We build an ultimate Avengers line-up as we look back on the history of Marvel Legends action figures
The Marvel Legends series of action figures have served up outstanding figures for years beginning life as an offshoot of the Toy Biz Corporation’s Spider-Man Classics line in 2002. In 2007, Hasbro took over the licensing of the series and in 2013, they changed their line to reflect only those figures coming out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The line is known for its attention to detail and a high number of articulations. Several characters been seen a number of different figures including Iron Man, Spider-Man, Captain America and others. With so many lines and so many figures in each, an article like this would have to be a mini-series to cover all of Marvel Legends so we sought out a fun way to funnel the choices down for this story. For our purposes here, we are centering on the World’s Mightiest Heroes, the Avengers! Just like Nick Fury in Avengers film (or Henry Peter Gyrich in Avengers #181), I am building a team limited to seven of my favorites.
Why the Avengers? The Avengers are the premier super team of the Marvel Universe. They were brought together when Loki attempted to draw Thor into battling the Hulk, but a radio call sent out by the Hulk’s friend, Rick Jones brought in Ant-Man, Wasp and Iron Man for an assist. The five banded together to defeat the trickster god and decided to stay together to defeat those menaces that one hero could not best alone. The roster has changed repeatedly over the years (including times when the group even become a bi-coastal team), but no matter the line-up the Avengers have always been stronger together.
Released by Toy Biz in May 2006
Steve Rogers is a hero of two eras, World War Two and the Modern Age. Since the time when the Avengers found him after surviving suspended animation in a block of ice, Captain America has been a mainstay of the Avengers team. He was even given founders status and as such, has the ability to form a team of heroes whenever he sees fit if there is no Avengers roster currently in place. He is often deferred to as the field leader, no matter whom the current overall team leader may be. He is the ultimate warrior and while not actually having super-powers, he is at the peak of human perfection and a master of many fighting skills.
Here, his Marvel Legends figure serves up the classic uniform with chain mail covering the upper part of his uniform while the rest sports the classic red, white, and blue color scheme we know so well. He also has his classic round red, white and blue shield.
Released by Toy Biz in June 2003
Hank McCoy, the bombastic Beast, was one of the original X-Men but petitioned to join the Avengers after his mutation evolved covering him with blue-fur and a more animalistic version of himself. Starting as a probationary member, he quickly gained full status proving an integral part of the Avengers for several reasons. While not the inventive genius of Iron Man or Black Panther, Hank has six PHDs and an overall scientific acumen that makes him a talented technical backbone for the team. Also, his agility, strength and acrobatic skills make him a powerful and unexpected fighter. Lastly, Hank is a fun-loving and happy guy who elevates the mood and morale in difficult times.
His figure presents the hero in that blue fur form wearing classic X-Men shorts. This highly articulated figure also has some incredibly detailed, sculpted fur spikes and textures. Both his hands and feet possess sharp claws making it a formidable looking representation of the character.
Released by Hasbro in 2015
The Avengers movies were right to portray Hawkeye as the emotional center of the team. Clint Barton has been a mainstay of the Avengers since the days of “Cap’s Kooky Quartet”. He has held his own next to gods and monsters and his unerring aim and acrobatic skills have saved the day on more than one occasion. He also works equally well in a street level setting just trying to save the building in which he lives from Russian enforcers (as we’ve seen in more recent representations of the character in comics). He has led several teams, being the head of the West Coast Avengers for many years and making the Great Lakes Avengers, the Secret Avengers and the Thunderbolts better for his presence. He’s even proven too good a character to stay dead, having died and been resurrected twice. It’s just not the Avengers without Hawkeye out-front with his bow drawn.
His figure is a blend of both the classic and new. His bow arm is covered to provide safety for the incredible speed at which he shoots while his tunic contains multiple pockets for various arrowheads. The costume follows the dark and light purple color scheme right down to the quiver and arrows. He has the iconic purple “H” displayed on his headpiece which has become iconic to the comic book version of the character though the years.
Released by Hasbro in 2015
Wanda Maximoff has to be the Avenger with the most ups and downs in her career, making her life as unpredictable as her Hex powers. That said, it is that unpredictability that makes her such a powerful and integral part of the team. Originally able to affect probabilities with her hex bolts, she now wields incalculable chaos magic and is able to affect reality on a quantum level. At one time, she removed the mutant genome from hundreds of mutants, leaving them powerless and even altered reality to make mutants the dominant species at one point. She has been possessed or brainwashed on numerous occasions and is responsible for the death and resurrection of Hawkeye along with Scott Lang and The Vision at different points in the continuity. In addition to her vast powers, she is a skilled hand-to-hand combatant and strategist, having been trained by Captain America himself. Despite being the cause of much heartache for the Avengers, she is a highly valued member of the team who we even tip a hat to with regular teammate Vision in the cover image to this story.
Her Marvel Legends outfit represents her classic “swimsuit’ costume with the thigh high boots, opera length gloves, cape and “M” shaped head piece, all in brilliant red. Her hair is also a tousled mane of deeper red serving up a solid representation of the character.
Released by Hasbro in April 2007
She-Hulk (aka Jennifer Walters) came to her powers following a blood transfusion from her cousin Bruce Banner, better known as the Hulk. His gamma irradiated blood caused a change in her body that vastly increased her height, mass and strength but unlike the Hulk, she usually retains her intelligence and personality. She is more uninhibited in her She-Hulk form, which has led to many fun stories over the years. She is considered to have “Class 100” strength, the highest level possible in the Marvel Universe, but she is known to have less strength than a fully enraged Hulk. She also has massively muscled legs that allow her to jump great distances and she is highly resistant to injury. Over the year she has proven to be the ultimate team player, having been both a member of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four and that attitude scores her a spot on my roster.
The She-Hulk figure shows Jen in her workout style outfit with tennis shoes. The white outfit with purple trim accentuates Jen’s emerald skin and hair perfectly. Most importantly, she is smiling as she greatly loves being the She-Hulk and all that this form entails. There is no angst to Jennifer Walters… being the She-Hulk is one of the best things that ever happened to her.
Released by Toy Biz in May 2006
Thor is quite literally a god among men. Banished to Earth in the form of the lame Dr. Donald Blake to learn humility by Odin the All-Father, Blake was compelled to find a stick that, when struck against the ground, became the mystic hammer Mjolnir turning him into Thor. Thor would continue to use his immense power to aid the people of Midgard, the Norse name for Earth. Loki followed Thor and in one of his schemes, accidentally created of the Avengers, in whose company Thor has been a mainstay. He has died, been reborn and changed in various ways throughout his history but he has been the powerhouse of the Avengers in every one of those versions of the Norse god. Thor is an immensely powerful warrior, having centuries of practice. He also has the powers, through Mjolnir, of flight, weather manipulation, lightning discharge and the ability to open portals. Also when attached to Blake, Thor has a great deal of medical knowledge and skill.
His Legends figure represents the classic costume. Six small shields adorn the front of his tunic. His knee-high boots have two triangular cards at each knee. He has a long and regal red cape on his back and a silver feathered helmet on his head. His massive arms are bare except for red and blue wrist cuffs and in his right hand he wields Mjolnir, the war hammer and symbol of his worthiness to the power of Thor.
Released by Hasbro in 2015
It is easy to discount the Wasp for her diminutive size and perceived flighty personality but Janet Van Dyne is one of the most capable Avengers ever to assemble as part of the the team. She is an incredible stealth fighter and one of the most capable chairpersons in Avengers history. Initially the occasional ally of Ant-Man and a bored socialite, Janet grew literally and figuratively during her time as an Avenger and stepped far outside the shadow of her domineering and mentally unstable partner. Her bioelectric “Wasp Sting” is a powerful charge that has felled several extremely powerful beings. She has considerable strength in her shrunken form and super-human strength when she grows that increases exponentially with her height. She has wings that grow from her back and allow her to fly at incredible speeds even up to four feet tall. Her unique fighting style was taught to her by Hank Pym and Captain America and she lead the team through some of its most trying times gaining the respect and loyalty of the entire team, even Hercules who balked at being ordered around by a woman.
Of the hundreds of costumes that the Wasp designed and wore throughout her Avengers career, the version represented by this figure was a clear standout and a departure of sorts. A standout because of its striking black and gold design makes a strong statement whether she is in wasp size or giant size. It is a departure because this is much more super-hero and less fashion runway than anything she has ever worn before.
The Marvel Legends line is amazing but not perfect. One of the Avengers who I very much wanted to include on my team was Monica Rambeau, known by multiple names including Captain Marvel, Photon, Pulsar and Spectrum. Also, even though there is a Misty Knight figure, her Daughters of the Dragon partner Colleen Wing seems to be absent from the line. Also notably missing is Echo as herself or Ronin, a modern Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and a variety of the newer Avengers which due to the changes in how they are choosing these figures, won’t be seen within the line until they arrive in Cinematic Universe. Despite these absences, Marvel Legends is an incredible series of figures that brings to life the long and storied history of many incarnations of Marvel’s premier super team.