And he's one of the entries in the Marvel Legends Showdown series.
Doctor Doom first appeared quite early in the modern Marvel Universe, in one of the earliest issues of the Fantastic Four. He captured the Invisible Girl, and forced Reed Richards and the others to travel backwards in time to capture the treasure of Blackbeard the pirate. Little was known of Doom's origin at that point, although there was some indication that he and Richards had a past.
Over the years, the story has become clearer. Victor Von Doom was born to a family of gypsies, in the tiny nation of Latveria. Gypsies were ill-treated in this region. Von Doom's father was a healer, a sort of doctor that relied mostly on medicinal herbs. His mother, it would turn out, was a witch, who dabbled in various black arts and paid for her sins by being sent to Hell upon her death. This knowledge was kept from young Victor.
Von Doom was regarded as a fairly grim customer even as a child. Solitary and morose, the boy was possessed of a considerable intellect far surpassing those of his peers. But the young Von Doom didn't significantly exercise this intellect until his father passed away. After failing to cure the wife of a wealthy Latverian baron, the baron sent troops after Von Doom's father to kill him. Victor, eventually reunited with his gypsy tribe, swore revenge on all who oppressed his people.
He built amazing machines, weapons, and defenses for the gypsy tribe, but he also discovered his mother's secret past, and began to teach himself in the mystic arts, as well, hoping to one day free her from her eternal torment.
Ultimately, Von Doom was contacted by an American university, which had heard about the remarkable young man and his inventions, and offered him a scholarship to attend their university. Von Doom agreed, seeing the opportunity to have access to technology well in advance of what he was capable of achieving in the relatively primitive surroundings of the gypsy camp.
It was at the university that he first encountered Reed Richards. Although possessed of similar intellects, the two could not have been further apart in personality. Also on the scene was Ben Grimm, who while certainly no genius, was closer in personality to Richards. The two made some effort to befriend Von Doom and get him to lighten up, but Von Doom was concerned only with his experiments, which he hoped would allow him to enter the nether-world in which he believed his mother was trapped. When Richards found Von Doom's work and tried to warn the young man that some of his calculations were slightly off, Von Doom flew into a rage and ejected Richards from his laboratory.
Von Doom proceeded with his experiment, which as Richards feared, malfunctioned, resulting in an explosion. The laboratory was destroyed, Von Doom's once-handsome face was horribly scarred, and he was expelled from the university.
From there, he traveled to Tibet, encountering a secretive tribe of monks who taught him their mystic ways, and designed his first set of armor for him, including his dreaded face-plate, which would ensure that no one would ever look upon the scarred visage of Victor Von Doom ever again. In fact, as far as he was concerned, Victor Von Doom was dead. Now, he was Doctor Doom.
Doom returned to his native Latveria, making the discovery that although he had been born into a gypsy tribe, in fact he was of royal lineage, and was entitled to the throne. He conquered his native land and set himself up in a castle in Latveria's capital, which he named Doomstadt. He continued to build and increase his technology, and treated his subjects quite well -- as long as they were obedient to his rule.
There are a few aspects to Doom's origin that remain in mild question. Comics creator John Byrne, during his run on Fantastic Four, speculated that the vain Doom was not truly all that scarred by the explosion in the university lab, but that a single scar on his face was enough for him to perceive his handsome countenance as ruined forever. By the same token, when his armor was forged by the monks, and he demanded that the face-plate be put in place before it was fully cooled -- THAT did some serious damage.
Doctor Doom's origin has also been expanded upon quite recently by a mini-series entitled "The Books of Doom", which while told largely from Doom's perspective and are therefore admittedly somewhat biased, nonetheless expand upon the story of his origin, including the fact that his scholarship to the university included doing a fair amount of work for the military.
To list even a portion of Doom's adventures would make this review impossibly long. He's gone up against just about everybody in the Marvel Universe this side of Howard the Duck, and for all I know even went against him at some point. He once conquered America, although this took place in 2099 and might or might not have been the real Doctor Doom. He was the arch-villain in Marvel's first comic book featuring the rock band KISS. He even took on Superman in the second DC/Marvel Superman/ Spider-Man crossover. He was heavily involved in the Secret Wars. He conquered an entire alternate Earth once -- for a while. And on rare occasion, he has helped the heroes, notably during the Onslaught crisis, although certainly it was for his own purposes.
Doom is a complex individual. His intellect is his greatest weapon, his ego is his greatest weakness. He truly believes that he deserves to rule the world, that he deserves every iota of power, however you wish to define the term, that he has attained. But he is also a man of honor. He sincerely cares for his subjects in his homeland of Latveria, once even adopting a boy whose mother had been killed while under Doom's protection. And his word is his bond. When he was trapped in the era of King Arthur and Camelot alongside Iron Man, and the two had to combine aspects of their amazing armors in order to return to the present, Doom gave his word that he would not attempt to trick the Avenger, and the two managed to work together surprisingly agreeably. Ultimately, he is one of the most fascinating individuals in the Marvel Universe.
The Doctor Doom figure from Marvel Legends Showdown is surprisingly excellent. It seems that the figures in this line are either really quite impressive, or really quite awful. There's been some indication that there were two sculptors at Toy Biz that were given the responsibility of crafting these figures, and you can tell which sculptor worked on which figures by whether or not it's really good or really bad. There seems to be little middle-ground here.
Doctor Doom definitely fits into the "good" category (or I wouldn't've bothered to have bought him). The headsculpt of that dreaded armored faceplate gives off a WHOLE lot of menace for something that's only four inches in height. The tunic is nicely sculpted and detailed, and the cape, although a little more "flowing" than I might've made it, is lightweight enough so that, much to my astonishment and delight, it does NOT overbalance the figure and cause him to topple over backwards. Here's a case study that Mattel's Justice League line could stand to learn.
Doctor Doom's armor, for the most part, gives abundant ability to hide as many of the articulation points as possible, and for the most part it works. Doom's armor is not the sleek, form-fitting design of Iron Man, the only other single-packed Showdown figure I've bought (see separate review). Doom's armor, despite being just as packed with technological wonders, is more rough-looking. To that end, the figure's elbow and knee joints are, to a fair degree, hidden by the design of the armor. The upper and lower arm articulation are concealed by the musculature of the character, and by his gauntlets. Really the only articulation feature they couldn't hide too well was the lower leg swivel.
Overall, the figure is articulated at the head, arms, upper-arm swivel, double-jointed elbows, lower arm swivel, wrists, mid-torso articulation (a sort of cheat since it's at the top of his very thick tunic belt), waist, legs, upper leg-swivel (some of this hindered a bit by the tunic), double-jointed knees, lower leg swivel, and ankles. The upper arm articulation is a little off, but I think part of this is the tunic, and part of it might be that someone assembled this figure before the paint was dry. The upper-arm swivel doesn't want to work too well.
His armor is a silvery grey, and has a slight overspray of light blue in some areas, and a slight wash of black in others, especially the face mask. Normally I don't like this sort of "paint-weathering", but in Doom's case, it works. And I don't even want to think about what it took to paint those tiny little eyes.
About the only odd point to any of the painting is a slight overspray of silver across the top of the folds of the back of his cape. This, frankly, makes it look dusty, as though Doom needs to take his cloak outside on his terrace and give it a good shaking out or something...
Of course, the figure comes with a base with an adjustable peg on it, and a set of "Power Cards" and a "Battle Tile" so you can play the "Marvel Legends Showdown" game designed by Upper Deck. This also supposedly helps to justify the relatively high price of these toys. But if more than 5% of the people buying these figures are actually playing the game, I'd be stunned.
One question that tends to come up with this series is -- are they compatible with other similarly-sized lines, such as G.I. Joe or Star Wars? And the answer is -- not really. They're a bit too tall and, for the most part, definitely too skinny. Only the ones that are already considerable physical exaggerations, such as the Incredible Hulk, really work in that sort of crossover. More "normal human" physiques such as Doctor Doom or Iron Man just don't quite mesh, not even with the newsculpt G.I. Joes. If they are compatible with any similarly-scaled line, it'd be MicroMan, but those little Japanese guys are even harder for most people to come by.
As with most Toy Biz-produced Marvel properties, the future of Marvel Legends Showdown is probably pretty up in the air after 2006, with Hasbro taking over the Marvel license in 2007. I tend to doubt very much that anything we're seeing right now product-wise will continue extensively. In other words -- get it now if you want to own and enjoy it.
And that would definitely include the Marvel Legends Showdown DOCTOR
DOOM! A very cool figure that you'll assuredly enjoy if you're any sort
of Marvel fan. He has my definite recommendation!