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Fantastic Four Legends
by Shocka

I often wonder why most Jack Kirby designs are rejected by the audience broadly for being so weird and odd, but everyone digs Galactus.

(Darkseid too, but the designs post-New-Gods have made him look more Thanos-y and more acceptable vs. wacky weird angular hat Galactus.)

The Devourer of Worlds. He Who Hungers. A living embodiment of entropy and survival. A universal constant. A force of nature. A near-omnipotent being who must consume entire planets to survive, Galactus cares not for the lives doomed by his hunger. His is a power beyond mortal understanding... and an appetite without limit.

If I had to theorize, I would imagine it works for most people the same way the designs in Barker's Hellraiser films work. Not specifically the Cenobites - they're very humanoid and their designs are not overly abstract, mostly being physical personifications of specific sins and kink wrapped up in a leather-horror fantasy - rather, the infernal god of that universe, the Leviathan. As it appears in Hellbound: Hellraiser II, it's a weird angular monstrosity, appearing as a gigantic diamond-lookin' weirdo with the same kind of aesthetic as the dusty hallways that make up that universe's hell. It's weird to look at, and abstract in a way that suggests it has some unknowable power, something beyond our comprehension. Ditto Galactus's stupid hat.

Obviously, the mere visage of Galactus is frightening, because he's so freaking gigantic. But a regular person wearing this goofy gear would be laughed off the set. Yet, amp it up to a massive scary size, adding the considerable odd-for-real color scheme, and it adds to his mystique: he's giant, invulnerable, destructive and ready to party!

Like the Sentinel, Galactus is sold in a box in a box in a box, with the figure in a styrofoam tray covered by a thin sheet of stiff plastic. No all-cardboard work here, yet! The Galactus packaging is even larger than the already-chonkin' Sentinel's, measuring 35" tall, 22¼" wide, and 8½" deep (with the inner shipping box and outer shipping box each being larger than the last). Rather than a big wraparound piece of art showing a full battle scene, we just get a single image of Galactus and his hat looming above us on the front, and a scenery of G-Diddy's ship - the Taa II - floating above some alien planet on the back. Backers got to vote on what the box art would look like: this one, a more front-on version of the same kind of pose, or a side view of all his heralds flying past his giant head. I don't remember which one I voted for!

We've had Galactuses (Galactii?) before in toy form, starting all the way back in 1998's Silver Surfer line, then the forerunner of the modern action figure Build-A-Figure trend, where ToyBiz assembled a terrific - and large-for-the-time - Galactus in their original Marvel Legends line. That guy was dwarfed in the follow-up Marvel Universe line, which stood 19" tall to ML's 16". And now, both are absolutely dwarfed by this massive lad, this huge chonker, this sizeable 32" beast from HasLab!

The sculpt is, in a word, astounding. Assembled from more than 300 individual pieces, the design somehow manages to out-Kirby Kirby, throwing even more geometry and tech at us than Jack "Ask Me About all the Nazis I Killed" Kirby did. The blue sections are smooth, while the purple on his arms and chest have a fine honeycomb texture. Not only is his skirt a separate piece hovering above the body beneath, so are the suspenders and armpit straps that hold the skirt up. Hasbro absolutely took advantage of this huge canvas to cram the toy with fun stuff to look at.

Also, you can do more than just "look" because the articulation is equally good. The Sentinel has a balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, double-hinged elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, balljointed chest, hinged abdomen, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, and swivel/hinged ankles. Then the hands go absolutely crackers, with a hinge in every knuckle and a swivel at the base, plus an extra hinge to make the thumb opposable. That's 20 finger joints on each hand! All the joints are stiff and ratcheted, to support the big big weight of this big big boy. Even simple things like biceps swivels are stronger than average.

After you take Galactus out of the styrofoam, there's a little bit of assembly required: you need to plug his hat wings into his ear holes. If you think Galactus looks like a chump normally, wait until you see him wearing his usual helmet, but without the ear-wings! Clips hold them in place, but if you're careful, you can remove them again when it's time to put Galactus away for storage. Hey, have you ever wondered why all our reviews are so insistant about how putting BAFs together is a permanent thing? It's because when the original ML9 Galactus came out, Poe worked really hard to get all the pieces, and put them together, then for some reason assumed he could separate them and ended up breaking his precious new toy. Who does that! Who would even assume that was a thing that could be done? It's not a bloody Lego!

One thing that this figure (figure? Can something the size of a small child really be termed an "action figure"?) captures that the others maybe didn't is the menace that Galactus represents. His facial sculpt looks tremendous, with a menacing grimace that is both threatening but also suggests a supreme apathy towards the plight and well-being of the planetary citizens he is to consume. But cleverly, Galactus comes with alternate faces, really taking advantage of the size and style of the figure.

Since all we can see of his face is the bit of mouth and nose visible through the opening in his helmet, the alternates are done as little wads that plug into the helmet. The first is basically the same look, just showing Galactus snarling in anger, which honestly does seem like the sort of thing that would be beneath a cosmic entity like him. Like, yes, there's that one story from the US a few years ago where a tornado seemed to turn to follow a truck full of storm chasers, even stopping directly over them when they tried to hunker down and let it pass, but forces of nature generally don't display emotion.

Next we've got a little skull, which I initially took to represent the Galactus Engine from Earth-10011, but now I think is the Earth-91126 (aka "Marvel Zombies Return") Galactus, who seemingly came to this planet and got stripped to the bone by all the little zombies. All three faces are molded from soft PVC, so they flex enough to get in and out of the helmet with no trouble. The easiest way is to pop the head off and push them from the back.

Like any good crowdfunding program, Galactus had several unlockable bonuses. When the project reached 16,000 backers, we got Nova. Not Richard Ryder, Frankie Raye.

Given powers similar to the Human Torch's in a chemical accident, Frankie Raye was able to engulf her body in flame without harm. Mr. Fantastic, leader of the Fantastic Four, helped Frankie to cope with her new powers. During her stay with the Fantastic Four, the planet devourer Galactus returned to Earth. In exchange for the Earth's safety, Frankie agreed to become Galactus' herald. Galactus augmented Frankie's powers to cosmic proportions, with energies that rivaled those of a small sun. Calling herself Nova, Frankie served Galactus for a time before embarking on her own adventure in space.

For being a naked gold lady with sculpted fire for hair, Nova manages to balance surprisingly well. You'd think that hair would drag her right over! She uses this body and has open, closed, and gripping hands. Her forehead is subtly sculpted with the two points (like Iron Man's mask) at the top, keeping her fringe from falling in her face.

The set includes a fancy display stand for her. It's a big bundle of flames, fitting her powers, though she was usually drawn with the flames from her head just trailing off behind her, and this doesn't connect. It's molded in translucent orange plastic, and given a little bit of yellow paint for variety. Her left leg fits through a loop of fire at the top, and her pointed toes can fit into a little niche below to keep her standing. Just viewing it, there's no sign that it's meant to be anything other than a plume of flame, but once she's slipped properly in, she'll float really well above it.

At 17,000 backers, Tier 2 was unlocked, giving us a figure of the Silver Surfer. Can't have a Galactus without a Silver Surfer! Even the original ToyBiz one, which was only about 7" tall, came with a little Silver Surfer trapped inside a rubber ball like his pet hamster or something. The very idea of Galactus having heralds can be traced back to Jack Kirby creating the Silver Surfer, because he thought Galactus was too powerful to bother with menial tasks by himself. So if not for that, none of these other figures would be here in this set.

This is the same mold as the existing toy, but that's fine with me because we don't have Walgreens in Australia so that never came out here. It appears he has a slightly frownier expression molded on his face, but that's the only difference.

His accessories include his board and a single purple "Kirby dot" energy effect. Yes, just one. That's weird. I can't think of another example where a figure didn't come with two. There are also the usual alternate hands: fists, splayed fingers, or flat chops. Excitingly, he also includes a flight stand: a swoop of purple energy the same shade as his power blast, with a flat surface where you can slide the surfboard into place and make it look like he's hovering. Nice! The top of the stand can swivel, so he can point different directions.

The awesome thing about both Nova and Silver Surfer's flight stands is that while they stand on their own just fine, the bottoms are designed to clip onto Galactus' hands so it looks like the figures are hovering above his palms! That's awesome!

It takes a bit to figure out how they go on, but they look great once they're in place.

Tier 3, unlocked at 20,000 backers, was Galactus' sixth herald, Morg. When she started, Nova was pretty detatched from the implcations of her heraldic duties, just letting Galactus eat whatever planets he wanted (like the Skrull homeworld, leading eventually to Secret Invasion). Silver Surfer taught her to be empathetic, which meant she was no longer doing as efficient a job, so Galactus sent her away and made Morg the Executioner his new boy toy.

Morg's world was at a medieval level of technological development, so he was literally an executioner. When Galactus came to devour his planet, Morg threatened to fight him. As Galactus said, "fearless, bloodthirsty, and completely amoral. A most useful combination." Once empowered, he took joy in leading Galactus to heavily populated worlds just so more beings would die, and eventually all Galactus' other heralds had to team up to defeath him.

Morg was the first herald not based on some sort of elemental theme, unless that element was "meatloaf." The pebbly skin was around before he was granted the power cosmic, but not the big spikes on his arms. The lopsided snarl on his face is much the way he'd have been drawn in the comics, and though he originally had dark hair, this gray is more often the way he was seen.

You'll have no issue recognizing Morg as a '90s character: the name, the attitude, the costume design... it's all wonderfully dated. The new mold moves as well as it should, having s/h ankles, double knees, swivel thughs, balljoint hips, s/h wrists, double elbows, swivel biceps, s/h shoulder, a balljointed waist, and a barbell neck. All his armor is gummy plastic, so any children who bought this $400 toy don't hurt themselves, and his only accessory is his axe. It's not even some bonkers space-axe, it's just the medieval axe he used as a medieval executioner. What a dope!

The final Tier came at 22,000 backers - though considering the finally tally was over 30,000, why did it stop there? 14, 16, 17, 20, 22... and then another 8,811 buyers without so much as a bump in accessories? Whatever. The last stretch goal is a full alternate head for Galactus. No, it's not him unmasked (though that would have been a smart thing for them to include), it's the head of Doom. Wait, what?

On Earth-18466, the Fantastic Four's first battle against Galactus was a failure. He was about to active his world-eating machines when salvation arrived in a most unexpected form: Victor Von Doom, realizing you can't conquer the world if the world doesn't exist and seeing the opportunity to prove himself better than THAT ACCURSED RICHARDS!!! came flying in with a special machine he'd built that allowed him to switch minds with Galactus, leaving that reality with a Galactus who now had Doctor Doom's mask. It's a cool idea, and a neat thing to include, but hardly at the top of anyone's lists. Not when there are unproduced Heralds and in-canon appearances still to do! On the other hand, this means Galactus has two alternate reality representations in the set, so anyone who bought three of them can put them all on display at once and not be wrong.

Other notable thing about the wacky Galactus design is that he is typically the only character in a scene with all that stuff on. In New Gods, everyone was decked out with guff, so instead of one character looking odd and abstract and mysterious, the whole world looked stupid. Think of any time the cosmic powers get together and Galactus ends up standing around with the Celestials, and they all end up looking dumb together. The style works when it's something beyond us, not something supposedly mundane. This toy won't have to worry about that, so you're set for a grand new addition to your collection. He's quite literally twice the size of the old BAF (32" vs. 16"), ready to tower over eveything else in your toy universe.

Now, when do we get Galacta, the Daughter of Galactus, Hasbro?

-- 11/07/22

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