Sunday 30 April 2023

Toybox REVIEW: Marvel Legends Ghost Rider

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Release Date: November 2022
RRP: $27.99/£25.99

Retro-carded releases have become one of Hasbro's favourite things in the last few years, releasing them across nearly all of their collector brands. It's hard to see how they're a bad thing though, in fact there's quite a lot of advantages to these releases. They appease MISB fans with their nostalgic packaging, though reissues the figures themselves are often ones that have gone long out of print and more often than not they have considerably improved decos. So what's not to love? With all the Marvel Comics cartoons and toy lines there were back in the 90s the Marvel Legends line features a good share of figures with these throwback card backs. Picks like Spider-Man, X-Men and even the Fantastic Four seem obvious, but who could have seen a Marvel Legends Ghost Rider with retro packaging coming?

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"Wielding supernatural abilities and weapons from the back of his flaming motorcycle, Ghost Rider roams the mortal world as the Spirit of Venegeance."

This new Marvel Legends Ghost Rider release is part of Hasbro's recent selection of retro-carded releases, despite the fact Ghost Rider didn't have an animated series in the 90s (despite appearing in both the Fantastic Four and Incredible Hulk cartoons). It did however have a toy line from Toy Biz in 1995, which is what this packaging is inspired by. The card background is a rather striking purple with a huge image of Ghost Rider in the top corner, accompanied by a blazing Ghost Rider logo. Meanwhile the figure itself sits atop a background of flames. A flaming skull superhero toy line in the edgy 90s? This truly was a match made in heaven. On the back of the box that logo is repeated once again beside a little instruction box explaining how the replaceable parts on the figure work, and then below that there's another illustration of Ghost Rider alongside a small character bio. Open the bubble up (which was really painful to do because this packaging is gorgeous), and both Ghost Rider and his accessories site comfortable on the moulded plastic bubble behind the inner name card.

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The figure itself is a reworking of the Rhino Build-a-Figure Ghost Rider from 2015, which in turn was also reused for a more deluxe version with his flame cycle in 2018. The base figure also shares parts with the A.I.M.S. Solider. There are some noticeable differences between all these versions of Ghost Rider though, with this particular one sporting a colour palette that's actually closer to the Danny Ketch version of the character with the grey trousers. Far more significant updates have been done to the head sculpt though, which now features a much whiter skull along with improved flame parts which utilises both yellow and orange translucent plastic. The neck has also been painted white this time around, which adds a lot more to the skeletal look of the character. Interestingly the chain wrapped around the torso is facing the opposite way to the 2015 figure (it was completely absent from the flame cycle version). Overall it's a really good looking figure, even if it arguably doesn't capture any specific version of Ghost Rider. The improvements to the head sculpt really make a difference to the overall look.

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For a seven year old figure Ghost Rider still holds up really well when it comes to articulation too. The joints might be a little stiff, but everything is here that you'd expect to find on a much newer mould as well. Altogether the figure features;
- Ball jointed head and hips
- Hinged jaw
- Swivel hinge shoulders, wrists and ankles
- Butterfly joint shoulders
- Double hinge elbows and knees
- Single hinge ab crunch
- Waist, bicep and thigh swivels
Once you're able to work out some of that stiffness this thing poses like a dream. But for all the great articulation the figure has, it's the simplicity of the hinged jaw that I find myself drawn to the most. Such a simple little addition, but it makes so much difference to how the head sculpt looks in various poses. Touches like butterfly joint shoulders and double hinged elbows/knees are Marvel Legends staples, but are just as appreciated now as they ever were. There are plenty of improvements that have been made to the figure deco-wise but the articulation was great, so why try to fix what isn't broken?

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While sadly no motorcycle has been included with this figure, there are plenty of other accessories to make things more interesting. Included are a flaming chain, wrist-mounting flame effect parts, an alternate Johnny Blaze head sculpt and a pair of alternate skeleton hands. The chain was included with the deluxe motorcycle version of the figure, while the rest of the parts are brand new accessories. The flame effect parts are pretty straightforward and the kind that have been seen on plenty of figures before this - they're made of soft plastic and simply slot over the wrists to give the figure more of a fiery appearance. The chain can fit into either of the default (gloved) hands, featuring a rather impressive length and curving into proper flames. It's a shame that the chain hasn't been done in a way that allows it to bend into different shapes but it's still pretty impressive. Finally we have the swappable parts, all of which are meant to represent Johnny Blaze mid-transformation into the Spirit of Vengeance. To this end the human head sculpt still has translucent flames erupting out of it, along with piercing red eyes and clenched teeth. The skeleton hands are nicely detailed with moulded bone structures, along with their own attached flames. While you just can't beat the skull look, the Blaze head sculpt looks superb so I could totally understand people buying this release (if they have the previous one) just for that.

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Between the great sculpt, fantastic articulation and impressive range of accessories Marvel Legends Ghost Rider should be the perfect package, but I can't help feel like something is missing. Not matter how wonderful the figure itself may be, Ghost Rider without his bike just doesn't feel right. While I understand that at the end of the day this is one of Hasbro's cheaper retro-carded releases, without an opportunity to buy the bike separately Ghost Rider just feels weirdly incomplete. This might sound awfully hypocritical of me given the number of Kamen Rider figures I own without their bikes, but it just doesn't feel right here. Still, that alone shouldn't deter anyone from picking up what's otherwise a pretty brilliant figure.

1 comment:

Manpig said...

Ghost rider has always been one of my favorite Marvel characters, this figure looks like such a fantastic representation of the character, love that head sculpt