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REVIEW:
MARVEL LEGENDS AGE OF APOCALYPSE SABRETOOTH & WEAPON X
By Thomas Wheeler



The AGE OF APOCALYPSE story is arguably one of the most impressive storylines to run in Marvel Comics in a very long time, and it recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, and it's still popular.

For those who need a refresher course, the story happened largely within the X-Titles. David Haller, the not quite sane son of Professor Charles Xavier, traveled back in time to kill Magneto before he had the chance to become the mutant threat that he would in later years. But instead, Xavier was killed, setting in motion a series of events that resulted in the Age of Apocalypse.

The mutant known as Apocalypse would rise to power over the next several decades, hindered only by Magneto and his band of X-Men. Humanity, at least on the North American continent, was virtually extinguished, and any mutant with a brain in his head (and no scruples) sided with Apocalypse. It was a grim world, ruined and ravaged by Apocalypse and his minions. Characters we thought we knew had switched sides. The story ran for four issues throughout the X-Titles, which were all renamed for the duration, before all was set back to what it had been in a daring mission that prevented Haller from killing Xavier in the first place.

The stories are being reprinted in a special series of trade paperbacks, which I highly recommend. The special 10th anniversary stories I recommend somewhat less. They just didn't come off quite as well. Granted the original is a hard act to follow, let alone top.

Now we come to MARVEL LEGENDS. While there was a series of Age of Apocalypse action figures when the story first came out, obviously Toy Biz has gotten a lot better at making action figures since then. And two Age of Apocalypse characters have made their way into a recent assortment - Weapon X, better known to us as Wolverine, and Sabretooth.

Sabretooth was one of my personal favorites in the AoA storyline. He was actually one of the good guys, something he had never been before. In the "real" Marvel Universe, Sabretooth is Victor Creed, a vicious mutant with many of the same characteristics as Wolverine - heightened senses, a healing factor, and a really vicious personality. But whereas Wolverine does his best to contain his more animalistic side, Sabretooth doesn't even bother to try. He likes being a deranged killer, and generally works as a mercenary for hire. He's also physically a lot larger than Wolverine. The two have squared off more times than I can count, with neither gaining a decisive victory.

But when the timeline was rewritten in the Age of Apocalypse, something happened. This Sabretooth had a set of morals. He was still vicious, still ready to kill, but there were lines he would not cross. Originally, he did work for Apocalypse, but when the mutant dictator planned to drop nukes on a number of cities, Sabretooth rebelled. Imprisoned, he eventually escaped and made his way to Magneto's camp.

Today, that Sabretooth is still alive and well, and is one of the main members of the EXILES, starring in the book of the same title, along with fellow Age of Apocalypse survivor Blink.

The assortment of Marvel Legends figures that AoA Sabretooth comes in is one of the largest assortments ever. It's also a Wal-Mart exclusive. It's been dubbed the "GIANT-MAN SERIES", because the large "Build-A-Figure" that comes broken down into component parts in this series results in a 13?" Giant-Man figure. Sabretooth comes with Giant-Man's left boot.

The full assortment is not only a huge one - nine different figures not counting variants, as opposed to the usual six or seven, but it's a pretty eclectic mix. Along with AoA Sabretooth and Weapon X, we also have Captain Britain, Kitty Pryde, Ant-Man, Thor, Havok, Warbird, and Sentry. The variants include a really ugly version of AoA Weapon X with his hair burned off (which did happen in the story), and a long-haired, bearded version of Sentry.

As for Sabretooth, how is he as a figure? Well - pretty good. Certainly it's a good Marvel Legends figure. Boasting 38 points of articulation, Sabretooth is poseable a the head, arms, upper swivel arm, elbows, wrists, individual fingers, mid-torso, waist, legs, knees, lower-leg swivel, ankles, and toe area. And the ponytail in the back can be moved, too. Nice touch.

It's a good overall sculpt, although honestly, I think the face might be just a little too vicious for this particular Sabretooth. I also don't think I would've had the hair pulled back quite so tightly over the head.

Then there's the color choices. And here's where I have a major problem. Toy Biz went waaayyy too muted on this guy. Now, I'll grant that in as grim and dark a world as the Age of Apocalypse, it probably isn't easy to find rather bright, yellow-gold fabric. But heck, where do any super- heroes get their costumes? Let's put a little "willing suspension of disbelief" in here, shall we? The AoA Sabretooth was always shown wearing a fairly bright yellow-gold costume. The figure is dressed more in a rather muted dark yellow-tan. And that's not the only color problem.

The collar is painted metallic gold. It should be the same brown as the belt and boots, and so should the gauntlets, which are painted metallic silver. Furthermore, Sabretooth is supposed to be blonde. They've painted his hair a sort of sandy tan. Now I don't know why all this happened. I sort of get the impression here that whoever was in charge of the color choices decided to try to make the figure look a little more "real world" or something, and really went overboard. I'm not asking for anything really painfully bright here. But this figure should've been colored a lot more accurately than he was, especially considering some of the other, non-AoA entries in this assortment. Sentry, for example, very distinctly had his bright yellow uniform with just as bright blue trim. I was able to see him halfway across the toy department, and there weren't any great amounts of airbrushed or sculpted weathering on him, either.

My only other complaint is that the figure won't quite stand up straight. He poses well - don't get me wrong. But trying to get him to stand up evenly straight doesn't work. It looks like one of the upper leg joints comes out of the lower torso a little further than the other one. His right lower leg tends to point outwards a bit below the knee more than it should, as well.

So really, if there's anybody in this assortment that you're interested in, you should get them the instant you see them. Given the diversity and, in some cases, the obscurity (and in a few others the popularity) of the characters in this series, adding in the fact that this assortment won't be turning up at K*B, or Toys "R" Us, or Target, or anywhere else, I expect them all to be rather hard to find.

Sabretooth comes with a reprint of ASTONISHING X-MEN #2 - which features him going toe-to-toe with one of Apocalypse's most dangerous minions, Holocaust. Ironically, the muted coloring of the figure stands out even more with this cover in the background.

Do I recommend this figure? For anyone who enjoyed the Age of Apocalypse storyline, the answer is a most definite YES! Even with the miscolorings and uneven stance, it's still a very impressive figure, is certainly unmistakable as the AOA Sabretooth and no other version of Sabretooth we know, and is likely to be among the very few Marvel Legends AoA figures we'll ever see.

Then we have Weapon X. This character is better known to us as Wolverine, although that's not a name that he had in the Age of Apocalypse. And, in fact, the Weapon X name does fit, since this is the name of the organization that - basically made Logan the man he is today, at least as far as his adamantium skeleton and claws are concerned.

One gets the impression that up to the point where Charles Xavier was killed and Apocalypse started taking over the world, Logan's history was pretty much the same as it was in the "actual" Marvel Universe. At some point, this mutant with the amazing healing factor and heightened senses was subjected to a series of experiments that infused his skeleton, including his retractable claws, with adamantium, the hardest, most invulnerable metal known to exist.

Logan's personality isn't all that different either. Rough, gruff, and sometimes downright feral, he'll never be known for his congeniality.

Somewhere along the way, he joined up with the Age of Apocalypse's X-Men, which in the revised universe were led by Magneto. And here is where things begin to differ. At some point, Logan left the team, preferring to strike out on his own, although he did end up teamed with a mutant named Jean Grey, who was rescued from Apocalypse's prisons where he held uncooperative mutants who nonetheless showed considerable potential for power, often subjecting them to experiments at the hands of Mr. Sinister and the Beast.

Weapon X also had a nasty encounter with Cyclops, Sinister's most valuable associate, and the man in charge of these holding pens. This cost Cyclops one eye, and it cost Logan his left hand, although - as would be revealed during the four-issue "Weapon X" mini-series - not the claws of that hand, which remained retracted in his arm until they were needed.

The figure is excellent, although as with a fair number of figures from this Wal-Mart exclusive assortment, the body molds, for the most part, have seen use before. The copyright date on them is 2004. I'm honestly not certain whose body this might have been before, but I wouldn't discount the possibility that it was a previous Wolverine. The body is short and fairly stocky, and there's not a lot of characters that have that particular build.

Weapon X's hair is somewhat longer than usual in the Age of Apocalypse, although it maintains the same style. This is reflected a bit in the headsculpt, although doing really long hair wouldn't've been especially workable. The head sculpt, though, is on the whole excellent, and is definitely new, as the tattoo markings on Logan's face are also sculpted into the plastic.

Logan's uniform is somewhat reminiscent of Wolverine, although more simplified. It's basically a sleeveless black body suit with a few red "claws" on it. The figure has a very slight overspray of blue on the uniform, which is a nice touch, especially since it's not done to excess, is in keeping with the look of the costume in the comics, and is barely visible except in really good light. I probably wouldn't've noticed it at all if at one point I hadn't had the figure under the rather stark overhead fluorescent lighting of an office workroom.

As one would expect, the figure's left hand is missing, with a metal "cap" over the lower arm. I'm sure that this is an entirely new mold, whatever previous use the rest of the body has seen.

Weapon X comes with the first issue of his four-issue mini-series.

A comparative observation here - the Age of Apocalypse Sabretooth figure uses decidedly muted colors in all aspects - skin, uniform, hair, even the trim on the uniform. Honestly, it's too muted. This is not the case with Weapon X. His skin, while not exactly bright, is nowhere near as muted as Sabretooth's, and while his black uniform could hardly be called "intense", the red trim is a straightforward red. Standing the two figures side to side makes Sabretooth look that much more muted as a result.

Honestly, I think Toy Biz goofed a bit on Sabretooth. Curiously, and somewhat surprisingly, he's turned into the assortment's shelf-warmer, too. I don't think the figure's that bad. But a huge supply of this assortment that turned up at Wal-Mart recently, that not only filled the allocated space in the toy aisle but also comprised an entire end-cap, was reduced in less than a week to half a dozen Sabretooths, and a couple of Ant-Man.

(Which, by the way, should be an advisory to all of you interested in this assortment. Depending on when you're reading this, if this assortment is even still remotely available, and you see anybody in it that you want, get them immediately.)

Toy Biz/Marvel seems somehow reluctant to do bright colors sometimes. I even saw a change in the Sentry figure, who initially was wearing a very (and appropriately) bright yellow uniform, and this was later changed to a muted gold, that frankly was a good match for Sabretooth. Not that I was terribly interested in this character, but if I had been, I would've gotten the yellow version, not the gold.

Let's be clear - there's nothing wrong with bright colors on super-heroes if that's how they appear in the comics. There's nothing at all wrong with the Weapon X figure, but then he's not exactly brightly dressed to begin with. But Sabretooth should've been much brighter than he was.

I'm not really putting down the figure that much per se. The Age of Apocalypse was one of the most amazing stories ever to run in the X-Men. And I'm truly delighted that we actually got a couple of Marvel Legends figures out of the storyline, especially since the future of the Marvel Legends line might be in doubt. But I'm here to review these toys, and that means bringing up the bad with the good.

On the whole, though, both Weapon X and Sabretooth are cool figures, and if you have any fond memories of the original Age of Apocalypse story, you'll certainly want to add both of these figures to your MARVEL LEGENDS collection, and they both have my decided recommendation!