Sunday, 7 December 2014

Review: Marvel Universe Death's Head

Ask anyone (well, 30-something British male) who the best comic character EVER is and they will undoubtedly say 'Death's Head'. To which, 99% of the population will likely react, in the same way someone 6 months ago would have reacted to the words 'Star-Lord', with the single word 'Who?'.

Death's Head was created back in the 80s by the genius comic writer Simon Furman and artist Geoff Senior. You know, those guys who worked on a big chunk of the Transformers comics and are largely responsible for the Transformers being as cherished as it the UK, at least. Being a licensed book, any characters created for the comic immediately belonged to Hasbro and so, seeing Big Things ahead for the character, Furman was a bit sneaky and introduced him in another comic first. The rights now belonged to Marvel and thus Death's Head was able to appear in publications as diverse as Doctor Who, Fantastic Four and, of course, Transformers.

He immediately became a fan favourite, with collectors searching out his every comic book appearance. He's reappeared again and again over the years but sadly never really had the success he deserved. And he's never had an action figure...until now.

Hasbro, funnily enough, currently have the rights to make Marvel action figures and so, finally, they have produced the toy people have wanted for years. I don't (really) buy Marvel Universe figures and I've sought him out, a shared fan mindset which has resulted in getting hold of the guy being a tad difficult.

DH looks exactly how you'd want DH to look, albeit his more modern outfit rather than the 80s version. He shares the same basic body type as all of Hasbro's 3 3/4" figures - the extensively articulated ones at least - and it looks a lot (though I don't know for sure) that a lot of his parts come from X-Man Colossus. He comes with a removable cape/shoulder pads/upper body armour, though you can't really remove it without leaving the figure looking very silly. Due to this, and it's tendancy to not sit very well, I've glued mine down to the buck beneath. This has left it much tighter and looking better and doesn't hinder the figure any more than it was before.

While the articulation is extensive, posing is problematic due to the soft rubbery plastic used for almost all the figure which resists staying where I want it. The legs are limited due to the stiff armour around his waist. Then you thrown in the cape which, while soft and relatively flexible, still gets in the way of dynamic poses. I know soft-goods aren't favoured by many people, but it would have helped to have a cloth cape.

For accessories, DH comes with a shield, axe and mace. The shield clips onto his arm, or into slots on his cape and can be used to store the other weapons. What many people won't realise, and even I didn't until I looked it up online, is that his hands are removable and the weapons can plug in their place - something he does in the comic. This isn't entirely successful as neither weapon, and particularly the mace, stays plugged into his wrist very well and they tend to just fall out.

As the only toy representation of DH there's ever been, he's definitely a must-buy but the figure is far from perfect: poseability isn't wonderful, the weapons are a let down, and the metallic blue paint is showing signs of wear already. The major downside, however, is that being a 3 3/4" figure, he doesn't scale too well with 'normal'-sized Transformers. He's smaller than deluxe scale and waaaaay smaller than voyager-sized robots. A larger size would also solve some of the other issues I mentioned - in the toy world, bigger is very often better. We'll just have to hope he makes an appearance in the 6" Marvel Legends line soon.

And while we're taking hopeful appearances, wouldn't Death's Head be the perfect addition to the Guardians of the Galaxy 2 film?

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