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Doctor Strange

Marvel Universe
by yo go re

Toy collectors can be super picky, in weird ways. We want to own the best available product, no matter what - which isn't itself odd in the slightest, but sometimes that leads to weird decisions.

Doctor Strange is one of the most accomplished masters of the mystic arts in existence and an inspiration to armchair sorcerers across muliple worlds. His ability to execute seemingly impossible spells and teleportations is legendary. Mystical artifacts like the red cloak of levitation and the eye of Agamotto only enhance the mystical ability and legend of Doctor Strange.

You remember the asinine way Hasbro handled the Marvel Universe variants - if you missed the first wave, you were screwed forever. And yet the subject of today's review, despite being a variant, hung around my Target for the better part of a week. Why? Because the employee who opened the case scratched the back of the card with their box cutter. Does that ruin the toy inside? Of course not! Not unless you're a crazy person. Hell, that's what "Nerd Layaway" is all about. And yet because of an errant slice, I got an MU chase variant of an already-hard-to-find character for retail!

The normal Dr. Strange was, well, normal. He wore what Dr. Strange always wears - black pants, blue shirt, yellow belt and gloves, and, of course, his giant red cape. And that was nice, but this is better. Why is it better? Because it's cast entirely from semi-translucent plastic, then given a coating of iridescent paint - this figure represents Dr. Strange's astral form, and that's cool!

There has been an Astral Form Dr. Strange before, in ToyBiz's 1999 Dark Side line - it was a solid white repaint with some blue shadows painted on, which really doesn't compare to "clear and pearlescent" when it comes to portraying a ghost. The sculpt of the variant is identical to the standard release, as you'd expect, and most of it is new; Dr. Strange wears looser clothes than most superheroes, so it wasn't just a question of repainting a Spider-Man or something. The legs may be reused, but the torso, arms, and hands are unique to Steve. Oh, and the head, duh. His shirt has distinct wrinkles, while his sleeves are large and billowy. His hands are sculpted in the "I love you" pose. Because he loves you.

The skirt and belt are separate pieces, as is the cape. The edges of the cape - everything that would be painted gold on the normal version - are fully sculpted with their own pattern, which means they're easily recognizable even in this monochromatic release. Well, nearly monochromatic; there are two silver apps to create detail: on Dr. Strange's eyes, and in the center of the Eye of Agamotto. Hasbro committed to this variant so hard, they even molded Dr. Strange's display stand from the same clear plastic! His identifying information is printed in gold.

Strange has a balljointed head, hinged neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, hinge elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, a balljointed torso, swivel waist, balljointed hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, and swivel/hinge ankles. One feature present on the previous Astral Dr. Strange was that his cape came down lower than his feet, and you could use it to make him hover. The best we can manage here is that the holes in his feet are a little too shallow for the pegs on his display stand, so they don't quite reach the ground.

Of all the figures in Dr. Strange's wave, the only one that approached anything like ready availability was Falcon. The other four (Strange, Scarlet Spider, Dr. Doom and Skarr) were never plentiful; you might have seen them once, and then they were gone. So the fact that I not only managed to find a Dr. Strange - and that it was the variant, no less - is quite impressive. And to think, it was only because nerds are picky about their packaging.

-- 03/23/15


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