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Marvel Knights Legends
by yo go re

February may be Black History Month in America, but this character is British. Eh, let's review him anyway.

Eric Brooks adopts the name "Blade" and uses mastery of the martial arts to fight and defeat supernatural - and often blood-sucking - opponents.

Blade is one of the few recognizable black superheroes to not have "Black" in his name, but that's mainly thanks to his movie, not the comics. He single-handedly set the stage not only for the Marvel Studios of today, but also beat The Matrix to the punch when it came to combining leather, techno music, and kung-fu. When he was created (in 1973), his only super-human abilities were a prolonged life and immunity to being turned into a full vampire; in the '90s, he was bitten by a mind-controlled Morbius, which is when he got speed, strength, healing... the general superhero combo platter.

Since he was originally created in the '70s, Blade used to dress like Shaft. Then in the '90s it was a leather jacket almost identical to Ghost Rider's, and ever since it's been movie-inspired body armor. Well, other than his stint as Ronin in the Avengers. Anyway, this figure is wearing the armor, so that means new molds! Though not as many as you might think: while the torso is new, and sculpted not only with the large panel lines and the latches on the sides and shoulders, but also with a grainy texture to keep it from being boring, the legs are reused. Maybe they needed to recoup the cost of the chest? It's mostly a fine choice, but the stud or port or sparkplug or whatever it is that's molded on the left thigh gets in the way of the band of silver stakes he's got srapped there; they should have put a hole in the back of that mold to line up with the bump.

You get your choice of heads with the figure: either "Wesley Snipes" or "Sticky Fingaz." Did you even remember that Blade had a TV show? It was on Spike TV, and was theoretically in the same continuity as the movies. Anyway, you've got one head with a full head of hair (and the craziest widow's peak you've ever seen) and the other bald with two hair lightning bolts on top. They're otherwise identical, which is absolutely a missed opportunity: sure, keep the red sunglasses on both, but why on Earth would you not mold one of them with a big, fang-baring snarl? That seems like a no-brainer. Make him scary!

In addition to the strap around his thigh, Blade's accessories include a katana and a sheath attached to a bandolier on wooden stakes. The sword we've seen plenty of times before, but it's a damn good thing the scabbard is made from a very soft PVC: it's perfectly straight, while the sword has a distinct curve to it. Maybe they were planning to give him a unique blade, and it just didn't cost out? No clue. Also, the way the sword and the stakes point lead us to believe Blade is lefthanded?

The figure's articulation is exactly what you'd expect: ankles, boots, knees, thighs, hips, waist, torso, wrists, elbows, biceps, shoulders, neck and head. The pre-existing legs conflict with the new butt just slightly, leaving Blade leaning a little bit forward when in his "neutral" position. Plus, the notches taken out of the tops of the shoulder balls look really conspicuous next to the raised armor, and you could really use vertical wrist hinges instead of horizontal, for better sword-wielding poses. But, it's not like there's any other company out there doing better superhero toys.

He also comes with the right leg of this series' Build-A-Figure, Man-Thing. It's big and green and mossy, and you'll need it if you want your Man-Thing to stand erect instead of just flopping down limply.

We've been waiting a long time for a new Blade - remember, he was supposed to be a swap figure for Punisher in Series 3, but like many of those, he never saw release. Honestly, this toy is probably better than the one that would have been made back then, because Hasbro keeps trying to improve their work. He may not have a cool coat, but he's a good action figure.

-- 02/12/18

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