Friday, March 11, 2011

REVIEW: Marvel Universe's Thor (Classic and Modern Costumes)

Modern Costume Thor/Secret Wars Thor | Produced by Hasbro 
Released Feb 2010/October 2009


Verily, thou gazest upon a duet of playthings! Thy mind is not possessed by Loki! For here is a presentation rare and unusual - two likenesses of the Odinson! But thou art truly possessed by madness if thou reckonest I shall write yon Review in this manner!

With the new Thor movie just months away, the Hasbro Original Avengers set just around the corner  and the Thor tie-in toys hitting the shelves last week, it's a good opportunity to look back at Hasbro's previous Marvel Universe renditions of the God of Thunder as we present both the Secret Wars release and Modern Costume Thor.

Secret Wars Thor
The Secret Wars Thor was released as part of a double-pack (along with Thor's infatuated nemesis, the Enchantress.)

First appearing in 1962's August issue of Journey into Mystery, Thor was a co-creation between Stan Lee, his brother Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby. Thor's basic look - which Lee said was based upon the Vikings - was nailed from the off and remained so for over four decades. It's this classic look that's presented with this figure.

The sculpt captures the costume nicely and everything's where it should be. His cloak and winged helmet are particularly nice and give him a different look to a lot of the spandex-clad superheroes he's usually seen with.

The problem is he's kind of pudgy. The sculpt has an odd kind of modeling clay/rubbery look to it. It's hard to really explain but there's just a kind of undefined, broad-strokes sort of look and feel to him. Everything is present, correct and where it should be but it's just all a little, well, toy-like.

Articulation isn't bad, but the cloak - which looks great and makes an excellent prop to help him stand - inhibits a lot of lower-body movement. You can't get him to kneel or squat with the cloak in-place, for example. I'm also not sure if it's a widespread problem but my Thor also has something very strange going on with his joints: the arms are a little loose but his hips won't hold a pose at all, as they're very tightly sprung. Bend at the hip, release the leg and it pings right back to where it was. So I'm really not sure what's going on there at all.

Secret Wars Thor's paintwork is fine for what it is. Again though, it's a very kind of impressionistic rendition, with very little in the way of detail. There are some washes on his legs and cloak to accentuate the mold but everything else seems rendered in single, almost primary colours. As I say, it's like somebody made him from modeling clay and just kind of threw it together.

Modern Costume Thor
Modern Costume Thor was released as a single carded figure and also in a Greatest Battles double-pack featuring Iron Man.

Thor's new costume is a nice reinterpretation of the original, mixing his basic look with an older, more lifelike armoured appearance. Whilst it's not a radical departure in terms of the basic costume, it's in the details that the biggest changes can be seen.

Gone are the blue pants and tight-fitting black one-piece to be replaced with scaled armour and a black tunic and these details are captured perfectly in this figure's sculpt. There's just a more lifelike look to the whole thing, with the pieces seeming more plausible - for example, the original's ''silver buttons'' are now integrated into the tunic, rather than appearing simply ''stuck on.'' It's a nice take on look, as it retains the elements of the classic costume but updates them considerably.

One thing I'm not so keen on is this Thor's head sculpt, specifically his face. There's something odd going on with his mouth and he looks to be biting his lip as if worried or concerned. He also has what I can only describe as a ''masculine female'' face. He looks more like an ancient crone or harridan than the God of Thunder. It's a shame this facial sculpt is so poor, as the rest of the figure looks great.

The bridge of his nose is too wide, too.

Articulation is good, although again there are problems. The tunic looks great but - like his previous incarnation - his hip movement is considerably reduced thanks to its presence. This model does include cut thigh joints, though, which allow you to turn the leg's position more than the simply solid-thigh and peg-style joint used on most Marvel Universe figures. He also features waist articulation which is lacking in the Secret Wars Thor.

Again, this may be limited to my figure but my Modern Costume Thor suffers from incredibly weak knee joints. Given he's wearing a cloak (and so is a little top-heavy) getting him to stand in any kind of position takes a lot of work, especially as he also doesn't fit very well on his stand.

Paint-wise, the figure shines. The use of darker tones and multiple washes and dry-brush effects really set-off the sculpt and he looks great. The only minor negative is that his feet have a blue-ish ''highlight'' on them that looks more like the black paint has been scuffed-off to reveal a blue paint underneath.

Both Thors feature their weapon, Mjolnir, the hammer. I think the Modern Costume Thor's Mjolnir is the better of the two, looking more aged and cracked, with a nice stone-like sculpt to it, although the Secret Wars Thor does have a Mjolnir featuring the Thor Inscription, which is nice.

Modern Costume Thor also comes with his own stand and HAMMER (heh) file.

Final Thoughts
Seeing the two figures side-by-side shows how far the Marvel Universe line has come in just a short while. Compare the simplicity of the Secret Wars Thor with the Modern Costume version and you'll see a huge improvement in sculpting, paint techniques and general production. That's not to say one is better than the other though, as both have their advantages: as a display piece, Modern Costume Thor wins out. As a plaything and piece of ''classic Marvel'' then the Secret Wars Thor is the one to go for.

Granted, neither are particularly great figures - they're poorly articulated and Thor is, in my view, a kind of dull character -  but from my (admittedly very limited) viewings of the Thor movie toys, they're both still miles ahead of those figures. My advice: if you want some Thor action in your life, pick either of these figures over the movie tie-ins. They may not be the best the Marvel Universe line has to offer, but they're still way ahead of those toys.

Secret Wars Thor

Production QualityC
Final ScoreC

Modern Costume Thor
Production QualityC
Final ScoreC

Image Gallery


  1. I was thinking of doing a head swap. Also the Thor that comes with Iron Man doesn't have that blueish wash. I have't opened it yet But i think I'll like it better.

  2. Thanks for the info on the Iron Man/Thor pack. I passed on it, given I already had both figures.

    And yeah, the modern Thor's face is just wrong.


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