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Hydra Soldier

Marvel Legends
by Poe Ghostal

Until now, I hadn't bought any Marvel Legends figures since Hasbro took over the line. Not because of Hasbro, so much as the characters they've been doing haven't interested me. But I am a sucker for "army builder" figures and henchmen, so I decided to give the Hydra Soldier a shot.

There was a time when the cry "Hail Hydra" brought a chill to even the most hardened hero's heart, and a sweat to his brow. Unfortunately for this ruthless terrorist organization determinded to rule the world, that time is past. The death of its founder Wolfgang von Strucker years ago left it badly weakened. Huge and highly centralized, Hydra lacks the flexibility to really effectively terrorize the world, and instead concentrates its resources on executing grand but largely symbolic attacks. As the world's heroes hve grown ever more bulletproof, powerful and organized, Hydra has lagged behind, still relying on these conventional soldiers.

Since he's just a hired goon, he doesn't have a name, but rather than write out "Hydra Soldier" over and over, I'm going to call him Hans.

As I said, this is my first Hasbro ML. The debate regarding the handling of the line by ToyBiz (now Marvel Toys) and Hasbro has raged endlessly since the latter took over the line, but I can only offer my objective assessment: I found this particular figure disappointing after seeing Marvel Toys' Legendary Heroes.

The sculpt is actually pretty good. he's shrinking like your grandpa It's a bit more like the larger Marvel Select figures than most Legends, however, and there's a certain "largeness" about the sculpt that I can't quite put my finger on, but seems to contribute to the negative effect the figure had on me. This figure is relatively big, no question about it; at 6⅜" tall, he's closer to a 7" scale than a 6" one. You could argue that's fine for a Hydra goon, but if you're planning on building an army of these guys, you should be aware that they're going to make Captain America look kind of small - remember, they're just supposed to be normal humans, not super-enhanced like the heroes.

Hans is one of the figures in Hasbro Legends 3 to have a variant, possibly to aid in the army-building. The normal figure is gritting his teeth to show his anger, while the variant is just straight-out screaming. Hasbro has had some problems with their ML variants so far - namely, only putting them in the first few cases, so they've sold out before the line has even appeared in most stores - but in this case, at least, they're trying to account for that: according to the Previews catalog, you can order a case of nothing but Hydras to sate your henchman desires. And yes, the case this is as far as the arm bends will have both versions.

The articulation is a bit odd. Rather than having the previous ToyBiz-standard swivel-bicep and pin-joint elbows, the Hydra's elbows and knees have both a "peg joint and swivel" balljoint. The result, when you twist the arm horizontally, looks rather unnatural. Also, it looks to me like Hans was supposed to have bicep articulation, but Hasbro skimped out.

But what really kills this figure for me are the paint applications. They're simply too bright and sloppy, giving the figure a cartoonish look, and there's no wash to speak of.

Even his guns seem too toyish. They're molded in silver and the trigger guards are too small for the sculpted trigger finger to fit through. Moreoever, due to the lack of bicep articulation, Hans can't hold the machine gun in both hands very well.

Hans comes with the Brood Queen's left arm, a piece which is nearly as tall as he is and is soft and bendy. There's an articulation joint for the shoulder, but the tentacle part of the arm has a wire inside for poseability. It's not the greatest piece to get if Hans is the only figure you want in this line, but it's also not something terrible to have piles of if you want to build an army of Hydra soldiers.

Ten years ago, this would have been a great figure. But in the age of DCSH and Legendary Heroes, this doesn't cut the mustard. He's oversized, underarticulated and poorly painted. I don't think that ol' Hans should be held up to represent an overall lack of quality in Hasbro's Marvel Legends, but from what I can tell, their quality seems to vary wildly from figure to figure.

-- 12/11/07

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