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Marvel Legends
by yo go re

The last actual series of Marvel Legends was released in the back half of 2009, and since then we've only had some two-packs to tide us over. Hasbro has been focusing all their energy on the various 4" lines, so it was very exciting when they announced at Toy Fair this year that Marvel Legends would be returning. Rumors circulated that the first release would be Thor, and it was finally confirmed a few days before the show opened.

Whoever holds this hammer if he be worthy shall possess the power of Thor!

Okay, that's not really a bio, it's just all that's written on the back of the package (for reasons that will be obvious shortly). But come on, you know who Thor is: he's the son of Odin, stepbrother of Loki, sent to Earth to learn humility by being bound with the mortal Donald Blake, all that. But did you know that the "real" Norse myths may be just as fictional as anything Marvel's come up with? Our only source of info on them are Snorri Sturluson's Eddas, and those were written 200 years after Scandanavia had been Christianized, which may explain some parallels between the two religions. Snorri didn't even believe the stories himself, considering them at best the stories of real people that had been exaggerated over the years.

Thor was sculpted by Paul Harding - in fact, he was sculpted about three years ago, when JMS and Olivier Coipel were paired up on Thor. Hasbro's just been sitting on the mold since then, so it's nice to see it at last. His "shirt" is rather smooth, with only a few small wrinkles to remind us it's cloth, rather than a breastplate, but the bit that hangs below his belt is super wrinkly by comparison - well of course it is, it's hanging free rather than being stretched over his muscles! Also check out the wrinkles on his feet: they're by the ankles and toes, where his boots would flex. All the overlapping squares of his armor are done well, and the cape has its own unique texture. His belt buckle is the Norse rune ᚢ (Uruz), which denotes "strength." There are veins visible on the back of his hands, and each of the discs on his chest and ankles have small cracks sculpted on the surface.

The head is very true to Coipel's artwork, without being as direct a copy as the Marvel Universe version. The face is wide and flat, but he doesn't look like he's been hit in the face with a frying pan. He's wearing the newly redesigned helmet with the angled brow and the small wings on the sides, and his long hair is high enough not to interfere with the neck at all.

Part of what sets this exclusive figure apart from the inevitable mass market release is the paint scheme. Thor has been given some noticeable "powered up" paint apps, including subtle airbrushed glows around the discs on his chest, and the fact that his eyes are blue with pearlescent white in the centers. These colors are specialized enough that it's immediately clear this mold will reappear later, without the embellishments. There's a wash to bring out the armor details, and the other colors are all appropriately vibrant. His skin doesn't look plasticy at all, either, so we're doing great!

Thor has one accessory, his hammer Mjolnir - and it's gotten special paint apps, too! The head is a slight metallic blue, with white airbrushed on the centers of each side, and there are white lightning bolts painted across its surface. The handle is brown, but the blue bleeds down from the head about half an inch (intentionally) to show the glow. He can hold the hammer in his right hand, or hang it from his belt. The extra band dangling over his hip is a separate piece that plugs into the belt, so you can pull that plug and slip the belt through the hammer's strap.

Thor is a towering figure, standing 7⅝" tall to the tips of his wings - that makes him the same size as Ultimate Thor, which is in a 7" scale, rather than 6"! He makes the Marvel Legends 3 and Walmart Thors look puny by comparison! And since this is Marvel Legends, rather than Marvel Select, he's got all the articulation you could want: swivel/hinge ankles, double-hinged knees, swivel thighs, swivel/hinge hips, balljointed torso (hidden, in part, by a well-placed wrinkle in his shirt), swivel/hinge wrists and elbows, swivel biceps, swivel/hinge shoulders and a balljointed head. The joints are all nice and tight, too. Man, suddenly I'm glad I could never find the Marvel Select modern Thor!

Like many con exclusives, Thor comes in special packaging. His is rather unwieldy, being that it's a lifesize replica of his hammer. Remember how we said that the only text was the "if he be worthy" hoopla? Well that's why! The head of the hammer is a 7" x 10" x 4" window box displaying the figure against a lightning-scarred cardboard tray, then there's an 11" handle sticking off one side. The box is decorated like stone or metal, and the handle appears to be leather-wrapped. A sturdy plastic brace inside keeps the two from ripping apart. There's an exclusive poster rolled up inside the handle, as well: one side has a painted image of Thor, the other has the same leather bands as the handle.

Thor isn't just a return to Marvel Legends, he's a return to the Marvel Legends of old, the Marvel Legends that made the 6" scale the dominant action figure trend of the '00s. Tight sculpt, suitable articulation and beautiful paint... this figure has none of the shortcomings of earlier Hasbro Legends. The paint apps are clearly specific to this exclusive, which means if you want a modern Thor, you don't have to pay through the nose for this version: we have no inside information, but we still guarantee you'll see this mold reused later. Thor is ground zero for the rebirth of Marvel Legends? Then welcome back!

-- 08/15/11

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