The History of the Marvel Legends

Way back in 2002, Toy Biz created Marvel Legends, a series of action figures based on characters appearing in Marvel Comics. The very first series consisted of Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, and Toad. They were packaged in a clam-shell style box, and shipped with a reprinting of a classic comic book. The detailed sculpting and multiple points of articulation quickly catapulted these figures to the top of fans "Must Buy" lists, and went down in history as some of the finest action figures to come from Toy Biz.

Over time, Toy Biz began taking risks with a few of the characters they chose. While in the beginning they stuck with highly recognizable characters such as The Human Torch, Wolverine, and Daredevil, they eventually began to create figures based on lesser known heroes, like Man-Thing, Deathlok, and Vengeance. Overtime, they added extra frills to the figures, like the Legendary Riders line, which packaged each figure with a vehicle most fitting their personality. But the capper of the Marvel Legends, and the most popular feature, was the Build-A-Figure. Each figure was packaged with a piece of a larger figure. Collect 'em all, and you got yourself another toy to play with. For the first time, this opened up collector's dioramas to more realistic fight scenes. Finally, Giant-Man would actually be a Giant-Man, and Galactus would tower over the others.

Then, in 2007, the rights to Marvel characters changed hands, finding it's way to the creative minds at Hasbro. Hasbro has some of the most recognizable toys under their belt, one example of such being the Transformers. So, should anyone have any doubt that they could handle the Marvel Legends line?

The first couple of series' of Marvel Legends produced by Hasbro yielded some quality figures. Ultimate Iron Man. Thor. Xorn. These figures had decent sculpts, but lacked some of the articulation of the Toy Biz generation. Subsequent figures, however, saw a decline in quality. Poor paint jobs, sub-par sculpts, and even less articulation sullied the name of Marvel Legends. In 20008, the final Marvel Legends series hit the stores, and pretty much stayed there until they moved to the clearance section. In place of them came the 3 3/4 inch Marvel Universe line.

When I first heard about the 3 3/4 inch figures, I was excited about a new line of figures coming out. Then I discovered that all of Hasbro's Marvel based figures had gone to that size. This agitated me. I didn't want to buy only small figures. I wanted the larger sizes as well. I wondered why Hasbro would do such a thing?

Then it occurred to me that the decision to change the sizes of the figures was a monetary one. Oil prices had been rising steadily in 2008, as most people will recall the severe increase in gas prices. And since plastic is derived from oil, the price of plastic had increased as well. Hasbro scaled down the sizes of their toys to save money. Unfortunately, only the figures were scaled down and not the prices. The 3 3/4 inch figures were priced around $9 each, which was only about $1 less than the larger Marvel Legends line. Why was I paying 10% less for an action figure that was half as big? This boggled my mind. To this day I have yet to purchase a figure in the 3 3/4 inch line.

Thankfully, change is on the horizon. Topless Robot has reported Hasbro will be unveiling 16 to 18 new Marvel Legends figures at the upcoming San Diego Comic Con. Though no word has come on whether or not these figures will see store shelves for sure, the fact that the R&D team at Hasbro is working on them is promising enough.

I will certainly be keeping an eye open for which characters will get the plastic treatment. Hopefully, they will work on the quality of the figures, making them a toy line to be proud of as they once were.

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