Much has been said about the Avengers figure line since the previews at SDCC, and probably much more will be said before everything is said and done, but here are my two cents from the figures I found early, beginning with the figure I was most excited about, Ultimate Thor.
So up front I will say I loved how Thor was portrayed in the Ultimates. You were never really sure if he was a nut or really the Norse God of Thunder. This gave Loki plenty of opportunity to do what he does best, manipulate people into messing with Thor. The story played out well and worked on many levels. Unfortunately since then the Ultimates havenít quite lived up to that level of coolness, but Ultimates Thor still has a great look of a wild-eyed man who may or may not be who he says he is.
So on to the figure, and of course the big huge elephant on the couch: articulation. Yes, itís been severely cut back. In fact articulation has been cut back to the point you really wonder if this is made by the same company that has made GI Joe for so many years. Even the current crop of Star Wars figures have more articulation than this. Itís just sort of surreal to see a figure that would have been ok 5 years ago on the racks today.
What makes this situation worse is when you look at Thor and Hawkeyeís wave-mates. Each one looks like the main figure from the respective movie lines. The major problem with this is the fact that all of them are much less articulated than the ones associated with each movie line and the movie line versions are still on the shelves. Many have said cost cutting is the reason for the loss in articulation, but new toolingís for figures already in production would seem to be MORE expensive, not less. It would make more sense for Hasbro to just repack the figures from the movie lines than to completely retool the same figure with less articulation. I know some might argue it isnít cheaper, but it seems counter-intuitive to not be that way. Never mind the fact that these figures look exactly the same to what is on the pegs already. Iron Man has the triangular arc reactor, Thor in his helmet, even Captain America with the buckles and such simulating the stripes on his abdomen. This really does make no sense what so ever especially when all three characters have been seen with different (although similar) looks in trailers to the Avengers Movie.
While Iím trying not to get on a soapbox here, it seems to me that the cost cutting measures were anything but and as a result we got figures that could have been spectacular but were just good. There, I said it and it had to be said because it permeates every aspect of these figures and will probably get referenced again.
But on to Thor, a figure I was really hoping for in the Thor movie line before we found out Thor wasnít going to have any comic based figures (which I felt was a huge mistake, but is beside the point now). I have to say if you were going to cut articulation Thor is probably the guy to do it with as he is a bit less agile than Cap or Hawkeye. As such he doesnít suffer from the loss as badly as some of the other figures.
Still, simple things like holding his hammer with both hands are not possible with this figure due to lack of wrist articulation. Iím not so uptight about the loss of the double knee or the ankles as I am the wrists just because it allows for so many options. Also it should be pointed out that in the box Thor looks like he has wrist articulation (created by the seam from his wrist wrappings). I thought he had them and the cries of loss of articulation may have been a fluke, but that isnít the case. He canít even hold his hammer over his head in that classic Heroclix pose.
But that doesnít mean heís all bad, in fact heís quite great. His arms are some of the best muscle molding on a 3 & ĺ figure I have seen. His face sculpt has that wild-eyed stare that makes you wonder if he might just be a nutcase and the hair (while positioned odd to afford neck movement) is brilliantly molded and sculpted. Sculpt wise he is just about amazing.
On the articulation, he does have ball jointed elbows and knees much like current Star Wars figures. This helps to keep the integrity of the mold while allowing for the articulation to be present. Itís a tough trade off to be sure, but at least there is the idea that his sculpt is still solid. One of the biggest irony of this figure is that Hasbro seems to have nailed down the hip articulation. Rather than a ball joint like in Iron Man, Wolverine and other movie lines the joint is on a peg that allows for a full range of motion. This is a happy medium between the movie line sturdiness and the range of motion allowed in the Marvel Universe line. It also keeps that mold integrity rather than having to work the articulation around the hips. Itís one of those weird things that makes this line so hard to score.
Of course Hasbro inexpiably took out any sort of torso or waist motion. There have long been arguments about the torso joint, how it disrupts the form of the figure and looks unnatural verses the more natural movement point. At the very least Hasbro could have put in a waist joint though, something to allow Thor to twist around. I can see the argument against the torso joint (especially with this figure) but not having the ability to move his body at all is not a better alternative to me.
Some have asked about his height as the Thor movie figures were ďshort.Ē I do stand up for the Thor movie line figures though as I think they were keeping in line with the actor and not the comic representation of Thor (which makes a huge differences as Chris Hemsworth is around 6í 2Ē and Thor is listed at around 6í 6Ē). Ultimates Thor is taller than the movie Thor, but also shorter than the Modern Thor from the Marvel Universe line. To me this is just right for him as I tend to think of Ultimate Thor as a bit shorter anyway.
But also the figure comes with another gimmick as most movie figures seem to have to in this age. To be honest though, even for a kidís gimmick this one is lame, itís a spear that folds out into an axe. Utterly pointless and in many ways laughable, especially when you look at the version of Mjolnir that comes with this figure.
Speaking of Thorís Hammer one of Ultimate Thorís most distinct features is his version of Mjolnir which is bigger, brasher, and somewhat scary looking with the Axe on the other side of it. While later Ultimate Thor wielded a plain hammer, this one just looked incredibly cool and having him come with it does make the figure that much better in my opinion.
So how to score this one, well itís very tough, the sculpt is really great but that loss of articulation is totally a bummer. Still Thor could lose that articulation more so than most of the Avengers such as Hawkeye, Black Widow and Cap. Heís got Mjolnir as it was in the first two series of Ultimates and he is a very good representation of Thor in that form.
So after weighing it all I have to give him 4 Ĺ stars. He is a favorite of mine, he is an awesome sculpt and he fits the role he is intended for perfectly. The articulation really is the only knock but as I said itís a minor one at best with Thor.
Ultimate Thor: 4 1/2 Stars
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