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Ninja Spawn

by yo go re

Ninja Spawn is the latest "remastered" update of a classic Spawn figure: in this case, from 1995's Series 3, so let's copy that figure's bio:

Many centuries ago, there lived a man in what is now Japan, who suffered the same fate as Al Simmons. He too died and was sent back to Earth as a Spawn. His costume mimics the uniforms worn by the warriors of the period. Trained in every martial arts method known, Ninja Spawn is a master of hand-to-hand combat and becomes lethal when handed a sword.

The funny thing about that story is the way it implies Al Simmons looks like a superhero because that was what he thought the top warriors in the world were. Dude was a former Marine and a special ops agent, but he doesn't come back in a tac vest and combat boots? Caught in 4K, Al!

This figure is based more on Series 29's "Ninja Spawn 2" than the 1995 one - and if you've ever seen the 1995 one, you know that's a good thing. The base layer is the typical Spawn suit in black and white, with red cloth wraps instead of a cape. Then on top of that, he's got brown leather armor on his shins, waist, forearmms, and shoulders. In traditional Spawn style, there are silver spikes scattered about and a skull in the center of the belt. In their way, they even did the One Giant Boot™©: his right leg has an extra pad with more spikes on it that the left leg is lacking!

Speaking of "lacking," however, there have obviously been quite a few corners cut when it comes to the paint. Oh, there are the good parts, like all the shuriken and kunai on the left side of his belt each getting picked out with their own distinct paint apps, but why is there no variation in the brown leather, such as for the straps holding it on? Why are the things that are clearly supposed to be spikes on the back of his collar unpainted? Same for some of the spikes on his shinguards? Looking at his feet, they're quite obviously sculpted to be bare toes in sandals, so why are they just plain solid black? We can forgive a bit of this on the DC figures, because there are licensing fees there; but Todd doesn't have to pay anybody but Todd for the use of Spawn, so a toy that costs ths same amount to buy should have more wiggle room in the budget.

If you want to make Ninja Spawn wiggle, you can, because he's got all the articulation Todd is finally giving his toys: a balljointed neck, balljointed pecs with a ring between the chest and the arm to keep things looking complete even in wilder poses, hinged shoulders, swivel biceps, double-hinged elbows, swivel/hinge/swivel wrists, a balljointed chest, balljointed waist, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, swivel/hinge/swivel ankles, and hinged toes. The left wrist on mine fell apart when I opened it, so it needed to be dunked in hot water before I could reassemble it firmly. The tie on the back of his mask is at the base of the skill, which limits how far back you can tilt the head. Since the previous Ninja Spawn came out after McToys had abandonned articulation entirely, this is a gigantic improvement!

I don't know why the bio specifies Ninja Spawn only becomes lethal when you give him a sword - it seems like he'd be deadly even without one, but who knows? This toy includes four swords, which I guess means he's quadruply murderous? There are two normal straight katanas, but then also a pair of big scimitars(?) with ornate patterns on the sides of the blade. Those are a nod to the 2006 figure, which had similar weapons behind his shoulder. A pair of crossed sheaths plug into the center of his back, allowing you to stow whichever set of blades he's not currently wielding.

The original '95 Ninja Spawn had a removable mask, which made it apparent he was originally created as "our" Spawn wearing a different costume - unless "suffering the same fate as Al Simmons" also included taking a Batarang to the face and having to stitch himself back together with a shoelace. This one has his mask permenently on, with just his eyes visible. You probably already recognize the symbol printed on his forehead, but may not know the 忍者 lettering on his loincloth means "ninja." Did real ninjas have to wear their occupation printed on their clothes? You'd think that would be bad for the stealth and infiltration parts of the job.

Getting an actual toy of something that was only ever a design before - whether in 2D on the cover of Spawn #310 or in 3D in Series 29 of the toyline - is a lot of fun, but Ninja Spawn really needed more paint to be the best he could be.

-- 07/16/22

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