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Marvel Legends: Annihilus Series

Toy Review

By Mark Patraw

Manufacturer Information:
Pawtucket, Rhode Island


Hercules comes inside a large blister card. The bubble is both heat sealed and taped to the card back (which is made from heavier/thicker stock that one usually sees on these types of toys). The graphics on the front are character specific, with a large portrait on the top left and a series of different Hercules images running along the right side (which you can see in detail farther down this web page). The back of the package sports a brief biography and some statistics for Herc (see image at the top of this web page), as well as photos of the other figures in the Annihilus wave, including the winged nasty himself. I miss the old bar graph that depicted the character's relative strengths across several categories, that Toy Biz's Marvel Legends packaging had, but Hasbro does a good job of filling you in on who the character is and what they're capable of. There was one or two strands of transparent rubber band holding Herc inside the interior plastic bubble, but, other than that, he, his mace, and the Annihilus part pop out relatively easily. Oh yeah, the little color booklet, advertising other Hasbro Marvel products, as well as the Annihilus assembly instructions are inside a transparent plastic bag, taped to the card behind the figure (while I haven't gotten around to it yet, I'm probably going to toss these, as they're exactly the same as the ones that came with the Planet Hulk figure from this wave, that I bought previously, and I don't see any reason to keep redundant paperwork around).

Ah, the mighty Son of Zeus finally gets the Marvel Legends treatment, and I must say the sculptor did a fabulous job of bringing the character to life. While Hercules has an arguably relatively simple character/costume design, there's enough detail work here to make it visually interesting: The arm muscles bulge with protruding veins, the skirt has little wrinkles and folds, etc. All the gaps and lines the joints create compromise the aesthetics to some extent, but that's the price you pay for hyper articulation. Some people think his face is goofy looking, but I think the grin suits the personality of the Marvel Comics interpretation of Herc. My favorite aspect of the sculpt is the studded leather straps covering his legs--they're probably not terribly comfortable to wear, but they sure look cool. He stands six-and-seven-eighths-inches tall, making him a smidgen larger than what his bio card indicates (6'5"), for a 6-inch-scale toy line (assuming that one inch = one foot). He's larger than the more "average" Marvel Legends male characters, which is what's important. The paintwork, with one glaring exception, which I'll get to momentarily, is solid. There's a small number of very minor errors here and there, like spots where the paint doesn't quite cover what it's supposed to, but the application is generally good. The neatness of the gray paint on the previously mentioned leg straps is one area that I feel would have been easy to mess up on, but it came out great. Now, the bad part--all of his exposed skin has a bunch of bright orange paint airbrushed all over it which doesn't look even remotely natural (when's the last time, other than Halloween perhaps, you saw someone with orange skin?). Maybe he's been making orange juice the hard way, I don't know. It doesn't look too bad in the photos, but, in person, trust me, it's very noticeable. Usually airbrushed human skin looks great and adds a lot to the appearance, but here, the effect is poor. I think a subtler shade, or a less heavy handed application, should have been used. And now, for the articulation count/assessment: Herc's got neck (swivel and up/down motion), clicking ball-jointed shoulders, rotating biceps, double pivoting elbows, ball jointed wrists, mid-torso (backwards/forwards), rotating waist, ball-jointed hips (the skirt limits the movement, as you'd expect--it's rubbery though, so it does have some give. Herc won't be doing the splits though), double pivoting knees, and pivoting ankles (backwards/forwards and side-to-side). A few of the more common Marvel Legends articulation points are absent on this figure, such as the mid-foot joints and pivot fingers, but there's more than enough points of articulation here in my opinion. I must note that his left, ball-shoulder joint came stuck, right out of the package, and I had a devil of a time getting it to work. I tried the freezer and hot/cold water tricks to no effect, and I was pretty much ready to give up on him, much like I did with my Marvel Legends Series 7 Bullseye's immobile hip joint, but one final Herculean (ahem) application of extreme force, which probably came very close to snapping his arm off altogether, finally freed it up and it works fine now.

Well, he's not going to beat Planet Hulk in this department, but Hercules has a couple of items, in addition to his Annihilus component:

- A golden mace/scepter. I assume this was cast in a (slightly blue) transparent plastic and then painted. The top "head" portion sports two "windows" that you can see through, while the rest of it is painted gold with a black wash. It came bent, right out of the package (something all of the Hercs I saw, in two different stores, seem to suffer from, probably due to the way it's laid out inside the bubble). I unbent it using the hot/cold water trick, and then it promptly went back to its (un)natural bent shape, so I said the heck with it and left it that way. I don't recall Hercules using weapons much, other than improvised ones, in the comic books--he is kind of a "hand's on" type of guy--but any accessory is better than none in my book. There's a handy loop on his skirt for storage when it's not in use, something I always appreciate (I like it when a figure can hold/stash all of his/her accessories somewhere on their bodies).

- Chest strap. This is made from a brown rubbery material with the broad center band of the strap painted green. I'm kind of stretching the definition of accessory here a bit, but you can remove the strap on his chest if you've got the patience to get it over his head and arm (it's not attached to him in any way, it moves freely). Other than removing it once, while I was writing this, to prove it could be done, mine's staying where it is.

- Annihilus' Left Wing. It's fairly large, made out of a green, slightly rubbery material and has a darker green paint wash to give some contrast and accentuate the detail. It's kind of heavy too, relatively speaking, and I've heard several people complain that, over time, the wings, when attached to Annihilus, tend to droop. If you're not building Annihilus, like me, then it's pretty useless, although cool to look at (I've seen some nice custom figures made from these wings, so there's a thought for you--of course, you'll have to buy Banshee to make a pair). I still think Annihilus isn't large enough to justify making him a Build-A-Figure (I'd say he and Planet Hulk are made from roughly the same amount of plastic)--he could easily have been sold as a single figure, so long as his wings were unattached in the package.

- Annihilus Assembly Instructions. A black and white sheet of paper depicting how the nine pieces of Annihilus go together [that's right, nine (head, collar, body, two arms, two legs, and two wings), note that some of the six figures in this series come with more than one part of him--just thank your lucky stars Hasbro didn't decide to make this a nine figure wave]. It's not rocket science, but I have seen one person, on an online message board, assemble their Annihilus with his collar on upside down, so, it doesn't hurt to look it over before playing Dr. Frankenstein with your pile of green and purple/pink parts.

- Hasbro Products Booklet. A full-color booklet depicting all the wonderful(?) things Hasbro would like you, or your parents/significant other/etc. to spend money on. I still think the resources it took to print this would have been better spent on giving us the Marvel comic reprint, even if it was only black and white, that Toy Biz always included with their Marvel Legends figures.

As all toy enthusiasts know, clearance prices change everything. I was content with just having Planet Hulk from this series, at the original full price, but for $5.39, I elected to pick up Mr. Hercules, my second favorite figure from this wave, at my local Shopko store (they initially went for $11.99 at said store, $2 more than Wal-Mart's price). They also had Emma Frost, X3 Beast, and Banshee for that price, but without Ultimate Ironman, who comes with the all-important Annihilus body part, I couldn't be swayed to purchase an additional three characters I don't particularly care for (speaking of which, I've yet to see Tony Stark and his shiny tin suit anywhere in my neck of the woods, he must have been short packed, sold like hotcakes, or both). If this wave had included a larger Build-A-Figure-- something on the 14-16 inch scale like the previous BAFs Galactus, Apocalypse, Giant Man, and the Sentinel--then the original asking price would have been more palatable, but, with smaller BAFs and no comic books, VS cards, or other extra goodies, I find it difficult to stomach the increase in cost for Marvel Legends figures.

Final Analysis:

- Clearanced!
- Excellent sculpt that's very true to his appearance in the Marvel Comics. Add another Avenger to your Marvel collection.
- Lots of articulation.
- Annihilus, despite my grousing about his size as a BAF, is still a cool figure, and a nice incentive to pick up the whole set.
- Even if you don't give a flying flip about the Marvel Comics universe, you can use Hercules in Greek/Fantasy displays (like the shot where I stuck him on good old Cerberus).

- The orange, airbrushed paint all over his skin is a bit much and inconsistent in application. Something a bit more subtle, or applied more skillfully, would have looked better.
- The stuck shoulder joint and bent mace/scepter were not pleasant surprises.
- The amazing shrinking BAF continues with this line. Compare Annihilus with the Legendary Comic Book Heroes Series 1 Pitt BAF and tell me we aren't getting less than we ought to (once again, to be fair, I have to note that the shrinking BAFs started with Toy Biz, not Hasbro). Annihilus could have, and should have, been sold as a regular figure in this line and some other, larger Marvel character used for the BAF.
- No comic book, Vs. System card, backdrop on the cardback, etc. that Toy Biz used to provide.
- Price goes up + value goes down = my not buying Marvel Legends figures as much as I used to. While I like Hercules, I don't think he's worth $10-12, even with a BAF piece--if not for the reduced price, I wouldn't have even considered picking him up. This wave of Hasbro's Marvel Legends figures has been out for a while now, and I can tell you, at least in my area, with the exception of Planet Hulk and Ultimate Ironman, it has sold extremely poorly in all the stores that carry it. I think the increased price, rather than the quality/selection of the figures, is the primary reason for that, as Toy Biz's Marvel Legends figures, at $7-8, used to sell a lot better.

Where to Buy:
In my area, Wal-Mart, Shopko, and Pamida stores carried the Annihilus assortment. Currently, our Target has some of the figures from the next Marvel Legends wave (Blob BAF series), and Wal-Mart has the exclusive Cannonball/Domino and Cable/Marvel Girl two packs. There's been some speculation about the future of the Marvel Legends franchise under Hasbro's helm, but only time will tell. Check your local stores first, and then, if you're not having any luck, try online. There's a good chance you'll find the Annihilus wave figures clearanced, like I did, at this point in time.

For Parents:
Hasbro recommends this figure for ages 4 and up. The mace/scepter is probably the only piece that might pose a choking hazard. If you buy a whole set, your child might need help assembling Annihilus.


package photo
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