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Cyclops & Dark Phoenix

X-Men Legends
by yo go re

Though Scott Summers and Jean Grey shared a psychic link, Cyclops was no match for the Dark Phoenix. As Grey came to possess the power of the Phoenix Force, the Dark Phoenix rose, mastering telekinesis to overthrow her opposition and ascend to cosmic dominance.

So, a while back when I suggested the X-Men Legends 3 Cyclops should have come with an alternate head to create his classic look, I honestly had no idea this figure was coming. Otherwise I never would have suggested it, duh. But hey, choosing to release this as its own figure worked out for the best, because they found a clever way to do it.

As you'd expect, the figure uses the medium body sculpt - if it was good enough for the previous four Cyclopes, it's good enough for the fifth. He has the pirate boots, but weirdly, not the gloves - those are just painted on. His belt is separate, though. But what really sets this figure apart is the paint: Cyke isn't painted like a normal action figure; rather, taking a cue from NECA's cartoon Turtles, he's got big blocks of color meant to represent the way comics were colored back then. It's easy to overlook the stylization under normal light, meaning this figure walks a very fine line.

Surprisingly, the head is a new mold. You may have thought they'd just use the head left over from the All-New X-Men set, but no: Hasbro spent the money to make a new one. The expression is still totally boring - no "crying because Phoenix is dead" face for him - but the mask he wore at the time had discs over the ears, and none of the previous ones had them molded on.

But enough about Captain Stick-in-the-Mud, let's talk about the mud he sticks it in. Wait, that doesn't sound right. Cyclops comes with Phoenix, or as she's known on the packaging, "Marvel's Dark Phoenix." You know, so as not to confuse her with all those other Dark Phoenices out there. For instance, Dark Phoenix, Arizona, the shadow city that's buried exactly 3/7ths of a mile below regular Phoenix, AZ. What they save on air conditioning they spend on lightbulbs!

Since the only difference between Light Phoenix and Dark Phoenix in the comics was the color of her costume, this figure mostly uses the same molds as the Series 2 figure - same torso, same arms, same sash borrowed from Carol Danvers... and yet of all things, new feet. Why new feet? Phoenix was wearing wedge heels, while Dark Phoenix is wearing flats. I guess the message here is that a woman wanting to be comfortable is a sign of mental instability and burgeoning evil that may or may not lead inexorably to cosmic-scale genocide? All this and more in this month's Cosmo! The chest is different, with a separation between the breasts rather than smooth cloth, and her thighs are a larger mold. Plus, while the fingers on her left hand are spread the same way, the pose is flatter.

The Phoenix costume is one of the best ever designed for comics. It hits a lot of the same notes as Dave Cockrum's Ms. Marvel design (thigh-high boots, opera gloves, sash belt), but by covering up the arms and legs, it manages to not look like she's wearing a swimsuit. The Dark Phoenix costume is mostly the same, but it's not simply a palette swap: the symbol on her chest is larger, and it no longer has a black border around it; the comics allowed it stand out by casting her in heavy shadow, something that toys (other than the Minimates) can't do, meaning that they never looked quite right. This one, however, with its semi-comic-inspired coloring, actually makes an effort at doing it right. Her shadows aren't fully black, like they were in the comics, but it's definitely darker around the symbol than away from it, and that makes her the best-looking Dark Phoenix toy yet. And unlike ToyBiz's version, the yellow isn't drastically different than it was on Light Phoenix.

Dark Phoenix's head is entirely new, which is exciting. You'll recall that last time, Phoenix re-used Jean Grey's hair and remolded that head to remove the face-frame. This one has a wicked grin on her dark lips, and her eyes are orange with yellow pupils - fiery! On top of that, her hair is billowing out around her, suggesting the waves of power coming off her, and it's molded from translucent orange plastic which is then given solid auburn apps that leave only the outer fringes clear, again suggesting fire! This is amazingly great! So great, in fact, that it makes us mad at the head on the old toy.

Oh wait, Hasbro took care of that, too. The set includes a second copy of this amazing head, without the semi-translucent hair and with normal colors on her eyes and mouth. Since Dark Phoenix never really looked "normal" while she was, you know, dark, and since the body is shared between the two figures, you can give this head to Normal Phoenix to show her powered up.

And we're still not done! At times when Phoenix isn't fully powered-up, her hair wouldn't be blowing in the imaginary wind, now would it? To that end, the set includes a third head for her, with the hair hanging straight down and without the giant smile. And hey, if you were one of the people who were unhappy with the head on the recent Mary Jane Watson figure, you could give this head to her. It's definitely more sultry than her own. Anyway, the point is, when you think of "Cyclops and Dark Phoenix," Hasbro wants you to think "head."

And we're still still not done! Dark Phoenix gets a legit accessory to show off her powers. They couldn't give her a complete flame base, but they did make a little fire bird that wraps its tail around her arm and rests in her palm. It's made from the same translucent orange plastic as the hair, but it doesn't have any paint, so it looks as though it's just a shape of fire. It's a little tough to find a place where the bird will stay in her hand, rather than falling off to the side, but she looks terrific with it, so we're glad they included it.

This set didn't seem like it would be very interesting. Cyclops in his most boring costume and a repaint of a figure that's still on pegs? Oh yeah, sign us up for that, right?! But the unusual choice to do retro-style paint on the figures, plus all the head you'll be getting from for Jean, and the fun little bird? This set is a ton better than it seemed it would be. Sadly, it continues the trend of the Toys Я Us two-packs in being exceedingly hard to find. Good hunting!

-- 09/11/17


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