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Spider-Man Retro Collection
by yo go re

It's entirely debatable whether Batman, Flash, or Spider-Man have the best rogues' gallery, but Spidey's definitely wins when it comes to toys.

Desperate to be whole again, geneticist Curt Connors injects himself with a regenerative serum derived from reptile DNA, only to find himself transformed into the monstrous Lizard!

We've already had one Lizard from Hasbro (sorry Goomba Trooper, you don't count), but there were two factors working against its favor: one, it was a Build-A-Figure, so you had to buy seven other toys to get it; and two, it was the ultra-current design, which meant he looked like a dinosaur. If you wanted a Lizard who really looked like the Lizard the way a lot of fans think of him - a recognizable blend of man and reptile, about the size a normal human being, etc. - had to go all the way back to ToyBiz's "Fearsome Foes" box set. Nearly two decades ago! So by all means, Hasbro, yes, add a classic Lizard to the Spider-Man Retro Collection, give us all a little variety and even more versions of the Spider-Foes in plastic.

The first Lizard figure was released in 1994, so it looked like Todd McFarlane's redesign, which was already a lot more reptilian than Lizard had classically appeared. And that's how it continued for years. But when Steve Ditko initially created Lizard, he looked more human. Relatively. His head is shaped like Kermit the Frog's, just with large, rounded scales instead of smooth felt. Heavy brows come down over the large white eyes, and his mouth is open slightly.

This set includes an alternate head, matching the second way Lizard was drawn; by the '80s, artists had begun extending the snout, and drawing him with visible fangs. That was the style used for the '90s Spider-Man cartoon, and so that was also the style used for the Lizard in the toyline this one is homaging. It makes sense, then, that we'd get one to match it. The eyes on this one are smaller and yellow, and a long, pink, forked tongue reaches out from the end of his mouth.

BAF Lizard was a large figure (as you might expect), which was suitable for the half-dino design, but many fans wanted a Lizard who could look Spider-Man in the eye without having to hunch over. Retro Lizard is a new sculpt, small enough that it could have used existing pieces if Hasbro wanted. Beneath his white lab coat, Lizard wears a black T-shirt and purple pants. We've seen similar clothing before, so it's not like Lizard needed to be new, except for the torn lower edges of his pantlegs and sleeves. The clothes are sculpted with wrinkles that make them look very tight, suggesting Curt grows at least a little when he becomes the Lizard. Maybe he grows a little more every time, like new shoes stretching out as you wear them. That could be why he's consistently gotten larger and more reptilian over the years!

Being a new body, Lizzo has newer articulation: that is, his chest is a balljoint over hinged abs, rather than hinging the chest and making the waist a swivel. His lab coat is designed to ride up in the back, leaving a gap for his tail; but since it's PVC and not softgoods, that notch stays where it is, meaning it won't line up properly if you turn or tilt the upper body. He's got all the other usual Marvel Legends joints (head, neck, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists, hips, thighs, knees, shins, and ankles), plus a swivel for his tail. Unlike the BAF's tail, it doesn't have any awkward joints this time - it's bendy, and swivels where it meets the body. (You have to assemble it once you open the figure.) There are also no hinges in his toes, meaning those oversized feet of his go flat on the ground, rather than being digitigrade.

Because this is, in theory at least, based on the old cartoon toys, the paint is simple: plain blocks of color, with no shading. BAF Lizard's coat was muddy along the lower edge and the sleeves, but this one is pure white. The shirt and pants are the same general color, just without any splits in the fabric to allow his skin to peek through. The skin on this figure is green, but it's a very blue shade; I'd much rather it be closer to yellow, but that probably just means Hasbro can reuse these molds for a "normal" release in the future.

Just like the toy comes with an alternate head, it also has alternate hands. The first set include a clutching right hand and a splayed left hand (like he's going to try to climb a wall), while the alts are a right fist and a left for holding. Holding what? Lab flasks. An Erlenmeyer flask with red contents, and a volumetric flask with yellow. That second one doesn't look great, since its yellow plug doesn't match the round shape at all, meaning it looks fully unnatural. There are small holes in the mouth of each piece, which look like they'd be the perfect size for those smoke wisps Hasbro's given a few figures. Now, obviously Curt Connors is the one to usually be doing sciency things, not the Lizard, but they're still fun inclusions. And look at the way the hands are: the left hand is the one holding something, and the right is just closed in a fist. Exactly the way they'd be if Connors had just finished taking the serum to regrow his missing right arm!

This Lizard serves as both a "first appearance" and "classic '80s" version, with his two heads. Lizard wasn't a Spider-Foe we desperately needed - Hasbro did one, ToyBiz did several - but this is a very worthy update. The only things there are to not like about it are the particular shade of green chosen for his scales, and the fact that these Retro Collection releases already have a surcharge on top of the normal price, and then you add being a store exclusive (Walmart) on top of that.

-- 02/13/23

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