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Classic Spawn

Spawn Remastered
by yo go re

Talk about your '90s nostalgia!

The packaging for this figure is possibly the most over-designed thing we've ever seen here. How bad is it? It's so bad we're not only talking about the packaging at all, we're talking about it before the toy! That's mostly been limited to BotBots

Picture it: the mailman drops off your box from the Kickstarter. You open it, and inside is... a second shipping box. A separate one for every figure you ordered. Okay, "yay safety" and all that, it's no big deal. So you open up one of those interior boxes, and pull out the actual toy.

This box is 9¾ wide, 6" deep, and 14¾ tall, with a slipcover on the outside featuring Spawn logos in various colors (silver, green, or red, depending on which edition of the toy it is), complete with foil accents. Take that off, and there's now a box with Spawn-emblem UV logos and a ribbon to open the front flap. Under the certificate of authenticity and the checklist comparing this toy to the 1995 original is a thin sheet of foam padding; get that out of the way, and you finally get to glimpse Spawn himself. Note: that's just "glimpse," because you're not done unpacking him yet. You still need to pull out the foam tray so you can actually get at the giant clamshell that houses the toy and comic. (Yep, remember that Spawn Series 1 is where clamshells were introduced to the toy industry, ruining things for decades to come. Thankfully, this is a resealable clamshell type, so it's a lot better.) Open the clamshell, take out the cardboard backer that's got the comic sleeved on it, and you can finally get to the multiple trays that contain the figure and his cape. Good gracious! Todd posted a Kickstarter update showing off the packaging, and the video was nine minutes long. But at last, we can talk toy!

If you know Todd McFarlane's history at all, you may be able to understand why we say Spawn is probably the most successful autobiographical comic of all time. No, he was never burned by hellfire and doesn't have magical green energy powers (as far as we know), but that doesn't mean he's not telling his own story. On the surface level, Spawn is named after Todd's best friend from college, Al Simmons. Spawn's wife is named Wanda and she has a daughter named Cyan; Todd's wife is named Wanda and they have a daughter named Cyan.

But deeper than that, Spawn was just a normal, hard-working, responsible guy until he signed a deal with the devil, not really understanding what he was in for; he was taken away from the family he cared about and made to do what someone else told him to, and was constantly locking horns with the annoying supervisor who oversaw his work. Keep in mind Todd had the idea for Image while he was on paternity leave and the thing that finally made him do it, and it all starts to line up. Oh, and when Spawn originally died? He was the same age McFarlane was when he landed the Spider-Man gig at Marvel, propelling him to the top of the industry. Hmmm. HMMMMMM!

This figure is meant to be a "remaster" of the original Spawn action figure, and was available in three different editions: the all-grey "Artist Proof" and dark "Modern colors" versions were nice, sure, but if you're remastering an original, wouldn't you want it to look like the original? That's why I went for the "Classic" edition, which still had some superheroic influences, with the red sections on the sides of the suit that make it look more "costumey" than all-black does. Todd still doesn't credit his sculptors, but whoever was responsible for this has created a look that's at once both beefy/muscular and gaunt/drawn, which is no easy feat. The edges of the costume are sculpted on, not just painted, and the various spikes that adorn his arms and legs are surprisingly sharp - the benefits of doing a toy through Kickstarter instead of through normal stores!

The style of the sculpt definitely favors the modern Spawn, no matter what the colors are - in the '90s, he really did look like he was wearing a normal, smooth, superhero costume, but toymaking has come a long, long way in the quarter-century since then, so now the surface is a little rougher. The white patches on his mask have gotten a lot less "knockoff Venom" over the years, too, with only the color being similar now.

When the Kickstarter began, the plan was for all three editions of the figure to each come with a single head: the Classic and Artist Proof would have just had the mask, while Modern would be a "Hamburger Head" style, tied up with a shoelace. If you bought a set of all three, you'd also get a human Al Simmons head and a screaming monster head. When the campaign reached $1,527,036 (an oddly specific amount), each figure now got two heads: Classic still got the masked face, but now also included a painted version of the monster head. Frankly, it would have been preferable to get the shoelace face with the Classic and move the monster over to the Modern, but so it goes. (Though seriously, if anybody out there just got the Modern and wants to trade, you know how to reach me.) The head feels a little narrow, but its dried-out sculpt is cool and there are a few spots where the skull is poking through on the scalp.

Spawn is wearing his cape, of course, and it's just as geometric as you'd want it to be, looking more like thick paper than cloth. Now, on the original figure, the cape was removable, but that isn't the case here - or if it is meant to be removable, mine got way too much glue to keep it safely in place during shipping. Just as on the original, the side of the cape are hinged for poseability, though today we get steel pins instead of just snappable plastic. While the left side can wrap around the figure nicely, the right side bumps against the big curl on his shoulder, so it will forever have to drift away from the body. Bummer! The chain at the neck is metal, rather than plastic - it got upgraded near the end of the campaign, just as the chains on the waist had been upgraded earlier along the line (though the links at the neck are smaller).

The chains are treated to look tarnished and weathered on this figure and the Modern style (the Artist Proof has shiny silver chains, to go along with the unpainted gray plastic). The painting on the figure is really expressive, with the brightness of the red kept from looking "toyish" thanks to the deep, deep shadows airbrushed all over. Well, nearly all over: the waist piece doesn't get any, so it shows what the plain red would look like. The skulls on the cape clasp and at the waist are a metallic gold, and his eyes are a bright green.

In addition to the hinges on the cape, Spawn has hinged toes, swivel/hinge/swivel ankles, swivel shins hidden by the rings on the legs, double-hinged knees, a swivel unde rthe right leg's pouches, swivel thighs, swivel/hinge hips, a balljointed waist, swivel/hinge wrists and elbows, swivel biceps, swivel/hinge shoulders, shallow pec hinges, and a balljointed neck. The masked head gets a barbell joint, while the monster head is seamlessly connected to its neck. The chest is technically a PVC shell over a ratcheted hinge within, but that doesn't work well at all - it might as well be solid. It's not like you can take the cape off to really use a chest joint to its fullest potential, anyway.

If you don't count the cape and chains, the original Spawn figure had one accessory: a board with a nail in it. So a "remastered" version should get the same thing, right? Yeah, duh, of course, that's a no-brainer. So naturally, you could only get that if you bought a signed edition. Which would be annoying, if it didn't look less like "a board with a nail in it" and more like "a wooden ham shank with a bunch of nails and also a large industrial hook sticking out of it." So, yeah, not anything worth it. What we do get is a big gun with a grenade launcher and a serrated bayonet. At least, that's what we started with; as the funds kept rolling in, Todd eventually started adding in more. For instance, the Necro-Sword, a chunky, 6¾" long Spawn-themed blade. Or the translucent green necroplasm energy burst, which for the Classic Spawn is a stream of three spikes shooting forward (other editions get other shapes). And finally, a translucent green throwing dagger, presumably also made of necroplasm? That wasn't something we knew we were getting ahead of time, it just showed up in the foam tray with the other accessories. There's a small disc base as well, but the figure can stand fine without it.

The first series of Spawn figures all included a comic - it was behind them in the clamshell, and served as the packaging art. These new editions also include a comic, though the larger clamshell means the art is only partially as big. Modern and AP get new art, while Classic gets the same art as the old toy comic, just reinked and - fittingly - remastered. And this isn't a straight reprint, it's a "director's cut" take, with raw art and commentary from Todd. I almost ignored it, assuming it was just the same book from decades ago, but this is better and it's exclusive to the Kickstarter release. Plus there's foil on the cover, matching the color of the slipcase from so many paragraphs ago.

It's been nearly 20 years since the last really good Spawn figure, and that one was a little rough even for its time. But the McFarlane Toys of 2021 isn't the same company as the McFarlane Toys of 2003, and the improvements we've seen them embrace on things like their Fortnite line have all carried over here, meaning the Kickstarter Spawn is the toy that's finally better than 10th Anniversary Spawn. There were still improvements that could have been made (chest hinge, smarter distribution of the accessories among the sets, non-permanently attached cape) and the packaging is needlessly ostentatious, but overall this is very good.

-- 04/14/21


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