For a site that seems so blindly devoted to Marvel Legends, it's certainly taken us a longass time to finish reviewing ML11. We're three series beyond that! So why the final review now? Because the last figure was one nobody wanted: First Appearance Thing.
Once a skilled fighter-pilot, Ben Grimm is now the Thing, a member of the world-famous Fantastic Four. Bathed in cosmic radiation during a fateful trip into space with his three friends, Ben was transformed into a hideous creature of craggy, orange stone with superhuman strength. But despite the fact that many find him unsightly, Ben has maintained his sense of humor and honor - because under that rocky exterior lies an ever-lovin' hart of gold!
So why the hatred for Thing? Why is he still taking up space on the pegs that could be better used for new figures? Let's take a look.
To begin with, the design of the character is just all wrong. Yes, we normally think of Thing as the tough, craggy, stone guy, and that's what all the figures so far have been. When he first appeared, however, he was more a shambling pile of mud than hard stone - it wasn't until Jack Kirby got a new inker with issue #21 that Ben started to look like individual rocks so creating a figure of that look would indeed be playing to a new market. It's not like they can make Tiger Stripe Thing or Weapon X Thing, you know? Thing's Thing. That's it. So you have to give them credit for trying this.
But an effort isn't a success, as this figure proves. The sculpt is dead-on accurate to Art Adams' model sheets, and in that regard, at least, it looks really cool. We love Art Adams. Art Adams is one of the modern gods of comic art, and 3D turns of his style are far too rare. So what's the problem?
Well, here's a little-known bit of trivia: Art Adams didn't draw Thing in his first appearance. ToyBiz seems to have forgotten this. Their slow-selling Marvel Masterworks diorama of FF #1 is also based on Adams' artwork, and it's just as wrong there as it is here.
You do an FA figure, it damn well better look like the FA. You find this figure in the aisle, it should scream "Jack Kirby" before you even turn the corner from housewares. FA Hulk looked sort of Kirby-ish. FA Spidey had some Ditko in him. FA Thing is totally Adams, and that's totally wrong. Art did his best to ape the old style, but it's just not right. Thing doesn't look like Thing, he looks like a lumpy orange that grew up to be Fred Mertz.
The texture is what does it. Adams drew FA Thing with a symmetrical pattern of overlapping scales, but that's not what we saw in the comic. Kirby drew a completely random Thing, not a carefully planned fishman. The articulation is good - the best seen on an ML-scaled Thing, right down to his indiviual fingers - but that doesn't make up for the bad paint. The orange they chose is weird, and doesn't match the comic. There's a slight brown wash that ends up looking like horizontal stripes. Oh, and in his first appearance? Thing wore brown trunks, not blue.
The next problem is his accessory. That little hover bike thing he's riding looks like it would crumple like tinfoil under his weight. The Fantastic Four have a flying car they all ride in, and the first part of it came with ML5's Reed. Why not put the back half with Thing? It would have made sense, would have played to the history of the line, and it still could have looked darn cool.
Yes, Ben really did ride this thing in the comics, which is more than we can say for the majority of the Legendary Riders, but he didn't ride it in his First Appearance. He swam in the sewers and rode a jet. The bike is actually a nicely made piece, but it doesn't belong with this Thing and he looks like a real gomer sitting on it.
But that pales in comparison to FA Thing's biggest flaw: that he exists at all. When ML11 shipped, there were already a handful of waves of FF movie figures out, each with at least one Thing. Any kid who wanted a Thing already had one. On top of that, a brand-new FF comic line was only a month or two away, and there was a Thing in that series, as well. Sandwiching First Appearance Thing between these two lines was an insult to anyone who bought it, and to anyone who might have liked to.
FA Thing comes with a reprint of Fantastic Four #1, of course, but that just underscores the various problems with tihs figure. We don't want to take over this review with a diatribe about the comic, so check out our Points of Articulation for a sidebar to this review.
First Appearance Thing could have been a good figure, if ToyBiz had given a better design and a better accessory, and released him at a better time. The idea is sound: it's just the execution that sucks.
Why Art Adams? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.