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Ms. Marvel, Captain America, and Radioactive Man

Marvel Legends
by yo go re

We just want to preface this review by saying it feels like highway robbery to pay $50 for an action figure three-pack.

When her human DNA fused with that of the mighty Kree warrior Mar-Vell, Carol Danvers became the superhuman Ms. Marvel.

Yes she did. And eventually Marvel realized they could stop creating stop-gap measures and just rename her "Captain Marvel" in order to keep their trademark current, at which point a different character because the superhero Ms. Marvel - Kamala Khan (who should also be getting a Marvel Legend, Hasbro; her costume kicks butt!). But this figure is not Kamala, it's Carol, which is both good and bad. Good because the toy is good; bad because, well, we already have one of her. Granted, that was a Walmart exclusive nearly a decade ago, so it's not like releasing her here was totally unwarranted.

This figure is, head to toe, the same mold as the Thunderbolts box set Moonstone - rather appropriate, since it's a canonical fact that the two women look very much alike (and have similar physiques). Ms. Marvel does get the benefit of a new sash floating around her waist, but the way it's designed leaves the ties hanging down the back instead of off her hip.

The real problem with this figure, though, is the paint. You're mixing bright pink skin with dark black clothes, and that requires a keen level of control that this set did not receive. Anywhere the colors meet is in danger of turning into a mess, and more often than not, it has. I went through every box Target had on its shelves, and the best I found still had numerous minor flaws. One of them was completely missing an app on her arm! Half a bicep, black as the rest of her glove! Whatever you do, do not buy this set sight unseen. Or, if you must, be prepared to repaint every inch of her skin and the golden lightning bolt on her chest, too.

Hey, remember that ML4 Ultimate Captain America that nobody wanted? Apparently Hasbro's bound and determined to force it down your throat, because here it is again!

Science made Steve Rogers a super-soldier with extraordinary speed, agility, strength, and durability, but it's his heart that makes him Captain America.

You might think that after Commander Rogers, Bucky Cap, USAgent, the aforementioned Ultimate Captain America, a movie Cap, another movie Cap a third movie Cap, and the Marvel NOW! Captain America, that another Captain America is the last thing anybody needs right now. You might think that, but Hasbro clearly doesn't. Why in god's name would they include this chump instead of one of the baker's dozen of unreleased variants from the past few years?

Thankfully, this is not just a straight re-release of the ML4 figure, though it does share almost all the same parts. The body is the Face Off Punisher one, but with the new right thigh Magneto had, with no holster strapped to it. The gloves and boots were new when they were introduced on Ultimate Cap, and this is the first time they've been reused (the belt comes from the same source, but Agent Venom wore it, too). Instead of a vest, he's got the same harness Hawkeye wore - possibly an attempt to fake straps when his shield is plugged into his back? His legs are blue, instead of gray, so that's one in his favor already!

The figure has two heads: the one Ultimate Cap came with, and the unmasked version from Series 1. Impressively, the visible parts of the masked head are identical to the unmaked one! We like that! The mask has stylized wings painted on the temples, which suggests this is supposed to be 616 Cap - Ultimate didn't have those. But he does have grey panels in his armpits, which were definitely an Ultimate feature. However, there are white stars painted on his shoulders, and since the shoulder ring is at the surface, the paint only lines up if you don't raise the arms at all.

A nuclear physicist with his eye on taking over the world, Dr. Chen Lu transformed himself into the walking atomic meltdown known as Radioactive Man.

That's not entirely accurate - yes, he transformed himself, and yes, he was a villain, but he never wanted to take over the world. He was depicted as a villain because he was Chinese, and that's the way things were in 1963, but most of the time he's neutral at worst. He joined the Thunderbolts because he really did want a chance to reform, and was only kicked out because Norman Osborn thought he'd get in the way of his SHIELD takeover. At which point Chen went home to China and joined The People's Defense Force! This guy's not a villain, he's a hero!

Radioactive Man uses the biggest Hasbro Marvel Legends body - the one introduced with Hyperion - which works nicely, since he's always been a large guy. Like the Marvel Universe version, he's cast in translucent green plastic as a way of suggesting his powers. It's not bad, but glow-in-the-dark plastic would have been better, both from an aesthetic standpoint (you'd be able to see the details of the sculpt) and a meta-textual one (in pop culture, radiation = glowing). Instead of a full-body smock, like the MU figure had, he just has a skirt - his top is painted on. You'll want to check the light green star on his chest, though: it has a tendency to not get filled in completely.

The figure has the same head as Luke Cage, because who can tell the difference between "black" and "Chinese" when the plastic is translucent? He's bald and frowny, and that's what counts. His eyes are painted solid white, and there's a darker shade of green around them - not as light as the skin, but not fully opaque, either.

This Target-exclusive Marvel Legends set is just plain weird. Even leaving aside the rather endemic quality control issues (seriously: examine the paint before you buy), you've got one new character, one character who probably needed an update, and one character who's entirely unneeded; basically, you're buying a set of Ms. Marvel and Radioactive Man, but you have to pay the extra money for Captain America, too. The characters already make no sense together, so there had to be lots of better options to include in place of Steve Rogers. On the bright side, if you're a collector who only wants this Cap, you're going to have an easy time finding someone unloading theirs on eBay.

-- 11/17/14

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