According to the song "The Hulk" on the Spider-Man and Friends music CD, the Hulk is "big and green, but [he's] never mean" and he "never like[s] to sulk." But we all know that's absolute rubbish... well, except for the part about being big and green. Although, for the sake of this review, that's also rubbish, because without further ado, I bring you Marvel Legends Icons Series 2 Variant Grey Hulk!
ToyBiz is releasing Marvel product at an insane rate due to the transfer of the license to Hasbro at the end of the year, so we have series 2 of the Legends Icons 12" figures hot on the heels of series 1. Instead of three figures, series 2 brings us two heavy hitters, literally: The Hulk and Venom. Word on the street is Spider-Man has been postponed for Series 3, leaving Venom with no one to pummel. Like series 1, there are variants of each figure. Unlike the standard Marvel Legends, the variants are packed rather heavily, offering most buyers a choice of which version they want (although in some cases it almost seems that the variant is packed more heavily than the standard version). Venom's variant features a hideous, half-unmasked Eddie Brock face, while the Hulk swaps green for grey and gets a new head sculpt.
I chose the grey variant because the half-sneer of the standard Hulk didn't seem very "Hulkish" to me.
The variant's facial expression is truer to the typical dull anger we're used to from Dr. Robert Bruce Banner's alter ego. I also chose Grey Hulk because, being a smaller version of the Hulk, he's more in-scale with the other Icons. The included poster book/stat sheet lists Grey's height at 6'6", while the various Green incarnations range anywhere from 7 to 8 feet tall. Since this figure's a shade smaller than the Venom figure (whose height is given as 6'3") there's really no denying that both Hulks are just too short to fit in with their pals in this line. Put Wolverine next to this guy, and the ol' Ca-knucklehead actually looks like a normal-sized human instead of the runt he is.
Scale issues aside, this figure is sculpted really well. The Hulk's bulging muscles are accented with twisting veins as well as vicious cuts and gashes, implying that Hulk has been through quite a few skirmishes.
His face, as I mentioned before, is a combination of blank stare and mindless rage, and it works rather well. And while Hulk may not be as tall as he should be, his bulk is present and accounted for, although sacrifices were made to ensure his thickness. Hulk's arms between the shoulder and wrist as well as his legs between the hips and ankles are made from hollow, rotocast plastic, while the rest is your standard injection-molded solid stuff. I'm betting that this was done to minimalize costs on a huge figure like this, and it thankfully doesn't hinder the sculpt at all, which is a feat considering rotocast figures' tendency to appear softer in the details.
It does affect the figure in other areas, and one of those areas is the overall look of the figure. While the paint job is fairly simple and consistent, there's no escaping the fact that rotocast pieces tend to have a flatter sheen while solid, PVC plastic is typically shinier. When the two processes are combined on one figure, it can create something of an uneven look. On Hulk, it's not nearly as bad as it could have been, but you'll notice it upon closer inspection.
One place you'll definitely notice the combination is on the articulation.
Since the hips are still thankfully solid plastic, they're balljointed instead of the typical v-crotch hips we see on fully rotocast figures. Hulk also has a balljointed neck and shoulders, peg biceps, hinged elbows, peg forearms, hinged wrists and fingers, a balljointed torso, peg waist, peg thighs, hinged knees, pegs at the legholes of the jeans, hinged and pivoting ankles, and midfoot hinges. Sounds great, right? Well it is, but it doesn't all work as well as it should. The hips are very tight, and ratcheted, which is a good thing on a figure like Hulk that might sag over time due to his bulk. However, the thighs are rotocast, meaning they move much more loosely and freely than the hips. Turning the hip joints, however, often means gripping the thighs, and it's difficult to get the tight hips to turn due to the relative looseness of Hulk's thighs (goodnight, everybody!). It can be done, but it's often more effort than it's worth.
These Icon figures aren't known for their arsenal of accessories, but the one item Hulk does come with is pretty sweet. It's a poster book featuring Hulk art and comic covers by the likes of Ed McGuinness, Todd McFarlane (remember when he used to draw comics?), Tim Sale, and Lee Weeks, among others. It also features vital Hulk statistics, and a rambling, convoluted, but admirably attempted biography that attempts to encapsulate all the Hulk's adventures in a few pages. It's a hell of a lot better than just a poster book, or a poorly chosen reprint issue of a story that doesn't do the character much justice.
The icons line is great, mainly because it can give us wonderfully sculpted versions of characters we love at a price that's less than many figures half their size (DC Direct, I'm talking to you). This is an especially exceptional feat in a world where a decent sixth-scale figure costs around $50, minimum. While Hulk is really the first sign of cost-cutting measures with his rotocast limbs and relatively small stature, he's still probably the best large-scale Hulk figure around, easily beating the previous title holder, 13" movie Hulk. He's a great example of a toy that appeals to collectors and kids alike: kids love big toys, and kids love the Hulk, but collectors will definitely dig the superior sculpting and super-articulation. ToyBiz is doing such great things with the Marvel license, you really have to wonder how it could get any better after the imminent change-over.
Why does ToyBiz keep giving us the good-looking figures in the wrong damn scale? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.