When Marvel relaunched the cosmic side of their comics universe seven years ago with “Annihilation”, the only book of the bunch that could be considered a bonafide hit was “Nova”. And when I say the book was a “hit”, I mean it took three years for it to be cancelled–these days that’s practically an eternity for a secondary character like Nova to have a solo series! So Richard Rider Nova was killed off. But with the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie coming next year, Hasbro is excited about Marvel cosmic once again. Thus the icon of that wing of Marvel has arrived in figure form: it’s the Wave 21 Marvel Universe Nova action figure!
It’s been pretty slim pickings for cosmic characters in the Marvel Universe line over the course of the last year (unless you count all the years-old Guardians of the Galaxy team packs rotting on the pegs), so it’s pretty heartening to see Hasbro add a pivotal, classic character like Nova into the line in 2013 (though the figure was delayed from a planned 2012 release). Cosmic fans needed something new to smile about, and this modern Nova figure definitely hit the mark. Thumbs up, Hasbro.
A lot of times Marvel collectors especially covet classic costumes, but in the case of Nova his modern “Annihilation” look may be his best and most popular attire ever. I owned the Bowen Designs Modern Nova statue and sold it, which is one of my biggest Marvel collecting regrets, so I was pumped to see a modern Nova drop in the Marvel Universe line.
Though he’s only 3.75″ tall, the Annihilation Nova Marvel Universe Wave 21 figure is fully loaded with articulation: he’s got a ball-jointed head, hinge neck, ball-hinge shoulders, hinge elbows, swivel wrists, ball-jointed upper torso, swivel waist, ball-jointed hips, swivel thighs, double-jointed knees, swivel shins, and my personal favorite point of articulation ever: ankle rockers.
The articulation on this Nova action figure isn’t perfect or anywhere near the level you’d get with a 2013 Marvel Legends figure–you’d get much better elbow, wrist, and leg articulation in the Marvel Legends line. Even so, the articulation scheme on the Nova Richard Rider figure is still pretty strong, and I am thrilled to see the ankle rocker ankles, something that many of the Marvel Legends figures Hasbro has put out in 2012-2013 are still lacking! It cannot be stressed enough just how valuable ankle rocker joints are to the posing and enjoyment of modern action figures, including this Nova figure.
Nova may look like he’s a unique mold, but he actually has one of the commonly-recycled Marvel Universe figure bodies–just with lots of extra plastic armor pieces attached on top of it! Other than the helmet (which is his head), every other piece of armor on this 2013 Nova figure is an overlay on top of the regular body mold. Hasbro did an excellent job with the sculpting and sizing of all these add-on armor bits, and Nova really shines as a result. The nigh-unsellable Guardians of the Galaxy set is one of my favorite Marvel Universe team packs, and this Annihilation Nova figure fits in seamlessly with them and looks terrific.
The biggest and most annoying problem with this Marvel Universe Wave 21 Nova figure has to do with his shoulder armor. Hasbro has molded Nova’s shoulder armor such that it’s attached to his chest armor. This works out just dandy when Nova is standing around. But when you go to raise his arms so that Nova can blast off, there’s a bit of a problem…
With his arms held aloft, Nova’s shoulder armor gets pushed upward and in front of the figure’s biceps. It looks ridiculous, and there’s really no solution to the problem (other than heavily modifying the figure and cutting the shoulder armor off from the chest armor). I really wish Hasbro had found another way of executing the shoulder plates so that the Wave 21 Nova figure didn’t have this particular problem whenever you pose him with his arms raised.
The other major flaw with this Nova Marvel Universe 3.75″ action figure is a recurring problem in the whole Hasbro Marvel Universe line: quality-control. Nova is far from the worst Marvel Universe figure I’ve purchased, QC-wise, but he’s still got some notable issues.
The most glaring quality-control problem with Nova is that the crest on his helmet came damaged straight out of the package–it was incorrectly molded or cut badly off the machines in the factory, resulting in some deformed white-ish plastic near the middle of the crest. It’s very distracting, and my OCD-sense goes off every time I look at Nova. The result is that now I’m going to have to operate on this figure myself, something I completely hate doing.
In addition to the crest on the helmet being defective, there’s a couple paint blots on Nova’s gold armor. Also, the figure itself looks terrific (other than the QC problems), but it feels super-cheap. Nova’s upper torso is especially loose and wobbles incessantly whenever you pick the Richard Rider Nova figure up. At this point I’ve given up on Hasbro eliminating quality-control problems in the Marvel Universe figure line, but it doesn’t make the issues any less obnoxious.
Finally, I have to throw in the ongoing “wrong” of the Marvel Universe line that is the “Collectible Comic Shots”. I’ve ranted about these ad nauseam over the last year and a half (for real–check out the Reviews Archive), but it’s been a while so I just want to reiterate: the “Collectible Comic Shots” are the worst “free incentive” items in history, and somehow manage to be even lamer and dumber than the “Jedi Force Files” that came with the Star Wars Power of the Jedi figures line. At least the Force Files had information on them–these “comic shots” are just a slap in the face piece of cardboard that Hasbro can print 1,000 of for a penny. Ludicrous.
“Where Can I Buy It?!”
Theoretically Marvel Universe Nova is in stores now, but good luck finding him. I’ve only seen one ever in the dozens upon dozens of toy runs I’ve done since Nova came out. You can order the Marvel Universe Nova action figure off Amazon right now for about $17. I’m never happy about paying more than retail price, but I probably burned way more than $7 in gas driving around for months and not finding Nova before I stumbled upon him when I wasn’t looking. You can also hunt for a deal for Nova on ebay, where he’s been selling for anywhere from $15-$20 lately.
Overall: I would love to say that this Marvel Universe Nova action figure from Wave 21 is a flawless, blockbuster action figure–but he’s not quite there. The articulation on Nova is both advanced (ankle rockers) and archaic (swivel wrists and single-hinge elbows). The quality-control is something crucial to watch out for, as always, although you’re unlikely to ever have more than one Nova Marvel Universe action figure in front of you to choose from (ever), and the “collectible comic shots” are still the dumbest pack-in in history. Even so, this Nova figure looks absolutely fantastic, with beautiful paint choices, great armor add-on pieces, and a strong likeness to the source material. I can’t say he’s perfect, but this Marvel Universe Nova figure is definitely one of my favorite Marvel 3.75″ figures released in quite a while, and wholeheartedly earns a recommendation.