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Storm and Thunderbird

X-Men Legends
by yo go re

There are no bios on any of the X-Men Marvel Legends Hasbro is currently flooding out, so for today's review we turn to the 1994 Fleer Ultra X-Men card set to describe our characters.

Professor X travels all the way to Kenya to recruit the powerful descendant of an ancient bloodline of African priestesses. Worshipped as a goddess by local tribes, Storm has the ability to harness any atmospheric phenomenon and command its performance.

Storm gets a new body mold, which seems unnecessary (given the number of different female molds Hasbro has in their parts library) until you realize her costume details are molded on: this is a "first appearance" Storm, wearing her classic Dave Cockrum costume. It's basically a black bikini with the top and bottom held together by a gold ring in the middle - a very 1960s type of fashion. The edges of the suit are sculpted, and the ring, plus the oval cutouts at the top of her thigh-high boots. If the body looks a little slender to you, remember: other than Banshee and Sunfire (and Wolverine, duh), all the new mutants recruited in Giant-Size X-Men #1 were teenagers, not adults, so she still has some growing to do.

Her cape (which Cockrum specifically described as a poncho) is a separate piece that fits over the neck, though it doesn't connect to her wrists at all; remember, the way she "flew" in the comics was by using her cape to catch the wind, like a parachute, so it needed to anchor to her body - something it did at the neck, wrists, and the small of her back.

Here's a fun fact for you: neither the costume nor the cape were originally intended for Storm. The outfit was designed for a mutant who would have been known as Black Cat, but the design was better than the character, so it was moved over to someone who was actually going to make the team; the cape, meanwhile, came from a proposed redesign of Marvel Girl before they decided to make her Phoenix instead. The only thing that was hers to begin with was the headdress/tiara thing.

The toy does get that distinctive crown, molded in place and holing back her giant mane of stark white hair. You'd think that a woman from Kenya might have curly hair, but not according to comics. Of course, very few comics have drawn Storm like a black woman anyway, so straight hair is just one more symptom of that. Her eyes are blank white, missing an opportunity to show her with her blue irises and cat's pupils (a holdover from the Black Cat concept).

It's not like we would have been completely without her white eyes, because this set includes a second head, one with the hair swirling around wildly as she uses her powers. You know, the time when her eyes go white? Yeah. There's also an alternate cape, similarly being blown about by the wind, because the one hanging limply wouldn't have made sense in that context. We get our choice of fists, open hands, or ones with the fingers splayed shooting lightning. Yes, despite the fact her powers don't work that way. Electro shoots lightning. The Emperor shoots lightning. Storm mentally shapes ionized air fields, creating a path of least resistence to make lightning strike where she wants it to. From out of the sky. Not out of her fingers.

One of the second generation of X-Men, Thunderbird was strong and proud. Perhaps a little too proud. Ignoring Professor X's telepathic warnings, he climbed on a plane with the escaping Count Luchino Nefaria. The plane exploded and Thunderbird was killed while the Count escaped with a teleportation device.

Remember in the Warpath review when we said a medium-large body would work well enough to create John Proudstar? Turns out Hasbro thought we were right, because that's exactly what this figure uses. The costume is functionally identical to his younger brother James', a blue suit with a red stripe up the center that turns into a bird symbol on the chest. Like Jimmy, he's got fringe at the tops of his boots and around his biceps, though that all had to be newly molded: the existing ones wouldn't have fit this body. He has Genis-Vell's bracelets, and a new belt to match.

There is a flaw with this figure, though, and it's a hard one to ignore. The head is new, with a great sculpt that shows John's red domino mask, the headband that holds his hair down and has two white feathers hanging down in the back. He's even got a bit of a scowl, fitting his unpleasant personality. All that's fine. The problem is the size. He's like that Quicksilver from last year, where the head has been molded slightly too large for the body. It's almost like they sized it for Warpath. Were they planning to use a larger body than this?

Thunderbird doesn't get any accessories, both because Storm's variety of capes and heads and hands ate up all the room in the packaging, and because he wasn't the type to use anything other than his fists. Though the toy's hands are open wider than that. (And at an early stage, there was consideration of giving Thunderbird some sort of thunder-related powers, as seen in the early Cockrum design art.)

With the release of this two-pack, we technically now have the entire "All-New, All-Different" X-Men team: Storm and Thunderbird, Sunfire, Wolverine, Colossus, Nightcrawler... really, an updated Banshee would be very welcome, but you can't deny that he does in fact currently exist. Throw in Cyclops and find a normal wheelchair for Professor X, and you'll have a full line-up.

-- 12/12/20

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