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Mr. Fantastic

Fantastic Four Retro Collection
by yo go re

What is it about wearing a long coat that instantly makes heroes cooler?

As Mr. Fantastic, Reed Richards utilizes his scientific brilliance and pliable form to make a difference in the world.

Does he, though? He can invent amazing devices every month, but the world never changes. A universal translator that can let every alien in the galaxy talk to one another? Sure, whip that up in an afternoon! Use the same thing here on Earth so humans from different countries can discuss their differences and overcome them to work together? Sorry, no time. Material that never rips, wears out, or gets dirty? Can't have that, it would put the entire fast fashion industry out out business over night! There is a handy excuse, though, and it also helps solve any problems of Marvel's sliding timescale: pretend the Marvel U of "ten years ago" when the story started just happened to look like the 1960s in our world, and Reed has spent his time blazing through more than half a century of scientific advancement so that today our world and the comic world look alike.

This Reed Richards is the most sciency one we've gotten since ToyBiz, because he's wearing a labcoat. (Although how a standard cotton lab coat could possibly provide any more protection than his regular unstable molecules is a mystery to me.) When ToyBiz did that, it was softgoods, but this one is a new mold paired with skinny suit arms. The body under that coat is the same one we've seen on the previous Reeds, but why wouldn't it be? We already know it's his, nobody else uses it, why shouldn't it be used for this figure like it was for the others?

For times you want this science adventurer to be more "adventurer" than "science," the set includes an alternate pair of arms allowing you to remove the coat. It's funny that Hasbro's Labcoat Reed is wearing the same version of the costume ToyBiz's Labcoat Reed wore, the one John Byrne designed for the team. It's also funny that Byrne insisted in the text from the very beginning that the costumes were black and white, when every piece of art for all time has depicted them as dark blue. Oh well, never underestimate John Byrne's ability to ignore what's going on around him. These costumes were introduced in 1983, and lasted (with some changes) until Onslaught showed up in 1996, so it's no surprise they were adapted for the cartoon that inspired the toyline that inspired these toys.

The figure gets the same head as Walgreens Reed, with the smug look and no beard. It doesn't make any effort to look like any specific, real-world person, which is good: as we've all recently learned, sometimes the "ideal" casting fans keep insisting upon may seem bad and wrong-headed when you hear it, but then when you see it in practice, it turns out to be exactly as bad and wrong-headed as it seemed.

(Or to put it in simpler terms, Chidi Anagonye > Jim Halpert.)

Reed's got all the usual articulation - head, neck, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists, chest, waist, hips, thighs, knees, ankles - but the only nod to his stretchy powers are alternate hands with weirdly long fingers. Say what you will about Hasbro's first Mr. Fantastic, it definitely made it clear he wasn't just a regular guy in a blue jumpsuit. What would extending your fingers like this gain you, anyway? Every bit of Reed's body is maleable, but would you expect him to eat by keeping his head still and extending only his teeth down to the plate to take bites? No, so why longer fingers instead of a longer arm? You can swap the hands between the two sets of arms, so he can stretch in the lab or in the field.

It's a shame the Super Skrull series was based around bad FF costumes - you had to buy those to finish the BAF, and now if you're buying these Retro Collection ones because they actually look good, you don't get a BAF at all. I passed on Reed dozens of times at the store - he was one of the figures Target seemed to get solid cases of, for whatever reason, so technically I could pass on him dozens of times in just one trip - then had to go back and try to find him once I managed to get Ben and Johnny. We could use more stretchy parts, but the inclusion of the labcoat is pretty fun. Especially since the shared torso means you can swap it over to either of the last two Reeds, as well.

Human Torch | Invisible Woman | Thing | Mr. Fantastic

-- 06/13/22

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