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Bi-Beast

The Incredible Hulk
by yo go re

In Roman mythology, Janus is the god of gates, doors, beginnings and endings - that's why the month January was named after him. In honor of his place in a spot of transition, he was depicted as having two faces. Of course, his pointed in different directions, while today's review concerns two that go the same way.

Designed by a race of bird-like aliens to defend their sanctuary on Earth, the Bi-Beast is a massive, powerful android, with enough strength to test even the Incredible Hulk. Millions of years out of commission have left its circuitry badly crossed, and now it's out of control! It'll take every bit of the Hulk's limitless strength to stop it!

The Bi-Beast was originally introduced in Incredible Hulk #169, in late 1973, and has since gone on fight lots of different heroes, including Thor, the Defenders, the Thing and even Squirrel Girl. There were rumors that he would be one of the figures in the two Hulk Legends series, but when they got pared down from 12 figures to eight, he was one of the ones to go. This particular version is based on how he appeared in the Incredible Hulk videogame (more or less).

One of the major differences between the Bi-Beast of the comics and the Bi-Beast of the videogame is the clothing: namely, in the game, he wears some. Rather than running around in just a pair of underwear, Bi-Beast has some sort of metal armor covering his chest, back, forearms and shins. There's apparently leather holding all the armor together, and he almost appears to have Roman-style sandals on his two-toed feet. He's muscular, but also quite lumpy, giving him a monstrous look.

Bi-Beast is painted dark olive, with rust colored shadows clumsily applied. It really makes him look like the movie's version of Abomination, which is disappointing: in the comics, he's orangish yellow, and he was in the game, as well. The prototype displayed at Toy Fair was a much more appropriate hue, so I don't know why the change was made. His armor is silver, and the "leather" straps are of course brown.

The figure has a strange action feature: pull the lever high on his back, and he swings his arms... backwards. What? Shouldn't he raise them, not throw them back behind himself? Oh well, action features screw up yet another figure. Thanks, "double windmill punch!" Fortunately, you can still use his shoulder swivels for posing. In addition, he has swivel wrists, waist and hips, hinged elbows and knees, and balljointed ankles - which he really needs, since the legs are put together wrong.

Look at his shins: they point inward. The lower legs were misassembled on all the figures, with the left and right switched. Whoops! It's not a major problem, but you have to wonder if that's the reason his feet won't rest flat on the ground. Instead, he just stands on the insides of his feet, not the whole sole. You can fix it, though: the thighs and shins are both made of ABS plastic, but the actual knee joint and is PVC. This is a simple boil n' pop job, which you can do in under 10 minutes.

Bi-Beast doesn't have any neck articulation, but that's hardly surprising - his two heads are stacked, so they're not really "neck" material. The two heads actually serve a purpose, beyond just looking creepy: since the android was created as the repository of a dying race, they each hold a different batch of knowledge; the top head is chock full of warfare and tactics, while his skull-brother gets all the culture and science. And yes, that's seriously what they call each other - "Skull-Brother." How weird is that? They think separately and talk to each other, despite being fused together. The sculpt does a good job of presenting such unnatural anatomy, with one head's brown serving as the chin for the other. Two sets of eyes, two mouths, two noses... and yet they have to share a single pair of ears.

This figure was released in the Incredible Hulk movie line, which means he's actually done in 3¾" scale. He's a big character, so he still stands 6½" tall - that means he can integrate with your Marvel Legends if you're willing to be forgiving. Heck, in his original appearance he was 20' tall, so he's already been downsized over the years. Is another inch or two really going to matter? If it does, you can always pair him with those 1:18 scale Marvel figures Hasbro's doing this year. Bi-Beast has some definite flaws (his shins, his action feature, his paint) but the design is good, and it's not like he's ever had a figure before.

-- 01/01/09


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