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The Heap

Spawn Series 12
by yo go re

Todd McFarlane has a history of using characters he doesn't own, regardless of the consequences. However, today we're looking at one he unequivocably does own!

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Born of the dirt, garbage and waste of mankind. Driven by the hunger for emotions of pain and suffering. The Heap is the behemoth from the bowels of humanity. Walking a path of wide destruction. Able to regurgitate the trash and waste into power, he begins a journey where uncertain death awaits.

Remember how we once told you that neither Man-Thing nor Swamp Thing were rip-offs of one another - in fact, they were both stealing from a character created in 1942 called "the Heap" (who was himself inspired by Theodore Sturgeon's It!, basically the first muck-monster in pop culture). The Heap was the property of Hillman Periodicals, but that company folded in 1953. In the '80s, Eclipse Comics bought the Hillman characters outright and revived them. Eclipse went bankrupt in 1994, and McFarlane bought their assets in 1996 (which is why he thought he owned Miracleman). So when Todd introduced a new version of The Heap in 1998, he was completely within his rights.

The original Heap was a German pilot in WWI, who was shot down in a swamp. McFarlane's Heap was a bum named Eddie who was stabbed in an alley, which is why his body is now made of garbage instead of swamp gunge. Heap came out in Spawn Series 12, but he was the only figure in that series not sculpted by the Four Horsemen. Who did him, then? Design director Ed Frank (but Cornboy did the fabrication and some of the trash). There's more anatomy here than in the comics, where he looked like a pile of collected debris - think Marjory, the all-knowing, all-seeing trash heap from Fraggle Rock, but sharper. This figure has the rough shape of a body with a little layer of detritus caked above it. I don't think it would even be possible to create a comic-accurate version of him today, let alone in 1998. His bare skin, seen best on his hands and shins, has a wrinkly, ridged pattern, and the gunk piled on him looks appropriately sloppy.

To make The Heap look more "trashy," he has a lot of extra pieces glued onto his body. There are broken scissors, pieces of glass, a toilet seat, pipes, bones, a hatchet, various technological components, cans, bottles, a hammer, a tire, a shovel, a length of rebar and even some old newspapers. There's a little bit of stuff that's sculpted on, but for the most part, anything that's goop is sculpted, anything that's solid is an add-on. Some of the pieces are aligned so they look like they jut all the way through his body, and others can be pulled out, if you're careful. The newspapers on his head and shoulder are real paper, printed with text and decoupaged onto the toy. Unbelievable!

Series 12 was just about the pinnacle of the Spawn line, but Heap is already more about the sculpt than the articulation. He's mostly pre-posed: his large legs are squatting, and the only point of articulation that's not a swivel joint is his jaw (it's hinged). He also moves at the hips, torso, wrists, elbows (which are fundamentally useless, since the joint is cut through perpendicular to the arms) and shoulders.

The jaw is hinged as something approximating an action feature: the figure came with several loose pieces of trash that you could store in there and, as the sticker on the front of the packaging proclaimed, "mouth drops open to spew out garbage!" In other words, lower the jaw and let the pieces fall out. The extra garbage bits are all copies of pieces that are actually glued to the figure elsewhere, but were random between figures: I got a short length of pipe (top left shoulder), a curved pipe joint (back left shoulder) and a lumbar spine and coccyx (outside left thigh). His teeth are crooked and misaligned, so you can see the garbage even when the jaw is closed.

There are several Heap variants, for those who worry about such things. The first version had blue eyes - a running change in later waves turned them to the more common white. His body is green and brown, but a repaint available through Diamond was grey and green. There was also a Collector's Club exclusive version in 2004 to go along with Spawn Reborn 2, which cast him in translucent greenish-brown plastic. Given the choice, go for the original.

The Heap isn't a very playable figure, but he's really cool to look at - all the garbage sticking out of him is a visual treat. He's scaled more for interaction with 5" figures than 6"ers, but any larger and he wouldn't have fit in the packaging. You can pick him up dirt cheap (no pun intended) - looking on eBay, one just sold for 99¢ - so why not add The Heap to your collection today?

-- 02/05/12

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