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Legendary Heroes
by yo go re

You know, if the guy's name is "Star," wouldn't you expect him to be at least somewhat famous?

Chris Robinson enlisted with the Marines to escape the hard street life of Chicago. After saving the life of singer/actor/ superhero wannabe Peter Klaptin, the celebrity offered Robinson a job as both his bodyguard and the costumed hero of Star. If Peter could not actually be a hero, he would make the world think he was by disappearing everytime Star was in action. He eventually joined the Chicago Police Department where he could help himself solve cases by uncovering evidence in his second identity. Armed not with super powers but with expert kick boxing and martial arts skills, he helps maintain justice on the Chicago streets.

That's actually a pretty clever idea, isn't it? If people are desperate enough for celebrity that they'll go on American Idol when they know they have no telent, then of course in a world with superheroes, there'd be someone willing to take advantage of the old "say, you never see Clark Kent and Superman at the same time; you don't think... nah!" thing.

Star was created by Erik Larsen, who always manages to blend old-school comic sensibilities with a slightly more mature attitude - not the "oh boy, I can show tits and blood!" way that a lot of creators do, but just by being clever and willing to let characters change. In an age when everything is a reboot or a throwback, a guy paying someone else so he can pretend to have a secret identity? That's pretty original.

The figure is built on the Bullseye body, as so many slender figures are. It's amazing how much variety you can get out of one mold just by changing the hands and feet. Star has raised brown pads on his forearms and shins, and he's wearing a big utility belt. The stars on his chest and back are just painted elements, and it's unclear whether the brown stripes running over his shoulders (painted on the figure) are meant to be three-dimensional, or just colored panels on the costume.

Star's bulbous, Spider-Man-like eyes are painted crisply, but they're not as smooth as they should be. From a distance they're fine, but when you get close, you can see the flaws that came out of the mold: some in-set swirls on the left eye, and a rough texture on the right. Of course, if the eyes didn't have to be pure white, the minor missteps probably wouldn't stand out at all, but with such an eye-catching color, the head beneath needed to be flawless, which it didn't quite achieve. The red eight-pointed star on his forehead is a bit too dark to really stand out against the blue (it's darker than the red on the rest of the body, as well), but the fine wrinkles sculpted between his eyes look very good.

In order to portray those kickboxing abilities that serve him as a hero, Star has lots of articulation. Working our way up, we get hinged toes, hinged rocker ankles, shin swivels, double-hinged knees, swivel thighs right below the hip balljoints, a swivel waist, hinged torso, individual pin fingers, pin wrists, peg gloves, double-pin elbows, peg biceps right beneath the hinge/swivel balljoint shoulders, lateral swivels at the sides of the torso, and a balljointed head. Everything moves well, though the brown on the lateral joint is getting scraped a little. The utility belt doesn't turn with the waist, but it's made from soft rubber, so it flexes and doesn't impede the motion at all.

Star has no accessories, but he is packaged with the biggest piece of this series' Build-A-Figure, Monkeyman - buy all six figures in the line, and you can assemble the pieces to build a seventh toy. Star is a slender fellow, so he gets the BAF's entire upper body: chest and ribs, shoulders, and head. Everything is nicely detailed, and the completed Monkeyman is gonna be huge! Be careful you don't throw away Monkeyman's glasses when you pitch the packaging: they're taped into the tray beneath the BAF piece, and easy to overlook if you're not careful.

Star is far from the most recognizable character in the Legendary Heroes line-up: I at least had some vague idea who the other characters were, but Star was a complete mystery. Still, I thought he'd be one of the better sellers - with his huge white eyes, it seemed likely the same parents who need color-coded variants to tell what they have and haven't bought would think this was just some new Spider-Man, and buy him for little Johnny. Sadly, LCBH was already on its way downhill by the time Series 2 finally reached shelves, and even if there was a bump for Star, it wasn't enough to save the line. It's a shame, too, because when Marvel Toys could make such a good toy of such a nobody like Star, the future was pretty damn bright.

-- 08/18/08

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