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Black Widow

Avengers 60th Anniversary
by yo go re

Get ready to travel through time!

Trained to be the world's greatest spy from childhood, Natasha Romanova is an ex-KGB assassin, former Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., and occasional Avenger who uses her unique skill set to atone for her past.

Black Widow doesn't feel like a character who needs a new Marvel Legend, but that's only because all the Scarlett Johansson Widows are such good stand-ins; there was the 90s-style one in 2020 (and a "Deadly Origin" winter costume), the Legendary Rider and the Retro Collection releases in 2018, and then it's all the way back to 2010! Yes, she's had a lot more figures under Hasbro's regime than she ever did under ToyBiz in any scale, but this is far from some needless oversaturation of a character. (And even if you do want to count MCU figures, most of them have a lot more grey on them than her traditional comic appearance.)

Remember when Dollar General had a line of exclusive GI Joes, and they were supposed to be minimally articulated bargain junk, but someone on the Joe team went rogue and made really good toys fans went wild for? Gotta wonder if that unknown hero was moved over to Marvel, because it really feels like someone set out to make the last Black Widow you'll ever need to buy. Her limbs are the same Rogue used, but her torso is all-new. Her suit has a sculpted seam with some wrinkles extending from it that runs all the way down the center of her front and back, and she's sculpted with the moderately unzipped collar. Both her Widow's Bite braclets and her medallion belt are separate pieces dropped onto the body during assembly. The only thing we'd change would be to have her zipper pull be her red hourglass symbol, but that would limit any future re-use.

And we are definitely going to see this again, because she has more articulation than average. The legs have swivel/hinge ankles, double-hinged knees, swivel thighs, and balljointed hips, and the arms have swivel hinge wrists, double-hinged elbows, swivel biceps, and swivel/hinge shoulders, but the new torso ups what we're used to: in addition to the usual balljointed chest and hinged neck/balljoint head combo, there are pectoral hinges for the arms and a hinged waist! This is a Marvel Legend that moves like a Fortnite Victory Royale Collection or GI Joe Classified Series figure, the only Hasbro toylines that put ML to shame. Well dang! Who else are they planning to use this for? The toy does end up slightly too tall, which is its only problem - Natasha is 5'7", but this toy is over 6".

The thing that will keep you from having to double-dip on Widows any time soon is the head. Or rather, the heads: the toy includes three of them, all with different haircuts and all with different faces. Right out of the box, she's got a modern (mid-2010s), short hairstyle that barely reaches her collar and has a lock of hair falling in front of her impassive face.

Moving back in time, we've got 2010s-style longer, flowing hair that reaches nearly to her waist, and a distinctly angry look on her face, with her thin browns drawn down to the middle.

And then there's a head that I initially took to be a 1970s look, judging by the bulbous bouffant on top, but then I was struck by the general unkempt messiness of the bangs and the rest of the hair, and thought it was a a late-90s/early-00s Joe Quesada style. A bit more research, however, revealed that it's actually based on a Scot Eaton splash page from 2011's Secret Avengers #15. The face on this one has just a hint of a smile - the sculptor gave her the smallest of wrinkles between her cheek and her lip, to sell the expression. These are all three great, and there's only one change we would make: pull a Doink and make them all swappable. Imagine how fun it would be if any of the expressions could be matched with any of the eras!

Natasha gets three pairs of hands (open, closed, holding) and the same pistols Yelena carried. Same removable muzzle flares and gun smoke, too. From '90s Widow, she gets the alternate braclets to show her actively firing or just having finished firing her Bite. So none of the accessories are new pieces, but certainly no head has come with all of them before.

Between this release and the Tracksuit Mafia, Target has really embraced the "extra value" for their exclusives. Why, these Marvel Legends may be the only ones that are actually worth the $25 Hasbro charges for them! ...too bad they're pushed up to $28. Sigh. No, not sigh - grumble. Black Widow hit the pegs last week, and Target had probably a dozen of her; this week, they'd all sold. So I wouldn't expect her to last long enough to get any sales or markdowns. At least you won't have to buy another version of her in a few months?

-- 08/07/23

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