Super Hero Squad: Urban Heroes: Battle for New York
Forget Marvel Legends: Super Hero Squad is my favorite line based on Marvel characters. It's actually more of a sub-line: there are similar figures for Star Wars, GI Joe, Transformers, and more. Over time I'll have some things to say about some of those as well. But for now we're going to focus on the Marvel figures; specifically on a four pack I got discounted on Amazon.
The set is labeled as "Urban Heroes - Battle for New York," though, in my personal opinion, they're an odd match-up. Sure, there's a connection, but it's a stretch. This isn't a complaint, though: as someone with a... shall we say, healthy collection, I don't mind what feels like a random sampling.
These are produced by Hasbro, who also make the Adventure Heroes, Robot Heroes, Galactic Heroes, and at least one or two more. I can't keep track of them all.
Oh, these are good. These are very good. Now, not everyone's going to like these: they've highly stylized, to say the least. But, if you like the designs like I do, you're going to pleased with what you're getting.
Of the four, Spiderman is my favorite. The sculpt and paint work are excellent and create a nice effect.
The Punisher comes in a close second, though. There's something... awesome... about a figure so cute holding bazooka. He's also one of the best examples of what makes this line so enticing. It's the juxtaposition between the skull on his outfit and his adorable features that makes this work. Somehow, no matter how cute these guys look, they've still retained their essence.
Ghost Rider didn't come out quite as well, though he's still great. Up close, he actually holds up pretty well: the mix of sculpting materials and paint work on his head to create a flame effect is inspired. But at a distance the detail bleeds together, and the final result is less attractive.
Packaging and Extras: --
The package is surprisingly nice. It's the colors I find particularly appealing, I think. Have a look:
Er. Lets try this again.
See. Looks nice, don't it? But who cares? Toys go on the shelf; trash goes in the garbage: that's my motto. Otherwise, down the road, I could be tempted to sell something if it ever became valuable. Can't have that.
For accessories, you get... nothing! Just like Wheel of Fish, eh?
Other than the figures and the packaging, all you get is a fold-out checklist that doubles as a really ugly, really crumpled, poster. The back doubles as a checklist, so you can keep track of the figures you still need.
What did we say about garbage?
Really, all you get is the toys. And, you know something? I'm okay with that. Their weapons, where appropriate, are already sculpted in their hands. Sure, they could have stuck something in, but it's not needed, and the score won't suffer.
Play and Display: +1
These figures, like most in this line, have limited articulation. That said, what you do get is incredibly (and I mean incredibly) useful. You can get several distinct and interesting poses out of each figure. If it was just one or two figures like this, I'd think it was a lucky coincidence. But, counting the Galactic Heroes figures, I've got dozens of these guys, and most of them are this versatile. Someone is putting some thought into how these move and how they can be displayed.
Likewise, you won't have many problems getting these guys to stand. This isn't too surprising with Spiderman or Ghost Rider... but look at Electra's feet - one of them barely touches the ground! Doesn't matter: she can balance just fine, even as you shift her pose. You'll have a little more trouble with The Punisher, actually: in some positions, the weight of his bazooka offsets his center, and down he goes. But don't worry: he can aim it forward just fine, and you've got plenty of options open.
If these were solid figures, with no articulation, I don't think I'd penalize them. The default assumption with figures in this scale - at least MY default assumption - is that they're not articulated. Because these not only exceed that expectation, but go so far as to provide us with options for how we want to position them, I'm giving these another point.
Price Tag and Final Analysis: 9/10
These packs tend to run twelve dollars or so in the stores, but I got mine for closer to nine on Amazon. If you don't mind taking a chance, I wouldn't be surprised if they dropped a little farther. At twelve, I still think they're a decent value, though that is pushing it if you don't like all four characters in a pack (or if you've already got one or two from a different release).
If you aren't already collecting these guys, this is a fun line to pick up. There are a few pointers you might want to keep in mind though, the first being that these have a tendency to fluctuate in price. I suspect they aren't selling too well to the kids they were originally marketed towards. This isn't all that surprising, since kids - especially boys - tend to gravitate towards toys which make them feel older. Collectors, on the other hand, can often appreciate the humor and whimsy in something like this. The point is, if it's not something you need to have, don't rush out and pick these up at retail price.
That said, if you really want a figure which is a little more obscure - or a little more fan-friendly - you might want to grab it. I bought my Phoenix at the first opportunity I had, and I'm glad I did: they're hard to find these days.
But that's a review for another day....
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Here's where they go!