Earlier today I reviewed the Ultimate Spider-Man Miles Morales variant from the first series of Marvel Universe figures to be released in 2o13 (which came out in August, crazy as it sounds), and I had the misfortune of choosing to start with a figure I ended up having to run into the ground. So I decided to examine the figures before selecting the one I’d review next, so that the following review would be more… favorable. So it should be no surprise that the figure I’ve chosen to focus on right now, Astonishing X-Men Beast, is going to get a pretty positive review. But as much as I’d like it to, positive doesn’t equal perfection. Marvel Universe Beast comes close, but he has one glaring flaw…
I was a little depressed after realizing that the Miles Morales Ultimate Spider-Man action figure was pretty poor, and no better than the figures in the very first Marvel Universe assortment years ago. But while the Ultimate Spider-Man Miles Morales is something of an anachronism, this Astonishing X-Men Beast figure is like something out of the future–a wonderful, near-utopian future.
I’m saving the best for first, so let’s talk about how flexible the Marvel Universe Beast figure is. The articulation on this Beast action figure is positively insane (in a very good way, mind you). Every joint present and accounted for, he has 29 points of articulation. What’s included in that impossible-sounding, huge number? How about a double-jointed ball-joint head, a ball-jointed upper torso, double-jointed ball-joint shoulders, swivel biceps, hinge elbows, double-jointed ball-joint wrists, ball-joint hips, swivel thighs, double-jointed knees, and even double-jointed ball-joint ankles with ankle rockers and hinge balls of the feet! AMAZING!!!!
For comparison’s sake, several of the 2012 Marvel Legends figures (also by Hasbro) fall short of 29 points of articulation–and that’s with Marvel Legends being 50% larger and costing twice as much money! I don’t know how Hasbro was able to make this figure cost out, especially when Beast has a number of parts that will likely be unique to this release, but I am well and truly blown away by the engineering that went into the articulation scheme of this figure.
Maybe the best part about this Marvel Universe Beast figure is that, just as he’s posed in the package, he can stand on his head upside-down using his double-jointed wrists as support! So Mrs. McCoy’s bouncing blue boy can ponder the secrets of the universe or spring into battle upside-down, just like in loads of X-Men comic books! I’ve even seen photos of this figure in Hasbro display booths and such where Beast can be stood up using just one of his arms for support! There’s no way in Hell that my Astonishing X-Men Beast figure could balance on one hand (due to some issues I’ll be discussing shortly), but I think it’s pretty groovy that Hasbro managed to work in this cool and fun feature on top of all the money that must have gone into the design to begin with.
But that’s not all! Not only is Beast super-articulated (and I mean super-articulated), but he… looks… awesome. It can’t be an easy thing to pull off an action figure of a shaggy cat-man in the form of a 4″ action figure, bur the sculpting on this figure is so exceptionally intricate and detailed that Beast looks totally breathtaking mixed in with the other Marvel Universe X-Men figures released.
The sculpting is superb, and the paint deco is almost as nice. It’s tough to apply thin, curvy yellow lines all over a black bodysuit, but this Marvel Universe Beast figure pulls it off with the bare minimum of slop and mishaps. Even Beast’s itty-bitty eyes and nose are wonderfully painted and look lifelike! Hasbro really, truly knocked it out of the part with this figure in almost every conceivable way.
Oh my stars and garters, does this Beast action figure have loose joints! I’m not talking about “not tight” or “slightly floppy” here–I’m talking about loose as a marionette or a puppet! When I pick Beast up, his limbs–particularly his legs–consistently flop back and forth nonstop. When I put him into a pose–upside-down or even just standing up naturally, he seems stable as can be–until the wind blows or I take a step or a fly’s wings across the house upset Beast’s equilibrium and he falls over completely. Poor Hank McCoy may even be possessed by the devil, because when I pick him up, his loose upper torso will often do a full 360 spin all on its own. Creepy!
And on the topic of what’s wrong with this release, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that it came with another useless piece of throwaway cardboard that Hasbro’s calling a “Collectible Comic Shot”. I don’t know what’s more distressing: that Hasbro is wasting natural resources to produce garbage like the Collectible Comic Shots, or the notion that they seriously think they’re an incentive for collectors to buy $9-$10 figures. Baffling.
“Where Can I Buy It?!”
Though the Astonishing Beast figure has just been released at retail, the Marvel Universe line tends to be fairly affordable on the aftermarket, even on just-released figures. A variety of online retailers have Astonishing X-Men Beast available in-stock right now.
Overall: It was almost as big a struggle determining the proper grade for this Marvel Universe Beast figure was it was getting it to stand up with its ultra-floppy joints. In the end, there’s just so much that this Astonishing Beast figure does right that there’s no way I could give it less than a “very good” rating. The sculpting on Beast is stupendous, from furry head to furry toe, and the articulation is truly incredible for a 4″ action figure. At the same time, my Astonishing Beast figure can barely stand and collapses onto the ground in minutes if I’m lucky (seconds if I’m not) because the quality-control was so poor on the figure and his joints are so loose. If my Beast has such extreme problems, I strongly suspect others will have similar problems, though hopefully not as severe. Overall, this Marvel Universe Astonishing X-Men Beast action figure is a smashing success in every way that matters–except QC–and (provided you can deal with the possible frustration of him falling over constantly) is absolutely worth a purchase for any X-Men fan’s collection.