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SDCC11: Hasbro's Ever Expanding Marvel Universe
Posted by D_Martin on August 1, 2011 at 02:20 PM CST:

Hasbro's Ever Expanding Marvel Universe
Text by Paul Nomad

Marvel Universe is a sore spot among collectors. Some begrudgingly accepted this collection thinking the glory days of Marvel Legends were over and just couldn?t accept life without some sort of Marvel collection building on their shelves! Others did their best to collect the characters that appealed to them, but shoddy paint jobs, odd head sculpts and awkward articulation kept them at arms length. Now it seems Hasbro is in 100%, showing off a wide selection of characters we would have killed for 5 years ago, excellent paint jobs and sculpts that redefine the three and three quarter scale landscape. Oddly, this is also a time when they are preparing to re-launch Marvel Legends six inch figures! Clearly, there will be a silent battle on the pegs in 2012.

While Marvel Universe and Legends tend to dominate our dorky thoughts, Hasbro still have other figures that compliment these lines and also exist within that Marvel Universe. The wacky world of Spider-Man fits that bill! We call it wacky because, more often then not, this planet is dominated with endless variations on the Spider-Man character with swim fins, lazer tag battle gear, spinny arms of doom, and so on. Oddly, the only thing Spider-Man hasn?t come with is breasts?and you know Spider-Girl and Spider-Woman would fit perfectly in this line! Madness. At any rate, Hasbro had their legion of Spider-Men on display with very few new villains to speak of save the lonely Scorpion figure buried on the top shelf alongside yet another Lizard figure, no doubt chosen to meet the desires of those awaiting his appearance in the new film?but Hasbro was not out of tricks! Proudly displayed on his own stage was a new three and three quarter Amazing Spider-Man action figure boasting a brand new body sculpt and enhanced, super-articulation including ankles, double knees, hips and ball swivel wrists! Most of the other Spider fare was shown in February (at Toy Fair natch?) but our Hasbro rep mentioned new masks are on the way including a Glow in the Dark one not shown that I?m betting more than a few adults will be snapping up for the pure awesome.

After that quick detour to Spider-ville, it?s off to the Marvel Universe! Gone is the Secret Wars theme, but the winning two pack format will continue. You can look forward to Adam Warlock Vs. Thanos, Secret Avengers Moon Knight and Ant Man, Juggernaught unmasked amid his battle with Colossus, Mister Sinister corrupting the charismatic Gambit, Power Man and Iron Fist, Spider-Man and Classic Captain Britain, Quicksilver with Wonder Man and hiding behind them all we even found a brand new Daredevil Vs. Bullseye pack! We asked if there were any plans for further anniversary packs like the Secret Wars series and was told at this time, no, but that doesn?t mean Hasbro won?t be celebrating popular Marvel story lines with characters sporting their looks in those particular comics. Fear Itself is one such moment in time you?ll see mirrored on the pegs with figures like the dark suited Daredevil and conversely light suited Iron Fist. We probed further and asked if Hasbro had given any thought to a ?What If..?? line. The answer was no, but we was told they had joked around internally about doing some far out things like Forbush Man! We offered my ultimate two pack idea of Impossible Man Vs. Howard the Duck and received a giant sized grin at the suggestion. ?Something that you just said there MIGHT be coming out in the next couple of months..? MYSTERY!!! Begin speculation mode kiddies!

Onto the single packed figures with what our rep described as a ?frikken amazing Kraven the Hunter??and I?m inclined to agree! As much as we like to hate on the three and three quarter scale, this is the best Kraven figure I?ve ever seen?and he?s not alone in the awesomeverse. Also on display were X-23, a brand new sculpt (and shocking dry brushed paint aps!) for Hulk, Beta Ray Bill, Patriot, Astonishing Beast, a re-deco?d Absorbing Man you?ll see in human and titanium form, the previously mentioned Iron Fist, Iron Man with the face plate removed showing Tony Stark?s face, a new modern Storm, re-deco of Doctor Doom, Psylocke, re-deco Ice Man, Astonishing Wolverine, re-deco Shadowland Daredevil, Skaar (son of Hulk), re-deco Magneto based on his video game colors, Age of Thunder Thor without his helmet, Sub-Mariner in his green skivvies, Darkhawk, Steve Rogers Captain America, Falcon, Scarlet Spider, re-deco Ultron and Dr. Strange in both regular and translucent Astral forms!! It should be noted that a lot of these figures were marked ?Available Now?, which we were told means around two to three months away on the Hasbro calendar. We pity our collective wallets. We know this doesn?t jibe with the things marked August and September specifically, but we can only report what the man tells me! Would a schedule make things easier? We thought it might. Here?s what we are in for (to the best of our ability to gather the info!)?

NOW: Falcon, Doctor Strange, Doctor Doom, Scarlet Spider, Wonder Man and Quicksilver, Gambit and Mister Sinister, Thanos and Adam Warlock, Power Man and Iron Fist, Bullseye and Daredevil, Spider-Man and Captain Britain

August 2011: X-23, Sub-Mariner, Ultron, Darkhawk, Steve Rogers

September 2011: Moon Knight and Ant Man, Colossus and Juggernaut

October 2011: Astonishing Wolverine, Magneto, Absorbing Man, Tony Stark Iron Man, Iceman (X-Factor Outfit)

November 2011: Guardians of the Galaxy

December 2011: Shadowland Daredevil, Ages of Thunder Thor, Patriot, Psylocke, Storm

2012 Wave 1: Hulk, Astonishing Beast, Beta Ray Bill, Kraven the Hunter

2012 Wave 2: Scarlet Witch, Punisher, Future Foundation Spider-Man, She-Hulk, Kang

2012 Wave 3: Angel, Nighthawk, Nova, Hercules, Puck (fully articulated, super short and able to stand on one hand!)

Jubilee was given as a sneak peek for a future line. Peter Parker and another civilian character are planned as well as a Paper Bag Head Spider-Man you?ve all been dying for. THE WAIT IS OVER!! They also gave hints at a possible Professor Xavier in his chair. Hasbro has also made mention they will continue the Gigantic Battles oversized figures.

Masterworks Series Fin Fang Foom (re-deco with purple soft goods pants) is on the way as well.

We asked how they figure out how to release the variant figures and were told they are not evenly packed when they are swapped out and that there actually isn?t a set plan in place for any one of these releases. We mentioned that when we find these variants, it is usually all in one place at one time and to this fact, we were told that Hasbro will often pump a bunch more of the variants into retails so we do get a decent shot of finding what we are dying to obtain and often have to fight the scalper hordes to possess! We mentioned a multipack with all the variants would make EVERYONE very happy and was told it is a great idea. Hope they consider it. Just think?NO MORE VARIANT HUNTING!! WE brought up the success of X-Men First Class, as it seemed everyone was staying clear just in the very likely case it would have bombed. Now that it has been given a giant thumbs up by fans the world over, would Hasbro come back and do, at the very least, a movie themed set? Sorry, too late for this.

Also in the Marvel Universe scale we?ll see Avengers figure releases (Hulk, Bucky Captain America, Heroic Age Thor and Bleeding Edge Armor Iron Man) with blue light up ?A symbol? bases. The Hulk in this lineup is HUGE and an absolute must have for the scale freaks among us. These will be exclusive to a certain store but at the time of this interview, that information was unavailable. We briefly mentioned the Guardians of the Galaxy pack on the schedule above so now we?ll mention it includes Rocket Raccoon, Drax the Destroyer, Starlord and a tiny little potted Groot! The Fantastic Four pack will swap out to their Future Foundation outfits, which you can join with that single packed FF Spider-Man to complete the crew. We jumped in to ask about the possibility of vehicles and environments, as was suggested when the line first began as the scale lends to this perfectly. Now that the line is proven to have staying power, they could surely rope those last hold outs with promises of a larger Marvel Universe, complete with all the trappings! We was told that David Vonner (Senior Product Designer for Boys Toys) has created designs for a SHIELD flying car and even a Quinjet, but Hasbro is still trying to plot when would be the best time to release such things. Fighting for shelf space in this environment means that every tooling dollar is carefully planned, so those larger items wind up dead last. Hasbro assures us that they have a great passion for creating these awesome additions and have even gone so far as to bring the designs into the grey model phase in the hopes that they can pitch them to the team and find the right spot to slide them in! we asked if the new Avengers movie would provide such an opportunity and was told the film would get its own dedicated line when the time comes and plenty of excellent toys are being prepared to fill the shelves. We probed a bit more and asked if the focus would be solely on the film or if there were plans to mirror the Avengers celebration in the Marvel Universe line as well. HUGE smiles popped up and we was told in gleeful sing song voice ?I caaaaan?t tellll youuuu!!!? Hasbro did debut the first three figures from the line in three and three quarter scale Thor, Mark 7 Armored Iron Man and Captain America (sans accessories)?and that?s all you get for now. Just know we did our best to Jedi Mind Tick these guys and they are just resistant to it all. We bet roofies don?t work on them either. I?m promised that New York Comic Con will have plenty more reveals in store.

And what of our friend the giant Sentinel? SDCC saw the early release on his ?super ridiculous? blister card, but he?ll hit the shelves this fall. We asked why the more popular purple color deco wasn?t their choice for the retail release and was told that silver deco is one of the more recent looks for the big bots. Does that mean we won?t see our purple pal at retail? We highly doubt it. Hasbro released two color decos for Galactus and we see no reason why they wouldn?t box up both versions of the Sentinel. There?s money to be made! We are all yelling for it and they are listening.

MARVEL LEGENDS!!! The six inch toys of our dreams return in 2012 with the following lineups?

Marvel Legends Wave 1: Steve Rogers Captain America (with a variant with his Photon Shield), Hope Summers, Extremis Iron Man (with a Stealth Variant), Klaw, Constrictor, Ghost Rider (Danny Ketch) with two versions of blue and orange flames, Modern Heroic Age Thor : with Build a Figure Terrax (Variant packaging will be available without the BAF piece.)

Wave 2: Bucky Captain America, Piledriver, Thunderball, Dark Avengers Daken Wolverine, Madame Masque/ Madame Hydra (swap out re-deco so we get two characters in that slot!), Drax the Destroyer (Guardians version), Techy Costume Spider-Man? (...what the hell do that call that abomination that lasted for three minutes? Oh yeah... BIG TIME SPIDER-MAN! Ha.) : with Build a figure Dr. Arnim Zola that includes a Red Skull head.

Other quick bits: Hasbro is looking to re-introduce their mugs line with Marvel Mini Muggs. The theory is you?ll be able to get a larger cast of characters in a more pocket friendly price. The art is being done by the same people who created the original line, but Mini Muggs will be more stylized. It?s a simplified look to suit the smaller bodies.

Iron Man continues with six inch releases including his Neo-Classic Armor in two versions... the one shown in our photography and one described as having ?mega man styled calves and forearms.? It is essentially the same figure with these removable parts. Also on hand were the Stark racing armor based on the Mark VI, Extremis Armor in a new deco and some others we are already seeing at retail. three and three quarter Iron Man figures are wrapping up with little bits trickling out here and there until the end of the year. If you haven?t found any numbers over 30 (like me), you may be out of luck. Time to get vocal if you?d like to see these numbers in one last retail rush!

Captain America gets new life in a fan requested six inch line with classic comic (re-release from the Fury two pack) and movie versions alongside Lord of Asgard Thor (a re-release of that bearded Thor), movie Thor, Movie Nick Fury and oddly a classic comic Loki that should be the sought after piece for Legends fans. He?s a little beefed up but still badass enough to fly off the pegs. These are all in a Walmart exclusive wave. The Captain America three and three quarter line gets new additions of the Desert Camo Cap, Jungle Attack Cap, Night Attack Ultimates Cap, Heavy Infantry Hydra Soldier and Light Infantry Hydra Soldier.

Now our Hasbro rep Dwight Stall (senior production designer for Marvel Legends, Captain America, and Avengers) is an admitted old school X-Men fan and overall Marvel Zombie, so we had to ask him about the upcoming films. At the time of this interview, Captain America had not been released so without spoiling anything, he told us ?When we saw Thor we was like yeah, Thor! Then we saw Cap and we was like THOR WHO?!? we pushed to find out what his impressions of Avengers is so far and was told he isn?t allowed to talk about the film, but we asked for his vague feelings purely from one fan to another. His reply was ?we honestly think when Avengers hits, it?s going to blow you away?like Iron Man 1 sort of re-set a standard for super hero movies?Avengers makes Iron Man 1 look like ?eh?we don?t need that anymore! It?s not going to raise the bar, it?s going to blow the roof off the building and reset the bar somewhere up in the heavens... maybe Asgard! The team they brought together at Marvel is just? We could not be happier to be working with them. It?s pure joy!?

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