Growing up I had lots of Marvel Comics toys. From Mego figures to Underoos to Colorforms and more. Most of the toys were heroes I knew from TV — Spider-Man, Hulk, and Captain America. But sometimes I’d expand deeper into the Marvel Universe without even trying.
In 1978, at four years old, I got Milton Bradley’s Marvel Super Heros Card Game. On the front I saw Dr. Doom, Spider-Man, and Captain America–all who I knew from cartoons and TV. But as I looked through the cards there were so many characters I didn’t know: Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, Falcon, and more.
But two sparked my imagination like no others: Ghost Rider, with his flaming skull and black leather, and Doctor Strange, flying with his majestic red cape and bright blue outfit.
It was an image that really impacted me, given I remember it forty years later. Such is the power of Steve Ditko’s art and creation. It’s a vision that eventually made its way to the big screen.
Honestly, had Ditko kept with his original blue and black design for Doctor Strange, as shown in Strange’s first appearance in Strange Tales #110, I doubt I’d have been so awestruck. It was the red, blue, and gold that got my four-year-old eyes.
But Strange’s first costume has a place in history–it was even paid homage in the Doctor Strange movie as one of Benedict Cumberbatch’s early costumes.
Now, as a New York Comic-Con Exclusive, the first appearance of Doctor Strange gets a One:12 figure. It’s certainly not as eye-catching as his iconic outfit, but let’s see if the figure is worth a buy (if you can find one; they sold out fast).
The Good – The Devil’s in the Details
Mezco’s original Doctor Strange figure is a marvel (no pun intended). The detail in the head sculpt, which brings a realism to the comic style without aping Cumberbatch, is astounding. The cape is glorious with its posing wire. And it has great accessories, including a large translucent “astral projection Doctor Strange.”
The figure is so good, Mezco could easily have just put a blue costume on it and called it an exclusive. They did do that, but they did so much more as well!
Strange’s blue outfit is intricately detailed, with two different color blue design. These appear to be a heat-transfer onto the outfit, but the linework in the light blue shape in front is simply amazing. Likewise, the pants have a very subtle, glossy wrap-around pattern that can only be seen in direct light.
The new blue cape attaches to Strange’s chest with magnets. Wires run down the inside of the sides of the cape allowing for posing. Additionally, it has a matte black lining, versus a glossy black outside–a nice detail.
In addition to going all-out on the outfit, Mezco rocked the accessories. Like the original Doctor Strange figure you get six interchangeable hands in neutral or spell-casting poses, and two interchangeable Amulets of Agamotto (more on these later). Also like the regular release, First Appearance Doctor Strange comes with two magic effects, and while the molds of these are identical to the regular version, they are cast in different translucent plastic. Even the original figure would benefit from more effect options.
But the Pièce De Résistance, my favorite thing about this figure, is the final accessory. We do not get the plastic astral form of Strange, instead we get the Orb of Agamotto–a many-eyed, five-legged object that looks like a crazy Futurama alien. It has a hinged head that opens to reveal a globe of the Earth. The globe is actually three-dimensional–the continents are raised above the oceans. The globe spins, and raises up to mimic levetation.
The only way to get this awesome accessory is in this package, and that is a very nice touch, Mezco. A very nice touch.
All together, the accessories and outfit make this feel less like just an outfit swap, and more like a new figure.
The Bad – Doctor, Can You Look At My Head?
There is not much to complain about with this exclusive Doctor Strange, but I will mention a few nagging issues.
First – the body and head appear to be a straight reuse of the original Doctor Strange, down to the spots on the forearms. The body doesn’t bother me, but in the original appearance art Strange had a very narrow head and, while Ditko had a tendency to accentuate Strange’s chin with a shadow below his lower lip, he doesn’t seem to have the soul patch that this head is sporting. (Admittedly, Strange wore this blue outfit for several issues, not just his very first appearance, and I haven’t checked all of them for facial hair.) It’s a quibble, but a new head would have been an awesome addition.
Second, the amulet of Agamotto is intended to be interchangeable. The figure ships with the amulet in “eye open” mode, but you can pluck it off his chest and replace it with “eye closed.” Or at least, in theory, you can. In my figure, the light blue heat transfer on the shirt has stuck to the “eye open” amulet that Strange shipped with. After some very gentle tugging, I have decided to never remove the “eye open” amulet lest I tear the blue heat transfer under it.
Finally, the joints on mine are incredibly tight. I can barely move the ball-jointed shoulders. Doctor Strange doesn’t usually get into physical altercations so I don’t need him to adopt too many kung-fu poses, but being able to have his arms out and his legs crossed would have been nice.
This is a version of Doctor Strange that I’m sure many fans can live without. Until Mezco announced it, I had trouble even remembering what Strange wore before his classic red and blues. But Mezco’s original One:12 Strange is, indeed, a magical figure. They have reproduced that magic here, and with a bevy of new accessories that make this a very enticing toy indeed!
“By the Flames of the Flawless Faltine, what a figure!”