Marvel Legends-style articulation and detail in a 3 3/4" figure? Who wouldn't want a whole slew of Marvel characters that could fit right in with all of your Star Wars figures, GIJoes and Micromen? Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, it almost is: they cost as much as Marvel Legends, which are double the size and have better accessories.
So, I initially passed on this line, as it didn't seem worth it to me to collect all the characters I already had as Marvel Legends again for the same cost, but at a smaller scale. That was until I stumbled upon Berserker Wolverine, who seems to be the difficult-to-find figure in the lot.
This figure differs from most of the other figures in the Marvel Superheroes Showdown line in that he does not already have an ML counterpart. Sure, ToyBiz has given us plenty of Wolvies in the ML lines and their offshoots, but Berserker Wolverine is unique. He's clad in nothing but a tank top and jeans, and has a vicious snarl on his face (unlike ML11's Logan, who wears a jacket and a goofy smile). He also appears to have bone claws, which means that this is either Wolverine before he underwent the Weapon X prodecure that grafted adamantium onto his bones, or it's Wolverine during that brief period where Magneto ripped the adamantium from his body. Either way, the claws are bumpy, pitted and dirty to show their bony-ness.
Some people have seen this figure and have taken to calling it
"Movie Wolverine", but a cursory examination reveals that this is clearly a comic book version of the character. If the bone claws weren't enough of a giveaway, he's stumpy and hunched (unlike actor Hugh Jackman), and his hair is much more in the comic style. Overall it's a damn good sculpt, and they pack a lot of detail into such a small package. The scale may have changed, but no detail has been lost.
The paint is also remarkably good for the scale. Wolvie doesn't have a whole lot of paint apps, but what's here is very nice. There's washes where it's needed, but it's not overdone anywhere. There are lots of little details that work well, like the tiny gold "X" on his belt, the hairs painted on his arms and chest, the painted laces on his shoes, and those baby blue eyes.
So neither sculpt nor paint were sacrificed in the shrink-down process, and I've already mentioned that articulation is no exception. Berserker Wolvie has balljointed neck, balljointed shoulders, peg biceps, double-jointed elbows, hinged wrists, balljointed torso, balljointed waist, balljointed hips, peg thighs, doublejointed knees, peg shins, and hinged ankles.
However, while ToyBiz packed in just as many joints as they do with ML, the shrinking caused some of the range of motion to be lost, particularly in the neck, torso, waist and ankles. These joints still move, but you can tell they were designed with a lot more motion in mind. Still, I'm not complaining, since you can still get this guy in just about any pose you can think of. One joint that I would like to see that's not here, however, is a peg joint in the forearms so you could duplicate some of those trademark claw-brandishing poses, but for this scale ToyBiz has given us more than enough articulation.
One area in which Marvel Superhero Showdown is not nearly as successful as Marvel Legends is with the accessories.
Berserker Wolverine comes with a whole bunch of crap that's not even worth mentioning: a bunch of cards, some spring-loaded launcher with a missile, all in an effort (I assume) to justify the price point. There's some game involved with these figures, but that's not why most collectors will buy them. The accessories aren't all completely lame though: Wolvie comes with a display stand with a clear support rod that plugs into Logan's back so he can pull off some awesome jumping poses. The stand has a sculpted Wolvie relief on it, as well as some role-playing statistics I won't pretend to understand.
All in all, this figure is loads of fun, lame accessories aside. Still, I can't justify the near-ML price point unless ToyBiz diversifies the character selection somewhat. There's no reason for these figures to cost as much as they do when GIJoe packs cost the same even with two figures and much better accessories. Even Star Wars figures with the insane licensing costs Hasbro must be paying Lucasfilm still manage to cost as low as $4.99 when there's no movie hype. Any way you slice it, I don't see how ToyBiz can expect collectors to pay ML prices for half-sized figures of characters that have already been offered in ML. Shave a couple of dollars off the price, get rid of the lame launchers, and these would be a no-brainer. As it is, if you're going to splurge on any of them, I recommend Berserker Wolverine.
Scale change: yay or nay? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.