The Marvel Legends "Build-A-Figures" seem to be on some kind of sliding scale: the first one, Galactus, was too small; the second one, a Sentinel, was just right; and the newest, Apocalypse, is too big. It's like some crazy, mixed-up version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
Born nearly five thousand years ago in Egypt, Apocalypse inspired fear even as an infant. Ugly and malformed, he was abandoned by his own tribe to die in the harsh desert sun. Wandering the Earth, Apocalypse found himself in China, where he stumbled upon an alien ship that had crashed into a mountain long ago. He stayed in the ship for thousands of years, learning the secrets of the alien technology and devising a suit of bio-armor for himself. This bio-armor granted Apocalypse the ability to change form, as well as allowing his body to become extremely malleable. Using the alien technology to artificially prolong his life, Apocalypse created his Four Horsemen to do his bidding - but his efforts were always thwarted by the X-Men and their allies.
Apocalypse shows up every few years in the same general story: he's got some plan to further his "survival of the fittest" philosophy, he kidnaps and sways an X-Man to his side, the others gang up on him, his newest recruit turns back to the side of good and Apocalypse is sent packing. Not the most innovative stuff. I mean, look at his two big accomplishments: turning Angel into Archangel and giving Wolverine his adamantium back. All the guy does is kidnap X-Men and slap bits of metal on them. He's like those aliens in Zim with the fusing technology.
We already got an Apocalypse in Marvel Legends 7, so why turn him into a BAF now? Well, while that figure was recognizably Apocalypse, he didn't look like the classic version most fans thought of. He's in a story in the comics right now, redesigned to look like the ML figure, but there's still the '90s version floating around in the back of fans' minds, and that's what ToyBiz gave us spread through ML12.
Apocalypse comes in six pieces: arms, head/chest, hips/torso and legs. The pieces snap together tightly, but once they're together, don't expect to take them apart again without breaking something.
And speaking of which, the figure's left hip is very weak - the peg that goes into the body is too thin, and the ratchets in the joint are too sturdy, so when you try to move the leg sideways, the plastic moves while the joint stays in place. Problematic! Start assembling your Apocalypse there - if something's going to snap, you want it happen at the outset, not the end. This happened with mine, and the replacement hip actually works much better. Makes me wonder if ToyBiz fixed it for later shipments.
All the figures in ML12, aside from Maestro, have a variant available. Not only that, though, the variant figures come with variant Apocalypse parts. The standard versions let you build a blue Apocalypse, but if you buy the variants you'll get body parts that feature black skin. If you get a mixture, then I guess you're just stuck with a patchwork 'Pocky. thankfully, the standard figures that are packed in the variant cases also have the black body parts, so if you get all six of your figures from one box, you'll be able to build a matching body for the guy.
Fully assembled, Apocalypse is 13 1/2" tall, which seems excessive. Really, a 9" figure would have sufficed. The only time the guy's actually been this big is as the final boss in the X-Men vs. Street Fighter game.
He's just as mobile as any Marvel Legend, with a balljointed head, balljointed shoulders, peg biceps, hinged elbows, pegs and hinges at the wrists, individual joints for each finger, a hinge in his torso, balljointed hips, peg thighs, double-hinged knees, a peg in the shin and hinges at the knees and ankles. He's got a widier range of motion than the Sentinel, and no skirt to impair him like Galactus. He's kind of back-heavy, so when it's time to put him on display, let the torso find its own balance point, then pose the rest of him around it.
The sculpt is excellent. Considering the size of the figure, ToyBiz had a great canvas to work on. Since he's augmented with technology, Apocalypse looks rather metallic. However, rather than the Sentinel, whose body is all exposed tubes and wires, Apoc seems smooth and finished - he looks more like the outside of a car than the fuses behind the dashboard.
Rather than pack 'Pocky with unneccessary detail like some companies would have done, ToyBiz kept things reined in. Other than the seams of his metallic shell, Apocalypse really has little detailing. There are a few bolts or rivets apparent around the surface, and some ribbed metal sections, but nothing overly extravagant. It's hard for a 14" figure to be "understated," but Apocalypse manages. He's even got those crazy tubes that always connect his elbows to his waist.
Apoc's face is just what we expect - gray skin, big blue fishlips, black pseudo-hair pieces on the back of his scalp... all that. His brow is furrowed in disgust or anger, and his eyes are a metallic red. The huge collar around his neck keeps his head from tuning all the way around, but whose head can do that? He's got a perfectly normal range of motion.
Marvel Legends 7 was one of the two rarest series, so a lot of people didn't have the chance to get Apocalypse. Yes, this version may be a lot bigger than fans might want, but it's a good design and there are no bum toys to buy to build it - with no First Appearance Spider-Man in the ranks, ML12 is all killer, no filler. Other than the paint problems involved with the variants' bodyparts, this is a good figure. It's big and fun, and the scale issues are easily overlooked. Future BAFs should be better, but this one isn't really so bad.
How big should Apocalypse have been? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.