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Gwen Stacy

Spider-Man Retro Collection
by yo go re

A modern figure of an old favorite? Oh snap! That's sure to turn some heads!

A bright student with a keen scientific mind, Gwen Stacy is girlfriend to Peter Parker.

Way to only be defined by the man in your life, Gwendolyne! She met Peter Parker on his first day of college, and was pretty much immediately set on letting him park his peter - a situation that was only intensified by the fact that he never seemed to have any time for her, and in fact barely paid her any attention. Peter Parker: pioneering master of negging. And seriously, girl: have some self-respect. You're a freshman in college, stop worrying about one single boy, stop trying to imitate the girl you think he likes better, just pay attention to your classes and be yourself; he'll either respond to the woman you are or he won't, and either way you'll still be living your best life. ...but also, if there's anything you've always wanted to try, maybe don't put it off too long. And stay away from bridges.

This figure is clearly part of the Spider-Man Retro Collection, coming on the same big purple card as everyone else, but she doesn't belong here. There was no "vintage" Gwen Stacy. The only Gwen ToyBiz made, the only Gwen there's ever been before this figure, was in the 1999 Silver Age series, and it looked nothing like this. Is it only "Retro" because the character is so old? If so, that seems like a cheat.

Gwen wasn't included in the 1994 Spider-Man for a very simple reason: she only exists, as a character, to die. The writers didn't feel right keeping her alive, and also didn't want to put her in just to take her out. And as we learned with Electro, no cartoon, no toy. That's why the timeline of Gwen Stacy toys goes "1999 Silver Age figure, 2016 Spider-Gwen" - that's it. So whatever this one's ultimate inspiration is, it's good to get her.

Fittingly, she's wearing the last thing she'd ever wear: the memetically famous "Night Gwen Stacy Died" outfit of black boots, a purple skirt, black sweater, and green coat that's longer than her skirt is. The coat has a belt sculpted across the back, and it gets its own brown paint app. We can tell her top is a sweater and not a shirt because it has a sculpted knit texture. Wow! Surprisingly, the figure's head is not the same one that came with Spider-Gwen: it's a better sculpt, has longer hair, and a wider headband.

Speaking of heads, one of her accessories is really weird. It's an alternate head, which isn't that out of the ordinary, but it's not one with a different expression, or with her hair blowing out differently - instead, it's Mary Jane Watson. Yes, her romantic rival. Why would that be Gwen's alternate head? It's the same sculpt, just with Mary Jane's red hair instead of Gwen's blonde, but it doesn't make a ton of sense. When would MJ be dressed up as Gwen? Is this a sex thing? It's a sex thing, isn't it? Something Peter asked for, that narcissistic perv. Mary Jane did appear in the animated series, but she didn't wear this! (And she did get an action figure from it, so that would have had more legitimacy as a Retro Collection figure than Gwen does.)

The other accessories aren't much better. She has a light blue clutch purse that she can't hold with her splayed hand, a red Midtown High School yearbook despite the fact that she didn't go there, and a rolled up Daily Bugle because... she lived in the '70s and kids still cared about newspapers then? None of these are great extras for her. though it's funny to imagine she got an old yearbook from a different school just to just to see what she could learn about the boy she liked. Yes, kids, that's what cyber-stalking was like in the days before Facebook.

The figure's articulation is, unsurprisingly, somewhat limited by the clothes: the skirt blocks the legs, and her hair keeps the head from moving freely. Which, in specifically Gwen's case, might be better. Maybe a neck brace?

There's no question Stan Lee considered Gwen to be Peter's one true love - he only introduced Mary Jane Watson as a way to make Gwen jealous and finally push the two of them together. Unfortunately for him, the fans immediately loved MJ in a way they never had Gwen (possibly because she, not being introduced until John Romita was on the book and using his romance-comic background to make the characters appealing, was never portrayed as an angry, hatchet-faced nightmare). Gwen Stacy is like Mar-Vell, in that the only appealing thing about her is that she's dead. Dead, she can be a blank slate. Inconvenient facts about her can be ignored. Dead, she was never mean and stuck up, she was never a copy of MJ's more popular personality, she was never emotionally fragile or manipulative... dead, she could be the perfect girl, pure and smart and compassionate with no pesky worry about her showing up to remind everyone they're remembering her wrong. Dead, she's an idea. Alive, she and Peter were bordering on dysfunctional; dead, she's his One True Love™© and none may say a bad word about her. She may be the second-best girl, but it's still good that she's finally gotten an accurate action figure, whether it's really Retro or not.

-- 11/26/20

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