Marvel Crossovers Ghost Rider Toy Review

in 2011, Action Figure Review, Marvel Transformers

Marvel Crossovers

General Information:
Release Date: First Quarter 2011
fPrice Point: $17.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Chain weapon

Images:

Text from Hasbrotoyshop.com:
Basing their designs on alien technology, Mr. Fantastic and Iron Man create powerful new battle suits for the heroes of Earth.

This battle suit was built specifically to take advantage of the magical energies that give Ghost Rider his powers. It is the perfect fusion of technology and sorcery, enhancing the arcane flame that Ghost Rider uses as a weapon.

This tough fighter figure is twice the trouble for enemies that try to take him on! In his "battle suit" mode, your Ghost Rider figure is prepared to pummel enemy forces with his powerful pop-open buzzsaw accessory. When it's time to shake up the battle a little, convert him into fast-moving motorcycle vehicle mode and send him racing into the very heart of the battle! Thrilling figure converts from Marvel hero mode to motorcycle vehicle mode -- and back again! Ages 5 and up.

It's kind of ironic that one of the first Marvel Transformers reviews I'm doing is one of the last releases in the line. In early 2011 with the release of a Ghost Rider and Spider-Man figure, the end seems pretty much in place for this line of figures. Anecdotally speaking, stores have not received regular shipments of these figures since "Iron Man 2" was in theaters and Toy Fair 2011 had little to announce on this front. I could be wrong, but the fact that I also found this figure on deep discount (after months of hunting) also points to the line coming to an end.

I've always enjoyed Ghost Rider as a character. Though Marvel's writing treatment of him has been uneven (at best) over the years, something about the concept of a "Spirit of Vengeance" with a flaming skull head is insane and cool all at the same time. It also plays on a very classic and iconic character archetype, a loner with a leather jacket on a motorcycle out seeking (or sometimes just running into) adventure. When I saw that Ghost Rider was getting a figure of his own in this line a couple Toy Fairs ago, I was very excited.

Vehicle Mode:
Ghost Rider has traditionally ridden on a motorcycle (though at least one other version rode a horse), making it the obvious vehicle mode for this "Ghost Rider mech". The motorcycles used by various Ghost Rider characters have changed over the years, but certain elements remain fairly consistant including liberal use of black in the color scheme and flames coming out from parts such as the wheels. This sculpt has those features and more. The styling suggests inspiration by the "Chopper" motorcycle type which features an extended front section leading to a low riding back area. However this is no traditional bike. There's a lot of rather goulish imagery worked into the sculpt of this figure.

First, I mentioned flames before, and flames there are! The wheels and a good chunk of the back end of the vehicle is cast in translucent orange plastic to represent hellfire (one of Ghost Rider's weapons). A bit of this "fire" can also be seen right behind the front section of the bike. This is actually the head of the mech, and unfortunately it has a tendency to tilt back so it looks like he's trying to peek over his own form. The rest of the vehicle is mostly black plastic, and it is on these parts you'll find lots of spikes, another design element common to various incarnations of Ghost Rider. The spikes start in the front, run along the edge of the vehicle's "windshield" section and even continue onto the design of his seat. Indeed, the seat is perhaps one of the most interesting design elements. The edges of the seat have spikes on them, but the "cushions" of the seat are painted red, giving the appearance of a wide open mouth - something fairly gross (read: cool) and unexpected to have on a figure like this. The third main color found on this figure is silver, which makes up mostly smaller joints and hinges, but is also found on the font end forming a chain from the front wheel into the main body of the motorcycle. This is yet another design element common to most Ghost Riders, the use of a chain as a weapon. Here, the chain actually helps serve as a balance so the motorcycle can stand as there is no kickstand built into the bike.

Yellow and red paint are the main colors found on this form. I mentioned some of the decos earlier but there are more. On all the translucent orange parts there's yellow paint nicely brushed on, giving it a true look and feel of fire as it is often portrayed on Ghost Rider in the comics. The "windshield" portion of the vehicle has two evil looking "eyes" painted on them in yellow with red outer edges, and there is a bit of red on either side of the vehicle towards the bottom. Silver is used in small amounts on what would be the engine of the motorcycle towards the bottom. Black paint is found on the ends of the exhaust pipes (which are cast in silver plastic). Overall the deco looks great and it is exactly what I would expect of a Ghost Rider figure, Transformer or not.

Thanks in part to the back section having two wheels and being wide, there's a good amount of stability to this vehicle mode. The front wheel can be turned side to side on a swivel joint as well, though I prefer just using the chain to give the figure balance. I am a bit disappointed that there's no "hellfire" missile or something for projectile play in this form, but overall I do like the way this vehicle mode looks a lot.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Detach the chain and set it aside for now.
  2. Pull down the lower half of the vehicle's main body and align it with the "engine" section of the vehicle. This begins forming the legs.
  3. Separate the halves of the lower body to form the legs.
  4. Swing the robot feet out.
  5. Pull the robot head across the top of the torso to center it.
  6. Push the section with the vehicle handlebars over the left shoulder, rotate the forearm around. Fold the handlebars into the shoulder armor.
  7. Pull the left forearm down to extend the arm.
  8. To activate the blades inside his left wheel/forearm section, attach the weapon into the slot next to the wheel and push in, the blades will deploy.
  9. To form the right arm, fold the seat halves together and straighten the arm out.
  10. The chain weapon can be fit into the right fist or reattached to the side of the left forearm.

Robot Mode:
A lot of the imagery from the vehicle mode carries over into the robot mode, but now there's the added element of the robot looking like it is wearing some type of medieval suit of armor. The torso has eyes sculpted into it that look like they're quite angry. The chest also has two armor plates that overlap each other in a manner reminscent of some styles of leather jackets worn by bikers. He even has a spike and "bolt" details sculpted into these panels, reinforcing the analogy. The waist area has big, jagged fants sculpted into it, which goes perfectly with the eyes on top. His legs have layers of armor sculpted onto them. His knees have skulls sculpted onto them, and both his arms feature spikes on the sides or the shoulder. Of course, we cannot forget the iconic head design of the character. here it looks like a metallic skull instead of one made out of bone, and in that sense it reminds me of Ghost Rider 2099, one of my favorite incarnations of the character. There are translucent orange flames coming up from the top of the head and looks super cool. One neat sculpting touch is found on his chest Through and through this is definitely how I'd picture a Ghost Rider mech looking - scary and dangerous!

There aren't a ton of paint details in this mode, and that I would peg as one of the figures' failings. There are red and yellow details on the chest to paint in the "eyes" and the head has yellow painted onto the translucent orange. Some red fills in details on the skulls that form his knee armor and you get to see a bit more silver on his waist area and arms, but that's about it. I would have preferred he have a few more paint applications, but from what I've seen of this line this is about the standard amount of paint you can expect.

Ghost Rider has twenty one points of articulation in this mode. This includes his head being on a ball joint and a swivel joint at his waist. The chain weapon can be held by the peg in his right fist. He doesn't have a fist on the other arm, but you can still attach the chain from the other end to the slot on the inside of the forearm near the wheel. This also activates his saw blades built into his wheel. Ghost Rider looks quite formidable and cool at the same time in this form, but there are two strong weaknesses in the sculpt. First, I'm not a big fan of the asymmetrical designs of Transformers who only have one regular hand. The other issue is a bit bigger, which has to do with his leg design. By default, his legs are extremely close together, to the point where they don't always balance the figure right because of one arm being slightly heavier than the other - the wheel arm. It's not difficult to stand him up straight, but you do have to tinker more than the usual Transformers figure to make it happen. Now, interestingly once you spread his legs apart a bit, he looks much more "normal" and is able to balance quite a bit. I wish the designers had added in a couple more joints to the leg mechanism to extend his hips out, allowing him a wider and more stable stance.

Final Thoughts:
Ghost Rider isn't the perfect Transformers figure, but nor is he a terrible toy. There is some fantastic sculpting and design work being done here and the design stays very true to key elements of the Marvel character. I do admit its original retail price of $17.99 is steep for this guy unless you're a hardcore Transformers or Marvel fan. At its discount price of $8 (plus tax, which is what I bought this one for) it's well worth it. Recommended with some reservations.