Series 15 – M.O.D.O.K. Series (2006)
Beta Ray Bill, who will be referred to as Bill for the rest of this article, was a huge fan-requested figure. He made his first appearance in Thor #337 from way back in November 1983 and was the product of a fantastic run by Walt Simonson, and the figure was a fantastic product sculpted by the Four Horsemen (remember this series???).
In 1983 Walt Simonsen took over the reigns of Thor and introduced a Bill as a new character to the mythos. Bill’s origins are cosmic and this allowed for the introduction of a cosmic “Thor”-powered character, and he was a great tie-in to what Kirby worked on in the past. Journey into Mystery covered much of the mythology of Thor, but also opened up the cosmic aspect of the Marvel Universe. Simonsen grabbed that and ran with it, both in story and art. It was like looking at a modern interpretation of Kirby, with over-the-top armor and detailing. Simonsen’s art and writing were the perfect match for this run of Thor.
The introduction of Bill brought Thor some extra fire power while he was a frog and in the coming battles with Surtur. The Surtur arc would be huge and span across the entire Marvel Cosmos. There would be deaths, betrayals, alliances, and changes. It was an incredible arc. I still want figures from that arc, like Surtur AND HIS BIG FLAMING SWORD!
Standing over six and half inches tall, Bill is an amazing figure. I love the sculpt, it’s like Walt Simonson’s art popped off the page and is sitting on my desk. In fact, almost all of Simonsen’s fantasy and science-fiction artwork would make fantastic translations into toy form. He has a flair for big, bulky armor that would make good toys. As I mentioned, there is a cosmic Kirby aspect to Bill’s design and the perfect design group got to tackle the sculpt — the Four Horsemen Studios. As many know, their Kirby work on Mattel’s DC Universe Classics is perfection; they have an excellent feel for how these figures should be sculpted.
Bill has all the good Marvel Legends super-poseable articulation and it works. Seven years later this is still a solid figure, unlike his classic brother Thor, whose hips were a failure from the start. Bill’s hips work and look better! The added articulation in the jaw is a winner for me; I love that you can open it and close it and go around doing gator chomps. Chomp chomp chomp.
I wish there more to the paint. The head has a ton of great detail on it, but there isn’t any of the standard painting that we expected. Instead, we’re given plastic mold colors and some mediocre washing. The boots, on the other hand, are very well done. It’s like the figure was painted from the bottom up and they ran out of time when it came to head.
As a member of the Annihilators, he’ll be a good piece to pose with Drax and the upcoming Rocket Raccoon in a cosmic theme. He’s also been a member of Omega Flight and can join US Agent, Guardian, and Sasquatch in your collections. And, of course, he has a place in any Thor collection.
You can still find Bill on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=beta+ray+bill#/ref=sr_nr_n_0?rh=n%3A165793011%2Ck%3Amarvel+legends+beta+ray+bill&keywords=marvel+legends+beta+ray+bill&ie=UTF8&qid=1369212904&rnid=2941120011
As always you can discuss this topic further on the Fwoosh forums: http://thefwoosh.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=96