There are waves of MARVEL LEGENDS and there are waves of MARVEL LEGENDS. When word broke at TOY FAIR back in February that the long storied HULKBUSTER that we had only seen brief glimpses of in the AGE OF ULTRON trailers was going to be a BAF in a summer wave of Legends, Junkies went nuts. Hell, I went nuts. Jostling for position in the Hasbro showroom to take a snapshot of the complete BAF, you would have thought we were waiting to take pics of Scarlett Johansson. But no, not Scarlett, just the Build-A-Figure we had all been hoping and waiting for--Tony Stark's greatest creation should he need to take down his teammate in the field. I don't even think the other photogs cared what figures made up the line or which pieces came with who, they just wanted the final result: a pic of the MARVEL LEGENDS HULKBUSTER! But have no fear, here at AFJ we break down each and every figure in the wave including the BAF. However, we will save the best for last...
FEARLESS DEFENDERS VALKYRIE
Growing up I always thought of VALKYRIE as kind of a "LADY THOR" but there is much more to this Asgardian. Selected by the big dog Odin himself to lead the Valkyrior and later become a member of the superhero team THE DEFENDERS, VALKYRIE is no slouch when it comes to combat. Besides always making the "TOP 100" sexiest babes in comics lists, Valkyrie is extremely powerful. In all of Valkyrior, she is the strongest with bone and tissue several times stronger than mere mortals. While not immortal, she ages at a sliver of the time frame of humans and is resistant to both our diseases and injury. She has a bunch of other bells and whistles that are too lengthy to list here but really her only female match in Asgard would be Sif. The last time I saw a VALKYRIE figure in MARVEL LEGENDS form was about five years ago opening packs of LEGENDS 2-packs of DEADPOOL/WARPATH, WINTER SOLDIER/BLACK WIDOW at TOYS R US. I passed on the two-pack of the HULK & VALKYRIE mainly because I am an idiot. Anyway, she is back this time in a solo pack and she looks amazing. Far better than I expected, she looks like she has just been pulled from a page of Norse mythology. From the beautiful golden locks of hair braided meticulously to her shiny breastplate, you can't help but think that VALKYRIE can throw down a few with any of the guys and still be the only one left standing. I particularly like the efficiency of the figure with nothing extraneous included. Besides her legendary Dragonfang sword that is bigger than half of the height of the figure, it really is a great powerful figure, especially for young girl collectors. All of the details are perfectly placed with a beautiful facial sculpt. Well done.
FEARLESS DEFENDERS THUNDRA
The fire red haired time traveler warrior from the future and an alternate timeline on an Earth where the ladies are in charge, THUNDRA is all sorts of female power in one heavenly body. Although by no means an A-list character, the most I know about THUNDRA is that she is most frequently associated with the FANTASTIC FOUR to take down the members in a brawl for the ages. She believes the FF's THING to be the most powerful man to have walked the Earth in its current and alternate history and his defeat will supplant her as the greatest female warrior ever. THUNDRA does come with superhuman strength and certainly knows how to take a punch with combat training from the 23rd century. The ML figure does come with her signature three to four-foot chain that she latches on to one of her hands as her weapon of choice. I like that they included the chain and that you can easily affix it to one of her hands. THUNDRA is certainly an in shape gal with a lifetime membership to any gym she wants. Her costume, more like a uniform actually, does not leave much to the imagination. I like her facial sculpt and expression very much and have a feeling that this THUNDRA will be fodder for a lot of female custom figures that have not been made yet.
MARVEL'S WAR MACHINE
I have always been a fan of Colonel James "Rhodey" Rhodes and am glad that he is now an integral part of the next wave of AVENGERS on film. They do make quite a few WAR MACHINE figures so I was surprised to see him packed in this wave especially since you get two in the case. The sleek black and grey armor has a shinier look than I am used to but I never really have any complaints about Rhodey's duds as the WAR MACHINE. He does come with an alternate head whose lid opens to reveal his face which I love because having an alternate head is always nice to own especially for posing purposes. The shoulder mounted gun is there which is kind of WM's signature piece of hardware. The details are very specific and if you look close, you can even see "LT. COL. JAMES RHODES" scrawled next to his chest repulsor and some other markings high up on his left shoulder. I am very impressed with this WAR MACHINE and it is a must-have for you ARMOR-HEADS out there. It just looks very militarized and efficient in every way I can think of so its a welcome addition.
MARVEL HEROES DR. STRANGE
Since the DR. STRANGE film is finally getting off the ground with Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead, it is a pretty good move to release a new figure of the character. I have always liked DR. STRANGE's origin but always felt it was a little-known one despite his A-list status in the MARVEL UNIVERSE. This is not just some guy off the street, DR. STRANGE is a member of MARVEL's original Illuminati from ten years ago and rightly so. With his access to the Eye of Agamotto, the Doctor is not one to be trifled with on any level. While I expect the classic grand cape costume, instead we get a much more stylized and 21st-century look for the good doctor. And I like it. The facial sculpt makes it pretty obvious from afar just which character it is and I really dig the dark maroons and blacks on the suit. The buckle on his belt is a little gaudy but the guy is dealing with forces beyond our understanding so I'll give it a pass. STRANGE even comes with two "aura blasts" as I have named them that you can attach to his arms giving the appearance that he is shooting magic out of his hands. I like when Hasbro tries new and nifty stuff like that and encourage it in the future. The wave has not been out long enough on the market yet for me to really judge just how desired the DR. STRANGE figure is by the AFJ community at large. Still, I like it, not love, but definitely, like.
Donnie Gill is actually not the original BLIZZARD. He was employed by Tony Stark's nemesis Justin Hammer who gave the small-time crook the cryogenic suit that significantly resembled the original BLIZZARD's look. Mostly, BLIZZARD is part of IRON MAN's Rogues Gallery with guys like BACKLASH & BEETLE, CONSTRICTOR, SHOCKER & THE FIXER. All relatively low-level guys but Gill has had his touch with some of the big league characters in the MU including some celestial beings. I always felt that with the right nudge, BLIZZARD could have easily been a good guy with the right guidance but like they say, it's with who you surround yourself. BLIZZARD's core powers come directly from micro-cryogenic units inside the costume that allows him to emit cold blasts, shoot ice and decrease the temperature to his surroundings. BLIZZARD is definitely on my random "WTF, this is who they chose to make?" list because I feel like there are so many other more deserving characters of a figure than BLIZZARD. That doesn't mean I don't think its cool, it just means I am nonplussed by his entry into the ML canon. The suit BLIZZARD wears, to me, is kind of comical and the only thing to differentiate him from an Italian ice pop is a Popsicle stick. The suit is a very metallic looking blue and white and that is pretty much it. There is not much for me to go on except to be upset that they have never made a LEGENDS SHOCKER, my favorite Spider-Rogue. A SPIDER-MAN CLASSICS, yes, but never the full on LEGENDS treatment. I would pass on this one.
MARVEL NOW IRON MAN
It must be nice to be a billionaire playboy because who knows what MARK this new armor of Stark's is? However, this is the highly touted MARVEL NOW IRON MAN from I believe back in 2012 when all the MU books relaunched from number one. Let's just jump right in. I really like this armor and for some reason, it kind of reminds me of Halloween with its Autumn hues and colors. The mix of black, gold and red just remind of leaves falling from the trees and then said leaves being set on fire by repulsor rays making the chilly air smell terrific. This is Tony's "liquid metal armor" so it is the first of its kind on that front so I do like that having a "first" of any kind of IRON MAN armor. This one will definitely look nice in my Armory and before I die, I hope I do track 'em all down!
MARVEL HEROES VISION
Here is where I am really bummed because I have always been a big Paul Bettany (the actor) fan. He was told his time in Hollywood was over just weeks before he nabbed the role of VISION in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON. Bettany absolutely stole every scene of the movie he was in and walked away from the film mightily holding Mjolnir as if to say "suck it bitches" to talent agents. I loved the VISION's movie costume far better than the one that was made for this wave of figures. I desperately wanted a movie VISION figure but it was for naught. VISION, created by ULTRON was meant to infiltrate the AVENGERS but after outsmarting the megalomaniac robot ULTRON, he becomes an integral part of Earth's Mightiest Heroes. All this and he stole the movie out from some of the biggest movie stars on the planet. Now onto the figure. A total fail in my eyes. First off on every VISION I have seen, the cape looks upside down and unable to be fixed. The greens on the figure are this hyper-metallic almost mirror-like green that is just overwhelming. Plus there are like three shades of green to keep track of on the figure. Maybe with the right lighting, it could work but here it just feels like overkill. I have seen some incredible custom jobs of the movie VISION that put this figure to shame and would have rather spent the money on that. This one is most definitely a pass unless you absolutely need the figure to finish your BAF HULKBUSTER.
Its here. Its big, its bad, it is jaw-droppingly awesome. I shot a 20-minute video on me joyously putting together the BAF HULKBUSTER and then compared the final product to last months MARVEL SELECT HULKBUSTER. While that is a fine figure on its own, the BAF HULKBUSTER dethroned it pretty quickly in my side to side comparison. The SELECT HB is more of a comic book version of the character. As much as the TITAN HEROES HULKBUSTER was touted as a kids toy earlier this year, the BAF HULKBUSTER is like a moving parts version of that. It has the fluidity and movement just like a figure and excellent joint integrity to pose him however you please. All in all, this wave is about the final product and not the parts that make it up, unfortunately. While there are some gem figures in this wave that I highly recommend picking up, I have to say that the BAF HULKBUSTER is a must own for anyone that has ever uttered the words, "Make Mine MARVEL."