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Hasbro: Marvel Legends Okoye Series Black Bolt

Oh, boy – the good news is that the new Marvel Studios Black Panther movie is looking insanely awesome already, and I cannot wait to see it next month. The other good news is that the Marvel Legends assortment that is currently hitting shelves to support the movie might be one of the best ML series to date.

Since I am positive you are a regular visitor and diligent reader of this site, I know you saw Matthew K’s in-depth look at the MCU figures from this set (featuring Black Panther, Killmonger, Nakia, and Build-a-Figure Okoye) yesterday. I have to say, while all of those figures are very, very nice, Nakia might just be one of the best ML figures ever, and I say that without an ounce of hyperbole. The photo-realistic technology the ML team has been using on the movie figures for a while has definitely hit its current high point with this figure, and the likeness to Lupita Nyong’o is remarkable in its accuracy.

So, while it is definitely a good time for MCU figures in Legends, the same can also be said for the more traditional comic-based offerings, and this new assortment certainly gives us a couple of new figures that are most welcome to the collection. I will take the reins on featuring two of the figures I have been most excited about, not just in this assortment, but in ML overall, over the course of this week, and I am starting the king of the Inhumans: Black Bolt. Yes, the third time is the charm for his entries into Legends, and this new Blackagar in the Black Panther assortment is the best we have gotten yet, and a definite improvement over the two previous releases.

When this assortment was announced and partially revealed back at SDCC last year, the Hasbro team put emphasis on the inclusion of Black Bolt (and Namor, who I will be getting to later in the week) was due to the fact that Black Panther is a king, as is Black Bolt, so this assortment would have a very “royal” feel to it. I buy that, and the fact that these characters also have deep common roots with the Fantastic Four could be another tie, but frankly, I don’t need any justification for good comic figures being included in an ML wave. I am perfectly willing to go with the flow.

As I said, Black Bolt has had a couple of previous cracks at the ML ranks before, but it is hard to find those a being justifications for not getting this upgrade. The first BB was released during the first iteration of Hasbro ML, and I think, even at this point, Hasbro would agree that the less said about those days the better because the lines are not even remotely on same planet in terms of quality and execution. Now, we did see Blackagar’s next release come on this very same base body a few years ago, but that was via the SDCC-exclusive Thanos Imperative set, so most collectors (and kids especially) never got a fair crack at that figure. Plus, if your preferences for iconic character looks in toys are as slavish as mine, that silver and black deco probably wasn’t your favorite. So, while this is not a 100 percent classic reboot for his Royal Bolt, this figure definitely hits close to my personal preferences.

I LOVE the Inhumans. I think they are, along with the New Gods at DC, an example of Jack Kirby at his creative best. They are interesting, engaging, and, in many ways, completely off the wall, so I am a VERY strong proponent of full Inhumans Royal Family representation in Legends. While we are still stalled at Medusa and the (mostly) quiet king, I am taking these new inclusions, along with the TV series, and the fact that the Fantastic Four are back in the fold, as good omens for more Inhumans to come. I mean, c’mon, how much longer can they kill us by holding out on Lockjaw BaF? He’s gotta happen, I tells ya!

Anyway, in that Kirby vein, the new blue Black Bolt (yes, I see the irony there) hits much closer to his classic costume look, so I am even good with the line patterns remaining silver instead of the greenish-blue of yore. I know that essentially makes this a modern Black Bolt, but that is all the better since it will likely appeal to more collectors being what it is. I am pretty positive that, and I KNOW someone will correct me below if I am wrong, that below the neck, the deco is the only thing different between this BB and the version that came in the SDCC set. The Bucky Cap base is in use again, and it works fine, as do the wings, so no real changes were needed. So, if you are not an Inhumans super fan, this might not be change enough to get you to bite on the character another time if the you the Imperative figure, but you are free to choose your own adventure. I will mention that those wings are still “okay” but not great in terms of functionality, but I understand that execution is really tough. I do much prefer this style over implementing the dreaded cloth, so good on Hasbro for keeping this consistent.

Where this figure is definitely an improvement over the last figure (and it might be the only spot if you prefer the black costume, which is totally cool), is that this actually allow Black Bolt to get a full ML release, so he has an actual accessories in form of the requisite Okoye bit (the right leg) and a swappable head. Since Blackagar’s only needed weapon is his destructive voice, this kind of doubles as a pack-in weapon, since it is an “unleashed” sculpt. Now, technically you should be dead if you can see Black Bolt screaming, but I like this option for sure as the interpretation of the powered up effect is interesting. When I first saw this new head at SDCC, I wasn’t sure I liked the look of it, but by the time August hit, I was already loving it, and I still do today.

So, the tuning fork is powered up to what looks like maximum capacity and the blue and bubbled energy stream is effective, but also very unique as I do not believe we have seen an interpretation like this in ML. I especially like the use of the translucent plastic, and the whited-over eyes help sell the moment, too. Then there is his powerful maw, completely agape and filled with that same blue destructive energy. Like I said, I like this, and that is without pretense. Sure, I can see the argument that it looks like the king of the moon has been snacking on Smurfs, but all of the energy in the world is coming from over his gums in this moment, so adding the colored energy really helps sell the effect. I mean, this is the first time we have gotten Black Bolt at his best in ML, so I think it is a great inclusion. Plus, if you are not into it, you can always display the figure with the standard head …

Speaking of which, BB also gets that more neutral and non-world-leveling expression in another new head sculpt. I thought for sure they would carry over the previous Black Bolt head, but that is not the case. This figure has a much more dynamic tuning fork (which I love), but a much wider face than the previous release. This works on one level in that the shape of the face is more Kirby-esque, but at the same time, some of the details are softened around the mouth and eyes. That might be getting a little too close to splitting hairs, but I did notice it upon comparison, so you just might, too. On its own merits, though, it is a perfectly good representation of Black Bolt as he looks 99.9999 percent of the time.

Yay! New Black Bolt! This Royal Highness goes great with the recently-released Walgreens Medusa at his side, and I am really anxious to add more members of the family to the collection, and hopefully soon. It is cool that BB got his chance to shine in such a strong ML series, so while he is probably not the most dynamic compared to some of the other figures, he is a very important Marvel character who is finally getting his proper due. If you are an Inhumans fan, I highly recommend picking this figure up, and you can do so here, or here, or here if you are so inclined. Okay, Lockjaw, Crystal, Gorgon, Karnak, and Triton (and maybe even you, Maximus), I will be sitting here silently (lucky for you) with Black Bolt awaiting your arrivals in ML, so let’s get to it.