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 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


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.

Funko Legacy Collection Firefly Series Jayne Cobb (Variant Edition)

Jayne Cobb 01As you can probably tell from the Scoundrel Round-Up, I’m a huge fan of Firefly. The series was excellent, Serenity was great even if I still haven’t fully recovered from a certain character’s death, and even some of the comics I’ve dabbled in that have fleshed out the universe were well done. The only thing that was missing was that I couldn’t pair my love of Firefly with my love of action figures…until now. A relatively new toy company named Funko, who got their start in making cute pop culture bobbleheads, decided to start making a move into the action figure market with their various Legacy Collections. The Legacy Collection started with A Game of Thrones, but has since moved on to include properties like Magic: The Gathering, the video game Evolve, and even Firefly. I’ll admit, I haven’t committed fully to the Firefly Legacy Collection yet, but when I saw an exclusive version of Jayne Cobb at my comic store, I figured he’d be a good way to start. I’ve come close to buying other characters, but Jayne is good enough for now. There are a few flaws in this line that need to be addressed before I’m willing to drop more of my toy collecting budget on Funko Legacy products.

Jayne Cobb 02I figure I’ll start with the flaws first because, honestly, the flaws are pretty universal across the various Legacy Collections. The biggest issue is the plastic Funko chose to use for most of their figures’ joints. The plastic is clear and while it does make the joint look pretty seamless and leaves you without oddly colored circles on your figures, the plastic is extremely weak. I’ve read reviews of various Legacy Collection figures breaking as people were trying to remove them from their box. That’s a bad way to introduce the action figure collecting community to your product. I’ll admit, I was quite nervous Jayne’s left elbow was going to break because it looks as though some extra plastic on the forearm didn’t get cut away at the factory and as such has forced the clear plastic (poorly painted with skintone paint) into a weird alignment. That joint has held, however, Jayne right wrist snapped off right below the glove shortly after I took pictures of him for this review. Mercifully, it was a peg joint so it was pretty simple for me to fix using a small drill bit, a piece of paper clip and some superglue. What boggles my mind about this joint breaking is that the day before it broke, it was moving just fine because I needed to twist his wrist a little to position it better to hold one of his accessories. The next day I noticed it was still in that position so I turned it back the other way and then Jayne’s hand was in my hand. From what I’ve read on other toy blogs, Funko has finally started moving away from this clear plastic, but considering A Game of Thrones Legacy Collection has been going for two years, and Firefly has only been around for one, you’d think all the replacement figures Funko had to dish out to the A Game of Thrones fans would have made them rethink their figure construction sooner than this. I bought Jayne knowing he could break on me and I got lucky that my broken joint was a pretty easy fix. However, anyone interested in buying any Funko Legacy Collection figures should do so knowing going in that the figures are pretty fragile.

Jayne Cobb 03My other issue with the Funko Legacy Collection lines has been in the face sculpts. Again, this is something A Game of Thrones fans have complained about, and it’s continuing into the Firefly Legacy Collection. Part of why I haven’t committed to the rest of the Firefly Legacy Collection is that the actor likenesses are pretty soft. Jayne Cobb looks like Jayne, but having seen the Kaylee, Wash, and Zoe figures in person, the likenesses aren’t what I’d like for a mid-range figure based on a property I love. If I’m buying Kaylee, I want her to look like Kaylee and not some generic female character. The variant Jayne’s likeness is quite solid, but honestly, I’ve seen non-variant Jayne at Barnes & Noble a couple of times and was kind of surprised at how comparatively weak the likeness on that figure was. I know it’s just my personal preference, but if I’m shelling out more than $20 dollars on a figure and it’s in six-inch scale, I really do want the likenesses to be solid because there’s plenty of space to work with to get the likeness right. I’m forgiving of weak likenesses in smaller scales, but working in a larger scale means, to me, that there’s no excuse for a figure not to look like the character/actor they’re supposed to represent.

Jayne Cobb 04Okay, now that I’ve got the really rough stuff out of the way, let’s actually look at the figure himself. The folks at Funko designed every figure from this series so far (I’ve heard talk online of figures of Inara, Simon and River coming but who knows if those will materialize) using the initial pre-release publicity stills Fox put out. For some characters, most notably Zoe, this means the figure looks just a little off-model because the character never actually wore that specific outfit in the series. However, for Jayne, the publicity still comes close enough to Jayne’s look throughout the entire show that it’s not a big deal. At his most basic, Jayne’s wearing a pair of military-style pants, with combat boots, a belt and a t-shirt. From the waist down, the overall figure design does have a few problems. First of all, Jayne has a ridiculously obvious articulation cut about three-quarters of the way up his left thigh. On the right thigh, the designers were able to use the lower holster strap to obscure the cut, but on the left leg, there’s nothing like that. It’s honestly kind of distracting. Plus, the extreme gap also throws off the balance of that leg a little bit. I’ve tried to push the peg in deeper to the leg, but that’s all the further it goes and it leaves Jayne with slightly uneven legs. From what I’ve seen of photos online, this is unfortunately a uniform problem across all Jayne figures. The ankles are quite poseable, with a hybrid rocker and hinge. It has a lot of range of motion, but with that twitchy left leg, it makes it a little harder to find a good pose for him. The design of his hips is a little odd. The articulation is good, but the overall design is just a little off aesthetically speaking. It leaves Jayne with an odd looking groin area because his hips joints don’t look quite natural. Around the figure’s waist, Jayne’s got a belt with a function holster for his pistol and a sheath for his knife. While we didn’t see him use the knife much beyond the series premiere, it’s nice that the Funko folks included this. Up top, Jayne’s got a nice basic t-shirt. There’s articulation right below the pectoral muscles and that’s it. I do wish he had a waist joint just because you get a lot more range of motion when you have both of those joints instead of one or the other. The arms look appropriately strong, though the left arm does have that disconcerting warp in his elbow joint. Jayne’s hands a quite well designed and aside from the breakage, they have some good poseability. The wrist can turn and there’s also a built-in hinge. The gloves he wore on the show are recreated very well and it helps finish off the look of a more combat-ready Jayne. Up top, though, is the main reason I bought Jayne. The standard version of Jayne Cobb is hatless, but this exclusive (which was first available at Comic Con last year and then available from the comic/toy catalog Previews) has Jayne wearing the hat he received from his mother in “The Message.” As someone who owns a Jayne hat that was knitted for him by a good friend who’s also a sci-fi nut, I’m a sucker for the Jayne hat and any time Jayne shows up with it, I’ll buy it quickly. The face sculpt looks like Adam Baldwin and the hat is extremely well detailed. It’s got some nice texture that makes it look like it’s knitted and I’m impressed that Funko went to the trouble of doing that and making sure it had two little ties coming off the bottom. Since the standard release figure is just a simple head-swap, you can get a good idea of what that figure is like from this review even though the standard release doesn’t have the hatted head.

Like Jayne’s actual costume, the figure’s paint work is pretty simple. He’s wearing pretty simple clothes so it makes sense. The paint job also comes straight from the publicity stills and while I get why Funko did that, I do kind of wish Jayne was wearing the Blue Sun shirt that became so synonymous with the character by the end of the series. As it stands, the figure is wearing a greenish-brown shirt with a camouflaged Chinese symbol on his chest. The color is quite similar to the Blue Sun shirt, but the symbol is not. I do kind of wonder what that symbol means in Chinese. If any readers know, please, let us know in the forums. The pants look decent in the very light tan that Funko chose, but if they wanted to bring the pants more in line with the publicity still, they should be a little darker. As it stands, Jayne looks more like he’s wearing light khakis like you see businessmen wearing than military-style pants. The boots have some nice paint details on them. The placement of the olive drab reminds me of the military surplus jungle boots I wore back in the day. They were cheap but they were solidly-built boots and that makes sense for Jayne. The hat looks great on this figure and the colors are solidly applied. The skin tone is a little heavily applied but it still looks natural and not waxy. The paint also really helps sell this figure as Jayne Cobb to me. The paint folks did an excellent job painting this figure’s face and I like having a little angry Adam Baldwin staring at me from my desk, looking at me like I owe him money. (Seriously, Funko, a statue Jayne variant would be a pretty awesome exclusive.)

Jayne Cobb 05I’m a firm believer that an action figure, even if it’s high end, should have at least one accessory and it looks like the folks at Funko agree. All the Firefly Legacy Collection figures have some great accessories and Jayne’s are very fitting. Jayne’s got the knife we saw him use to threaten the Alliance agent that snuck aboard the ship during the series premiere. It’s a decent piece, though it looks awfully small in his hands and neither hand really holds it all that well. I think had they made the knife itself a little bigger, it would look better and fit in his hand better. On his right side, Jayne’s got the slightly futuristic LeMat pistol he carried in the show. That was his primary weapon on the show so it makes sense for Funko to use it, though much like the knife, it looks just a tad undersized. However, that’s not really going to matter much because Jayne also comes with Vera. If you’ve got a Jayne figure and don’t arm him with Vera, I’m sorry, but you’re doing something wrong. When I used my Jayne hat and Blue Sun shirt to create a Jayne costume for a nerdy Halloween party, I made sure to get myself a Vera in the form of a modern Nerf assault rifle I repurposed. Vera may have only shown up in one episode, but much like the hat, it was such a memorable moment it’s nice to see Vera here. The rifle is extremely well-detailed and looks like it was pulled from the screen and shrunk down and put into tiny-Jayne’s hands. The accessories are all great choices and while I have to fault Funko for their construction issues, I also have to give them credit across their lines for doing such great work with their figures’ accessories. Vera looks perfect in Jayne’s hand and it really helps complete the figure.

Jayne Cobb 06Despite the fact that his wrist broke a few months after I bought him, I still have to admit that the variant Jayne is a great figure. I want Funko to figure out how to built figures without clear plastic joints because these are very well-designed figures. I just don’t want to have to worry about my adult collector-oriented figure breaking from what should be a minor pose change. I get that not all toys are designed to stand up to kids playing with them anymore, but Jayne’s wrist broke during a normal action and that’s a problem. I knew going in that Funko figures are fragile, but I shouldn’t have to make peace with the fact that my action figure could break taking him out of the box when I buy him. I want to support the various Funko Legacy collections, but as of now, I’m still a little gunshy because of very well-documented quality control issues. If you’re willing to roll the dice on your figures, the Funko Legacy Collection is worth your money, though you will want to make sure you get the figure in a pose you like quickly to minimize your chances of breaking something.

Marvel Legends: Infinite Series Guardians of the Galaxy Assortment Star-Lord

Star Lord 01            I’ll freely admit, I’m kind of new at this thing, so folks, please bear with me. We’re hoping to create weekly content at the site and that content will be at least tangentially related to the upcoming games. The first launch, “Space Bootleggers”, is all about smuggling things in space, so I figured I’d review an action figure of pop culture’s big new outer space scoundrel: Star-Lord. While he may be the hot new thing, he’s still got a long history (that you can read about in his entry in the Scoundrel Round-Up…haha, cross-promotion) and honestly, he’s a pretty great action figure.

For those of you not familiar with Star-Lord from The Guardians of the Galaxy, I’ll throw out a brief bio. The movie stayed pretty true to the most recent life story of Peter Jason Quill as we know him. Peter Quill was a regular Earth kid until his deadbeat space dad decided he wanted custody and grabbed him after his mother died. However, Peter thought he dad was kind of a tool so decided to roam space as a bit of a rogue. He’s rocked a lot of different looks over the years, some good and some not so good. Star-Lord’s current comic look is the same thing he wore in the movies, so the nice thing is that the Marvel Legends: Guardians of the Galaxy series Star-Lord figure can pull double duty as both a comic-based figure and a movie-based figure. There are some collectors that only collect figures that look like the characters from the comic books so it’s nice that Marvel decided the redesign Star-Lord got for the movie was good enough to pull it over to the comics. You can see him dressed like this in the current Guardians of the Galaxy comic book series as well as his solo book, Legendary Star-Lord. I haven’t followed the Guardians book that much, but I did enjoy Legendary Star-Lord, though full disclosure, I haven’t picked it up in a while because Marvel decided to do a weird crossover between the Guardians of the Galaxy and the X-Men that just seemed like more story than I wanted to invest in.

Star Lord 02The Marvel Legends line (now run by Hasbro though originally brought into being by the folks at Toy Biz before they closed their doors) is a great line. It expertly walks the line between high-end collectors’ market action figures and fun toys. The line itself usually relies pretty heavily on parts reuse, but Hasbro also knows when it’s a good time to invest in all new parts. Star-Lord benefits from this and gets an entirely newly sculpted figure. Like a collectors’ market figure, Star-Lord is exceptionally well-detailed. This is especially noticeable on his fancy space pants and his space duster. Star-Lord is rocking some knee-high boots with small rockets on them to allow him additional freedom of movement in outer space. The boot jets are very nicely molded, though I do wish they were accessory pieces rather than sculpted elements. Both in the movie and the comics, Star-Lord could change the angle of the rockets and I think that would have been a nice element for the action figure to have as well. At a distance, Star-Lord’s pants look pretty generic, but up close, you can see all sorts of screen accurate details. I’m not sure why those details are there aside from making them look less like Earth-pants, but Star-Lord had them in the movie so they’re brought over to the figure as well. Star-Lord’s chest is pretty basic. While he may have fancy space pants, Star-Lord decided less is more when it comes to shirts and is wearing a pretty generic t-shirt. Thanks to his fancy jacket, though, you don’t have to worry about him being too boring. Star-Lord’s arms are designed to look like the jacket arms but the rest of the jacket is a piece that is worn over the rest of the figure. It adds some necessary bulk to the figure while at the same time allowing him as much range of motion as possible. The jacket really makes this figure. There are all sorts of screen-accurate details here and it fits Star-Lord excellently. The jacket piece is also made of soft enough material that it can be moved out of the way to allow him to get into a wide variety of poses. This can’t always be said for jackets in this scale so it’s nice that Star-Lord isn’t restricted by his jacket. Over the jacket, Star-Lord also has the satchel we saw him wearing at the top of the movie. While it’s a good looking piece, I was a little bummed to find that it wasn’t designed in a way that you could store his other accessories in it. I think Hasbro dropped the ball a little by not making it so Star-Lord could stash his accessories in there. If nothing else, it would have meant that I wouldn’t have to constantly worry about them disappearing from my desk. Up top, Star-Lord has an excellently sculpted head. When we first meet Star-Lord, he’s wearing a rather intimidating-looking face mask. It fully covers his face and if it weren’t for the clearly human hair sticking out from the top, he’d look decidedly alien. I’ll admit, that’s one of the design issues I have with Star-Lord’s look in the movie. The mask is supposed to protect him from the dangers of space, yet the top part of his head is exposed. Yes, in the movie they showed the helmet created a little force field around his head, but I still think it’s an odd choice. While I still think it’s pretty odd, I do appreciate that the front of the mask looks a bit like a rebreather that you would see divers using. It’s little touchstones like this that help me Star Lord 06understand the purpose of the tech details on a figure. However, if you don’t like the masked head, Hasbro’s got you covered there and gives you an alternate head. Star-Lord’s heads swap out relatively easily, which is something that can’t be said for every figure I’ve had with swappable heads. The unmasked head is a bit of a tough sell for me because it really doesn’t look like Chris Pratt. I’m sure comic fans appreciate that, but it also really doesn’t look like how Star-Lord has been drawn in recent comics. He just looks like a generic white guy and that’s a bit of a bummer. For the most part, the actor likenesses on the Guardians of the Galaxy figures were spot on, but unmasked Star-Lord just doesn’t quite work. As such, my Star-Lord tends to stay masked.

Star Lord 03To bring Star-Lord in line with standard mass market figures, he’s got some great articulation. Usually, the high-end collectors’ market figures tend to sacrifice articulation in favor of aesthetics, which is not a decision I’ve ever understood. Thankfully, at least on its larger scale figures, Hasbro doesn’t do that. Star-Lord joints in the following places: ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, and wrists in addition to swivels at the mid thigh and waist, an ab crunch joint and a balljointed head. For the most part, all the joints have excellent range of motion and you can get Star-Lord into a lot of great poses. The only joints that aren’t great are his hips. Their range of motion is pretty restricted for some reason. I’ll also admit, considering how many great flight poses you can get Star-Lord in, it would have been awesome if Hasbro had dusted off the old flying stand that a few Marvel Legends had. The flight stand was a clear piece that plugged into the figure’s back and made it look like he was flying. While I know Star-Lord isn’t someone you think of when you think of a flying superhero, with as fun as the scenes he used the jet boots in the movie were, it would have been nice to have Star-Lord flying around on my desk.

Star Lord 04The paint work on Star-Lord is passable. There are a few missteps here and there, but that’s to be expected on mass market figures. Most of the figure is actually molded out of the proper color plastic, which helps. The biggest areas of concern are on Star-Lord’s jacket and the eyes on his mask. I’ll admit, I searched through a lot of Star-Lord’s (because he was kind of a peg-warmer) before I found one with eyes I thought looked good. None of them were egregiously bad, but if I have the option to check out a figure, I’ll take. The silver details on the jacket can have some coverage problem, but again, it’s not anything that ruins the figure in my opinion. Star-Lord’s colors work well together. The dark red duster looked quite sharp on screen and looks just as nice on my desk. The brown trim and gloves blend well with the shade of red used for the duster. The basic blue pants and gray shirt fit well with the idea that Star-Lord is just an average guy running around in outer space. He’s not wearing things that are overly fancy. His gear gets the job done and that’s all he needs from it.

Unlike some of the Marvel Legends figures, Star-Lord gets quite a few accessories. The lack of accessories in the line really doesn’t surprise me since some superheroes like Spider-Man and various members of the X-Men don’t really have gear, but it always makes me happy when Hasbro accessorizes the Marvel Legends figures well. The most obvious choice for accessories to give Star-Lord is his pair of element pistols. While they became your basic sci-fi laser gun in the movie, in the comics, they’re pretty cool. Star-Lord can manipulate earth, wind, fire, lightning and ice with these things and uses them quite effectively to surprise his opponents. They fit snugly in his hands but they’re not too tight that you have to worry about damaging either the figure or the accessory. If that’s all Star-Lord came with, I would have been happy, but he also has three additional movie-based accessories. He’s got a removable pair of headphones that fit either head quite well. Hasbro’s designers really did a great job with the heads because there is a subtle depression in his hair that holds the headphones steady but it’s not obvious enough that Star-Lord looks like he’s missing something if he’s not wearing the headphones. That’s some good design Star Lord 08work there. Since the figure’s overall look reminds me of the first scene from the movie, he’s also got the small silver ball that he was stealing in that opening scene. He can hold it relatively securely in his right hand so if you don’t want Star-Lord carrying both element guns, he can hold the silver ball just like he did in the movie. The final accessory is probably the least effective because it’s not really clear what it is. It’s a small orange rectangle that looks kind of like a Walkman, which is a nice nod to Star-Lord’s Awesome Mix, but at the same time, it’s really out of scale with the figure. As someone who was born in the 80s and remembers his 90s-era Walkman, I have to say that Star-Lord’s Walkman is way too small to be believable. He can hold it in his left hand but it looks positively dinky in his hand. If it weren’t for the fact that there are molded details that look like the play button and the door of a Walkman, I’d almost assume it was the Awesome Mix tape, but it’s clearly got details that wouldn’t be on a tape. If it were the tape, I could almost forgive it being that small, but it’s clearly the Walkman and that’s just the wrong size. I applaud Hasbro trying to reference that piece here, but they did such a poor job with it that I almost wish they Star Lord 07hadn’t. It just looks weird, and it’s even stranger that it’s molded out of orange plastic. That color just makes no sense aside from giving him one accessory that wasn’t grayish.

Filling out the figure’s box, there’s also a piece of Groot. Yes, to encourage toy buyers to buy all the figures of a series even if there are a couple of lame ones (Guardians of the Galaxy Iron Man, I am definitely looking at you right now), a lot of toy companies have started the practice of letting you build another larger figure from pieces included with each figure in the particular series. Making Groot the Guardians series build a figure was a no-brainer. He definitely became popular enough after the movie to entice people into buying weak figures to complete him and he is also a big enough figure that it would be cost-prohibitive to release him on his own. Star-Lord comes with Groot’s right arm. Like other Marvel Legends figures, the arm is very well detailed and while I haven’t built my own Groot because most of the Guardians series figures were kind of hard to track down, I can imagine Groot is a pretty good looking figure. The arm itself is about half Star-Lord’s height so Groot is going to be a pretty big guy. The sculptors captured Groot’s movie look very well and I do wish the Guardians figures weren’t as hard to find as they wound up being.

Star Lord 05Star-Lord is a very well executed figure. I’ll admit, when Marvel announced the Guardians of the Galaxy film, I thought for sure they were crazy. The Guardians are a C-list team at best that no one’s heard of. I’m a die-hard Marvel fan and even I didn’t know a lot about them going in. I’d always felt the reason Marvel was so successful with its first films was that they stuck to characters that people at least kind of knew about. Iron Man and Hulk may not have initially been household names, but they both had cartoons and action figures in the 90s and have been around for a while. However, the Guardians were a bunch of random folks, and the team has changed quite a few times. I figured for sure Marvel made a dumb call and that this would be their first failure. Man, was I wrong! Personally, I think casting Chris Pratt as Star-Lord was a stroke of genius and it really won me over. Star-Lord definitely felt like an Earth kid who wound up in space after being abducted by aliens and that’s what the movie needed to work. Without Star-Lord as everyone’s touchstone in this alien universe, I don’t think Guardians would have been the blockbuster it was. While Rocket and Groot wound up being more the breakout stars of Guardians, Star-Lord worked really well and I liked him enough I took the time to find a good version of his action figure. If you were reluctant to give the Guardians a chance, like I was, you really should take in the film. I think it will surprise you and they made it fun enough that I wanted to get my own Star-Lord. Heck, I think I might have gotten Star-Lord the same day I saw the movie, I was that impressed with him in the film.