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Masters of Evil

Marvel Universe
by yo go re

Fueled by a raging need for vengeance against Captain America, Baron Zemo hatches a masterful plan. Not foolish enough to face the Avengers alone, he strategically forms one of the most powerful groups of villains ever assembled. They are the poison to the antidote, the shadow across the face of justice... and they are united for a singular purpose: destroying Earth's Mightiest Heroes. They are the Masters of Evil.

We've had a Radioactive Man figure before, in the Thunderbolts set, but that didn't really tell us who he is. He's Chinese nuclear physicist Chen Lu, who was ordered to find a way to defeat Thor after the God of Thunder stopped China from invading India. Chen exposed himself to tiny doses of radiation until he could endure a massive portion. And because this was 1963 and Stan Lee's grasp of science was looser than Jack Kirby's grasp of contract law, the villain then used radiation to hypnotize Thor. Yeah. And you gotta check out that link to find out how the story ended.

Radioactive Man is a big guy, so this figure uses the same mold as Piledriver of the Wrecking Crew - same body, same boots, same hands... he's just cast in translucent green plastic to show his radioactive nature. The boots are solid green, but that's it. He wears a green rubber smock with a golden star in the center, and is going commando underneath.

Other than his pretty little dress, the only new part of Radioactive Man's sculpt is the head. It has the arched "Spock eyebrows" that were common shorthand for "Chinese" back in the day (the same ones that Charles Xavier had, for some reason). They could have easily just used Drax, Absorbing Man or some other pre-existing bald head, but they didn't. It's hard to tell, but his eyes are painted silver to complete the look.

Next we have Baron Zemo, the leader of the team. Specifically, Helmut Zemo, aka, "not the one who got a Marvel Legend." Maybe. Helmut's the one with the melted face, Heinrich is the one who got a pink Cobra Commander hood glued to his head.

If this is a reused body, we don't recognize it. Well, the legs are the same ones Adam Warlock had, but the upper body has a baggy shirt rather than skin-tight spandex. To complete the look of his traditional costume, Zemo gets a free-floating belt around his waist, two ringlets of fur that nicely hide the swivel joints in his shin, and a neck drap that provides the fur at his shoulders. The furry boot cuffs are just held on by friction, and seem to have been put on upside down (unless the fur is supposed to hang "up"). It's also worth noting that in addition to the standard Marvel U. articulation, Zemo has swivel/hinge wrists, which is an advancement for this line!

The head is unique, as well. All the details are sculpted in: the lines on his mask could have just been paint, but they did us one better. His golden tiara thing is raised just slightly above the surface, and the whole thing is given a dark wash to bring out the details. Like Radioactive Man up above, his eyes are silver, but that's probably because of the mask, not his genes.

Zemo comes with the set's only accessories: a broomhandle Mauser, and a sword. It's nice that we got them, but neither hand is molded tight enough to hold them. It's not even close. You'll either have to scrounge some rubber bands and wrap them around the hands, or boil them undtil they're soft and reshape them yourself.

Tiger Shark gets no respect, but most of that can be attributed to his goofy orange and purple costume: he's actually a pretty scary dude. Todd Arliss was an Olympic swimmer who injured his spine while trying to save a drowning man (not because he cared about the guy, but because he wanted the public acclaim). Desperate to reclaim his swimming ability, he underwent a process that merged his DNA with that of Namor and a tiger shark. It worked, in that he could swim again, but he also grew gills and razor-sharp teeth, and became savagely aggressive. So imagine if Ryan Lochte had the physique of a bodybuilder, the rage and invulnerability of a gang member on PCP, and a grill made of adamantium. Still think Tiger Shark is dumb?

The figure uses the same base body as Cable, though of course he doesn't get a robotic left arm. That's a great choice, since Tiger Shark is a massive brute and this is the largest (non-huge) body they have. Of course, he's now the tallest standard MU figure, thanks to the giant fin on his head.

In the comics, that fin is connected to the rest of his suit, but that won't work on a toy of this sort, so it's only on the head - so if you were worried about him losing neck articulation, fret not! Tiger Shark has a delightfully evil look on his face, with his mouth open super-wide to show off the sharp line sculpted between his fangs. Terrifying!

The Masters of Evil set was Hasbro's slowest seller at SDCC this year, but that's a real shame. All three of these characters are done really well, and the odds of any of them getting a solo release later are pretty low (at least until the Captain America movie sequel comes out and has Zemo as the antagonist). So track this set down and give your 4" Avengers somebody worthy to fight.

-- 08/06/12

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