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Marvel Girl

Marvel Legends
by Artemis

Even Jean Grey's codename won't stay dead more than five minutes.

No-one ever said it was easy being a Summers. Rachel was born into a world on the brink of destruction, orphaned as an infant, and raised in a prison camp for people like herself. Despite it all, she spent a lifetime developing her psychic powers in secret, becoming so adept she was able to project her consciousness, and that of others, through time. Unable to use her powers to save her own world, she became determined to use them to the benefit of others. She has travelled from one end of time to the other, met death and dissolution along the way, and returned always fighting for freedom.

Back in her native timeline, she also got it on with Franklin Richards, which no doubt would make things uncomfortable should the X-Men ever visit the Baxter Building in the present.

Rachel Anne (not "Ann," as the bio claims) Summers is one of eight figures in the Brood Queen Series of Marvel Legends, Hasbro's third wave series since taking over the reins from ToyBiz. Their first wave series was not well-received - even accounting for the fanboy tendency to whinge about anything new - but the second was a distinct improvement, and Marvel Girl here suggests that we can consider Emma Frost et al to be the result of teething trouble, not a true indicator of what Hasbro wants to sell to us.

Rach is a fairly average young woman by comic standards (where everyone's hot), and the figure translates her to solid form quite well. She's got a bit of muscle to her, most visibly her abs, but also in a bit of tone to her biceps and thighs, and her physical proportions are quite decent. Her face and hair are rather noticeably comic/animation-styled, with a cute nose, small chin, and stylishly ruffled mop of a fringe that combine to give her a somewhat anime look, though it's nothing that'd make her seem out of place among her fellow Marvel figures. So far as minutiae goes, her belt is part of the soft rubber skirt piece, and so doesn't have a very sharp sculpt, but her necklace is a separate piece that sits reasonably realistically on her, and her earrings are also separate, though unremoveable, pieces, so they're not sculpted into the side of her jawline and neck as is often the case.

Her paint job is average, but not really flawed in any way worth throwing a tantrum over. Like most of the Hasbro Legends, Rachel relies more than a little on cast-in-colour pieces - all her skin is bare plastic, as is her hair, which doesn't have any kind of wash or highlight, and the skirt is green plastic. Where there is paintwork - her top, gloves, the shins of her boots, and the yellow on her skirt - the coverage is sufficient, but the edges are a bit indistinct, especially on the sleeves and skirt. Her belt buckle is noticeably wavy, but the small apps on her "X" pendant, as well as her eyes and lips, are all applied cleanly.

Her articulation marks a further step away from ToyBiz's design, with the knees joining the elbows in dropping double peg joints in favour of a one-sided balljoint. On the arms (as with last series's She-Hulk) it's quite versatile, and eliminates the need for any bicep or beneath-shoulder swivel, which traditionally are the main culprits in making the upper arms look bad. But the inability to get more than 90° out of the knees is far more restrictive than it is on the elbows - it rules out a lot of the more adventurous poses - and the flat upper edge of the knee, being on the front, is far more visible (and ugly) than the corresponding edge on the elbow, which is at the back of the arm. All in all, I'd keep the elbows, but welcome back double pin knees, but sadly, by the looks of the upcoming Tigra, this style of knee seems to be the standard for Hasbro's Marvel Legends women from here on.

Knees and elbows aside, Rach has a balljoint neck - though there's very little backward tilt - balljoint shoulders, swivel wrists, a torso balljoint and swivel waist (the latter not redundant, since it means her torso can twist up its length somewhat, rather than simply pivot at one point), balljoint hips, and balljoint ankles, and all the balljoints besides the neck and torso ratchet on the tilt joint, but easily enough. Besides the deep stances ruled out by the knees, she can take a decent variety of poses, and she looks reasonably realistic in them. It seems fair to point out, too, that the design of her articulation, as well as her body in general, makes her quite rugged - ToyBiz figures sometimes seemed rather fragile and soft around their thin ankle and wrist joints (knees and elbows too, on some of them), but I'm confident that Rachel will survive being given to a child to play with quite well.

She has three accessories, two of which are removeable flames that fit over her hands - snugly in the case of the left hand, loosely for the right. They're soft plastic, which helps them grip the hands and flex as they're put on and off, but there's no paint on them, so the clear orange-red is all you get - a pale orange or yellow highlight would have really helped them, even given the slight difficulty in painting onto soft plastic.

Her third accessory, since she's part of a Build-A-Figure series, is the torso of Queen Brood - or a Brood Queen, if you haven't gotten the order of the words mixed up like Hasbro does (except once, on the back of the packaging, for some reason). Not counting the pegs where it'll join to the head and tail, the torso is a bit under 4" long, and is actually sculpted and painted quite a bit better than Rachel herself - the sculpt is clean and detailed, with lots of skin texture and a hard, insectoid carapace feel to it, and the grey-brown plastic is given airbrushed shades of darker grey on its back, pale grey-white on its stomach, and a slightly pinkish brown around the various shoulders. The tail joint looks to be a swivel, the wings true balljoints (as opposed to combined swivel-peg joints that usually pass for balljoints), and the neck and all eight shoulders are regular balljoints. By the looks of this piece, Hasbro has decided it certainly won't hold back on quality with the Build-A-Figures.

There's a variant Marvel Girl available, as well. In the comics recently, artists have developed a new way of showing Rachel's powers in action: her body turns completely black, and a firey phoenix symbol appears over her eye. To that end, Hasbro released an all-black version. There are a few orange speckles on her body - probably to represent the fire that seems to raise around Rachel when she powers up.

The accessories, sculpt and articulation are all the same as the normal figure, but there's one other paint change on the variant. After being rescued from the time stream and re-joining the X-Men, Rachel attempted to reconnect with her mom's family. During a huge Grey family reunion, a squad of Shi'ar Death Commandos attacked, killing the entire family in seconds. Their goal? To scour the Grey bloodline, in case the Phoenix Force attempted to bond with one of them again. Before killing Rachel, they branded her back with the Mark of the Phoenix, a genetic tattoo that would allow them to track her anywhere. So if you turn the figre around, you can see the bright yellow symbol on her back.

However, if you're very lucky, you don't need to turn the figure around. There's a second variant, a 1-in-500 variant that sees the figure packaged backwards on the card, so you can see the Mark of the Phoenix without even removing her from the package. It's a MOCer's dream, since you can barely make out the mark on the forward-facing version. Or maybe it's a scalper's dream, since it fetches unusually high prices online - which would also make it a completist's nightmare. But other than that packaging variation, both black Marvel Girls are the same figure, so if you can get one, you don't need to worry about the other.

-- 12/14/07

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