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i.08 (Spider-Spawn)

Spawn Series 26: The Art of Spawn
by yo go re

In the early days of McFarlane Toys, the company's strength wasn't its sculpt or its scale or any of the things you normally think of toy manufacturers for - it was its creativity. Remember that? When any given line could have just the randomest characters thrown in the mix? While Hasbro or ToyBiz were just making variant after variant of the main character, McToys had some fun.

I miss those days.

Now all we get, in terms of the actual Spawn line, is series after series of the exact same boring thing - statues based on specific pieces of artwork. First it was called "Classic Comic Covers," but since four out of five issues of the comic have Spawn lurking in the dark with some creepy stuff around him on the cover, it didn't take long for them to run out of material. Now it's called "The Art of Spawn," drawing (no pun intended) on interior and promotional art as well. Whatever the name and whatever the source, it's immobile toys that are entirely interchangeable and entirely forgettable.

But just because the premise is bland, it doesn't mean that all the figures are. If you have an iconic Spawn moment in your head, odds are they'll get around to making it eventually. Mine came with Spawn i.08, also known to fans as Spider-Spawn.

Based on the cover to Spawn #8, this figure features Spawn in his original costume, crouching on the folds of his cape. It's been a long time since we've seen this early-90s monstrosity - although Spawn is still an outdated mess of spikes and chains, it's a slightly modified design.

The sculpt is good - easily on par with DC Direct or Marvel Legends. The detailing is really nice on the red bands that sport the big silver spikes. The surface is cratered with lots of tiny stippling, making the straps look like real leather. Additionally, the bands are painted a slightly different color than the red sections of his costume. It would have been tremendously easy to just do them the same, but that wasn't enough for McFarlane Toys. The difference is subtle, not easy to notice, but it does exist.

Whoever had to try to adapt this particular cover to a figure had a daunting task ahead of them. To understand why, you have to go back to the source.

The cover of Spawn #8 was actually a parody (or homage or rip-off or whatever term you prefer) of Todd's iconic cover
to Spider-Man #1 (and #13, too). Since, when he was drawing Spider-Man, Todd wasn't exactly known for his strict adherence to the laws of physical anatomy, converting his unrealistic pose into a realistic statue cannot have been easy.

The figure looks good. He's poised on the balls of his feet, squatting on his haunches. His right arm rests on his knee, while his left arm dangles down in front of him. His cape spills down over his back before bunching angularly beneath his little booties.

A lot of folks make fun of Todd for the way he drew Spawn's cape, making it look more like folded paper than wrinkled cloth, but that artistic decision has a historical basis - 15th century engraver Albrecht Durer typically portrayed cloth in his pieces crisp and angular just like Todd does, and it's a feature in the carved friezes of Gothic churches, so it's possible that it was a specific choice and not just bad art.

The cape plugs into two small holes on the figure's back - not that it was going to fall out of place, but it helps with the positioning. The little skulls and chain are attached to the cape, rather than removable, and it's got the big pointy rabbit-ear collar. The paint is good, with dark shadows in the folds and bright red highlights.

Spawn's got a real metal chain around his waist, which would be good if it actually connected to the figure in the back. It emerges from the skull on his waist, but then it just hangs down in front - the otherwise spectacular Spawn 10th figure had the same problem, so you'd think McToys could have fixed it by now, but no such luck. You can at least replicate the proper look by carefully looping the chain over the pegs that hold the figure and the cape together.

Since Todd long ago gave up anything even resembling a unified scale for his figures, Spawn i.08 crouches 3⅜" tall, which makes him about 150% the size of Spawn 10th, a figure that was, itself, too big to go with the other figures. But this isn't a figure that will interact others, so its over-large stature isn't an impediment.

I love rip-off covers like Spawn #8, which is why I like this figure so. I bought it because it represents a particular facet of my collection, not because it's a good toy. It's not a good toy. Not even close. It's a decent statue, but not an exceptional one. If you want this one pose and nothing else, then I'd recommend it to you. If not, stick with looking at the cover.

-- 10/24/04

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