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Fearsome Foes of Spider-Man

Marvel Legends
by Monkey Boy

When this box set was first announced, it was said that it would only be released internationally, which would have been a very "Mattel" move for ToyBiz: releasing a box set with three new sculpts but keeping it from US shores, just like Mattel did with some of its best Batman figures. Thankfully, that ended up not being the case, and US collectors have the chance to get this wonderful Marvel Legends box set.

Before I get to the figures, a word on the packaging. As an opener, packaging usually means nothing to me, but the twist ties in this set bear mentioning. They're tied in some new-fangled way that seems to be designed to make me want to kill myself. About half way through I realized some of them came apart quite easily, but I never discovered the secret; it was sheer luck. Most of them require some heavy, finger-scratching labor. It doesn't help that many of the twist tie points are tucked deep into the bubble where fingers can't get to easily. Have wire-cutters handy.

The Fearsome Foes set comes with five figures, and of course one of them is Spider-Man himself. This figure is mostly made up of the recent Wall-Climbing Spider-Man figure from the Spider-Man line, which was based on the art of Todd McFarlane. For the box set, the figure gets a new head, and a bit of mesh netting that ToyBiz has been adding to some of their Spidey figures to simulate his underarm webbing. This time instead of attaching at the wrist and waist (a la ML 10 Spidey), it attaches at the elbows and, oddly enough, between Spidey's legs. It doesn't look great and obscures the figure's entire back.

The new head is decent, but nothing to write home about. It looks familiar, but I can't place it... and with the multitude of Spider-Man figures out there to pull from, what are the odds ToyBiz sculpted a brand new one for this set? The figure's paint is fairly sloppy; the webbing fades in and out across the red portions of the costume. The articulation is typical Spidey, which means you get a lot of movement: balljointed head, hinged shoulder blades, balljointed shoulders, peg biceps, double-hinged elbows, peg forearms, hinged wrists, hinged fingers, hinged torso, peg waist, balljointed hips, peg thighs, double-hinged knees, peg shins, hinged ankles, and a hinge in the middle of each foot. The articulation in the right wrist and right hand of my Spidey is a little strange; the peg in the joints is too long in both cases, sticking out like Frankenstein bolts. It makes the joints in both cases fairly loose.

Now that Spidey is out of the way, I can move on to the real meat of this set: the villains. Rhino, Lizard and Vulture are all new sculpts, while Carnage (the only villain in this set with a non-animal name) gets a new head and a new paint scheme. Each of the figures (Spidey included) gets a circular base, each featuring a unique sticker with a painted portrait of the character who belongs on it.

ToyBiz released two Rhinos in recent years: one in the second series of Spider-Man Classics and an Ultimate Rhino in the plain Spider-Man line (not counting the kid-friendly version). Neither version was really up to snuff in terms of sculpt and articulation, but the box set version puts them both to shame. Heavily articulated and heavily detailed, this Rhino is big. Think ML Juggernaut height with ML Apocalypse proportions. His face is contorted in anger, and his entire body is wrinkled and textured, including the hinges of his joints. I'll admit, the skin looks more like elephant skin than rhinoceros hide, but I'm not complaining, it still looks great. Even with his size, ToyBiz packed in the articulation: Aleksei Sytsevich features a balljointed neck and shoulders, peg biceps, hinged elbows, peg wrist, hinged fingers, balljointed chest, peg waist, balljointed hips, peg thighs, double-jointed knees, hinged ankles, and a hinged midfoot joint. The one drawback on this figure is that on the balljointed hips and shoulders, the peg shows through on the joint. This was never an issue for similarly-sized figures like Juggs and Apocalypse, so what's the issue here? Either way it's a minor nit.

Like Rhino, the Lizard has been featured twice before in the Spider-Man line and once in Spider-Man & Friends. Like Rhino, the first was early on in the series (a re-release from the '90s) and didn't feature nearly the quality sculpt and articulation ToyBiz has come to be known for, and the second version was based on the Ultimate version. That Lizard was hardly recognizable due to the iguana-esque fin atop its head. There was also a version of the Lizard released in the short-lived toy line based on MTV's even shorter-lived Spider-Man cartoon, but that one was basically just a big monster, well-made figure though it may have been. The figure in this box set is the Lizard figure we've all been waiting for: a well-sculpted, well-articulated version of the Lizard we all know and love, complete with black shirt, purple pants and tattered lab coat. He's appropriately scaly in his exposed bits, and his coat gets a nice stained brown look around the edges. Dr. Curt Connors get movement at a balljointed neck, hinged jaw, balljointed shoulders, double-hinged elbows, peg forearms, hinged wrists, hinged knuckles (all fingers move as one big joint), peg waist, balljointed hips, peg thighs, double-hinged knees, hinged ankles, and a midfoot hinge. The midfoot hinge allows him to stand like a reptile, on the balls of his feet, and he can actually balance fairly well this way. He's also got a peg joint where his tail meets his bum, and the tail itself is bendy. The one complaint I have about the figure is that the tail is too short to really move well or look particularly good. But once again, a minor issue.

Adrian Toomes, also known as the Vulture, gets his first Legends-style figure in this box set. The sculpt here is based on the Vulture's classic costume (as opposed to the newer, sleek blue costume he's been sporting lately). It's as good a sculpt as any sculpt can be that's meant to represent an old bald guy in a green bird costume. His face is sculpted well and he looks like he's plotting a devious scheme or two. He's got a mighty hump under his striated unitard, and his toes curl up a bit like elf shoes. The feathers of his wings and neck ruff look nice, and the way the wings are arranged allows for maximum articulation, which includes a balljointed head, balljointed shoulders, peg biceps, hinged elbows, peg forearms, hinged wrists, hinged knuckles (all fingers move as one big joint), hinged torso, peg waist, balljointed hips, peg thighs, double-hinged knees, peg shins, hinged ankles and a midfoot hinge. It's about as interesting as a figure of an old man can be, which is to say, mildly. It's a nice addition to round out Spidey's rogues gallery.

The last figure in this set is mostly a rehashed figure, but it's still a worthy addition to the set. Cletus Cassidy, alias Carnage, features a much-needed update in the head sculpt and paint department. The first SM Carnage figure was a mess. That's really the only way to describe it. The overall sculpt was solid, but the head sculpt was oversized and the paint scheme was poorly defined across the whole figure. The box set Carnage features a more solid paint job, with a red base and black paint mottling in the figure's sculpted blotches. His head is much better than the previous release, with a different mouth that favors a more liquid appearance rather than the sculpted teeth of the original Carnage. Carnage is articulated with a balljointed head, balljointed shoulders, hinged laterals, peg biceps, double-hinged elbows, peg forearms, hinged wrists, hinged index finger, hinged knuckles, hinged torso, peg waist, balljointed hips, peg thighs, double-hinged knees, peg shins, hinged ankles and a midfoot hinge.

While the Vulture is really the only newly "Legend-ized" figure in this set, the new Rhino and Lizard sculpts are vast improvements over the previous versions, and Carnage's minimal update makes him a much better figure than before. While the Spider-Man is mostly useless, the villains are the signature versions of the characters and make this set well worth the purchase.

-- 11/14/05


 
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