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HALF A REVIEW: MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES 2
By Thomas Wheeler

Why "half a review"? Because there are four figures in the Marvel Legends Series 2 assortment, but I only have two of them to review. I was decidedly unimpressed with the Human Torch and decided not to get him, and I couldn't find Latveria's infamous monarch, Doctor Doom. That left Namor the Sub-Mariner, and the Thing.

I was one of those crazy enough to brave "Black Friday", as retailers, especially toy retailers, have come to call the day after Thanksgiving, the busiest shopping day of the year. I was NOT crazy enough to go to Toys "R" Us before the crack of dawn. I did that once, and that was more than enough. I got to the store early, but not THAT early.

Didn't find much of what I'd set out to find, but I did come away with these two figures. I would've gotten Doom if they'd had him, but obviously someone had beaten me to it. The Human Torch is either overpacked, or even less popular than expected. The figure is not as bad as the Series 1 Toad figure, but then nothing could be THAT bad. I just wasn't terribly impressed with the Torch, and I am trying to watch my toy dollars a bit. So we have Namor and Thing to review from Toy Biz's latest line of Marvel super-heroes.

NAMOR: One of Marvel's oldest characters, dating back to the days before World War II, Namor the Sub-Mariner is best known as the half-human, half-Atlantean monarch of the undersea kingdom of Atlantis. His fiery temper is matched only by his personal honor, and this combination has put him on the side of both hero and villain more often than any other character in the Marvel Universe. He has a fierce sense of justice, but it is equaled by outrage at his perception of the "surface dwellers" (that's us, folks) treatment of his people and the oceans in general.

The figure is excellent, and makes use of a costume that has not often been used, an ornate and regal uniform that was in fact designed as a life-support costume by Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four, during a time when Namor took ill from poisoned water. This story is outlined in the reprint comic included with the figure. In all honesty, while this has been a controversial decision toy-wise, I think it's a better costume than the little green swim-trunks Namor is generally seen in. Someone of such royal lineage deserves a bit more than underwear for a costume, even if he does spend most of his time underwater.

The only thing missing from the toy are the wings that attached to Namor's arms, but this might well have been a cost-saving measure, and doesn't detract from the overall look of the figure. Speaking of wings, should you buy this figure, be sure to check the tiny little ankle wings. One of the ones on my Namor was packaged badly and is bent at an odd angle. I believe it will eventually return to a better position, and it didn't break off, but it's a detail to watch for.

Namor comes with a huge and ornate trident, is well sculpted, superbly well detailed, and the facial likeness is superb. In this day of licensed products, when everyone from Star Trek to Star Wars to the WWE is using "RealScan" technology to perfectly capture the likeness of the real person, it can't be easy to match that level of precision and detail when there is no real person to base the sculpt on. Toy Biz has done an excellent job of capturing both the nobility and intensity of Prince Namor with this figure, and I highly recommend it.

THE THING: Benjamin Grimm, test pilot and star athlete, and longtime friend of Reed Richards, was exposed to the same cosmic radiation as the rest of the future Fantastic Four during their ill-fated experimental space flight. In Grimm's case, the radiation turned Grimm from a human being into an orange, rock-like, humanoid crature, a "thing", which is the name he took for himself. His strong will and sense of humor largely overcame his despondency, and he became one of the world's greatest heroes and member of the Fantastic Four despite his alarming appearance.

There have been any number of "Thing" figures over the years. Some have worked better than others. Back in the 70's, Mego tried to solve the problem of Grimm's rocky hide by dressing their "Hulk-sculpt" body in an orange fabric suit with black rock patterns printed in it. Toy Biz has generally preferred to sculpt the rocks, but it's been difficult to get the depth needed to really convey the image of the Thing as he seems to be in the comic. There was even supposed to be a Famous Covers version of the Thing -- a line I still wish Toy Biz would bring back.

The Marvel Legends Thing works pretty well. I am notmally not a proponent of paint-wiping a figure, and even in this case, I might've suggested using perhaps dark orange or brown instead of black, but in this instance, the paint-wiping does bring out the rocky details of Grimm's craggy skin. The figure is well-articulated, but it's got the same weird feature of the Iron Man figure that lets the figure bring its arms forward by actually having a couple sections of the BACK swing forward. I don't know who designed this attribute or why, but to be honest, I find it a little creepy and possibly a little unnecessary.

The Thing's fingers are "bendies" -- flexible plastic with wires inside. This was the original plan for the Hulk, but his fingers were too narrow, and eventually the hands were redesigned with standard articulation. But the Thing only has three fingers per hand, plus a thumb, not four, so they were large enough to go with the wires. The thumbs, oddly, are not bendies.

Overall, for such a bulky figure, the Thing is well-articulated, and certainly well-designed.

The MARVEL LEGENDS line continues to impress both kids and collectors with its quality and articulation, even if not all of the figures in the line are home runs. For myself, I would definitely recommend Namor and Thing, and I'm hoping I'll be able to say something one way or the other about Doctor Doom in the near future.