campaign. Forbidden Planet posters showed an evil looking Robby carrying off a damsel in distress. However, Robby never looked that scary in the movie and the only time he carried a person (and it was a male crew member at that) was when it was to trying and save someone’s life. Even back in 1956, filmmakers realized they could make money by appealing to our typical anti-robot prejudices. That’s really all that can be said about Robby the Robot as himself, however, like any good robot, he had a long life and a history well beyond that of Forbidden Planet.

Robby still looks good after all these years. (Image courtesy of Wikipedia)
Robby still looks good after all these years. (Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Robby the Robot was a fairly popular guest star or cameo in science fiction for a lot of years. Most of the shows he showed up in were during the 70s and not every appearance was the greatest (including on the Banana Splits Adventure Hour where he also apparently got a sex change as he was known as “Mildred the Robot”). Of course, any great robot from the 50s is going to show up in Lost in Space and Robby showed up a couple different times as different characters. Robby stayed busy for a lot of years, but sometimes, as a robot, you have to make ends meet and the last times he showed up on TV (as a robot and not just a prop) were on the short-lived Pamela Anderson vehicle, Stacked, in a nightmare and then in an AT&T commercial with WOPR (the computer from WarGames), KITT, and Rosie the Maid. Apparently, he and KITT became friends as they also did a GE commercial together a few years later. According to Craig Ferguson’s gay robot skeleton sidekick, Geoffrey Peterson, Robby is a frequent guest at robot parties, though C-3P0 is never invited because he’s a douche.

Robby may not have had a long history as himself, but the robot design definitely got around. Plus, a lot of the tropes of robot characters (like a dry wit and programming limitations affecting the outcome of movies) originated with him. Overall, Robby may have been portrayed in posters as a villain, but in reality, he’s a great robot and the granddaddy of them all.

Marvel Select Anti-Venom

Anti-Venom 01

Finishing off my symbiote kick, I figured I’d talk about someone that’s not technically a symbiote anymore but is still Eddie Brock aka the original Venom. I mentioned in the Marvel Select Venom review that once Eddie lost the symbiote, he learned he had terminal cancer. The cancer went into remission for a while and Eddie turned over a new leaf and began working at a mission called The F.E.A.S.T. in New York City. F.E.A.S.T. was run by Martin Li, who was also the new crime boss Mr. Negative. As Martin Li, he had healing hands and, as a publicity stunt, secretly used his powers on Eddie Brock to cure him of his cancer. However, the remnants of the symbiote in Venom’s body reacted with Li’s healing touch and manifested itself as a symbiote-like creature and turned Eddie Brock into Anti-Venom. Anti-Venom was obsessed with ridding the world of the scourge of the symbiotes and while he’s technically dead (Short Version: Eddie Brock is still alive but was purged of the Anti-Venom entity to cure a spider-plague in New York City), he’s still a cool looking character and has been translated to action figure form excellently by Diamond Select Toys.

Anti-Venom 04Anti-Venom is a stoutly built figure. Seriously, I think he’s one of the heaviest action figures I own. Since he’s a Marvel Select figure, that means he uses all new, well-detailed molds and that really makes him look impressive. Anti-Venom has hinged ankles, hinged knees, swivels at the top of his hips and balljoints at the hips, a waist swivel, balljointed shoulders, hinged elbows, wrist swivels and a balljointed neck. I’ve had this figure out of his package for over a year now and have noticed one complication with his weight, though. The weight has begun to affect his joints and gives Anti-Venom a pretty substantial lean if I don’t tweak his pose every couple of weeks. I’ve found out that I’ve forgotten to do that before because he’s gotten so leaned he actually fell off the display shelf. That’s some bad engineering. I don’t know if it’s just a problem my Anti-Venom has because I like to have him in a slightly more dynamic pose or if it’s universal, but it’s something to watch out for after you’ve bought the figure. The sculpt itself is quite impressive. I mentioned in my reviews of Venom that the symbiote has been traditionally depicted and sleek and smooth. Anti-Venom takes his “opposite of Venom” motif far enough that even the symbiote-like creature isn’t smooth. When John Romita Jr. first started drawing the character, it looked very desiccated and that continues to the sculpting done on this figure. Anti-Venom had gotten smoother by the time the character ceased to be, but Romita Jr.’s art is just so striking that I love seeing it referenced here. Anti-Venom is also a decidedly adult-oriented collectable because he’s very pointy. All those spikes jutting off the figure are surprisingly sharp. I’m not saying you could hurt yourself with them, but if this had been a toy for children, those definitely would have been blunted. Even Anti-Venom’s big claws are quite pointy. The head sculpt is spot on with Romita’s take and like Marvel Legends Carnage, they went with the mouth being an open element rather than just black over red. It looks much better that way and again adds to the overall pointy-ness of the figure. The teeth look sharp and his spike goatee is surprisingly pointy. What I love about the Marvel Select line is that the figures are often based by a certain artists’ particular version of a character. I grew up on the work of John Romita Jr., and while he may not be everyone’s cup of tea, he’s probably my favorite Spider-Man artist so considering he created Anti-Venom, it’s a great call to make him the artist that this figure’s design is based on.

Anti-Venom 02I’ll admit, the name and design of Anti-Venom is a bit cliché, but it still works. Venom is all black with a large white spider on his chest. Since Anti-Venom is the opposite of Venom, he’s mostly white with a large black spider on his chest. A black and white figure can be kind of boring, but Marvel Select wisely decided to accentuate the dryness of the figure with a light black wash. It’s enough to bring out those details but it doesn’t overwhelm the figure like some less talented paint teams do. Remember, folks, when using washes, less is more. The spider is well painted and there’s no slop on the black paint. Anti-Venom’s face is also black. The face is where Anti-Venom really steps away from Venom. The black takes the place of the white on the eyes, but it also extends down to his mouth. That’s more of a Carnage detail than a Venom detail. Anti-Venom also has some yellow for his eyes and some dark red in his mouth. It’s not a fancy paint job but it’s effectively done and looks sharp.

Anti-Venom 03Marvel Select figures often eschew accessories for elaborate bases. Oddly, this is the first Marvel Select figure I’ve reviewed to actually come with a base. Anti-Venom first appeared after the Thunderbolts attacked The F.E.A.S.T. while hunting Spider-Man. Anti-Venom manifested to protect Eddie Brock and the innocent people from the attack. To reference that, Anti-Venom’s base is a bunch of rubble with Anti-Venom’s creature coming up through the ground like it just protected him from the falling rubble. The base is painted very well, though the wash used on the Anti-Venom pseudopodia is applied a bit too heavily, meaning they look a lot darker than the creature they’re supposedly an extension of. The rubble on the ground looks appropriate weathered and what little of the actual ground we can see is not pristine, so it looks like a building was just severely damaged. It’s a nice piece for Anti-Venom to have and since the figure is so heavily influenced by his first appearance, it’s great that his base is, too.

For a while, Anti-Venom was a bit hard to find. Marvel Select apparently periodically re-releases popular recent figures, so I think this was easily a third-run Anti-Venom, but that’s fine. There were no changes in the different runs of Anti-Venom. The only reason that would matter is for a mint-in-box collector. However, as someone who like to open their toys and pose and play with them, it’s fine if my Anti-Venom isn’t one of the original hard to find ones. It’s a solid figure and as a bit of a symbiote freak, I kind of like seeing Anti-Venom on my shelf. I was surprised it only took a couple years for him to get a figure, especially since the character didn’t last that long. Eddie Brock is currently kicking around the Marvel Universe with another symbiote. I think he might be Toxin’s current host after the government used the same techniques they developed to control the Venom symbiote to control that one, but I’m not totally sure. There are a lot more symbiotes than there used to be and it’s sometimes hard to keep track of them. However, I really enjoyed when Eddie Brock was his own man and became Anti-Venom. Yes, in story, he became Anti-Venom totally by accident, but it was still a fun ride. Plus, Eddie Brock finally got to be the hero as Anti-Venom because he sacrificed his powers to undo the spider-plague. Anti-Venom may have only existed for a couple of years (though he did show up recently during the Axis crossover in a couple of crowd scenes, so I’m thinking it was just a continuity oversight), but it was a cool addition to the Spider-Man universe. Plus, I really liked the idea that Eddie Brock became so anti-symbiote that he used Anti-Venom to help hunt them down and cure the hosts of their sickness. It was an interesting motivation for Eddie Brock and that’s something that’s been lacking with that character for a long time.

Marvel Legends: Infinite Series Spider-Man Assortment Ultimate Green Goblin BAF Wave Carnage

Carnage 01I’ve been on a bit of a symbiote kick lately here on the blog, but I’m finally moving on from Venom. The first Spider-Man action figures I ever got were a three pack of Spider-Man, Venom, and Carnage, branded with the Maximum Carnage video game graphics. I didn’t even know who Carnage was back when I got that figure, but over the years, I’ve learned more about the second symbiote and while he’s honestly not that great of a character, he’s still very popular and it’s no surprise that Carnage showed up in the Marvel Legends line.

Carnage 04Carnage was released in the Marvel Legends Amazing Spider-Man 2 line. Considering how few movie characters get released in “movie waves” anymore it’s not surprising to see him show up here. I do, however, have to roll my eyes at all the fans who thought that meant Carnage would be getting the movie treatment at some point. While I think he looks cool, Carnage is honestly a pretty crap character. He’s a serial killer obsessed with chaos who can kill people super effectively now that he’s got a symbiote. It’s not exactly the most movie-friendly character out there since he doesn’t really have a plan beyond killing everyone he can. If Marvel ever wanted to make an R-rated Spider-Man movie, he’d be great, but since they’re logically focused on PG-13 movies, Carnage isn’t going to show up any time soon, and that’s fine. The Marvel Legends Carnage uses the base body they’ve used a lot over the years, and that’s unfortunately a problem for me. Under the symbiote, Cletus Kasady was a pretty thin guy. Yeah, the Carnage symbiote bulked him up, but this is way too big a body for Carnage. I wish the wirier new Spider-Man body had been around at this point because that would be the perfect base for Carnage as well. Since this is the first time I’ve reviewed a figure based around this body, I’ll discuss the articulation a little more in depth. Carnage has hinged ankles, swivels at the mid-shin and just below the hip, the standard ball-and-socket hip joint, a waist swivel, an ab crunch, ball joints at the shoulders, bicep swivels, double-hinged elbows, hinges and swivels at the wrists, and a hinge and ball joint in his neck. This makes Carnage quite poseable and everything moves quite well. Despite being built around the standard Marvel Legends body, Carnage gets a surprisingly large number of new pieces. Both this lower legs and lower arms are new pieces because there are ports that allow Hasbro to plug tendrils into. No other figure before Carnage had something like this, so I think they originated with Carnage. Carnage also gets new hands with large, knife-like fingers. This fits Carnage quite well because that’s how he spends most of his time. Unlike Venom, Carnage is always ready to kill and his symbiote reflects that. Up top, Carnage also has a new head and this is a great piece. Carnage’s mouth has always been a bit weird. Originally, when Carnage transformed in the comics, the pink of the symbiote’s mouth actually covered Cletus’ face. Over the years, that’s evolved more into an actual mouth with pink inside. The Marvel Legends version opts for the second design and as such, Carnage’s head sculpt is actually two pieces. The lower jaw is a separate piece, but it’s not poseable. However, doing it this way adds some depth to the sculpt and makes Carnage look like he’s got an evil smile. Considering how much he loves killing, I think that’s a great call. The head sculpt is also where most of the actual sculpting is done. His eyes are slightly recessed and that’s literally the only sculpted detailing on the body. Carnage may be a simple figure, but the simplicity serves it well and makes for a great version of the symbiotic serial killer.

Carnage 02Carnage is mostly red, and with a name like Carnage, that’s not surprising. Add in the fact that in the modern comics, the Carnage symbiote is now literally part of Cletus’ blood, and the red everywhere makes sense. Carnage is molded entirely out of red plastic, yet there’s enough depth in the design that he doesn’t look plastic-y. Black swirls are painted over the red. In the comics, they’re kind of used to show the chaotic nature of the character. In fact, in the original discussions about the character, Marvel’s editors wanted Carnage’s patterns to look entirely different in every panel of the comics he appeared in. Mercifully, cooler heads prevailed and while the black swirls aren’t always consistent, the black is usually in the same spots. The black is well done throughout the body, though the paint work on the head is a little weak. There’s a bit of black slop on the eyes and a bit of white undercoverage as well. While the eyes are a bit weak, I do like the pearlescent white used. It just looks a little more sinister than the pure white that’s often used for Carnage. There is a pretty noticeable paint flaw on my Carnage’s right eye. Normally, that would be a deal-breaker, but Carnage was such a popular figure that I only ever saw him once on the pegs, so I figured I’d better buy him.  Carnage was released labeled “Spawns of the Symbiote.” Marvel has started doing this thing where, to sell more figures, some characters are released under generic names so they can swap in a different figure later in the run. In this case, Carnage was released first but then down the road, Hasbro released a version of Carnage’s spawn, Toxin. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the cool, original version of Toxin but the crazier, Venom-like version. Carnage definitely moved a lot better than Toxin, so it was out of necessity that I bought a slightly-flawed version of the figure.

Carnage 03Carnage is another accessorized Marvel Legends figure, though it’s not much considering what they could have done. Carnage is known for forming wicked weapons like axes and huge blades with his symbiote that take the place of his hands. Marvel Legends has dabbled in swappable hands before, but unfortunately, they didn’t do that with Carnage. The bladed fingers are nice, don’t get me wrong, but I’d love to have seen an axe hand like my vintage Carnage figure had. He does, however, get a batch of tendrils that plug into has back. That works well for Carnage because he’s traditionally drawn with a lot of tendrils coming off his body. It’s another way to quickly differentiate Carnage’s silhouette from Venom’s when drawing him. The tendrils are made of soft plastic and plug securely into his back. They really do add a lot to the figure, but it still would have been nice to see some sort of symbiote weapon for Carnage.

Many people consider Carnage to be a character defined by 90s excess. Basically, he was created to be a more extreme version of Venom. However, just because the character’s origins and the character itself aren’t that great, that doesn’t mean it’s not a cool looking character. Sometimes Spider-Man doesn’t need to fight someone that has plans of world domination. Sometimes he just needs someone to flatten and Carnage fits the bill well. Yes, the symbiote makes him more formidable, but at his core, he’s just a souped-up punk with a hard-on for killing. I still disagree with many fans that the symbiotes need to show up in the Spider-Man movies eventually, but I can’t disagree that Carnage, when used properly, can be a fun character. I have strong ties to Carnage because of my first Spider-Man action figure purchase ever and being a comic child of the 90s, I definitely remember Maximum Carnage. At the end of the day, Carnage is a character that sells action figures, so it makes sense for Hasbro to make him and it’s a solid figure of a less-than-impressive Marvel character.

Marvel Legends: Infinite Series Spider-Man Assortment Rhino BAF Wave Superior Venom

Superior Venom 05Venom may have only been introduced in the early 90s, but the symbiote has had a lot of hosts. In fact, the original idea was that Venom would just float around the Marvel Universe, bonding with anyone it thought could help it get revenge on Spider-Man. That didn’t take off, but lately the symbiote has been a bit more peripatetic. Not every host lasts long, but that doesn’t mean they don’t sometimes get action figures. A couple of years ago, Dr. Octopus finally won and beat Spider-Superior Venom 01Man by taking over his body. Dr. Octopus-in-Peter-Parker declared himself the Superior Spider-Man and Doc Ock’s arrogance led him to screw things up even worse than Peter ever had. At one point, he forced his old villain allies, the Sinister Six, to be his crimefighting partners, which ended about as badly as expected. However, Doc Ock’s dumbest move was thinking he could control the Venom symbiote. Storywise, it’s what led to Peter Parker’s consciousness being able to reassert itself over Doc Ock. While the Superior Venom may have only existed for at most three issues, he just got a Marvel Legends figure, and he’s pretty great.

Superior Venom 02Superior Venom was designed by Humberto Ramos and while I don’t generally love his art style, the guy knows how to make cool-looking monsters. Ramos’ design transfers surprisingly well to the three-dimensional world. Superior Venom uses the base Spider-Man body with a few new pieces. The feet are monstrous, with exposed toes and sharp claws on the end of each toe and clawed hands. On his back, Superior Venom has a permanent piece attached to the hole in the back. Into that piece, you can plug in Superior Venom’s four tentacles. When Doc Ock was masquerading as Spider-Man, he built in mechanical spider legs into the back of his suit, because of course he did. Why wouldn’t Doc Ock add some extra arms? When the symbiote took over, Superior Venom 04these became more monstrous. Since he’s using the new Spider-Man body, that means Superior Venom has great articulation. For a full run down of the articulation, check out the Black A.N.T. review. The other new part Superior Venom gets is a new head. I’ll admit, I wasn’t a huge fan of Ramos’ Superior Venom in the comic, but in action figure form, it actually looks really good. It’s still got a Spider-Man feel to it, but the jagged teeth are also present like Venom. Honestly, considering how close Doc Ock got to controlling the Venom symbiote it makes a lot of sense that there aren’t too many Venom references here. As he started losing control of the symbiote, the look got more monstrous, but at the beginning, it was a pretty tame look. This figure moves very well and the arms on the back, while static, do allow you to get it into some great poses that you might not be able to otherwise due to balance issues.

Superior Venom 03Once again, this is a Venom figure, so you can guess what the colors are going to be. Once again, Superior Venom is black and white. Like every iteration of Venom before him, Superior Venom has the large stylized spider on his chest. However, this time, it carries over to his shoulders and doesn’t tie into a large spider on his back. Above the spider, Superior Venom also keeps the Spidey-style weblines on his costume. I’ll admit, it does leave the head looking a bit too busy for my tastes. At a quick glance, the weblines are more eye catching and obscure the sinister eyes and, more problematically, obscure his teeth. Venom’s always been defined by a fanged maw. That should be the focal point of Venom’s face, but it doesn’t stand out as well here because of all the other white lines up there. Despite the upper body being a bit busy, the paint work is crisply done. The wobbly weblines on the face are true to the art so I understand why Hasbro did it that way. Unlike other Venoms, Superior Venom does have a little splash of color on the figure. The Superior Spider-Man costume had some gauntlets on his wrists and they remained visible after the symbiote took over. To show that, there are red spots on his forearms. They should be raised, sculpted elements rather than just paint, but it’s not a big enough detail that Hasbro should have invested tooling dollars to recreate it. The red spots work well enough.

Superior Venom 06I’ve already touched on Superior Venom’s accessories, but I still feel I should mention them again. The tentacles are designed very well. They look like a combination of organic and technological elements and that’s a good call to make here. They look jagged and scary and considering how out of control Superior Venom was when he started manifesting these in the comic, it’s a good look. The figure remains well balanced even with them on his back and they assist in getting him in some cool, menacing poses. It’s the best of both worlds.

Superior Venom may have been a thing for all of three issues, but it’s still an interesting take on Venom. It’s the most Spider-Man-like Venom out there and I like that for some reason. It’s a unique look and it’s something a little out of the box, and I have to applaud Hasbro for making that call. I may still hate Humberto Ramos as an artist, but it’s hard for me to deny that he can design and draw monsters very well. Considering how cool Superior Venom looks, it shocks me that it came from the same pencil as the guy who made the absolutely asstastic Green Goblin redesign in the mid-2000s.

Marvel Legends: Infinite Series Walgreens Exclusive Agent Venom

Agent Venom 01I mentioned that I’ve picked up quite a few versions of Venom over the years, but not all of them are the classic Venom. Like I said, the Venom symbiote gets around a lot in the Marvel Universe. After it abandoned Eddie Brock when he got cancer (gee, maybe the symbiotes are somehow biologically related to Newt Gingrich), it floated around the Marvel Universe for a while. It was bonded with a mob boss’s loser son for a while, it bonded with Mac Gargan (another Spider-Man villain known as the Scorpion and man did the symbiote look ridiculous with a scorpion tail), but then the government got their hands on it after Norman Osborn’s Thunderbolts team (with Gargan-Venom) self-destructed fabulously. The military decided it was time to resurrect the super-soldier program and found a way to drug and control the Venom symbiote. The symbiote was then given to Flash Thompson (Peter Parker’s high school nemesis turned adult friend). Thompson had joined the military (though how he did that I’ve never been quite sure—the last Thompson story I remember before he showed up fine was one where Norman Osborn got him drunk, forced him to crash a truck into the school Peter was teaching at and resulted him being left in a permanent vegetative state, but hey, who cares about continuity when it’s a bad story with god-awful art by Humberto Ramos) and then lost his legs. The symbiote gave Thompson the ability to walk again and he became Agent Venom. His tenure as a superhero hasn’t been great, but he’s definitely a popular enough character to warrant some attention from the Marvel Legends line. Like Black ANT (who he served with on a Secret Avengers team), Agent Venom was a Walgreens exclusive, in fact the first Marvel Legends to be released that way. He’s an excellent representation of a so-far underutilized Marvel character and I really do like having him in my collection.

Agent Venom 02Flash Thompson was always a pretty big guy. After all, he played high school and collegiate football for a long time and even after he lost his legs while serving in the military, he made sure to stay in shape. Agent Venom uses the same molds as the Marvel Legends Bucky Captain America Hasbro did after they revamped the line a few years ago. However, Agent Venom gets a lot of add on parts to separate him from the first super soldier. The lower legs and lower arms are new pieces to reproduce the symbiote armor that he had plus there’s a piece to cover his torso to further distance the look from Bucky Cap and recreate the symbiotic flak vest Agent Venom wore. The great thing about dealing with the symbiotes is that it allows artists a great deal of freedom in their design. Since Flash Thompson was a former soldier, it makes sense that the symbiote would manifest itself in a very military fashion. There’s a lot of detail packed into these pieces and it really helps make the character look like he stepped off the page.  Bucky Cap is a great base for Agent Venom because it’s a very poseable mold, though I’m personally not a fan of the balljoint and swivel hips. I’ve just always found them to be a bit more awkward to move than a standard action figure hip joint. As it stands, Agent Venom has joints at the ankles, knees, hips, waist, abs (though that joint is restricted quite a bit by his chest armor), shoulders, elbows, wrists and neck. Up top, Agent Venom also has a new head sculpt. Truthfully, Hasbro probably could have just used a Spider-Man head and called it good. The head looks like Spider-Man’s in the comic so they could have just done it here. The eyes on the mask are a raised element and it adds some nice depth to the figure’s face. This is a very military-styled figure and I love that about Agent Venom’s overall design. There are just enough elements to make him look like an alien (like the crab-like armor on his shins and shoulders) but he doesn’t look that much different than an independent military operator. The original character designers should be credited for that and Hasbro should get some credit for translating that look so well to action figure form.

Agent Venom 03Because Agent Venom is still using the Venom symbiote, that means he’s got a pretty restricted color scheme. Venom always uses black and white, so that’s what Agent Venom does, too. The figure is black from head to toe with white used for the detailing. There are white stripes on his thighs, though it is missing on his left hip. It seems to be missing on just about every sample of Agent Venom I’ve seen personally and on the ones I’ve seen in reviews. However, I don’t think it’s necessarily an error, but rather due to the fact that the belt hangs low enough on that side of the figure’s body that it doesn’t really matter if it’s not there. Agent Venom has the same large white spider on his chest, though it is a bit more jagged and stylized than even the original Venom had. The paint coverage can be a little weak on the chest and there can be some bleed through, but it’s still solid. White is also used on the shoulder armor, and that’s a detail that varies from artist to artist. Finally, the outside of Agent Venom’s eyes are outlined in white. This can be a hard area to work with but the paint team did it well. I never rejected an Agent Venom for bad paint work around the eyes. I passed on a few because of some slightly stronger black bleed through on the chest piece, but paint is generally not an issue for this figure. Working only in black and white can be a bit difficult because stray paint marks will show up very easily. Thankfully, Hasbro made sure their paint team brought their a-game on this figure. The paint work is exceedingly sharp and it make Agent Venom look even better.

Agent Venom 04I’ve mentioned before than the Marvel Legends line doesn’t generally do a lot with accessories, however, Agent Venom bucks that trend. I honestly wonder if he was slated for a mass market release and got cut from a different wave somewhere along the line just because of all the extra stuff he has. Retailer exclusives generally don’t come better equipped than mass market releases, but Agent Venom is one of the most accessorized Marvel Legends figures I own. Since Agent Venom is a soldier, it makes sense for him to come with quite an impressive arsenal. Agent Venom has three pistols (two of one design and a third with its own look) and a small submachine gun. This is perfectly in line with how Agent Venom operated in the comics. Yes, he had superpowers, but he didn’t rely on them exclusively in the field. Where Agent Venom goes from good to great is that he also has a backpack that can plug into him with four tentacles. Agent Venom can hold the guns either in his hands or the tentacles. When a mission went bad, Agent Venom would use those tentacles just like this, grabbing as many guns that were lying around as he could and really cutting loose with them. Not all the tentacles hold the guns well, but he can still carry all four of his weapons at the same time, and I love when an action figure can carry all his accessories on him so I don’t have to worry about them falling off my desk and disappearing. While Marvel Legends may not be well-known for accessorizing their figures, when they do, they always do an excellent job and Agent Venom is a perfect example of that.

Much like Black ANT, Agent Venom is a fairly recent addition to the Marvel Universe and hasn’t done a whole lot yet. He had his own series that lasted for about 50 issues, which isn’t anything to be sneezed at. However, he’s still not that well known. He did some things during the slightly-too-long Spider-Island crossover event and he’s recently joined up with the Guardians of the Galaxy. That really raised his profile and now he’s got his own series Venom: Space Knight, where he’s finally gained full control of his symbiote after a visit to its species homeworld (this is where we finally learned the symbiote’s species). It will be interesting to see how Venom does as a space knight, but I’m still a big fan of the Agent Venom look and I think it’s impressive at how much attention this look got from Hasbro since retailer exclusives generally don’t get a lot of new parts because they’re, at their core, cost-saving figures. Marvel Select apparently made an Agent Venom, but it was a Disney Store exclusive and therefore is exceedingly hard to get on the secondary market. You’ll have a much easier time finding this version of Agent Venom and I think that’s good enough. At least at Walgreens, he’s much closer to a mass market release and he’s a nice addition to my collection. While I didn’t intend to get so many different versions of Venom, it’s kind of interesting watching the character evolve and change each time it gets a new host.

Marvel Select Venom

Venom 15

The Marvel Universe is full of all sorts of strange alien creatures. As a Spider-Man fan, I’m not exposed to a lot of them, but the one that gets a lot of exposure in the Spider-Man comics is a great one, the symbiotes. We’ve since learned a lot more about the symbiotes as a species (now revealed to be the Klyntars) in the modern Guardians of the Galaxy comic, but until very recently, they were a blank slate. The Venom symbiote first showed up in Marvel in the Secret Wars crossover in the 1980s. Spider-Man reached into the wrong machine when he was trying to repair his costume at the base he stayed in with the other heroes and instead of a new suit of clothes, he got an alien parasite. Spider-Man eventually rid himself of the black goo creature, but it quickly found a new host: Eddie Brock, a man who hated Spider-Man and the two bonded over their hatred for him and set out to make his life a living hell. I’ll admit, not all of the Venom stories have held up well over time, but as a kid who was first introduced to Spider-Man thanks to the great 1995 Fox Kids cartoon, Venom has a special place in my nerdy heart. I’ve snagged quite a few versions of Venom over the years, but hands down, the best one came from the Marvel Select line. Not only is it a great figure, but it’s very versatile.

Venom 07Venom is a character whose look really depends on the artist. The Marvel Select figure comes with a wide range of interchangeable parts (in lieu of a typical highly-detailed display base), allowing the figure to replicate three distinct looks from the character’s history. Venom was first created by, then-cutting-edge-now-kind-of-hacky comic book writer/artist Todd McFarlane. He originally drew Venom as a hulking but sleek figure. It really made venom look surprisingly inhuman. That was partly because at the time, no one at Marvel was sure whether the Venom symbiote was going to have another host or not since Spider-Man had fought the symbiote itself a few times. This is the first look Venom had, so I figure it should also be the first look for the review. The figure’s articulation all remains the same: Venom has hinged ankles, hinged knees, swivels at the mid-thigh, hinges and swivels in the hips (creating a pseudo-balljoint), a waist swivel, a chest swivel, balljointed shoulders, bicep swivels, hinged elbows, wrist swivels and a balljointed neck. It leaves you with a very poseable figure, though it’s not as poseable as figures out the Marvel Legends line. That’s the trade-off. If you want a bit more poseability, but a slightly less-detailed sculpt, go with Legends. If you like incredible sculpts that sacrifice a bit of articulation, go for Select. Whoever sculpted this figure did a great job with it. Venom’s got a very imposing presence, and honestly, he’s a pretty hefty figure. Despite the weight, though, he’s not terribly prone to tipping. Venom’s head, in Venom 06his original incarnation, looked quite slick and alien and had a large, almost Joker-like grin. That’s what this head has as well. Despite its apparent smoothness, there are some nice wrinkles sculpted in there and the large grin looks appropriately off-putting. Part of what made the McFarlane-era Venom look so creepy was that he looked so close to human, but clearly he was not. The body is a little off-model with the McFarlane Venom. As I said, the original Venom was pretty slick and smooth. He was still incredibly buff, but the vein-y detailing of the musculature was lacking for many years. However, that’s part of what allows Venom to pull triple duty. It’s honestly not that big of a deal, but if you’re looking for a perfect representation of McFarlane’s take on Venom, you’re not going to find it here. The large white spider is sculpted into his chest and painted well. The paint work on Venom is spot on. The black and white are applied crisply and to replicate the comic art, there is a subtle blue highlight on the top of this head. It’s not much, but on close inspection it’s there. I appreciate Marvel Select adding in this little detail but I’m also glad it’s subtle enough that you don’t know it’s there unless you’re looking for it. I’ve passed on a lot of Marvel Legends Venoms (and black costume Spider-Men) because they really over did the blue wash.

Venom 11As the years went on, Venom grew in size and scary factor. Artist Erik Larsen did the redesign on Venom where he picked up the large, scary teeth, the big tongue, the constant green drool and the massive clawed hands. Marvel Select Venom has a spare head and clawed hands to help recreate this look. I’ll admit, I’m partial to this look for Venom. This was my Venom and that’s how he spends most of the time on my display shelf. The fanged maw looks frightening and the tongue sticks out menacingly. This is a bit of a secret feature, but the tongue itself is also removable. It’s in there awfully tightly from the factory, but it can be pulled out if you don’t want Venom with his tongue sticking out all the time. It slides back in easily and it’s a nice touch. With the tongue out of his mouth, it’s far easier to appreciate the sculpting work that went into his head. The teeth are askew and give Venom a very frightening appearance. This is a version of Venom you won’t mistake for Spider-Man at a quick glance. The Venom 14clawed hands are intimidating and look like he could Venom 12do some serious damage with them. That’s the beauty of the symbiotes. Since they’re living creatures that respond to their hosts, they can assume a wide range of terrifying shapes. The face is horrifying and the large clawed hands, combined with Venom’s augmented strength turn him into a dangerous foe and this version of Venom definitely looks the part. The McFarlane Venom is creepy, but the Larsen Venom is a creature that would kill you just as soon as look at you. It’s no wonder he got dubbed the “Lethal Protector” when Marvel wanted to make Venom into a hero in the 90s with Larsen (and later Mark Bagley) drawing him.

Venom 01The final option for Venom also incorporates the most extra parts. In the mid to late 90s, Marvel turned Venom into an anti-hero, with varying degrees of success. The sales were never strong enough for a full monthly series, but there were quite a few limited series. I’ll admit, I haven’t read the one that this look is based on, but it’s clear that the final Venom option was based on the limited series, The Madness, where Venom got exposed to some dangerous chemicals that mutated the symbiote into an even crazier beast. The head is based on cover art from Venom 05Mark Bagley’s “Venom Returns” arc, but I think it kind of fits here with the Madness look since Venom’s transforming into something even nastier in that arc. The transforming head just like of looks at home here. Plus, there’s not really a Madness specific head, so I made due with this one. This head surprised me. There have been attempts at showing a Venom transformation before, but I’ve never been that impressed. However, this head actually looks pretty good. It’s designed around a very good piece of art, which helps, but the transformation is good and I kind of like seeing it on this version of Venom. When the symbiote was mutated by some toxic chemicals, Venom sprouted some extra arms and a bunch of extra Venom 02Venom 04heads. To accomplish this, Marvel Select essentially created a backpack with these details on it. It fits snugly on Venom’s shoulders, though Madness Venom (to co-opt the name ToyBiz used when they created a version of this Venom) is a bit more prone to tipping because the pack makes him a bit back heavy. Three of the heads have neck joints and the arms on the back have joints at the wrists, elbows, and “shoulders.” Fully mutated, Venom also sprouted some additional small arms elsewhere and to recreate that look, there are two arms that can plug into Venom’s forearms. I’ll admit, these aren’t the best pieces. The fit isn’t great and honestly, those arms were something that looked okay in artwork but just don’t look that great in 3D form. In The Madness, Eddie Brock really started losing control of the Venom symbiote and I think this look does a great job representing that particular look, even if it’s not a Venom story I’ve ever felt compelled to track down.

By any metric you look at Marvel Select Venom, it’s an amazing figure. The sculpting is spot on, the paint work is excellent, and he comes with enough extra parts that you can essentially get three figures out of him. Just to recap: He’s got three different heads, three sets of hands (two closed fists, two open, and two clawed), a pair of small arms, and a large back piece with two additional sets of arms built in (that he removable hands fit into). I got lucky and snagged my for suggested retail price ($30), but truthfully, it’s such a great figure and you get so much bang for your buck that in my way of thinking, suggested retail price was a pretty big steal. I’ll admit, I wish Venom had come with some sort of character-specific base like other Marvel Select figures do, but honestly, you get so much out of the add-ons, I understand why any potential base was cut. Given the choice, I’d rather have the option to make Venom look how I want than have a base that increases the figure’s footprint on my limited shelf space. Marvel Select Venom is the best version of Venom I think has been released period. There are some good Venom figures from back in the day, but Marvel Legends and its other related lines never figured out a good way to handle Venom. Yes, Marvel Select Venom is a bit bigger than the Marvel Legends figures, but considering he’s always been drawn as a hulking presence, I think his large size just bring him in line with how he’s traditionally drawn, so he looks perfectly fine squaring off against a Marvel Legends Spider-Man figure.

Venom 08   Venom 10  Venom 03


Guardians of the Galaxy Minimates– Drax, Groot, & Rocket Raccoon

Full SetI’m a bit usual as an action figure collector. While most of my collection is focused on the G.I. Joe brand, I dabble in a lot of other properties when there’s something I think that looks cool. Not a lot of collectors do that, but I think a cool figure is a cool figure, so who cares if it doesn’t fit with the bulk of my collection. However, the one line I’ve avoided dabbling in was Art Asylum’s Minimates. It’s not because I don’t like them, but honestly, it’s because I fear they’ll be my next line I’ll get into whole hog and I don’t know if my budget can handle that. Unfortunately, Guardians of the Galaxy led me to break my Minimate embargo with a cool three pack of Drax, Groot, and Rocket Raccoon. Thankfully, this hasn’t led me towards too many more Minimate purchases, but now that I’ve broken the seal on Minimates, who knows where that will lead me.

The overall Minimate design is pretty simple, though there’s not an example of the standard Minimate in this particular set. The standard Minimate design is as follows: a cylindrical head, a square torso piece, arms (with ball joints at the shoulders, hinges at the elbows and swivels) with c-grip hands, a crotch piece, legs and small feet. Save a few special circumstances, all the Minimate’s details are provided by paint work. They’re a surprisingly fun format for characters and the characters from Guardians of the Galaxy translate well to this format.

Drax 01Drax is the closest to the standard Minimate we get in this set. He uses the basic body, but gets a chest cap to bulk him up and slightly larger feet to give him some extra height. The bulked up look works perfectly for Drax. Like all Minimates, the paint work does the heavy lifting and this is an impressive figure. Drax has incredibly detailed tattoos on his upper body in the movie and this figure has them as well. The tampo work is extremely crisp. They could be a little clearer, Drax 03but you can still make out the three skulls on his back and that’s what’s important. Drax’s green skin is a bit darker than I’d prefer. I think it should be just a little more vibrant, but that’s just me. Drax’s pants are black, with added detail done in gray. The belt is designed to look like studded leather and the gray lines on the pants stand out well and add depth to the overall look of his pants. The boots do have laces molded into them, but that’s the extent of molded details on Drax. Art Asylum is pretty good about finding accessories for their Minimates, and Drax’s are a no brainer. Drax gets a pair of new knives that look like the curved blades he used extensively in the movie. Drax 02The blades fit decently in his hands, though I do wish the grip were a tad tighter. They do tend to fall out pretty easily when bumped. The knives are molded out of black plastic and have silver paint applications for the blades. The detail work on the knives is quite impressive as you can still see the patterns in the blades with the silver paint over them. Not all lines can paint something that small and not mute the details in the process. Drax is a fairly simple design, but he was that way in the movie too, and simplicity isn’t always a bad thing. It also helps that Minimates themselves are a fairly simple medium, so that means Drax’s look transfers especially well to the Minimate line.

Groot 01Going the other way, Groot is a rather complicated Minimate. Groot still has the basic Minimate torso and legs, but it looks like he has slightly longer arms, tree-like hands and feet, a taller crotch piece, and a unique head with tree bits coming off the top of a standard cylinder. This gives Groot a lot of extra height and that’s perfect since he spends so much of the movie taller than everyone else. Like Drax, Groot’s facial features translate well to the simplified Minimate aesthetic, though I don’t think it’s quite as good as Drax. The paint work is very simple compared to Drax. Groot is Groot 02molded entirely from tan plastic with black lines placed over to give Groot some anatomy and tree bark. There are some green vines and flecks throughout, but the green is applied somewhat inconsistently. There are some spots on the torso piece that look like the green should continue Groot 03down to the taller crotch piece, but they don’t. The feet are also a little strange because I have yet to find a way to position where both feet sit level on the ground. It doesn’t make Groot unstable, but it’s a little odd that they aren’t designed to sit flush with the ground. Unlike Drax, Groot doesn’t really come with an accessory, but it’s Groot. It’s not like he was known for having a crazy gun or something. I’ll admit, I would have loved to have seen a Minimate version of the potted Groot but it would have been pretty hard to make that in scale with other Minimates.

Rocket Raccoon 01Since there’s an open slot because Groot has no accessories, the folks at Art Asylum wisely decided to make a version of Rocket Raccoon and include him here with his arboreal best friend. Rocket Raccoon is an unarticulated minifigure, but Art Asylum made sure he still looks like a Minimate and that was a great call. That means he fits in well with everyone else. In fact, when I first got this set, the arm joints Rocket Raccoon 02looked so realistic, I wasn’t totally sure whether he was poseable until I got him out of the package. Rocket’s figure is designed to look like the prison gear he wore for a significant part of the movie, and I think that’s where the gun also came from. Despite his small size, he’s very well
detailed, with a furry texture on his exposed body. The tail is vital to balancing him so he can stand, though I have found Rocket Raccoon 03you can sort of get Rocket to ride Groot like he did in the movie. I’m not sure if that was an intentional design choice or not, but it’s pretty cool nonetheless. Rocket is a necessary addition to the set and really makes it worth your money since you’re essentially getting three figures for the price of two.

Overall, my first experience with Minimates was a positive one and it was nice to finally be able to get some sort of Rocket and Groot merchandise. I barely saw anything in the scale I prefer to collect, so jumping over to Minimates was a no-brainer. It’s a fun little one-off addition to my collection and honestly, it’s got a lot of great appeal to someone my age. The smaller accessories might be a drawback for a young Marvel fan, but even then, there’s still a lot of fun to be had. The price is decent and Groot and Rocket look like they might integrate pretty well with the Guardians of the Galaxy Legos as well. Even if they don’t, though, they’re still fun pieces. While Rocket and Groot are kind of the stars to me, Drax is just as good and I’ve really grown to like Drax a lot since the movie came out so I’m kind of glad these three main characters were all packaged together.

Marvel Legends: Infinite Series Walgreens Exclusive Ant-Man (Black A.N.T.)

Black ANT 01Part of what has drawn me to the Marvel Legends: Infinite Series line over and over again is the wide variety of Marvel characters that have gotten great action figures. Sure, there are lots of versions of Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Captain America, but the line also gives attention to characters like Drax (at least three years before he became super popular thanks to the Guardians of the Galaxy movie) and Batroc the Leaper. Interestingly, Hasbro has begun pairing with Walgreens of all places to release the occasional exclusive figure. They started doing it with the Star Wars Black series, but the Marvel Legends: Infinite Series has also started releasing exclusives through them. While the package just bills him as Ant-Man (since he was released around the same time as the recent Ant-Man series), this figure represents actually the third man to wear the Ant-Man gear, a former S.H.I.E.L.D. analyst named Eric O’Grady. O’Grady, like Lang, stole the Ant-Man gear, but unlike Lang, he really wasn’t planning on doing anything heroic with it. He was honestly a bit skeevy in the beginning, but O’Grady gradually became a hero. In fact, he became so heroic, Captain America trusted him to join his black ops Secret Avengers team. While part of the Secret Avengers, he sacrificed himself to save a young boy from being captured by a group of Life Model Decoys (robots designed to look like a specific person). That’s where this look comes in. After O’Grady died at the hands of the LMDs, the rogue LMDs resurrected him as one of their own and used him to infiltrate the Secret Avengers. When he revealed himself to be a traitor (curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal), he also changed his name to Black A.N.T. and adopted this costume. Considering this part of his story only went down a year or two ago and O’Grady Ant-Man was honestly never that big of a deal, it’s pretty impressive this look got an action figure.

Black ANT 02Black ANT 04As I’ve mentioned before, the Marvel Legends: Infinite Series line relies pretty heavily on parts reuse. Ironically, though, Ant-Man is the first time I’ve reviewed a figure that does so extensively. Ant-Man uses the new small body that they developed for a really great Spider-Man figure. The new small body is extremely poseable, which makes sense for Spider-Man and honestly works pretty well for Ant-Man, too. Ant-Man has hinge joints at the ankles, knees, abs, shoulders, elbows, wrists and neck, swivels in his upper thigh, waist, upper arms and wrists, and ball joints at his hips, shoulders and neck. The joints are all pretty standard fare save for the neck hinge. It was used for Spider-Man so he could be upside down and honestly, it’s not that great on Ant-Man. Unless you have his head tipped down a little bit, he looks a bit giraffe-necked. The body itself is completely devoid of sculpted detail. That makes sense since this is going to be the new base body for a lot of slender-but-still-super-powered characters. Ant-Man does get a new add on belt that O’Grady used to control his shrinking powers. My only real complaint there is that he doesn’t have a hand that looks natural near the belt. The only new part Ant-Man has is his head, and it’s a really great piece. It’s very well-detailed and it looks like the comic art for Black A.N.T. At its core, he’s just wearing a black version of the classic Ant-Man helmet. I hope that means at some point in the near future, Hasbro decides to make a classic style Ant-Man figure. I’ve always liked the 70s sci-fi vibe of the original Ant-Man helmet and it works well for O’Grady. The Ant-Man gear he stole in the comics looked very different from the gear he eventually died in which is what this represents, but it’s hard to beat a classic look. The face has a pretty sternly held mouth and that does hurt the O’Grady ties a little. O’Grady was a pretty sarcastic and fun-loving guy who just enjoyed being a superhero scoundrel. Even when he was the Black A.N.T., there was an element of that in his programming. This face looks just a little too grouchy for that.  The tech details on the helmet are great, with a seam running down the center and splitting off into to two points and two ports over his ears. The antennas on the front of the helmet are surprisingly well done. They’re thin enough to look on model with the art, but they’re not so thin that they get bent in the package. I searched through quite a few at Walgreens to find one with good paint and I never had to reject one because of bent antennae.

Black ANT 03Since the body is undetailed, the paint work has to do all the heavy lifting when it comes to recreating Ant-Man’s look. The original Ant-Man costume was red with blue jagged boots and long gloves with a forked blue stripe running down the chest and blue underwear on the outside of his pants. Black A.N.T.’s look is the same details but with black for the main body and red for the other details. It’s a striking look and while it can scream bad guy, since O’Grady was on the Secret Avengers before his death, it also works for a stealthy superhero. The Ant-Man helmet is also done up in black with bright orange detailing on his eyes and the rest of the tech details on his helmet. The paint work on these very small areas is extremely well done. In the comics, Black A.N.T. was drawn with those parts of his helmet glowing, so to recreate the glowing effect, there’s also a bit of yellow highlighting in there. It’s not a perfect solution, but it does look a little bitter than just leaving everything up there bright orange. The paint work on his body is serviceable, though the jagged lines can get a little fuzzy. When I found my Ant-Man, there were plenty of them in the store and I couldn’t find one that wasn’t a little fuzzy somewhere. There were some fuzzier ones that I passed on, but even the ones that were a bit fuzzy on the defined lines still looked good. My only real complaint is that the paint shade on the red shifts between his upper torso and his abs. It’s kind of surprising since that sort of thing usually only happens when one part is molded in the color and the other has it painted on, but it looks to me like they’re both painted elements.

Black ANT 05Beyond his removable belt, this Ant-Man has no accessories, and that’s kind of a bummer. Like I said in the movie Ant-Man review, I think it should be required that any time a line makes a figure of someone who can change sizes, they should include at least one small version of the character. I think the mini-Ant-Man from the movie Ant-Man could have been repainted to pass for this look. However, this Ant-Man is a still a great figure and is a smart idea for an exclusive. I’m interested to see where this new head will eventually get reused. It just doesn’t seem like Hasbro will let this piece lie since it can be used for a regular Ant-Man as well. Plus, he’s not a character that everyone was clamoring for but he’s still cool enough to warrant a figure. A toy review site I read said that the perfect exclusive figure is one of a character that has a decent fan following but at the same time doesn’t create a hole in everyone’s collection if it’s hard to track down. Irredeemable Ant-Man was a popular series and the Black A.N.T. look is striking but at the same time, O’Grady’s tenure as Ant-Man was very short and though he died heroically, Secret Avengers was never exactly the most popular book. You have to be a pretty die-hard comic fan to care about Eric O’Grady and I do. It was great to get him (sort of) as an action figure, but I never really thought my limited collection of Marvel Legends: Infinite Series figures was incomplete without the Eric O’Grady version of Ant-Man. He seemed to sell well enough because I haven’t seen mass quantities of him at Walgreens lately so that means he’s definitely moving units. Sure, most people probably bought him just because he’s a neat take on Ant-Man and looked a bit like the “Blackout Ant-Man” that showed up in some of the other toys but didn’t actually appear in the movie, but knowing he’s O’Grady/Black A.N.T. does make me smile, just because he’s a C-lister at best. It now makes me wonder who else Hasbro might tap for a Walgreens exclusive if they’re going a bit more obscure. Honestly, I’d love to see Dennis “D-Man” Dunphy finally get an action figure and really, he’s almost as obscure as O’Grady, so I say bring on D-Man.

Marvel Legends: Infinite Series Ant-Man Assortment Movie Ant-Man

Ant-Man 01Had Ant-Man come out before Guardians of the Galaxy, I would have been tempted to agree with the Internet that Marvel had finally made its first misstep. However, since Marvel could make the Guardians of the Galaxy a popular team, there’s no reason they couldn’t make the Scott Lang version of Ant-Man a popular guy. Going with Scott Lang was the right call since Hank Pym has a lot of baggage attached to him (multiple nervous breakdowns, beating his wife, creating Ultron so he could defeat him and make the Avengers like him again after the aforementioned wife-beating, being replaced by a Skrull). Scott Lang, on the other hand, is a guy who’s just trying to do right by his kid and in the process stole some high tech equipment and became a good guy. In both the comics and Marvel’s successful film, Scott Lang is motivated by his desire to be a good dad. He doesn’t always succeed and he doesn’t always do it the right way, but that’s Scott Lang in a nutshell, and those motivations move him into scoundrel territory as well.

Ant-Man 02Ant-Man 04As part of the merchandise onslaught that came with Ant-Man, Hasbro released a wave of Marvel Legends: Infinite Series figures based around Ant-Man. Most of the figures come from the comic book, but a movie-style Ant-Man was a part of the wave and the Build-A-Figure for this particular series was an Avengers 2-style Ultron. Because he’s a movie-based figure, Hasbro invested a lot of tooling dollars in him. The Marvel Legends: Infinite Series line relies pretty heavily on reuse of generic parts, but nothing in their parts library could recreate the movie Ant-Man costume. Everything’s new here and there really isn’t a lot of reuse potential for it so far, so I have to admit that I’m impressed Hasbro thought Ant-Man would be a popular character to warrant an entirely new figure. Marvel Legends kind of walks the line between mass-market oriented product and the higher-end collectors’ market figures. The price point is lower than your Marvel Select figures from Diamond Select Toys, but that also means the detailing isn’t quite as strong. Don’t get me wrong, the Ant-Man figure is still very accurate but if you’re looking for an Ant-Man figure that looks like he stepped right off the screen, this isn’t quite going to do it for you because there are a few off-model spots that the Marvel Select version handles better. Toy line comparisons aside, the Marvel Legends: Infinite Series Ant-Man is a great figure. The legs are nicely detailed, with lines for all the panels molded in. It gives a little visual weight to the look and it does looks surprisingly like the high-grade leather that the movie used for the costume. Around his waist, Ant-Man has a very detailed belt molded into the figure. The buckle, which is part of the shrinking control system, looks solid and the belt itself has a wide array of pouches and technical details on it. While the legs are rather simple, the upper body is incredibly well-detailed, but not to the point that the figure looks too busy. Ant-Man has a large panel on his chest and panels over his shoulders and lower arms. Outlining his chest and shoulder panels, he’s got a series of tubes and there’s harness up over his shoulders and the tubing continues down his spine and hooks into the back of his belt. Marvel Studios’ costume designers really did a great job with Ant-Man’s look since I presume the tubing is all part of the Pym particle delivery system. Hasbro’s sculptors did an excellent job recreating all these details. The larger Marvel Select version does have a few more details, but honestly, I’m not sure he’s worth the higher price point. Around his wrists, Ant-Man has a pair of gauntlets, again, part of the Pym particle delivery system. The gauntlets look appropriately high-tech and it helps flesh out the look of Ant-Man’s costume. Part of Giant-Man and Ant-Man’s problem in the comics was that, generally speaking, it was never really explained how their suits changed their size. The movie Ant-Man now has a clear Pym particle delivery system and I like that element of realism in Ant-Man’s look. Ant-Man’s hands are a bit of a problem for me. They’re both molded like they’re supposed to grip something, but Ant-Man has no accessories he can grip. I kind of wonder whether Ant-Man was supposed to originally have removable hand controls like he used in the movie to control the suit but Hasbro either had troubles engineering them so they’d stay securely in his hands or they just didn’t cost out properly. Either way, it leaves Ant-Man looking a little awkward when he’s standing with his hands at his side. That’s why in my photos I have his right hand on his belt buckle, like he’s messing with the tech on the belt buckle before going into battle. It at least gives his right hand a reason to look like it’s gripping something. Topping off the figure, Ant-Man has an excellent head sculpt, even if it is a little off model. The Ant-Man helmet takes the ideas in the comics, like antennae and a facemask and makes it work a little better in the slightly-realistic Marvel Cinematic Universe. My only real issue with the figure’s helmet is that his mouthpiece is down. Ant-Man spent very little time in costume with his mouthpiece down. In fact, I honestly can’t remember if there was ever a scene in the movie where he was wearing his helmet like that. I wish they would have used the fully enclosed look for the figure because that’s how he spent most of the time in the movie. Honestly, I think Ant-Man would have been another figure ripe for the helmeted and unhelmeted head options like they did for Marvel Legends: Infinite Series Star-Lord since both characters spent a lot of time in the movie in costume but not wearing their helmets. Despite a couple little design missteps, though, Marvel Legends: Infinite Series Ant-Man is a solid figure. The articulation is great, with compound ankle joints, double hinged knees, thigh swivels, balljointed hips, a waist swivel, an ab crunch, balljointed shoulders, bicep swivels, double hinged elbows, compound wrist joints and a balljointed head. The figure’s knees are unfortunately a bit gummy, for lack of a better term. The plastic feels a bit softer than the rest of the plastic the figure is constructed out of and those gummy knees mean Ant-Man is a little unstable. Ant-Man is a very mobile figure and poses very well while still being exceptionally well-detailed.

Ant-Man 03The sculptors did an excellent job designing the figure, and the paint team really helped bring the figure to life. The majority of the figure is molded out of black plastic. That makes sense considering how much of the costume is black in the movie. The legs have a bit of red on the thigh stripes and there’s red on the panels on the back of his calf. The red on his thighs can be a little sloppy, so keep an eye out for it, but it’s generally pretty well done across the board. The belt is painted silver with a little bit of a black wash over it to bring out the details. The belt buckle is painted orange to help make it look like it’s glowing. I think Hasbro would have been better served using red or blue since those are the two colors it glowed in the movie, but maybe I’m just being a little too anal retentive. Up top, the panels on his chest, shoulders and forearms are red and the piping is done up in silver. The piping can be a little hit or miss when it comes to paint. The front of my figure looks decent, but the back piping tends to consistently overrun the molded details. It’s an awfully small detail so I get why the paint team had a little trouble getting it to look perfect and it doesn’t bother me all that much since it’s on the back of the figure. The gauntlets are painted in a darker silver with some orange details and the paint work is quite crisp. The helmet is also painted this same darker silver with a bit of a wash to make it look like the helmet isn’t perfectly clean. The red detailing on the forehead and by the antennae is excellent. The eye pieces are painted a reddish orange and I get that the effect they were going for was to make it look like the translucent lenses Ant-Man had in the film, but it’s just not quite the right color for it. Ant-Man’s exposed mouth is painted with a good Caucasian flesh tone, though it does seem to be applied awfully thickly, likely to cover the dark plastic the figure’s head is molded out of. The paint work on Ant-Man isn’t 100% perfect, but it’s still very good and the areas where he has problems are on the back of the figure, so it’s pretty easy to hide his few flaws.

Ant-Man 06While the Marvel Legends: Infinite Series is not generally known for having a lot of accessories, Ant-Man has quite a few great pieces. In my opinion, the cardinal rule of making an action figure of a character that changes sizes is that you must include some smaller version of the figure to reference his size changing abilities. This version of Ant-Man comes with a very tiny, yet incredibly well-detailed version. The figure is kind of in a permanent squatting position so he comes in at around ½” tall. The paint work is impressive for such a tiny figure, though it is understandably simplified. The reason he’s squatting is so he can Ant-Man 07interact with another accessory from the set, a large flying ant. Considering how much time Ant-Man spent riding a flying ant in the movie, this was a brilliant choice on Hasbro’s part. Finally, Ant-Man also comes with one other small figure. This one isn’t of himself, though, but rather the film’s villain, Yellowjacket. As much as I like the tiny Ant-Man, the tiny Yellowjacket is even more amazing. This figure is designed in a way that makes him perfectly balanced so he can actually stand. It’s very difficult to get tiny, unarticulated figures to stand because if the design is just a degree or two off, they’ll fall over. Yellowjacket is molded in a dynamic pose with one arm out in front of him and the other behind him and robotic arms stretched out in the same fashion. Like Ant-Man 05tiny Ant-Man, Yellowjacket’s paint is nicely done, if necessarily simplified. My only regret is that it doesn’t look like a movie version of Yellowjacket is slated anywhere in the near future for the Marvel Legends: Infinite Series line. Seriously, Hasbro, the last few Marvel movies have had some pretty cool villains, yet none of the adult-oriented figure lines you’ve done with them have had them, save the Amazing Spider-Man 2 series. I mean, seriously, Avengers had the Chiutari soldiers, Iron Man 3 had the Mandarin, Thor: Dark World had not just Malekith and the Dark Elves but also Kurse (who would be a perfect Build-A-Figure candidate), and yet none of these villains got figures? When you’re doing a series of figures ostensibly based on a movie, shouldn’t you try and bring in at least one villain from said movie? Rounding out his gear, Ant-Man also has a Build-A-Figure part. Ant-Man comes with Ultron’s head, and I’ll admit, it’s a decent piece but I was a bit disappointed in it. The initial photos I’d seen of the set weren’t terribly detailed, so I couldn’t tell what the silver piece was with him and I’d thought it was a closed Ant-Man helmet. The Ultron head isn’t a bad piece and the sculptors really captures the Avengers 2 Ultron look very well, but it’s a part of a Build-A-Figure I’m never going to build, so I don’t really care too much about it. Add in the fact that I thought it was going to be a useful alternate head for Ant-Man and it’s kind of easy to understand why I’m a bit down on it.

Once again, Marvel Studios proved they knew what they were doing with a comic book movie. Everyone thought Ant-Man was going to be awful, especially after all the drama surrounding Edgar Wright’s involvement and eventual departure. However, they delivered a solid, smaller scale Marvel film and started branching superhero movies into other genres. So far, superhero films have just been action films, but Ant-Man took things in a different direction and made the first superhero heist movie. The experiment was successful, and I hope that means Marvel Studios might take a few more chances and use some lesser known characters to give us other genres that aren’t traditionally superhero focused. Ant-Man was a solid movie and Marvel Legends: Infinite Series Ant-Man is a great representation of his look from this movie and a great figure in its own right. The only thing that’s a minor drawback/headscratcher is that the rest of his series mates were comic inspired, yet unlike Star-Lord, Marvel hasn’t co-opted this design into the comics yet.