Thursday, February 12, 2015

REVIEW: Marvel Universe's Star-Lord

A Marvel Universe Review?
Yes, I know the line has been superseded and that we haven't been covering the new releases but with Hasbro just re-issuing the 2011 Guardians of the Galaxy team pack as individual figures, we thought it was time to revisit the original set's contents. As you may recall, we looked at Rocket Raccoon and Groot at the end of last year and now it's time to take a close-up look at Star-Lord.

Like Rocket and Groot, this rendition of Star-Lord is based on his comicbook costume, rather than the movie version of the character. That will, I'm sure come as a disappointment to many but I can understand why Hasbro decided to put out this version, rather than create a completely new figure. The entire Marvel Universe line (and subsequent lines) was built on the foundation of recycling pieces and parts from other figures as a way to maximize both the line's numbers and profits, so I can't blame Hasbro for wanting to re-use the existing figure. And it's not like there's a lack of movie tie-in toys or anything...

Anyway, onto Star-Lord himself.

The figure is a fairly standard Marvel Universe buck, so you've probably a good idea what to expect. But if your memory is a little fuzzy, we'll briefly recap the articulation to begin with and then discuss Star-Lord's sculpt.
Overall, the articulation is good. Hasbro's approach to articulation in all their lines has always been a little hit and miss and although at the time I wasn't always a fan of some of their ideas (particularly the cut-thigh joints, as used here) at least they tried to do something interesting and it just goes to show you that no matter how bad you think things are, they can always get worse... (5 points-of-articulation Star Wars toys, I'm looking at you...) Anyway, here's a quick breakdown of the articulated points; neck, shoulders, elbows, torso, wrists, hips, thighs, knees, ankles. Phew!

The joints themselves work well and Star-Lord is pretty pose-able, overall. The lack of a display base can make getting him to stand a little awkward but as you can see from these pictures, he's pretty well-balanced once you get him in the right pose.

Moving onto the sculpt... Hasbro's designers have done a pretty good job here, re-using parts from a variety of figures (although interestingly, this isn't, as I initially suspected, a re-use of the Ghost Rider torso) and the overall effect is a good representation of the character's look during this phase of his history.
There are some neat details, on the body but the head - which is a new piece designed for this figure - is the real stand-out, being a great translation from page to plastic of the character's helmeted design.
The paint app is also strong, with the close-up detail on the uniform's piping being a particularly neat touch. The only downside is that the stripes can often be ''interrupted'' when posing the figure but short of using some kind of doesn't-yet-exist flexible paint, there's no way around that.

I also like the dark wash the figure has been given, as this really helps sell the detail in the costume's folds and creases. It's surprising to see how effective this is, considering his costume is already a fairly dark blue.
Star-Lord comes with a pair of twin blasters. Although they're cast from a single-color plastic, the overall effect is pretty good and I'm happy to see Hasbro didn't elect to use a bright, neon blue or orange to create his weapons.
They're also a really good fit in his hands and you'll find they'll remain within his grip nicely, so there are no worries about dropping them or losing them on the floor as you play with/pose him.
Sadly though, as mentioned above, Star-Lord does not come with a display base. I really wish Hasbro would reconsider the decision to drop stands, as it makes displaying the figures so much harder... I guess you can always use Rocket as a ''third-leg'' to prop him up...

Final Thoughts
I found it an interesting experience to revisit the Marvel Universe line after such a long absence. And I have to admit that I did find myself enjoying posing Star-Lord much more than I expected to. I had memories of the hip/cut-thigh rig being a nightmare to pose and, whilst it's still not my favorite set-up, it's not as bad as I recall it being. I was also surprised at how pose-able the figure is. As you may have noticed, we've been doing a lot of LEGO and Imaginext Reviews and whilst both those lines are great fun, their figures aren't exactly what you'd call ''highly pose-able"so it was refreshing to play with a figure that could be posed in a variety of stances.

Anyway, what about Star-Lord himself?

The first thing to point out - although it's pretty obvious - is that this is not the movie version of the character. Hasbro has produced plenty of toys featuring the cinematic Star-Lord and his cohorts but this is not one of them. So does that mean the figure is worthless?

It depends on your perspective. If you're solely a collector of cinematic universe Marvel figures then you'll be disappointed with this toy, as it's not ''your'' Star-Lord. But if, like me, you tend to be more of a classic/comicbook collector, then there's a lot of fun to be had here. Sure, I'd have liked to have seen the original, Silver Age Star-Lord, complete with his 70s grooviness but this version will do for me.

I have to admit, though, I find myself on the fence regarding the asking price of the new Marvel figures. To me, $11+ is a little steep for a single-carded 3 3/4'' figure, especially when there are other lines that offer more for less. But that's just me and if you're a collector of the Marvel Infinite/Universe lines then you've, I'm sure, already come to an understanding on their pricing.

If you're new to the Marvel line then this probably isn't the figure for you. It's a neat toy, for sure and the look is cool, his articulation offers a lot of play/pose value and he has a good paint app. But this Star-Lord isn't the movie version and if you're not familiar with the character then chances are you'll be left cold. If, however, you're a fan of the Marvel line - and more specifically, you appreciate their diversity when it comes to including more obscure characters - then there's a lot to like here. As I said, looks-, articulation- and paint-wise, he's a really good figure and if you're looking for a comic version of Star-Lord, then you'll certainly appreciate this.

This Star-Lord isn't going to win any converts to the Marvel figure line but if you're a collector or a fan of the comicbook Star-Lord, then there's a lot here to like.

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