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Doctor Octopus

Spider-Man: No Way Home
by yo go re

Brilliant scientist and perennial foe of Spider-Man, Dr. Otto Octavius aka Doc Ock must learn to free his mind from his tentacles in order to regain control.

Free your mind, and the rest will follow. Be colorblind, don't be so shallow.

I don't think it's possible to overstate the impact Sam Raimi's choice to use Dr. Octopus in Spider-Man 2 had on the character. Sure, Doc was a classic Spidey villain, one of the major ones, but ultimately he was just some guy - nobody cared about him. It was fine to see him in a story, because he'd been part of the books for so long, but that was it. He was set decoration. Then came Spider-Man 2 and Alfred Molina, and fans' interest in Doc Ock skyrocketed. Naturally, we were all excited when it was revealed he'd be back for No Way Home.

Hasbro has released a movie Dr. Octopus before, but it was just a repackaged ToyBiz figure. This one is entirely new, showing the quality Hasbro can deliver in 2023. Furthering any confusion that may exist about where and when these villains were being pulled from, this Doc Ock has one obvious difference from the one seen 20 years ago: the old one never wore a shirt. Hey, Alfred Molina was in his late 60s when No Way Home was filmed, we're not going to fault him for being sensitive about his physique. But that does mean this isn't him from the moment he was drowning at the end of Spider-Man 2, unless he found and pulled on a black sweatshirt while he was sinking to the bottom of the East River. So the fact the logo on the packaging claims this toy is from Spider-Man 2? That's what we like to call "a straight-up lie." His two jackets are sculpted separately, which was a technology beyond the means of toymakers two decades ago; fortunately, Hasbro already has experience with this kind of chicanery, so it looks fine here.

Articulation is average. He has a barbell head, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel/hinge elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, a balljointed waist, balljoint hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, and swivel/hinge ankles. Yet again, we get no swivels below the knee, meaning he can't turn his feet at all to the side. On figures like Green Goblin or all the Spider-Men that was just cheapskate corner-cutting meant to save the company pennies while raising prices and selling us an inferior and incomplete toy, but in this case, pantlegs without working ankles is one of Hasbro's strongest traditions, so who's to say whether this is stinginess or incompetence? With today's Hasbro, it could be either!

But honestly, you're never going to care about his ankles, because we still need to talk about his arms. His mechanical arms! They're permanently plugged into the figure's back, rather than being packaged separately, which is a surprise. Definitely makes them more secure, though. They're bendy, and textured all the way along to look like segmented metal, but they're solid grey: no gold, like Spider-Man 2, and no red, like No Way Home. Since the arms have a triangular cross section, they bend more easily in some directions than others, but you'll be able to work with that.

The claws on the upper two arms are smaller than the claws on the lower two, which is accurate to the movie. Both movies. Each "finger" on the upper claw gets a hinge where it meets the central "hand," but not in the middle - that one is just sculpted, not real, which is definitely disappointing. Just as you get your choice of fists or open hands for Otto's arms, the large claws on the lower set of mechanical arms can be swapped between gripping or flat.

The gripping ones, naturally, are meant to grab other figures by the chest and hold them. They're unarticulated, so if a figure doesn't already fit into them, that's not going to change any time soon. The flat ones are slightly larger, because they serve another purpose: providing a large, sturdy base to keep him standing.

Yes, although the arms are bendy, the wires inside are firm enough to lift the figure up into the air and reliably support him there. When ToyBiz did the same, it took all four of the octopus arms to manage that, but Hasbro's No Way Home Doc Ock can stand on just two! It's very easy to find his balance point, and the fact the splayed claws can turn helps you make sure he's steady. Not only that, the fact you can swap the "gripping" claws to the upper arms means he can hold another figure in the air while he holds himself in the air! Outstanding! We may have given Hasbro grief about the human legs' ankles, but this is amazingly fun and is better than any Dr. Octopus anybody else has ever made, from any continuity, at any pricepoint. If we had to give up shin joints to get these, it was worth it.

There is one thing that's definitely missing, though, and there's no excuse for it, no matter how nice the rest of the figure may be. Tell us, since this is a new and unique sculpt, why there isn't any control device sculpted on the back of his neck. It's literally been a major plot point in two movies now, how did they forget to sculpt it? And don't say it would be under his shirt, it comes up higher than that; it sits right below his hairline. It's not like we're asking for the Starktech add-on that Peter made, just a raised ridge painted silver, to show you remember how this character works.

It's not an exaggeration to say that without Sam Raimi, there never would have been a Superior Spider-Man or a Marvel's Sony's Insomniac's Marvel's Spider-Man for the Sony Playstation 4; at least, not the way they were. Those stories relied on audiences caring about Otto Octavius as a person, and that just wasn't a thing before Spider-Man 2. That movie is when Dr. Octopus went from being a popular villain to a popular character, and it's great we've got such a terrific figure of him today.

-- 02/12/24

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