One of the nominees for 2016's Worst of the Year was Hasbro's SDCC Raft set, which featured a few new characters mixed with ones that were (or soon would be) available at retail. But the Raft was just part of a trend that started here.
Led by the wandering outlaw Star-Lord, these interstellar heroes defend the universe!
Of the five figures in this set, only one has not already been released in some form or another, so we may as well start there. If you've seen Guardians of the Galaxy (and statistically speaking, you have seen Guardians of the Galaxy), then you already have a great idea of Gamora's backstory. The movie really didn't change anything about her: her race was killed, she was adopted by Thanos and molded by him into the perfect assassin. "The Deadliest Woman in the Whole Galaxy." But when she learned of his plan to woo Death via stellar-scale genocide, she started using her abilities to fight against him - man, that guy really does always undermine himself, doesn't he?
Gamora's original costume was literally
a fishnet body stocking, exactly the kind you can get at any trashy lingerie store. That's not what this toy does. Her modern costume is a complex black, white and red suit of space armor. That's also not what this toy does. This is what she wore in between, which is basically a V-swimsuit with thigh-high boots and netting covering the cleavage. Well, as "covering" as a fishnet can possibly be. Her costume details are simply painted on, except for her belt - there's no way to do the golden skull buckle justice other than making it a new mold.
Gamora's skin is a very yellowish pea green, and she has large golden circles around her blank white eyes. Her hair is the same darker shade of green as the clothes she wears, though her outfit is metallic and her hair isn't. Her skintone has so much yellow in it, in fact, that the gold trim on her suit tends to get lost, visually speaking. The black lines of her net are applied crisply, though if you flex her chest all the way back, you'll see a break in the paint.
Gamora is built from the "busty" Marvel Legends body,
and even shares one of her heads with the figure that originated it (Moonstone). Yes, "one of" her heads: she has two. This costume was typically paired with a cape, and the figure includes not just the cape, but also a hooded head to go with it. That one's a new sculpt, clearly, and even includes her hoop earrings. We also get a softgoods shawl that slips over one arm and her neck - that's a strange inclusion, in that it doesn't seem to be anything that specifically goes with this costume. There's every possibility that it was only included to cover the toy up and prevent people from being scandalized by her scanty wear. She also includes a sword, which may be her blade Godslayer, or may just be some random weapon she favors at the moment.
So that's the new. Let's take a look at the recycled.
Rocket Raccoon is mostly unchanged from his release as the ML5 Build-A-Figure - he's wearing the same blue uniform with red trim, though now his belt is brown instead of black. The stripes on his tail are now white with smaller black bands around them, rather than solid black. What's really new is his head. It's angrier with wider tufts
on the cheeks making it look flatter than before.
The white on his face is much more pronounced, which makes him look less like a real raccoon but more comicbooky - it's a very strong graphic. His little lip is even curled up in the most adorable snarl! (Sadly, that means he lacks the articulated jaw of the previous version. You'll have to decide for yourself whether the tradeoff is worth it.) He's armed with the same gun as before, plus a grey-and-blue copy of the Destroyer gun and a space rifle that appears to be an entirely new mold. As before, it would have been great if they'd given him Marvel Universe Star-Lord's Kree submachine guns, but he does come with an upsized copy of that set's Potted Groot, a first in this scale!
Rocket has a cool head and cool accessories, but prepare yourself for disappointment: Star-Lord gets nothing of the sort. A good
99.44% of this figure is the same as the one in the 2014 SDCC Thanos Imperative set, meaning that the same fundamental figure has now been released twice in limited exclusive sets and never at retail. What, if anything, sets this figure apart from the previous release? The paint. The gold on his helmet is more orange than yellow now, and the spats he wears over his boots are brown instead of black. "Woo." Exciting. Was there nothing else they could have done? Maybe given him (and Rocket) the blue and white uniforms, rather than the blue and red ones? That would have set them apart, even as just a minor change. Oh, his guns are a paler blue now, and his belt is brown, too. Sorry, didn't mean to undersell his amazing changes. This is a nice figure if you didn't already get it, but if you did... well, at least the set comes with a Cosmic Cube, which is a fun thing to throw in. But neither of his hands is shaped to hold it securely.
Next we have His Divine Majesty King Groot the 23rd, Monarch of Planet X, Custodian of the Branch Worlds, Ruler of All He Shades,
Flora Colossus. Groot was, like Rocket, once upon a time a BAF. Yes, okay, that was for the movie, but a big tall tree man is a big tall tree man, no matter where he's from (which is why we were able to get away with sneaking Treebeard into the back of group shots).
The movie did such a good job of making Groot cute and loveable, it's easy to forget what a frightening monster the 616 version is. This toy, however, does not: he gets a new head with a scary, somewhat skeletal face and a large spread of branches creating wild "hair" on top. This Groot is a darker shade than the BAF was, and lacks the green moss, though he does still have all the same articulation. Since they were doing a new head, it would have been fun to get an articulated jaw - you know, since he's so famously verbose - but we understand why it was not meant to be. Same with putting him in a Guardians uniform, which happened quite often. His mouth and eyes are black, though he has small golden pupils. Even if you built the Groot BAF, this one is different enough to feel different, you know?
And speaking of being different enough, our final figure is Drax. There was already a comicbook Drax in Marvel Legends
Series 2 (the third Marvel Legends Series 2, not the first or second Series 2s), but it was kind of junk. A guy who has, at times, been as big as Hulk, and instead he's super skinny? And seemed to be wearing normal Earth pants? No thank you!
This Drax fixes those problems. He uses the big body, taking care of problem #1 straight away. Add to that movie Drax's space pants, painted black instead of rusty red. The combo works really well, giving us a Drax who's definitely beefy. He gets Luke Cage's head, which isn't the first time it's been green, and is wearing a pair of metal gauntlets that come to us by way of Stryfe. If you don't like those, he includes a pair of alternate plain hands. Since Drax is all about knives these days, the toy includes four of them: two that fit in his boots, and two that are bigger.
This set is an Entertainment Earth exclusive, though it's also turned up at FYE and Suncoast. If you already have the older figures, it's not a great value, but come on: Rocket and Groot were both hard BAFs to complete, Star-Lord was only available at SDCC, and while Drax was something of a pegwarmer, he wasn't a very good representation; it's entirely posssible you don't already have the older figures, in which case the value really shoots up.