Oh what a time to be a Marvel comics fan and a toy collector. Marvel Legends and Diamond Select
have been producing many excellent figures and fan favorites. Then you add in the Spider-man
Movie line, and fans have been blessed with a veritable deluge of figures. And in the background
are two more lines in addition to these fan favorite lines, Spider-man Classics and Hulk Classics.
While the other lines get a lot press coverage on line, these two lines have produced dozens of
outstanding figures. So tonight I'm covering a handful of these figures: Carnage, Cyber Spider-man,
Black Costume Spider-man, Ultimate Rhino and War Hulk.
Packaging - 8/10The figures from both of these lines come in fairly traditional packaging that is decidedly more kid targeted than Toy Biz's other Marvel lines. The blister are rather conventional, with the figure in the center of a rectangular blister. The accessories are packed around and behind the figures. The front of the blister has a sticker with the line's logo, character's name, the accessories that are included and a picture of the figure. The card itself has a drawing of either Spider-man or the Hulk. The backs of the cards have photos of the other figures in the wave, instructions for the accessories and/or action feature and a brief introduction to the line. The Spider-man figures add a photo of the figure doing it's action feature. The Hulk Classics cards include several artist's sketches of the character and even gives the artist credit. I wish that Toy Biz had included some information about the individual character. This would have been especially helpful for the Hulk figures since several of the Hulk variants are based on rather obscure incidents in the long history of the Incredible Hulk comic book. It would be nice if people were made aware of where these figures were coming from, it could add another level of appreciation for the figures. But aside from that, the only weak point to the packaging is the tendency of the blister to separate from the card for some of the larger Hulk figures due to the sheer weight of the figure. For those that open the figures, it's no problem. But if you are in the habit of hanging your figures on their cards, they may not last very long.
Sculpting - Carnage 3/10, U. Rhino & Black Spidey 8/10, War Hulk 9/10, Cyber Spidey 10/10Overall, these figures are incredible. War Hulk and Cyber Spider-man in particular are real stand outs. The War Hulk sculpt isn't the most complex design. But it is executed almost flawlessly. Even for a Hulk figure, this guy is bulky. His fists alone are larger than the heads of the Spider-man figures and the biceps are as large as their torsos. But a score of 9/10 is not perfect and neither is this figure. The articulation is well integrated into the figure but it does still break up the sculpt in many places. Personally, I'm a fan of articulation and could live with that but for many, it is a drawback. But the large knob sticking out of the figure's back is harder to overlook.
Where War Hulk is almost perfect, Cyber Spider-man is even better. The figure is an amazing blend of the traditional Spider-man design and cybernetics. At first it was hard to tell if this is supposed to be the real Spider-man in a cybernetic suit or a robotic version. It is only by viewing the details of the sculpt, especially the hollow torso which allows you to see through the figure, that I came to the conclusion that this was supposed to be a robot Spider-man. This figure is easily on par with just about any figure that has been produced in recent years.
Black Costume Spider-man seems just a tad bit off. It is noticeably taller than the original black costume Spidey from series 2. The muscles of the legs and arms are more clearly defined as well. But the torso seems to be too thin compared to the waist. It is closer to normal human proportions but it doesn't seem to be on model for Spider-man. The increased articulation compared to the previous black costume Spider-man is also much more noticeable.
Ultimate Rhino turned out very well. The rhino armor plates are textured nicely. And the cybernetic portions of the figure integrate very well. But it seems as if Toy Biz was a little lazy when it came to the ankles. The feet are connected to gray cylinders to which the leg attaches. But for some reason, Toy Biz left them completely bare of detail or texture. And then there is the left leg. In order to accommadate the action feature which is activated by squeezing the legs together, the left leg was sculpted in a very wide stance, almost as if Rhino was doing half of the splits. Bending the ankles allows you to compensate for the strange position of the sculpt, but it still means the figure can't stand up straight.
Carnage is a reasonable attempt that just didn't quite work. Carnage seems like he would be a very difficult character to sculpt due to the chaotic nature of his design. And it is that chaos that Toy Biz seemed to try and capture in the sculpt. But they only worked in two dimensions. They should have added some depth to the sculpting. The mouth is also not quite right. The teeth sink too far into the head. It looks like Carnage just bit a whole truck load of lemons.
Paint - Carnage 2/10, War Hulk & Rhino 10/10, Cyber S. & Black Costume Spidey 6/10Rhino and War Hulk both have flawless paint applications. Enough said. Well, almost. The two figures that I picked up were flawless. But Toy Biz has had a less than stellar track record on their painting, so it wouldn't be a bad idea to take a look at the figures in the store before you buy them.
Both Spider-man figures have very good looking paint applications, but suffer from some sloppy areas. For black costume Spidey, that is pretty sad since the only paint is the white spider on the chest and back and the eyes. But it appears as if the figure was handled too soon after painting. There are a few places where the white paint smeared or ran. Cyber Spider-man actually has a lot of problems with sloppy lines. But it also has the most complicated paint scheme of the five figures by far.
And then there was Carnage. What happens when you take a less than stellar sculpt and roll it in some paint? Well apparently at Toy Biz, you call it Carnage. They painted all of the raised areas of the sculpt black and then painted part of the joints black too. The black paint got slopped onto everything, including both eyes and all of the teeth. And sadly this is the norm. I have seen more than half a dozen Carnage figures in stores and this one was actually the best I could find.
Articulation - Cyber Spider-man & U Rhino 7/10, War Hulk 10/10, Others 9/10Cyber Spider-man is actually the least articulated of the five at 25 points of articulation.
Ultimate Rhino adds another seven points of articulation. In addition to the joints listed above, Ultimate Rhino has hinged toes, rotating waist, rotating forearms, hinged wrists, hinged thumbs, hinged index fingers and the other three fingers are sculpted together and hinged. But he also loses the hinged hips and rotating thighs and the elbows are only single hinged joints. The neck is a hinged joint rather than a rotating one. The added articulation is nice, but the rotating shoulders. waist and hinged neck are all connected to the action feature which creates a slight restriction to the poseability. The figure would also benefit greatly from ball jointed hips to avoid the need for the wide stance needed to provide leverage for the action feature.
War Hulk has a total of 36 points of articulation. Though the packaging claims it only has 34 for some reason. On top of the articulation listed for Cyber Spider-man, the toes are hinged. The knees are actually only single jointed. War Hulk does have a rotating waist and mid-torso. Like the knees, the elbows are a single hinge joint. The forearms rotate and the wrists are hinged. The thumbs, index fingers and remaining fingers are all hinged. The neck is hinged and rotates. All the joints are tight and work well.
Black Costume Spider-man and Carnage have similar articulation with forty-one and forty points of articulation respectively. They have the additional hinged toes and a rotating joint in the calves but lack the ankle swivels. They both have rotating waists and hinged torsos. Black Costume Spidey also has an additional ball joint in the chest just above the hinge joint. Both have the double jointed shoulders and biceps swivels as well as double jointed elbows like Cyber Spider-man. But they also add rotating forearms and hinged wrists. Carnage's fingers are hinged in three parts: thumbs, index fingers and remaining three fingers are molded together. BC Spider-man has all four fingers hinged in one piece. He also has additional shoulder joints to allow the arms to move forward and back. Both figures' necks are hinged and rotate, but Spidey's actually rotates at both ends. It should also be noted that both figures have what appears to me two additional joints at the shoulders to allow the entire arm to be moved upwards. But on both figures, they are sculpted so that it can't actually be used. (Hence the reason why I didn't count them.)
Accessories - Carnage 2/10, War Hulk 10/10, others 5/10War Hulk shines through here. Usually larger figures get stiffed in the accessory department. But War Hulk comes with five accessories. All five of them are well designed, sculpted and painted. There are two large guards for the figure's forearms, one with a large red whip molded in stiff plastic. The shoulder armor comes off as does the mask. War Hulk also has a large sword with a serrated blade.
The two Spider-man figures both fall into the useless accessory category but still score well due to the amount of effort Toy Biz put into them. Black Costume Spider-man has a hand glider backpack with a firing missile. The figure is strapped in via a four point harness and can hold two adjustable hand grips. The wings are collapsible and will lock into either an open or folded position. The wings themselves are lycra with silver fabric paint for the web lines. Then there is a missile launcher mounted on the back that fires a projectile sculpted to look like a wad of webbing. It is actually a cool accessory, but for some reason Toy Biz used red fabric for the wings. If they had used black fabric with white lines to match the figure, I would have scored this much better. Cyber Spider-man has a large mechanical spider backpack, web shaped shield and spring loaded missile launcher. The launcher and shield are actually ok, but all three accessories are too large. In fact, if you compare them to the prototype photos on the package, you can see that the factory didn't scale down the accessories from the prototype (which is generally sculpted twice as large as the final product) The final product just ends up being too large.
Ultimate Rhino has a break apart wall similar to the one included with the ML Thing figure to punch through. The four sections of the wall rest in between the two upright sections of brick. Toy Biz did make one improvement. The base is now made in two parts so that the wall can be assembled to be free standing with a section of floor on both sides of the wall, or with floor on just one side of the upright section of wall so that it can be placed along a wall. It's a nice touch, but it still gives a feeling of "been there done that" since it is so similar to the displays included with ML Thing and The Hulk.
And the winner of useless accessory of the week award goes to..... Carnage! Carnage has some sort of trap which consists of a trapezoidal brick base with red slime panels on all four sides and a small ball of Carnage slime attached to the pull cord. When the panels are folded down to the sides, they click into place. You then pull the cord and the panels pop up to form a cage. It doesn't work well, if at all. And the "cage" that is formed would be about as effective as red velvet rope being used for riot control. And to top it off, one of the panels on mine doesn't even stand up straight.
Action Feature - Spideys & Carnage 0/10, War Hulk 7/10, Rhino 3/10The two Spider-man figures and Carnage have no action features themselves, just their accessories. War Hulk has a post sticking out of his back that causes the shoulders to rotate when pressed. It is a simple action feature, but it works well and aside from the post in his back it doesn't deter from the rest of the figure. Ultimate Rhino's right shoulder, neck and waist all move when the left leg is squeezed inward. But none of the functions work very well or reliably and in order to incorporate them, the sculpt and articulation both had to be compromised.
Value - Carnage 3/10, War Hulk 10/10, others 8/10The Spider-man Classic figures and Hulk Classic figure both sell for between $7 and $9. War Hulk is an excellent value for an interesting figure, even at the $9 price point. Ultimate Rhino and Cyber Spider-man are also excellent figures, but have minor problems: less articulation for Cyber Spidey and the odd leg positioning for U Rhino. Black Costume Spider-man is a very strong figure, but isn't that much of an improvement over the black costume version from series 2. So those who already have that figure may want to pass on this one, at least at full price. Carnage just falls short in just about every area. He makes a decent figure if you can find him on clearance, but not at full price. Speaking of clearance, Target stores have been clearancing their back stock of Spider-man Classics figures. If you are lucky, you may be able to find all of these figures for as little as $3.27 right now and even cheaper if they make it that long.
Happy Hunting:Most of the larger chains still carry the Spider-man Classic line. So finding Carnage, Cyber Spider-man, Black Costume Spider-man or Ultimate Rhino shouldn't be too difficult. Carnage will probably be the toughest one to find since it is from the previous wave and was a short pack too. Cyber Spider-man, Black Costume Spider-man and Ultimate Rhino are all from wave nine which has been out for some time. In fact wave ten is starting to show up at some Target stores already.
War Hulk may be a bit more of a challenge. The Hulk classic line never received much retailer support. KB Toys is likely going to be your best option if there are any left in your area. Target also received a very small amount of these figures too. That is where I ended up finding this figure.