Monday, January 28, 2013

REVIEW: Marvel Universe's She-Hulk

Produced by Hasbro | Released November 2012

After being shot by two crime syndicate thugs, attorney Jennifer Walters received a blood transfusion from her cousin Bruce Banner, giving her nearly identical HULK powers. Walters has the same savage strength but, unlike the green goliath, her intelligence carries over into her SHE-HULK form. That unique combination of super strength and sharpened smarts made her one of the few heroes invited to become an official member of THE FANTASTIC FOUR.

With the Amazing Spider-Man and Avengers toys now (albeit very slowly) dropping from shelves and the upcoming Iron Man 3 toys about to land it seems Hasbro has decided to fill the gap between movie-themed toys with a couple of new Marvel Universe waves. We've already seen some pretty neat - and actually kind of obscure - characters join the line (including Kraven and Beta-Ray Bill) and now it's the turn of Jennifer Walters, AKA She-Hulk. So how does the green goddess stack up?

Sculpt & Design
The sculpt is a good interpretation of the comic character. But, like many comic characters, She-Hulk's design is more ''iconic'' than intricate and as a result, the sculptors didn't really have a huge amount to work with. She-Hulk - in the comics - is an athletic woman in a one-piece swimsuit. And what you get with this figure is exactly that.

I think somebody at Hasbro realized that She-Hulk wasn't going to be a particularly complex piece of sculpting but rather than add detail that wasn't there or modify the costume to make it more visually appealing, they instead took the very smart route of instead instilling a sense of character to the figure. And they achieved that by simply giving her a pair of clenched fists.

That may not seem like a particularly revolutionary idea but their inclusion immediately gives a sense of She-Hulk as a person or a character, . It's as expressive as a scowl or raised eyebrow and instills an incredible sense of She-Hulk's take-no-prisoners, kick-ass attitude. Whether she's sporting a bodybuilding pose or in a ready-to-rumble fighting stance, the fists really sell the attitude and mentality of the character. Kudos to whoever came up with that idea.

What's not apparent at first is that She-Hulk is - quite correctly - taller than the standard Marvel Universe female figures. It's a surprisingly subtle sculpt I had to actually visually confirm by placing her beside another figure. It appears Hasbro has elongated her thigh pieces slightly, which is just enough to give her the edge in height. Sure, she's not as huge as some of the Marvel Universe's other larger-scale figures (such as Hulk or Thanos) but neither is the comic character, so it's nice to see Hasbro not only reflecting the comic character's additional height but also doing it in a way that's quite subtle and doesn't ruin her look.

I'll get this right out of the way now: the new hip articulation system Hasbro has introduced to the Marvel Universe line simply doesn't work. Whilst there are no problems in producing kneeling or sitting poses, the moment you try to do any kind of heroic, wide-stance, planted-feet poses, you'll run into problems. My She-Hulk's leg popped out completely a couple of times as I was trying to pose her and try as I might, I've yet to get my head around just how these hips are supposed to work. Probably because there IS no way to make them work in that situation. The sooner Hasbro fix this, the happier I'll be.

It's also odd to find She-Hulk sporting a pretty complex bit of head rigging, a bit of work that's actually wasted due to the hair sculpt being in the way. My guess is it was cheaper for Hasbro to include this tilting neck joint (as it is, I'm sure, used by other figures) than it was to produce a non-articulated piece but it's just odd to see what seems to be production cost being thrown away.

Hip and head issues aside though, She-Hulk's articulation is impressive. Not only does she feature the cut-thigh and cut-calf swivel joints and rocker ankles but she's also the first (I believe) Marvel Universe figure to sport double-jointed elbows. As a result she can do some pretty neat flexes and bends, which add a lot to the character's mobility and allow for some pretty neat poses. And unlike some of the other Marvel Universe figures that feature such complex set ups, I experienced no problems getting her to hold the majority of poses I wanted - so long as they didn't involve any kind of wide stances.

She-Hulk's paint app isn't hugely inspired but it's a pretty decent translation of the comic character's look. The metallic purple is a nice touch (although mine does have a very minor blemish/mis-application on her right breast) and her facial app is good. The hair is perhaps a little too obvious, sporting a simply pass of green to give it some highlight sheen, but it's fine for what it is.

I have to admit I'm a little disappointed Hasbro didn't release a variant of She-Hulk in her Fantastic Four costume - especially given that the team gets a shout-out on her card bio. Maybe that's something they're planning later down the line, as I'm sure Hasbro will be re-using this taller female buck again for some of the Marvel Universe's other more Amazonian females.

Extras & Accessories
She-Hulk does not include any accessories (and no, Hasbro, a piece of card that forms part of the packaging is not an ''accessory.'')

Final Thoughts
She-Hulk is a tough one for me to call. On the one hand the sculpt is simplistic, the paint app is barely there and the articulation is ruined by the terrible hip joints. But on the other it's a faithful, characterful translation of  the She-Hulk of the comics that, although simple, features some neat touches to the sculpt, with the clenched fists being of particular note, the remainder of the articulation is good (the elbows being particularly cool) and she's a neat, unexpected addition to a line-up dominated by Iron Man and Captain America variants.

Ultimately this good outshines the bad. Yes, the hips are an absolute pain and sure, the design is fairly simplistic but I appreciate that Hasbro went beyond what they could have gotten away with in the figure's creation. It would have been easy for them to simply sculpt a new head and place it on the existing body but instead they actually put the effort in to give her some unique features. The fact that She-Hulk features a modification to the basic buck that puts her almost a head taller than the standard female, and the fists are a stroke of absolute genius illustrate this perfectly. These changes bestow a true sense of character to the figure and whilst they may seem like small points, they're the elements that really bring the toy to life 

She-Hulk isn't perfect but if you're a collector of the Marvel Universe line - or a fan of the character - then you'll certainly welcome her to your collection. And even if you're neither this is still a great figure. Although the simplicity of the sculpt may not be enough to win over fans of more complex, detailed lines anybody who digs superheroes or comics will certainly find a lot to like here.

Strong but subtle.

Final Score: B+

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