Monday 28 September 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Marvel Legends Deluxe 'Age of Apocalypse' Apocalypse

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Release Date: August 2020
RRP: $29.99/£29.99

Alternate universe stories are one of my favourite concepts in science fiction, so when it comes to the X-Men it shouldn’t be any surprise to hear that Age of Apocalypse is by far my favourite thing to come out of the franchise. An epic event depicting a universe where Apocalypse successfully wages war on humankind and takes control of the Earth, the 1995-96 story remains the gold standard for AUs in comics. I’m no Marvel Legends collector, but when Hasbro announced a wave of Age of Apocalypse figures my interest was piqued - and there was no way I could resist the deluxe Marvel Legends Age of Apocalypse Apocalypse figure. Separate from the main wave, this special release is a reworking of the 2018 build-a-figure, reimagining the despotic mutant En Sabur Nur in his alternate universe form.

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Apocalypse comes in deluxe style Marvel Legends packaging, which is wider than the standard boxes and also lacks the peg hook at the top. The front of the box is mostly window so you can see Apocalypse in all his glory, and then just below him is Age of Apocalypse X-Men logo, along with the character name (Apocalypse is clearly too generic a word to be trademarked so here he’s “Marvel’s Apocalypse”). Both spines feature some gorgeous artwork of the character, and then on the back there’s a nice big shot of the figure itself as well as a short bio in different languages. Inside the figure is neatly stored on a moulded plastic tray, with the cape piece fitted on a small tray slotted underneath. The backing card behind the tray is also pretty neat - featuring a head shot of the character instead of just being a plain one colour card.

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This has always been my preferred look for Apocalypse. The piping of the classic 616-version is cool, but I always found the A emblem on the belt a little goofy even I do have to respect that Apocalypse was all about that personal branding. But the Age of Apocalypse version really hits the spot for me - it’s far simpler, but it almost has a superhero quality to it that makes it all the more twisted. The body is a glossy blue with bright red gauntlets and boots. Finally the ensemble is completed by two huge shoulder pads and a glorious flowing cape, because what’s world domination without a bit of theatrics thrown in? Considering this figure used to be the standard Apocalypse, Hasbro have done a pretty great job transforming it in the his alternate universe self. The body is a little too glossy to the point that it almost lols cheap, but it’s a minor complaint. The sculpt of the figure is very good, and manages to perfectly straddle the line between Apocalypse simply being a larger character and a hulking brute. The cape is made of a soft plastic and pegs neatly into the back of the figure - it isn’t an especially tight fit but it does the job. Personally I’d have preferred a cloth cape and would have imagined there was scope to do that within a deluxe release, but generally that doesn’t seem to be Marvel Legends’ thing so it’s not surprising they went plastic for it. Probably the biggest annoyance of all is actually the collar piece, which has a habit of unpegging itself and rattling about any time you try to move the head. It’s a good looking figure, but definitely has that Build-A-Figure “not quite as secure because you put the pieces together yourself” feel about it. The head sculpt is pretty magnificent though - the mouth of that evil grin is really well defined. It’s a very simple look but incredibly effective, and just goes to show what you can do with a minimal colour palette.

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It’s when you take a closer look at the articulation that this figure’s origins as a Build-A-Figure seem much more apparent, because while still good it doesn’t feel quite as polished as a standard Hasbro collector figure would. Altogether Apocalypse sports the following;
- Ball jointed head and hips
- Swivel hinge neck, shoulders and ankles
- Bicep, waist and thigh swivels 
- Ab crunch
- Single hinge elbows and knees
Unfortunately the biggest problems here aren’t where articulation is missing (no butterfly joint shoulders for example), it’s that the parts that are here aren’t as good as they perhaps should be. The waist swivel is nice to to have for example, but it’s incredibly loose. Combine that with an equally loose ab crunch, and you have this top heavy figure that struggles to support its own weight at times. The overly muscular arms mean there’s very little bend to those elbows, the wrist joints are tight and head articulation really suffers from the huge collar surrounding it. The foundations are there and that’s enough to get some decent poses out of the figure (the size goes a long way in making the figure always look imposing), but quality-wise it just misses the mark.

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The deluxe price tag clearly went into justifying the size of the figure rather than the accessories, because sadly Apocalypse comes with a rather meagre count of extra parts. Included altogether are an alternate left fist, an alternate head with a more stern expression and finally a human skull for him to grasp as he cackles madly. The alternate head is by far the winner of these three pieces, as not only does it feel like it captures the essence of Apocalypse much better than the default head but also it just looks a lot better too. Both heads on this release are also compatible with the standard BAF Apocalypse if you have that, although the colours won’t completely match up. Although the alternate fist is nice in that the figure can have at least one pair of matching hands (really it should have come with an open right hand as well), the wrist joint on my figure is practically unusable. I’ve tried loosening it in nearly every way possible, but it just doesn’t want to budge and the only thing I seem to be doing is creating stress marks on the peg. Finally there’s the skull - a fun little inclusion for posing and something that might find wider use across other figures, but nothing particularly special either. It might have been a little much to expect anything more from this figure in terms of accessories, but nevertheless it still manages to be a little underwhelming.

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Given that he’s the star of the whole series Marvel Legends Age of Apocalypse Apocalypse really should have been a home run, so it’s all the more disappointing that this is a pretty average release from Hasbro overall. Most of its flaws surely stem from the fact that it’s a reworking build-a-figure, making it feel a little cheaper in quality than the mainline stuff and lacking when it comes to a good variety of accessories. As my favourite version of Apocalypse I certainly don’t regret the purchase, but at the same time it hasn’t enticed me into the wider world of Marvel Legends the same way I’ve been sucked into Hasbro’s other collector lines. At the very least I feel like I need more X-Men figures to go with him, but then the line’s Age of Apocalypse wave was missing most of the big name characters. He should pair off pretty well with the forthcoming MAFEX Age of Apocalypse Magneto though, so that’s a good place to start.

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