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Spider-Man Classics
by yo go re

Spider-Man has to have one of the most misspelt names in all of comics. It's "Spider-Man." Spider-hyphen-Man. Not "Spiderman." When Stan Lee created this Webslinger, there was already a pretty famous "S" man in comics, also making his way above a city skyline in red and blue. To help differentiate between Spidey and the Man of Steel, Stan added a hyphen to his name to break up the shape of the word. So, "Spider-Man."

Peter Parker was an ordinary high school student until he was bitten by a radioactive spider while attending a science fair. The brilliant young man gained the proportionate strength, speed, agility and early warning "spider sense" of the arachnid. Peter created a red and blue costume to wear while using his newfound powers for personal fame and fortune as Spider-Man. When Peter failed to stop a criminal who later killed his Uncle Ben, he realized that with his great powers must also come great responsibility. From then on, Peter used his powers to battle evil as a wall crawling, web slinger defender of the innocent - the amazing Spider-Man.

For a hero as lithe and athletic as Spidey, his action figures have always been a little on the static side. Sure, every so often we might get a "super poseable" Spider-Man that might have 12 points of articulation, but he was still unable to even come close to a lot of the acrobatics that his four-color incarnation could pull off.

But all that changed with the release of the Spider-Man Classics line. There were four figures in the first series, including Spider-Man in two of his costumes. The sculpting was decent, but what really made the figures notorious was the amount of articulation to be found: the figure moves at the top and bottom of the neck, both shoulders, double-jointed elbows, mid-forearm, wrist, fingers, mid-chest, waist, hips, mid-thigh, double-jointed knees, boot tops, ankles, and toes, for a grand total of 30 points of articulation, an amount nearly unheard of in American action figures.

This is Spider-Man in his classic red and blue costume. The black webbing that runs over the entire red portion of the costume, rather than just being painted on, has actually been sculpted into the figure and painted with a black fill wash, as has the spider insignia on his chest. The black gets a little sloppy in some places though, so you'll want to look him over first.

Each of the figures in this line came with a diorama base, and while standard Spidey's might not have been the best, it was quite creative and really adds to the figure; included in the clamshell package is a red disk, simulating the Spider-Light shining on a wall. There are a few bricks sculpted on, as well as a window with Peter's camera webbed in place to catch some action shots. The base can either lay flat or be mounted on the wall, and there's a clear(ish) plastic wand to help hold Spidey in place in the more vertical situation, meaning that this wallcrawler really crawls the walls! The package also included a reproduction of Amazing Spider-Man #301 (or just a photo of the cover, in the Canadian release).

There were a few flaws with the figure, however; the hip joints were molded from red plastic, then painted blue. That means that as the movement of the legs wears away the paint, red stripes become visible. Also, many of the joints were quite tight, and nearly snapped when I tried to move them, so, you know, that's not a good thing.

Despite a few flaws, this Spider-Man is a great figure. Not the best Spidey ever released, but a close, close second. Finally, your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is worthy of being on your friendly neighborhood toyshelf.

-- 02/11/02

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