Before I get started, welcome to the folks who are joining us through our DC Universe Gleek giveaway. Thank you for stopping in!
I’m breathing a sigh of relief – this is the last in a long slate of Marvel Universe reviews that I’ve been putting up since coming back from San Diego Comic-Con. It’s not that I don’t like Marvel Universe – in fact, I’m pretty excited with what Hasbro has been able to achieve in the 3.75-inch scale – it felt like an avalanche of new MU stuff found its way into my hands, and I still have a bunch of SDCC figures to get up on the site.
But enough of my whining (tough life, right?) – let me get back to the Soldiers and Henchmen 3-pack that’s exclusive to Toys R Us. Soldiers and Henchmen comes with a white-decoed Hand Ninja, a SHIELD agent, and an Agent of Hydra.
This is the second 3-pack I’m reviewing, with Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends being the first. There’s a third 3-pack, which comes with a first appearance Daredevil, a stealth armor Iron Man (based on the excellent classic Iron Man from wave 3), and a Silver Surfer with a new paint deco. Instead of picking it up, I was a good army builder and picked up a second Soldiers 3-pack.
Just like the Spidey set, the package features a nice picture window that lets you inspect each figure pretty closely. The Hand ninja card art is from Frank Cho, flipped and recolored, but I’m not sure who did the other two – could be Frank Cho, as the style matches pretty well. The back of the packaging shows the figure prototypes and gives a brief description of the organizations, and sets us up for SHIELD vs. The Hand vs. Hydra.
The Hand Ninja is a repaint of the red Hand Ninja that was part of wave 3. It comes with the same 3 accessories – spear, katana, and dagger. The original body is from Ronin, who was part of wave 2, and the only difference is the hooded head for the ninja. This was a pretty opportunistic reuse, as I don’t know of any comic book appearances of the hand where they have the stylized armor that Ronin has. If you’re looking for a more classically styled ninja, the GI Joe line had a TRU-exclusive 5-pack troop builder set that included 4 red ninjas – they’re a little on the small side compared to MU.
As far as deco is concerned, I associate red to the Hand more than white, but in toy form, the white is superior for a couple of reasons. One reason is that the armor pieces actually look metallic on the white ninja. More importantly, Hasbro has improved the deco for the eyes. I wasn’t fond of the big droopy eyes on the red ninja, and they’ve tightened it up for the white one.
You got a preview of the SHIELD Agent when I reviewed Nick Fury. Fury and his agents share the same base body, which is Daredevil / Bullseye from wave 1 with a new torso. Like Fury, the agent comes with a holster that looks good once you lower it to go around his waist. One minor difference is that the agent has a painted on white belt around his waist, while Fury does not. Overall I like the paint, in particular the SHIELD logo on his shoulders is really well done.
I’ve got the same nits about this figure as I did back when we first got the body with Daredevil and Bullseye. It’s a bit short for the line, which I suppose doesn’t matter as much for generic SHIELD agents versus the main heroes and villains, and the articulation is weak compared to the newer bodies. I suspect Hasbro will continue to leverage this body while it can, but I’m hoping this will be the next body to be retired after the really bad Punisher / Black Panther one.
One other thing that I’m starting to notice as my Marvel Universe collection grows – I hope they start to get some consistency with head size. The helmet obscures it for the most part here, but this guy is somewhat pin-headed. And the more I look at Captain America, the more I see his pin-head too. I know the melon-headed Punisher from wave 1 was an aberration, but compare the head sizes with Klaw from the Secret Wars 2-packs, for example.
Agent of Hydra
Just like with Daredevil and Bullseye, it’s somehow satisfying to me that that the SHIELD agent’s main nemesis, the agent of Hydra, shares the same base body. This is another use of the Daredevil / Bullseye body, and more specifically, a reuse of the Union Jack body that used Daredevil / Bullseye. Stop me if this is unreadable.
Although I’m not a fan of the base body, I liked it on Union Jack because they were able to break it up with his holster. In the same way, I like the Hydra agent more than I ought to because of the harness he’s got. The gun is removable, although it doesn’t really work well with a hand with no trigger finger.
One silver lining with the too short body is that it will work well with the Red Skull from the SDCC Invaders 4-pack. And of course, the heroes should tower over mere henchmen anyways.
The paint apps are pretty good. The Hydra insignia on the chest is really crisp, even with the deep chest cleavage he’s got. The “H” on his left shoulder is clean too. And the Hydra agents eyes look pretty good. No GI Joe line with black dot here. It’s a bit lighter than the eye deco on Union Jack, and it looks a little tighter too.
I’ll be interested to see how this set does as a TRU exclusive. At about $25 bucks, it’s not cheap for a set that is essentially reuse. The increased cost is going to make it tougher to army build. At $15, I could have seen myself buying 4 of these sets. At this price, I had to talk myself out of the third 3-pack to get a second of this one.
Well, this makes it a wrap for Marvel Universe for the time being. I’m looking forward to getting the second wave of Secret Wars, but that may be it for the rest of the year. I think the stuff we’ve seen for 2010 is pretty exciting, and I think this line is going to continue performing very well for Hasbro.