by Troy Brownfield

Now this . . . THIS is a boxed set.

Over the past few years, Hasbro has distinguished itself with some pretty incredible boxed set presentations. Consider the Thunderbolts, or the Thanos Imperative, or the Ka-Zar/Shanna/Zabu trio.  This year, they’ve got another hit on their hands with this special edition. Not only does Hasbro deliver four figures of characters that have amazingly never been Marvel Legends, they throw in a clever fifth and wrap it all in one of the best uses of packaging that we’ve seen in a while. Let’s get to it.

The Box: The box for the boxed set is a wonderfully stylized take on Doctor Strange’s grimoire. Not only does it open to reveal the figures inside, it has, yes, turnable pages. These pages give you the lowdown on Doctor Strange, Dormmamu, Brother Voodoo, Hela, Magik and The Darkchilde. This is what we call the Extra Mile. Fans would buy this anyway. Fans will already know who the characters are. But the design is so smart, appropriate and stylish that it goes beyond “character bios”. It’s artful.

As for what’s inside . . .

Astral Form Doctor Strange: In a quirk of scheduling, we’re actually getting this variant prior to the release of its regular look in the pending Hulkbuster assortment. Made in clear plastic, this Strange sports the (clear version of the) black-and-red costume that Strange wore around the time of the 2012 Defenders series. Typically, I’d be lukewarm on this kind of variant, but it actually makes complete sense for the character, given how frequently we see him in astral form. The figure is rounded out by two accessories; they are repaints of the “spell effect” attachments that were included with the Scarlet Witch from the recent Allfather wave.

Dormammu: It’s about time. In fact, let’s just notch that comment for the remaining figures in the set. It’s about time that they were each represented in Marvel Legends. To be honest, I’ve stumped for a Doctor Strange assortment for years (Clea, Wong, Baron Mordo, THIS GUY), so I was pretty excited by the set. While there are some that might be sad that we don’t get an original appearance Dark Lord, his representation in the set is great. The figure towers above the others, and the sculpt is pretty powerful.  The use of the translucent flame is great, as is the style of the face. Like the Thor from earlier this year, this figure has real weight to it. It has presence. It looks like what a powerful villain should look like.

Hela: And speaking of powerful villains, this terrific take on a classic Marvel villainess is sure to be a crowd pleaser. There is tremendous attention to detail in the Hela figure, not the least of which is her Kirby-crazy headdress (that look is achieved via the fact that two of the pieces attach to the back of the figure’s head). The cape is excellent as well. I’m also impressed by the balance in the figure, an aspect that Hasbro has steadily improved over the years. One might think that the cape or the headdress might make it difficult for the figure to stand, but that’s not the case at all. Hela posed easily and the sword did little to shift the weight. This whole set is great for display, but Hela might be my favorite.

Brother Voodoo: And if she isn’t, it’s because of this guy. I’ve been a fan of Brother Voodoo for a long time. I was happy to see him get some serious play in the Avengers titles a few years ago, not to mention the fact that he (briefly) had a run as Sorcerer Supreme. The look of the figure is based on that depiction, rather than the original, and that’s fine by me. This is one seriously excellent figure, it’s dead-on sculpt bolstered by the paints ops, particularly on the face. If you had no background in the magical side of Marvel or no idea who this guy was, this figure would still catch  your eye. It’s just striking. I also have to say that is some of the best hair that we’ve ever seen rendered on a Marvel Legend. Seriously, this is a complicated look, but the Hasbro crew did it real justice.

Magik: And finally, Illyana. This figure owes more to the Bachalo look of recent years than previous incarnations, and again, that’s fine. The addition of Magik was another pleasant surprise and just a great bonus. While the character of course has many more ties to the X-Office than the realms of magic in the comics, she’s a thematically appropriate inclusion. The height is a key part of the look, as well, and the fact that work on this body type is being done gives me some hope that we’ll see some other characters of similar stature (like, well, Stature. And Squirrel Girl).

Really, readers. Just look. This set is a Home Run. I know that some will be down that it’s a SDCC Exclusive, but don’t forget that Hasbro has frequently made said Exclusives available at the Shop section of after the show. If you’re hardcore and can’t make the show, you’re going to want to get ahold of this.