in Toy Posts

Is it Hammer Time?

When superhero action figures started to make their appearance on toy shelves in the early 1960s, they were mostly versions of little green army men.  If you were lucky, you found one of the great six-inch poly figures created by Marx.. During this time, they released a set of Marvel superheroes of Thor, Spiderman, Daredevil, Ironman, Captain America, and the Hulk. These were the biggest titles at Marvel at the time, so this list made sense.  However, what did not make sense was their colors.  To save cost, Marx created large molds to run six to eight figures since the parts had such thick sections so their cycle time was longer. This method of colors and molding works great when all of your Marines are molded in green, or Japanese in tan or Germans in gray.  But with superheroes who have very specific uniform colors, it was a mismatch. The figures came mixed in the colors red, blue, green, and orange.  This mix of colors is fine when you get a green Hulk or a red Spiderman, but when you get an orange Captain America or a blue Ironman, it is just odd. And what genius decided orange would be a good color in that mix? But they are very well sculpted in action poses.

Later, Mego released an eight-inch version of Thor in their huge line of figures in various licenses: Marvel, DC, Planet of the Apes, Wizard of Oz, etc.  It was so fun to have all the obscure villains available.  However, when you take them out of the package to play with them, I always found them lacking (sorry Mego fans – just trying to be honest.)  They would never stand.  Yes, you could bend their elbows knees, ankles, and feet, but no matter how carefully you posed them, the cheap elastic cord inside allowed the hip joints and arm joints to be wobbly.

Although Thor was one of Marvel’s strongest comics, I remember hearing that the line up of popularity at that time was 1) Spiderman, 2) Captain America and 3) Thor. But Thor did not seem translate into toys often.  Maybe if the Ideal Captain Action line had lasted longer, we could have had a full-sized Thor action figure. This lead to oddballs like me feeling the need to make my own custom Thor. My helmet and Mjolnir looked dead-on.  I even had the opportunity to vacumetalize the helmet silver and the hammer bronze for added effect.  Eventually, I put it on a Ninja Action Man with a spinning wrist, and it was very cool to see the hammer fly around. Sadly, I never completed the costume to an acceptable level (which is odd since soft goods construction is one of my specialties.)  Someday, I still hope to finish it.

Evidently, other collectors felt the same way I did about the lack of good Thor figures.  When Round 2 re-relaunched Captain Action (after the Playing Mantus relaunch from the Ideal original), there was finally a playable Thor (Yes, I take almost every action figure out its package and play with it – someday I may even grow-up!)

The first was a basic Captain Action costume and accessory pack for Thor with the traditional clean-shaven Thor. In keeping with the Captain Action positioning to dress as any Superhero, it was sold without a figure but contained nicely sculpted boots, helmet, hammer, and signature CA mask. His chest plate and pants were soft goods. 

Round 2 also released a Classic Covers Thor with a mask that had Thor’s later bearded look as well as a set with both masks. These are fun sets; particularly for Captain Action fans who always wanted Thor.

After years of waiting anxiously, Hasbro released the Marvel Legends Icons Series which included Thor.  One of the great things about this line is that they did not just use a stock body.  They sculpted a very true-to-the-comics Thor body.  It looks like it just leaped out of the books. It also included a deluxe soft goods cape to help with poses which was a definite plus for the figure. Yes, the joints are kind-of big and clumsy, but it is so very Thor that you have to love it if you are a Thor fan.

Before I get to the best Thor, we need to review the rest of the really, really, really cheap 1/6th scale Thor action figures that Hasbro keeps churning out.  Personally, I do not care for hardly any of these series that Hasbro and Mattel released with extremely limited articulation and no soft goods.  From still being in the toy industry after thirty-five years, I get that it is a price-point issue, but I still do not like it.  There are a few that look good; mostly these are ones that have very armored hard looks so that the hard plastic work looks good. It is also more of an incentive to buy them when they have the extra joints as in the Mattel “True Moves” figures for the DC characters like Manta.  Occasionally, I cave in and buy one if they have a fun feature like the Hasbro Wasp with moving wings.

For Thor, Hasbro released many versions; one for each film… and then some.  There is not much to say on these so enjoy the images.

Hasbro Titan Hero Series Thor The Dark World

Hasbro Marvel Thor Ragnarok

Hasbro Marvel Infinity War Titan Hero Series Thor

Hasbro Avengers Infinity War Titan Hero Power FX Thor – with electronic voice and sound

Hasbro Avengers Endgame Thor Series A – this at least has a shooting projectile launcher.

Then, saving the best for last is Hasbro Marvel Legends Thor.  The legends series is my favorite set of consistent quality superheroes figures. It is true that there are finer quality large superhero figures released by Diamond Comics and others, but it is hard to justify figures with price tags having three digits. So, I stick with these.

The legends series typically has multiple hands, extra accessories, occasional soft goods part and always excellent sculpting and painting. This Thor is based on the motion picture Thor instead of the comic book, but the details are wonderful.  It comes with more of a traditional-looking, beardless head with classic winged helmet, but also a realistic head looking like Chris Hemsworth. There is no helmet since he very rarely wears one in the films, but the straggly hair and overall look nails the character.  One other subtly is having two different hammers.  One looks like the classic metal but the other is translucent blue as if it is glowing with power. Between the two heads and hammers, you can get two great looks.

Over the years, I have sought to assemble the perfect 1/6th scale superhero set (to play with), and Hasbro Marvel Legends Thor is my Thor pick.

Do you have a least favorite 1/6th scale superhero?