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Sentinel

X-Men Legends
by yo go re

Okay, here we go.

Its body a towering, technological marvel, the Sentinel scans the world for its quarry, a searching light emanating from its chest, its glowing eyes a warning... and a threat. Programmed with only one objective, to destroy all mutant life on Earth, the Sentinel will not hesitate, will not falter, and will never ever stop hunting.

When Hasbro decided to start their "HasLab" crowdfunding site, they kickstarted things with a sail barge for Jabba the Hutt; it reached its goal a bit before the end of the funding period. After that came a new version of Unicron; it was close when the end came, so Hasbro extended the deadline a little and he made it. (The life-size Cookie Monster they were trying to do at the same time, sadly, did not.) Then on July 10th, 2020, came the Marvel Legends Sentinel, which blew through its initial goal in a single weekend, causing Hasbro to scramble to come up with some unlockable stretch goals. By the end, they didn't even have physical prototypes to show, they had to just post digital mock-ups. They had hoped to get 6,000 backers. By the time the campaign closed on August 24th, they had 21,887. And only a year or so later, the final product just got dropped off at our doors.

The box it ships in is unfathomably massive. It's 31" tall, 22½" wide, and 8⅜" deep - and that's just its packaging, not the shipping box that's in, or the second shipping box that's in. The art on the box is designed to match the Series 8 packaging, with the Krakoan text and a massive battle scene that runs around all four sides, showing the X-Men battling various Sentinels. It's beautiful stuff, which is nice since a lot of us will probably be using the box for storage when this monster isn't actively on display.

Inside is a thick styrofoam tray with a clear plastic cover. The figure and accessories are all wrapped up in tissue paper for protection, and thick foam blocks hold the Sentinel in place. It's legitimately fun just to take the toy out of the tray, which isn't something we can often say. This is like unpacking a new computer or something. But enough of that, let's talk toy!

Sentinels have been appearing in the comics since 1965, and have had lots of different designs. This one is inspired by the HoX/PoX crossover, which is a fairly classic look: mostly humanoid, but with shapes that would be right at home on a Transformer, all blocky and angular. The interior of the joints - hips, shoulders, waist, neck - are sculpted to look like thick bundles of cables (with the largest cables on the abdomen actually being separate pieces from the rest), suggesting the connections that would make a robot function, and the outer shell has large panels with seams and vents and all the rest. It's unmistakably a machine, not a metal human.

The head is very much what you think of when you think "Sentinel": the angled faceplate, the square nose, the round "pupils" floating inside dark mechanical sockets, the permanently open mouth with a grille visible inside, and the purple frame holding the entire thing together, with a ridge of bumps around the head just above the eyes, making it look like they're wearing a gigantic metal beanie to keep warm in the winter. The chin is large and protrudes from the face a bit, rather than being a close fit.

If you remove the large plate that covers the Sentinel's entire upper back, you'll get access to a panel you can unscrew to reveal a battery compartment. Go find your TV remote and take the two AAA batteries out of it, and your Sentinel will now have a light-up feature. A sincerely awesome one! The port on the chest acts as the control button: click it, and LEDs inside light up, making it look powerful. Additionally, there are two more LEDs in the balljoint the head fits onto, meaning the eyes will light up as well. (It works best when the Sentinel is looking straight ahead, but it's not awful when the head is turned, either.) Using LEDs gives the feature an ability you wouldn't often see on a toy: the colors shift, rather than being static. There are three combos, which cycle through in order: yellow through pink to sinister red, purple-white to golden yellow, and gold to a bluish teal. The color shift takes five seconds, and the light will turn itself off after 30.

The hands have big air intakes on the back, possibly because the blaster port in the center of the palm needs to be cooled. Can't have the hands melting after only murdering two or three mutants! Those damn things multiply like rabbits! The knuckles in the fingers are sculpted like gears, which does make sense, since they're all points of articulation. All. We were going to save the talk of articulation until later, but might as well cover this part now: there are four joints in each finger. Yes, thumb included. Remember when Spider-Hulk's nine joints seemed like a lot? Each of the fingers has three hinges in the joints, and a swivel at the base; the thumb has two hinges and a swivel, and that swivel is itself mounted on a hinge, which allows it to reach all the way across the palm and touch the pinky. This toy has fully opposable thumbs!! Holy crap! Each fingertip is molded with an inset circle, suggesting more blaster ports (the thumbs on both hands were turned around backwards when I took the toy out of its tray; good thing there's a swivel that could fix that with no effort).

A hole in the center of the palm allows mechanical a tentacle to plug in. The tentacles are bendy, so you can wrap them around your other figures. They're just smooth, segmented tubes that taper to a point at the tip - if not for that, they'd look like Stilt-Man's legs. If you like Sentinels with grabby things coming out of the middle of ther hands, you'll dig these! Presumably! They're 18" apiece, a truly daunting length.

Airplanes fly because they have wings specifically designed to let them do so. Sentinels fly because they have magic booster jets in the bottoms of their feet like Iron Man. The toy's feet are huge, to help support the incredible bulk of an action figure this big - imagine if your own feet were twice the size of your head. The sculpting on the boots is just as detailed as the rest of the body, because it would be weird if it weren't, but the soles take things even further. There are two white pods sunken into each sole, presumably the things that let it fly, and there's a bunch of other tech detailing to keep the rest of the real estate from looking weird. It's all Kirby-style stuff - shapes and rods and circles and whatnot. Nice touch!

The Sentinel stands more than 26¼" tall, making it easily the biggest Marvel Legend released yet. According to the HasLab page, it's made from 260 individual pieces, which we can totally believe - this isn't a normal figure, which would have a lot of solid parts, this is assembled from various separate things. For instance: the plate over the triceps is plugged into the arm, rather than just being molded as part of it. What benefit does that provide? No idea! But that's how it's made. You can also feel that some of the pieces of the shins are attached the same way. Kind of wish you could remove all those exterior bits for a battle-scarred appearance, but it's not like there's any damage sculpted on the parts beneath.

This is a Marvel Legend, so it has articulation. So much articulation. We already talked about the ridiculously articulate fingers, so keep those 40 goddamn joints in mind as we go over all the other movement. There's a balljointed head, swivel neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, double-hinged elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, balljointed chest, hinged abdomen, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, and swivel/hinged ankles, for a grand total of 72 points of articulation. The shoulder armor is that new style Hasbro came up with where the shoulder holds the piece onto the figure, allowing it to turn as the arm turns rather than getting in the way. And so the hands can flex back, the panels that cover the joint are on a slight hinge (on the forearm side), so they can lift out of the way a little. The ball for the neck sits so far into the head's socket that it's really just a swivel with a little bit of wiggle in it, but that's suitable for a giant robot. It's not going to be tilting its head to the side like a dog hearing a strange noise. The joints mostly move smoothly, rather than being ratcheted; are they still going to be holding strong after a few years of having to support the weight of such a gigantic toy?

The Sentinel was planned from the start to come with a bonus figure. No, it's not (Sentinels' creator) Bolivar Trask made on a suit body, it's Bastion, the sensational character find of 1996! Originally introduced as just a normal evil guy, an anti-mutant bigot in charge of Operation: Zero Tolerance, it was several years before the truth came out: Bastion was created when the Sentinel Master Mold absorbed the future Sentinel prototype Nimrod. The X-Men forced it through the portal known as Siege Perilous and Bastion emerged: a human/Sentinel hybrid that eventually became as anti-mutant as the original Sentinels.

A lot of Bastion's parts come from an existing body, but the chest is new. He wears a dark grey bodysuit with a metallic purple triangle over the chest and the top of the shoulders, and three golden rectangles on the left side of the stomach. Those are both sculpted elements, which is why those parts of the body needed to be new. The red triangle right in the center of the chest (a reference to the Nimrod half of his parentage) is sunken low enough to be inside the chest, rather than on top of it.

Like we said, Bastion was originally thought to be a regular human when he was first introduced, with the first clues that something else was up coming later. This figure, however, depicts Bastion when he was fully unmasked, circa the "Second Coming" story: his neck and jaw are techno-organic, his face looks more like a standard Sentinel's, his eyes are red, and his hair is blowing wildly to the side. He also has a long goatee poking off what remains of his chin - was the only reason he retained a bit of skin there so they could still draw the beard? That would be silly.

He also comes with an alternate head, a nameless Prime Sentinel. Prime Sentinels were made by injecting nanobots into human subjects who had been disabled, under the guise of miraculously "curing" them. They then became Operation: Zero Tolerance sleeper agents until they were activated or found themselves in the presence of mutants. This head looks like a scaled-down (and slightly more human) Sentinel head, with the purple cap and face-frame, but still normal human features.

So that's where the HasLab Sentinel was intended to stop. If Hasbro managed to get its 6,000 backers, that is the sum total of the toy we would have gotten. But the extra 15,000 people who wanted one meant that there's more in the box than just that.

The Tier 1 unlock was an alternate head representing the Master Mold. Appearing one issue after the normal Sentinels, the Master Mold is a larger machine that is responsible for building more Sentinels. A Master Mold is much huger than the standard Sentinels it builds (generally as large compared to a normal model as that normal model is to a human), basically being an anthropomorphic factory - the original 1965 Sentinels were small enough that this toy could probably pass for their Master Mold, but not a modern one. This head is about twice the size of the normal version, and has a more complex sculpt: the silver face is closer to human, and the purple "helmet" gets an angular Kirbyesque series of raised lines around the temples and over the top of the dome.

The Tier 2 unlock is a battle-damaged head and hand. The head is the same starting sculpt as the normal one (the magic of digital sculpting), but has been beat all to hell. A section of the jaw is missing, one of the eyes is non-functional and surrounded by scorch marks, there are pockmarks and scratches in the face, eight of the "hat" bumps are bent or dented or otherwise mangled, and there's a massive gash along the scalp that exposes a bunch of the internal wires and machinery. The hand doesn't have any articulation behind the wrist hinge, because three of the fingers have been ripped off at the medial joint, and the thumb tip is torn away as well. Additionally, the blaster in the middle of the palm is cracked, so no using a tentacle here. The incomplete face makes it easier to see the sculpted wires on the inside of the mold, a feature all the heads have and you might never notice unless you really look at them from beneath.

The Tier 3 unlock is a second pack-in figure, and no, it's still not Bolivar Trask. Or Larry Trask. Or Stephen Lang or Donald Trask III or Simon Trask or Robert Callahan or... look, a lot of people have built Sentinels, but none of them have been made into toys ever. This is a second Prime Sentinel - a female model this time. Technically we've already seen a female Prime Sentinel (in the form of Karima Shapandar), but that was a second-generation model who'd already gone through all eight stages of eveolution to get to her final design.

Like Bastion, the female Prime Sentinel is based on an existing body - the smallest one, but with adult limbs to make her tall enough. The chest is new, because it has the techno neck and a raised purple shape over the clavicles. Apparently having a big triangle and an in-set energy port is fit for boy Prime Sentinels, but not for girl Prime Sentinels; how else would it lovingly outline her boobs if not being a weird shape?

Prime Sentinels' sexual dimorphism continues above the neck as well. While the male just looked like a little Sentinel, with his purple helmet, the female just wears a frame around her face, leaving her (now-white) hair blowing to the side. Decently, the hair is going the same direction Bastion's was, meaning they'll look right standing next to one another and facing off with the mutants.

Then finally, the Tier 4 unlock, the one Hasbro had to scramble to come up with after we zoomed past the 16,000-backer mark, is a third alternate head, this one representing the Tri-Sentinel. You'll recall
that Series 8 kept calling its Theta Sentinel BAF a Tri-Sentinel, and you'll also recall that we told you that was wrong; the actual Tri-Sentinel showed up at the end of the "Acts of Vengeance" event, when Loki used magic to clump together three normal Sentinels into one multi-armed monster. Lucky Spider-Man had phenomenal cosmic powers at the time! The Tri-Sentinel's head is nearly as large as the Master Mold's, and has three faces circling it: one gold, with the usual grille in the mouth; one silver, with loose wires; and one bronze, with three circular blaster ports. The shape of the faceplate is identical on all three, and the ridge around the foreheads has circular studs in the middle of each block. All the eyes are as light-piped as the normal head's, so the Tri-Sentinel will glow menacingly no matter which way you choose to have him face - even halfway in between.

The HasLab Marvel Legends Sentinel is, by no stretch of the imagination, an affordable toy. It was $350, right in the middle of a pandemic that saw many people suddenly unable to work and thus facing an incredibly restricted budget. And yeah, we're a toy review site, but even we recognize that if it comes down to buying some plastic junk or paying your real bills, the action figure's gotta go. That said, Hasbro absolutely poured as much value as they could into this giant, so that when it hits your porch you don't think "oh man, here's that car payment I threw away," you think "oh man, this thing is massive and heavy and loaded with extras!" Even at that price, it's going to be a Toy of the Year contender, which should tell you how pro it is. Bet you if this had made it into any fans' hands before the recent HasLab Galactus project ended, that one would have had even more backers than it already did, because now we have proof of how good a final product that's likely to be.

-- 09/13/21


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