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The Leader

Avengers Assemble
by yo go re

The fun of shopping at discount closeout retailers (Ross, TJ Maxx, Big Lots, etc.) is the chance to get things that never made it to normal stores. But even better than that is when you find something you didn't even know was being made at all!

After the movie-based Avengers toyline ended, Hasbro replaced it with Avengers Assemble - it was similar to the way Iron Man 2 switched over to Iron Man: Armored Avenger or Rise of Cobra became Pursuit of Cobra. The fact that the new line shared its name with the soon-to-begin cartoon was probably a nice bonus, too.

But that also caused some confusion. Because while this line shares the cartoon's name, there is a cartoon-based line as well. This line reuses Marvel Universe molds; the cartoon line gets new animated sculpts, but only five POA. The packaging for both uses the same graphics, but they're (slightly) different shapes. The cartoon line only costs $6, but the comic line is $10. It's all rather confusing.

Anyway, one of the figures in the comic line, that I had no idea was coming out until I saw it on the peg at Five Below, is Hulk's old foe, the Leader. This is his second form, with the head like a mushroom instead of like a cigarette butt. Wonderful sculpt, though - his head really does look like a throbbing brain, which makes us wonder: does he still have a skull in there, or is his skin being distended by cerebral matter? When Hulk punches him, does he forget where he parked?

The head may be new, but that's it - the body is 100% repaint. If you don't recognize the source, don't feel bad: it's the Avengers Comic Series Skrull you flipped past while hoping to find Black Widow. The molded armor on his arms and legs, and the extra pieces over his chest and waist, have all made the transition from "alien" to "mad science" really well - they're not anything he's actually worn in the comics, but they look like the kind of thing he would wear, you know? At the end of the day, the figure really does look like the Leader.

A lot of that can be attributed to the paint. The Skrull's rather odd choice of blue and silver with purple accents has been changed to the Leader's traditional combination of orange and black. This is not a repaint we would have predicted, but it works very well. Granted, the simple scheme means that a lot of the sculpted elements don't get any extra attention called to them - a dark grey wouldn't have looked out of place.

Sadly, a reused Avengers body means reused Avengers articulation: aka, no waist, wrists or ankles. The joints we do get are pretty good. The Leader boasts swivel/hinge knees, swivel thighs, swivel/hinge hips, elbows and shoulders, and a balljointed head. But man, those missing joints! Ankles, okay, we could do without those unless they were going to be swivel/hinge rocker joints, but being unable to turn your figure at the waist or reposition his hands even slightly? That's a bummer!

His only accessory is what the Avengers Assembled line calls "SHIELD Gear" - one of those stupid missile launchers that get repainted and passed around between the various Marvel lines. His appears to come from some Iron Man, probably, and is a neon green with black. Technically this figure is named "Radiation Rocket Leader," and the back of the card talks about his "Mutation Missile Blast," but this is still something that will be dropped in a box and forgotten.

I was really surprised when I found the Leader. Surely Hasbro had announced him at some point, but the Avengers Assemble line - both versions of it - has garnered so little attention that any announcements have made no impression. He's really good for a repaint, especially if you get him at closeout store prices.

-- 12/22/14

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