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X-Men Legends
by yo go re

Hold onto your butt, chere, you 'bout to get learned!

Remy LeBeau is an ex-thief from New Orleans with the mutant ability to convert energy and cause objects to explode.

Chris Claremont had specific plans in mind when he introduced Gambit, but he left the book before they could come to fruition. In the story we eventually got, Mr. Sinister simply hired Gambit to work for him; but Claremont's idea was much more complex, and harkened back to the original plan for Sinister: as you surely recall, "Mr. Sinister" would initially have been the evil Shazam to "Nate's" mutant Billy Batson; while observing the X-Men, he would have become infatuated with Rogue but, recognizing that being stuck in an unaging child's body meant he could never be with her, would get around that problem by creating a cloned version of himself as an adult - Gambit. Gambit would have been sent to join the X-Men, break up the team, and bring Rogue back with him, but falling in love with her would have awoken a humanity in him, so basically Nate's good side would have gotten into conflict with his evil side.

ToyBiz made two 6"-scale Gambits: the first was in Marvel Legends 4, while the second came in the X-Men Classics line and featured an electronic backpack accessory. They both got re-releases, too. Hasbro offered a Gambit as a choice in a fan poll, but that one was wearing the blue-and-yellow X-team uniform and was designed using reused ToyBiz parts. This, however, is mostly new. The coat (including the arms) is the same Madrox used, but the rest of him is new: his segmented boots, his leggings with the molded blocks on the sides, and his shirt with the metallic edge and collar. All of that, all new, not just paint.

And, of course, the head. That goofy topless head-sock thing was common enough in early '90s comicbook design, but it's not like they could have repainted Cyclops or anything. Gambit has eyes. And stupid hair that sticks up to one side in a manner most improbable. His headgear accentuates his cheekbones, and he's been painted with some stylish stubble. They probably should have done the hair differently, though: as a drawing, it was easy to make it point in whatever direction he was facing, but as a toy, it can only point one way. Maybe they should have made it point forward? Or maybe backward? ToyBiz gave him a part in the center, but still had it sticking out all over, and that seemed to work okay.

The figure's paint is quite appropriate, with a dark brown for the coat, and metallic pink and blue for the details on his suit. (In case you're wondering, the pink part in the comics is more like a vest than a shirt, with the black sleeves of his bodysuit having the same kind of pink blocks that the pants have. The more you know!) His gloves only cover the middle two fingers, and the paint edges there are nice and crisp. As mentioned, they painted his stubble, and also got his black-and-red eyes, which were also a tie-in to Claremont's intent for the character.

If you look back at Gambit's first appearance, you'll notice something: while he still charges objects up to make them explode, it isn't something that just happens - the effect comes from his eyes. Basically, in creating the clone to infiltrate the X-Men, Mr. Sinister would have mixed in some of Scott Summers' DNA, and that's where Gambit's powers would have come from. The eye thing eventually got dropped, so later writers never made the connection. This figure comes with two translucent pink accessories to show off his powers: one, a single playing card with energy crackling up off it that can be held between the two extended fingers on his left hand; and the other, an alternate hand with a dynamic swipe of energy and three cards being thrown. Which one you'll want to use depends on whether you want him to look reserved or aggressive. He's also got his metal staff, which is a nicely sturdy piece of plastic for once.

Gambit moves at the head, neck, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists, chest, waist, hips, thighs, knees, shin, and ankles. You know, all the normal ML stuff. The swivel/hinge elbows have the same range of motion as the swivels in the biceps, so those weren't both necessary, and on the figure I got (via Hasbro Pulse preorder), there are a few loose joints: the right shin swivel turns more freely than it should on its own, the knees feel minorly gummy, and the head is a tad loose. It's not problematic, just not as spot-on as we usually get from these lines.

Gambit does not come with a piece of this series' Caliban BAF, which is probably why they could afford so many new parts for him.

Although Chris Claremont's ideas for Gambit were dropped when he stopped writing X-Men, a few similarities and echoes did find their way in. And eventually, Chris got to pull a Roger Stern, telling (a little bit) of the story he'd originally intended. In X-Men: The End, Mr. Sinister reveals that he'd cloned Gambit as a mix of himself and Cyclops, though obviously the whole "Sinister was just the shape-shifted persona of a bratty child" thing couldn't be worked in as easily, and had to be dropped. So it wasn't a perfect reveal, but the bones were there. Of course, if you get this figure, you can make his story be whatever dang thing you feel like.

-- 05/29/19

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