The Marvel Legends Guardians of the Galaxy Make For One Motley Crew [Review]
This week Marvel’s galavanting galactic heroes hit home video, and we’re taking a look at the second series of Hasbro’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 Marvel Legends figures to mark the occasion. What Hasbro did with the first wave left us fairly impressed, but the roster for the second batch had us just as excited. Nebula, Gamora, Rocket (with little Baby Groot), and a Mantis build-a-figure? Yeah, that might be something we're interested in.
The first wave of Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 gave us nearly all the men from the team, including Star-Lord, Drax and late addition Yondu. Leaving the female half of the Guardians to the second wave was a strange decision, but one that gave Marvel Legends one of its strongest female-centric collections of the last year. This wave also included Rocket with a little Baby Groot, fleshing out the final roster of the Guardians from the climax of one of summer’s biggest hits.
As was the case with the first wave, the likenesses in this set are just as fantastic. In particular, Gamora and Mantis look eerily like their on-screen counterparts. It’s a little hard to tell how closely this Nebula matches Karen Gillan, but the accuracy of her skin tones and cybernetic attachments make a strong case. The Zoe Saldana portrait on Gamora though is miles above her last figure in the Legends line, and is a great example of how much Hasbro has improved its actor likenesses in the interim. I also think the ombre hair came out rather well for a mass-market figure, and helps her stand out in an already impressive collection.
The same is true of Mantis, who serves as this wave’s build-a-figure. Though Hasbro has typically used the BAF to bring a larger-than-life character to toy collectors, there have been times where a more diminutive character got the nod. She’s got just as much detail and articulation as Gamora or Nebula, and she fits into the grouping easily enough. I do wish she would have gotten a set of alternate hands or a different head with her antennae in a different pose given her smaller stature, but she's not a bad figure in the least. The detailing and shimmering green paint app for her costume are terrific, too.
My only true complaint for any of the three female figures in the wave comes from Nebula, whose arms are disproportionately thin. Given that she’s more of a melee brawler in the movies, and that she doesn’t use that many weapons, Nebula would have been better served with some more muscular arms. They just look so thin compared to the rest of her body, and when stacked up against Gamora, she doesn’t match up well enough. Beyond that, she’s a fine figure with a great paint app and solid articulation.
To fill out this series with enough characters, a second Star-Lord was included, this time with a longer Ravager coat. He doesn’t come with an alternate masked head, but he does come with a scarf, his two blasters, and a little cassette player you can attach to his belt. The cassette player is really little, but it does hold to his hip fairly well. The new portrait features a smirking Star-Lord gaze, and it’s okay. It's not nearly as Chris Pratt-y as it should be, but you get the gist of Star-Lord’s personality. I still like the short jacket version better, but you can swap any of the heads around if you have both.
Despite being the smallest figure we’ve seen in a Marvel Legends retail wave to date, Rocket’s not a bad toy. He’s detailed and articulated, and scaled appropriately too. To make up the difference in Rocket and any normal figure, Hasbro included a second head sculpt, and a Ravager-clothed Groot. Rocket stands on his own, though his articulated tail does help balance him out. Groot has a bit more trouble staying upright, but you can fit him in the hands of anyone of the adult figures. It’s tough to make out most of the detail on Groot, but considering his size Hasbro did a fairly decent job recreating the movie look of the tri-syllabic character.
Since the movie characters are split up between two waves, there are three different comic characters included to close this Mantis BAF series out. Adam Warlock may not have appeared formally in Guardians 2, but he certainly was teased for whatever the third film ends up being called. The last time he was rendered as a Marvel Legend, Adam Warlock got a more classic look from the Infinity Gauntlet era. This more modern take, based on the Annihilation event, is a lot more stylish, and is likely a bit closer to how he’ll look in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There’s also an alternate head of Magus, the alt-reality version of Adam Warlock, which gives you some nice posing options if you're a die-hard cosmic Marvel fan.
Two characters I never thought would see the light of day finish out the series, with Death’s Head II and Ex Nihilo bringing their unique sculpts to the Legends line. Debuting during Jonathan Hickman’s pre-Infinity run on Avengers, Ex Nihilo was revealed as one of the most powerful cosmic beings in the Marvel Universe. He can create life on a planetary scale, and did so numerous times in the comics. He was such a recent and brief character, I never thought he'd make the Marvel Legends cut so soon. However, the Legends team really captured the essence and power of artist Jerome Opena’s design. Unless you’re a super Hickman Avengers fan though, this figure is one that might not mean much to you.
Created by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (the duo responsible for the cosmic resurrection at Marvel in the early ’00s, and the version of the Guardians of the Galaxy seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe), Death’s Head II was the lead character of Marvel UK in the ‘90s. His series, and Marvel UK, only lasted for a few years, but Death’s Head II is still one of the most unmistakable characters from that era. He hasn’t been relevant for nearly a decade, but this kind of fan service is something Hasbro likes to roll out from time to time. The market for collectors and fans that were looking for a Death’s Head II figure are minimal at best, but this figure didn’t get the short straw at all. It’s actually a strong figure, and has a lot of that great detail artist Liam Sharp’s version had in the comics.
Hasbro’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 figures got the year off to a great start for Marvel Legends, and the mid-year additions continue the quality established by the first wave. The actor likenesses are continually improving, and with some small exceptions, are among the best delivered in the Marvel Legends line. The deep cut comic characters are well done too, which gives them a bit more presence in a collection where they’d otherwise be overshadowed. The only disappointing thing about this series is how long we’ll have to wait to see what kind of long-forgotten cosmic characters will make the cut in the next series of Guardians of the Galaxy action figures.
The Marvel Legends Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 Mantis build-a-figure series is available now for ~$20 each. These figures were provided by Hasbro for review.