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Marvel Legends
by Monkey Boy

What to say about Hasbro's third series of Marvel Legends reboot figures... they leave a bitter taste in your mouth. While there are decent figures to be found (it's always nice to see a Deadpool on shelves), it's hard not to wonder what could have been, had the series not been composed almost entirely of repaints.

Case in point: Mystique. Here's where the bio text would normally go, but Mystique's package doesn't even mention her name anywhere on it, and simply gives her a generic "X-Mutants" write-up (since she's got one of this series' still-not-released-anywhere variants), so if you wanna know anything about Mystique (including her name) you'll have to look elsewhere. Let's see what I can pull from my head without having to look anything up to verify.

Mystique has the mutant power to shapeshift. She likes skulls a lot for some reason, and is super old... like, real real old. At one point some writer decided that because she had blue skin, she should be related to Nightcrawler. So I'm pretty sure now she's Nightcrawler's mother...? I think? Which is weird. Also I think the dad is a demon. Oh, and she's an assassin, right?

If you think that's terribly written, keep in mind that it's more than what Hasbro gave you on the package. So with that out of the way, let's look at the figure herself. Mystique's sculpt is based almost entirely on the "Marvel's Madames" body from Series 2, specifically Madame Hydra. The only real changes are the upper torso and the forearms. Instead of a zipped up vest, Mystique's is unzipped to reveal some serious cleavage. Interestingly, it still looks like the exact same model vest as the "Madame" version, only unzipped. But the design is exactly the same, down to the zipper pull, which means that we could theoretically see "cleavage" and "non-cleavage" variants of these figures someday. Her forearms don't feature the elbow length gloves of the Madame sculpt, instead opting for bare arms. Though the hands are still painted as gloves, they have no sculpted glove tops, and are just denoted by paint and articulation.

The head is the same sculpt as Madame Hydra, but Mystique fares better with it. It feels a bit softer, and less severe and angular and "Cruella de Vil-ish" than when it was seen last, though paint probably has a lot to do with it. Overall though, Mystique's face comes across as much more feminine than Hydra's, despite utilizing the same mold.

What is not so feminine is the body. Yes, it has boobs, but the hips are really thin, and the arms and legs are extremely spindly. The torso is also extremely muscled, with ripped abs and very little in the way of curves. Since Mystique's showing her midriff, the navel in the sculpt now makes sense, whereas it was stupid before. Not to say anything negative about women who might have the "stick-thin, skinny-hipped, giant basketball boobs" bodytype, but Hasbro seems to think this body works for every female comic character. Mystique's look is clearly inspired by the art of Mike Mayhew, who drew her very as very curvaceous and feminine. Yes, different artists drew the interiors of her comics, but it's Mayhew's pin-up covers that are iconic. It doesn't really jibe with the zero-body-fat figure we got.

The paint is decent but a bit inconsistent. Her vest is a gloss black, but her pants and belt are matte, and the gloves are something in between. Silver accents denote the buttons, buckles and zippers. Her skin is blue with a dark blue - almost dark grey - wash, but it's much more prevalent on the torso than the arms and face. The hair is a deep red with a brown wash, and is one of the better applications on the figure. The face gets golden eyes, black eyebrows, and red lips. The eyebrows are slightly arched, and though the app looks the same as the one on Madame Hydra, it just works better on Mystique. Maybe it's the blue skin. The skull on her forehead is a painted element, which is kinda lame. Yes the packaging art would have you believe that's what it's supposed to look like, but trust us, it's meant to be an actual tiny skull, not just 2D color on her forehead.

The articulation is identical to Madame Hydra: balljointed neck, peg and hinge shoulders, elbows, and wrists, balljointed torso, peg and hinge hips, peg thighs, double hinged knees, and peg and hinge ankles. It's a nice set up, but the limbs are so spindly it tends to look awkward in many poses. Even standing straight up she looks kind of strange, thanks to the huge gap between her thighs. There's got to be a way to have a figure that looks feminine while still maintaining a decent range of articulation. In fact, Hasbro's own Shanna the She-Devil figure managed to look curvy while still being playable, and that figure's almost five years old.

Mystique is well accessorized, but nothing she gets is particularly surprising or new. Her base, with its interlocking hexagons, is standard issue on all 6" Marvel movie figures, and is repurposed from the old Heroscape game. She also comes with four guns. The first is a silver pistol that fits in her belt holster. The rest are scaled up GI Joe accessories, that also come with the Marvel Legends Punisher, who appears in the same series as Mystique. Frank's guns are black and white themed, while Mystique's are black and silver, but the sculpts are identical. The assault rifle seems to be AK-based, but heavily modified. The small silver SMG seems to be an undersized Heckler & Koch MP5, and try as I might, I could not identify the sniper rifle as having a real world counterpart (although it's based on the rifle used by Zartan in the GI Joe: Resolute web series, so it may have been invented for that cartoon). She holds them all reasonably well, except for the sniper rifle which is pretty awkward looking no matter what.

What we do not get are the twin Desert Eagle pistols that so frequently featured in Mayhew's covers, which is a real shame as they were pretty iconic. Yes, in this day and age it's just nice to get a lot of accessories, and they do technically work with the character. I mean it's not nearly as bad as all those random Marvel Universe figures that came with machine guns for no reason. But it's clear that these guns, scaled up from a different line and shared with another figure in the series, weren't really specifically meant for Mystique. The guns make sense with the Punisher, since he's well known for his arsenal (hell, there was even an entire comicbook series based on his weapons). While Mystique is known to use a lot of weapons, it's not so defining of her character, and if she's associated with any specific weapons I'd say it's definitely the twin Desert Eagles, which the figure doesn't include (though you'd think Hasbro must have had a GI Joe accessory they could have scaled up that would have fit).

So again, we're not griping about the accessories, it's just hard not to wonder what could have been. Which really sums up this entire figure. It's not a bad figure, but it could have been a lot better. A repaint series is the best place for this design of Mystique. The end result is okay, but not something I would have purchased if I hadn't found her for significantly less than retail. At full price, she'll definitely leave you wanting more.

-- 01/07/13

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