Toy Box Reviews: Marvel Legends Taskmaster
Posted on: March 13, 2012 by admin.
You know how sometimes you're strolling down the toy aisle, not planning to buy anything but just take a look? Isn’t that always the time you find one of those rare treasures that you’ve been looking for forever? This week we're taking a look at one of my personal holy grails, as I take my first plunge into the Marvel Legends line and look at The Taskmaster from the Deadly Rider series.
I was first introduced to taskmaster back in Amazing Spiderman #367. My memory of the story is sketchy, but I remember that in the comic Spiderman had to fight three guys that had the same powers as hawk eye, Captain America, and himself. As it turns out, these guys were actually trained by Taskmaster, and they were fighting Spidey as some kind of final exam or something. Anyway, taskmaster wasn’t the main feature of the story, but I was drawn to the character who basically copies every hero he meets.
With the power to prefectly duplicate any fighting style he observes, the Taskmaster is an expert in countless forms of combat. Besides working as a hired gun himself, he trains henchmen for other criminals - teaching them how to counter the superheroes he has studied. Despite brief incarcerations, he remains at large.
Looking at this toy makes me regret how long it took me to get back into the hobby. While these days there's certainly no shortage of attractive packaging on toys, Toy Biz really nailed it 10 years ago with their Marvel Legends.
Nothing about the toy is hidden away; it’s all in plain sight in the clam shell plastic: what you see is what you get. Even at a quick glance you can see:
On the Front
- The toy itself, in a fairly boring pose (however this does save on joint stress).
- A myriad of accessories that come with it.
- A really cool background which is created with the help of the free comic that comes with the toy (Avengers #170- his first appearance, naturally).
-a small insert of an overpower card from the now defunct Marvel card game.
- All the bells and whistles telling you about his articulation, which wave it is, and of course the brand name.
On the Back
- A short bio as well as stats for the characters, very reminiscent of the old Marvel Universe trading cards.
- A picture of the other toys availing in the set.
...In short, plenty of eye candy for kids adults alike.
The Sculpting - What does it look like? Is it faithful to its comic counter-part?
One of the things I've always liked about the Taskmaster is how corny his costume is. It's like they took all the most generic aspects of a bad guys costume and rolled them all into one. Menacing cloak? Check. Stylish buckle boots? Check. Corny face mask? Check. The guy is almost a parody of what a super villain is... And that's why he's so great!
Thankfully Marvel Legends version doesn’t disappoint either, and is faithfully reproduced in toy-form.
Everything I just mentioned above is included (they have to be, really -it's his signature style), and while I have no problems with the general look of the costume, I do have some issues with the mask.
The origins of the mask come from how the Taskmaster came to be. He was hired by the Red Skull to train his lackeys so that they wouldn't get their asses completely handed to them by the heroes. Since he worked for the Skull, villainy conventions dictated that his costume had to have some kind of skeleton theme, and for this he chose the mask. Now, the mask is pretty damn ridiculous, and I always thought that this was intentional. In a world where people regularly go around in their underwear, he's a semi-regular Joe with a special skill set so it seemed to me like he intentionally wore the mask to be cheeky.
Maybe the sculptors missed the point (or maybe I did), but the toys mask is a lot more realistic looking and just doesn't do it for me. That’s not to say it’s a bad piece. It's sculpted very well, and actually looks like a skeleton's head, but my point is: Was it supposed to?
The body is based off the Bullseye build from series 8, and while it doesn't look bad, it's a little slim for the character. A bit more bulk would have been nice.
The real gem of the character is all extra pieces that were added to the mold, including the giant orange chest plate, belts around his waist and thighs (and unlike most characters from the90s, he actually uses them), and the gloves and boots. There’s also the eponymous cloak, which makes no sense from either a practical or fashion point of view, and can be taken off. Careful here, though, the cape is held in place thanks to peg holes in the chest plate, but they're very fragile, and when I tried to remove the cloak for the first time I ended up ripping the plate off his chest completely (more on why I took it off later).
The only glaring problem of the toy comes from the paint job. The predominant color of Taskmasters costume is white - a color that is horrible at hiding imperfections. On my toy these took the form of black spots on his cape and boots. They're very noticeable and make the toy look like something you might have found in the dollar bin at a yard sale.
Overall, even if the appearance is a bit more realistic than I would have liked, it's still a very nicely designed toy and remains faithful to the comics.
Articulation - Play or Display?
As it states on the front of the package, Taskmaster comes with over 32 points of articulation, which is a heck of a lot. Check the photos page for more on just how flexible he really is.
My one issue here is his hands. While they are articulated slightly, all the fingers are still fused together. Given that this is a combat character, it might have served him better if each finger had individual movement, allowing for even more posing. This probably wasn't done because of two reasons 1. He's a third tier character that mostly fans would buy and 2. That doesn't make the cost in the extra articulation worthwhile. This doesn't take anything away from the toy either and he's still hours of fun to play with.
Accessories- What Are They? Are They Good Value?
This is where the meat and potatoes of the toy come from, not to mention the value! Being a cipher, Taskmaster has the ability to copy anybody's movements he sees. Naturally he also needs to have copies of their weapons. Included with the toy are
- A large shield based on Captain Americas. The front has a "T" shape inlaid in the middle, and on the back is held on with a clip. The back also contains two straps so that you can (with a bit of effort) strap it to his back.
- A billy club like Daredevils. A solid piece in a nice gold that is nicely detailed.
- A sword from... Black Knight? I don't think it's ever addressed why he has that, and I don't think he's EVER fought the Knight before. It's made of a soft plastic and has a surprisingly good paint job for something so minimal. The one drawback is that because the plastic is so soft, it bends very easily. Expect it to be warped when it comes out of the package.
- A gun... From the punisher? Or maybe just because bad guys need guns. Another solid piece. There's a holster on taskmasters left leg that the gun can slide firmly into.
- A quiver. The quiver contains no arrows, and taskmaster doesn’t come with a bow so it's kind of superfluous to have. It does work well to hold the sword and club and can snap on his back under the cape. Careful when taking off the cape: the glue is pretty fragile and if you force it too much, you may take the chest plate off like I did.
- A reprint of the Taskmasters first appearance in Avengers #196. It's an origin story for the character and is surprisingly good.
- A flying...car. Prior to this wave, each Legends character came with a display piece that you could put him on (later followed by the more well-known CNC gimmick). In this wave, rather than a background, Toy Biz opted instead to give each toy a vehicle. While most of the choices make sense, Taskmasters is odd in that he's never used anything like it before, and that it's too small for him - he looks likes kid in wagon when you put him in it. While it does look cool, it's too small for anything in this scale and in fact, any scale of toy I have. Points for the idea, but sadly it lacks in application.
The Marvel Legends series was one of those peaks for toy collecting: design, articulation, painting, accessories - they had everything we look for in a toy. For my first foray into the Legends territory, I can happily say that I now understand why these things were so talked about. Taskmaster is a wonderful representation of one of the lesser known Marvel Universe characters.
For Adults: A great addition for all the Avengerphiles out there. Paint scuffing aside he'd look great in any villain assortment.
For kids: What child doesn't like a toy that’s a mesh mash of all the heroes. Hours of fun for them as well!
Captain America: Super Soldier
Posted on: August 9, 2011 by joelcouture.
Captain America was my first experience with a comic book character that I can remember. I used to get up in the morning and watch reruns of the old 60's cartoon, somehow being amazed by the really cheap animation. He's quietly been one of my favorite super heroes ever since, fighting crime with just a shield and his guts (The Super Soldier Serum wore off eventually. Did he quit being a super hero? Nope. Just hit the gym even harder). While the movie may have been unable to wow me, the prospect of being able to throw that mighty shield myself dragged my attention to where it doesn't normally wander: movie games.
Movie tie-ins are always, always cheap cash grabs, and this one is no exception...except for the fact that it is fun. Really fun. I can't tell you with a straight face that this game is going to top anyone's best list for 2011, but as far as shameless money grubbing goes, this game is surprisingly competent. Also, for the man who's been looking to play a decent Captain America game for years, this game got the shield down right.
Like Cold Fear to Resident Evil 4, this game is a poor man's Batman: Arkham Asylum (Except for, at 50$, it costs almost twice as much as your average used copy of the Batman game). The combat is pretty much ripped right out of that game. Your tend to get bombarded by bad guys in huge groups every few screens, rarely getting attacked one on one. For the first few punches, you have to target who you want, but after that, a tap and a flick of the stick will send Cap flying towards whoever happens to be the closest threat. The camera doesn't keep up as well as it did with Batman, which results in a lot of cheap hits, but it is a minor niggle most of the time.
Combat is further spiced up by a meter that fills as you chain successful hits and dodges. It's split into four bars, each of which lets you do a little something. The first bar lets you do an instant takedown attack, which is handy for a lot of the larger enemies that are well-defended. Two bars will also let you take over the weapons of the big guys for a while, usually meaning you will wipe the floor with whoever is around you. Once you hit four bars, you can go into Super Soldier mode and lay vicious beatdowns, but to be honest, I never used it. It takes too much effort to fill up four bars, when using one of the single bar attacks usually gets the job done.
A better use of four bars is your magnificent shield. Throwing this was designed with the same thing in mind as combat: ease and use. When you double tap the throw button, Cap will whip the shield at whatever is closest, hitting anywhere up to five guys and either stunning or taking them out. This can earn you a quick breather when things get hairy in a fight, and it's just plain cool to be hitting one guy while your shield bounces off noggins for a moment, eventually settling back onto your arm just in time to land the last punch. If you want to go all out, though, you can use up to four of those little saved power bars and do targeted shots on specific bad guys, all of which have the power of the instant takedown. It's a godsend when more than one huge guy is lumbering your way, and is just so, so satisfying to do.
But what about when you aren't fighting? Platforming seems to have been taken more from Prince of Persia than anything, but as if that game was designed by someone who was afraid that players were idiots. Like in Batman, you have a detective mode called 'Strategic View' that highlights anything that might be of interest (Except bad guys, but if they're around, they're usually crawling down your throat anyway). It also shows where any acrobatic jumps can be made, which means no looking around for where to go. The jumps themselves are pretty easy, in that the only way you can mess one up is if you haven't lowered the platform for yourself yet. The game just won't let you make a flip or leap if you aren't doing it the right way. If you've practised with other platforming games and can do it well, though, you can earn more power bars by doing the flips with perfect timing. It looks cool when you're doing it, but leaves a bit of a sour taste in that you barely have any meaningful input into the process. You couldn't mess these parts up if you tried.
After watching the pitiful fight with Red Skull in the movie, I was hoping to have an excellent fight with him. Again, the people in charge of Captain America thwarted me, not even allowing me to fight him. It was a drag, but I got to see a lot more of Arnim Zola in exchange, which was actually pretty cool. If you take the time to go through his film reels, you'll be able to see a logical progression to how he came to his final form, one which was nice to see since it never appeared in the movie. Other villains from the comics make appearances as bosses, like Baron Von Strucker and Madame Hydra (Viper). Both are pretty satisfying fights, with the one against Madame Hydra easily being the hardest in the game (Which I thought was going to be the opposite).
These weren't the latest gamut of brawler game bosses, either. There was no rifling around a room to find things that weakened an invincible creature. Just pure fisticuffs, and it was sweet. You may have had to knock a few bullets back at Madame Hydra with your shield, but by the end of it, your fists would see you through. Even against the robot Iron Cross, the coolest alternate WWII history robot ever (You can hear something that sounds like a lawnmower engine inside of him whenever he stalls. Did I mention that he stalls? It's so old-timey, and so much better than all of the laser crap they had for technology in the movie), you beat its metal noodle in with your bare hands.
Overall, this was an incredibly satisfying brawler, and a good way to kill a couple of nights of the summer. It's fun for the few hours it lasts, and the small amount of enemies it has doesn't really hinder it over its short run. With platforming thrown in to keep you from getting bored with any play type, the game didn't feel like it overstayed its welcome, either. It draws on some of the history of the character the movie couldn't (Even squeezing the Sleepers in there, but in a much less interesting capacity than the comics), and tells a story that fits just right with Cap.
And not that I normally care, but the voice acting had Cap down perfect. Hearing Chris Evans saying the stuff from this script made it come alive, and really fit in with the character. For a game, this might have only been okay, but as a Captain America experience, look no further.
Man, shield throwing rules.
Joel's Fast & Dirty Recommendations
Batman: Arkham Asylum (360/PS3) – If you like Cap, you will clearly love this one. With more stealth, free roam, and exploration options, Arkham Asylum is the better game, hands down. This is the definitive Batman experience, and if you don't like it, you probably don't like video games
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (PS2/XB/GC) – Like platforming? Well, man up and play a platformer that doesn't hold your hand. It may show you the way, but actually getting through the jumps and flips is an exercise in timing and persistence. Well, except for the whole reversing time thing, but even that is something you can only do a little bit. The combat is infuriating, though.
Robert Downey Jr. And John Faverau On Iron Man 3 + Avengers
Posted on: June 13, 2011 by admin.
Slash Film has a neat little article about Robert Downey and John Faverau as they made a surprise appearence on Sunday at the Hero Complex Film Festival and talk about the upcoming Avengers movie and IM3. While there's nothing spolier worthy about the films, they do discuss Shane Black as the new IM director, the difficulties the third film will have in a post-Avengers world, and Downey's experiences so far with his new director and castmates. Check it out!
ANOTHER Avengers Villian?
Posted on: May 27, 2011 by admin.
We all know that the Avengers is going to a Fanboy's wet dream - with all the big-time actors joining in from the other Marvel movies, as well as the sheer amount of comic history that's going to be into it...well, this movie is going to be big! Now, Via Geek Tyrant, there are rumors going around that ANOTHER Marvel character is going to be brought in to shake things up. Curious as to who? I'm not going to spoil it here so head over to Geek Tyrant for the full scoop as well as some history on who the fella is.