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Fantastic Four
by yo go re

Before Marvel Comics started publishing superheroes in the '60s (and before they were even Marvel Comics), they were best known for their stories of giant monsters, sort of the four-color equivalent of Godzilla and his foes. That's why the Fantastic Four were mixing it up with a giant beastie on the cover of their very first issue; trying to ease the transition from one genre to the next. Another popular theme in those pre-Spidey days was alien invasion, so in issue 2, the FF met the insidious threat of the Skrulls.

Super-Skrull Being the heroes, the FF managed to defeat the shape-shifters (Reed made them transform into cows, then hypnotized them so they'd forget they were ever anything but), but that wasn't the last we'd hear of the little green men with the funny, funny chins. Just 16 issues later, they unveiled their newest asset: the Super-Skrull, a warrior enhanced with all the powers of the Fantastic Four and more.

We've had a Super-Skrull figure before, back when the Fantastic Four had a cartoon and a toy line to support it. He was good for the time, but things have come a long way since 1995 - that was when McFarlane's influence was just starting to affect the rest of the industry, so this one is a lot better.

Super-Skrull is more than 7" tall, thanks to his big pointy ears. The figure is articulated very well, moving at the toes, ankles, boots, knees, hips, waist, torso, head and shoulders. The Big Five points are balljoints, and the ankles are those combination things that move back and forth and side to side.

skrullcap Super-Skrull's costume is sculpted well, even if there's not much to it. A slight texture runs over his whole body, and the shoulder flares jut up majestically. They did a really good job on his face - a Skrull's defining feature is his large, rippled chin, but it's not like the rest of the guy looks human, either. His silly little Skrullian skullcap is a raised element.

To simulate his powers, Super-Skrull has interchangeable arms - one set normal, one set rocky like the Thing's. The normal arms both move at the elbows, gloves, wrists and fingers, while the powered arms are less mobile. The left arm moves at the elbow (single joint) and the fingers - that's it. The right arm doesn't even get that much, and only moves where it joins the figure's shoulder.

The arms are cast from translucent red plastic, time for punching! to simulate the Human Torch's flame. Beginning about mid-bicep, a craggy texture fades in and the arms are painted orange, like Thing's stony skin. Flames lick across the surface of the stone, reassuring us that the arms are indeed on fire. The left arm is unarticulated because it's the one chosen to show off his ability to stretch. It's not much, just a bit at the bicep, and really could have been done better. The last Super-Skrull had a spring-loaded fist to convey the power, and that probably would have worked here, as well.

What's missing from all this is any indication of Sue's powers. Non-super Skrull In the variant arms we get fire, rocks and stretching, but no invisibility. I'm sure they could have come up with something if they'd really tried, but no, not this time. There is a completely clear variant (as well as one that's cast in translucent orange), but having it in an outside figure kinda defeats the purpose, doesn't it?

The Super-Skrull is packed three to a case, but with two variants, that means each version is only in there once. And even beyond the "villains are hard to find" headache, the Super-Skrull is proving pretty damn elusive. Why's that? Because with the normal arms, this toy is something we've never had before: an absolutely vanilla Skrull! He's a perfect army-builder, so even once you're lucky enough to find him, you might want another. And another. And 50 more after that. ToyBiz could probably ship a case that was just 12 Super-Skrulls and still sell them all. The figure is just that good.

What's your favorite race of Marvel aliens? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.


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