Up front let me state I am saving First Appearance Wolverine for another review (now watch how many people ignore this statement LOL).
Once again we have an X-Men themed wave. Sometimes the theme waves kind of bug me because ever since I was a kid one of the major appeals of Marvel was the coherent universe in which any character could pop up in any comic at any time. It's the most minor of gripes I realize but something I hadn't mentioned before either.
Still what matters is we get these figures and characters, and while some are excited over the next two waves, most of the waves leave me cold (read my State of the 1:18th Union reaction to Toyfair for more info) and I look at this wave as the last full wave I want of Marvel Universe for a while. That will probably change as more MU figures get revealed, but for now that is the case.
But keep in mind too that I have been grabbing up MU's very solidly for almost 2 1/2 years which is impressive when you consider one line has been my main focus for that long. Usually I tend to focus on one line or a month for a few months. Part of the issue is MU is actually doing up new characters that haven't been in 1:18th scale before whereas most of the other lines I tend to look at (Star Wars, GI Joe) have been rather repetitive with only a few newish characters added in here and there (by newish I mean much needed updates like Low Light or Hoth Leia or new characters like Shadow Tracker or Nom Anor). As such MU (and movie support lines that "technically" are under that umbrella) have gotten a ton of focus from me in the past few years. I like Snake Eyes and Luke Skywalker but hate the idea having 50+ of them. Despite the abundance of Wolverine's and Iron Man's in the past two years, they are still nowhere near that level.
So on to the figures and like normal I am going to start off with the figure that disappointed me, which was a huge surprise this time.
So in the 90's I was a huge X-Men Mark, in fact I had been since 1975 (X-Men was the first comic I bought regularly). Cable burst onto the scene in the pages of The New Mutants, a comic at the time often ignored by most X-Fans. He was vastly different for the time and filled in a very necessary void left by Magneto, the role of mentor. Very quickly though the kids grew up, and X-Force was born and my interest in Cable began to wane as it appears most people's interest did. At one point his popularity rivaled Wolverine. Now it's hard to keep him in a series. I think part of that is the mystery is over. We all know he is the son of Cyclops and Madyline Prior (AKA the Goblin Queen) which most of us suspected anyway. But even beyond the fact the mystery was over, the mystery ended up being kind of stupid. Might be me, but the Stryfe clone and all the other crap that came along with Cable's future self kind of turned me away from the character. He was one dimensional which isn't always terrible, but with his origin he became somewhat convoluted too and that caused me to kind of ignore him for a long time. Ironically I feel Wolverine's history is equally convoluted, but Wolvie has the advantage of being around a much longer time as well. Cable seemed to know everybody but no one had seen him before New Mutants. This was another weird aspect of the character. Cable had a ton of figures in the Toy Biz Marvel 5 inch line, I had several but of course I wanted my 1:18th scale and now I have it. I will say he is nowhere near as high on my list of must have figures as he used to be but he is still there.
As I said, I am a bit disappointed by this figure, not at all saying this is a bad figure but he is less than I expected. Some of it is the scale of the figure itself.
While Cable is tall, this figure does kind of push that point to an extreme. Personally I think he should be around Gladiator's height (Sans Mohawk of course) to be the proper scale for the character. Granted Rob Liefeild never had a clue about proper scaling (which always made me wonder how he got a job at Marvel let alone why so many people thought he was a great artist in the 90's, eh whatever). Also keep in mind that previous lines have had Cable around the same height as Deadpool or Cyclops (seriously, Google it) which adds to the "HUH!? factor. Anyway Cable is just a bit too tall which is my one huge knock against the figure. It's enough to knock a star off (all by itself) to an otherwise pretty good figure (and I am sure some will be like "No man, Cable is 8 feet tall when Liefeild drew him!" Liefeild also drew Captain America with breasts if you remember:
Although years later someone took this idea am did it right:
Kind of sad how sexy that outfit is on a woman, eh? Still the results turned out fine cause American Dream lead to being able to buy this for the wife or girlfriend:
So maybe that's what it was, Liefeild's popularity was due to the fact that we subconsciously wanted our girlfriends to dress up like sexy Captain America-Wait-OH GOD, that is warped!!!!
Back to Cable before I go somewhere really disturbing with this idea.
So my Cable has Hope, cause nothing sucks worse than a hopeless mutant. They turn into an emo kid. But this seems to be a big deal to some people. While for me, Hope does provide some great comedic opportunities, I really was indifferent to if she was included. Still since I got the variant with her I have a few jokes I can use her for (gee, wonder where those might appear, should I shamelessly plug Scale Wars again, oops, just did). Anyway Cable comes with a separate "without Hope" chest piece that you can use if you get this variant (Thank God, jokes can be fun but a baby on his chest all the time would be too much). Both chest pieces fall off kind of easy though, it would have been nice if Hasbro had made them a bit more secure even though they are changeable. But do keep in mind there are two versions (apparently the "hopeless" version is going to be more common according to reports).
Cable also comes with huge honkin' gun like he always has. I remember when he appeared in the X-Men cartoon I kept thinking why on Earth someone would design a ray gun that is cocked like a shotgun. Looked cool but was totally impractical. The gun can fit on his back but it was a pain to figure out the first time you try it. He also has the high tech equivalent of a spear (which is odd, but ok, I mean how does a spear turn "high-tech" but anyway) and a pistol which fits into his holster nicely.
It's pretty clear to see Cable is intended to be his appearance in the Messiah Complex storyline. This suits me fine as I kind of hated the huge shoulder pads look of the 90's version. My other knock on this figure is the fact his joints are very loose, especially his neck which appears to be the result of how he was crammed into the package (remember he is a tall figure). He does have the new ankle articulation as well, but this is also very loose and almost renders it useless. Normally I attribute this to a problem in the manufacturing or quality control. This time it looks like the result of how he was forced into the package though:
I pulled this off the internet as I never took a picture of Cable in the package. However as you can see Cable has his head forced forward (looking down) inside the package and that is the same way his head wants to go when you pose him. It was actually a bit of chore to pose him properly for this review (not as big a problem with others who had similar articulation). Also his knees are bent and that forces the ankles forward below, which produces this looseness. This is only present in the neck, knees and ankles implying it is either how Cable is packed or how he is forced into the bubble while packing. Other figures near his size didn't have this problem (but most of them were shorter, look at Clone Thor in the comparison shot, Cable is nearly a head taller).
I would say if you are an old school X-Force fan (like me) grab him. He is flawed but he is still cool, much better than any of the 5-inch Toybiz attempts. He is also inexplicably short packed (more on that below) so if you see him don't wait (unless you don't want him), just get him. I kind of doubt we will see a repeat of Cable's like we did in the 90's (his popularity has waned and he is supposedly dead in the comics, it is comics though so he will probably get better next year). Also (at this point) he doesn't appear to be appearing in later waves (keep in mind we only know for certain the case packing of wave 14 right now) and you have another reason that he needs to be gotten at first sight.
Now on to a figure that is cool but kind of confuses me too.
Gladiator is technically an X-Men villain but he has been around the Avengers as well so he kind of fits in a bunch of places. Technically not a villain but he does keep getting into fights with the heroes (Often for convoluted reasons) so there you go. He is a character that should be known to the hardcore fan, but not much further which makes his being packed 2 per case kind of confusing. Cyclops and Cable should be more recognizable (even with Cable's waning popularity) as they have had much more significant appearances and been in more media outside of the comics (Movie, Cartoon, ect). Gladiator did appear in the X-Men cartoon (once or twice, vs. Cable's multiple appearances) but most people who have not read comics fairly regularly might not know who he is. As such he appears to be the peg warmer of this wave. I have seen him in several places while the others seem to sell through briskly. Added to that he is going to be in Wave 14 and now I am confused. Why not Cable or especially Cyclops who more than deserve this kind of ratio vs. Gladiator who (at essence) is a nobody.
That isn't at all to say the figure isn't good though, he is dead on likeness of Gladiator. He uses the "big guy" Wrecking Crew mold, but of course is painted different which in turn makes him appear different. The only thing (besides the head) that is unique is the cape, which is cool. I had heard someone say that they were thinking of using the cape for a Dr. Strange custom, but of course that was before Strange was announced in the next wave.
The verdict, depends on your point of view. He is a powerful character who can give Hulk and Thor some competition (but will get ultimately defeated) but unless you really want to fill you ranks of Marvel Universe with everyone I would say pass. The only other reason I can think to get him is if you are a big X-Men fan and know all about him. Either way not a bad figure, but also one you could probably pass on and still get later.
Now on to the one figure that people thought was the star of the wave (which I will explain why I don't think that in a moment).
SOOOO, I have to admit I have never been a huge fan of Apocalypse. I don't hate him but I don't like how he is handled most days. Generally (every time I read his appearances) he shows up, spouts off about "Survival of the fittest," occasionally he tries to manipulate some of the heroes into working for him (which always fails, and you think he would have picked up on that one by now), then gets his butt handed to him. Usually he narrowly escapes or appears dead too only to comeback later and repeat steps 1-5. I have never gotten why people often refer to him as the greatest X-men Villain as he has barely done anything and what he has done (i.e. Archangel's wings) gets retconed anyway. Generally I prefer to think of him in his early X-Factor appearances, bent on domination and a man of mystery (oh did I mention I hated his origin as well, since he could have very easily have taken over a few hundred years BEFORE the X-Men who constantly kick his rear were even formed).
As I said I don't hate Apocalypse, just don't care for his repetitive appearances. The figure is pretty cool though. He is big like Juggernaught (and borrows a few parts form Juggy) but has enough unique parts that he looks to be his own figure. This is a tactic I am ok with by Hasbro. Fine, keep the tooling costs down but give use something for a dollar as well please. My only real knock to the figure is the pads/hoses kind of limit his possibility, not drastically but he cannot get his arms above his head. It's a gripe I consider minor, unless you want Apocalypse to pose on the monkey bars or something.
So if you are an Apocalypse fan, this is a definite grab. I would recommend him to a general Marvel fan as well. He is imposing enough to be a credible threat to the Avengers, Defenders, or whatever team you chose.
Now on to what I consider the real star of the wave, ironically the figure I almost passed on.
Unlike Liefield, Jim Lee did understand scale and that is probably why he is still employed today. The outfit he gave Cyclops was simple but was also altered from his previous looks. Lee got rid of the hood which made Cyclops look like a penis (Yes I said penis, which means I am about to get fined 500 million dollars by some unknown shadow "anti-dirty word" government committee who will be screaming about dirty words on the interwebs to which the whole case will go to the Supreme Court and old men and women will be forced to chuckle during testimony because they cannot believe they are actually hearing a case about the 1st Amendment right to type "penis").
Lee also added some extra straps, ect and out came a new look for Cyclops. I thought it was ok but nothing to write home about, but at the least it was something different for Cyclops. I already have 2 or 3 Cyclops and to be honest I wasn't too interested in another but ended up picking him up because he was short packed (see Gladiator above for that rant). What I got was a huge surprise though, this wasn't simply one of the older versions of Cyke repainted and added with straps, this was something else entirely.
One thing I do like about this figure is that there is some details that you might not think about at first. For example the little "X" symbol on his strap is in gold instead of being straight yellow like the rest of the strap. Most renditions of this look to date have had the yellow so that minor detail is greatly appreciated.
As far as I can tell this is an all new figure, although as I right this I realized I never compared him to Hawkeye, still I don't think that is him. He does have the calf swivel like Hawkeye which made me think that though. In addition he has BOTH chest and waist articulation which simply adds to his range of motion. He has the same ankle articulation as mentioned with Cable, but with Cyclops the looseness is not present (and thus the articulation is viable with Cyclops). The ankles make for more dynamic poses and manage to make the figure do things that were kind of hard for previous figures to do. Of course in addition to this he has normal MU articulation, or rather what is becoming normal (Thigh swivel, "look up" head, ect).
I am not sure what else I can say to make the point, but grab this figure. This is THE figure that should have been in Gladiator's spot in the case ratio. He is much better of a figure than my original estimates just based on press pictures. Most of the articulation is well hidden too so that makes the figure that much more desirable. Really this is how Hasbro SHOULD have been doing this line from the beginning. If they HAD to give us a standard buck figure, Cyke SHOULD have been it/ Strong and muscular but not overly so and could be several figures (note, the various straps, ect. are removable as well). Really I cannot say enough about him.
So that does it for now with Marvel Universe, still plenty of Marvel stuff coming but for now I am slowing down a bit. Even if you are not, enjoy these figures I cannot think of a huge reason (other than the above listed) not to grab each of these.
Until next time-I'll see you at the movies.