I resisted these Titan Hero Series action figures for as long as long can last, but caved when I saw the Hulk last weekend. There's a lot of talk among the action figure community about the lack of articulation and quality with some of both Mattel and Hasbro's recent offerings, but the fact remains that toys are made for kids, and hitting an attractive price point is part of the goal for these toy giants. It's true that ten dollars doesn't buy what it used to, but a large, colorful toy at that price is going to appeal to parents and children alike.
Since my last post was about the first volume of Wolverine (1982) and the recent summer blockbuster it inspired, we'll start with Wolverine. He has an appropriately beefier buck than Spider-Man, and his own special point of articulation, a swivel at the glove tops- appropriate for the adamantium-clawed mutant. His leg movement is restricted in the rear by the sculpt of his buttocks, but his ball-jointed head is quite expressive. He's cheaply made, light visible through the hollow torso, but a good looking toy nonetheless.
Wolverine's paint detailing isn't carried around the back of the torso, the sculpted side vents on his back and belt line left nearly invisible on the field of yellow. The existing paint apps are neatly applied, a small, red X tamped onto the X-Man's sculpted buckle. We get some nice piping down the torso in his sculpt, and some great detail in his muscle definition. I like the contrast of Wolvie's ribbed gloves and boots in gloss blue against the flat yellow in his costume.
The box construction on these Titan Hero figures is interesting, made largely of a single piece of folded cardboard. I liked the paper ties holding the figure in place within the packaging, easily unwound without need for a blade. The box art is flashy and attractive with a large window on front to view toy, giving the large figure a deluxe feel.
The feature that makes this figure special are his removable claws- we saw these on a recent Marvel Legends Wolverine, and I'm surprised that Hasbro went to the trouble to do so on this otherwise simple toy. What wonderful fun! They easily pop in and out, and stay in place while handling the figure. Released around the same time as the new movie, Wolverine's deco is inspired instead by his recent appearance in Marvel Comics NOW! imprint, an extension of the character's blue & yellow costume origins. I used to prefer the brown & gold version, but in my old age I'm nostalgic for the other for whatever reason... perhaps the late eighties X-Men stuff seeped into my subconscious. For the record, these aren't really 12" tall- it's more like 11". It's not a deal breaker, but they were advertised as such, and they aren't, It's a nitpick, but an untruth nonetheless. That said, I like the toy and If you only get one of these Titan Hero toys, I'd recommend the Wolverine- he's rad!
It's hard for me to resist a large Hulk figure, even one as cheaply produced as this new Titan Hero version. The sight of him in that big window box was too much to bear, forcing me to pick some of these up. I have several, higher quality Hulk figures I love, but the simple rendering of this toy reminds me of Hulk toys in the 70's. He's got a classic Hulk face with clenched teeth, green hair, and purple pants. Just how I remember him! Freshly back into comics a couple years back, I picked up Vol.6 of Marvel Essential Hulk , instantly recognizing the cover art by Ron Validar from my childhood. While the stories didn't seem familiar, I loved every bit of this slice of the Green Goliath from '76 to '78 like a kid would have. I loved Sal Buschema's drawing of that era, and Herb Trimple's trippy Jack Kirby-inspired style on the guest issues. As a kid, I couldn't wait until Friday nights when Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno would bring the character to life on TV. It was around the same time Nicholas Hammond was starring as Spider-Man on the fellow CBS show, The Amazing Spider-Man. It was a fun time to be a kid. I had a 12" Mego Hulk doll that was superior to this Titan Hero Hulk, but this was a fun nostalgic purchase I let myself enjoy...
I love the sculpt on this toy! I love the classic facial expression, muscle definition, and sculpting around the torn pants, which have some great "stretched fabric" on the sides and stitched pockets in back. He's a nice shade of green- not to bright or fluorescent, and not too dark. Titan Hero Hulk's special point of articulation is at the wrist- appropriate as Wolverine's hand articulation, as Hulk is a brawler as well. The ball-jointed head is as expressive as Wolvie's, a feature that adds a lot to these big, cheap toys.
Hulk isn't much taller than Titan Hero Wolverine or Spider-Man, but makes up for it in his girth. He feels pretty light and hollow for his size because he is. At $12.99 however what can you expect? He looks great in cheap plastic, and if you are a Hulk fan of my vintage, you'll appreciate his classic looks!
This Titan Hero Spider-Man was tagged with the newest Ultimate Spider-Man animated television program. While not my favorite animated Spider-Man show, I found it reasonably entertaining for a kid's cartoon. I had my eyes on this Spidey for a few months now, the deal signed when I knew I could have a Hulk as well. Like peas and carrots in the diet of my childhood heroes. Spider-Man is his own sub-collection within my greater action figure collection. I watched the cartoons in the 70's & 80's, had the 8" and 12" Mego dolls, Colorforms, and many other toys of the character, and some of my earliest comics were Spider-Man. Like the Hulk, he's a big part of my fascination with superheroes from an early age.
Spidey's legs have a much wider range of motion than Hulk or Wolverine, allowing him to do the leg splits fully, front to back. He doesn't possess quite the range of expression as Wolverine and the Hulk in his ball-jointed head, but it's not terrible. Like Wolverine, the paint detailing isn't carried around the back of the torso, the sculpted spider insignia on his back left nearly invisible on the field of red. That's somewhat a shame, but no small child will miss it, and mine will be on display face out.
Again, the sculpt is really good on this toy, the webbing and spider insignia incised, his slender proportions textbook accurate. I love the big, white eyes in raised relief, neatly trimmed in black like his chest insignia. While there aren't a lot of paint applications on this toy, but the ones there are cleanly done. A testament to Steve Ditko's superb design, this classic outfit has great eye appeal.
Spidey's added articulation feature is a swivel above the boot tops- as appropriate as any for the wall crawler, and one I like. It doesn't help him pose much more dynamically than the others- just a joint to twist and play with. One of the toy's hands has a cuffed grip to hang onto things, and the other posed in his classic web-slinging pose, where I'd have tied some fishing line as a youngster.
And now is the time we play BIG TOY/little toy on the Super-DuperToyBox! Titan Heroes Hulk with Hasbro Avengers Hulk and Marvel Select Avengers Hulk...
Pictured below: Titan Heroes Wolverine with Origins Wolverine, Marvel Universe Wolverine, and Marvel Heroes & Villains Wolverine (left), and Titan Heroes Spider-Man with Ultra-Pose Foam Ultimate Spider-Man, and Crime Fightin' Spider-Man (right).
These are big, dumb toys- what they were meant to be. That appeals to me in a big way, likely due to some of the action figures I grew up with, but also in appreciation of economical design. I'm a fan of those 10" Deluxe Marvel Universe figures ToyBiz produced in the 90's for the same reasons. No, there's not a lot of poses these simple toys can hold- that's because they are made for play, what kids do with toys. They will love the large size and bright colors of these popular characters, as do I.
More Later- Make It FUN!