It was April or May of 2011 when the next few figures I’m reviewing were released. It is now August. Where does all my time go?
Wave 13 (or Wave 2 of Series 3 depending on how you’re counting) of the Marvel Universe toy line was largely meant for X-Men collectors no matter how you look at it. All 6 of the figures (Cable, Wolverine, Apocalypse, Cyclops and Gladiator) are all characters that were part of the cast of the X-Men books at one time or another. Predictably, Gladiator and the First Appearance Wolverine were the ones that clogged up pegs and for sale threads.
Or they would have if Playkit hadn’t been playing it safe and under ordering the Marvel Universe line at the time. Both Wave 13 and 14 were in woefully short supply during their respective distribution and it doesn’t look as if wave 15 is going to be any better. Thankfully, though, it looks as if Gladiator has been showing up again as restocks appear in the new assortments (just saw a gaggle of them at Toy Kingdom in Megamall the other day). Let’s start with him.
The package of the single card Marvel Universe figures hasn’t changed much since the start of the line, which is great. Frankly, the bubble card is my favorite kind of packaging. Although it’s hard to keep it in mint condition, it’s so much less of a headache when it comes to opening them. You don’t even really need a knife if you’re not the type to keep boxes (and lord knows, after awhile, you have to get rid of those boxes or be buried in cardboard).
The back of the card doesn’t say much about Gladiator, so I just pulled the bio from Wikipedia:
The character Gladiator is Kallark, a member of the Strontian race, as well as the Praetor (leader) of the Shi'ar Imperial Guard, an elite corps of powerful beings that enforce Shi'ar Imperial law on all planets within the Shi'ar Galaxy. Gladiator first appears in The Uncanny X-Men issue 107. The Imperial Guard also protects and carries out the personal directives of the Majestor or Majestrix (emperor or empress) of the Shi’ar Empire. Together with the Imperial Guard, Gladiator battles the X-Men at the command of then-Shi'ar Emperor D'Ken.
He’s gone toe to toe with the X-Men, Fantastic Four, Avengers, and Thor, and held his own. He has superhuman strength, speed, stamina, reflexes and durability. He’s got heat vision, frost breath, and can travel faster than light. All of it is based on his level of confidence; so if he thinks he can beat you, he will.
To sum it up, Gladiator is a bad-ass.
The figure uses the same body as Doc Samson, Thunderbird, and a dozen other figures before them. I've got the same problems with this figure as I do those, mostly centered around the hands, which are shapeless lumps.
However, Hasbro's done a lot to bring something to the table with this re-color. For one, he's got a new head. Hasbro didn't have much choice, of course. No other being in the Marvel Universe has the huevos to wear a purple mohawk.
The cape is also brand new, complete with the popped collar that he has always had in the comics. Unlike most capes that Hasbro's provided us with, this one has some nice flow to it, looking as if he's taking a swing at someone or dodging a punch. It adds a lot to the figure for something so simple. You can also remove it it you want (by popping off his head), though I don't remember him ever appearing without it.
Articulation is still limited because this is one of the older Marvel Universe bodies without any swivels on the thighs. It limits the kinds of poses you can place him in. The ankle joints aren't too good either, since the swivel-hinge there isn't designed very well and looks unsightly.
Paint however is nice. As always, you've got to be on the lookout for some really bad slop, but Hasbro took the time to give this figure some nice washes. There's a dark wash over his body that gives the crevices of his muscles some shadow and there's a wash over his face that is supposed to give some highlights there. The former is more successful than the latter. Some of the figures I saw had faces that came off looking like he had some sort of sentient alien acne.
The Marvel Universe Gladiator really has a lot going for him, and despite the horrible buck that they chose, he turned out pretty well. I don't regret deciding to keep him at all, especially since we're still missing so many supporting characters from the X-Men books.
If they decide to give us a Starjammer box set, I will be first in line.