Toy Review: Marvel Bend and Flex Tries to Make Figures Allowance-Friendly
Action figures are better now than they ever have been, what with all the innovative articulation, digital face printing, and direct access to movie materials. But they have a problem: they’re no longer affordable. Kids in the ’80s could build up massive collections of $3 figures; today, those same figures rereleased run about $13 apiece. And quality figures based on movies, TV or comics start around $20 and go up from there. Most of the major toy companies have tried to make cheaper options available, with special products for Dollar Stores, but the problem is they tend to look like mediocre knockoffs. The key to a cheaper figure is to lean into a different style altogether, which is what Hasbro‘s Marvel Bend and Flex attempts to do.
Our friends at Entertainment Earth provided samples for review of these figures, which split the difference between bendies and action figures. A ball-jointed head/torso/pelvis assembly serves as a frame for bendy arms and legs with solid “figure” bits for the biceps, hands, thighs, and feet. EE sells most of them for $10.99. (Black Panther’s a bit more, for perhaps obvious reasons.) That’s not quite at the $10 sweet spot, but it’s closer than $20 without looking like a Dollar Store bootleg.
The first wave of figures evenly splits between MCU Avengers and comic-styled Spider-verse. The spider-characters come with a solid web accessory, while the Avengers all include a power blast. Both can be used as figure stands, or accessories to be held by some hands and plugged into others. And they all connect for bigger attacks. Only Captain America comes with an extra accessory: his shield, of course.
The bendy parts don’t necessarily have the largest range — what bendies do? — but they do allow for things like the Iron Man hero-landing pose.
The figures’ overall appearance is cutesified, like these heroes might appear in a mobile game, or Disney Junior cartoon. But that doesn’t mean they lack detail. The texture on T’Challa’s suit, and the web details on Gwen, are better executed than one might expect. Venom’s head, meanwhile, could work on a more detailed figure if needed.
The Bend and Flex figures won’t likely replace Marvel Legends in fans’ hearts and collections, but they’re fun and durable little things to play around with. And as the holidays come up, great stocking stuffers.
Will you open your collection to Bend and Flex? Or are more expensive figures the only option? Take a look through our gallery below, and then let us know your thoughts in the comments.
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