Review: Hasbro “Retro-Style” X-Men Action Figures
Since action figure collectors today are overwhelmingly older than they used to be, retro-style packaging has been a thing for a while. Star Wars periodically gooses the line with photo-style cards like in the ’70s. Marvel Legends created a sub-series using card art that mimicked early ’90s Toy Biz superhero toys. But later in the ’90s, Toy Biz really hit its stride with X-Men, with a whole new card style and a comprehensive roster of characters. Now Hasbro is leaning hard into nostalgia for those very first mutant toys, with a series of “retro-style” X-Men. In actuality, as with the retro-figures in the main line, only the packaging is retro. The figures themselves use a mixture of existing and new Marvel Legends parts to fit perfectly into any Marvel Legends collection.
Toy Biz figures typically featured action gimmicks, as most toys did back then. Today’s super-articulated bodies make that difficult to duplicate, but clip-on parts attempt to reproduce the visual effect. Cyclops and Storm lit up back in the day, so they come with an optic beam and lighting, respectively. Iceman had a color-change feature and an ice sled you could freeze him in; this one attempts the unique hue and delivers a small sled. Silver Samurai was originally chrome vac-metal with a removable helmet; that hasn’t been duplicated here, but he features an intricate new sculpt. Wolverine often had pop-out claws, so this one includes alternate hands. And Dazzler? This one, while included in the popular ’90s arcade game, never got a Toy Biz figure. Had she, the gimmick would likely have been some kind of light or throwing action. So she gets clip-on light effects.
Cyclops comes with two different heads: one serious, and one screaming. The screaming one has a slot in the visor to attach the big optic blast effect. His left hand, meanwhile, is in a “tapping” pose as if activating his visor. Both heads have red energy waves coming out the side; no totally neutral one comes with him. Blue metallic paint makes the costume on his generic body type really pop.
Storm’s cape clips on to her wrists with harder plastic clips, but it’s not obviously detachable from her back. Her hair is a softer plastic to make posing easier, and the lightning effects are wraparounds, so they’re not blocked by the wrist clips. That execution could easily have been botched, but happily the existing Hasbro lightning effects do the trick.
Wolverine uses the familiar Wolverine body, but the costume choice is a deeper cut. It comes from Wolverine Volume 2 issue 1, with Logan on a solo mission to find the corrupting Muramasa blade. He wears a nondescript black outfit and dark face paint. And Hasbro’s artists have gone heavy on the arm hair this time, which gives this variant more character.
Most Iceman figures typically rely on a clear body, but not this one. Most ice in its natural form doesn’t look entirely clear. Technically he is translucent, but the ice effect comes from a more pearlescent finish that comes closer to the appearance of ice in the sun. The butterfly chest joints allow him to strike some classical bodybuilder shots.
Dazzler features some smart parts reuse to create a pretty spot-on figure. Her only real issue is one that often plagues figures using this female body. Basically, the belt hangs super loose and doesn’t stay where it ought to. A dab of superglue can fix this, but the consumer shouldn’t have to. Male figures often featured glued-on belts over generic trunks, for instance.
But if you only get one figure in the series, make Silver Samurai the choice. He’s fully poseable, has holsters for both his swords, and despite not being chrome is still fairly shiny. And way cooler than any potential oversized movie version.
Just as the Toy Biz X-Men represented a leap forward from their basic Marvel heroes, these do likewise for Hasbro’s retro-cards. Many of the classic heroes on vintage cards were simple repaints with a couple extras. These would be great on their own, even without the old-style art. The way they try to visually duplicate the old gimmicks is just a cherry on top. Look for them at the standard Marvel Legends price of around $20.
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