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.
Now we get to Hawkeye, which is another tough figure to call. If you read the previous review with Ultimate Thor you know that the articulation issues were not as huge a deal as Thor is a big, bulky guy who is a bit more agile than most might give him credit, but if you had to cut someone in articulation it may as well be Thor. Hawkeye is not as easy to forgive though. Hawkeye is pretty agile and can do some very athletic things. This version you do kind of really noticed the loss of the articulation much more than even with Thor because of that. There is a nitpick I have always had with any figure as well, the knee joint is below the knee pad. Donít ask me why but this little thing has always bugged me when I see it on action figures. Call me weird, it just is.
For whatever reason, Hawkeye is depicted in the outfit he wore beginning in Ultimates 3 (at least that is where I remember seeing it first). This seems an odd choice at first but when you look at the movie version of Clint you can see that he resembles Hawkeyeís look in Ultimates 1 and 2 which might have precipitated this choice. Itís still a cool outfit and works on many levels so it really isnít a big deal.
One very noticeable absence from the figure is Hawkeyeís signature bow. To be honest Ultimates 3, I felt, really missed the whole point of Ultimates and I was never able to bring myself to finish it. Still I find it hard to believe Hawkeye wasnít using that bow at some point. A reasonable substitute comes from the GI Joe line with Pursuit of Cobraís Shadow Tracker. Of course the movie version of Hawkeye seems to have a reasonable substitute as well, so itís not a big deal as it seems at first. Doing some quick research I found a few pictures of this version of Hawkeye with a bow, so I am a bit at a loss as to why it wasnít included.
Hawkeye does come with a mini-crossbow and a couple of guns that fit into his holsters. The issue with these are that they are so rubbery and flimsy that they bend right out of the package. The quality of weapons from Hasbro has been going down for quite some time, but I have to say this is some of the worst since the Captain America line.
Still he is a solid mold and fits in well with his Ultimates counterparts. UGH again a tough call.
The worst of the figure though is probably the kidís gimmick of another spring loaded launcher. For some reason this figure made me think back to all the spring loaded launchers over the years and ponder ďHas this ever worked?Ē Thinking about it, spring loaded launchers were a huge contributor to the downfall of GI Joe in the 1990ís and honestly they didnít help Rise of Cobra very much either. While here were a few scattered about the Iron Man lines, they werenít HUGE like this one and they were more of a nuisance that could be tossed to the side easily. Iím seriously hard pressed to think of a toy line with these huge honking launchers that actually did well and as such I think I see a huge issue.
All this talk of cutbacks and reducing the costs, these launchers canít be cheap and it looks like the Star Wars and Marvel Universe lines are not suffering cutbacks and also they DONíT have the launchers. Could this be the magic solution? Iím sure some will argue that point, but the more I think about it the more sense it makes to me.
So how to grade this one, well he is a cool mold, guns can be replaced with extras and the bow isnít a huge deal. I really hate the lack of articulation though. He does come across cheap in more than a few places, but like Thor his articulation does keep the integrity of the mold. So with all of that in mind I somewhat grudgingly give him 4 stars. I am taking off one for the articulation because he really needed it. I thought about taking one off for the huge backpacks but I think they are livable (although should be smaller and are made huge due to the stupid rocket launcher and rockets stored in them).
I have to admit though, that was a tough one to call.