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"Origin" Wolverine

Marvel Select
by yo go re

ToyBiz, as a company, can either be seen as either trying new things or hedging its bets. With their Marvel Legends line, they're providing cheap figures that have tons of articulation, terriffic sculpts, detailed bases and free comicbooks. At the same time, they're producing the quite expensive Marvel Select line, which foregoes the super articulation and comics in favor of larger bases and more detailed sculpts.

The price is what has so far kept me away from Marvel Select - while I like most of the figures they've made so far, none of them have really been worth $20. They're giving us less than the Marvel Legends for almost three times the price. Still, I'm constantly tempted by them. All the figures so far have been really cool, and the bases really are nice. I finally gave in, however, for the Wolverine "Origin" figure.

At this point in our reviews, we typically provide whatever biographical info is on the back of the packaging. In Wolverine's case, however, I wanted to give a bit of a warning: the info provided on the figure contains spoilers for the (really quite good) series Origin. If you haven't read the series and don't want to know what happens, just skip ahead.

At the shock of seeing his father shot and killed, young James Howlett manifested his latent mutant abilities when bone claws jutted from the back of each hand. The beast unleashed, James attacked and killed his father's murderer, then fled to British Columbia with Rose, the young woman he loved. Under the identity of Logan he discovered he had other mutant abilities including animal-keen senses and an accelerated healing factor. Due to his tenacity and refusal to back down from a challenge, Logan acquired the nickname Wolverine. When Wolverine confronts the son of his father's murderer a battle ensues, tragically ending with Rose impaled on Wolverine's claws. Wracked by grief over the death of the woman he truly loved, he fled into the woods. He was not seen again for many years, but the legend of the man called Wolverine had begun.

Wolverine is shown here running barefoot through the north woods with his lupine companions. He's wearing tattered pants (and nothing else) and has just leapt over a fallen tree. He's got his claws popped and is ready to keep moving. Speaking of which, his claws are one of the only things not to like about Origin.

For years, Wolverine's claws had been portrayed as thin metal with a beveled edge, straight and flat like a razor blade. Then, when Magneto pulled all the adamantium out of him, Logan discovered he'd always had his own bone claws inside the metal, which means that instead of blades, the metal claws were pointed cylinders - great bloody big knitting needles. Hardly the same deadly thing. How can they be razor sharp anywhere but the tips? The smart thing to do would be to say that, after years of having artificial claws in his arms, his healing factor got used to them and attempted to "heal" them when they were gone, creating new bones in their place. By giving Logan bone claws at his origin, Marvel has cemented this bad idea into their history. But enough geekrant; back to the toy.

If the concept of Marvel Select is that the figures are intended to be representations of a specific artist's work, then either this one isn't very good or Andy Kubert's artwork is really hard to translate to 3D. Wolverine looks good, but he certainly doesn't have the type of stylistic connection to Kubert that DC Direct's Superman had to Ed McGuinness. In fact, the sculpt isn't really as good as the typical Marvel Legend, so the lack of articulation is really more of a hindrance than anything else.

Wolverine isn't entirely immobile, however, which is a good thing. He moves at the waist, shoulders, elbows, wrists, neck and ankles, which is enough to give him a few varied poses, but not the full range of motion available with complete articulation. Marvel Select is sculpted in a 7" scale, so hunched-over Wolverine stands 4¾" tall.

The fallen tree base is fairly nice, but could stand a bit more detail in the sculpt. There are lichens clinging to the bark, and footprints in the mud around the five footpegs (two for Logan, three for wolves).

The black wolves are all sculpted well; the two leaping over the log really capture the motion of such an action while balancing well on their footpegs. The third wolf stands alone and, as such, has no pegs on the base.

The Marvel Select series is intended to eventually have 36 figures released one per month for three years, though the west coast dock strikes pushed the initial figures back a few months. All the Select figures share the same oversized blister cards with nice graphics on the spine, allowing MOCers to display them like books on a shelf.

The biggest factor working against the Marvel Select line is the large pricetag. These would all be pretty good $10 figures, but right now Marvel and Diamond aren't giving us very much for our money.

-- 05/29/03

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