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Marvel Legends
by yo go re

Of all the early Marvel Legends, most have seen updates in one form or another. One of the few remaining ones is now feeling the updated love in the Wal*Mart Legends series: the mighty Thor.

He is the Norse God of Thunder, master of the storm and lightning, heir to the throne of legendary Asgard. Summoning the enchanted Uru hammer Mjolnir, EMS technician Jake Olson stands transformed into the mightiest warrior of mythology: Thor!

That info is out of date, which explains why Thor is just now getting a new figure: he's actually been dead (or at least missing) for a few years. While the Marvel Universe at large never knew it, Asgard was destroyed in Ragnarok - as far as anyone knew, Thor just failed to show up for Avengers roll call one day. Since it happened during the "Avengers Disassembled" stuff, it almost went unnoticed among all the other craziness. But the seeds for his return have recently been sown, so it's a perfect time for this update.

There was nothing about the Marvel Legends 3 Thor that said he desperately needed an update, but this is still a good one. There are no major improvements, but a lot of minor ones add up.

The sculpt is subtle and restrained, but Thor still looks mighty strong. His arms and legs are smaller than the last figure's, but his torso is bigger. The design is truer to the comics, with all six dots on his chest and the black of his trunks actually continuing onto his legs, this time. The chest is a rubber piece, molded as part of the cape, that's glued onto the body beneath. This allows Thor to bend at that torso joint, but still have the dots partially covering it. The ones below his belt are rubber, too, so he can move his legs. Very nice.

The articulation is a definite improvement. He's got all the same joints as his predecessor (neck, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists, hands, waist, hips, thighs, knees, shins, ankles and toes), but has the added advantage of a chest hinge and a few other joints that have been improved. For instance, his legs no longer twist in the middle of the thigh, and his right hand is a solid piece so he can hold his hammer securely.

This figure includes what is possibly the best Mjolnir ever cast in plastic. The wrapped handle is highly detailed and the body looks like metal or stone. There's an inscription on the side - probably the surgeon general's warning about how only one worthy can lift it - but it's carved in some runic language, so no idea what (if anything) it actually says. The name "Mjolnir" is a very apt one - it translates to English as "that which smashes."

The face is nice, but I have to say that ToyBiz really missed a good opportunity with this figure. We already have a version of this Thor - it's the same guy from ML3. How about a version of Thor when he had a facemask and a beard? It wouldn't even require a different body, really; for the fans who were still awaiting a non-Schwarzenegger Thor, they could have made this head a variant. I know some folks were mad that they "had" to buy a figure of a character they already owned, but a different head could have really changed things.

Even Thor's cape is an improvement. The original's cape flared up around the shoulders, then hung straight down. This one is much more dynamic, but it also makes him quite back-heavy. So he gets some style points, but loses his balance.

The Wal*Mart Legends all include a piece of a new Build-A-Figure, the Avenger Giant-Man. Thor's got Giant-Man's right glove, which is a completely important part of the final figure. After all, how can he slap his wife around if he doesn't have a hand? The glove is 2 3/4" tall and moves at the wrist and all four fingers. Even if you don't want to build Giant-Man, you can plop this glove on the ground and do the "hand bursting from the ground" thing with it. Maybe Thor's fighting a blue, subterranean frost giant or something.

Finally, he comes with a reprint of Thor #351, part of Walter Simonson's legendary run. It actually features a lot more of Thor's supporting cast than the thunder god himself, but he finally shows up in the back half of the book to show what he can do. The story deals with Ragnarok (notice how Thor's had two of those, now, but it's supposed to be the end of the universe?) and is a decent read, but hard to get into for new readers. There had to be a better choice for inclusion.

The ML3 Thor was good for its time, but things have come quite a way in the intervening years. The WML Thor is a good figure, and worth buying whether you own the older one or not. A better sculpt, better articulation, a better accessory... what's not to like? Okay, it would have been cool if they'd given him a beard, but the figure is good regardless. Fill the ranks of your ML Avengers with this Norse Thunder God - he'll defend you from the ML13 Loki.

-- 06/16/06

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