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Which Marvel Figures Are Right For You?
What size should you get?
All the good Marvel action figures come in 2 basic sizes: 3.75", which seems to be becoming the more common of the two, and 6", which is my personal preference. I've noticed that a great deal of the comic book-based figures come in 3.75" form, and these also come with more accessories, but for the movie-based action figures, 6" seems to be the way to go. The 6" figures are better detailed because they are larger and easier to paint (in most cases anyway, not saying I'm a professional toy designer or anything, just my opinion). They are closer to the likenesses of their characters than the 3.75" ones. My recommendation is to go for the 6" ones, because even though they can be a touch more expensive, it's worth it. For the purposes of this article, we will assume that you, the reader (that's you), are interested in starting a collection of 6" Marvel movie-based action figures.
The "Marvel Legends" series of figures is a good place to start for building a 6" Marvel-based action figure collection. They have many points of articulation, and overall, they just look good. Also, they are all in scale with each other, so you won't have to worry about, for instance, buying a Marvel Legends Elektra action figure that is taller than a Marvel Legends Daredevil action figure. This is not the case with all series, however. A good example is the "Captain America: The First Avenger" series which had WWII Captain America and Nick Fury. In this series, for some reason Captain America is slightly shorter than your average 6" figure, whereas Nick Fury is slightly taller than your average 6" figure. The result is an uneven, strangely tall Nick Fury looming in the background of my collection. It is effective enough for my purposes, but still, I wish they would keep it in scale. One figure that I want to warn about, however, is the Marvel Legends Series V Blade movie figure. I don't know if it was just the figure I received (brand new in unopened packaging) or if this is true for every Blade figure, but not only was it slightly less than 6" scale, but the leg joints were so loose that it is almost impossible to make him stand. The gun accessory that comes with him is too big to fit in his hand and will fall out if placed there. Also, I'm not a big fan of real cloth on my action figures. It sort of takes away from the fantasy aspect of the whole thing, and yes, Blade comes with a cloth jacket. The Marvel Legends Punisher Series VI figure (with the likeness of Thomas Jane from the 2004 Punisher film) also comes with the same jacket, but has added features like knives and gun clips hanging off it. I removed the jacket from the Punisher figure and I must say, I'm much happier with it. If you were looking for a Ghost Rider action figure that resembles Nicholas Cage from the film, you may be out of luck unless you want to pay a lot of money. My advice would be to try to get a Marvel Legends Series VII Ghost Rider, because the flaming motorcycle that comes with it is much better looking than the one that comes with the Series III Ghost Rider. Also, note the picture of it to the side. If you want it to look more like a regular flaming motorcycle, that face plate is detachable. One I absolutely HAVE to recommend is the Marvel Legends Series V Silver Surfer. As with all the Marvel Legends figures, it is super-poseable, but this one has something that none of the other figures, or any other Silver Surfer figure has: it comes with a magnetic surfboard on a small adjustable platform, and the Surfer himself has magnets in his feet. No other series of Silver Surfer action figure has this feature, and that's unfortunate, because it's a really smart innovation that allows you to get the Surfer into some awesome positions.
Nowadays, it's pretty hard to find a good price for any of the action figures based on the 2000 film X-Men. Honestly, these are hard to recommend. Here's why: they have very weak articulation. Let's take the Jean Grey action figure as a "for instance". There is no swivel, so her head only moves from side to side. Her arms only go up or down. You can turn her at the waist, and her legs only bend at the knee. All in all, not a very good figure. The same can be said about most of this series, which is really unfortunate. Magneto in this series comes with a cloth cape (which looks ridiculous), a face-paint job that makes him look kind of feminine, and a plastic helmet that looks too big. Like the Silver Surfer of the Marvel Legends series, he has a magnet in his foot, but only one. Mystique in this series is only about 5" - 5 1/2" tall, and she does not stand up too well on her own. For some reason, Professor X's feet wont stay on the separate foot areas on his wheelchair. Rogue comes in two separate versions: one of her wearing her X-Men battle suit (totally recommended) and one of her wearing a really dumb-looking green cloth cloak and red scarf. I removed the cloak because it just didn't look right (does real cloth on action figures ever TRULY look right?). If you want decent X-Men movie action figures, the X2 wave is the way to go. Of course, these are pretty expensive now, but they are far more detailed. The X2 verion of Magneto has a much better paint job, is taller, and trades his cloth cape in for a plastic one. His helmet is darker (and also looks slightly too big), he has way more articulation, and just looks better overall. In the X2 series, they also introduce the figure of Iceman, which was not available in the first series. There is also a version of Cyclops that is wearing a trenchcoat that looks pretty cool. However, there are 2-packs online that were sold in Wal-Mart stores which feature Cyclops & Colossus and Wolverine & Beast. These have the articulation seen in the X2 series action figures, and I do recommend these, as they are in scale with the Marvel Legends series.
The Fantastic Four figures are tricky. Apparently, when the first Fantastic Four movie came out in 2005, the figures that were released with it were only in 5" scale. But why would they do that, when most other modern Marvel-based figures came in 6" scale? It's still a mystery to me. Anyway, if you are looking online for these figures (on eBay, for instance), before you commit to buying, MAKE SURE to ask the seller if the figures are in 6" scale. You don't want to get stuck with a 5" Dr. Doom facing off against your 6" Fantastic Four. There's not too much to say about these figures. They have the series from the first Fantastic Four movie, and they have the series from Rise of the Silver Surfer. I only recommend getting a Silver Surfer from this series if you cannot find an affordable one from the Marvel Legends series, because like I said before, only the Marvel Legends Silver Surfer has the magnetic surfboard and stand that it goes on. There is a two-pack in the Fantastic Four movie series that has The Thing and Mr. Fantastic (in stretchy form) that I would highly recommend because it's basically two figures for the price of one. If you think about it, you don't really need a Mr. Fantastic that isn't all stretched out, because then it's going to look like some random guy standing there. For the Invisible Woman, they have figures of her phasing into invisibility (hands and feet) and ones of her fully invisible. Either way is good, but you may want to consider getting one of her phasing, because depending on how well you take care of it, dust and other things can cause yellowing, and the last thing you want is a completely clear, yellowing Invisible Woman. At least with just her arms and legs being clear, it's not that noticeable. For the Human Torch, I would go with the one that is completely covered in fire. It is not a very good likeness of the Human Torch, but I can understand how it can be hard to get the likeness of someone absolutely correct when they're covered in fire. I recommend it because it makes the character stand out as the Human Torch, whereas a human, non-fiery version of him would just be pretty pointless to have with your collection. Also, it can look cool with the right lighting behind it. For Dr. Doom, I recommend the Rise of the Silver Surfer "Slash Attack" version. Not only does this one closer resemble Dr. Doom from the comics, but it looks better than the other versions of Dr. Doom that populate the series, which just have him wearing a cloak and have little articulation and too many accessories.
The same thing that happened with the Fantastic Four figures happened with the Spider-Man figures when Spider-Man 3 was released: they were in 5" scale instead of 6". After a public outcry (I think I remember a public outcry of some kind), larger, better figures with more articulation were released under the Marvel Legends line that were far superior. One figure in this line I CANNOT recommend is a two-pack that comes with Spider-Man and Dr. Octopus, where the Dr. Octopus figure appears to be imbedded into a brick wall. I purchased this thinking by the picture that it would be two figures for the price of one, but I was mistaken. The Dr. Octopus "figure" that came in this two-pack cannot rightly be called a figure. The slightest touch would make the tentacles fly off him. Also, the Spider-Man figure in this two-pack has great articulation everywhere EXCEPT in his arms, which only go back and forth. I have to recommend buying each figure in this series (the Sandman Build-A-Figure series) separately. Unfortunately, they have become very expensive since their release and a pretty hard to find. However, I am of the opinion that it is worth it.
And here we have the Avengers. Note that even though they are 6" in scale, I do not recommend getting any of the "Mighty Battler" series of Avengers figures, because they feature very, very little articulation and are more for playing with than displaying. For Captain America, you'll want to wait for the modern-day version that will be released with Hasbro's upcoming wave of 6" Avengers movie action figures (soon to be available at Wal-Mart). It is slightly taller than the "Captain America: The First Avenger" series Cap, which makes it the correct size. The one thing I didn't like about the Avengers movie was how Captain America's costume didn't have the red and white stripes on his midsection going all the way around the suit or the star on the back; it was just all blue on the back of the uniform. This action figure corrects that. For Iron Man, I actually would point you to the "Armored Avenger" series of Iron Man 2 figures, because not only is it exactly the same figure as in the Avengers movie series (just repainted) and you wouldn't have to wait for it, but also because the "Armored Avenger" series features War Machine from the film Iron Man 2, which is hard to find. With Thor, it's all a matter of preference. The only difference between the Thor movie series figure of Thor and the Avengers movie series figure of Thor is that the Thor Movie series version is wearing his winged helmet (which is completely non-removable) and the Avengers series version is not. For the Hulk, you'll definitely want the Avengers movie series version, but while you're waiting for that, you might be wondering which Hulk figure is most in scale with the rest of your 6" figures. I would suggest getting the Diamond Select Hulk (which is what I currently have). It is about 10" tall and looks correct in size next to the rest of the figures. Of course, it looks nothing like any of the movie versions of the Hulk, but it's basically a spot-filler until the Avengers movie series figures are released. Now, I haven't seen any plans for this first wave of Avengers movie figures to include the Black Widow, unfortunately, so you may want to think about getting a Marvel Legends version of her until they release a proper one. They do have plans to release a version of Hawkeye, which comes with a bow, quiver (with NO arrows, WTF?), and non-removable glasses. Then we have Loki, the movie version that has not yet been released, even when the Thor movie series figures were released. The only other version of this Loki I have seen is in 7" form, from Diamond Select. Unfortunately, the Avengers movie series version of Loki is slightly smaller than all the others, but he comes with a removable helmet and his cosmic spear from the film, which is good enough for me.
Go forth and collect
So now you know which Marvel figures are in 6" scale if you plan to start a collection. Use this knowledge to help those who foolishly make purchases over the internet without checking the actual size of the object beforehand. I was one such person at one time, but now I've dedicated (a small part of) my life to helping those who are kind of too lazy to ask questions before buying something that looks awesome. Heed my advice, and go forth and collect.