There’s something especially magical about action figures. Perhaps it’s the way they allow the player to project anything upon them, or the variety that they come in, but certainly part of the fascinating is seeing a literal, physical representation of a work of fiction. Suddenly Wolverine isn’t just a character in a book, but rather a real object just sitting on your desk, begging to be picked up and played with. Simply, I love the Marvel Legends line of action figures. Why? Join me and I’ll tell you.
Of any line of super hero action figures, why am I going with the Marvel Legends line, specifically? Well, that all goes hand-in-hand with a few things. The first is that I have an affinity toward the Marvel Universe over any other comic-related worlds out there, though I can’t give you a perfect reason as to why that is (at least, not in a short bit here). The second is my need for figures to have good articulation, something the Marvel Legends line shines as a glorious example of. And lastly, Marvel Legends as a toy line is better than any line that has come since it. Should I qualify that hefty claim? I probably should.
Those paying attention to action figures will probably be aware that the DC Universe line of action figures and the Legendary Comic Book Heroes line have both come out since Marvel made such a splash with Legends, both lines with awesome figures featured here and there, but this all proves that Marvel Legends is the best of the best. Why is that? Take a look at the scale for the three action figure lines I just mentioned. You will notice that they all happen to be roughly the same height, something that an action figure fan such as myself goes nuts over, but it can’t just be pure coincidence. Rather, Marvel Legends picked the scale and all detailed comic-related action figures began appearing at that same scale. You don’t get to play “follow the leader” unless you’re the one leading the pack.
Furthermore, every major comic-related action figure line (Marvel Legends, DC Universe, and LCBH) all have one thing else in common: Each wave of figures has a piece to a larger figure, requiring you to collect every figure in the wave to assemble the bigger, more awesome figure.
I want to stop on there for a second, because this is trend I both love and hate at the same time, partly for the same reason. The idea of collecting is just fine by itself and is typically enough to weed out the casual figure fan from the fanatic pretty easily, but being forced to collect every figure in a single wave to create the one larger figure is extremely bothersome, purely because it requires you to buy the figures no one would want otherwise, insuring that we all act as fanatical collectors rather than just casual fans. For instance, let’s say you have a perfectly cool line that features fan favorites such as Captain America, Iron Man, Magneto, and The Thing or something, but in order to assemble the Hulkbuster Ironman suit, you had to collect all of those plus Marrow and Dazzler, two figures you probably wouldn’t want otherwise. But snaps! Hulkbuster Ironman! Gotta have that! Therefore, you have no choice other than buying more figures than you’d like. Sneaky, especially since it works.
Still, what’s drawn me back to the Marvel Legends line time and time again is the sheer amount of articulation in each figure. I have a Beast figure that sits on my desk that consists of 37 points of articulation (according to my count), including his forefinger and thumb, duo-jointed knees, and even his mouth. I can spend hours just playing around, posing him without any real purpose, almost as a relaxing pastime, none of which involves physically playing with him in tandem with other action figures. However, this abundance of articulation can have a downside as well. I have a Daredevil action figure that I hate, even though it has just as much articulation as Beast, if not more. Part of my hang-up may be that I was never particularly invested in Daredevil, though the other half is Beast can be made to look cool in just about any pose, whereas Daredevil is too lanky to look good contorted into all manner of silliness.
Part of me still regrets passing up a Captain America from one of the early lines. I’m still not entirely sure why I never bought him, as I had the money and more than once found myself walking through a Target store while carrying him loosely in my hands, but he isn’t standing on my shelf right now. In fact, the only Marvel Legends figures I have are Beast, Daredevil, and Thor, the last of which comes with a story. And here of course is that story.
Few years ago, before Ironman was cool in the mainstream and people knew that a Thor movie was on the way, I was Christmas shopping for my eight-year-old cousin along with my mom. I found a Marvel Legends Thor, complete with manly beard, battle-axe, and Mjolnir, and decided that this would be the coolest gift any eight-year-old could ever receive. We purchased the action figure and I anxiously waited to see his face as he opened it during our family Christmas exchange. For some reason, upon ripping the wrapping from Thor, he just stared down and grimaced, then looked up and said, “Can I take this back?” I could hardly think of anything to say other than “What?!” but he proceeded to say, “It doesn’t go with any of my other toys; can I return this?” I stood up at this point, grabbing the figure and explaining to him that this was Thor, the god of thunder reborn as a super hero, complete with manly beard, battle-axe, and Mjolnir. Did he care? No. It was still returned without even an apology from his parents.
I decided then and there that every single year he would get a Thor-related item as a gift, just out of spite. My first step was to find that same Marvel Legends Thor and buy it for myself, just to remind myself of my Thor-given task. Then, when Christmas arrived again, I was ready to shop for the stupidest item I could find with Thor on it. Thor slippers? Nah, not until the third year. Thor poster? Too simple. Eventually I settled on a Thor bobblehead, probably one of the dumbest gifts I’ve ever decided to give.
I wrapped it up, hardly able to wait for the blessed day when I could watch him unwrap it in confusion once again, sure that his childlike love of the world would begin crumbling under my wicked gaze. Instead, he opens it and screams out, “Cool!” “What?!” I exclaimed for a second year in a row. Somehow he thought this dopey Thor bobblehead was so cool in fact that he ignored every other gift he received that year, immediately opening his bobblehead and bobbling with it. My Marvel Legends Thor stands upon my desk forever reminding me of the time when I was brought to tears two years in a row by a stupid bobble-headed child.
Despite this setback, the Marvel Legends line speaks true to my heart. Given the money, I’d go out and buy every single figure I could get my hands on, but for now I have my few choices, both great and disappointing. But how about you? Are there any Marvel Legends fans among the readers? Let me know with a comment. In the meantime, I’ll just sit here and pose my Beast a few more times. That…that sounded dirtier than it should have.
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