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Human Torch

Marvel Legends
by yo go re

Ah, Human Torch. Is there any character who doesn't need a new figure more than him? We've had scads of them, each pretty much indistinguishable from the next. Guy on fire, in orange, red or clear plastic. The end. And yet we just keep getting more of them.

The memorable Johnny Storm inspires jealousy in a lot of people - even other superheroes. As Johnny would say, that's only because he's so great that it's tough to not be jealous. He's got the money, the ladies love him, and he can fly; what more could a guy need, honestly? Sure, he's saved the world a whole bunch of times, but who hasn't? Life must be really tough when you're not as awesome as the Human Torch.

Just so you know, that bio is written from a first-person perspective - no one outside of Johnny's own head would think that way. There's no jealousy, no envy, definitely no awesomeness. The nearest thing might be Spider-Man wishing he had a stable income and better press, but not jealously. Still, that does give new fans a good primer on what Johnny's personality is like: total self-absorbed douchebag.

For the record: this figure, except for the head, is precisely the same as the last Human Torch Hasbro gave us. So for all the commentary on the sculpt and articulation, go read that review. Short version? They're both very good. Hey, if Hasbro's going to phone it in, why shouldn't we?

Now then, let's talk differences. The other Torch was semi-human, seen in the midst of flaming on. That meant we saw his blue and white FF uniform, and got a few wisps of flame scattered around his body. And of course, the idiot anime hair. The Torch in this Wal*Mart-exclusive series is entirely aflame. In fact, he's so aflame that we get two different versions of him.

The version pictured on the back of the card (and therefore, the one everyone assumes is the "standard" version) is a semi-opaque orange with yellow highlights painted on the surface and red tips on the three-dimensional flames. It's very much like what we typically see in the comics and on cartoons, so it's a decent choice for a paint scheme. It's also a completely safe choice, in that it's very much like everything we've ever seen before; a little bit of cloudy transparency doesn't change things up all that much.

The other version (which I've personally seen more of and am therefore reluctant to call the "variant") is different. Different from any Human Torch toy that's been made before. The translucent orange plastic used to make it is darker than average, and the surface is painted with thin yellow lines that look like cracks, almost as if he's made from cooling lava. The same sort of thing is going to show up on the 3¾" Marvel Universe figure later this year. At first I thought this was some attempt on Hasbro's part to simulate Johnny's "nova burst," but then I figured it out: this is supposed to look like Adi Granov's art for the cover of Fantastic Four #542 (which a lot of people online seem to mistake for an image from the films). In that regard, yeah, it does a decent job. It's just up to you to decide whether you like that look on your toy.

One other difference between this Johnny and the one from the Ronan series is the head. Now, on that figure, the back of the card showed a scaled-down version of the 12" Icons head, with short hair and a stern look. What we got was, instead, a stupid plume of head-fire. This version gets the Icons head... but the back of the card shows the giant flame-hair. Oh, for god's sake! The fiery hair would have worked on a flamed-on Torch, which is what this series gave us. The complaints before were about how stupid it looked on a human Torch. This is like the Ultron/Maestro thing all over again.

The Human Torch has no accessories, but he's packed with the left arm of Ares, the new Wal*Mart Build-A-Figure. The arm is as long as Johnny's leg, and has three balljoints. The armor on this limb looks to be some kind of overlapping leather bands, and it covers the skin from mid-bicep to the back of his knuckles. Because the god of war is a dirty fighter, there's a big metal spike on his elbow. Don't think that's imposing? Imagine him throwing some elbows like Charles Barkley grabbing a rebound, and you'll get it.

This Human Torch doesn't have a lot to offer over any previous version of the character, but if you want a flamed-on version, rather than one in his FF suit, this is definitely the best available. And if you're good with a paint brush, maybe you could do a headswap between this version and the last and get the right heads on both of them.

-- 01/19/09

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