Friday 11 February 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Marvel Legends Retro Human Torch

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Release Date: November 2021
RRP: $22.99/£21.99

No need to fear, they're here! Part three of Fantastic February continues with Hasbro's Marvel Legends retro Human Torch figure! The brother of Invisible Woman Susan Richards, Johnny Storm is the youngest and most hot-headed member of the Fantastic Four. After shouting his catchphrase of "Flame On!", Johnny becomes engulfed in flame and is capable of flight in addition to controlling his own flames or absorbing any around him. As was the case with the Invisible Woman, a Hasbro Pulse exclusive version was released alongside this general retail figure. Only this time the difference was a little more substantial, with the Hasbro Pulse variant being a powered-down version of Johnny with minimal flame effects.

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"Fiery and hot-headed, the Human Torch can burn through just about any adversity with a smile."

As with the rest of the figures in this retro card wave the Human Torch come in packaging styled to match that of the 90s Fantastic Four animated series toy line from Toy Biz, which featured a Human Torch with "Flame-On Sparking Action!". While the Marvel Legend may not be bogged down by such gimmickry, anyone who was into the cartoon or accompanying toy line will feel deep pangs of nostalgia seeing it again. It's almost too good to go ahead and open. The back of the packaging features character artwork (also featured on the bubble's inner card), accessory instructions, a short character bio and images of all the other characters available in the assortment. Once you've made the difficult decision to open it up, the figure and accessories are neatly laid out on their plastic tray.

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Unlike the retro Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman who were both primarily derived from pre-existing Fantastic Four figures, the retro Human Torch is a retool using the 2020 Sunfire figure with the forearms and head from the 2018 Walgreens Human Torch. The figure also has an additional pair of shoulder flames from the Sunfire figure, which loosely fit over the shoulders to give the figure a more fiery look. It's a shame that they don't properly lock into the (completely useless) plug socket on the back that they cover, but they definitely make the figure feel far more "complete". The key thing about this particular Human Torch is that is has been almost entirely moulded in translucent red plastic, with painted black lines all over the body to replicate how the Torch looked in both the cartoon and the classic comics. It's perhaps not as extravagant as the Walgreens version where you can see his uniform underneath, but this is arguably the Human Torch's most iconic look and to see it replicated so faithfully (if simplistically) is amazing. There are a few paint apps present though, namely some painted flames on the head, wrists and hands as well as gold paint on the eyes. The eye paint is barely even noticeable unless viewed up close, but it's nice to see Hasbro not leave that relatively good face sculpt completely untouched. Overall it's a fantastic looking figure (pun definitely intended), and I'm so glad Hasbro opted to make this one the general release as opposed to the powered-down variant.

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Thanks to that Sunfire body Johnny is a touch more modern than the other retro Fantastic Four figures, boasting slightly better articulation than both Reed and Sue. Altogether he features; 
- Ball jointed head and hips 
- Swivel hinge shoulders, wrists and ankles 
- Butterfly joint shoulders 
- Double hinge elbows and knees 
- Single hinge neck and ab crunch 
- Bicep, waist, thigh and boot swivels 
The big modern addition here is of course the additional butterfly joint around the shoulders, giving the figure significantly better arm articulation perfect for flying, fireball throwing or any poses in between. The figure also has the luxury of that extra boot swivel, which perhaps doesn't add a whole extra overall but still shows how these figures have evolved over the years. The body design is also perfect for making the most out of the various swivels without having them break the sculpt up too, especially the basic waist joint which still feels like the most outdated aspect of the line's articulation. Although the hole on the back of the figure is a little too big to accommodate a Bandai Tamashii stage (not to mention covered by the flames if you have those attached), with a big of careful balancing you can use the holes in the feet for some fantastic mid-air posing. The connection with the stand is nice and stable, and the end result is far more attractive than having a clear plastic claw piece wrapped around the figure.

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As seems to be the case with most of these retro Fantastic Four figures, the accessories included aren't the best. Altogether Johnny comes with an alternate pair of closed fists (both lacking the sculpted flames of the default hands) and a pair of small wrist flame effect parts which have been repurposed from the 2020 Super Skrull BAF wave Johnny Storm/Human Torch. With Johnny already having one closed fist as default, these hands feel a little redundant even if they're the only ones that work with the effect parts. The flames are especially great either, and barely noticeable when wrapped around the hands as they're intended (not that the packaging gives you any proper guidance on how they should look). They're the same kind of soft wraparound effects included with many Power Rangers Lightning Collection figures, only smaller and far more forgettable. Thankfully decent flame effects are a dime a dozen elsewhere, so it isn't hard to spruce up your Human Torch with other effect parts even if Hasbro don't want to do it themselves.

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For those in the market for a classic-styled "flame on" Johnny Storm there's no doubt that the Marvel Legends Retro Human Torch is the best choice on the market, with only a few minor gripes keeping it from being a perfect figure. The toy itself looks amazing with its almost entirely translucent plastic look, complete with those painted black lines to give it that perfect retro Human Torch look. While it would have been nice if the shoulder flames pegged onto the back a little more securely, really it's the poor choice of accessories that let this figure down. Maybe it's a little more costly to do an all-translucent figure and that's why he comes with so little, but some proper flame effects would have really propelled this toy to new heights. Nevertheless, this is definitely one of the best figures in this retro Fantastic Four assortment and worth your time and money even if you picked up the previous releases.

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