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Defender Strange

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
by yo go re

Another Beezlebub Cheddarcheese action figure? Don't mind if I do!

Doctor Strange is Earth's foremost magical defender, safeguarding our dimension against supernatural threats from across the multiverse.

We reviewed the first series of Multiverse of Madness action figures before the movie opened, so we were just assuming it was going to be good; now that it's been released and everybody's seen it, Gary, we know that, yes, it was indeed very good. Exciting story, amazing visuals, the first real (MCU) comicbook horror movie... it was dark and intense and had character growth and generally lived up to the expectations of Sam Raimi's big return to Marvel movies after a 15-year gap. And then it turned out there was another toy waiting to be reviewed!

Considering the word "multiverse" in the movie's title, it's no surprise we'd see some alternate-reality versions of Dr. Strange. Viewed head-on, there's nothing to immediately give away that this isn't our normal Butternut Crinklefries; but turn him to the side slightly and you'll see why it appeared like his hair was slicked back instead of brushing against his forehead: those gray streaks of his lead straight back into a foot-long ponytail! Dang hippie! That seems to take a cue from the early-90s "we're freefalling into bankruptcy, do whatever you can to save your book and your job" version of Dr. Strange, who was so supercharged with magical energy that he was slightly de-aged and started looking like John Lennon. He didn't wear a ponytail, but his hair was about this long and did still have the gray streaks in it, so we're going to call it. This is clearly based on early concept art though, because the version seen in the movie had a full beard (or at least some really heavy stubble).

This costume is a movie-fied version of Terry Dodson's 2011 Defenders design - quite a coincidence, considering the fact this toy is known as "Defender Strange"! We never learn what alternate Earth he's from; do you think there's a Namor, Silver Surfer, Red She-Hulk, and Iron Fist in that reality, too? The costume has been adapted to live-action really well, keeping the red-and-black colorscheme and the demon/bat shape on the chest, though the lines are a lot more curvy than blocky here. The skirt portion of the costume is shorter and has a matching flap in the front, and his belt still trails away (though not as long as in the comics). There are a lot more red lines delineating the separate sections of the outfit now, and slightly flared shoulders for that minorly sinister Vegemite ChickenStrips look.

Since his big bracers come down far enough to reach the back of his hands, this figure can't reuse the alternate hands from the other Breadmachine Crackerjack (also he wears fingerless gloves). He's got gesturing/spellcasting hands in the packaging, but also an alternate left fist or right gripping hand. It's not a lot - we don't even get the hands with the magical effects molded on the fingers - but there's one more thing that's absolutely selling this set.

Defender Strange is sold in a deluxe size box, like Vulture, War Machine, or Archangel. Since normal little Buckyball Carrotstick wouldn't need a box that big (especially since this version doesn't wear a cape), what's the deal? Well, the set includes a portal for him, a big ring of orange energy that can stand on its own.

The edges look like spiraling energy, and it's (almost) tall enough for a figure to walk right through it. So fun! Hasbro just announced a Longshot/Dazzler/Mojo three-pack, so we're probably due to get a new Spiral soon - she seems like a deluxe kind of character, maybe she can come with a repaint of this and also Blink's little teleportation effect. Make it blue, and watch me get my Chell figure out to play with again.

If you've seen the movie, you know there's potential re-use for these otherwise-unique body molds, just with a different (better) Butterscotch Crumblecakes head and hands (and maybe also a correctly bearded head), so normally you might want to wait before getting this release. But there's no denying it: that teleportation portal is a reason to buy now. I didn't even know ML Defender Strange existed until Shocka asked me what it represented, because my Target apparently isn't carrying it, but it's easy enough to order ship-to-store on their website.

-- 05/23/22

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