For a lot of us, Marvel Legends was the gasoline on the fire with regards to becoming avid toy collectors as adults. McFarlane Toys were cool, and certainly completely awesome for their time, but it took Jesse Falcon taking what McFarlane was doing, amping it up a couple notches, and then applying it to a property that was, and still is, very near and dear to our hearts—the Marvel Universe. It became quite clear fairly quickly that the Marvel Legends line was something we had been waiting for, literally, all our lives.
Wave 1 hit the shelves fairly inauspiciously as a spin-off of Toy Biz’s Spider-Man Classics line. I can remember looking them over at Target and feeling annoyed there were no X-Men included in the set. Sure, there was Toad, but that made no sense. Why Toad rather than Wolverine or Colossus? So I left them, vowing to only buy X-Men team members. The joke would soon be on me, though, as the “completest bug” would soon set in and the need to have them all would take over.
However–Toy Biz was right on the money when it came to character selection for this first wave, with the exception of Toad, perhaps. Captain America, Iron Man, and the Hulk are arguably the most iconic characters in the Marvel Universe, and even if this line went no further than this first wave, then even just these figures would be one hell of a tribute to Marvel’s legacy. Looking back, it just feels “right” that these three would serve as ground zero for the line.
Toad was a last-minute fill in for Doctor Doom who wasn’t quite ready to go, so they needed a place filler. Toad wasn’t even developed for the Marvel Legends line and lacked much of the signature articulation, but Toy Biz did what they could with what they had and shipped the wave to stores to get Cap, Iron Man, Hulk, and… Toad… on the pegs to get this all started. Toad was only included in the initial assortment, so he would prove to be one of the hardest figures to track down and would be a darling among eBay resellers.
Marvel Legends would soon become something that would fuel countless toy-hunting trips and hours spent on Internet message boards–like the Fwoosh–discussing ideas, opinions, wish lists, and hoping someone, somewhere could help people like me track down those figures we had casually passed on. Fwoosh became THE place to discuss our new obsession, or, in my case, lurk and observe others discuss this awesome line.
Looking back on Wave 1 is a bit like flipping through an old yearbook. It’s fun to see what the line was all about in 2002, and it’s sometimes even more fun to compare them to what we have now. The figures themselves still hold up in a lot of ways and there is still an irresistible charm to them knowing that this is where it all really started. And I still maintain that this Iron Man has yet to be topped (sorry, Hasbro).
And who would’ve thought that 10 years later discussions on the merits and availability of new Marvel Legends figures would still be taking place among many of the same people who were here discussing that very first wave? If you can get past all the staple bickering and over-analyzing, it’s positively heart warming.