The Figure Factory sets from ToyBiz bring a bit of innovation to blind packaging - there are 20 figures in the first series, and eight of them are clearly identified on their cards. The remaining 12 are mysteries. Mostly.
Rather than just create figures of 12 new characters, ToyBiz opted for a mix of unique figures and variants. I didn't know that when I bought my two mystery boxes, so I was a bit disappointed that after opening my ultra-cool Yellow Daredevil, the next box seemed to contain a normal figure, the pudgy force of evil called Dr. Octopus.
Unlike most comicbook characters who call themselves "Dr. [Whatever]," Doc Ock actually has the diploma to back it up. Now, he's not the guy you go to for an emergency apendectomy, or to get your illegal Mexican prescriptions filled - he's got a doctorate in nuclear physics, which means what, class? He's a whole lot smarter than you'll ever be. But take heart: since he's evil, the only tail he can get is Spider-Man's Aunt May.
Doc Ock is one of the eight identified figures, so it may seem like a bit of a gyp to get him in a mystery box, as well - after all, anyone who really wanted him could already own one easily, right? Well, yes, they could, but not this version. To pad the figure count without making more molds, ToyBiz hid a variant Octopus inside the mystery box.
Variant Ock is wearing a white lab coat, which is the most obvious difference between him and his more visible clone. He's even got the same (human) arms as the other version, just painted white to blend with his coat.
This Dr. Octopus is built from 23 pieces, which puts him near the upper end of the Figure Factory part count. He's posed doing a goofy little dance, with one foot on the ground and his weight supported by two of his mechanical arms. His diorama is a section of battle-damaged street, with a geyser of water spouting into the sky and puddles forming at its base. Figuring out which arms fit where is the real headache of this set. It's basically just trial and error, thanks to the vague instructions - the variant figs include the same instruction sheet as their counterparts.
While the regular version of Dr. Octopus is clutching a fire hydrant
(thus explaining the water spout), the variant version is pulling open a steely canister. What's in the tube? Well, it's not a sweater from his mommy, that's fer darn sure! A few black tentacles are forcing their way out of the open lid, wrapping themselves around the claws at the end of Doc's arm. What are those tendrils? Well, if you look at the base of the Figure Factory Venom, you'll see the same canister - Dr. Octopus is setting him free. It's like the sets are telling a little story, if you pay attention and piece it together.
The sculpt is very good, giving us everything from the large, stony texture of the pavement to the tiny individual teeth in his mouth. The figure's pose is really weird, with Ock severely off-balance, but that's how it was designed, and his arms support him well. There seems to be a missing paint app on one of Doc's claws: the Venom bits are painted the same silvery color as the claw, rather than the black they should be.
Overall, the Figure Factory sets are well done. The tiny figures look good once you get them assembled, and ToyBiz made sure that even the variants had something to set them apart. With collectible cards and the hunt for blind-packed figures, this line definitely has promise.
Are the variants adding to the fun or just cheap cop-outs? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.