2004 saw the release of the most amazing Classics/Marvel Legends buck ever: the Spider-Man Classics Series 11 Sneak Attack Spider-Man. This buck eventually got used on a couple figures in Classics and Marvel Legends. One of the most famous uses was the much anticipated 2004 Marvel Legends Series 5 Mr. Fantastic. He came with a part of the Fantasticar (flying bathtub) and two interchangeable hands.
Despite all the wonderfulness of this figure, it is forever marred by the horrible head. What looked like a fantastic head-sculpt in the prototype, came out horribly squished along the vertical axis, or it was simply changed. No matter, that ain’t the head that was advertised, which was too bad as the head-sculpt was well on its way to being another knock-out for the figure. The rest of the sculpt is pretty standard for Toy Biz at the time. Sculpted by Phil Ramirez, this was a good skinny buck that could be used on a number of characters in the Marvel Universe. I’m not certain if I would use this buck for Mr. Fantastic as it is very athletic, very muscular, and I’ve never really seen Reed Richards as being built that way in the comic; he’s more of “standard, slightly athletic middle-aged man” buck for me.
The articulation is beautiful. As mentioned, this buck was built for Spider-Man and can pretty much bend and twist into every position you can think of. And with a guy who has stretching powers, that level of articulation is fitting for Mr. Fantastic. The figure features hinged toes, rocker ankles, hinged ankles, calf swivels, double knees, thigh swivels, ball hips, swivel waist, hinged abs, rocker shoulders, ball shoulders, bicep swivels, double elbows, forearm swivel, hinged wrists, hinged hands, hinged neck, and a swivel head. A ton of articulation, beautiful lovely articulation. If there is one complaint about the figure, it is actually more articulation than it is sculpt, many collectors being put off by too many joints and big balls that took away from the sculpt. And there is validity to the argument, but I think it is more a reference to what people were expecting character-wise; collectors were looking for something more fitting for a middle-aged man.
Once again, the paint is spot-on. Toy Biz did another fantastic job of bringing an Ed Wires’ prototype paint master to life off of the production line. This was the “right” blue and black costume, and the shadings were just properly placed to bring out the sculpt. One of the things that came out right more often that not was the head paint as it was translated from prototype to plastic. Beautiful work.
The accessories are OK. There are two bendy hands that come with Reed, one a hammer-shaped hand and the other a big, giant bendy hand. Both are really well done, but they are really heavy and Reed more or less has to drag them around as his sculpt isn’t capable of lifting them on their own. They needed an S.H. Figuarts base, like the one that comes with Luffy, to allow collectors to pose the figure. Both forearms pop off so these extra hands can attach. The other accessory is the Fantastiscar piece; it’s either a front piece or back piece, and both Reed or Thing can fit into the vehicle. I think there was an idea of making all four pieces that could fit together, but that never happened. It’s a good piece and fun to play with.
Later on, Hasbro would release another Reed, the same figure, same colors with the box-set head in a two-pack with the Hasbro Build-a-Ronan Thing, giving him lighter blue shorts than the darker blue from the Ronan series. Depending on your choice of head, you can pair either in your Fantastic Four collection. Personally, I use the Toy Biz Marvel Legends Series 5 figure for my collection, but as VeeBee recently pointed out (link) we really need all members of the Fantastic Four with updated sculpts, consistent articulation, and wearing the same costume(s).
You can still find Reed on Amazon.com.
As always you can discuss this figure on the Fwoosh forums.