Super Hero Showdown Spider-man

The domination of the collectible games such as Pokemon and Yu Gi Oh continues and every company is looking for a way to cash in on the trend. Marvel is no exception. They have had several collectible card games based on the Marvel Comics' universe. Wiz Kids introduced both Marvel and DC based characters in their Hero Clix lines. And now Toy Biz is jumping into the game with Super Hero Showdown. Super Hero Showdown (SHS) is a strategy game similar to Hero Clix, but played with action figures. However, I have little interest in the gaming aspect of SHS. For action figure collectors, Super Hero Showdown means we are getting a line of highly articulated four inch figures of our favorite Marvel characters. Think of them as Marvel Legends, only travel size.

Packaging - 4/10

The single figure booster packs for the SHS line are packaged on a standard card rather than the clamshell designs that Toy Biz has been using for the Marvel Legends line. The card has head shots of a dozen of Marvel's top super heroes lining either side. The top of the card is dominated by the SHS logo. Due to the fairly narrow card, the bubble isn't very large. The figure is displayed in the center, with the accessories mostly visible along the sides. The back is a generic card which shows all of the figures for the first two assortments of booster packs as well as the first two starter sets. It doesn't take a genus to tell that Toy Biz is pushing the game aspect. The lack of individual cards is a bit surprising. There is no indication on the cards what the strengths or weaknesses of a given character may be. It would seem that that could be important information for someone who plays the game.

Sculpting - 3/10

This figure had several big hurdles to overcome. First of all, Spider-man is not an easy figure to pull off, especially in his black costume since there is so little detail which allows any short comings to really show. Then there is the challenge of trying to incorporate all of the articulation into such a small body. Normally companies manage to smooth out these problems after a series or two. So I wasn't expecting the figure to be perfect. And I wasn't disappointed. There isn't much definition to the body except for along the sides of the abs. But it is the articulation that really hurts the figure. The shoulder joints in particular stick out like sore thumbs.

Paint - 4/10

Spidey's black costume is a pretty easy design in terms of paint; the spider symbols on the front and back, two eyes and the web shooters on the back of each hand is pretty much it. Toy Biz managed to get the eyes right. And the spider symbols are done really well on the top part of the torso. They even carried the arms over to the backs of the balls of the shoulder joints. But they didn't continue the paint far enough up the abs where the torso joint is. The result is a gap in the symbol if you arch the back too far. And the final screw up is that they forgot to paint the web shooters at all. (There may have been a version of the black costume that didn't have the web shooters, but they are included in the art work on the power cards that come with the figure so I think the figure should match.)

Articulation - 5/10

Spidey has an impressive twenty seven points of articulations:
  • hinged ankles
  • rotating calves
  • double jointed knees
  • rotating thighs just below the hips
  • ball jointed hips
  • rotating waist
  • a mid-torso hinge joint
  • double jointed shoulders (two ball joints)
  • double jointed elbows
  • hinged wrists
  • rotating neck
Toy Biz did a great job packing articulation into such a small figure, but there is room for improvement. The figures doesn't really need more articulation, although a rotating forearm would be nice for positioning the hands more naturally. It's the quality control that really has some bugs to work out. Loose joints are a serious problem. The mid-torso hinge is extremely loose on my figure. The extremely thin nature of some of the parts for the joints also poses a problem. The pin for the top half of the left elbow on my figure was inserted all of the way through the joint. That caused the other half to warp outward. I was able to repair it without too much difficulty, but that shouldn't be necessary.

Accessories - 4/10 as an action figure (?/10 for the gaming aspect)

The figure comes with a base with an adjustable stand, a spring loaded projectile launcher with one missile, six power cards and a battle tile card. That is a fair number of accessories, but if you are only interested in the SHS line as action figure, most of them become useless in a hurry. The cards in particular don't have any use outside of the game. But the projectile launcher and missile aren't much better. The launcher is ridiculously oversized compared to the figure. But the fact that the missile is sculpted with a large fist on the end is just silly. They could have at least sculpted it to look like a blob of webbing. The only useful accessory as an action figure is the stand which allows you to pose the figure however you want without fear of it falling over.

I am disappointed that Toy Biz didn't include a copy of the rule book with the booster set. There is a small sheet with a brief overview of the game play, but not enough to learn how to play. Without it, you have no choice but to buy the starter sets if you want to play the game. I guess that shouldn't be too surprising, but it would be nice if you had the option of just buying your favorite character and playing the game with it. Plus, as it stands there isn't even enough information included in the booster pack to tell if they add anything to the game any way. I can't tell if they enhance the game or if your choice of characters makes as much difference as whether you are the dog or the shoe in Monopoly.

Value - 4/10 for figure only

Retail price for a booster pack Super Hero Showdown figure is $8. That is sadly getting to be the normal price for an action figure these days. But if you are only buying for the figure and don't care about the game, they don't quite live up to the other options that are out there. But that is not to say that they don't have potential. I suspect that it won't take toy Biz to refine the designs to reduce or eliminate the problems with the articulation and improve on the sculpting, just as they did with the Spider-man Classics and Marvel Legends lines. It will also be interesting to see what Toy Biz does with characters that have unique accessories such as the Green Goblin's glider or Thor's hammer since all of the SHS figures in the starter sets and first assortment of booster packs seem to have a standard set of accessories for playing the game including a base and spring loaded missile launcher.

Happy Hunting:

Super Hero Showdown figures are shipping now to Toys R Us stores. They should also be available from comic shops shortly via Diamond. Eventually they may be available elsewhere depending on the interest from retailers. But for the first year the line is a shared exclusive between Diamond and Toys R Us.

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