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Spider-Man Retro Collection
by yo go re

With great power there must also come great responsibility, though some responsibilities are greater than others.

Bitten by a radioactive spider, Peter Parker now possesses all the arachnid's attributes - he's the Amazing Spider-Man!

Though the whole "power and responsibility" thing is attributed to Uncle Ben, he doesn't actually say it in his single pre-death appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15 - it's just in a caption box at the end of the story. So the earliest Spidey stories just showed him motivated by guilt for what had happened rather than any specific moral guideline, something that continued for as long as Stan Lee was writing the book (though the subject of the guilt eventually shifted from Uncle Ben to Captain Stacey). So when was the phrase specifically attributed to Uncle Ben, rather than just a general concept? Spider-Man vs. Wolverine, in 1987 - 25 years after his debut!

Hasbro is taking the opportunity of the Retro Collection to make a new Spider-Man - and we really do mean a new Spider-Man, because this is a new sculpt! Rather than just bust out one of the two molds they like using for Spider-Men, they designed a new torso. It's based on the larger of those two bodies (and still uses the same limbs), giving us a Spider-Man who's a little thicker than the former gold standard, but not ridiculously swole.

Unfortunately, Hasbro has not opted to make this the ultimate Spider-Man figure: the webs are still just painted on, not sculpted in. Yes, that means this nice new torso will be available for other figures in the future, but wouldn't it have been nicer to have one that was just for Spideys? Make a smooth one too, sure, but set a version aside to just use on Spider-Man and his repaints. Sculpted webs are superior to painted ones, so there's still room for improvement over this release.

Retro Spidey is light on accessories. He has two heads - one with large white eyes, one with them narrower - and your choice of fists or thwip hands, but that's all. No "wall-crawling" hands, no weblines, no "spider sense" effect to fit onto his head, nothing. The pieces swap out easily, but it still feels sparse.

The point of making a new torso? New articulation. Like Movie Venom, he pushes what Hasbro is capable of. To wit: like the Overwatch Ultimates, he's got hinged abs and a balljointed chest; and like the GI Joe Classified Series, he's got the "drop down" hip hinges; like Star Wars Black Series, he has a barbell-jointed neck, but his works the way it's supposed to. Add to that the existing articulation from the reused pieces, including pec hinges, and you've got a pretty impressive Spidey! Even if the legs are still pigeon-toed. That's something else they could have fixed.

We always say that a Spider-Man figure should be any company's excuse to trot out the very best articulation they possibly can. The 1994 toy this Retro Collection release is ostensibly updating (Series 3's Spider-Man with Super Poseable Action) boasted "15 different moving joints," which was tops at its time; in 2020, Spidey has 36. He'd be better with sculpted webs (and feet that pointed the right direction), but this is still a step up from where we were.

-- 11/20/20

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