Hasbro has gone back and corrected a “mistake” that ToyBiz made a long time ago by finally delivering a classic Black Panther on a great body. I say mistake because I don’t really have an issue with the more modern, gold accented Black Panther costume, but my preference for him will always trend towards simplicity, and the figure ToyBiz delivered was… odd in some respects. Where the TB Black Panther was awkwardly proportioned with unnecessary texture, the new Black Panther is sleek, smooth, well-proportioned, and a perfect example of how less is more.
My first exposure to Black Panther was in what might be thought of as an odd place, but one I’ve mentioned many times before as being one of my favorite series when I was a kid: Contest of Champions. In that, Black Panther was put up against Wolverine. While I was familiar with Wolverine, I had never been exposed to Black Panther before. It was brief but it was exciting. It happened to hit in the same time period when I was inundated with really awesome looking all-black-clad characters: Marauder from Team America, Snake Eyes from GI Joe, and then Black Panther. This probably explains why I wear black so often.
Since I’ve always been enamored with that simple stripped down ebony, Black Panther to me has always been a character about the simplicity of his namesake. He’s a character that doesn’t really need frills; he needs the sleek ebony of the night and little else. While I never had much of a problem with the gold accents of the other Panther figure, my first choice of costumes for him is free of any such accents, and this figure finally delivers.
The Archangel version of the Bucky body (let’s just say the new mid-sized Hasbro body) is the perfect body to start knocking out these simple mostly-paintjob figures. While it may seem an obvious choice to put out a Black Panther on this body, we all know that toy companies sometimes don’t really do the obvious choice. Sometimes it seems as if they wouldn’t recognize Obvious Choice if it came up and introduced themselves at a party.
Black Panther features a new head and newly sculpted clawed hands. That’s a relief, because a Black Panther sporting the Bucky Cap’s trigger hands would have been odd. In a weird sort of two-steps-forward-three-steps-back deal, these new hands would have been perfect on Archangel, but while he was the first to receive the plain forearms and boots, Warren was forced to make do with the ill-fitting recycled trigger hands of the Bucky figure. At least everything came together perfectly for T’Challa.
The new hands are great. Very expressive, and very catlike. I’ve always been a proponent of figures receiving at least one fist, and that’s where swappable parts would have really pushed the figure over the top, but since that wasn’t an option, I think they went with the best choice. With his hands tensed and clawed, he looks like he popped off the cover of a comic.
The TB Panther’s pea-sized headsculpt has been improved on with an actual decently sized noggin that seems about twice the size of the old one, and it looks like it could hold a brain in there. Hasbro has been delivering toys with decent head sizes, something which really alters the look of an entire figure. It has a nice, determined crinkled brow.
Now, unfortunately, we need to move on to the giant elephant in the room: the overspray. As you have no doubt seen in pictures and are seeing in these, they went very heavy-handed with the blue overspray on T’Challa. Why they felt the need to do that when keeping him in simple black, I don’t know. I guess they thought he’d be too boring without a little pain zest, but much like on the previously released Big-Time Spider-Man, they just don’t seem to be able to do overspray with any finesse. He’s a couple squirts away from being the Blue Panther. From now on I want whites to be pure white, and blacks to be pure black, please. While it’s not a figure killer and the bright lights bring it out, it’s very noticeable in person, and it brings down the overall quality of the figure. I’m going to give the figure a bit of an alcohol rubdown and see if I can get rid of a bit of the blue.
Despite the paint, this is the Black Panther figure I’ve always wanted and was my most anticipated figure from the wave. I’m glad to finally have him.