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Professor X

Marvel Ultimate Legends
by yo go re

Professor Charles Xavier, better known as Professor X, is a highly gifted telepath and scientific genius who develops the Cerebro device to aid in the ability to control and manipulate psionic abilities.

Did anyone else think that sentence was going to end with "his students"? And is Xavier really a scientific genius in his own right, or is he just picking the information he needs out of smarter people's brains? Be generous, and say he does it subconsciously. Honestly, when was the last time you saw him doing anything remotely scientific? Forge builds anything they need, Beast does all the genetics research, his girlfriend gave him the Danger Room tech... so what, exactly, does Chuck do except take credit for everything? Wait; is Charles Xavier the Marvel Universe's equivalent of Elon Musk?

Being a guy who wears a suit, Professor X is wearing a suit - the older one, without any of the changes that were introduced with Nick Fury. Not that he needs increased ankle articulation to sit in his chair, after all. The suit is dark green and he's wearing a blue and black striped tie, which is a very specific choice. No joke! The color combination joins the logo on the front of the box and David Nakayama's art on the sides in marking this toy as being based not directly on the comics, but more on the animated series.

Professor X's new parts are limited to his hands - one open in a dramatic gesture, the other doing that "two fingers pointing at my own brain" thing that shows he's concentrating - and of course his head. It's not like they could just repaint Eel's head and call it a day, right? He's got a stern and slightly disapproving look, and those weird Spock eyebrows of his are sculpted on.

The figure gets an accessory. The same accessory ToyBiz gave their Professor X: a Cerebro helmet. It's not the exact same accessory (something we shouldn't need to clarify, but some folks got confused by a similar statement about Namor's trident), just the same item. For one thing, ToyBiz's take on the idea didn't have a hole in the back that allowed you to plug in a big semi-translucent cloud of "mental powers" effect. That's right, that thing's removable. Unexpected!

Now, the chair.

Xavier originally lost the use of his legs when a giant stone block was dropped on them. Later the Shi'ar put his mind in a cloned body, allowing him to walk again... until a fight with the Shadow King left him broken once again. This time they didn't give him a new body (probably recognizing that he'd just ruin it again) and instead gave him a hovering wheelchair. He'd used one before, way back during the original Phoenix Saga, but it didn't look anything like this.

This is the Jim Lee X-Men #1 design, with the smooth yellow body above a black ball. Like the Marvel Universe figure, the chair is packaged in two halves that require assembly after you open the box. But this time you also have to assemble the pads on the seat - making them separate pieces helps hide the seam between the halves. Unfortunately, constructing it this way means the hatch that covers his legs and would allow him to get himself in and out of the chair doesn't open; only the Minimate gets that right.

There's plenty of pleasant sculptural detailing on the chair, from large shapes that look like they would just be design elements to tiny grey panels that probably provide technological or mechanical access. The armrests both slide open, revealing equipment inside - no, not guns, like ToyBiz's had, but a keyboard and trackball on the left side, and a screen and some switches on the right.

The set also includes a blanket to go over Professor X's legs, and a stand to make the chair hover. Specifically, to make it hover too high. Look at any image from the comics (or even the cartoon) and you'll see that his chair was generally chair-height; yet every time Hasbro makes one, they insist on having it lift him up to everyone's eye level. Above it, in this case! Charles Xavier has the most powerful mind on the planet - he's not self-conscious about his height. Fortunately, the "hover blast" piece is removable, so you can drop him down to a more appropriate size if you want.

Another flaw that's been carried forward from the 4" figure is the amount of dead space within the chair itself. Chuck's feet end up dangling, which means the figure wants to slip down into the chair farther than it should. Pro-tip: you can store the Cerebro helmet in there, using it to fill up the empty room down by the feet and helping the Professor sit up properly.

If that were all we got, this set would already be excellent. But it's not! Just like when Kitty Pryde came with a head to turn Red Onslaught into real Onslaught, Professor X comes with a head to turn Humongous Chungus into the Shadow King! And if you don't want to do that, well, you can store the extra BAF head inside the hoverchair too.

It's no surprise that between Professor X and Deadpool, this set is the faster seller. Xavier isn't as heavily saturated as Wade is right now, and lots of fans have been waiting years to put Charles and the chair he uses into their collections. It does have some flaws, which feel like a result of only sculpting digitally and not pausing at any point to consider it as an actual physical object. But don't let that scare you away - someone needs to lead your X-Men figures!

-- 05/06/19

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