We're not far off from Guardians of the Galaxy hitting theatres now, but before that, there's toys to play with! The next wave of Hasbro's Marvel Legends Infinite line has hit stores, and I've come home with some 6-inch scaled thugs, thieves, assassins and rogues in tow...
I didn't just pick up the Guardians though- and this may be unfortunate news for some looking to get the whole team easily. Groot isn't actually a figure for sale in the wave, he's a 'Build-a-Figure' bonus: You get a piece of Groot bundled in with each character in the wave, so when you've bought all of them, you get a complete set of Groot parts to build into his own, plus-sized figure. Aside from the 4 non-Groot Guardians, the wave features Nova and Tony Stark in his Space Armour Mark III Suit that appeared last year when he officially joined the Guardians of the Galaxy in the comics. It's admittedly a pain that you have to do this to get the full team - and especially to get a character people are very excited about - but some of the sting is taken in that they're actually both great action figures in their own right. So let's get down to business then, shall we?
Gamora is a beautiful figure. The likeness captures Zoe Saldana under her makeup spot-on (although the expression is a tad blank), her costume is covered in lovely little details and the use of blue-on-black painting over her bodysuit does an amazing job of creating the effect of the material of the original costume.
The detailing really is quite spectacular - they actually detail the lace on her top! - and the fading effect on her hair to emulate her purple-and-black locks is really well done, even if it's not as vivid as it actually is in the film and other promotional figures. It's one of those figures, despite Gamora not having a super-extravagant outfit (it's relatively plain, as befitting a sneaky assassin-type), that you can just keep noticing more and more details as you look at it.
Unfortunately, it's hard to get much of a look when Gamora spends most of her time like this:
Ooh err. I dunno what it is about her - the diminutive frame, the small feet, the weird choice on Marvel Legends figures to have 2 swivel-hinge joints around a seperate Knee piece, instead of a single ball joint common on other figures in this scale - but without giving her a relatively wide stance, you can't pose her in even the most basic poses without her having a wobble and falling over after a few seconds. Don't expect to have her being 'actiony' with her sword - speaking of which, it's very easy to get that bent with her falling over all the time, the plastic it's made out of is quite rubbery and a little flimsy. When you get her in a basic pose, she can hold her own though... just about.
You're going to detect a running theme here: all these figures are absolutely gorgeous, and Star-Lord is no exception. There's a bit more to our Peter Quill's getup than Gamora's, but the level of detail is just as great - he comes with his satchel wrapped around his leather jacket, which has some great little detailing of the designs by the lapels, as well as some great sculpted creases and a 'dirty' paint wash that makes it look lived in. Star-Lord's helmet is really well detailed as well, although the straight black paint app (which isn't 100% movie accurate) does hide some of the detailing. Overall it's pretty great though, compared to the alternate head that comes with him...
THIS HEAD IS PETRIFYINGGGGG. I've been harsh on this maskless head every since Hasbro put promotional pictures out, but admittedly, in hand I do appreciate it a little more - the sculpted hair is excellently done for example, the paint app is nice. And it does look like a human being (a slightly over tanned one at that, he looks like he's been tango'd), but it's not Chris Pratt. It's nowhere near Chris Pratt. It's not even Chris Pratt's slightly uglier and totally nonexistent sibling. It's not totally turgid as it looked in earlier pictures of the toys, but in a wave of figures where the faces and sculptures are basically perfection when it comes to capturing likenesses, it stands out like a sore, bodiless thumb.
Star-Lord comes with a wide variety of accessories aside from the alternate head though - there's his element guns, which slide into his hands perfectly, the mysterious orb that he nicks from Morag in all the trailers (bloody difficult to get him to hold it) that everyone and their son is apparently after in the movie, and wonderfully, a teeny tiny orange walkman and a set of headphones to go with it. It's perfect for Guardians to have such a goofy little accessory come with a figure, and it's appreciated that the headphones aren't just sculpted onto either head, so either version of Peter Quill can get his groove on:
Here's our first non-movie figure, Mr. Rider himself!
Nova - or as the packaging calls him, Marvel's Nova, which as a non-comic reader confused me... do they actually call him that? Is there another Nova Marvel could get in trouble with? I've never seen him called 'Marvel's Nova' in other media - isn't in the movie (apparently), and his packaging does go out of the way to note that this is the comic book version of the character, not a movie incarnation to avoid potential confusion. It allows the figure to be a bit more colourful than its other, subdued movie counterparts, and it does that wonderfully. The vivid gold armour really sits nicely to the deep electric blue that covers most of his suit, and like the way it's used on Gamora, it's got a nicely detailed paint app that's almost like little specs of blue glitter embedded into the paint that makes it really pop. It's a bold, bright figure, and a very literal translation from the page to in the flesh that's superbly done.
Like the rest of the figures in the wave, Nova has a huge amount of articulation - including the weird ab swivel-hinge that all the male Marvel Legends figures have. It seems bizarre to me instead of a more traditional ball joint in the chest (like Gamora has, and Groot, actually!), but you can still get some great movement out of him. Rather ingeniously his shoulder armour isn't attached to his upper arms but his actual shoulders on a swivel hinge, so whilst it does restrict upper movement on the arms a little, you can still get a lot of vertical movement. It looks much nicer instead of having his shoulder pads awkwardly stuck to his arms.
I wasn't really expecting to like the figure as my only real history with the character is in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (voiced by the wonderful Troy Baker), and I did only end up getting him and Iron Man to get the parts for Groot, but I'm pleasantly surprised at how great a figure Nova ended up being.
The tiniest of the lot, of course, is Rocket... and he might just be the most problematic of the wave. Like all the others, he's got fantastic detailing - lovely sculpted fur, great paint applications, especially on his face. His jumpsuit is a little plain, but closer inspection reveals some nicely sculpted elements of it that are sort of washed out by the vivid orange, but overall he is, just like the rest, brilliantly presented.
He's not just a particularly great 'action' figure.
Unlike the rest, of the figures, Rocket has no articulation in his bottom half, thanks to his weird raccoon anatomy. With a swivel waist, a ball jointed head (which unfortunately, thanks to the nature of the sculpt, has very little movement so you can't really twist his head side to side without it looking like it's at a very dodgy ankle) and otherwise normally articulated arms, its hard to get him into a variety of poses. His tail can be moved, and it's necessary to do so to actually balance the figure. His tiny feet can't support Rocket alone, let alone his comically oversized rifle, so you end up having to sort of rock him back a little to shift most of the weight on the tail. The poses you can get him into are alright, there's just not many. Considering his popularity going into the movie (reflected by the fact that this figure is commanding more than double the RRP in a lot of stores here in the UK - he's a bit stiff at £20, but the £45+ I've seen is an absolute joke, no matter how cool he is!), it's disappointing that you can do so little with him.
To bulk out his packaging, aside from his rifle Rocket also comes with a giant, chest-mounted rocket launcher for Star-Lord to use, just like in all the trailers (it seems like he uses it to blow a hole in the wall to get into the area where Gamora and Nebula are dueling), but oh my god it's an absolute pain to get him holding it properly... so it's not a particularly great addition. Still, despite some pretty major holdups, Rocket is still a fun little figure.
I think, just as David Bautista has surprised people with his hilarious straight-man performance as Drax the Destroyer, Drax's figure has surprised me as possibly being my favourite of the whole wave. He's almost the perfect package - amazing likeness, great poseability, incredible paint application, he's a marvel to look at (pun intended).
The level of detail on him is phenomenal. You'd think as he's just a green-grey buff dude naked from the waist up he'd not be the hardest to present, but Hasbro have gone above and beyond in recreating Drax's intricate tattoos, and it's very much worth it. They're properly sculpted onto his torso, arms and head, not just painted on, and it gives an amazing texture to him that elevates what would otherwise be a relatively plain figure to another level. Look at his back! That's incredible!
Drax also come with his twin knives, and even they don't escape the detailing - there's some very intricate carving in both the hilts and bases of each daggers, and they slot into his hands perfectly - whether he's holding them in a standard or reverse grip, so you can have a ton of cool knife-twirling poses. Drax might just be one of the best action figures I've ever had the pleasure of putting on my desk.
And here's the second of the comic-book inclusions in this wave - although Nova is linked to the Guardians through his nature as a cosmic hero, this version of Tony Stark slots in even closer with them: in the current run of Guardians of the Galaxy comics, Tony is a fully fledged member of the team alongside the rest of the crew we're seeing in the movie. He crafted a new Iron Man suit to withstand the vacuum of space, the Space Armour MK III - colloquially known as the Godkiller armour, as it débuted in the Godkiller storyline (duh).
It's a very cool looking armour, and the primarily red colour scheme is incredibly striking - like the Nova figure, it's definitely not as subdued as the Guardians colour palette is. Iron Man features a similar technique to Nova's bodysuit paint too, but instead of invoking the metallic twinge that works brilliantly with Nova, it doesn't quite gel with the Iron man. In fact, in general the figure feels like a retread of some of the Nova figure's best parts, just done not as done well. The paint app doesn't quite hit the same high marks, there's no inventive solution to Iron Man's plus-sized shoulders akin to Nova's, so they limit his arm movement a lot more severely (and are much more prone to being popped off if you're not careful, as I learned multiple times whilst photographing him). Out of the two comic figures in the wave, I think Nova trumps Iron Man easily.
That's not to say Tony's not a great figure still, he's just in a wave full of such great action figures that he doesn't quite hit the same highs. He does get a neat little extra something though - one of his hands is sculpted to represent an open palm showing one of the suit's repulsor blasters, which leads to some cool 'firing' poses - or as I found out, a pretty badass fist-in-palm stance. Space Iron Man means business... IN SPACE.
Last but by no means least is the wave's build-a-figure bonus and the final member of the Guardians team, Groot! Each of the previous figures comes with a single piece of Groot to put together a huge deluxe toy that appropriately towers over the rest of the team. This is what he looks like before he's all together:
Poor Groot! But a few popped joints later, and here he is in all his barky glory...
I AM GROOT! I am Groot. I am Groot? ... I am Groot.
Okay, enough of that. He might be a build-a-fig, but Groot still lives up to the standard set by the rest of the wave - he's incredibly detailed and has just as much articulation as the other figures, covered in little sculpted branches all over, and the weathered paint effect breaks up the brownness and gives him a nice textured look too - and the colour's broken up even more by some bits of moss over his chest, head and arms. It's actually sculpted in very fine detail too, not just painted on. It's amazing to see the quality and close attention in all of these sculpts.
It's not a deal breaker, but the only slight downside to Groot is that he's slightly too small to be in scale for Rocket to pose on his shoulder - he's large enough that he lines up with the team about right though. You can attempt to put him on Groot, but it looks a little silly. Well, silly for a talking raccoon balancing himself on a sentient tree-man. Looks like if you want a pose like that, the Hot toys versions of Rocket and Groot can do that perfectly... they might be a wee bit more expensive than these ones though.
Just a bit.
So there you have it! Overall, I'm incredibly pleased with the figures - there are some niggles, like the poseability issues with Rocket and Gamora, but apart from that, they're great figures packed with some amazing details (easily some of the best paint applications I've ever seen at this scale and price range) and plenty of articulation. The only real sticking point I have is that Star-Lord's maskless alternate head is a terrible likeness, but at least he's got the option of the great Masked head to make up for it!
Whilst I think I would've preferred Groot was a standalone figure at a slightly higher price to make up for his size (my wallet certainly would have!), both Nova and Iron Man live up to the high standard set by the movie figures they stand alongside, too. If you're excited to see the Guardians team up in the theatre this weekend, this
bunch of assholes team of daring rogues are more than worth a spot on your toy shelf.