Hasbro continue to expand the Marvel Universe line with their latest release, the Marvel's Greatest Battles Comic Pack (phew!) Like the previous Secret Wars double-packs, the Greatest Battles releases feature two figures and a suitable comicbook reprint, presumably to fill-in the story of the figure set (or maybe get non-readers hooked on the comicbooks.)
Today I'm taking a look at the Cyclops and Dark Phoenix double-pack.
The Greatest Battles packaging is identical to that used in the Secret Wars release: a simple card-mounted bubble-pack that you'll wind-up destroying as you open it. That's no great loss though and this is really just me being a Microman perfectly-accessible-and-easy-to-reseal geek.
As you can see, the pack's rear shows both figures, plus a little blurb explaining the set-up (although here it seems maybe to give away too many details!) There's also a preview of the other Greatest Battles pack, Dark Spider-man and Dark Wolverine, which I'll be reviewing at a later date.
Put simply, the packaging does its job. It keeps the figures protected (although sometimes it can cause limb-bending - see below), is eye-catching and gives a good view of the toys within.
Speaking of which, let's take a look at each figure individually, starting with...
Dark Phoenix's body is a repaint of the standard Marvel Universe female figure, as used by Ms. Marvel, Storm, Spider-woman, Enchantress... the list goes on. Whilst it's not a bad sculpt, it would be nice to see some variation in the size, shape and height of the Marvel Universe women.
The figure's unique detailing includes a new head sculpt and a soft plastic sash. Note that the although the latest Marvel Universe 3.75'' releases include stands, the Greatest Battles figures do not. I'm using an Iron Man 2 stand here, simply to help display the figure.
The paint-job is neat, with a nice gold-coloured paint being used to good effect. However, this appears to have clogged some of the joints - my Dark Phoenix's knees are locked in place and bending them loose may well result in them snapping.
As you can see here, the extra few millimetres of thickness the paint adds has resulted in a joint that's too stiff to fully straighten.
Another negative point - but this could simply be limited to my figure - is that the packaging has kinked her left leg and given her a bent shin. I've experienced this before with figures that use the double-figure packaging and it's disappointing to see it still occurring.
Hasbro must be a very eco-friendly company, given the amount of recycling going on here.
I could be mistaken, but it appears this Cyclops is the same figure as featured in the Secret Wars double-pack, simply given a (rather unrealistic) paint-job makeover. That's not a bad thing per se, as Cyclops from the Secret Wars series was a very well-cast, nicely designed figure. However, it's a shame that Hasbro couldn't do a little more to make the figure more special.
There are no real problems with the sculpt. Joints are tight enough to hold a pose but not so much as to cause any problems. However, his upper-body is a little wide resulting in a bit of ''torso-triangulation'' - Cyclops has always been a more toned-but-lean character, rather than the overly bulky profile seen here.
His hand is a unique sculpt, allowing him to operate his blast visor or - as seen here - audition for a place in the Oasis line-up.
My biggest issue is with the paint-job on this version. The ''highlights'' look wrong. Whilst they might be fine on the printed page, when applied to a solid figure they simply look amateurish and do little to enhance the figure's look.
As with Dark Phoenix, Cyclops comes without a stand of his own.
The Battle Pack includes a reprint of Uncanny X-Men Issue #136. As well as including an article on the Phoenix Force, the ads from the original print are removed and the back pages feature a preview/ad for the other Marvel Universe figures.
Unfortunately it's a somewhat continuity-heavy issue and casual readers will probably find themselves lost by the references to previous events and issues. However, it's not a bad read, in a classic Marvel 1980s manner.
Given the fantastic advances the Marvel Universe line has made over the last few months and the superb work on figures like Juggernaut and Colossus, it's a shame to see such a lazy release and it's hard not to be disappointed with this double-pack. If you've never bought any Marvel Universe figures before, this wouldn't be a bad investment: the figures themselves are fairly well cast and the use of the gold colouring on Dark Phoenix's paint-job is particularly eye-catching. However, for fans of the range, there will certainly be a feeling of ''seen it all before'' here and unless you're either a completist or you've been unable to track-down the ''regular'' Jean Grey, I'd advise caution when buying this pack, as there's nothing here you probably don't already have.