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Marvel Select
by yo go re

Thanos is one of those characters who has been under-represented in action figure form. He's one of the Marvel Universe's main villains, but we have more figures of Wolverine in his street clothes than we do of the Mad Titan. Fifteen series in and we still don't even have a hint of a Marvel Legends version? Well, that's why there's more than one line of Marvel toys.

One of the vastly powerful Eternals of Titan, Thanos was shunned as a child for his gigantic form and grotesque appearance. Thanos Wandering the galaxy, he assembled a small army of soldiers, mercenaries and malcontents, as well as a vast arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. During his travels, Thanos encountered and fell in love with the embodiment of Death, who had assumed the form of a humanoid female. To prove himself worthy of so awesome an entity, he set out to provide his companion with what he thought she desired: the death of every living creature.

This big boy comes to us from Marvel Select, the joint venture between ToyBiz and Diamond Select Toys. We already know that he looks good, so the question in most fans' minds is this: "will he fit in with my Legends?" Yes. Maybe. Read on!

Sculpted by Phil Ramirez, Thanos is looking great. When Jim Starlin created him, he was a fairly thin guy, but editor Roy Thomas suggested beefing him up - Starlin did, and liked it so much that Thanos eventually became nearly Hulk-sized. That's the version we know today, and that's what the figure represents. His anatomy isn't quite correct, but remember, he's an alien: who's to say his muscles should be grouped just like ours? However they're arranged, they've been sculpted well.

His boots and gloves have the look of real clothes, with wrinkles that are more subtle than we often see on toys. They even remembered the raised ridges that run from his knuckles down the fronts of his fingers.

Thanos has a fairly distinctive face, so if they got it wrong, fans would be up in arms. Thankfully, he looks great. His huge, rippling chin juts out nicely, he's gritting his individually sculpted teeth and blank white eyes rest on either side of a small, high-set nose. After Starlin, the artist most identified with drawing Thanos is Ron Lim, and you can see the influence of his art here.

The sculpt is good, but the paint certainly isn't. Many Thanoses (Thanae? Thanoi?) have terrible smudges on the gold sections, and the edges between the blue and gold are sloppy. The purple used for his skin tone is perfect, but the wash on his chin can get way too dark way too easily, and the airbrushed orange around his eyes can stray pretty far onto his cheeks. The two-tone golds on his boots and gloves is nicely done, but be sure to examine your Thanos very carefully before you buy.

Thanos, like most Marvel Select figures, is under-articulated. Still, they've come a long way since their early offerings, meaning you can actually get more than one pose out of the big guy. He moves at the head, shoulders, biceps, elbows, glove tops, waist, hips, thighs, knees and ankles, which is enough for a guy like him. Thanos is a powerhouse, but he's not running and jumping all over the place. He's usually standing his ground while his enemies try futily to engage him.

The figure is 8⅜" tall, but only if you pose him wrong. Most of the pictures you see of the figure have him standing straight up, but that's not right. Though he is a huge beast, Thanos always looks like he's burdened under his own weight - it's a good way for the artist to convey the character's power with just body language. So bend the knees, flex the ankles and tilt the head back a little. Give Thanos a bit of a slouch and he'll look great fighting your Marvel Legends Silver Surfer.

Thanos only has one accessory, an interchangeable left hand - the normal one is a fist, the replacement is open and features six small gems on the back. Did you really think they'd be dumb enough to give us a Thanos without the Inifinity Gauntlet? No way! The gems are all sculpted on and painted nicely (red Power gem, yellow Reality gem, blue Mind gem, purple Space gem, orange Time gem, and the green Soul gem on the back of the hand), and it's really cool that we have a choice as to whether Thanos has the glove or not. Including it is a no-brainer, but including the option to not have it is extra cool.

The hands are supremely difficult to remove, which, other than the paint issues, is the major flaw with this figure. Yes, you don't have to worry about the Gauntlet or the plain glove just falling off and leaving Thanos handless, but you can't swap them easily, either. Just remember that yes, the glove does come off and no, the peg is thick enough that it shouldn't break.

Packaged with Thanos is a second, unarticulated figure, Death the object of his desire, the incarnation of Death. This is a pretty classic, Grim Reaper-styled interpretation of Death, what with the skeleton body and the hooded robes. The boobs are a bit of a departure, though.

Death is painted better than her consort, but since she's mainly purple and black, that's no surprise. The white of her bones is done nicely, though the sculpt on her hands seems incomplete. Yes, as a single solid piece, some details had to be lost, but it's not like they're terribly distracting.

Because Death didn't always appear as a bag of bones, the figure comes with a removable mask to create a human face. It's painted nicely and fits on well, but really, she looks better without it. Death stands just over 6½" tall.

Despite the fact that Marvel Legends and Marvel Select are in different scales, Thanos is one of those figures who's big enough in the comics that the difference won't be an issue. There will probably be an ML Thanos some day - he's too important a character to overlook forever - but right now, this is a good version, well worth getting. Just examine the paint before you buy.

-- 12/20/05

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