It seems that this whole year in figures has been about one thing and one thing only: THE HULKBUSTER. Once word spread that Tony Stark's epic creation was going to make its debut in the AVENGERS sequel and was seen in the teaser trailer, figure Junkies went ballistic. Questions were rampant: Are we getting a HULKBUSTER? What scale? Will it be a Marvel Legends? A Build-A-Figure? Are we getting a MARVEL SELECT? And suddenly the prices on old HULKBUSTERS from years past, I'm talking Toy Biz here, started skyrocketing in price in anticipation. Buzz like this was practically unheard of for a toy of a character that has existed and actually been made before. But the AFJ Facebook page was lit up with all things HULKBUSTER for weeks with speculation and guesses at just what fans were going to receive from the good people at MARVEL. Then, it finally happened in February, the toy industry's version of the Super Bowl--TOY FAIR.
While anxiously sitting through the always entertaining Hasbro presentation that has the air of a big Hollywood movie premiere, I leaned forward in my chair as the MARVEL guys began their presentation. Anticipation was building in my gut because really, how many items could they be offering? Each Hasbro division only had an allotted period of time for the presentation so they were cutting it close. And then, there it was---a HULKBUSTER BAF wave of MARVEL LEGENDS coming this summer. This was going to be the toy hunters epic quest for BAF parts as toy outlaws have become craftier and sneaker at purchasing a Marvel Legend figure, bringing it home, easily removing the BAF piece and then returning the figure back to the retailer for the full amount. Translation? Free BAF figures as long as big-box chains continue to hire workers that seriously have no idea when they are being duped. The pictures members have posted on AFJ of what these thieves have replaced the BAF piece with have become hysterical. The bolder crooks have gone so far as removing the entirety of the contents of the package including the BAF part and the main figure and replacing it with common everyday household items like a hairbrush. Yes, a hairbrush. The store took back a Marvel Legends Hairbrush...and then restocked in the toy section to be sold again. Personally, I think they probably should have restocked it in personal grooming but now I'm being picky.
So the ML HULKBUSTER BAF was on the horizon but not until mid to late summer which posed a very serious question for collectors: what were Junkies going to do to satiate their HULKBUSTER jones until the dog days of summer? Thankfully, a plan was in place by the good people at Hasbro. Although the Titan Heroes line was more for the single digit fanboy, they made the smart decision to release an epic-sized HULKBUSTER with sounds that I think mirrors the onscreen version extremely well. Junkies picked this Buster up at the affordable price of $39.99 and the creative customizer took to repainting the plastic behemoth and giving it a battle damaged look that was just plain awesome. Video tutorials on just how to customize your own went online and fans seemed to be satisfied for now at the low cost, high-value piece for their collections.
Now one thing that kept hitting me in the back of my mind was that when the ML BAF was going to be released, it was most certainly going to have plastic pieces to put together for the final project. I had just finished my Hobgoblin and Thanos BAF's a few weeks earlier and although awesome looking, they are still just plastic. And in my mind, a good HULKBUSTER was going to have to have that die-cast metal feel with some real weight to it. Certain that I was still going to pre-order my ML HULKBUSTER wave, I was secretly hoping for a "Godfather call" of sorts to save the day. And in early May, I got just that.
I don't know why it had not hit me earlier. I don't know why I did not think of it at all. After all, I have always seen the MARVEL SELECT line as the dark horse of Marvel collecting which makes no sense. Maybe it is because they are not as readily available in the big box chains we are so used to or maybe it's that we get scared off at the sheer size of the package of the figure leaving the neophyte collector to assume that it will be out of their price range. Like most uninformed assumptions, these are all wrong. In fact, MARVEL SELECT, in my opinion, is the best bang for your buck on today's figure market. Let's quickly go over why.
One: the MARVEL SELECT figures are absolute beasts. They are epic in size and their super large packaging can barely contain them inside their cardboard prison. They beg to be let out and be played with or in my case, be displayed with the proper lighting the way a car collector would showcase a Shelby Cobra. Two: The details of the SELECT sculpts are the best in the business. The accuracy and detail that goes into these figures gives them the air of not just coming off some assembly line. These figures have the feel that they are a limited edition or just 1 of 8000 made. And if there is one thing figure Junkies love it is that what they just bought appears or looks to be exclusive. Three: If you get in on a new SELECT early on a pre-order, you are looking at the set price of just $24.95 per piece. And that price does not fluctuate on Marvel.com which is the main hub to order the newest additions to the line. So for $25 and no driving around to the ends of the earth to locate your last BAF piece to finish whatever you are building, you can just click and be on your way. Sure there are the jerks that hope you don't find out where to purchase the figure for $25 and desperately hope you make a bid on the same figure they have on eBay going for $150. When push comes to shove, MARVEL SELECTS like Abomination, Rhino & Juggernaut are hard to pass up and eclipse the other iterations out there. So when news hit that a MARVEL SELECT HULKBUSTER was going to be available by June for just $25, I ordered two without even thinking about it knowing that this was going to be one special SELECT. They arrived today and I am one happy Junkie.
The package is the standard ginormous sturdy cardboard with all-encompassing bubble for a full look at the figure inside. I can't put my finger on it but it looks like they have streamlined the packaging a bit making it more difficult for the corners to fray by the weight of the package. Just seems to be some slight nips and tucks. The HULKBUSTER is very easy to remove from the package without destroying said package. This is a great feature for moving because you can literally just slide the figure back into its plastic home and not worry about it. The first thing I noticed when taking the figure out of the package is its weight. It has some real weight to it that is noticeable when you have a plastic figure for comparison in your other hand. This HULKBUSTER has the feel of the 80's Godaiken robot giants albeit on a smaller scale. Compared with a LEGENDS BAF, the HULKBUSTER felt like a bar of gold in comparison to some cheap plastic. That is not to say LEGENDS are bad, just that when compared with a SELECT figure, it's apples and oranges.
The paint job on HB is perfect if not a little too perfect. What I mean by that is that I would have loved to have seen some battle damaged wear and tear on the armor like we saw in the movie. I will say this, custom Junkies are going to have a field day with this SELECT because they will be working with an amazing blank canvass that is made for customizing. I can't wait to see what some of the talented artists come up with. The red really pops and the gold is subtle and not overpowering. As far as the likeness to what we see onscreen, you can't ask for much better. My vote for screen accuracy still goes to the talking Titan Heroes Buster, crazy right? Still, the SELECT is a "torn from the screen" type figure executed with exacting detail. At about 9-inches, it is awe inspiring and feels taller than what my measuring tape says.
I would have liked a little more in the way of articulation as far as moving him and poseability. I tried several different styles of poses but was hesitant to really push it for fear of making the joints too loose by my constant meddling. Still, if you know the look you want to go for, definitely go for it but handle with care. The one misstep for me are the two hands/fists on HB. The left hand has what has become known as "pancake hand" and although would be cool to have sometimes, eventually I would like the hand to roll up into a fist. But it's for naught. Conversely, on the right hand, the fist looks great but cannot be unclenched at all. Considering all that is amazing about this beautiful piece, the hands can certainly be forgiven.
While the ML BAF HULKBUSTER is still a good month off, I can't imagine it beating the SELECT version because it is a heavyweight entry. A real beast from head to toe. And it's one of the rare occasions that I am so happy that I ordered two because like I said before, this is a showpiece, a conversation starter and the kind of figure that will make people new to the hobby have the chance to add some instant credibility to their budding collection. My recommendation? A must have, period.