The concept: artist specific action figures.
The controversy: doing them before a more "generic," "classic" version of the figure.
The figure in question: The Humberto Ramos-styled Green Goblin action figure from the Spider-Man toy line, series 7, 8, or whatever it is.
With things like "Ultimate Spider-Man" and Spider-Man: The Movie being so popular in the past few years, and each prominently featuring the Green Goblin character, it was only a matter of time before he worked his way into the Spider-Man toy line.
Really, it's just surprising that it took so long. Must be because we only get one villain per line... thanks, Jesse Falcon. Wait... where was I?
Soooo, ToyBiz unveiled this puppy (along with a matching Ramos-style Spidey) at Toy Fair 2003 and it was quickly argued over (I think... [The so-called "media" seemed to make more out of it than I thought there was, but I'm notorious for brief message-boardery stints, so I could have missed out on arguments). Everyone wanted a Green Goblin, but we all wanted something a little more non-modern, something with a broad, non-artist-specific design, certainly not something so pigeon-holed. But hey, you know what? I really like Humberto Ramos' style.
Well, I like his earlier work a little better than his uber-cartoony style that he's doing now and which is being blatantly ripped off by other artists (For what it's worth, I really love Ramos' work on "Crimson" - I just wish the writing could have been at least half as good [Jeez, there sure are a lot of parentheticals this time around (maybe I shouldn't be watching "Vegas Revealed" on The Travel Channel while I write this, it's quite distracting)]).
So Anyway, I'm totally for this figure, I like Ramos, I like his Goblin design and I like this figure. So there!
I guess what I'm basically trying to say is that artist-specific toys are a very cool thing, but only when done properly. For instance, doing two or more figures in the same style, to create a sense of unity. This is basically why I see no problem at all with this Goblin, because we get a Ramos-Spider as well. Would I have preferred a more classic era Goblin? Well, sort of.
As alluded to earlier, the Goblin has been used a lot in recent times and quite frankly I'm tired of him. There are many other characters I'd rather see done right than him (Doc Ock [preferably in white suit ;)], Vulture, Scorpion, etc.). But, hey, I'm not as hardcore Spidey as others, so, to those that are, I say look at this toy as a figure rather than a character... trust me, if you allow yourself to, you'll see that this figure is just as good, if not better, than many others out there today!
The Goblin comes with a pretty nifty little flaming pumpkin bomb, two satchels (that's what I call them, two of those side-hanging, purse-like packs), and, of course, his glider. I haven't read the story arc that this figure is based on so I don't know how comic-accurate the glider is, but I like it.
It's also quite interesting to note that the glider was completely re-designed and re-sculpted from the prototype shown at Toy Fair and even on the back of the card, and the re-sculpt was definitely for the better. Not only is it more aesthetically appealing, its wings help to prop it up, which allows the figure to stand upon the glider and remain upright.
Between the toe-holders and the clasps on his heels, the foot-grips work really well and hold the Goblin in place tightly. I will say this though, it's a little confusing trying to figure out which side each wing goes on, they're packaged separately, so I recommend you insert the "head-missile" (a semi-effective projectile that holds the "head" of the glider) first: that should help you gage which side is right side up, since the fuselage looks all but identical on the top and on the bottom. Other than that, the only other problem I have with the glider is the orange cone sticking out of the back. It's a cool touch, but could really use a yellow wash, or preferably, a better sculpt.
The satchels are a very nice touch and the fact that they are totally independent, removable sculpts, adds value to both them and the overall figure. The flaming pumpkin-bomb is really cool. Sure there's way it could have been differently or better, but you know what, it works just fine as is, and after all, come on, this is the first pumpkin-bomb in ten years!
Good God, where did all this articulation come from? Ankles, calves, knees, thighs, ball-jointed hips, ball-jointed waist, ball-jointed shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists, ball-jointed neck, I mean this little bastard even has a ball-joint where the lengthy "tassel" attaches to his hood! It's got to be the first ball-joined hat in action figure history! That's a total of 21 points of articulation! "Playable" is this guy's middle name, and I'll make no hesitations to admit that the amount of articulation is what made me really love this figure.
It looks like all the parts are cast in whatever color, either purple or green, they are supposed to be, so there isn't much paint. Everything does have a black wash on it, which really brings out the detail. The only real paint apps on the figure are the stitches on his shoulder-pads and hood/tail, his belt and buckle, collar, eyes, teeth, and the part of the hood that is directly part of his head.
As I examine this figure, I see there's even a thin line of pink between the two rows of teeth. The left eye has a cool over-sized yellow iris that really... I don't know, but I like it! The only real paint problem is that the color of purple paint used for the hood doesn't match the more muted purple used for the "tassel" (as well as the gloves and boots) which is ultimately the only down-side to this figure. Everything else though is so good; I have no problem over-looking that.
The first thing one really notices about this figure is the proportions. The hands and feet seem way too big, and the face, pretty small. But, after all, that's how Ramos draws, so it actually makes a lot of sense. Again, from what I've seen of the art, this is just a dead-on three-dimensional version of Ramos' work on the series. This figure seems to really catch the essence of his art, almost in the same way/level as the upcoming Hellspawn i.01 from McFarlane Toys based on Ashley Wood's art.
There is all the detail we've come to expect from our toys these days, but also a gentle simplicity to it (again, a Ramos trait [It really is impossible to discuss this figure without making constant reference to Humberto himself]). The figure is sculpted in a nice generic pose, which meshes with the articulation to allow for some pretty cool stances. He even holds his pumpkin pretty well too, though he must do so by griping the fire... oh well, he's the Green Goblin, he's crazy.
The only "problem" with the sculpt is the shoulder-pads, which are firmly in place and somewhat limit the shoulder articulation, but you can still get a pretty good range of motion out of them.
It's also worth mentioning the plastic. This figure is very similar, in terms of production, to the Rhino figure from the second series of Spider-Man Classics. It utilizes the same weird-feeling plastic and has the same lightweight, hollow feel to it. It's a weird little thing to handle at first, but once you start playing with it, you accept and disregard theses tactile oddities. What else can I say, but buy this figure!!! (Assuming you can ever find him!)
Why Ramos? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.