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Marvel Universe
by yo go re

When Hasbro announced the Marvel Universe line, there was much fanboy complaining. You know how they do. But of course, the line's been a huge success in every way that Mattel's DC Infinite Heroes hasn't. The line is doing a really good job of plumbing the depths of the Marvel Universe, mixing the popular, recognizable characters with the fan-favorites.

Ambitious millionaire Roderick Kingsley reached the top of the fashion game through criminal tactics and underhanded deals. Even in his lofty position, though, he hungered for more. When he stumbled upon a secret lab belonging to the Green Goblin, his route to power was revealed, and he became the Hobgoblin. Determined to run organized crime in New York, he set his sights on Spider-Man and the Kingpin, aiming to destroy both men in his quest.

Honestly, when was the last time Hobgoblin showed up? A decade ago, maybe? Well before Norman Osborn was outed as Green Goblin, that's for sure. Kingsley's just been living it up on some tropical island since then. In other words, not exactly a character who's on everyone's lips. The Marvel Universe line seems to be flirting with re-creating Mattel's Secret Wars toys (much like DC Universe is all about recreating Kenner's Super Powers), so maybe the fact that Hobby had a toy in that line is why he has a new one now.

Appropriately, Hobgoblin is built on a recycled Green Goblin body. He stands an even 4" tall, and moves at the neck, shoulders, biceps, wrists, torso, hips, knees and ankles. The orange bits of his costume are wrinkled and ragged, while the blue is that diamond-shaped scale mail armor. He has a knee-length cape that flares out behind him, completing the ensemble - that's a new piece, since GG didn't wear anything so silly. It's hard to believe the guy who designed this suit was a fashion powerhouse in his civilian life. There's a wash on the boots and gloves, but what you'll really want to watch out for are the pale highlights on the dark blue; they can get too heavy.

Hobgoblin's head is new, as well. He's never had the pointy ears of Green Goblin, but he makes up for that shortcoming by virtue of his lumpy, lumpy eyebrows. His eyes are different sizes, as they were often drawn, and while Norman's alter ego was all about a big, toothy grin, Rod went with smaller fangs. His long, trailing hood is a sculpted part of the head, which has one immediate drawback: the forehead and the front of the hood seem to be even, rather than layered.

The accessories are just what you'd expect: other than the cape, he has a pumpkin bomb, his goblin glider, and his manpurse, all reused from Green Goblin. That's fine, it's in-character. The pumpkin bomb has been painted a metallic green, to set it apart, and there's a small peg on the bottom that fits into a hole in his left palm. The manpurse fits under the cape, and though there aren't any footpegs on the glider, there are bars that go over the tops of his feet and hold him on securely.

Of course, he also includes his "paper accessories," the envelope full of goodies. The memo is from Lynne Janke in SHIELD's Recruiting department, explaining why hiring Hobgoblin to design new SHIELD uniforms would be a bad idea. There's a code you can enter on Hasbro's site to unlock another story, and an inexplicable SHRA card with art by Frank Cho. Enjoy that while it lasts, by the way: sometime soon the Cho art on the cards and packaging is going to be replaced by the significantly less-impressive Mike Deodato Jr.

Hobgoblin was a fairly unlikely choice for Marvel Universe, even if he is just a hopped-up Green Goblin repaint. But the fact that he was made - and made so very well - is just one more bit of proof that everything Mattel does wrong, Hasbro finds a way to do right. Infinite Heroes are terrible, poorly made toys, that won't even sell when they're on deep, deep clearance. Hobgoblin, meanwhile, is the 30th individual figure in the Marvel Universe line (to say nothing of the related Iron Man and Wolverine lines) and right now, you'll still be lucky to see him on shelves. There are a few problems with the figure, but they're minor. If you can find Hobgoblin, get him.

-- 10/19/09

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