Sunday 13 February 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Marvel Legends Retro Thing

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

Just call the four! Fantastic Four! What better way to round out this quartet of Fantastic February reviews than with Aunt Petunia's favourite nephew, the Marvel Legends Retro Thing! Although not a blood relative like the rest of Marvel's first family, Benjamin Grimm is as much as part of the family as the rest of them. The pilot of that fateful spacecraft that was bombarded by cosmic rays, Ben was turned into a walking pile of rocks - unable to "turn off" his powers like the rest of the team. Though an integral part of the Fantastic Four the Thing's popularity has also led him to break away into many of his own adventures - from solo comic runs to a short-lived animated series in 1979 (where he had quite the different origin). This retro version from Hasbro is supposed to reminiscence on a different animated version though - the one from the Fantastic Four animated series of the 1990s which debuted as part of the Marvel Action Hour.

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"With his nearly indestructible body and incredible strength and stamina, the Thing possesses the ability to crush evil."

Despite his significantly larger size the retro Thing comes in the same packaging as all the other retro Fantastic Four figures, and boy does he fill it up well. Not only is this release CONSIDERABLY heavier than all the other figures in its packaging, but it takes up pretty much all the space in the bubble too. I'm amazed Hasbro even managed to get accessories in with this figure considering how little space there is to work with on the tray. It's only when you open it up that you really get a full sense of how big this figure is - they even had to put some of the accessories on an additional plastic tray! That retro card still looks as glorious as ever, channelling the essence of Toy Biz's Fantastic Four animated series toy line from the 90s. On the back you'll find some great character artwork, along with a short bio, (extremely) basic instructions on the accessories and images of the rest of the characters in the assortment.

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Like the rest of the Fantastic Four team that appears in this wave, the retro Thing repurposes parts from older Thing figures that have appeared in the Marvel Legends line (namely the 2018 Walgreens exclusive and 2020 Super Skrull BAF wave figures) with a few new additions. Though the body is largely a reuse, the figure sports a brand new head as well as revised thighs to give his iconic blue short trunks look. Though the Thing's costume has always been extremely minimal, it's amazing how much of a different feel these different styled trunks can give each figure. The retro carded wave would have also been the perfect opportunity to give fans the full jumpsuit look the Thing sometimes had (most notably appearing in the cartoon in the season two episode "To Battle the Living Planet"), but at the same time that would have required far more retooling. The new head is an interesting one, most notably giving us a brow styled on John Byrne's artwork for the comics but also an open-mouthed toothless expression. On first glance it can seem a little gormless, but it's actually a really good match to how the Thing was often drawn in the comics so it's a nice touch. The blue eyes are also present of course, because what Thing figure would be complete without them? The body, while again mostly a reuse from the previous figures, is an excellent sculpt that conveys the look of Thing's rocky body perfectly. I know many would prefer a black wash over the body to bring out the detail more (in which case I point you toward the Walgreens figure) but I often find that to be a bit too much. Even without the wash, the all the cracks and the crevices in the sculpt show up really well.

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But even though this figure is a big ol' hunk of plastic Hasbro have still done a good job of making him nearly as articulated as a standard-sized figure. Altogether the Thing features;
- Ball jointed head, waist and hips
- Swivel hinge shoulders, elbows, wrists and ankles
- Double hinge knees
- Waist and thigh swivels
It doesn't quite keep up with the newer figures since it rather significantly lacks both bicep swivels and those all-important butterfly joint shoulders, but it isn't a bad effort by any measure. Usually I'm extremely critical of swivel joint elbows when the double hinge elbow/bicep swivel combination is there as a far better alternative, but on a chunky figure like this their placement seems a little more reasonable. Even if you had a little more bend on these it those massive arms would get in the way at some point. It's an older mould, but it doesn't feel quite as dated in the same way Mr. Fantastic or the Invisible Woman do. The Thing can still stomp and clobber to his heart's content and balancing isn't difficult at all thanks to those big feet with fantastic ankle rockers. 

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The Thing's accessories are fairly basic (especially compared to the more elaborate ones bundled with his teammates), but what sets him apart is that there's nothing disappointing about what's included here. Given just how much space the figure itself takes up in the packaging it wouldn't have been that surprising if it didn't come with anything at all, but Hasbro really made use of all that space - so much so that they included parts on a separate tray. Included with the figure are an alternate head sculpt with an angry expression and gritted teeth, as well as a pair of alternate closed fists - everything you need for clobberin' time. Admittedly the alternate fists were essential accessories for this very reason, but Hasbro's practices in their other lines they could have easily given him one open hand and one fist and called it a day.  The alternate head is also the perfect alternative for anyone not sold on the toothless classic look. It's a big ol' Thing figure that can look mad and throw punches - what's not to love?

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Each of the retro series Fantastic Four figures have had their pros and cons, but when it comes to the team members themselves the Marvel Legends Retro Thing is definitely the one that comes closest to perfection. The hulking piece of plastic not only looks the part, but it has the articulation and (impressively) the accessories to back it up. Just how Hasbro have been able to charge standard retail price for this figure when he's just so much more substantial than the others is pretty incredible. When it comes to owning characters from the Fantastic Four the obvious answer is to just say you should get them all because they're a team, but given how popular the Thing is you'd could argue that if any of them were to work as a one-off purchase it's this one. We should all savour being able to get big figures at prices like this, because judging by Hasbro's price hikes by the end of the year I'd imagine a similar figure would cost considerably more.

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