Marvel Universe Fantastic Four Box Set

I should probably have continued my Marvel Universe Super Hero Team box set reviews with the X-Force 3-pack, but found myself less interested with that set than I was with the Fantastic Four box set that came out about a month after the first two.

Having seen the solicitation photos a while back, I knew that this Fantastic “Four” wouldn’t have the Johnny Storm figure. Hasbro instead replaced him with an un-articulated H.E.R.B.I.E. (Humanoid Experimental Robot, B-type, Integrated Electronics) figure. Personally, I would have preferred it if they just included another Franklin Richards miniature.

The box is the same as the one that the Classic Avengers set was packed in, with the exception of the artwork and the color of the cosmic polka dots printed on the interior cardboard tray (the Avengers had a blue backdrop, the X-Force guys an orange one). This one has a dark, reddish shade to the space gas our heroes are swimming in.

You can use the star field as a display board if you're really cheap and lazy (like I am).

The reason I gave in and bought this (kids, credit cards are evil) is that after buying the Masterworks Galactus, it was apparent to my nerd sensibilities that I needed good guys to fight him. The good guys of the comic were the Fantastic Four. As I had only 3 of the Fantastic Four, and the fact that I was missing the Invisible Woman was irritating. No amount of logic (she's INVISIBLE you say?) could sooth the itch.

The body of the new figure is the same as most of the female figures that have been released in the line. Apparently, Hasbro has the same idea as Marvel when it comes to female body types. There are no pear, or triangle, or straight-shaped women in Universe 616. Everyone has an hourglass-shaped body with the measurements of a porn star.

Which, truth be told, works out well for Hasbro. Since most female characters’ costumes are generally just skin-tight spandex or leather in deference to the medium’s fan boy fan base, all it really takes to bring a new figure to market is a new head and some new paint. That’s exactly what the Sue Storm figure is.

Articulation is the same as any of the previous female figures. She’s still missing the bicep and thigh swivels, so she’s limited in the number of poses she can pull off. She also has a tiny foot print (and no stand) so it’s hard to keep her upright without any tacking putty.

Still, this is the first Invisible Woman toy in the line (but not in the 3.75” scale – the old Super Hero Showdown line had several) so fans will still buy the set.

The new Reed Richards figure re-uses the old Black Costume Spider-Man body, the buck I hate most in the entire line.

Why do I hate it? Because there are simply too many limitations to the thing. No thigh swivels for one. Crappy ankle articulation for two. Despite excellent knee articulation, he still can’t pull off much more than standing and some running poses. Upper articulation is ok, but you get to the hands and it’s like… duh.

One is curled in a fist, but bent awkwardly inward at the wrist for some reason. Because of the position, he looks as if he’s trying to punch people with the back of his hand. The other hand is an open palm. It doesn’t look like it’s doing anything. It’s just open in a half way relaxed pose.

The head though is nice. It’s a great looking sculpt that does a fine job of giving him the right look. The fact that he’s skinny (rather than the bulky, short Daredevil body that the Secret Wars Two-Pack Mr. Fantastic used) is another plus.

Thing is the Fantastic Four member who gets the most attention from Hasbro. In this line alone, he’s gotten maybe 3 previous figures (two variants in the 2009 Wave 3, and one in the 2010 Wave 4 of the Secret Wars Comic Packs) all with different “costumes”.

This time, he’s got his “modern costume”, which are basically just board shorts. The lower leg articulation seems to have improved a tiny bit from the super undies version, but he’s never going to be the most flexible of your action figures.

I wished they’d at least bothered to give him a new head, maybe one with a grimace, or a mouth open wide in a roar.

I’ve never really been a huge Fantastic Four fan. In my comic collection I have maybe two issues of their series, and I couldn’t tell you which ones.

However, more than any other team in the Marvel Universe, the Fantastic Four are a unit and once you have one of its members, you have to get them all. They are a completists dream and nightmare since there are only 4 to complete the set, but it’s always so hard to do so since they just aren’t available in the numbers that Wolverine and Spider-Man command. So this box set will probably disappear from shelves relatively quickly.

However, I’ve got some gripes about it. For one, the inclusion of H.E.R.B.I.E is a downright slap in the face. Who is clamoring for a H.E.R.B.I.E accessory? Really, Hasbro? The space could have been dedicated to some stretchy accessories for Mr. Fantastic, or some invisible projections for Invisible Woman. Or hell, here’s a thought. How about including the fourth member of the Fantastic Four, The Human Torch? I would have loved another chance to get that Nova Flame torch that went poof so quickly.

Two, I realize that Hasbro needs to make its investment back when it comes to molds, but announcing a variant with a partially clear Invisible Woman after releasing this one? God damn it.

And then to throw salt on your badly wounded wallet, they tease you with a Future Foundation variant, with a Future Foundation Spider-Man instead of that blasted robot.

Well, that’s just evil, Hasbro.

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