If you listen to fan feedback, the biggest problem with ToyBiz's Marvel lines these days is a simple one: there aren't enough Wolverines! You'd think they would have at least made one by now. I mean, the guy's starting to get slightly popular.
Wolverine, the feistiest member of the X-Men, is gifted with heightened, animal-keen senses and a genetically accelerated healing factor that quickly mends any wound. However his most powerful weapons are his razor-sharp, extendible claws. With all these abilities at his disposal, Wolverine strives to make the co-existence between humans and mutants a reality!
Though there's nothing anywhere on the package to say it, this figure is quite obviously based on Logan's apperance in the recent Marvel uber-crossover "House of M." After slowly going crazy and killing the Avengers, Scarlet Witch used her reality-altering abilities (at her brother's suggestion) to rewrite history and create a new world in which mutants were a fully accepted segment of society. In this new reality, Wolverine wasn't a raging loner with a boner for another man's wife: he was a full-fledged agent of SHIELD, using his years of covert ops training and experience as a member of the world's premiere spy agency. And he was dating Mystique, so if he did want another woman, well, she could deliver.
In the House of M, SHIELD agents don't wear the plain blue and white bodysuits we see in the main universe; they're now wearing more ornate uniforms, the sort of thing you'd expect to see on the ceremonial troops guarding a royal palace rather than on any functioning soldiers. The suit looks to be made of leather or some other thick material, with plenty of straps and pouches all around. There are large buttons holding the front flap closed across the chest, and epaulettes attached to the jacket's collar.
The face is nice, giving Logan - or James Howlett, since he knew his real name in the HoM world - a grumpy look and even some sculpted stubble. Oddly, his left ear has a bit of a hole in it, as if ToyBiz was planning to give him some sort of earpiece that was dropped, later. It's not distracting, and you probably won't even notice it unless someone points it out. Like we just did. Oh. Hmm. Your honor, I'd like that last paragraph striken from the record!
The uniform is mostly a deep navy blue, but it's accented by red and gold, with an unmistakeable white panel running down the front. The boots are these crazy layered things that run all the way up to the knees, but only on the front - they're fastened in the back by red straps. Overall, this is a nicely designed uniform, and it's duplicated well on this figure. You'll probably have to look through a few of them before you find a satisfactory paint job, but there isn't really any one problem area - you're just looking for crisp edges and no spill. Even finding a figure with straight claws is surprisingly easy, this time around.
Articulation is at the Marvel Legends level you expect from any good toys these days, and Wolverine doesn't have any action features to get in its way. He moves at the neck, shoulders (lateral slides and balljoints), biceps, elbows, gloves, wrists, fingers, torso, waist, hips, thighs, knees, ankles and toes. The weird boot things can impede the ankle movement, but not by the way they're designed - it's just that, in gluing the things on, the ankles can get stuck. His right arm is also put together strangely. With all the joints straight, it looks like he's disloacted his elbow.
Other than that, Air Strike Wolverine's biggest flaw is that he's got a "big" flaw: namely, he's way too tall. ML12 Wolverine is the right size - about 5 1/2" - while this monster is 6 5/8". Since all the House of M SHIELD Agents wore this same suit, you could probably lop off Logan's claws and turn him into a Sebastian Shaw or something fairly easily, but a Wolverine should not be this big.
Logan works for the Red Guard, a group tasked with hunting down terrorists and superhuman threats. To that end, he's got a few SHIELD-approved accessories. First up is the one item that any highly-trained, invincible assassin with knives growing out of his skin needs: a gun. Two of them, in fact. If you do decide to customize this into something else, at least the guns look nice. Wolverine has pegs in his palms to make sure that the weapons stay put.
For the "Air Strike" part of his name,
Wolverine has a big winged jetpack. Yellow straps wrap around Logan's chest to hold him securely in place as he flies, and the wings pop open with the push of a button. The pack fires a missile, too. The design is nice and appropriately simple - this looks like an advancement of real aerodynamic technology, not some crazy lump of wires. There are even a pair of nicely detailed turbines to provide lift. This is an excellent accessory.
If not for his size problem, Air Strike Wolverine might have been a Toy of the Year contender - nice design, nice sculpt, plentiful articulation and a decent selection of gear... but when one of your character's defining traits is that he's a sawed-off runt, making him a foot too tall (in scale, of course) is a problem. You should still feel safe picking this one up, though; it really is a nice toy, and the first of several House of M products ToyBiz will be releasing soon. After all, you don't want to get hooked on the rest, then have to go back and try to find this one later.
Was "House of M" more "Age of Apocalypse" or more "Onslaught/Heroes Reborn?" Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.