Action Figures

Marvel Legends X-Men Stepford Cuckoos

One of the more curious but welcome series of Marvel Legends exclusives Hasbro has released over the past few years has been their Walgreens-exclusive female X-Men. Picking up after Walgreens had received, one by one, the complete Fantastic Four (and their pals Medusa and the Silver Surfer), the X-Ladies set started in late 2018 with a slight tweak to the Brian Michael Bendis/Chris Bachalo Uncanny X-Men Magik figure that had been part of a 2015 San Diego Comic Con box set. (The Walgreens figure got differently colored swords, more accessories, and eyes that weren’t all-white.) Next came a Mystique figure, in her classic white sleeveless dress. Then an Emma Frost figure in her black 2013 Bendis/Bachalo outfit — few folks’ favorite look for her, but it’s easily the best Emma we’ve ever gotten (the first Hasbro Emma Frost is infamously terrible, while the second was passable at the time but hard to find and was missing a cape), and it goes nicely with the Magik figure. This was followed by a Danielle Moonstar in her uniform from the 2009-2011 New Mutants series, with parts to turn her into teammates Wolfsbane or Karma (a clever way to encourage fans to buy more than one, presumably based on the way earlier exclusives like Black Ant, yellow-costumed Daredevil, and Namor continue to take up space in Walgreens stores nationwide to this very day; this would be great if they were still getting these figures in the volume they were getting in 2015, but I only ever saw two Danis, which has left my X-roster short a Karma).

Marvel Legends X-Men Stepford Cuckoos figure in package.
One of the Marvel Legends X-Men Stepford Cuckoos figures in package.

The fixation on the Bendis/Bachalo Uncanny X-Men team and the “let’s get folks to buy more than one” initiative have collided in Walgreens’s first Marvel Legends exclusive of 2020 — and, it seems, their last X-Men exclusive for the time being: the Stepford Cuckoos, identical teen telepaths linked in a hive mind who first appeared in Grant Morrison’s New X-Men way back in 2001 — but the hairstyles on the three included heads and the specific school uniform look come from that 2013-2015 Uncanny X-Men run.

Three Cuckoos will come with all you see here.
Three Cuckoos will come with all you see here — three helmets, six energy effects, six fists, and six extra heads.

Given that I’d never seen that third Dani Moonstar in stores, when the Cuckoos popped up on last week I leapt at the chance to grab three. Mind you, originally there were five Cuckoos — but two of the sisters were killed during Morrison’s nearly three year run on New X-Men and have only just now been restored in Jonathan Hickman’s 2019 X-Men relaunch. But as this set is specific to about, oh, 2014 or so, and three of them were already setting me back sixty bucks plus tax, I stopped at three. Besides, when would I ever have room to display five of them?

Phoebe, Celeste, and Irma.
Phoebe, Celeste, and Irma — the three Stepford Cuckoos who survived Morrison’s New X-Men, as they appeared mid-way into Bendis’s mid-2010s Uncanny X-Men run.

Each figure set comes with heads for the three girls: Celeste, whose hair remains their typical blonde color; Irma, with her black bob cut; and Phoebe, in red. The nice thing about getting three copies of each is that I had a decent chance of winding up with at least one of each head where the eyes weren’t printed in some goofed-up way; the ones I picked aren’t perfect, but they’ll do. (One Irma head I got had excess white paint around her left tear duct. A couple heads had their right eyes offset just a smidge too much.) They also come with one Cerebro helmet each (the same one that came with last year’s Professor X figure, sans the telepathic burst effect), though obviously the only girl who can wear it is Irma — too much hair on the other two heads. The energy effects that wrap around the arms are an odd touch: since when does that denote psychic energy? The fists to swap in for the open hands, though, are quite welcome.

Casual Cuckoos.

Posing options are typical for a female Marvel Legends figure: ball joint at the head attached to a hinge that moves up and down at the top of the neck, a torso ball joint that acts like a waist swivel and ab crunch in one, a hinge & rotator at the shoulder that acts about like a ball joint, a single hinge at the elbow that gives about 90 degrees of movement, hinge and rotation at the wrist, ball joints at the hips (and the skirts are cut to allow for decent kicks), swivel cuts at the thighs and at the shins/socks, ugly but functional double-jointed knees, and a hinge and swivel at the ankles. About all I’d want more is a slightly deeper elbow cut; the girls aren’t about to bust out some kung-fu on some baddies, but a little more range in the elbow would give some better options for gesturing.

Phoebe sees Cerebro giving Irma weird energy effects and considers joining in on the fun.
Phoebe sees Cerebro giving Irma weird energy effects and considers joining in on the fun.

Of course, the trick to Marvel Legends is that as long as they don’t drop the ball too hard, I’ll buy most characters I have a soft spot for or feel like I need in my roster, even if something about the figure nags at me. The blank expressions and creepy pink eyes might make sense for the original conception of the characters, but I remember them being a little less creepy during the Bendis run. I do appreciate the additional accessories — and I’m not gonna knock having three extra Cerebro helmets — even if I’m still bewildered by the clear energy wraps. The thing I’m gonna harp on, though, is that elbow bend. I get not having double-jointed elbows on a teen girl figure, but even a slightly deeper cut would help so much in getting more natural poses out of the girls.

The Cuckoos are joined by teammates Magik & Emma Frost.
The Cuckoos are joined by teammates and fellow Walgreens exclusive figures Magik & Emma Frost.

In the end, I’m super-glad to have this trio to further stretch my X-Men Marvel Legends collection beyond the sorta boring recent drive the line has made to complete the ’90s team as seen in Jim Lee’s classic ’91 Mutant Genesis relaunch and the 1992 cartoon. That said, as happy as I am with this whole lot I am left wondering if whoever was offering up these X-Men exclusives to Walgreens was just a big fan of this era of the series or was just working through their fetishes — first the ladies in strategically cut-out black leather and then the schoolgirls? Really? (As an aside, the only male character in this particular team who ever got a figure was Cyclops — which I’d love to grab, but that particular version of that dude goes for at least $70 on the secondary market these days. *sigh*)

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