Justice like lightning! The Thunderbolts weren't my first, or second, or even tenth guess for what Hasbro would give us as an SDCC exclusive this year (I was really hoping for an All New X-Men 5-Pack, or even a Phoenix Five set), but getting a five-pack of semi-reformed super villains? Sure, I'll take that. One of them is the modern Luke Cage that we've been waiting on for years? Ok, you've got my attention. Oh, and both the females in the set are on a brand new body that we've been waiting for forever? Sold.
This is probably the biggest box set of action figures I've ever purchased. Not because of the number of figures in the set, but because of the sheer size of the box. It's been a long time since we've seen a 5-pack in Marvel Legends, and even then, the boxes weren't made to look like sky-scrapers. I've got to hand it to Hasbro, this packaging is pretty creative. Thunderbolts Tower may not be the most iconic building in the Marvel Universe, but this package definitely stands out, and there's no mistaking what team lives inside. Now, how awesome would it be if we got Baxter Building, Avengers Tower, or Jean Grey School box sets?
The box has some nice artwork of the characters on both the back and inside the front of the package, and some smaller shots along both sides. There are large, prominent Thunderbolts logos everywhere, and the typical foil SDCC sticker on the front. For collectors that display their collections in the package, this will make an excellent display piece.
The largest figure in this set, and the least new, is Crossbones. He's pretty much a straight up repaint of the Walmart exclusive Ares series figure, with some new boot straps and a different weapon. His inclusion in the set may be controversial to some (especially anyone who's shelled out a hundred bucks to buy him on the secondary market), but with a unique deco and the obvious demand out there for the character, I'm all for his re-release. Plus, with him being a featured character in next year's Captain America movie, it only makes sense to get him back out in some form.
Other than the obvious deco changes to the figure, and the new straps on his boots, the body is otherwise identical to the original release. He's a massive figure with giant arms and perhaps a slightly too tiny head, but I think he looks great. The sculpt has a lot of nice detail throughout, and the paint is well applied. Articulation is a little above standard for figures of his time, and he can comfortably hold the Gatling with both hands, as well as assume a stance wide enough to support it's weight. This Crossbones looks like he's ready to kick some serious ass.
His weapon, the giant belt fed Gatling gun, is actually from a GI Joe Sigma Six figure. That kind of surprised me at first, but it actually works well with the figure, and he looks good holding it. Plus, you can wind it up and press a level to have the barrels rotate. And one other detail that I noticed after a couple days of playing with it, you can open the ammo feed compartment and unplug the ammo belt. Pretty cool. Overall, Crossbones may not be the most exciting or new figure in the set, but Hasbro did a great job of keeping him from being a boring re-release.
Next up is Ghost, the creepy, intangible computer hacker. This figure has a rare distinction, being mostly translucent. We don't get too many of these in the line, and I'm a sucker for them. Not just because invisible/intangible characters are cool, but because you can see the inner workings of the action figure without having to destroy it. I think that's pretty neat.
Being mostly clear, Ghost has very little paint, but what's there is neatly applied. He's based (apparently) on the Bucky body, but it looks to me like there are more new parts here than re-used. The lower legs, lower arms, upper torso and both heads are definitely new. And yes, he comes with swapable heads, to give you a couple different display options. Both masks are similar, but different. Nice touch, Hasbro. The articulation is pretty good, and benefits from the new lower legs by including ankle rockers. Ghost can achieve a number of creepy, villainous poses, and is probably my favorite in the set just in terms of poseability and display options.
Ah, Luke Cage. How long have we waited for the modern version of this figure (i.e. without the Afro). And it was definitely worth the wait, since he was built on the new Hyperion body. He's big, he's ripped, and he's got fantastic articulation. I really love the newest base bodies that Hasbro has added to their library. The articulation is excellent without looking terrible, they can hit a ton of poses, and they just look clean and awesome. Take the Hyperion body, give it new lower legs, fisted left hand, a belt and some slip-on gauntlets, and a new head, and bam, Luke Cage.
The paint is simple, but looks good. The Thunderbolts logo tampo is cleanly applied, and the detail on the metallic parts is a good contrast to the simplicity of the yellow shirt and black pants. I have just one minor complaint about the deco. His moustache and goatee paint don't exactly match up with the sculpt. You can see a little unpainted facial hair sculpted on. Not a big deal, and easy enough to fix on your own, but it's there. Over all, I'm very pleased with this figure and excited to finally have him in my collection, not just to lead the Thunderbolts, but also to stand with my New Avengers.
The final two figures in the set both utilize the brand-spankin new female body that Hasbro has been promising for the last year. And it is awesome. Finally, no more stick legs. These ladies have some curves.
Moonstone is cast in pearlescent white, shimmery plastic (similar to Iron Monger), with some gold paint on her torso and lower arms. Not a lot to mess up there, but it looks good. Her head sculpt is unique, and looks great. Hasbro really has come a long way with sculpting female heads. She doesn't look like a man in drag, or an ogre that got hit by a semi truck. She actually looks like an accurate plastic representation of a female comic book character. Both the new body and head contribute to that. I can't wait to see what future uses this body will hold. (Hopefully a Dark Ms. Marvel repaint in the near future, but judging by Hasbro's SDCC reveals, that doesn't look likely).
Since this body is the only 100% new one in the set, I'll give a full articulation breakdown: Moonstone and Satana both include a ball-jointed head (sadly no neck swivel for flying poses), ball-jointed torso (with a pretty good range of motion), ball-hinged shoulders, elbows, wrists, and ankles (with rockers), ball-jointed hips, upper thigh and bicep swivels, and double-hinged knees. With the exception of the missing neck hinge, it's a pretty great articulation set up, and she's capable of hitting a lot of great poses. I little more sideways range of motion in the hips would be nice, but it's not bad as is. And the articulation all flows nicely with the contours of the sculpt. Can we start getting a LOT more females on this body, like, yesterday?
Satana, using the same new body, is cast in black, with just some flesh painted down her torso. Also simplistic but elegant in design. She also includes a cape, however, which is cast in red and painted black on the outside. And her head and hands are unique. The head sculpt once again looks appropriately female, and the paint is well applied. And I'm certain that these new hands were tooled with a future re-use for a badly needed Scarlet Witch re-do in mind. And if they weren't, well, now you know, Hasbro. Let's make that happen. Stat.
Due to the back-heaviness of the cape, it's just a little more difficult getting Satana to hit some dynamic poses, but it's still possible. And once you take the cape off, you realize that this figure makes for some outstanding custom fodder. I can see the head being re-used for a ton of different female characters. And the body is basically a blank canvas, waiting to be made into any number of heroines or villainesses.
This set was certainly an unexpected surprise for Comic Con, but definitely a welcome one. It delivers a great mix of characters using a great blend of new and re-used parts, and it gives us not one, but two of the awesome new female bodies. Some of these characters (coughSatanacough) wouldn't stand a chance of being released at retail, so I commend Hasbro for using this opportunity to get collectors figures that we wouldn't otherwise get. As of our discussions with Dwight Stall at Comic Con, there are no plans to release any of these figures at retail, with the exception of Moonstone. So if you want these guys, and you weren't fortunate enough to attend SDCC or get lucky on Hasbro Toy Shop after the con, your best bet is to track the set down on ebay. It's definitely worth the premium, even if just for the fact that you'll be avoiding the nightmare lines at the convention.
Words, photos, and lightning-like justice dealt out by Zak