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i.119 (Gunslinger Spawn)

Spawn Series 27: The Art of Spawn
by Monkey Boy

This version of Spawn, officially referred to as "i.119 Spawn," is more informally known as "Gunslinger Spawn." For the remainder of the review, he will be referred to as the latter, since it describes the figure well and is a lot easier to remember. For example, there are three versions of Spawn in this, the 27th series of Spawn figures from McFarlane Toys, and they are named as follows: i.085, i.131, and i.119. They tell you nothing about what the figure looks like (unless you happen to have a library of Spawn comics handy) and are easy to confuse with one another.

The one thing the official name does tell you is what issue of Spawn contains the artistic reference for this figure. In case you haven't been paying attention, the last four series of Spawn figures have been done in the "Art of Spawn" format, which means that the figures are meant to represent artwork from a specific comicbook. Initially, the toys were restricted to "Classic Comic Covers," but more recently the line has branched out to include figures based on interior comic pages or altogether original artwork from Spawn artists. Gunslinger Spawn represents the interior art from issue #119, where a Hellspawn from an alternate reality is depicted in Old West cowboy-esque garb.

Your opinion of the figure's sculpt will depend on what you think of the Art of Spawn style. Technically, it is extremely well done, but it is not 100% accurate to the art it's based on. The figure is sculpted in a wide stance, knees bent, ready to draw his six shooters. The artwork, however, shows him standing up straight, and the necroplasm smoke emanating from his six shooters would seem to indicate that he had just fired them. Now, some might say that carping about the stance or pose of the figure is a minor nitpick, but when the figure is based on specific artwork, it makes sense that it should attempt to emulate that specific artwork as accurately as possible. The more it deviates, the more likely it is to run into trouble.

The trouble here arises in the form of a ludicrously large cowboy hat. In the original artwork, the tall, skinny hat made sense because it carried the visual dynamic of the tall, skinny Spawn. However, once you break this visual harmony by bending the figure's knees and widening his stance, the hat becomes rather goofy. The rest of the figure is very well sculpted though. The "Spawn" elements, such as spikes and superfluous pouches, are present and accounted for, and they combine well with the cowboy elements (with the notable exception of the aforementioned hat). Spawn's trademark cape becomes a wicked duster, while his trademark chains are wrapped around the gun belts that hang from his hips. There are even spurs on his boots. He's also got a very nicely sculpted face, with a protruding jaw and the nicest eyes I've ever seen on a Spawn figure. Too bad they're usually hidden by that lame hat. The tensed, about-to-draw hands are also nicely done.

For once, I have no complaints about the paint on a McFarlane figure. There is very little bleed, and all the color choices are great. There's lots of paint wash, but it works on a Spawn figure. His jeans and boots are particularly nice, and the weathered look is pulled off nicely. The silver bits are done very well too; each tiny rivet on his gun belt is painted with a dot of silver, and there's very little slop. His chains also switch from sculpted to real metal at the belt buckle, and the transition is fairly seamless thanks to the paint job.

This is McFarlane, so you won't be expecting much articulation, and this figure doesn't offer any surprises. Peg joints at the neck, shoulders, right bicep, wrists, waist, and boot tops (the figure's lower legs are actually packaged as separate pieces in order to fit the figure into its clamshell). The biggest travesty is that this figure can't look up, meaning that his face is impossible to see from most angles since it's obscured by the brim of the hat. It's a nice pose for that whole "mysterious wandering cowboy" look, but it would also be nice not to be forced into it.

I'm finding myself wishing this figure had been made about six or seven years ago, when McFarlane wasn't so obsessed with restricting its Spawn figures to a single pose. What good is a cowboy figure who is forever in the act of drawing his six-shooters, but can never actually draw them? It would have been really nice to be able to pose this figure engaged in all kinds of fancy gunplay, but as it is, the six-shooters aren't even removable.

You heard that right: they're painted into their holsters. With some force they can be yanked out, but the figure's hands aren't really sculpted to hold onto them anyway - and the holsters are open in the back, so if you take them out once, there's nothing to hold them in place in the future. The strange bone trophies attached to strings hanging from Spawn's waist don't come off either, so they can't really be counted as accessories, and while we're on the topic... are these re-tooled from the bone trophies of the Movie Maniacs V Predator? I'm almost certain they are. Anyway, the figure's only real accessories in the traditional, removable sense are a plain circular base, a small cardboard poster reproduction of the reference art, and a stand for the poster.

Am I the only one growing tired of the Art of Spawn trend? A Cowboy Hellspawn is a really great idea, and has potential to be an amazing figure. But as a plastic statue, it's far less interesting. Japanese toy company Kaiyodo/Toy Tribe has been showing us for years with their Trigun line that Western style figures can be loads of fun when the proper attention is paid to accessories and articulation. Unfortunately, McFarlane seems content to give us a plastic statue. It looks nice, but it's a lot less fun.

-- 04/19/05

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