Monday, May 30, 2011

REVIEW: Marvel Universe's World War Hulk

Produced by Hasbro | Released December 2010

Betrayed by those he once called allies, and devastated by the destruction of a place he had come to call home, the HULK has returned to seek revenge. His massive stone starship hovers above the streets of Manhattan, and his alien army has turned downtown into a prison camp for the heroes of Earth. he will never descend to the level of those who betrayed him, but he intends to teach them all a lesson they will never forget.

Packaging Shots

World War Hulk
Despite being released almost six months ago, World War Hulk proved to be an elusive figure in my quest to complete my Marvel Universe collection. Thankfully Hasbro realised how popular this toy was with collectors and recently started re-issuing the figure in the revision cases that have been hitting shelves over the last few months. Hopefully that means more people will be able to experience this figure for themselves, as it deserves a wider audience.

I think I'd be correct in saying this is a brand-new sculpt from head-to-toe. There don't appear to be any re-used parts from previous Hulks and - if there are - they don't stand out. It's a surprising move from Hasbro, as they do tend to recycle a lot of the Marvel Universe parts so I commend that. And best of all, the extra effort and expense that went into this figure's new sculpt shines through. This is one of the best-looking Marvel Universe figures yet.

It's hard to know where to start. The body sculpt is excellent, with Hulk's rippling muscles and straining-tendon bulk being captured perfectly. On top of that there's his gladiatorial armour, with his left shoulder and arm being hidden beneath a plates-and-rivets armoured piece and his legs being clad in leather strapping. The detail is superb and it looks superb.

He's also wearing a (removable) sword sheath and loin-cloth/belt, both of which again feature some superb detailing. The harness is perhaps a little loose but on the plus-side that means it doesn't inhibit the excellent articulation - more on that below.

The facial sculpt is great, with the Hulk's expression being one of seething and cunning anger, rather than the more common mindlessly destructive yelling faces he's often sculpted with and there's a great, snarling curl of contempt to his lip. His headgear and hair are also very well cast and they cap-off a great sculpt.

Articulation-wise, World War Hulk is miles ahead of most of the Marvel Universe figures. Although they use a variety of bodies and articulation types, I've never really felt that they've quite nailed it in the same way as the GI Joe toys, which manage to look good and be poseable. With this figure Hasbro has used a similar style of peg-joint at the hip as they use in the GI Joe line (and many of the Marvel Universe toys) but there's the added bonus of a cut-thigh joint. Although the recently-released Silver Samurai used this same technique, the finish wasn't to the same quality as it is here. The former's joints felt loose and poorly connected, whereas here the pieces fit perfectly.

The harness and accessories to little to inhibit World War Hulk's range of motion and - as you can see from the photos - he's incredibly poseable, with nicely fluid joints that can hold a pose but don't stop you from moving them.

The paint apps are clean and clear, with no splodges or mis-applied blobs to mar the sculpt. A dark dry-brushing/wash has been applied to the Hulk's skin to accentuate the musculature and it works very well. His accessories are similarly well-treated and the whole figure has a great look to it thanks to the paintwork, which really sets off the sculpt's detail.

World War Hulk comes with - as mentioned - a removable war harness and a loin cloth (which is a separate piece but I'm not sure how you could get it off) fitted out of the box.

He also comes with a base (which he really doesn't need, as he stands perfectly well unaided) plus a shield (that clips onto his wrist thanks to a C-shaped connector), a sword (that fits into the war harness sheath on his back) and an axe.

Unfortunately whilst these pieces look great and really have some superb detail such as nicks, cuts, scrapes and gouges, they don't sit too well in the Hulk's hands. The weapon hilts are simply too thin and tend to rotate around in/drop out of his hands. The shield fares a little better and is a reasonably good fit on his wrist, but you do have to exercise caution when posing him, as it is quite easy to dislodge.

Final Thoughts
I'd become a little jaded with the Marvel Universe figures over the last few months. There were simply too many repaints and re-uses of the same half-dozen parts, seemingly thrown together in a fairly sloppy manner, splashed with some paint and then shipped to shelves (of course, that was if you could actually find them, as Hasbro's distribution hadn't been particularly good, either.)

Thankfully World War Hulk is the antithesis of that process. It's a built-from-the-ground-up figure that's not only well-designed and sculpted but has also been put together with care. The pieces are well-tooled and fit nicely, the paintwork is excellent and the whole thing just feels like it should - a premium-price collectable action figure from one of the world's biggest toy manufacturers.

OK, so the accessories are a little bit of a let-down but with a bit of coaxing they'll stay in his hands (plus you could always try heating the hand and squeezing it to close it a little - just don't blame me if it melts!) and it's clear some effort went into their design and construction. They're even nicely painted.

World War Hulk reminds me a lot of the Savage Frost Giant in the way he's intricately detailed yet at the same time a big statement of a toy. He feels chunky and solid but also has a lot of finesse in his sculpt and he's a great collectable toy (or toy collectable depending how you look at it) that combines the best of both without compromising on either.

World War Hulk is not just a highpoint of his Wave or even Series. He's a highpoint of the entire Marvel Universe line and if you're a fan of the Marvel toys, then you need this figure in your collection.

Production QualityA
Final ScoreA

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