When reviewing the David Banner/Absorbing Man figure from the Hulk movie, we commented that the best toy lines always pay attention to the supporting cast, giving us those secondary characters mixed in with the variations of the main hero. This figure is a bit strange, however, because it includes a secondary character who also happens to be the main character.
In a freak accident, Dr. Bruce Banner threw himself into harm's way to save a teenager. During this valor act, Dr. Banner was forever altered. In fits of rage and high anxiety, the extremely brilliant scientist becomes the brutish rampaging monster, The Incredible Hulk. Dr. Banner is now constantly searching to rid himself of his alter ego, all the while trying to stay one step ahead of those that seek to destroy him.
We have never had a full-scale Bruce Banner figure before. After all, he's just a nerd in a labcoat, and who would want that when they could get a giant green monster to smash things? But now we have him, and I have to give ToyBiz all the credit in the world for doing this one right.
Built using the same body as the Deacon Frost figure from the original Blade movie line, Bruce is 5 3/4" tall and moves at the neck, shoulders, wrists, waist, hips, knees and ankles. He looks appropriately scrawny, and the pose makes him look as if he's just starting to lose his temper, as if he's warning his assailants to get away, not to make him angry. They wouldn't like him when he's angry.
On the old Incredible Hulk tv series, Bruce Banner's name was changed to David because studio execs reportedly thought that "Bruce" sounded too gay. What, and "David" is the pinnacle of masculinity? Personally, it makes me think of Monty Python's philosopher sketch more than anything else.
This is Bruce in his traditional outfit: a white lab coat, purple pants and a light gray shirt. It's a good look for him, and it's precisely what we know from the comics. His head is a brand-new sculpt, and while it looks a bit younger than might be expected for a respected and accomplished nuclear scientist and is a bit too small for his body, it's not terribly distracting.
Now, that would be good enough, but ToyBiz did even better: since Banner is a boring secondary character, they didn't package him by himself; they made him an accessory. Bruce comes in the same blister as this series' "plain" figure, Gamma Punch Hulk.
This might very well be the best Hulk figure ToyBiz has produced to date. Well, let's qualify that: the best brutish Hulk figure ToyBiz has released to date. I think Series 1's Smart Hulk may be nicer, but if you want the mindless "HULK SMASH!" version of the character, this is it.
Better than the Marvel Legend, better than any of the movie figures, better than Series 1's Savage Hulk, Gamma Punch Hulk is 7 1/2" of mean green attitude. The figures in this series are all based on the artwork of Arthur Adams, and feature his design work on the back of the packaging, which is a nice touch. Now, I've seen figures that are obviously inspired by a specific artist's work, but if I didn't know these were supposed to be Art Adamses, I wouldn't guess it just from looking.
While Series 1's Savage Hulk was just a larger-scale version of the movie figures (and as such, had all that line's problems), Gamma Punch Hulk is all new. The sculpt is great, giving the character the bulk he's due. His mouth is open in a roar, and overall he just looks incredible.
The articulation is much better here than any previous version, as well. Things have come a long way since ML1, so it's nice to see those advancements included. He moves at the head, neck, shoulders, elbows, forearms, wrists, thumbs, fingers, chest, waist, hips, knees, ankles and toes. Ths joints have a great range of motion, but hold up under the figure's weight well.
The figure's "Gamma Punch" action feature does render some of the articulation unusable. His waist and both shoulders are spring-loaded, so pull back on an arm, release and he'll smash anyone standing in his way.
Hulk hasn't exactly changed costumes a lot over the years - he's very dependable in his shredded purple pants. It's impressive, then, that in only two series of figures we've gotten such a variety of Hulks. There have only been two "standard" versions - one in each set - but we've gotten three "alternate" versions and three villains. In today's market, that's amazing! It would be nice if the Spider-Man line was this creative.
What versions of Hulk would you like to see? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.