NOTE: Originally published , in a longer format, by OAFE on 10/5/04.
This is the second time I’ve re-used this article for another blog. What can I say–it’s my masterpiece of toy reviewing, and fortunately, it also makes a dandy “Hall of Fame” entry.
I can trace my awareness of the X-Men comics—and by extension, the mutant superhero called Wolverine—to its original source: an advertisement in the back of a comic book. The ad featured a “cool” kid—you knew he was cool because he was wearing a denim jacket and sunglasses—holding some X-Men trading cards, I believe. Far more effective than the kid himself was the tagline above him: “It’s a good bet the kid’s favorite MUTANTS ain’t TURTLES.”
Now, at the time, I was a hardcore acolyte of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fad. However, I was also dimly aware that the Turtles—with their cartoony, anthropomorphic toy line and surfer-lite catchphrases—were perhaps targeted toward an audience that was a bit younger than I was at the time.
Thus, this sunglasses-wearing kid threatened me. The ad tapped the core of my adolescent insecurity—dear God, was I worshiping the wrong mutants? While I would say advertisements have never worked particularly well on me (the only thing ads have ever done for me is made me aware of when things I might want, such as new action figures or films, will be available), this one, I have to admit, succeeded in spectacular fashion.
Not only did I end up buying those X-Men trading cards—I also bought piles of comics and, of course, action figures.
I can’t exactly recall how I became interested in Wolverine. I know I loved Cable, though whether I came to Wolverine via Cable, I can’t say (it’s quite possible that Cable’s guest appearance in Wolverine #41 is responsible for my introduction to Wolverine). I do recall there being some overlap in my interest in the Ninja Turtles and Wolverine; I have strong memories of typing up a fan fiction story on my parents’ old 286 (using the CEOWrite word processing program1) involving Wolverine and the Turtles.
My first real introduction to Wolverine came via a graphic novel titled Wolverine’s Jungle Adventure, written by Walt Simonson and pencilled by Mike Mignola (whose art, with its strong, sharp lines and dark shadows, I immediately fell in love with. I’ve always equated my fondness for Mignola’s art with my penchant for sparseness and clarity; I wouldn’t say I’m an overly tidy person, but I abhor clutter, and that’s what I love about Mignola’s work—the lack of clutter).
During the period I began reading, Wolverine wore his brown-and-yellow costume. This was the outfit he was wearing in Toy Biz’s first figure of him; but, before 1991 was out, Wolverine had returned to his original blue-and-yellow outfit. I prefer to call this costume “the clown suit.”
In late 2002, Toy Biz released their first Marvel Legends Wolverine. As someone who still felt an attachment to Wolverine after all these years, I was sorely tempted—but I resisted. That stupid clown suit! But I should have known not to worry. Toy Biz can’t seem to stop churning out Wolverine figures, so it was perhaps inevitable that a brown-costume Wolverine would make his way into Marvel Legends. The result? In my opinion, the perfect Wolverine action figure—and a lovely bookend to Toy Biz’s first Wolverine.
The Wolverine figure of this review is part of the sixth wave of Marvel Legends. While his package simply says “Wolverine,” he is being referred to by collectors as Brown Costume Wolverine (BCW).
Though some—including this reviewer—assumed that BCW would simply be a repaint of the ML3 Wolvie, that isn’t the case—this is an all-new sculpt by Dave Cortes of INU Art (who also sculpted many of Mezco’s Hellboy figures).
What makes a figure like this—and what distinguishes modern action figures from those of previous decades—are the tiny details that add character. In the case of BCW, it’s the creases in the boots, the intricate musculature of the torso, the furrow of the brow. I particularly like the way this figure’s neck is sculpted; unlike the tall, straight-backed figure of ML3, this Wolverine has Logan’s characteristic hunched look.
I also love the claws. Wolverine’s claws were usually drawn like long, angular razors in the ’80s, and kudos to Toy Biz for making note of that and sculpting accordingly. As usual, the soft-plastic claws are mangled when you open the box, but the solution is simple—dip them in boiling water, sculpt them to taste, and then dip them in ice water, and your Wolverine will have the Gillette Mach 3s he was always meant to.
BCW features 38 points of articulation—all of them useful. I won’t bother to list them all—suffice to say, whatever pose you want to put this figure in, chances are you can. One of the more interesting new joints is the horizontal “pectoral” joint, which allows Wolverine to pull his fist back as if to punch (or stab) someone. For the most part, the articulation balances well with the sculpt.
Wolverine comes with a detailed base. BCW’s base is a tiny Japanese structure, reused from Elektra with a cross-legged Master Ogun, Wolverine’s old sensei. Ogun has a few points of articulation, but he’s permanently attached to the base. Again, the base references Wolverine’s ’80s period, when ninjas were king (be they Hand, Foot or terrapin). Ogun holds a removable katana, which is one of my favorite things about my figure—I believe it’s a reference to that first Toy Biz Wolverine and his little sword. BCW can’t really hold the sword very well, due to his articulated hands, but it’s a nice inclusion.
In terms of Marvel Legend excellence, Brown Costume Wolverine is, in my opinion, matched only by Deadpool. A superb sculpt and excellent articulation makes for the best Wolverine figure to date. That cool kid would be proud.