“Hear me, X-Men! No longer am I the woman you knew! I am Fire and Life incarnate! Now and forever - I am PHOENIX!”
(Uncanny X-Men #101, Chris Claremont, 1976)
In a death defying feat to save the X-Men from lethal exposure to cosmic radiation, Jean Grey, widely known as Marvel Girl at this time, desperately attempts to navigate her team’s shuttlecraft back towards Earth through the fiercest solar storm in human history. Spinning out of control, Jean Grey, determined to thwart the inevitable end, crash lands the spiralling spacecraft deep into Jamaica Bay, just off the shores of Long Island, NY. Feared dead by her fellow X-Men who somehow miraculously survived the fatal crash, Jean Grey suddenly leaps from the dark abyss resurrected and proclaims herself to be power incarnate, the Phoenix. The X-Men could only look on in awe and bewilderment at this mysterious being who rose from certain death more powerful and more frightening than ever.
Who and what is the Phoenix? Is she friend or foe? Is she even human? The X-Men would soon discover the harsh reality that she is worse, much worse. A malevolent immortal cosmic force had transformed Jean Grey into one of the most powerful entities in the Universe, the Dark Phoenix, and nothing short of tearing the fabric of all reality apart would appease her insatiable hunger for death and destruction. Will the X-Men be able to confront one of their beloved own who now threatens to destroy all of existence?
This startling event would ultimately set the stage for what would soon become known as the most memorable and tragic saga in X-Men history. This exceptional ¼ scale Dark Phoenix statue was produced by XM Studios and was sculpted by the extraordinary Marthin Agusta.
Production Team and Specs:
The remarkable creative team behind the Dark Phoenix statue are Marthin Agusta (sculpt) and the XM Studios/Hive Design & Development teams. The Dark Phoenix statue stands an impressive 30 inches high, 19 inches wide (wingspan), and 14 inches deep. The statue weighs approximately 17 pounds. It was limited to only 999 pieces worldwide at a retail price of $1099 SGD (approximately $800 US).
The Dark Phoenix statue comes in 15 pieces: 1 full body, 3 portraits, 2 arm pieces, 6 flame extensions, 1 sash, 1 flaming phoenix and 1 meteoric base. The statue also comes with an assembly booklet and an art print designed by Carlos Dattoli. XM Studios began shipping out first batches of this release to Asian markets in May 2019.
XM Studios – DARK PHOENIX STATUE – Review
Sculpture: This is a stunning work of art. Marthin Augusta, the sculptor, and the XM Studios design team present the fanbase with a chilling interpretation of Jean Grey’s horrific descent into madness. Her transformation from pure good to unadulterated evil has become the proverbial stuff of legends in comicdom, and it comes to life in this magnificent sculpture.
The Dark Phoenix statue comes equipped with three distinct portraits. Each portrait offers a different phase of her evil incarnate. The first portrait presents Jean as seeming to sense the evil growing within her like a parasite, however, has yet to completely surrender to it, as if she might still be reached. However, it appears to be far too late to alter the course of the inevitable evil about to consume her. The second portrait presents Jean as spellbound by the malevolent Phoenix force, as if for the very first time. In this state, she begins to learn how to kill on a grand scale and discovers the joy in reveling in the debilitating fear she instills in others, especially to those who love her. The third portrait features Jean’s complete and utter surrender to the vile malignant wraith that dwells within her. In this state, she has become the most dangerous being in the universe capable of galaxy-wide genocide without a second thought. In this state, she truly is the Dark Phoenix.
The temptress pose ultimately brings the terrifying and tragic story together. Looking straight at you, fearless, arrogant, and hateful, with her hand reaching out, she dares you to try and stop her wicked scheme to create absolute chaos across the galaxy. She wants you to believe that it’s possible, when really, crushing your spirit is all part of the euphoric pleasure that comes with annihilating those who dare oppose her from existence.
Fire seethes and churns through her hair and body like a second skin. It slithers up her physique like a living flame obeying her every command. She is on a mission to burn everything alive, and she cannot wait to complete her dreaded objective.
The mythological bird of prey presents as the backdrop and serves to complete the framework of this legendary and catastrophic tale of a fallen hero from grace. It soars high above Jean Grey as if to present her as an invincible and unconquerable antagonist to those daring to oppose her.
There are no switch-out parts other than the portrait options. However, the statue may certainly be posed without the bird of myth. Some may actually prefer it that way, if the intention, for example, is to display inside cabinet.
This is an excellent piece of work and could very well be the best Dark Phoenix statue ever produced.
Paint/Mixed media: Dark Phoenix is the embodiment of living, breathing fire. The searing flames are meant to naturally exude from her body like a second skin and are subject to her every whim. The daunting task of the XM Studios design team was to somehow make the blazing fire look as authentic as it does menacing. XM Studios does not disappoint in this regard as it very much succeeded in accomplishing this ambitious feat. This piece presents a delightful blend of yellow and red paints which both encircle Jean and provide the framework for the majestic bird of myth which serves as the compelling background.
One of the major challenges in applying paints particularly on portraits is in being able to maximize on the nuances of the character’s facial expressions. As the creative intent of this piece is to show Jean Grey’s horrific transformation from good to evil, being able to present these profound changes in expression were paramount. The transformation appears most poignant on the third portrait where it’s become evidently clear that Jean has lost all touch with her humanity and has tragically succumbed to the malevolent force which has possessed her. In this instance, her hair is ablaze, her eyes are frighteningly stark white, and her grin is personified by pure evil. In fact, the paint applications on all three portraits are simply mesmerizing as they each portray Jean Grey’s heartbreaking descent into utter madness and immorality.
As a quick aside, when XM produced its first Phoenix statue in 2015, the phoenix-effect effect was made of a clear resin. As impressive as it was, it nonetheless invited some fan debate (i.e., clear resin versus painted polystone). I admit, painted polystone generally is my preferred way to go, not only from a visually consistent point of view but also from a durability one. It seems my eye generally fancies media continuity over what might sometimes be mistaken for glossy plastic.
Overall, there was no painting over lines, smudges, or off-centered eyes, which as always is a huge plus. Overall, I think XM produced a near flawless application of paints, especially on the portraits and blazing effects surrounding the statue.
Production and Build quality: When it comes to XM Studios, you can generally count on receiving a solid piece of craftsmanship. This statue has a marvelous size and shape to it, and it doesn’t appear to take up an inordinate amount of space on a display shelf, which is always a plus. The magnets and pegs worked really well too. There’s no tilting or imbalance to the statue or cause to be concerned about long term leaning issues. The seams are well concealed as well.
The statue only weighs approximately 16 pounds which means it should be easy to pick up and move around when or if necessary.
The statue comes with a relatively easy to follow assembly booklet which identifies what goes where, when, and how. Extremely helpful.
Design: This design exemplifies the tragedy that is Jean Grey. When she was first introduced to comic fans in 1963, she represented the hopes and dreams of the X-Men. She truly believed the world could one day live in harmony and without fear and prejudice of the differences between people. Sadly, following what can only be described as poetic misfortune, she eventually became the living embodiment of evil which nearly destroyed the universe.
Offering the fanbase three distinct portraits which feature a different phase of Jean Grey’s inevitable surrender to pure evil is arguably a stroke of creative genius. However, what ultimately brings this piece together is the temptress pose. She doesn’t just want to annihilate her enemies. She wants to relish doing it. She wants to watch them suffer. She wants them all to see her coming and to feel utterly helpless to stop her as they face certain doom at her hands.
Marthin Agusta and the XM Studios design and development team offer the fanbase a truly definitive interpretation of Dark Phoenix. I commend XM Studios for consistently presenting the fanbase with original designs which successfully blend aesthetically pleasing visuals with stories which exemplify the character’s distinct personality and background. This is a spectacular piece and very much worth acquiring. Highly recommended.
Overall rating: 9.75/10
The art print by Carlos Dattoli
P.S. Lastly, please do not forget to register your statue’s serial number on the XM website. Join the fight against recasters who continue to plague our industry in growing numbers.