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West Coast Avengers

Avengers 60th Anniversary
by yo go re

To combat those threats against which no hero could stand alone, Earth's mightiest heroes forged a covenant to unite in battle to protect all mankind. Now, from their second base of operations on America's west coast, a new chapter in their legend is being written.

That text isn't anywhere on the box or even the marketing material - instead, we had to copy it from the header in an actual issue of the comic. Which is fitting, since the art on the box is a redrawn version of West Coast Avengers #1, with Spider-Woman in place of Wonder Man, Hank Pym in place of Hawkeye, and Mockingbird's costume changed to match what's in the set. Since there are only two new figures in the set, we're going to concentrate on differences.

The first figure in the set is Spider-Woman. Not Jessica Drew, the real one: Julia Carpenter. She had a toy in the Far From Home line, and this is just that again; same body, same paint... fewer accessories. She doesn't get the "psyonic web" hand that represents her powers. The head is new, with larger eyes painted on the mask and bigger, straigher hair. This is in line with the way Mike Zeck initially drew her in Secret Wars, so you could count this as a "first appearance" figure if you like. Still, if you've already got the existing figure, there's nothing really here to make her inclusion in this set very appealing unless you're really dedicated to having a figure that's black and white instead of blackish and white, like the other one was, or to having thicker thighs and double elbows instead of single.

Our first new figure is Dr. Pym, the Scientific Adventurer. After the whole "going crazy as Yellowjacket" thing, Hank Pym decided to give up superheroing entirely. But he still wanted to help, so when the West Coast Avengers formed, he moved into their estate compound to do all the behind-the-scenes stuff needed to keep the team running, the stuff that Jarvis did for the Real Coast Avengers that nobody ever noticed or thought about. At first he just hung around either in overly formal clothes (Hank you are a glorified answering machine, you have no reason to be wearing a coat and tie to work) or the world's shortest short-shorts (Hank you are interacting with the public put on some pants), and spent almost every line of dialogue reiterating that he wasn't there to be a hero, but since one of the first villains the new team dealt with was Ultron-12, it didn't take long for him to get dragged into things. Or at least fireman-carried into things, since Ultron knocked him out and left with him.

By the time he started leaving the mansion compound to go on missions, Dr. Pym was dressing like a cross between the Phantom Stranger and Doctor Who, but eventually (in WCA #26) traded that for a pair of coveralls. Or "speed suit."

Hank uses most of the same molds as Simon Williams, which is a logical choice, but immediately presents a problem: just like Molecule Man, he's far too big. Between this and that new Vulcan body, somebody at Hasbro forgot how to scale bodies for a 6" line. This figure is more than 6½" tall, which is not even remotely correct. The torso is new, because his pockets and collar are different than Wonder Man's. Hasbro's chosen to make this suit brick orange rather than red - possibly because they didn't understand what color it really was, possibly because they didn't want it to look too close to Wonder Man's smoking jacket.

The reason Hank wore this outfit (beyond just the fact that he was working on machinery all day) was that he could keep all kinds of miniaturized tools and devices in his pockets. And yet the only accessories we get are a couple alternate hands. The head is new, and sized for this huge body, so don't think you're going to be able to make an unmasked Giant-Man or anything.

Next we've got Silver Centurion Iron Man. Or maybe that's "White Centurion," because no part of his body is silver. This is definitely how he was colored in the book, and it's not something we've had before, but is this really something you wanted? An Iron Man in red and white armor? They couldn't do the real version, because that wouldn't be any different from the Walgreens-exclusive, even with minorly wider shoulder pads, but that doesn't suddenly make this one look right somehow. He's got the fists and the blasting hands, and simple little blast effects in translucent blue. They couldn't at least do the fancier blasts the mold originally came with?

Our second new figure is Mockingbird, wearing her second superhero costume. We talked about her complicated history before, and she'd already been through like three different orgins before getting her iconic look. The big difference between Costume 1 and Costume 2? Pants. First she had them, then she didn't. Trading protection for sexiness, I guess?

This figure uses the same trunk as Spider-Woman, but gets new shins, for her flared boots, and new arms, for her bracers and large sleeves. Actually, all we get in the way of sleeves are little points by her elbows; in the comics, she had full-on kimono sleeves, giant and flowing, and they only got larger with this costume. Maybe she needed to wrap her bare legs in them when she got cold? Having those really would have impeded an action figure's movement, however, so this toy drastically scales things back. Her suit is a nice, dark blue, which is how it was typically colored in the comics (even though she and Clint were both meant to be wearing black at the time).

The only thing particularly "bird" about this costume is the mask, and even that's more "Mardi Gras" than "superhero." Big, angular flares stick off her cheeks, rising higher than her hair, which is sculpted here billowing out to the side (for what it's worth, she typically wore her hair in a short, 1986 'do with this costume, but having long hair happened often enough that this style doesn't look wrong).

What does look wrong, though, is the general size of the head. Maybe it's just because I'm over here comparing her to the MotU Classics-scaled Hank Pym, or maybe it's her mask making her skull look small by comparison, as some kind of optical illusion. Though she doesn't have the humongous sleeves, she does get the weapons she mormally hid within them: a pair of combat batons that can plug together to form a battle staff. Her normal hands are a fist and a chop, because she's a martial artist, but she's got alternate holding hands for whichever of the weapons (Daredevil billy clubs or Gambit stick) you'd like to use.

The final figure in the set is Tigra, and for Hasbro, third time's the charm! This is just the Retro Collection figure in the color she should have been in the first place - if Hasbro hadn't messed that up, who do you think would have gotten the fifth spot in this set? Not Hawkeye, since he's elsewhere in the line, not USAgent or Wonder Man because they just made those, not Scarlet Witch or Vision... we're really running out, here. Jim Hammond Human Torch? Golden armor Moon Knight? Living Lightning? Shroud, because there's no way he's getting an action figure any time else? Not Firebird, because the entire point of her character was that she was always being overlooked. There may not be as many options as the East Coast team, but there are some.

But this is more than just Hasbro's second Tigra mold painted like their first Tigra mold. It is that - paler orange fur, bluer bikini - but there's more. She still gets the same alternate clawing hands that can be swapped with her fists, and she still gets the snarling head, with its wild hair flying all over the place, but while the calm head is the same sculpt as before, the hair on that one is different: instead of just being combed straight back, this time it's fuller and thicker, with more volume. I did like the older toy's style, but this is good too. All the stripes on her body are the same as before, but the ones on her tail are different; hardly an expected outcome!

So, the final tally for this set? Spider-Woman: old figure with different hair, lacking an accessory; fine, but mediocre. Hank Pym: new figure that's the wrong size; give him credit for being something we've never had before. Iron Man: old figure with worse paint, fewer accessories; the absolute trash of the box, not worth it. Mockingbird: new figure that's pretty good, even with some costume shortcuts; best reason to buy this. Tigra: old figure with better paint; slightly above average. Meh / Okay / Total waste / Good / Fine. I know a big part of this set was "let's take the opportunity to get these themed characters out there again," but only 40% of it is actually anything you want if you've been collecting for a couple years, and if you're a new fan who's just joining us here in the hobby, you're being sold intentionally inferior versions. But in a way, isn't that appropriate for the West Coast Avengers?

-- 09/20/23

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