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Marvel Legends
by yo go re

So far, Hasbro has done a decent job of putting new characters into their Marvel Legends line, rather than just treading old ground. Take a look at the Target-exclusive series, for instance. Yes, we've had a Spider-Man, a Silver Surfer, a Wolverine before, but what we haven't had is a symbiote Spider-Man, a Silver Savage, or a black Wolverine.

Haunted by nightmares of a half-remembered past, Wolverine has worked for years to quell his inner demons. Gifted with the phenomenal ability to heal any injury, and process any poison, he has proven to be almost indestructible, after nearly a century of fighting. In an effort to expunge the demons of his past, he adventures with both the X-Men and the New Avengers. His life as a superhero has carried him around the world, and across the universe, battling evil in all its forms.

There are actually two versions of Wolverine in this series: one in his standard yellow and blue suit, the other in a variant black outfit. Since I already had several different yellow Wolverines, my choice was easy: black was the way to go. Everything else about the figures is the same, so if you prefer the yellow one, don't tune out just yet - the info will still be good.

If this figure looks like a return to the old ToyBiz days, there's a reason for that: 95% of this figure is a direct re-use of the brown ML6 Wolverine. If you're familiar with that figure, you know that means we're getting a very nice sculpt, which is true to Wolverine's character: it's short and hunched, but very broad through the trunk. There are sculpted wrinkles on his boots, and some mighty veins on his biceps. The mold is starting to show its age (even though these things are steel, they'll still wear down after repeated use), but things are still pretty good.

Logan's got a furious look on his face, visible even through the thick material of his mask. Only his mouth and chin are exposed, but that's enough to show off his snarl and the stubble sculpted on his face. This is the classic look for Wolvie, with the big square head-wings (or whatever they are) coming off the sides of his mask. Those things just kept getting bigger, didn't they? Yeesh. Give me the tiny versions, thank you, seen in his first appearance or on the Astonishing X-Men costume.

It's always a struggle to give Wolvie straight claws, but this one fares better than most. The claws seem to be molded from supremely soft plastic, even more than usual. His right hand is raised, and the claws poked through holes in the tray, which has bent them only slightly out of shape; his left hand is crossed in front of his stomach, and those claws are almost perfect. Of course, you'll still need to check them yourself when you get to the store.

The one difference between this figure and the ML6 version is on his shoulders: because the standard version is supposed to be the yellow and blue costume, they tried to give him those blue shoulder pads by gluing them into notches that have been added to the sculpt. So-so idea, terrible execution. On the yellow version, they're in the wrong place, and on the black version, the paint has fogged the plastic so his shoulders look dusty. Plus, on my figure, one of the pads is covering up the paint.

A lot of fans are calling this variant "X-Force Wolverine," refering to his appearance in that current title. Those fans are wrong. Yes, in X-Force, Logan and his team are wearing stealthy new uniforms, but they don't look a thing like this. The X-Force squad - formed to do the kind of wetwork the more public X-Men can't - wears black and silver, and the pattern of Wolverine's costume doesn't even come close to lining up with this one. It'd make for a good toy, but this isn't it. Way to do your homework, fanboys.

This costume is solid black, with yellow stripes - a reverse of his familiar "tiger stripe" look. His beady eyes are red, and his arm hair is painted on with thin black lines. So graphically, it's a cool and unusual design: it just doesn't have anything to do with X-Force.

On January 11, 2000, fans got their first look at the costumes that would be appearing in that summer's upcoming X-Men movie. You know, the black leather with the yellow trim? Yeah, those. Anyway, if you recall, the fan reaction was fairly negative because, well, fanboys love to bitch. A few weeks later, on January 30, Marvel sent out an image of Wolverine drawn by then-artist Adam Kubert, but recolored to look like the movie costumes: black and yellow. The image was made into an exclusive variant cover for Uncanny X-Men #381, a book which came out right before the movie opened. That's where the black and yellow came from, and that's what this figure is based on.

Part of the Target Legends, Wolverine comes with a piece of the Red Hulk BAF. This is a big, bulky arm, befitting the Hulk: in fact, it's nearly as tall as Wolvie himself. The wrist is a balljoint, the elbow is hinged and the bicep swivels beneath the shoulder (which will be a balljoint when it plugs in place. It's a nice solid red, with darker shadows painted on - Red Hulk is going to rule!

Face it: you're going to want Red Hulk, because he's cool, and the Big Bad Toy Store exclusive Marvel Select repaint just isn't going to cut it. That means you're going to have to buy a Wolverine, so ask yourself, do you want another tiger stripe yellow and blue version, or something new? This Wolverine may have never appeared in the comics (he was only ever on one cover), but that doesn't make him useless. The design is nice, and though there are some problems with the toy, they're not exceptional. It's tough to find Black Wolverine, but I couldn't say whether that's because he's actually in shorter supply than the normal version or because people are just thinking like me: black is the new cool.

-- 10/19/08

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