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Young Avengers

Marvel Legends
by yo go re

Darth Vader's his father, Bruce Willis is dead and that girl is really a guy. Yes, it's time for another installment of OAFEnet spoiler theatre! Today we're taking a look at the Marvel Legends Young Avengers box set, and while originally we were going to do it fairly spoiler-free, that idea's gone right out the window - there's a pretty major secret revealed right on the back of the box, so why shouldn't we join in the fun? Who are the Young Avengers, and why should you care? Prepare to find out! If you want the spoilers, click the questions - the answers will pop up.

We'll start with Iron Lad, since he's the one whose secret is spoiled on the back of the set; we won't reprint it here, but you can find out just by going to the store and turning the box around.

The figure's design is nice, seemingly a mix between IM's modern armor and the classic "silver centurion" design. The armor is layered, so it looks like a thin bodysuit with larger pads on top. The bulkiest areas are the chest and shoulders, but he's also got free-floating cuffs at the wrists and ankles. One feature that makes Iron Lad stand out is the preponderance of circular ports all over the place - sure, there's one on his chest just like Iron Man, but they're also on Lad's ankles, knees, thighs, hips, wrists, elbows, around his collar and even one on his forehead.

Articulation is a bit weird on IL, here. While most of the movement is standard ML stuff, there are a few odd spots. The head is balljointed nicely, but similar joints in the shoulders are restricted by the shoulder pads. The rest of the arm is normal - swivel at the bicep, double-elbow, swivel wrist above the cuff and a hinge below it, plus a hinge for the fingers. Iron Lad has a torso joint, which allows him to rock back and forth. The waist is fine, but the legs seem to have been overlooked. He's got balljointed hips, double-knees, hinged ankles and toes. Oddly, there are no joints for the thigh or shin - two points that ML always seem to have. It's probably due to the design of his armor, but the lack is noticeable. If you have him standing straight up, the leg joints leave him rather pigeon-toed.

Unlike all the other ML Iron Men, Iron Lad does not have a removable mask. That might be because when we see him unmasked in the comic, he's actually removed his entire helmet. However, also unlike the other ML Iron Men, Iron Lad's mask actually looks like a face. The armor's nuerokinetic interface is extremely advanced, and reacts to show a face with expressions instead of a smooth steel plate.

Why is the armor so advanced?

Next on our hit-list is Captain America Jr., known as Patriot. Of course, he's not actually dressed like Captain America - his costume is an updated version of Cap's sidekick Bucky's uniform - military jacket, domino mask, bright red gloves, all that. He's traded the hotpants and red tights for white pants, though; not that anyone's complaining.

Patriot is a skinny guy, and actually looks like he has the physique of a teenager. His uniform looks like thick cloth, rather than the spandex most heroes wear, so the musculature is more suggested than shown. His utility belt is detalied better than most Batman figures', and the stars on his forehead and chest are sculpted rather than painted. This is a very nice piece, and probably would have sold even outside this box set. The paint is generally good, but we get yet another too-heavy wash of blue on the white pants. If there's one thing to look at in this box set before you buy, it's that wash - a lot of Patriots look like he threw his shirt and his pants in the same load of laundry.

Articulation is really nice, here. Eschewing Iron Lad's screwiness, Patriot's got the ML-standard joints all over: balljointed head, balljointed shoulders, peg biceps, double elbows, peg gloves, hinges at the wrists and hands, a hinged chest, a normal waist, balljointed hips with pegs for the thighs, double-knees, swivels at the tops of the boots, those compound ankles and hinges for his toes. Though the shoulders are somewhat squared off to preserve the line of his jacket, the range of motion isn't cut down at all. Very nice!

Patriot has one accessory, though he didn't get it until later in the comics: Captain America's original badge-shaped shield. It clips onto his wrist securely, and he looks nice with it. All the details on the front are sculpted in, as are the rivets on the back.

So who's behind that blue facemask?

The Young Avengers' brute muscle is big, green and angry. Okay, maybe not so angry, but still big and green. Of course, the name could use some work; I mean, "Hulkling?" Really? That's the best he could come up with? Okay. A bit on the nose, don't you think? At 7⅛" tall, Hulkling is the biggest figure in this set. There are no oddities to report in his articulation: it's the usual 29 points that Marvel Legends get. He has double-knees, but single elbows, and his chest is a simple hinge. His ankles feel a bit weak; they're not loose or anything, it's just that the plastic that connects his feet to his legs seems too thin. He does have finger-hinges, but since he's not a guy who uses accessories, they're not going to cause him to drop anything.

Hulkling's costume is an armless leather bodysuit with a padded pattern around the shoulders. It's not very complex, but when your character has bright green skin, it's not like he needs neon clothes and a cape. He's wearing matching fingerless gloves, and has five rings in each ear (though one is supposed to be a cuff on each). His hands don't really blend into his wrists very well - they're just sort of plugged onto the end of his arms with no organic transition.

The sculpt is nice, though overall Hulkling looks a little feminine. His skin looks stretched taut over his muscles, and his costume is really wrinkly. I'm not sure where the idea came from that leather folds up like a garbage bag when you wear it, but that's what a lot of toys have these days. Leather's thick, right? Not thin and crinkly?

So how did Hulkling gain his powers?

The final Young Avenger in the team's initial line-up is their version of Thor, Asgardian - in case you had any question about who he was supposed to grow up to be, his costume really sells the connection, what with the head-wings and the big discs on his chest. Rather than a cape, he's got a red cloak draped over his shoulders, and he's foregone the hammer in favor of a simple wooden staff. He's wearing silver bracers and golden shin guards, and there's no real way to describe them other than, well, "Asgardian" - they look like what Thor and his friends always wear in the comics.

Asgardian - who recently changed his name to Wiccan - is actually Billy Kaplan, superhero fanboy extraordinaire. He's a scrawny guy, and his sculpt is the highlight of this set. In its own way, his costume is more intricate than even Iron Lad's - the wrinkles are more subtle than Hulkling's clothes, but more detailed than Patriot's. His shoulder pads are attached to his shawl, which is a free-floating piece. He's got a satchel or courier's bag that hangs to his hip and fingerless gloves with a pad on the back. The facial sculpt is really good - it absolutely looks like Jim Cheung's artwork.

There's one odd spot in Asgardian's articulation: his head seems to stick to the peg that connectes it to his neck, so while up-and-down motion is fine, side-to-side can be limited. And bonus points for just sculpting his left fist without any joints - it lets him hold his staff perfectly.

So why did Billy change his code name from Asgardian to Wiccan?

The Young Avengers box set comes with a small display base for each figure - bases and like a lot of the ML box sets, the bases are simple discs with stickers featuring the character's face. It's nothing deeply impressive, but it's nice to get a small extra like this. The set also includes a reprint of Young Avengers #1, which is a really good read.

Young Avengers was created by Allan Heinberg, writer for Fox's The O.C., so he knows a thing or two about interesting teenagers. Marvel, surprisingly, managed to keep the exact premise of the series a secret until it was released - something that's very hard to do in this age of intense internet speculation. In fact, the last time they did such a good job of hiding a book's secret was when they began Thunderbolts, which, hey, also had a big twist at the end. And though somehow we've never gotten any Thunderbolts figures, this Young Avengers set is very cool in its own right. There's more to the team than "Avengers Junior," and they're not Marvel's version of the Teen Titans. The book is currently one of Marvel's best, and worth checking out.

-- 05/13/06

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