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High Evolutionary

Fantastic Four Retro Collection
by yo go re

This guy spends all his free time making humanoid animals - you can't convince us he's not secretly a furry.

With a highly advanced intelligence and a cybernetic exoskeleton, the High Evolutionary challenges the Fantastic Four.

Well, he does, but also... no? The High Evolutionary isn't a "Fantastic Four" enemy the way Psycho-Man or the Super Skrull are "Fantastic Four" enemies. He's sort of an "Avenger" villain, but also not that. He first appeared as a foe for Thor, but he's really more of a "everyone" villain, used for giant stories and crossovers in the annuals, rather than focussing his attention on any single hero or group. Originally the human scientist Herbert Wyndham, he exposed himself to his own genetic accelerator, meant to evolve any living thing. It worked, enhancing his mind to fantastic levels and setting him on a path of enhancing mankind's genetic destiny.

The High Evolutionary did not appear in the 1990s Fantastic Four animated line that inspired this Marvel Legends Retro Collection series - he's hardly alone in that (neither Tigra nor Sandman had toys in the lines they're supposedly "from," nor will the figure we review on Thursday), but there's never been a High Evolutionary action figure of any sort from any company before. Brand newness!

Getting your first representation as an action figure is no guarantee of getting your own new molds, but the High Evolutionary does. His armor, which can repair itself and rebuild his body from just a pile of Hulk-stomped mush, is too unique to share with anyone else. Yes, we've seen characters with segmented metal arms and legs like this before, but they're usually much larger, while H.E. is the size of a normal human being (at least as this toy, he is). And while there are definitely characters with similar shoulder flares, nobody else has rivets running all around them like this. His boots and gloves are fairly plain, and his belt and loincloth are molded as one.

The Evolutionary's typical colorscheme is magenta and silver - like, literally silver: the reason he started wearing the armor at all was because Wundagore Mountain had a werewolf problem. The pink parts of his costume are a decent shade, though a bit toyish and plasticky (shades of the old DCU Classics Red Tornado), but the silver parts are a metallic light blue shade. Too much tint, there! His yellow eyes stand out nicely, but since he's not gritting his teeth the way the drawing of him on the front of the package is, we don't get any white to break up the face.

The figure doesn't come with any accessories (since the equipment he uses is generally the size of an entire room, not hand-held), but you do get your choice of fists or hands that are open and gesturing. Other than that, his only draws are articulation and the fact he's never been made before. Most of the joints are what you know to expect from a Marvel Legend, though he does get the newer style barbell joint for the neck and a balljointed chest. The hinge part of his shoulder joints is incredibly stiff on both sides, and the peg that goes down into the bicep to allow it to swivel is thin and short, meaning the arm is more likely to pop off than to move the way you want it to.

As a student, Herbert Wyndham was inspired by the pioneering work of Nathaniel Essex. He was involved in giving Jessica Drew her powers, hosted the Scooby-Doo farce that was the birth of Wanda and Pietro Maximoff, helped Jackal perfect his cloniing technology, and has fought Galactus. Not "worked against" Galactus, fought Galactus. He grew real big and the two mixed it up. He also once took away the powers of every mutant on the planet, so really this figure could work in pretty much any kind of Marvel collection at all.

-- 02/15/22

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