Hasbro has done such an outstanding job with the Marvel Legends license that most collectors who began in the Toy Biz era is clamoring for an updated Hasbro version. Some, like Black Panther, Ms. Marvel and Carnage were solid improvements over pretty good Toy Biz figures while others like Black Cat, Archangel and Scarlet Witch were such vast improvements over their predecessors.
One figure that has proven increasingly challenging for Hasbro to top is Toy Biz’s original take on The Punisher. Toy Biz was still working out the kinks and exploring all the possibilities with the line and Wave 4 — released in June 2003 — reflected the learning curve.
The wave featured Beast, Gambit, Elektra, The Punisher and chase versions of the Avengers 5″ box set Goliath repaint with Ant-Man and Wasp mini-figures. Elektra received a better, but still not perfect redo earlier in Hasbro’s run. Gambit and Beast could stand for newer versions, but The Punisher remains a standout figure.
It all starts with that perfect head sculpt. As Marvel’s first mega-popular anti-hero, both Toy Biz and Hasbro have taken multiple stabs at improving upon it with yelling faces, bruised and battered faces, old school Gerry Conway head sculpt, painted face version and basic annoyed face.
This one still wins thanks to an insane level of detail for a figure released in 2003.
This Punisher has just gotten through dealing with a bunch of thugs and now he’s got their boss lined in his crosshairs. This is exactly what I think of when I envision Punisher.
As a more modern (2003 era) Punisher, this version sports less of a spandex outfit and more tactical gear complete with seams throughout the costume. Additionally, there’s a lot of pockets to stuff extra ammo, kneepads and more detailed boots are sculpted. And the skull’s teeth resemble spare ammo not just part of a cool design. The outfit has intricate sculpting folds to convey a bit less form fitting material.
- ball jointed shoulders
- elbows (hinge and swivel)
- wrist (hinge and swivel)
- hips (hinge and back and forth)
- knees (double-jointed)
- boot tip
One of the bigger pluses compared to even some of Hasbro’s current figures is Punisher can actually hold his guns convincingly. You can get a firm grip with the trigger finger and have the left hand cradle the larger machine gun.
Punisher still works scale wise with characters he’d normally interact with like Daredevil and Spider-Man. Newer figures like Thor or Captain America will definitely not make him look like he’s part of the same line.
Toy Biz spoiled collectors with its top-notch paint applications that added shading and paint washes as a norm. Punisher’s skull definitely has a ghost-like appearance despite minimal unevenness. The gloves, boots and pockets all reflect a little wear and tear.
You can actually get this version Punisher for under $40 at Amazon Marvel Legends Series 4 Action Figure Punisher. Even without a Build-A-Figure part, that’s a great deal for a figure of this quality.
And you get a cool comic book and balcony accessory for good measure. Hasbro is releasing a Walgreens exclusive that looks like it could challenge this figure for Punisher supremacy. We’ll find out which wins out later this year.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
More than a decade later, this figure still endures as the standout Punisher figure and it’s easy to see why with it’s terrific head sculpt, smart articulation and excellent paint job.