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The Collector & Grandmaster

Marvel Legends
by yo go re

The Elders of the Universe are each the last member of their alien race, staving off extinction through sheer force of will: as long as they follow their obsession, their lifespan is potentially immortal. There are more than a dozen of them, and two have actually made it into the MCU.

Taneleer Tivan, the Collector, is obsessed with collecting objects from across the galaxy. He adds to his collection by any means necessary, not above resorting to immoral or illegal dealings. As part of his acquisitions, the Collector came into possession of several Infinity Stones, making his collection a target for those who would seek their power.

The Collector (not that one) debuted in 1966's Avengers #28, coming to Earth to "collect" the Avengers. That's been his modus operandi ever since: pop up in some random issue looking to kidnap/imprison the star, get defeated and return to obscurity after. James Gunn deciding to include him in the original Guardians of the Galaxy did wonders for him, though, raising his profile to a place where people might actually recognize him when he shows up in a story now.

Although his true appearance is a weird pink alien with long green spikes sticking out of his head, Collector most often chooses to look like an elderly human, sort of a cross between Beethoven and Granny Goodness. He was played in the films by Benicio del Toro, who wore a puffy white wig and dark eyeliner to duplicate the comics' look. This toy comes with two heads: one plain (with a better Benicio likeness than DJ had), the other wearing his weird goggles.

Movieverse Collector dresses a lot more flamboyantly than comicverse Collector does, with a black and maroon jacket that has a beaded double-chain hanging over the stomach. His pants are plain black, as are his shoes, but he wears a black and white fur cape with a single sleeve, which is a very odd garment. He is, without question, a very fancy man (especially when you consider he lives inside the decapitated head of a giant space-monster). The legs come from an existing source, but no one will be looking that closely, since the lower body is the least interesting part of the costume.

Collector only has one accessory, which is a bad choice. It's the Orb from the first GotG, meaning we've seen it before. Nothing wrong with that, especially, but it presents a big missed opportunity: the only Infinity Stone we don't have in any form yet is Thor: The Dark World's Aether, which made its way to Taneleer's collection before the Orb did, and stayed there after. So sure, give him the Orb if you want (even if he can't hold it well), but also give us the Aether containment unit Sif and Volstagg brought to him for safe keeping. Just a little black-and-gold box with a handle and a red stripe around the middle, and you're done.

The ruler of Sakaar and administrator of the Contest of Champions, the Grandmaster is an ancient and powerful man. If anyone dares to cross him, the Grandmaster takes swift and merciless justice, using his Melt Stick to reduce a victim to a puddle of organic matter.

Grandmaster has already had one action figure, because Minimates rock, but now we've got a 6" scale Jeff Goldblum. Grandmaster appeared three years after Collector, in Avengers #69. Since the comic version is the one responsible for the formation of the Squadron Sinister, it'd be hilarious to see Marvel Studios use that idea, and hire all those DCEU actors whose movies keep getting back-burnered: Henry Cavill as Hyperion, Ben Affleck as Nighthawk, Ezra Miller as Whizzer, and, uh, Ryan Reynolds as Dr. Spectrum. It'd be fun!

In the comics, Grandmaster is a blue-skinned guy with white Wolverine hair; in the movies, he's Jeff Goldblum with a blue stripe on his chin. They could easily have made him blue (Gamora and Nebula look perfectly fine with colored skin, after all), but allegedly opted not to because Goldblum had played a blue alien in 1988's Earth Girls Are Easy. Yeah, looking at that old makeup? Nobody would have confused the two.

His proper colorscheme is at least reflected in his attire: like the comic Grandmaster, he wears a golden robe with a red sash, but beneath that is a blue shirt. Like the Collector, he has asymmetrical sleeves - that must be the height of fashion among Elders of the MCU. He also gets the suit pants, but he's wearing golden sandals instead of shoes. They've also remembered to paint his fingernails, which is more than can be said for the Collector. The long robe limits his legs, but it's molded from PVC flexible enough that you can at least do a little.

The figure comes with two accessories: first is his Melt Stick, which gets severely bent to the side by its time in the packaging. You can get that with the other Grandmaster two-pack as well, so it's not very special. His second accessory, however, is a metallic blue puddle of bubbles, the goo he melted his cousin Carlo into. It's just a single solid piece, but it's a cool thing to include. And technically it counts as another character.

The packaging for this exclusive is a large cylinder, with the figures in their own compartments on opposite sides. Velcro tabs hold it shut, but you can release those to unfold it and display them next to each other. The box itself is black with red circuit board detailing, and the backdrops behind each character represent a scene where they would be found, and each has a piece of cardboard popped out in front of that with something that would be there with them: the Collector is in his lair, with Cosmo the Dog in his cell; and the Grandmaster gets a part of his palace, with the big chair Thor was strapped into.

Who knows if Marvel will eventually introduce more of the Elders of the Universe to the movies. Collector and Grandmaster seem like obvious choices now, but there was a time when bringing them in seemed like a wild gamble. Maybe someday we'll be saying the same thing about The Runner and The Gardener. Word is likeness negotiations with Del Toro are the reason he's only available in this exclusive set, rather than a retail pack, so don't expect him to show up anywhere else.

-- 09/02/19

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