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Marvel Legends
by yo go re

Every so often, Shocka will learn about a comicbook character he's never heard of before, and asks whether the character is any good or not. I always give him the same answer: depends on who's writing.

Cower before the crushing grip of this SHIELD Agent gone wrong!

When SHIELD needed to infiltrate a national criminial organization, they outfitted agent Frank Payne with a costume and a fake identity, so the group would recruit him as a supervillain. While undrcover, he had a nervous breakdown and became a villain for real. He was a C-lister for years, acting as a minor inconvenience for heroes like Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man, Spider-Man and the Heroes for Hire. He was roommates with Deadpool for a while, but eventually turned his life around. He joined the Initiative during Dark Reign, where he was part of the black ops team. Being a featured character rather than a secondary villain gave him room to grow, and he became a rather complex character, with hopes and dreams and motivations, and was one of the breakout characters of the book.

Constrictor uses Hasbro's version of the Bullseye body - which means he has the oversized waist piece. The lower legs and forearms are new, but the star of the show is the head. His face is almost cartoony, with its big square jaw, but it works. He has sharp, fangy teeth, beady little eyes and the ridge of his costume is actually a sculpted element.

Only on his head, though: on the rest of his body, it's just done with paint. What is this, Mattel? The paint is crisp, and the contrast between the blue of his suit and the yellow-orange of the stripey bits is good. The forearms are sculpted with ports on the back where his coils come out. The other option would have been to mold the ports separately and then glue them onto the arms, and that would have just been weird.

In the comics, Constrictor's coils are made from vibranium and can extend out to 30' long. On the toy, they've made of PVC plastic and are only about 5½". The figure itself is just over 6⅛" tall, though the official stats list him at 5'11". Sadly, the coils are permanently glued into the ports on the back of his arms, so you can't remove them. Not-so-sadly, about 30 seconds in boiling water will loosen that glue up enough that you can pull them right out! The ends are even shaped so well that they "snap" back into place and stay securely, and marked R and L so you don't put them on the wrong side. Why bother gluing them, then? Probably safety reasons, who knows? Better yet, who cares? Important thing is that you can have Constrictor in his "powered down" state if you so wish.

Articulation is good. Constrictor has a swivel head, hinged neck, lateral-hinge shoulders/chest, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, double-hinge elbows, swivel forearms, hinged torso, swivel waist, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, swivel shins and swivel/hinge ankles. The combo of the shins and ankles means he's got a superfluous swivel; the shin joints are definitely a holdover from when this was a ToyBiz mold, while the ankles are just the Hasbro style. Still more than we need, though. Fortunately, all his joints are tight enough that he'll hold his pose, even with those long coils coming off his arms.

Constrictor comes with the chest of Terrax, the Series 1 Build-A-Figure. It's a new piece, not taken from any of the previous BAFs, and detailed very well. He's big and muscular, and the red part of his costume is a separate piece that slips over the torso. It's perfectly smooth, lacking any kind of detail to make it look like cloth, which makes a nice contrast to the detailed body beneath.

The first Constrictor toy came out in 1984 - he was a foreign release in Mattel's Secret Wars. It was 2010 before he got a second toy, in the Marvel Universe line (a Fans' Choice winner). I think the fact that he won that contest is directly attributable to his appearances in The Initiative, and it probably influenced his inclusion in Series-freaking-One of the relaunched Marvel Legends. I'm glad we got him, though, and glad that he's so good.

-- 04/09/12

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