I don’t give out “A+” grades very often, and it’s even more uncommon for me to give one to a toy of a character that I don’t care about–at all. But that just highlights how outstanding the Marvel Legends Series 2 Piledriver of the Wrecking Crew action figure I reviewed earlier in the month was. I also reviewed Future Foundation Spider-Man, Drax the Destroyer, Bucky Captain America, and all of the Series 1 Marvel Legends (and you can find all those reviews in the Toy Reviews Index), but the figure who most impressed me and earned the highest grade was (shockingly) Piledriver. Piledriver is the variant version of the Thunderball figure from Series 2, but with Hasbro shipping the variant cases first, it took a little longer for Thunderball to appear. Now that I finally managed to track down Thunderball to join his chum, I can legitimately assert that the Wrecking Crew is going to be one of the most solid and well-done teams ever in the Marvel Legends line…
There are exactly two things that differentiate Thunderball from his Wrecking Crew teammate, Piledriver–Thunderball’s head sculpt and his paint deco–so I’ll focus on those two aspects of the figure in-depth in this review.
It would have been next to impossible for Hasbro to try to pass of a repaint of Thunderball’s head as Piledriver’s (or vice versa), so I’m gratified that Hasbro did the right thing and gave each a unique head sculpt. Piledriver actually has my favorite head sculpt in the whole of the revived Marvel Legends so far, and I described it in his as managing “to convey the cocky, mean-spirited asshole personality of Piledriver perfectly”. So Thunderball had a tough act to follow. To an extent, he succeeds. Thunderball is sporting a hardened sneer that has more than a little bit of malice leaking out of it. It works as an illustration of the fact that Thunderball is essentially an unrepenting, villainous badass. Still, I feel like his facial sculpt just isn’t as unique or expressive as the one on Piledriver, and that’s a little bit disappointing as it gives Piledriver’s figure loads more personality than Thunderball’s.
Second, the paint job on Thunderball is obviously completely different from Piledriver’s. While Piledriver’s paint deco included a blue wash over the white to add depth to the figure’s appearance, Thunderball’s is painted entirely in green, with the secondary yellow parts having a light orange wash on them. The yellow parts of the costume look super because of the wash, but the predominant dark green bits end up being somewhat plain without having any paint wash. It still looks great–but it’s just not quite ideal.
Thunderball, like his teammate, is frickin’ enormous. Despite being a basic figure, he’s just as large and impressive to look at as Terrax, the Series 1 Build-A-Figure. As he should, Thunderball towers over regular-sized figures like Captain America and Spider-Man, and he can stare down Thor eye-to-eye as an equal (and then beat the crap out of him with his giant wrecking ball). As expensive as Marvel Legends figures may be, I definitely feel like I got my money’s worth with both Piledriver and Thunderball.
I was surprised by how articulated Piledriver was, but obviously that’s not the case with Thunderball (since he’s a repaint of Piledriver, after all). At first glance the Wrecking Crew figures appear to be your typical underarticulated super-size figures, but they’re actually heavily-flexible and well up to the Marvel Legends standard. Thunderball has an exceptional 26 points of articulation including a hinged neck, ball-jointed head, clicking ab-crunch upper-torso, swivel waist, ball-jointed shoulders, double-jointed elbows, swivel forearms, ball-jointed hips, swivel thighs, double-jointed knees, hinge toes and double-jointed ankles with ankle rockers. All of the foot articulation is superb and enables a figure that could have been top-heavy and hard to pose a cinch to stand stably. Unlike Thor, Thunderball and Piledriver are totally uninhibited by clothing and can pull off a ton of great wrestling poses, including a crushing bear-hug. This is the level of articulation I expect in my $15-$20 6″ collector lines of action figures, and I feel that Hasbro has come through completely for me with this second new series of Marvel Legends figures.
Thunderball includes one weapon: his iconic giant chained wrecking ball. It was a little weird that Piledriver came with the ball as well, but it’s the perfect accessory for Thunderball. He can hold the chain for the wrecking ball firmly in his grasp with either hand, and the Thunderball figure is solid and heavy enough that the huge accessory doesn’t throw him off-balance. The wrecking ball itself has a realistic paint wash on it and looks absolutely tremendous. This is the crucial accessory for Thunderball, and Hasbro hit it out of the ballpark. And hey, with the one Piledriver included, Thunderball can even dual-wield!
Thunderball includes the same bonus items that came with Piledriver, related to Series 2′s Build-A-Figure, Arnim Zola. I was actually surprised that either Wrecking Crew member included any Build-A-Figure parts, as they’re such huge figures on their own and include the large wrecking ball accessory already. However, each does in fact come with the “head” (so to speak) of Arnim Zola and his Control Rod. I do think it’s very fitting that Thunderball and Piledriver be released as part of the Arnim Zola wave, since Arnim Zola was responsible for powering up The Wrecking Crew at one point in time. I’ll talk about all of build-a-figure pieces of Arnim Zola in-depth when I review Arnim Zola.
In addition, Thunderball comes with a unique fold-out piece of paper with a “Tale of Arnim Zola” featuring the Red Skull on one side (instructing collectors on what comic they can read to continue the story), and a checklist/diagram for how to build Arnim Zola on the reverse side. It’s no replacement for the full comic books that Hasbro Marvel Legends included, but it adds an air of important to the BAF and it’s still worlds better than the awful “collectible comic shots” Marvel Universe figures are including in 2012.
Finally, the generic packaging blurb. I’ll be brief: I love the 2012 Marvel Legends packaging. It’s bright, vibrant, and character-specific. The huge artwork on the front and back of the card depicting the character you’re buying is engaging and a real treat to look at, and it’s a shame you have to utterly destroy the packaging to get at the figure inside. I particularly love that the packaging art for Thunderball depicts both Thunderball and Piledriver of The Wrecking Crew, as I was pretty let down that the Future Foundation Spider-Man still had only the “Big-Time” Spider-Man art on it. The only thing I’d like to see improved is slightly more text about the characters on the cardbacks, but in general this is some of the prettiest packaging on the market today and it absolutely blows the Marvel Universe 4″ line’s packaging away.
As mentioned in “The Right”, I don’t like Thunderball’s paint deco or his facial sculpt as much as I do Piledriver’s. Even so, I can’t really consider that to be “The Wrong”, as both are still very good, although not up to the level of Piledriver.
“Where Can I Buy It!?”
Thunderball is part of Hasbro’s 2012 Marvel Legends Series 2. He’s packed at one-per-case and is either going to be shipped 50/50 with Piledriver or more common than his teammate (Hasbro hasn’t said officially either way). As of writing, I’ve only seen this series of figures at Toys R Us, where they retail for $17.99, although I have heard that others spotted them at Target as well.
Ebay is always a great option for looking for deals on new-release action figures, as ebay tends to have listings for figures literally the day they turn up in any store. Click here to check out the current ebay listings for Marvel Legends Thunderball!
Amazon currently has Marvel Legends Thunderball in-stock from a variety of sellers with free shipping, although prices and availability on Amazon change rapidly.
BigBadToyStore stocks virtually every Marvel product Hasbro releases each year, and have the set of 7 containing all of Marvel Legends Series 2 for $119.99 as well as Wrecking Crew (random figure) available for $19.99 individually.
Overall: If anyone told me that two of my favorite figures from the resurrected Marvel Legends line would be Piledriver and Thunderball, I’d have said they were out of their minds. As it turns out, that’s exactly what’s transpired, though. While I don’t love Thunderball to the excess that I do Piledriver, he is still a damn fine action figure. With an intimidating stare, an enormously powerful body sculpt, one of the largest and best Marvel Legends accessories ever, and a plethora of articulation, Thunderball is an excellent action figure and a great example of what Hasbro can accomplish with Marvel Legends. I don’t think his facial expression or paintwork are the pure perfection that Piledriver’s were, but I am still bedazzled by how superb this figure is, and as such Thunderball easily receives my highest possible recommendation.