Thursday, January 17, 2008

What Toy Line Is Better: Marvel Legends or DC Direct?

Alright, this is the geekiest post you'll read all day...or at least on my blog. You've been warned.

I collect action figures. Actually, my action figure collection is in remission, due to $ and space and the hopeless belief that I can kick this nasty habit once and for all and turn my apartment into more something from the pages of "Elle Decor" than "Toyfare."

My BF collects action figures. Actually, he only collects one particular type of action figure: Marvel Legends. For the uninitiated, the Marvel Legends line is the current "big" line of action figures from Marvel Comics.

I think Marvel Legends figures are awesome. But, their super-articulated (read: many joints to pose with) bodies don't exactly fit in to what I look for most in my action figures.

My favorite types of action figures are the Japanese-style chunky vinyl ones. They are usually not very poseable, and often feature a cartoony or streamlined design.

Case in point: Walter from BiffBamPow's Big Lebowski line. This is probably one of my most favorite action figures of all time. An excellent likeness of John Goodman, to be sure -- but the toy doesn't get bogged down with trying to be hyper-realistic. Instead, it features a wonderfully streamlined, chunky, cartoonish body.

Constrast this to the McFarlane line of action figures. I used to be a big fan of McFarlane Toys' extremely detailed figures of characters like Austin Powers and Spawn. But I grew out of it. Maybe it was all the soft-core porn-like female action figures. I dunno.

Nowadays, I'm most interested in McFarlane's line of cartoon figures like The Simpsons & the Hanna Barbara collection. Again -- it's that bright, under-articulated, chunky, cartoony toy-like quality that really sells it for me. Call it age regression, perhaps, call it carefully-cultivated irony, call it what you will.

This brings me to DC Direct & their multiple lines of action figures. Actually, to call them "action" figures is a bit of a misnomer. These are more like little statues. Anyway, the eternal question thus raises itself:

What line is better, Marvel Legends or DC Direct?

One thing that DC Direct has going for it is the willingness to get very obscure and produce fan-favorites and bizarre Elseworlds versions. Another thing is the artist-specificity of their designs. They don't just produce "Superman." You can get Ed McGuinness's Superman, Alex Ross's Superman, Alex Toth's "Superfriends" Superman, Wayne Boring's Superman, Darwyn Cooke's Superman.

Mentioning Alex Ross, their line of Kingdom Come & Justice figures really are superb. I mean, just the armored superheroes from the Kingdom line alone...even if you're not really into the comic, the designs are just really cool.

But, these figures have really limited poseability. Most are frozen in one particular pose or another. Contrast that to the Marvel Legends line, where some figures even have individual finger joints.

To compete with Marvel Legends, DC has put out through Mattel a new poseable line of action figures. These figures look cool, but still lack the organic poseability of the Legends line. These are basically DC Direct figures with more joints.

So which line IS better: DC Direct or Marvel Legends?

If I had the extra scratch, I'd probably buy up some of the DC Direct stuff -- starting with Kingdom Come & Justice, moving into some of the Elseworlds, New Frontier, and Captain Marvel lines. Though I'd get that upcoming Marvel Legends Valkyrie figure, to be sure.


  1. I would be a much bigger fan of the Valkyrie figure if her face had a patented Sal Buscema scowl on it.

  2. If you'd asked me this question a year or two ago, I'd have said Marvel Legends no contest. Now that I've seen their absolutely dreadful Emma Frost and She-Hulk figures and stopped caring as much about the line as whole, I'm not so sure.

    On the whole, I still give it to Marvel Legends, if only for their neat little gimmicks. I like that they used to package a reprinted comic about the character with the figure. It's a great way for somebody who just likes the look of the toy to get into the comics. More than that, I love that they let you build another giant action figure from pieces in the sets you buy. I'm still trying to hunt down the last two pieces of Galactus for a friend of mine's birthday present.

  3. C) GI Joe 25th anniversary figures!

    Well even though I'm a big comic fan I don't collect either, though I would probably lean towards DC Direct based solely on the super-ripped Reed Richards figure. Is he really that buff?

    Actually I loved the Justice League Unlimited figures when you could still get them. I've got a huge DC cast and they were pretty cheap. If only they stood up better...

  4. I prefer the Legends, but have a ton of DC Direct, if that makes sense. DCD are spendier, often lack accessories, and for some reason avoid a waist joint at all costs.

    I also keep complaining about missing the days when DC Direct didn't have the license to make Superman and Batman, weird as that seems, because they then put out figures of more obscure characters: Enemy Ace, Phantom Lady, the Question, Blue Beetle, etc. Now I swear it's like all Supes and Bats, which I moan about even though I bought Vampire Batman, Mignola Batman, Ross KC Batman.

  5. i am going to make up an opinion here. i feel naked without one, but i don't collect figures. i don't collect anything besides books & curios, really. but i'll fabricate a viewpoint anyhow. watch me do it.

    i like the dc direct ones. statues are, really, what i'm looking for: something to display, show-off. i'm not going to be taking them down to play with them, really.

    unless i use them as "giants" in my dnd game.

    actually. i have a "dream" statue i got as a gift once. i forgot about that. & i did use that as a mini in a dnd game. shit. DO I HAVE A REAL OPINION???

    i am so great.

  6. im building my justice league on my desk at work.

    right now i have the new wonder woman (released this past month), superman/batman (believe its ed mcguinness), alex ross captain marvel (from JUSTICE), identity crisis green arrow and flash, masked identities martian manhunter, and green lanter series hal jordan (although i really want the JUSTICE alex ross one).

    and i have the ed benese black lightning, red arrow, black canary and vixen from the newest JLA line.

    right now im looking for the JUSTICE Hawkman.

    i love the dc direct but it's so hard to find versions that i really like that go with my set, i have to pick and choose from each set.

    as far as the marvel legends line goes, i have the young avengers, and i love love love the Hydra figure (i named him Bob).

  7. I've always been a DC Direct fan. And Justice League Unlimited. And now the DC Super Heroes line. Too bad I don't have any disposable income at the moment (or since about 2002). Someday...

    But then they won't be for sale in stores and I'll have to pay the dreaded toy seller premium prices. Seriously, toy sellers are worse than comic dealers.

  8. Bondage is soft-core now? :)

  9. I really like the microman lines Takara did. They only had a few superheoes: Batman, Batgirl, and superman. But posability was great.

    A bit delicate though

  10. I used to collect Marvel Legends but not so much anymore. Still, I'm going with Marvel Legends because, I prefer Marvel heroes to DC.

    Simple as that.

    I used to collect primarily 3.75" style figures but ML brought me up to 6". I more or less swore off the smaller scale and wished we'd get more lines in the larger 6" scale. I like cross breeding my toys.

    these days however I'm tired of ML mostly for the fact that they are producing more and more figures I don't care about. Also they all have a Build a Figure part. I never cared for the bases and the Sentinel BAF is awesome as hell but the gimmick has gotten old and annoying.

    Basically the line has gone downhill since Hasbro took over from Toybiz. Toybiz has that Comic Heroes line for indy figures but other than Judge Dredd I care less about these characters than I do DC heroes.

    Meanwhile I'll stick primarily with my Transformers.

  11. My home is filled with classic "Star Wars" and DC action figures (Super Powers and those early, small Superfriends figures, where all of them are in a seated positions with a closed right fist, so they look like they're all masturbating).

    But the DC DIRECT stuff-- especially the Alex Ross stuff-- is simply amazing. I also am a big, big fan of the DC: NEW FRONTIER stuff, too.

    If I had the guts, my house would be a museum for the DC stuff. I like the statue quality. I don't care about joints and that stuff, so the Marvel stuff is way less interesting.

    My two cents...

  12. Of the two, I kinda like Marvel Legends for overall style and consistency but DCD for character selection.

    In general, though, the new Mattel DC Universe Classics line looks like it's going to beat them both. Etrigan and Orion in the first wave are pretty cool.

  13. I much prefer the DC Direct line to the Marvel Legends line of figures. I think it comes down to the joints on the Marvel figures that I really dislike-they all look like they have big bubbles for shoulders and hips. I buy figures to sit on my desk at work and on my bookshelves at home. I could really care less about how articulated they are-I just want them to look nice, not be a distorted version of the character.

  14. For me, it's DC Direct because that's what I read. I have some McFarlane and some from other companies, but they're for movies and tv shows I like. I'm rather partial to Diamond Select's figures for Stargate and they did deluxe Buffy figures that are extremely posable like the Marvel figs.

    Many of the DC ones are reasonably posable. I can pose them running or sitting and bend their arms, which is nice. And the face sculpts are wonderful.

    Then there's my newest obsession, the 3 1/2 inch, very posable Star Wars stormtrooper figs. They're such cute little guys!

    Right now, tho, most of my figs are in shoe boxes because I just don't have the room to display them all. And I keep buying more.

  15. Hasbro has killed any interest I had in Marvel Legends, which used to be a lot. Their figures are so ugly; we were really looking forward to the Emma Frost and Planet Hulk figures, but good lord... They're just awful. The sculpts are kind of bizarre, the material used seems slight and cheap, the paint is sloppy. I have always been more interested in DC Direct, but I haven't always had the money for them. Now, I find DC's version of Marvel Legens in toy stores interesting.