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Hallowpalooza! Marvel Select – Mephisto

The devil, you say?

mephisto

Dread ruler of an other-worldly dimension, Mephisto has spent eons as the dark lord of the damned. Drawing his immense power from the innocent souls he twists into his own demonic image, Mephisto’s ranks swell with those he has bargained with and betrayed. Offering them power or material wealth, he entices the weak-hearted into his realm where they are tricked into an eternity of servitude, condemned for all time. A being of supreme power and darkness, Mephisto always keeps his word … but a demon is still, after all, a demon.

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Ah, package bios, how I love you. Ordinarily I don’t use ’em in reviews, but with a complex character like Mephisto, it’s good to go the concise route. There’s a popular misconception that this here fellow is “the Devil.” While Mephisto does share some Satan-like attributes (he collects souls, rules his own dimension, and loves the color red), creators Stan Lee and John Buscema were careful to ensure there was enough distinction between their guy and Ol’ Scratch himself to argue away any controversy. Hey, back in 1968, you couldn’t even show a vampire in newsstand comics, let alone the Devil — so Stan and John gave us the next best thing.

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Issued in 2007, Mephisto was the 28th figure released by Marvel Select. The figure stands 7.5 inches tall and sports 14 points of articulation. Mephisto came with one accessory: a nicely detailed throne to rule from.

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Artist Paul Harding does Buscema proud, delivering a lively and dynamic sculpt that remains faithful to the classic design. The key details are all there, from the character’s distinctive elf boots and loincloth to his tattered cape and opera gloves. All that aside, it’s the head sculpt that makes this figure. Mephisto is captured in mid-cackle, eyes squinched, and grinning from ear to pointed ear. Say what you will about his choice of employment, here’s a guy who really loves his job.

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Avoiding a stereotypical “evil” look was an inspired choice; instead of expressing the generic rage or suffering seen in your standard-issue demon, Mephisto appears to be gloating, perhaps over the acquisition of a new soul. It’s brilliantly iconic and hands down one of the most expressive head sculpts ever to come from Marvel Select.

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Being a John Buscema character, Mephisto can’t help but look like a superhero, tights and all. That said, any astute Marvelite will tell you Mephisto can alter his appearance, so being perceived as ripped with six-pack abs is obviously pretty important to the guy. The look is true to Buscema’s design and remains unapologetically Marvel, which is as it should be.

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Mephisto’s neck is ball-jointed, which allows for some appropriately dramatic poses. Showing impressive foresight on the designer’s part, neither the long hair nor collar block the neck’s range of motion. The figure also has ball-jointed shoulders, pin elbows, pegged wrists, a waist swivel, single-jointed knees, and pin ankles. There’s a small gap between the ankle and the foot where the pin can clearly be seen. It may have been done to allow the foot to clear the sculpted folds of the boot, or it may just be a mistake. Either way, it’s not really noticeable unless you look for it.

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Paint is nice from a distance, but up close some issues become clear. Those teeth! All the better to bite you with, I guess. It’s not quite as noticeable in person — after all, the teeth are maybe a millimeter long — but he could still benefit from Invisalign, or a factory worker who’d skipped that fifth cup of coffee.

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It seems the base red used for the figure’s skin was too dark, so the contrast between it and the pink dry brushing on top is pretty jarring. What were meant to be wrinkles end up looking more like leprous wounds. The end result feels sloppy and rushed. The paintwork on the bodysuit is better, with the dark wash contributing an appropriately charred and ashy look.

The throne is black plastic with some subtle overspray; the piece is rotocast, so it’s light, but solid enough for Mephisto to sit comfortably upon.

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Displaying Marvel Select figures alongside their “Legend-ary” cousins can be problematic due to the scale difference, but it’s not an issue here. Turns out Mephisto can be as big as he wants to be, so the figure standing a head-and-a-half taller than a Hasbro offering isn’t a deal-breaker.

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It’s unlikely that Mephisto will ever be made into an action figure again. While he’s been a big player in the Marvel Universe in the past few years, I don’t see Disney rushing to merchandise a character so many in it’s target audience is likely to misidentify. As always, the devil is in the details.

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