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i.131 (Desert Spawn)

Spawn series 27: The Art of Spawn
by yo go re

In these Art of Spawn lines, it's the oddities that stand out. If you're doing nothing but one character in slightly different poses, they're going to get lost in the shuffle. But the one that's even a slight bit different? That's golden. Monkey Boy already took a look at Series 27's reigning champ of visual style, Gunslinger Spawn, and moving down the list in order, the next most interesting piece is i.131 - Desert Spawn.

Now, like most people, I stopped reading Spawn around issue 20, so I don't know what this figure represents. Was Spawn in the Middle East? Was he caught in a sandstorm? Had he just gotten out of the shower when the doorbell rang? Don't know. Also, don't care.

Below the neck, this could be any Spawn - crazyass exaggerated pose, big improbable gun, lots of randomly placed spikes and pouches... you know the deal. Another generic McToy. But above the neck, ah, there's the reason anyone's buying him.

Spawn (who looks like Spider-Man) wears a living symbiotic costume (just like Venom); even his cape is a living part of the creature, instinctively adapting to new situations and unexpected dangers. Rather than draping off his back like it usually does, here the cape has transformed to protect its host, swirling about his head and face to create a pseduo-kaffiyeh.

The design of the headpiece is very nice. The cloth has all the sharp folds you expect and, in true Spawn style, a length of chain serves as the ekal. At once this looks like both the real headdress and a part of Spawn's world. It's too bad Todd is afraid to give his sculptors credit, because somebody really deserves recognition for this.

The kaffiyeh is a separate piece, but it's not removable. Why? If you pry the thing off, you find a complete and detailed head beneath (well, with one big divot for the piece to plug into), and it definitely could have stayed in place without any help. So why take the extra steps and remove some of the play value?

First, Cowboy Spawn's posture and hat conspire to conceal one of the best "masked" Spawn faces McToys has ever done, and now one of the best "hamburger heads" is hidden under a non-removable turban. What's the deal? These sculpts should be on display, not hidden. For a company claiming the sculpt is all that matters, they're not doing a very good job with it.

Spawn's sole accessory is his huge gun. There have been a lot of BFG designs in the pages of Spawn over the years, and while this one is okay, it's not one of the best. A chain hangs off one side so you can wrap that around Spawn however you like, but since this is a McToy and therefore not articulated, the gun points permanently at the ground. People ask why anyone would want articulation "ruining" a Spawn figure. Well there's your answer right there: a powerful character with an intimdating gun should actually be able to lift it; a gun's just a metal stick until you aim it at something.

Since it gets less and less likely with every series that a Spawn figure will be able to stand on its own, Desert Spawn comes with a tiny base to help him balance. Instead of the pile of shell casings seen on the cover of #131, it's just a generic stony piece. Still, it almost serves its purpose, quite nearly helping Spawn stand without falling over. Until he does.

The paint apps are good. Even the bright parts of the costume are dark, but the real star is Spawn's charred brown skin. There are a few tears in his suit, and they didn't miss any of the skin showing through. If you do rip off the kaffiyeh, you'll find a nice series of apps and washes bringing out all the detail.

Desert Spawn is a pretty standard Spawn toy, but the cool and creative use of his cape sets him above his bretheren.

-- 04/19/05

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