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By Thomas Wheeler

At the risk of making a thoroughly inexcusable pun, the new ICEMAN figure from Marvel Legends Series VIII is one very cool action figure.

Now that we have that out of the way, I can better review the character and figure...

Iceman is Robert "Bobby" Drake, one of the founding members of the X-Men, and its youngest members. Every school has to have its class clown, and Drake was it. In his early appearances, he looked more like a Snowman than an Iceman, covered with a layer of lumpy frost that made him seem like a humanoid pile of snow. He knew it, too, and on at least one occasion put two buttons and a carrot on his face, donned and old hat, picked up a broom, and then had the nerve to gripe about not being taken seriously enough. He was known to use his powers to make his own ice cream sundaes.

It took years, but eventually Drake came to understand the full potential of his powers. His appearance changed, smoothing itself out and making him look like an actual man of ice. He realized that he could not only create and project ice from the water molecules of the air, but take his power even further, creating fearsome constructs from ice, even on himself, and even freezing the water within other people, immobilizing them at the very least.

Drake would go on to be a member of a couple of lesser-known super-hero teams, the Defenders and the Champions, but eventually returned to the fold. He can still be impetuous at times, and probably isn't regarded as one of the X-Men's major players, but the fun-loving "Snowman" of previous years is a thing of the past, and anybody thinking that someone named Iceman isn't to be taken seriously is in for a chilly reception.

The figure is truly superb. It can't be easy to come up with a dynamic figure of a character like this. For one thing, you've got a very limited color palette to work with. What can you do with ice, for pity's name? Fortunately, Toy Biz found a way. The figure is molded in translucent plastic, and is oversprayed with light blue in the detail areas, and a sort of "sparkle" overspray that fortunately doesn't look metallic. It looks frankly frozen, as well it should. It gives the figure a certain sheen that is very effective. Really, the only specifically painted details on the figure are his eyes, mouth, and belt buckle.

Iceman has an impressive 40 points of articulation -- head, neck, shoulders, upper arm swivel, double jointed elbows, lower arm swivel, wrists, fingers, mid-torso, lower torso, waist, legs, upper leg swivel, double jointed knees, lower leg swivel, ankles, and toe groups.

On first glance, the figure may not look like much. There's no fancy uniform details, no cape, ammunition belt, long trenchcoat, heavily detailed gloves or boots. Basically it's a basic humanoid figure, and a relatively slender one at that, reflecting Drake's relative youth, that looks like he was made out of ice. Which is what he's supposed to be. The visual grabber is how effectively Toy Biz accomplished this effect. It's pretty interesting (I almost said "cool" again and I'm really trying not to do that) to hold him up to a light once you've opened him, too.

One little side note. I try to pay attention each year to the first action figure I buy that I notice that year's date on, as part of the copyright molded onto the figure. Iceman is the first I've gotten that reads 2005 (although in fairness, so does Storm, so let's call it a tie).

Anyway, if you're any sort of X-Fan, then you'll definitely want to add the Marvel Legends ICEMAN figure to your collection! You won't be disappointed, I promise!