In summer 2003, my mom, my cousin, and I took a trip to the local mall. My mom split off to do her own shopping for a bit, and my cousin and I were left to our own devices. Our mall routine had been all but perfected by that time—a stop in EB Games, an unsupervised trip to the forbidden Spencer Gifts, and countless time wandering the fruitful aisles of KB Toys (rest in peace, my sweet prince).
I don’t share my fellow collectors’ adoration for Toys R Us, but KB tugs at my consumerist heartstrings like nothing else can. Back in the early days of Marvel Legends, seemingly any figure could be found on the shelves. My local store stocked Hulk Classics when no other retailer would, Spider-Man Classics were plentiful, and I once found two whole cases of Marvel Legends series one on the shelves more than four years after its initial release.
On this particular trip, my cousin and I stumbled upon several Legends we already owned, a Marvel Legends series three movie Daredevil (woohoo!), and two Marvel Legends series two Doctor Doom figures. Each of our collections got some Latverian representation and I was lucky enough to go home with a poorly articulated Ben Affleck.
I was familiar with Victor Von Doom because he was a pop culture icon, but the extent of my Marvel knowledge came from the fledgling superhero movie industry and cartoons like Spider-Man: The Animated Series. I loved the toys, movies, and cartoons, but the comic books thrown into the original Marvel Legends packaging sparked my undying love for Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s universe.
Seventeen years later, Doctor Doom has long since become one of my five favorite Marvel characters. (I mean, the guy is so badass that he was allegedly one of the inspirations for Darth Vader.) By early 2020, the Toy Biz figure I bought in 2003 was in desperate need of an upgrade. Somehow, Hasbro’s 2012 Doctor Doom figure was in even more desperate need of an upgrade. Thankfully, the Hasbro Marvel Legends team obliged with a dedicated Fantastic Four wave (imagine that) complete with a brand-new Doctor Doom.
The final product is my favorite figure of 2020 and one of the best figures in my collection. Sculpted by Gentle Giant Studios, Doom splits the difference between classic and modern. The design is ornate, befitting of royalty. Doom is decked out in his iconic armor, with plates strapped around his arms and legs, hiding a layer of chainmail beneath. Every groove and rivet is intricately detailed. The two portraits, one appropriate for his earliest appearances in the ‘60s and a more contemporary look that could’ve been pulled off of yesterday’s pages, bring the character to life. The sculpt, which appears to be loosely based on a Sideshow Collectibles statue, is exquisite.
Doom includes two additional hands, one additional head, and his legendary Mauser pistol. In spite of the armor and baroque sculpt, the figure has all requisite articulation. Double-jointed elbows, knees, and a surprisingly limber torso give him more than enough range of motion to conquer the Marvel universe (or have his plans foiled by Richards and his crew, depending on your play style). My only complaint, if I can muster one, is the plastic cape and tunic. I’ll be replacing mine with third-party soft goods, but I can’t blame Hasbro for the tried and true when their Star Wars brand still hasn’t nailed 1/12 scale cloth.
I collect toys—and Marvel Legends chief among them—to build a complete library of my favorite characters. Beyond that, Sigmund Freud may insist that I have a need to satisfy my inner child, but what does he know? Great action figures not only meet your personal need for collecting, but also recapture the nostalgia of opening a figure of that character for the first time. The best action figures manage to do that and exceed your original memories, even if they don’t include a crummy Ben Affleck figure.