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Sandman

Spider-Man: No Way Home
by yo go re

Much to the disappointment of nerds like us everywhere who like to identify, clarify, and classify things, it's important not to get too hung up on the specifics of magic spells.

Flint Marko, stuck in sand form, must go with the flow to get himself back home.

It's not like The Lord of the Rings would be better if Gandalf was shown selecting his spell slots and we saw his specific stats and power level on-screen, but even with that in mind, how does "spell to make people forget a thing" instead become "spell to bring all the people who already know a thing to here"? And then it seemed like it was grabbing those people from the moment of their death, until you realize Lizard never died. And neither did Sandman. "Oh, well it was getting them from the moment they stopped being villains, because the civilian identities didn't care that way about who Spider-Man really was." Okay, but Sandman was already over his anger before he knew about Peter, so that doesn't track. And Electro never knew who Spider-Man was at all. I have so many nerd questions!

When Hasbro made Spider-Man 3 toys, they still thought 5" action figures were going to be good enough. Heh heh heh hehehe nope! They eventually back-tracked and did a 6" line, but it was kind of late by that point and, since it was in-house work and not reused ToyBiz designs, the toys weren't very good. So while there was technically a live-action Sandman Legend before now, this was still one we really needed.

Sadly, because No Way Home was being shot before America decided to pretend the pandemic was over and thus was still observing even the slightest bit of mitigation practices, Thomas Haden Church was not able to physically be on-set. The filmmakers got around this by having him permanently in sand form (the notion of him being "stuck" like this never comes up in the film, it's just from the back of the packaging here), so he could be created entirely digitally. That does mean this toy is a wholly new sculpt, fully covered with a sandy texture and nothing else. We'd bet you this also means they don't have to pay likeness fees, since "head that looks vaguely similar to real-life actor but has no specific features" could legally be claimed to not represent that person. Like the opposite end of the spectrum from the way Minimates and Funkos don't need to pay for likenesses because they're so stylized. We do give the sculptor credit for making the feet look like piles of sand, rather than just lumpy shoes.

Articulation is standard stuff, but a little on the low side: swivel/hinge ankles, double-hinged knees, swivel thighs, balljointed hips, a balljointed chest, swivel/hinge wrists, double-hinged elbows, swivel biceps, swivel/hinge shoulders, and a barbell head. Presumably the lack of a waist or any shins was a choice to keep the "big mound of sand" look as unbroken as possible; as the only non-Spidey, non-reused mold in this series, it's his fate to be judged harshly.

The figure is molded in a yellow-tan plastic with darker parts airbrushed on, both as anatomical shadows and as random spots of darker sand to break up the monotony. Of course, Hasbro demanding to shake every goddamn penny out of your pocket means that this toy, which costs 25% more than it reasonably should and doesn't include any Build-A-Figure pieces, barely gets any paint at all on the back of the figure. Just a big, blank, yellow butt.

But hey, at least we get cool extras. Borrowing an idea from the Retro Collection figure, this Sandman not only gets fists and open hands, but also oversized sand-hands, and the benefit of extra pieces that slip onto the forearms to make the transition to the larger hands more gradual. Looks really neat! And I'm gonna have to dig out the old "Unleashed" Sandman to see how he looks with even more sand pieces swirling around him.

By the end of the film, Sandman gets "cured" and so does appear as human Flint Marko briefly (thanks to reused footage from Spider-Man 3), so Hasbro could technically do another series of figures and put that version in it. But not only would that require making more new molds, they'd also have to pay for likeness rights, and you know how they feel about that. Same reason we're unlikely to see an Electro any time soon, since he was no longer translucent and blue, meaning a generic face won't cut it, and they can't cheat the licensing like they did with Amazing Spider-Andrew since they didn't get Jamie Foxx's rights back in 2014, either. This is a fun enough figure, even with all the shortcuts they took, but we really do still need a plain movie Sandman that doesn't suck. And a New Goblin. And a Veno-- you know what, we just need a full Spider-Man 3 re-do line. Sandman, Venom, Goblin, repainted black Spider-Man with Emo Peter Parker head, waitress MJ, our first Gwen Stacy... the fans crave it, Hasbro! Make things happen!

-- 01/18/24


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