Toy Review: Marvel Select Thing
I've never been a fan of Marvel comics, which should be obvious considering the 45 articles on The Dork Dimension devoted to DC Superheroes compared to the one for Marvel Superheroes. I guess that's because I've been inundated with DC Superheroes my entire life. As a kid, I loved the Super Friends cartoon, as well as the awesome Batman comics of the 70's. My fandom was solidified in the late 80's with the Batman movie and graphic novels like The Dark Knight Returns and Year One. With all that going on in the DC Universe, there just wasn't much room for Marvel heroes. But a few years ago, I decided to jump into the Ultimate Fantastic Four comics. I especially liked how the artists like Steven McNiven were drawing Thing in the Marvel Knights comics, with lots of sharp craquelure that made him look like he's made of splintered rocks. And since this Marvel Select Thing seems to be at least inspired by McNiven's work, I thought I'd crawl outside of my DC cave and check him out.
Part of the reason why I can blaspheme my superhero collection with a Marvel figure is that the DC action figure scene is sorely lacking. Sure, we have DC Universe Classics, but that line is plagued by uninspired sculpts, high prices, problematic distribution, questionable character choices (Hourman? Really?), and the fact that the coolest figures are always build-a-figures and therefore entirely unobtainable for me because I refuse to buy a set of crap figures for one awesome figure. We also have Infinite Heroes, but that line is just an unmitigated disaster. So can Marvel do any better?
Company: Diamond Select Toys
Size: 8 1/2" tall
Price: $18 at BigBadToyStore.com
Unlike the flat and generic look of most of the DC Universe Classics figures, Marvel Select Thing has loads of character and personality. Thing's sculpt has a characteristically grumpy face, abstractly massive body proportions, and lots of Thing-esque rock detailing. His rocky skin is dark brown plastic washed with lighter orangey paint to give the rocks depth. It also looks like darker lines are painted in the crevices to further accentuate the cracks. His Fantastic Four pantalones look taut around his massive legs with sculpted stretch folds, and a darker blue paint spray gives them volume. This is definitely a figure with a striking and interesting look.
Thing has 14 points of articulation: swivel-hinge neck, ball-hinge shoulders, hinge elbows, swivel wrists, swivel waist, ball-socket hips, hinge knees, and hinge ankles. That's a pretty impressive number, but the leg joints are so limited in movement that they're are effectively worthless. At least his upper half moves pretty well.
Rarely does an action figure come with an accessory so pointless that I chuck it into the garbage. In this case, Thing comes with... uh, I'm not sure what exactly it's supposed to be. It's basically a plastic stand with a cardboard pic of the other three members of the Fantastic Four. The stand has techno detailing, so I suppose you could say it's a viewscreen or something. Whatever it's supposed to be, it's entirely worthless. Some of the promotional pictures (like this one on BigBadToyStore.com) show Thing surfing a cool hover jet, but I suppose it was cut for cost considerations and replaced with this stupid "viewscreen" thing. Fail.
Thing is only $3 more than a DC Universe Classics figure at a big box retail store. Not only is the quality of this figure superior to a DCUC fig (sculpt, paint apps, whatever), but it's also a massive hulk of plastic, substantially larger than his DCUC or MOTUC contemporaries. It's so big that it's probably the same size as the DCUC build-a-figures. It's rare that I feel like I get my money's worth from modern figures that aren't on clearance, but Thing certainly gives you a lot of hefty plastic for your money. The only problem is the lack of reasonably useful accessories.
Thing is one of the coolest-looking characters in the Marvel Universe (and one of the most fun to draw). I'm not enough of a Thing aficionado to be able to tell which artist's rendition this Thing is supposed to represent, but it looks enough like McNiven's version to make it an awesome figure. It's definitely more on the modern side in terms of style, which I prefer. But the lack of meaningful articulation in the legs limits the play value of the figure and restricts its coolness.
The awesome NcNiven-inspired sculpt, massive proportions, hefty weight, and reasonable price tag all work to make Marvel Select Thing a significantly awesome figure. Unfortunately, the crappy "accessory" (if you can even call it that) and virtually non-existent leg and hip articulation conspire against him. Still, this Thing is a much more interesting, expressive, and substantial figure compared with most of the similarly-priced DC Universe Classics.