Monday, May 23, 2011

REVIEW: Marvel Universe's Gladiator

Produced by Hasbro | Released April 2011

The mighty Shi'ar Empire has many powerful servants, but the one whose power makes the very earth beneath his feet tremble is the unstoppable GLADIATOR. Every victory renders him stronger, every enemy vanquished hardens him further against wounding and pain. Across the empire and beyond, the name of GLADIATOR inspires awe and terror, for wherever a plot against the Shi'ar takes root, there GLADIATOR will be to destroy it.

Packaging Shots

Note that Gladiator's hands and cape are wedged through the retaining tray to hold him in place.

After much searching and even more disappointment I finally found evidence that the Series 3 Wave 2 figures from the Marvel Universe line do indeed exist, in the form of the subject of this Review, Gladiator. Was he worth the time and effort? Read on and find out...

First though, a confession. I've no idea who Gladiator is (beyond being Marvel's obvious take on Superman) and I've never read a comicbook he's appeared in. As much as I'm a big Marvel fan, my real interest is in the Silver Age stuff and I'm not really an X-Men fan (which is where predominantly Gladiator appears) or into the whole ''Cosmic Saga''-style of comicbooks that feature Kallark (AKA Gladiator.) The following Review therefore is based solely upon the figure itself, as I have no attachments to the character it represents...

The sculpt is a little disappointing. I believe it's recycled from a previous release (I think it's the same as the Doc Samson/Warpath figures) and - head and cloak aside - there's not really anything new here. Given that some of these sculpts are a couple of years old now, it's disappointing to see Hasbro repeatedly using them, especially as they weren't even that good to begin with. There's very little really to say about it. There's some muscle detail that looks OK and... well, that's pretty much it.

The cloak is a nice touch and is - I believe - a new piece. However, I suspect this will also turn up at the Sorcerer Supreme's cloak when Doctor Strange hits shelves in May (so expect a Review in November.) It's got a nice hanging flow to it and fits well with the figure. It also doubles as a ''kick-stand''-style prop to allow him to stand unaided (although he does come with a stand.)

The head sculpt has a good resemblance to the comicbook character and there's some pretty good detailing on the hair, with individual locks being sculpted to give it a more lifelike look.

Articulation also falls into the ''just OK'' category. The sculpt causes some minor shoulder/arm problems due to his biceps being so large and ahis body also lacks waist articulation. The cloak - although it looks great - also limits some of the poses you can strike with Gladiator. And it's worth noting that the neck joint is not flexible enough to allow the pose he's holding on the back of the card.

This could be limited to my Gladiator but I found his joints to be quite loose, too. The cloak's weight and this slackness of the joints - especially his ankles - makes it quite difficult to pose him in any kind of planted-feet pose, even with the stand.

Paint is pretty slapdash, to be honest. The figure on the card has a much tidier paint job than my figure, with the thigh and arm chevrons having a much sharper line to them. There's also a dark wash that's used to accentuate his muscles but ends up simply making his costume look blurred. His cloak features a gold trim that's particularly poor - there are spots of gold on his back and splash-over onto the inside of the cloak. His hands also have some congealed ''gunk'' on them from where the dark wash was applied.

As for the facial paint, there are some highlights on his jaw line that make him simply appear to be peeling and it's a horribly obvious application, with the two tones used lacking any kind of blending or subtlety in their colouring or application.

Gladiator comes with a (removable) cloak and his own stand. For those of you who are interested, he's Number 011 of Series 3 and - like all figures from this new wave - the toy doesn't include a SHIELD/HAMMER file.

Final Thoughts
The upcoming Waves 3 and 4 have to improve on this because frankly I'm tired of the Marvel Universe line. I'm tired of spending hours trying to find the toys. I'm tired of seeing the same half dozen Iron Man, Spider-Man and Wolverine variants on shelves. And worst of all, I'm tired of buying figures that are so horribly underwhelming, not just in terms of production quality but also in design. 

I've no problem with Hasbro re-using parts from other toys, providing the parts they use are good. This however is just insulting. The core body has very limited articulation, is poorly produced and has a very slapdash paint job. After the excellent Savage Frost Giant and Loki pack I had high hopes for the line but as of right now I'm left quite indifferent to the remainder of the figures in this wave.

It's not really fair to pin my disappointment on a single figure but given how primitive Gladiator's sculpt, paintwork and articulation are, it just reinforces the feeling I've had for a while: that the Marvel Universe line has pretty much run its course and unless they radically overhaul the stock bodies and production quality, I'll be looking elsewhere for my toy collecting fix.

Production QualityC-
Final ScoreC

Image Gallery


  1. i'd like to see Gladiator and Superman throw down. most of you have probably seen this but if you haven't here's and X-men cartoon clip of the Juggernaut and Gladiator:

    and here's something i'm pretty sure almost none of you have seen. it's a really good origins video that includes Gladiator by the Merry Marvelite. it's a good way to get a detailed run up on who this guy is and where he came from:

  2. Thanks for the extra info David!

  3. Nice looking figure Kev and a great find for you too buddy. : )

  4. I used to pretty much only read X-men comics, and Gladiator is one of those characters that I immediately thought was cheesy, but very quickly learned to love. Too bad this figure is not so great. I thought he looked okay at the store, but I don't want to get any MU figures that don't have the swivel thigh.

  5. I'm not to crazy about the character. But any new addition to the MU is a good one, especially if he wasn't in the Marvel Legends line.

    I do have to agree with you Iok, that the figures in package (in the minds eye) are way better than when you open them (reality sucks).

  6. @Jboypacman - he's pretty disappointing to be honest. I think I've been spoilt with the level of detail/articulation on GI Joes/Micromen, both of which are vastly superior to this.

  7. @clark - That's what annoys me: they have so many different bodies that it's just the luck of the draw as to whether your favourite characters are going to get a decent one or whether they're going to be - like Gladiator - a cheap repaint of the older-style bodies.

  8. @Aries0083 - Like I was saying to clark, I just wish they'd use a better set of stock bodies. There's a load of kitbashing goes on with GI Joes but I don't mind when they do that, as the basic figures are all good. The majority of MU stock bodies are pretty weak though, yet they keep using them!


  9. I just want this toy to add to my X-Collection.
    I can't wait for some the the new figures that are coming. As far as I know most of those upcoming figures images are here:

  10. Thanks Main Man - that's a great link!


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