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Legendary Heroes
by Shocka

Ninteen-year-old Nancy Callahan. The best known stripper in the scummiest, sleaziest town in the world might sound like a dangerous position to be in, but Nancy has herself a guardian angel: the 7-foot-tall scarred, muscled monster of a man, Marv.

Marv is a ham-handed gorilla with horifying strength & fighting skills. His simple, easily confused mind often gets in the way of intelligent decisions, and he has the instincts of a child. Despite his soft spot for women, Marv's gruesome exterior repulses them. He is accustomed to being treated like a monster and spends much of his time at Kadie's Club Pecos, a local watering hole. His life is pathetic and meaningless until he meets Goldie, a beautiful goddess of woman who shows him love. When Marv finds that Goldie's life has been ended by foul play, he sets out to find the responsible parties and to deliver his own type of justice, his knuckles bare, his soul as sharp as a warrior's tempered sword.

From Frank Miller's award-winning Sin City comics, Marv steps off the pages in ToyBiz's Legendary Heroes Series 2, sculpted in the same noir black & white that each Sin City yarn is colored with. We've seen Marv toys before, based on both the graphic novels and based on the film, so comparisons are inevitable, and unfortunately, this figure just isn't up to scratch, particularly compared to the McFarlane Toys Marv.

Standing about 6¾" tall, Marv is dressed in his usual broad-shouldered overcoat, white undershirt, leather pants and combat boots. There's even a cross sculpted around his neck, a nice little detail. Unfortunately, he seems to be too broad-shouldered; the effect is that of a shorter, fatter character rather than the tall, imposing gent. His hands are sculpted gigantically, and his facial expression - although accurate to many of Miller's drawings - doesn't depict the character as well as the previous McFarlane Toys figure.

The paint is also problematic. There's a lot of splatter on the figure, as well as messy shading which gives a nice gritty effect but doesn't help the look of the figure. The facial scarring, for example, is accentuated almost to the point of unrecognisability due to the paints used. Marv's coat is black, which strikes me as the wrong colour, but I don't have my books around to check, but either way the figure ends up looking too dark, and unlike the Marv we know and love. There's also a colored "Bloody Marv" variant available from professional price-gougers Dynamic Forces, but it costs three times as much as the standard toy.

And indeed we do love him - Marv is a great character, an uber-masculine psychotic gladiator who, unlike most violent reptile-brained characters, respects women. Brought up by many strong females, including his mother and the nuns at the school he attended, most of Miller's stories find Marv engaged in brutality to protect or avenge female characters - Marv has a sense of honor, as well as a sense of humor (albeit extremely dark) and is essentially superhumanly strong. However, he is horribly scarred and ugly, and thus is actually a virgin up until the beginning of the original Sin City story, "The Hard Goodbye." It's a joy to feel for this beast, and to watch him maim and kill for the right reasons (or, at least, more right than the movitations of the people he does maim and kill).

And that maiming and killing is the only thing putting this Marv ahead of the previous; as with most ToyBiz figures, Marv is tremendously articulated, featuring balljointed shoulders, legs and neck, then joints at the elbows, knees, feet, toes and fingers. A very bulky toy, Marv is big enough and durable enough and articulated enough to beat the crap out of any other figure you own, unlike the previous statuesque McToy. Unfortunately, the sculpt of does limit the articulation slighty - the big coat means you aren't going to move his legs much, and Marv also comes with no accessories except for his Monkeyman part, the left arm, which is nothing on the hacksaw, pistol (Gladys), base etc. seen with the McToy.

If you're a Sin City fan, personal preference will dictate whether you want this toy, especially if you have any of the previous NECA or McFarlane Toys available to you. My personal favourite is the McFarlane Toys Marv - take a close look at that sculpt, and notice how it both appears thinner and more imposing, and also lacks eyes. This look is remarkable, and really makes the character look both terrifying and tragic. The Legendary Heroes Marv isn't a bad toy, per se, and the death of the series means that he'll never have a Dwight to partner with, something that makes me extremely angry, but compared to the previous, this is one figure that isn't quite up to scratch.

-- 07/14/08

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