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Skullbuster

X-Men Legends
by yo go re

Actions have consequences.

An enemy of the X-Men, the cyborg Skullbuster is a member of the villainous gang called the Reavers.

The Reavers were originally just a bunch of half-robot crooks operating out of a suspiciously spacious base out beyond the black stump in Australia. (They were able to be successful crooks from Squatter's Crag thanks to Gateway, the Aboriginal teleporter they forced to work for them.) After the X-Men kicked their butts, they joined up with the former White Bishop of the Hellfire Club, Donald Pierce, and set their sights on revenge against the mutant heroes. All things considered, they'd have been better off sticking with the bank robberies.

While the original gang was large enough to occupy an entire town, only three of them were ever named - including Skullbuster, who's always easily identified by his all-black head with the skull painted on his face. That paint has changed colors over the years: in his first appearance it was red, and in his final appearance it was grey, but in between there were definitely some times when it was white like this toy.

Cleverly, Skullbuster reuses the sculpt from Deathlok: they're both half-cyborg gun nuts, so it works perfectly. The re-use is made less obvious by the inclusion of Skullbuster's Mad Max vest. That's a new piece (as is the string of bullets slung over his shoulder), and it helps hide the tell-tale Deathlok-y elements, such as the hole in the left side of the chest, or the flat panel where the American flag was painted. The vest is molded with various ammo clips and a sheathed knife, and it has mis-matched shoulder pads: spike on the right, a flat disc on the right, which is just how Marc Silvestri drew it.

Skullbuster's colors are as dark and muted as a modern videogame. The only visible skin is on his left arm and his neck, while his clothes are black, brown, and dark green, and his mechanical parts are dingy silver. He's armed with the same pistol Deathlok had, and it's molded in olive drab.

Long before the Reavers were introduced, the X-Men fought the Hellfire Club and Wolverine famously berserker raged the ever-lovin' hell out of the Hellfire Club Guards. The few that survived got cybernetic enhancements, and eventually a trio of them were hired by Yuriko Oyama to help her kill Logan; she got turned into Lady Deathstrike and they got to wear people clothes for the first time - it was a beneficial partnership all around! Anyway, Lady Deathstrike and those ex-Hellfire Guards eventually joined the Reavers under undisclosed circumstance - and so this set includes an alternate head to turn Skullbuster into Murray Reese.

All three Guards wore vests, like Skullbuster, but they went shirtless and their cybernetics were less obtrusive - so this is far from a perfect representation, but it's really the thought that counts, isn't it? Especially in the case of a character who's never had a toy before and is unlikely to ever get one again. The important thing is the head, and that's spot on: all three Guards also wore weird helmets with a clear dome on top and a headset mic. The clear part of the helmet is a separate piece for this toy, glued in place - that allows them to paint his blonde hair and make it look good. And really, if they wanted to repaint this as Reese's buddies, Angelo Macon or Wade Cole, it would probably work pretty well.

The Build-A-Figure for Series 5 is Caliban, and this set includes the right arm.

Skullbuster is a surprising choice for a figure, but he shows how clever Hasbro is about reusing their molds: when Deathlok came out, nobody predicted this would be the end result. Of course, now that we have Skullbuster, we really need a Bonebreaker to go with him. I mean, if Professor X can get into that "Legendary Riders" line with his wheelchair, surely a guy with tank treads instead of legs deserves a place, too? Maybe round it out with a Donald Pierce or a new Lady Deathstrike, or the final named Reaver, Pretty Boy. And then a two-pack with Macon and Cole, so we can have the full team!

-- 05/26/19


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