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Marvel Infinite Series
by yo go re

Look, everybody, it's Flint Marko!

Career criminal William Baker can shape-shift his body to clobber anyone in his way!

Hasbro has had pretty terrible luck making Sandman figures. ToyBiz made one that was the single best toy released its year, but Hasbro's attempts have fallen far short. There was the Spider-Man 3 line, which was too small; the Unleashed 360 figure, which was too big; a movie Marvel Legend was Hasbro had not yet mastered making good Marvel Legends; a BAF that was just... no; and an animated figure that could barely move. Now they're giving it another shot, in the 4" scale.

Unfortunately, the average quality of this scale has gone downhill a bit since Marvel Universe ended and Marvel Infinite Series began. The figures that are re-releases (many, many of them) or just use re-released parts are decent, but the new figures are lacking articulation again, so if you can tell where a figure's parts came from, you can probably guess how it's going to move. Knowing that, let's examine Sandman and see what's what.

The legs and torso are from Absorbing Man, which is easily recognizable by the baggy pants and the sculpted belt. So those have a balljointed chest and hips, double-hinge knees, and swivel/hinge ankles. The arms are unique - to display his power, the right arm is stretched out and sandy, while the left hand has been transformed into a giant, spiked fist (very much like the cover of Thunderbolts #40) - but being new sculpts means we only get swivel/hinge shoulders and elbows. The new sculpts are very nice, and suit the character perfectly, but there's only so much posing you can do when a figure has no wrists.

The head's new, naturally. Or, well, perhaps not "naturally," because there's always a chance they could have just reused the might-as-well-have-never-been-released Norman Osborn head (they have the same kooky hair because they have the same great-grandmother). The Flint Marko head looks a ton better than Norman's, with sharper details and better proportions. And it even fits on the Iron Patriot neck-ball, making me feel even stupider for spending money on the variant than I already did.

Sandman's paint is nice. His face and neck are pink, but his arms have some terrific "sand" apps - yellowy tans and a grey wash to create shadows. He's wearing his stripey green shirt and brown pants, which raises an interesting question: where do the colors come from? You know that sand comes in all shades, and that under a microscope you can find pretty much any color in any sample, so does Sandman just (sub?)consciously shuffle those grains to his outside in neatly ordered rows?

We really wish Hasbro had given Sandman some accessories. Imagine if his arms pulled out at the elbow, so you could give him a normal human pair. Or maybe even alternate sand constructs. Something.

On the other hand, we do get a variant that's pretty cool. Taking a cue from Marvel Minimates Series 18, there's a Sandman who's done entirely in sand colors! It's the same mold as the normal release, complete with the new arms and the mixed bag of articulation, just painted tan all over the place. There's actually a nice variegation in the colors - his hair and pants are one shade, his shirt-stripes are another, and though the shirt and his "skin" are the same shade, a wash on the arms makes them look distinct. He's even got blank white eyes, when Hasbro probably could have gotten away with just making the entire thing plain tan with a darker wash.

The Marvel Infinite Series figures are supposed to retail for about $10 - so, slightly expensive, but not terribly so. However, most stores are overcharging. Target's prices range from $12.99 to $16.99. For a 4" figure?! By 2015 standards, that's basically theft. Hasbro's figures are nice, but they're not that nice, you know? As far as characters who are both classic Spider-Man villains and reserve members of the Avengers, Sandman is one of my favorites - and yet I only bought him because I found both versions at once while Target was having a sale that brought the combined total down to something reasonable.

-- 06/01/15

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