DOC SAMSON has always believed that the HULK is only a symptom of a deeper problem within Bruce Banner's mind. For years, he worked to cure Banner of his affliction through a combination of psychoanalysis and gamma science. Exposed to gamma radiation he gained phenomenal strength and durability. Though he remains primarily a psychiatrist, he also uses his strength to assist his friends among Earth's heroes.
Following on from yesterday's Captain Marvel review comes Figure 002 from Hasbro's new Series 3 Marvel Universe toys, a figure that continues what appears to be a celebration of 70s superheroics. Read on, true believer!
Doc Samson comes in the standard Marvel Universe blister-pack. I mentioned in my Captain Marvel review of how much I disliked Olivier Coipel's rendering of the character and this packaging continues that trend. Doc Samson looks about 15-years old in Coipel's illustration. I'm sure Mr Coipel's work has its admirers but from what I've seen of it, I have to say I'm not one of them.
Like all Series 3 toys, the SHIELD/HAMMER file comment on the front has been replaced with a simple ''Figure Stand Included!'' aston across the bottom corner and the HAMMER seal has reverted to the SHIELD logo.
One thing I'm not keen on with the new packaging is the way the figures are held in-place. Hand and foot holds cut into the plastic, through which the limbs are then passed, are used to secure the toy. Although this stops them bouncing around in-transit, it makes removing them a worrying task, as I fear with some of the less-robust toys it could lead to damaging the figure. It also causes damage to the packaging itself, which is something I'm not a fan of.
That aside, the packaging does its job - the plastic bubble allows a good view of the toy and although I'm not a fan of the rendering, you can at least identify the character from the card illustration.
Okay, we have to talk now about the toy. And whilst the figure itself doesn't have too many problems (more later) the design is just comical. And not in a good way. I know it's true to the character and it's a good likeness, but really, who thought kids today would enjoy owning a 1970s glam rock psychoanalyst?
I know Marvel characters are often inspired by the Zeitgeist, which is fine and good, as it makes them culturally-relevant and relatable - but only at the time. I mean, look at his gold glitterboots, square-necked lightning-flash t-shirt and girly hair. It's like any second now he's going to burst into a verse of Children of the Revolution.
I know it's an accurate rendition of the character and that I'd be complaining if they got the costume wrong but it just seems an odd choice for Hasbro to put out. Part of me is glad they did but given how the previous Series featured some much more modern takes on the characters, it is odd to see Doc Samson here and he looks out of place when you put him next to, say, the latest Thor figure.
Anyway, with that out of the way - I mean, what's next, Dazzler? A 'fro-ed up Luke Cage? - sorry, it's out of my system now. So yes, on to the actual figure.
Again, Hasbro are being a little cheeky and re-using a lot of parts here. The legs and groin, for example, are from the Secret Wars Cyclops and so as a result, he has no twist-able mid-section: torso articulation is limited to his chest only. And on that subject, my figure seems to have a slight lean to his left. The chest/shoulder block can't be positioned to dead-centre and pulls fractionally downward on that side. It's not hugely noticeable until you look at his back, but it is there.
The head is a new sculpt and although the hair gets in the way this isn't bad at all and has been shaped to easily allow a full 360-degree rotation around his neck, plus his tilt-able head copes well with his flowing locks.
For some reason, Doc Samson - despite using the same lower-body piece - doesn't suffer from Captain Marvel's shelf-arse. Perhaps its the addition of the belt that disguises it or he uses a different chest piece. Whatever it is, thankfully he looks fine in profile and from behind.
One thing that isn't so good - and what may be an issue with all Series 3 figures - is that the foot pegs on the bases no longer seem to secure the figures in place. The Captain Marvel toy had this same issue, although I didn't mention it, as I thought it was a simple production error. However, both he and Doc Samson do not stand well on their bases. Previous figures could easily be lifted by their bodies and have their bases remain in-place. Not so with these two figures - the bases will drop out should you lift the figure. I'm hoping I've just been unlucky with these two figures and it's not a widespread problem.
That aside, joints are relatively tight but not to the point of hampering movement. His ankles seem a weak point, but that aside, he's perfectly capable of holding a pose and - when you can get the foot-pegs to hold him - can support himself on one leg.
Doc Samson's paintjob is pretty neat, overall. Like Captain Marvel, most of the details are painted-on, rather than cast into the figure, but they work well. The side-stripe on his pants is a nice detail and is generally well-applied, the only problem on my figure being a trace of red around his butt/hip, but it's only there if you look for it. Eyebrows and hair are well coloured and accurately applied.
The only other downside to the figure is the facial cast. Where the pack illustration takes twenty-plus years off him, the toy's face adds it. He looks like an old man, with hard-set worry lines and wrinkles. Given that this is Doc Samson in his early days, it's strange to see him sculpted in this way, however well done.
Doc Samson comes with his own personalised stand. As stated above however, there are some minor problems with it, as either the foot pegs on the base are smaller or the holes in the figure's feet are marginally larger. I'd assume the former, given the feet are a re-use from other figures. It's perfectly possible to use the stand but you may find your posing options slightly limited by it.
It's another tough one to call here. If you're a collector, completist or fan of Doc Samson, then there's nothing really too wrong here. Hasbro's Series 3 has some faults - at least in the two figures I've seen from it - in the form of the figure stands not holding the figures and, more worryingly, the decision to re-use a torso that's had a point of articulation removed, but overall it's nothing that's going to keep you awake at night. And I like that the first two figures are more obscure characters. There's a limit to how many Captain Americas, Iron Men and Wolverines people want, so it's good to see the range gaining some width.
But at the same time, it's Doc Samson. He's hardly a major figure in the Marvel Universe and lacks the instant recognition of some of Marvel's more well-known characters. It's a bold move from Hasbro to put him out and I applaud that, but at the same time I can't imagine many kids pestering their parents for this figure.
Completists and Hulk fans will lap it up, but for everybody else, there are more eye-catching, well-known and - frankly - better figures out there.