The year is rapidly coming to an end and with it, Toy Biz's license to make Marvel action figures. The final two series in
the Amazing Spider-man line are shipping to stores now. Unlike previous waves which tended to have only one or two figures
that were of interest to collectors, over half of the the figures are either villains or versions of Spider-man from the
comics. Series 18 includes Flame & Launch Mad Jack, Sual Blast Shocker, Stealth Venom, Spider-sense Spider-man who is based
on the House of M version of Spider-man and Super Kick Spider-man who I passed up. Series 19 includes Toxin, Electro and
three more miscilanious Spider-man variants. I passed upon Electro since I already have the one from the Sinister Six box set.
Packaging - 5/10The new packaging remains unchanged from the previous two series. The some what bland bubble shows off the figures well enough while the stickers on the bubble provide the character information and a photo. The card itself has a nice image of Spidey swinging across the city that blends into the background. It would be nice if the city showed up better. The back of the cards has a synopsis of Spider-man's origin, instructions for the figure and photos of all of the figures in the series. Overall the packaging is workable, but feels a bit generic. A few simple changes such as using actual photos of the figures for the instructions and a character bio instead of Spidey's origin would go a long way.
Sculpting - Toxin 5/10, Spider-sense Spidey 6/10, Mad Jack 8/10, others 9/10The sculpting for these five figures is the same impressive level that we have seen from Toy Biz's recent figures. Spider- sense Spider-man is a pretty basic figure. The detail work of the costume is etched into the figure. Unfortunately the pose that the figure is stuck in is pretty bland and slightly awkward. The left leg bows out slightly at the hip and then back in at the knee in what appears to be a very uncomfortable manner. The figure is also quite pigeon-toed. Shocker is my favorite. The costume is spot on. The detail work is impressive. Its biggest drawback is the position of the neck. It sticks out in front of the figure in a way that works well for Shocker's arms straight out blast pose, but looks very unnatural and uncomfortable in other poses. I questioned if I wanted another Venom figure as I was pretty happy with the Sinister Six box set version. But Stealth Venom fills the roll of the character's bulkier, slightly monsterous form quite well. Mad Jack is a character I know little of. His appearance in Civil War #5 is the first time I've seen him. But the figure is nicely detailed. The texturing for the armor is subtle but sets it apart and gives it a tougher look. The figure does have a couple of noteable problems. The first is the lack of matching texturing on the joints, especially the shoulders. I realize that this is somewhat necessary for the sake of the articulation, but it really stands out here. The other issue is the joint in the thighs. The upper and lower portions of the thighs don't quite match up no matter how they are positioned. Finally there is Toxin who would be a great figure if they had just decided between his slimmer, normal form and his bulkier, angry form. But instead what we got was a mix of the two with limbs out of proportion with the rest of the figure. He's also quite short, the shortest of the five including Spider-man. The height wouldn't be an issue in his slimmer form. But he is too short for his beefed up, angry form.
Paint - Spider-man 5/10, Mad Jack & Toxin 6/10, Venom 8/10, Shocker 9/10I know many collectors worry about the quality of the paint applications when they are dealing with Toy Biz figures, but I've usually been pretty happy with them. I have of course seen a few figures with major screw ups in the paint work but they have been the exception, not the rule. Shocker turned out the best with my figures. The paint scheme is simple. They did a nice job of matching the colors between the various areas. The paint wash is subtle but adds a lot of depth to the sculpt. The eyes are also nice and clean, but unfortunately they did not paint the skin exposed by the eyehole in the mask. That little extra touch would have really made the eyes pop. Stealth Venom has painted web shooters on the back of each hand as well as a painted spider symbol on his chest. Then the entire figure has a wash over the translucent plastic to give it a slightly hazy appearance. It is a nice look, but not entirely consistent over the entire figure. It can also vary from figure to figure with some coming out noticablely darker. Mad Jack and Spider-man both have areas where the paint applications don't match well. For Mad Jack, it's mostly just on the joints for the arms. The shoulders and elbow joints are left unpainted. Compared to the rest of the arms which have both a dark wash to add shadow and lighter green highlights and the contrast is very striking. The orange paint for Mad Jack's head is also a bit thin, which doesn't allow it to create much contrast with the orange color plastic of the flames. Spider-man has a black wash over the red areas of his costume to darken the webbing lines and the red color overall. But while the blue areas do have some shadowing, it is not nearly as pronouced. The result is that the blue areas have a slightly unfinished look to them. The paint work on Toxin's head is great. But the painted red tendrils on his arms, chest and legs are a disappointment. They are suppose to look like tendrils of the symbiote hanging down. But since they don't really follow the sculpt well and the paint got too thin in some areas allowing the black to bleed through, the final product is a figure that looks like its paint ran. It doesn't look intentional.
Articulation - Spider-man 4/10, Shocker 6/10, Others 8/10Mad Jack is the most articulated of the five figures with thirty-five points of articulation:
Accessories - Mad Jack 7/10, others 5/10The accessories in general for these figures are a let down. Venom and Toxin share the same accessory, a spring loaded launcher with mini-symbiotes as projectiles. Toxin does come with an extra projectile though. Shocker has four projectiles with oblong tips. I wish they had gone with some sort of series of concentric rings to replicate his vibration blasts instead of looking like he is trying to egg someone. Spider-sense Spider-man comes with four projectiles as well. Two are shaped like wads of webbing while the other two are spreading out at the end. Mad Jack is the only figure with accessories that aren't predestined for the junk drawer. He has a unique glider which features a circular platform with an engine/thruster on either side. He also comes with two flaming pumpkin bomb which are so huge that they are beyond comically large.
Action Features - Spider-man 2/10, Mad Jack 4/10, Shocker 7/10, Toxin & Venom NAToxin and Venom have no action features built into the figures themselves. They do have launchers that clip onto their arms, but if you don't like them they can go right into he waste basket. Spider-man has two features. The first is light up eyes to simulate his spider-sense. Pressing the button on his back lights up not only his eyes, but most of his head. His second action feature is his webbing launcher. When you twist his waist, the figure's right arm raises up and releases the projectile while the eyes blink on and off. It is an interesting feature, but compromises the entire figure for a simple novelty. Mad Jack also has two light up features. Like Spider-sense Spider-man, his head lights up when a button on his back is pressed or his right arm is pulled back. He can also toss his pumpkins. The pumpkins fit onto a peg in his right palm. When the arm is pulled back and released, it springs forward, tossing the pumpkin bomb. Of course the bombs are so large that they mostly just drop out of his hand. But at least the features don't cause too much harm to the rest of the figure. Shocker is the only figure to get action features that work reasonablly well. First of all, either of his arms can fire a projectile simply by pressing the button on his gauntlet. He also has a vibrating feature. You can wind up the figure with a knob on his back and when released, the figure will vibrate for about fifteen seconds. It has no useful function. But it is fitting for the character which uses vibration to protect himself. But if you get nostalgic, you can collect a bunch of Shocker figures and make a modern version of the old electric football games.
Value - Spider-man 4/10, Shocker 9/10, others 7/10The retail price on the Amazing Spider-man figures in most stores is between $7 and $10. Considering a year or two ago, many fans were paying $7 for a Spider-man figure just to get an unarticulated Shocker figure on the display base, the full sized figure was well worth the wait. Toxin and Mad Jack have their flaws as figures, but they aren't too serious. And with the line coming to an end, we may not get too many more chances to expand our collections. Stealth Venom is actually a slightly nicer figure than the others, but of a rather obscure version of the character. Finally, there is Spider-sense Spider-man. As a figure alone, he isn't worth buying. But for fans of the House of M mini-series, it is likely to be your only chance to get a figure of that Spider-man design.
Happy Hunting:Series 18 which includes Spider-man, Stealth Venom, Mad Jack and Shocker has been shipping for a while now. I picked up mine at Target, but I have also found them at Walmart and Toys R Us. Series 19 with Toxin is shipping now along with a new Electro figure. I found him at Toys R Us. But Target should also have them soon if they don't have them already. The line doesn't get much support from online stores, or at least not from the online stores of the major toy retailers. But a quick search of your favorite specialty retailers should result in a few sites that carry them. But you may be forced to buy the entire series instead of picking and choosing the ones you like.