Wednesday 1 April 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Marvel Legends Doctor Doom

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Release Date: January 2020
RRP: $19.99/£19.99

Despite being Marvel's first family, the Fantastic Four haven't had much luck in the modern age. Three middling to terrible films, a lessened presence in the grand scheme of Marvel Comics and a Marvel Legends figure wave exclusive solely to Walgreens stores (and thus, more difficult for worldwide collectors to find). But the times are changing, and with a new ongoing Fantastic Four comic series since 2018 the team are finally once again getting the respect they deserve. In fact, Hasbro's 2020 string of Marvel Legends figures has kicked off with a mass-retail wave of Fantastic Four figures featuring a Super Skrull Build-A-Figure. Among the assortment are all four members of the team and (She Hulk), but no wave would be complete without their greatest enemy - Doctor Doom. Consider one of, if not the greatest villain in the Marvel Universe, the King of Latveria has been long desired by collector's in Hasbro's premier collector line.

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The Marvel Legends packaging hasn't really changed very much since Hasbro first took over the line from Toy Biz, and it's always stood out due to it's strange box and card-back hybrid design. The front of the packaging is largely black with strips of light blue, much like the modern Fantastic Four uniforms themselves which these figures have. It does however give you a very good look at the Doom figure inside, along with all the accessories that are included. The spines of the box feature identical artwork of the Latverian monarch, which the back features a nice big image of the toy along with a short bio in various languages. Just below is is a boxed off section displaying all the figures available in the Fantastic Four wave, as well as the Super Skrull Build-A-Figure and a handy guide which tells you which piece of the figure comes with who. Open it up and you'll find the figure and accessories on a moulded plastic tray, which the cape threaded through behind. While not impossible to pull the cape through the hole it is small, so the easier option would be to pop off the head, pull the cape out from behind and then reattach.

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Doctor Doom has arrived and he looks magnificent! How little the design has changed over the decades just goes to show how timeless it is, making this a figure that'll look great in any Marvel display - no matter what your era of preference may be. The stone cold metal of Doom's bionic armour has been realised in metallic silver plastic, which nicely conveys the look of metal with its sheen and swirling colour injection. Meanwhile the tunic is completely covered in textured detailing, giving it a visual contrast to the smooth look of the silver body. No little detail has been spared on this figure, from the rivet detailing that runs all the way down the body armour to leathery texture of Doom's belt and holster - complete with a moulded Doom monogram. The crowning glory is the head sculpt, which sits shadowy inside the hood but has such impressive crafting to it. Behind that metal mask are traces of Victor Von Doom's scarred face, and the mouth also has the metal grid built inside of it. Rounding the ensemble off is the cape, made of a soft plastic which is somewhat bendable but not properly poseable. A bit of a shame since a swooshing cape is exactly what a Doctor Doom figure needs but this kind is exactly in Marvel Legends' wheelhouse so no surprise they stuck to it. Out of the box Doom has a weapon holding right hand attached as well as an open left hand, which is perfect for dramatic posing and cursing that pesky Reed Richards.

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The cape is attached by both looping over the top of the neck joint and (rather poorly) plugging into the back of the body, but by removing the head it can be fully removed from the figure - and doing so reveals some rather interesting features. Doom's back also has two rocket thrusters protruding from it, which are compatible with various Marvel Legends effect pieces (think the ones that usually come with Iron Man). It's a great hidden feature that definitely gives the figure more play value, especially if you want to go that extra mile and buy multiple Dooms to represent his seemingly never-ending army of Doombots. You would think that presumably the hood would also be removable from the head sculpt, however upon handling it does seem that they may be fixed together in some way that isn't visible from the front. There's likely some workaround, but in this case I didn't want to potentially break the figure to find out.

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But as great as this figure looks, unfortunately it isn't a design that lends itself particularly well to articulation. Now Hasbro aren't completely at fault here, but they've loaded the figure with pretty much everything collectors have come to expect from a Marvel Legends release. Doctor Doom features a ball hinge head and neck joint, ball hinge shoulders, bicep swivels, double hinged elbows, swivel hinge wrists, ab crunch, ball jointed hips, thigh swivels, double hinged knees and swivel hinge ankles. Where the design is just the metal armour the articulation works perfectly, but the execution of the tunic means some cutbacks have been made - particularly in the upper leg section. Hip articulation really suffers behind that soft plastic skirt, and even though it is slightly malleable it's nowhere near enough to get any decent wide-legged poses out of the figure. So while Doom can posture to his heart's content, any more action-orientated shots will have to be conveyed almost completely in the upper body. Although Hasbro have experience working with soft goods in other lines its not really something you see in Marvel Legends so I'm not surprised they didn't opt for it here, but Doom is a figure that really could have benefitted from it. The tunic itself would have perhaps been too much to ask for, but even if it was just the cape then it would have made a big difference.

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In-package accessories include two alternate closed fist hands and an alternate head based on Doom's appearance from classic comics. However open up the holster on Doom's belt and you'll also find another hidden extra - an unpainted handgun completely moulded in black plastic. The gun is so well hidden in that holster that some buyers might not even realise it's there! The closed fists are an obvious choice when it comes to extra hands - in most cases you'd expect them to be the ones pre-fitted to the figure but the open ones Hasbro opted for here are far more suited to the character. Either way they're here so Doom can punch and clench his fists just as well as he can make dramatic gestures. The real winner here though is the classic head sculpt, which I can imagine many will immediately swap to be the default head. While the modern mask may have the more menacing expression, the classic version is just as perfect - all the rivet detailing matches the bodywork nicely and the face sculpting behind that metal face-plating is really striking. Both heads pull off the "face behind a mask" look brilliantly, but there's a lot more exposed space on the classic version to really get that across. While there are plenty of things you could load a Doctor Doom figure up with, all in all its a pretty great bunch of accessories. 

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Finally of course there's also the Super Skrull Build-A-Figure part, which in the case of Doctor Doom is his left leg. For those like myself who only pick up Marvel Legends here and there this piece won't have any benefit to you whatsoever, since the Build-A-Figures are really only aimed at those planning to pick up entire waves (or attempt to find the pieces separately on the aftermarket). It's a great way of getting larger characters released, but personally I'm glad other Hasbro lines don't do this as I'd much rather pick and choose which figures I'd get rather than dedicate myself to an entire line.

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Given the numerous other toy lines I collect Marvel Legends isn't one that I tend to frequent, but every so often a figure will come along that I just can't say no to. Doctor Doom is one of my all time favourite Marvel characters and Marvel Legends Doctor Doom certainly doesn't disappoint. The heavy cape is a little unwieldy and (unsurprisingly) the skirt doesn't do wonders for leg articulation, but the sculpt and detailing here is unbelievably good for a $20 mass retail figure. The toy just oozes that necessary shelf presence Doom commands, and the alternate head sculpt is a fantastic alternative for those who prefer a more classic look. While not perfect, it's still undoubtedly the best 6" Doctor Doom figure produced thus far. I'm extremely impressed with this figure, and given the glowing reviews the other figures in the Fantastic Four wave have also had I'm not sure how well I'm going to be able continue overlooking this toy line.

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