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Marvel Legends
by yo go re

Wolverine wasn't always the most well-known X-Man. More than a year before the hairy Canuck even got his own solo story, another merry mutant was sliding into homes nationwide every weekend with Spider-Man and the rest of his amazing friends.

Iceman There's one in every class: a joker with amazing gifts, but lacking the ambition to tap his true potential. One of Professor Charles Xavier's original students, Bobby Drake found out the hard way that he still had a lot to learn. But once he glimpsed the full extent of his mutant power to freeze water molecules, Iceman returned to the X-Men with evolution on his mind!

Always the class clown, Iceman's powers have developed quite bit over the years. When he first appeared,he just sort of covered himself with snow, but that quickly hardened into ice (that, incidentally, cracked and refroze whenever he moved, making him possibly the noisiest superhero this side of the Thing). He stayed that way for decades, until an encounter with Emma Frost suggested that he might have more potential, an idea writer Fabian Nicieza took to great extremes in his X-Men Forever miniseries.

This isn't the first time Iceman has had an action figure, but more on that later. Bobby stands nearly 6⅜" tall and is as articulated as any Marvel Legend. Maybe even more: Iceman shares his body with the recent Black Costume Spider-Man from Series 9 of the Spider-Man (not-"Classics") line, so he's got three-part shoulders and an extra chest joint. Spidey's slender body works well for the young mutant, and it's a body that hasn't been used in Marvel Legends before now. The torso does seem a little too long, however.

To portray Iceman's frozen state, ToyBiz molded him from all clear plastic, then sprayed a bit of color on top. The paint is a nice icy blue, and there's a sparkly sheen all over the entire figure - this is a great way to convey ice, particularly the way the clear bits show through. The insides of his joints are solid white plastic - maybe they were afraid the clear stuff would be too weak for joints? The few spots where there is solid paint, such as his eyes, mouth and X-logo belt buckle, are crisp and clear.

Iceman's head sculpt is very nice, much better than the prototypes we saw at Toy Fair - he looks determined, but nowhere near as angry. His head is slightly blocky, just as it was drawn in the comics. If you look closely, artist Phil Ramirez even sculpted a few little cracks on the surface, a perfect detail for the character.

As briefly touched on above, Iceman has beaucoup articulation. There's a swivel/hinge joint at the base of his skull, and another swivel where the neck enters his body. His torso joint has a swivel right below the pecs, and a hinge in the abs. There are these crazy shoulder joints that hinge forward and back, but also have lateral hinges to raise them vertically - plus the normal swivel/hinge shoulders you see on everything these days (the swivel biceps, double-hinged elbows, swivel forearms, and hinged wrists and fingers). He has a swivel waist, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, swivel shins, and hinged/rocker ankles. Whew! So many joints!

Like all the Marvel Legends, Iceman comes with a detailed display base. His is a giant Sentinel hand, the newest addition to the series that started with Magneto, Gambit, Colossus and Sabretooth. Of course, since Marvel Legends is switching over to projectile-firing bases, it's probably also the last in the series. Thanks, Jesse Falcon! Another winning idea!

[Editor's note: it's possible that yo has been huffing too many "new toy smell" fumes, because the "projectile base" idea has been dropped; Series 9 and 10 have no bases, and Series 11 will have vehicles and whatnot instead. So maybe don't accuse Jesse Falcon of things he had nothing to do with, eh? --ed.]

Interestingly, the hand in Iceman's base is the same basic sculpt as the hand in Gambit's, but it's been flipped horizontally: like they pulled the fingers off and replaced them in the opposite order (right down to the three Wolverine slashes on the ring finger, and the half-missing pinky). He doesn't get a section of wrist like Gambit did, but he does get a huge pile of ice. Yes, rising up from the robot's palm is a 5¾" tall ice column upon which Iceman can perch precariously. There are even two hand-holds that allow you to make it look like he's actually projecting the ice beneath him. The base has two slots to allow you to hang it on the wall, but the little shelf where Iceman stands doesn't turn at all, so he's either facing the sky or the floor.

The reprint comic included with the figure is Uncanny X-Men #18, a fine choice for a story. After all the other X-Men are captured and sent up to their deaths in a giant balloon (yeah, you heard me), it's up to Iceman to prevent Magneto from making an army of unstoppable super-mutants by forcing Angel's parents to get busy. Man, were comics ever weird in the '60s!

Iceman has a special place in the history of action figures. The first time ToyBiz released a figure of ol' Bobby Drake, it was in higher demand than even Yellow Daredevil, and that was in the days before the internet!

The figure was made with color-changing plastic: when he got cold, icicles appeared on his body. Since the plastic was more expensive than the regular stuff, ToyBiz made him in limited numbers. Given that he was a major character who had never been an action figure before, when fans saw his picture on the back of the card (this was the same wave in which ToyBiz released Forge and their first Gambit figure), they had to have him. Scarce figure + high demand = insane prices. And all without ToyFare or eBay to drive the market. So the next time someone blames high toy prices on those sources, just tell 'em about Iceman, potentially the first gay X-Man.

-- 01/30/05

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