Lately, there’s been a lot of venom from my fellow PoP! Stars towards the Hasbro Marvel Legends. I get it. I do. They were fairly craptastic, now, weren’t they? And the only thing worse than them sucking was them apparently disappearing altogether. But let’s take a look back at their forerunners, and see exactly why people were so upset about Hasbro’s take on this popular line of figures.
1. The X-centric figure selection. Fans of the Marvel Universe in general balked at this; fans of the Children of the Atom cheered. As the line progressed, it seemed the X-Men and their extended family became more and more prevalent. The Sentinel wave featured X-Men heroes and villains for 5 of its 7 figures, while the later Giant Man series was a fifty/fifty split between Avengers and X-Men.
2. Character selection in general seemed to be hit or miss. Iron Man and Wolverine led the pack on figure count, with almost every wave featuring at least one of the two, if not both. At the same time, numerous key characters and iconic looks went unproduced. We never got a Mary Jane Watson. There wasn’t a single Thunderbolt made. Long-time Avengers like Quicksilver, Tigra, and Hercules had to wait for Hasbro to see plastic. For all the mutants being produced, the 90′s versions of X-Factor and X-Force never got the figure treatment save for the variant Cable figure (Hasbro would later release a Cannonball/Domino 2-pack).
3. The sculpting on these figures was almost always insanely good. For as much as body parts were reused from one figure to the next, the end result was most often gorgeous. Faces captured the characters’ personalities, intricate details were never overlooked, and body-types were always character specific. While I love the DCUC figures, Hal Jordan has the same build as Superman, who has the same build as Flash, and so on. Bullseye, on the other hand, is muscular and lithe, while Captain America is more rugged, and Colossus is just down right jacked.
4. What was even better than the sculpting? The articulation! This was the hallmark of the Marvel Legends line under Toy Biz’s reign, and I can’t think of a US based toy line that has even come close to matching this level of poseability. When the legends line and its precursor the Spider-Man Classics line were in their infancy, we were already being graced with as many as 34 points of articulation per figure. Later in the line, however, that number would jump to 46 poa in some instances, with individual fingers being able to move independently of each other.
5. These figures were rarely lacking in the accessory department. Gambit came with his bo staff and a spray of cards charged with kinetic energy. Wonderman came with a tiny Yellowjacket in mid flight. Hell, Deadpool included two katanas, two sais, two SMGs, and Doop! And then there were the bases and build-a-figure pieces. Early figures came with character specific bases, like the destroyed gates of the Xavier school for Juggernaut or a Stark Enterprises satellite for Iron Man. Even after the switch to BAF pieces, figures continued to be packed with “jumping bases” allowing for mid air jumps, flips, and kicks.
6. Speaking of build-a-figures, they used to be huge! I mean, massively huge. Galactus, the Sentinel, Apocalypse, and Giant-Man all towered over their fellow legends – anywhere between 12 and 16 inches tall. These toys warranted being build-a-figures. While Toy Biz began scaling back the massive BAF’s, they had set a bar that Hasbro has only attempted to reach by combining two waves of figures to build Fin Fang Foom.
7. Availability was rarely a problem with Toy Biz. Sure, the variant figures were a bitch to track down, but that’s the issue of them having been variants. Rarely were waves hard to find, and few figures didn’t see widespread release. Toy Biz was committed to getting their product on store shelves, and the stores were committed to stocking it.
8. Seven dollars apiece seemed to be the average for these figures, and that was a much easier pill to swallow than the $10-15 price rangethat Hasbro’s been working with.
So, sure, there were an assload of Wolverine figures. And, yeah, every so often you’d get a sculpt that wasn’t quite what you’d hoped for, or a loose joint, or you’d have to pick and choose to find the figure with the least paint splattering. But for all the complaints I used to hear about sloppy paint, at least the Toy Biz Legends hand multiple washes resulting in less “cartoony” looking figures. By and large, the product was better, cheaper, and easier to find. And that is why it is so sorely missed. RIP Toy Biz.