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Guardians of the Galaxy

Marvel Universe
by yo go re

It's no secret that once a company comes up with a name, they'll do anything to keep it. That does cause some problems though, because when Hasbro said they were making a Guardians of the Galaxy box set, nobody thought of these guys.

In the wake of the devastation left by the Annihilation War, the galaxy was unprotected. In a forgotten place at the edge of the universe, a group of heroes came together, determined to fill that void. From their base in deep space, the Guardians of the Galaxy protect the cosmos from threats both large and small.

Starlord (or, as he's known in the comics, "Star-Lord") was created in 1976 by Steve Englehart. He had big plans for the character, but left Marvel before he could put any of them into motion, so the Star-Lord was forgotten pretty fast.

Peter Quill was an astronaut inhabiting a space station when an alien entity came recruiting for an intergalactic police corps. Quill volunteered, but was turned down in favor of another. Being something of a dick, he threw a fit and was sent back to Earth. However, he stole a spaceship, returned to the station and forced his way into the chamber where the other guy was getting ready and took his place. What a hero!

Starlord's current costume is a Kree heat-dampening suit, rather than the blue and yellow spandex he started in. It has a rather stormtrooperish, "Rocketeer flight suit" look to it, so he uses the AIM Soldier/Ghost Rider body with a new belt. And it works really well.

The figure has a new head. These days Starlord wears a battle helmet that makes him look robotic, and it's looking amazing here. There's no way something this complex could come out of a single mold, so it seems to be made from at least four pieces glued together. Watch out for the paint on his eyes, but overall this is a very cool piece.

We also get two guns for the figure to use. He originally had a pistol capable of firing the four ancient elements - earth, air, fire and water - but now wields a pair of Kree submachine guns. The accessories are new sculpts, with an appropriately bulky design, and he holds them well. The clips get warped to the side from their time in the packaging, but it's not too bad.

Our next Guardian is Rocket Raccoon, another character introduced in 1976 (inspired by a Beatles song). Rocket was a genetically engineered companion for mentally the ill patients of an interstellar insane asylum. Seriously. He's teamed up with both Hulk and She-Hulk, and even led the Guardians of the Galaxy when Star-Lord was unavailable.

Rocket is basically a glorified accessory. He's barely 2" tall and only moves at the neck and tail (both balljoints). He's wearing a uniform to match Star-Lord's, though his doesn't have any boots. Again, you'll want to check his eyes before you buy: the small dots of color in the middle can easily go wonky.

Despite his small size (or perhaps because of it) Rocket Raccoon comes with the largest accessory in this set. He's armed with a large metallic blue-grey rifle, which looks like it's capable of taking down a space ship solo. His right hand is molded to hold the gun, but it doesn't hold tightly. Good thing you can't really pose him, I guess?

If Rocket Raccoon is a glorified accessory, then Groot doesn't even get the "glorified." He's just an accessory. Groot, the Monarch of Planet X, is the oldest character on this team, predating even the Fantastic Four - he's a holdover from Marvel's days of publishing mainly monster stories, and first appeared in 1960's Tales to Astonish #13, where he wanted to steal a human village back to his homeworld (he was defeated by termites). This figure-- sorry, this "figure" depicts Groot after he sacrificed himself to save the rest of the team and had to be regrown from a cutting. He's got a little skeletal face, and squats in a pot. D'awwww!

Finally we have Drax the Destroyer, only the second real figure in this set. Most of these MU box sets have three full-sized figures and a few pack-ins, so this set really feels light. As we've gone over before, Drax was basically created to be Hulk in Space. He had his own limited series in 2005, which is where he went from Hulk-sized behemoth to the skinnier version you see around these days.

This figure uses the same body as Absorbing Man, which means he has boot-cut jeans and no shirt. His skin is a nice, dark green that doesn't look plasticky, and he has red tattoos on his side and shoulders. Are those tattoos? Or are they war paint? He never had any red designs before, just green and purple.

Drax's big bald head is new, accurately depicting him with a mean snarl on his lips. Considering that this body has been previously used for Absorbing man and for Luke Cage, you have to wonder if there's some rule saying only bald heads can be put on the neck. [Dude, ¾ of the Wrecking Crew used the same torso! --ed] His eyes are silver surrounded by red markings.

Since he's no longer a big bruiser, Drax has taken to using knives. Thus, the figure comes with a knife to hold in each hand. They're not too warped by their time in the tray, surprisingly, and fit in his hands well. They can also be stored in the back of his belt, if you want.

I was interested in the Guardians of the Galaxy set mainly for Rocket Raccon and Groot - no joke! But Star-Lord turned out to be cool, and Drax... well, Drax isn't bad, we can say that much. This set is still not a good value for the money, not when the other sets give you three complete figures and this one just gives you two and some large accessories. If can find a good sale to bring down the price, then by all means endulge, but we wouldn't recommend paying MSRP.

-- 01/02/12

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