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Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
by yo go re

Stephen Strange was a brilliant surgeon before an accident ruined his hands. Now he defends our reality from supernatural threats as Earth's Sorcerer Supreme.

It's a good thing he turned out to have actual magical talent - there's that thing where people who are successful in one field tend to assume it applies to everything, and so they'll be successful in another. Even just sticking with other medical examples, Ben Carson is one of the finest neurosurgeons to have ever lived, but dumb as a barrel of hair when it comes to literally anything else; if you need cardiothoracic surgery, you pray that you end up under the knife of Dr. Oz, but he'll also happily endorse homeopathy and other quack scams. So we're lucky Stephen Strange proved to be a smart, competent guy in more than one area.

Hasbro has done plenty of Vanderpump Rintintin Drs. Strange, but they haven't made a comic version since 2016, and even that was a repaint of one from the year before. It was also a fairly modern costume, not the classic look Marvel always keeps returning to any time. But now thanks to this Walmart exclusive, we're getting some vintage Strange! Most of the sculpt is new - the "casting" hands were used on the last 616 Dr. Strange, and his upper arms use the baggy sleeves from Kang, but the rest aren't reused molds. The demony symbol shape on the front of his tunic is a sculpted, raised element, and the long ends of his sash are plugged into the skirt portion of the tunic.

The cape is both reused and permanently attached. It comes from the 2016 figure, which we didn't review because it was an existing figure with one new accessory. That accessory being the cape. The edges are molded with a swirling pattern like he was always drawn, it's got the giant weird collar... it's a cool piece. The Eye of Agamotto is right there in the middle acting as a clasp, and also attaching the piece to the figure's chest. Is it pegged in somehow? Simply glued? Not sure, but either way, it's not going anywhere. If you want to make a Spider-Man the new Sorcerer Supreme, you'll have to make do with the What If version.

The colors on the toy are very vibrant, really setting it apart from all the movie Stranges we've been getting lately. The cape is very red, the shirt is very blue, the gloves are very yellow, and the Eye amulet even gets its own gold paint apps. The black dots on his gloves are painted crisply, and even the skintone finally manages to get away from the "blue-ening" we've been complaining about so much recently. Way to be pink, white man!

The head is a new mold. The last one was a good sculpt, but it also had a horseshoe mustache rather than Dr. Strange's usual thinner, pointier pencil mustache. His hair is swept back, and gets painted gray along the temples. It's a very nice sculpt, and if it were the only one the toy came with, that would be fine; but we still have two more to go!

The first alternate looks very similar, but has some drastic differecnes. For one thing, his hair is no longer combed straight back, but now has a part on the side and a loose lock falling down his forehead - it's a very 1980s look. The eyes on this one are also closed, suggesting he's deep in meditation or unconscious while astral projecting. It's far from the usual kind of offering you'd get on an action figure.

The third head is a blue repaint of the Silver Surfer mold. In Doctor Strange #177, a villain briefly stole Stephen's identity; he decided to cope with this intrusion by wearing a mask so no one else would know who he was. While still using his real name as his superhero identity. Maybe we were wrong earlier when we said he wasn't stupid? Technically his entire outfit changed (to look more superhero-y), so the mask doesn't quite work on this body, but it's still a good inclusion.

We're used to Dr. Stranges getting the flared Dazzler energy effects, and this one does as well (light orange rings and darker shade for the spikes), but he's also got a couple extra things as well. For old-school fans, there's the Wand of Watoomb (1965), one of the artifacts he was always using in the comics [correction: he owns it, but seemingly never uses it himself; other characters do --ed.], which can store up energy like a battery and release it when the wielder needs it; modern fans will recognize the Axe of Angarruumus (2015), a thing he found in a witch's crypt in the center of the moon and later used to fight off magical ghost-slugs. The figure includes a right hand to hold either of the accessories, and a left fist.

It's a shame this is just a store exclusive (and, knowing Walmart, one that's probably going to be online-only), because it's easily the best Dr. Strange we've gotten. It's taken a long time, but, like Carnage, Hasbro's finally made a Stephen Strange better than the old ToyBiz one.

-- 03/21/22

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