Sunday, January 9, 2011

REVIEW: Marvel Universe's Constrictor

Frank Payne started off wanting to do good. He joined S.H.I.E.L.D. hoping that he could make the world a little bit safer for his wife and daughter. An undercover operation gone wrong left him a broken man and he fell into a life of crime, becoming the deadly CONSTRICTOR. For years, he has worked as a freelance criminal. Only recently, with the amnesty offered by Superhuman Registration, has he returned to his calling, and begun once again to try making the world a better place.

Finally from what seems the Marvel Universe's most elusive run, Wave 11 comes the Constrictor figure.  Is he worth the effort or are there better figures to track down?  Read on and find out!

As one of the last figures from Series 2, Constrictor uses the HAMMER-style packaging, with Norman Osborn replacing Nick Fury on the pack's rear.  The artwork by Mike Deodato is excellent and - as the Fan's Choice runner-up - the figure's packaging is highlighted with silver, a very eye-catching look.

What's not so great is the way the figure is held in-place - his limbs are pushed-through the plastic retaining tray.  I don't like this as it contorts the figure (his left foot is slightly bent, as you can see in the above picture) and - given the lash/tentacles from his wrists are also pushed through the plastic - getting him out of the box gives a moment of worry.  Thankfully my Constrictor came-out with no damage but I could see it being an easy way to snap-off a tendril or bend a limb.

That aside, there are no problems with the packaging and the character-based artwork of the Marvel Universe series (as opposed to the Iron Man 2 toys) is always welcomed.

Once he's clear of the packaging, it becomes obvious that Constrictor is actually a very good toy.  He's not without his faults, but the overall impression is vastly superior to his Wave 11 companion, Iron Man 2020 or Wave 12's Spider-Man 2099.  And that's a relief!

Firstly, the sculpt uses the older Spider-Man ''core'' body - that means no waist-articulation and pin-joint hips.  I'm not a fan of this mold, personally, as I don't like the limits it imposes on the figure when it comes to posing but I can live with it and I understand Hasbro's decision to use this body (it's a cost-cutting exercise.)

The joints themselves have no problems - they move fluidly without being loose and the range of mobility is good.  The head is particularly nice, given that it can be tilted in multiple directions, rather than just forward/backward.  It's also worth noting the head-sculpt is - obviously - a unique one created for the figure.  The quality is pretty good, although the expression is a more suited to the villainous Constrictor, in my opinion.

Now we come to the cables (the Marvel Universe wiki uses this term to describe his weapons so that's what I'll call them from now on.)  The cables are what really set Constrictor apart from other Marvel Universe figures and - on the whole - they're pretty good.  But they're not without their problems.

Firstly, they're immobile.  I don't mean as in they're not bendable (I didn't expect them to be) but rather than they're glued into the figure's wrists.  I personally would have liked the ability to turn them to suit his pose.  Yes, the forearm has a joint to allow you to rotate their direction but it's not the same.

The other problem is in the way the cables are sculpted.  They're curved forward rather than backward.  Obviously this is to allow them to be wrapped-around other figures but when Constrictor is posed without an opponent, the only way to give them the impession of them being lashes (rather than inflexible scythes) is to rotate the forearms and doing so results in some contorted poses.  It's something that can be overcome with creative posing but with a little more thought from Hasbro, we wouldn't need to overcome anything.

Minor problems aside though, the cables are good.  The use of semi-transparent plastic is nice and they give Constrictor a very unique look.

The paint-job is - on the whole - very good and it captures the look of the comicbook character well.  The black grooves in the yellow accents are particularly well-done and accurately applied.  My only issue is with the mouth: the pink used to accentuate the teeth is too bright.  It looks like  he's just swallowed some of that dye dentists use.  It's a minor point but it does look a little off, especially given that the rest of the paint-work is so crisp.

Overall, though, Constrictor is a nicely-produced, good-looking figure with a strong design and great styling.

Constrictor's cables are pre-attached, so it's doubtful if they count.  He also comes with his HAMMER file and individual stand. 

Final Thoughts
Constrictor shows that when Hasbro put their minds to it, they can create some excellent figures.  The range is not without its faults and sometimes, as a collector, I despair when I see some of the sub-standard figures present in the Marvel Universe.  But then I find a gem like Constrictor and it makes me remember why I like the Marvel Universe line so much.  

Personally I'd love to see more of Marvel's ''classic'' villains like Constrictor.  We need a Vulture, Doctor Octopus, Shocker and Chameleon.  Constrictor is proof that a strongly-designed character can be translated well into plastic and - in my view - the villains often had some of the best designs.  So come on Hasbro, let's see a few more like this!

Okay, so the cables aren't perfect and I still think they could benefit from a redesign.  But what we have here is still a pretty good solution to the problem of creating a character with flexible lash-weapons, especially as they're not something they'll be able to recycle (there aren't that many other Marvel characters that could re-use the piece - Blacklash, Whiplash and now I'm struggling.)  And who knows: maybe they're not poseable/rotateable simply due to it being impossible.  Perhaps had Hasbro added some kind of joint, everybody would be complaining about how the cables kept falling out of his wrists...

Overall then, Constrictor is a great addition to the line.  I must admit I was a little concerned after my run-in with Iron Man 2020 but my fears for this Wave's quality have subsided having looked closely at Constrictor.  I was fortunate enough to also find Yellowjacket and Dark Hawkeye on the same shopping trip and if they're of the same quality as Constrictor then I'll be very happy indeed.

Production QualityB+
Final ScoreA-

Image Gallery


  1. I have yet to see this figure but i will be looking for this wave(Or any other wave for the matter lol). Great review.

  2. I was amazed when I saw Constrictor, Dark Hawkeye and Yellowjacket all together. I've never seen any of them individually (let alone together) and the only one from this Wave I'd seen so far was Iron Man 2020. Luckily I was in a position to pick-up all three. Now all I need is Thanos (and World War Hulk!)

  3. Hope you find them all my friend. : )

  4. World War Hulk is on-sale online for a not-too-bad $12 or so. However, Thanos is going for 25+ bucks, so I assume he's pretty rare. We shall see.


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