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Kraven the Hunter

Spider-Man Classic
by yo go re

After Marvel Legends split off from the Spider-Man Classics line, poor Spidey went down hill fast. From a highly varied line of well-articulated figures that included a detailed base and a free comicbook to repetitious variants in one giant leap? Talk about disappointing. Every few series, however, ToyBiz does manage let some good toys slip into the assortment.

If it's true that a hero is judged solely by the caliber of the enemy he faces, then Spider-Man is easily one of the world's greatest. His rogues' gallery has just as much depth and variety as Batman's (if not more), and he's only been swinging around town for half as long. A lot of good stories have been told with Spider-Man over the years, but one of the best featured an otherwise lower-tier villain named Kraven the Hunter.

Kraven Born into an aristocracy that had come to an end, Sergei Kravinoff became one of the world's greatest hunters to fulfill his sense of lost nobility. But he grew bored and wanted a new challenge, a new kind of trophy on his wall: Spider-Man's head! Drinking a rare and exotic jungle elixir, he gained the strength and speed of a savage beast; all the better to meet Spider-Man as Kraven the Hunter!

Kraven is one of Spidey's oldest enemies, appearing only one month after the Green Goblin made his debut, in the same issue which first made mention of future love interest Mary Jane Watson. He kept returning over the years, until the classic "Kraven's Last Hunt" storyline saw his ultimate defeat of the wall-crawler.

Looking just like he does in the comics, Kraven is wearing his ultra-stylish jungle gear: leopard-spotted pants, a lion's head vest and zebra-print armbands. The figure is almost Marvel Legends quality, which isn't really a big surprise - he's actually a repainted Legends Namor figure (which was itself a repaint of a WCW Buff Bagwell figure).

Kraven's head is a brand new sculpt, and it looks great. He's got a dastardly smile on his face, gritting his teeth as he eyes some unwary prey. Every wrinkle on Kraven's skin is captured expertly, and his swept-back hair is just slightly out of place. You can imagine him tracking some beast for days through the jungles, wrestling it into submission and now standing over it triumphantly, ready to deliver the killing blow. Phil Ramirez really did a good job on this one.

The figure has the same 26 points of articulation as Namor, which gives him a nice wide range of poses for your bug hunt. He includes a decent mixture of accessories: on the good side, we get a knife and machete that can be held in either hand; on the bad, we get a ridiculous projectile-firing "bolo gun" that looks like the stock of a regular shotgun crammed into some overly technological pair of missile launchers and a crossbow. At least the blades are nice.

Kraven is a good example of how reusing an existing mold can really work well. The body is neither overly pumped nor too skinny for the character, and the sculpt suits him well (the only telling part are the squares cut in his pants to accommodate Namor's wings). The paint job is excellently detailed; the animal prints all have very sharp, distinct edges, with the zebra stripes doing a good job of making Namor's bracelets disappear. The vest is a separate piece, just as Namor's was, but is an entirely new sculpt. If only all redecos were this well-handled, a lot less people would be complaining about them.

-- 09/10/03


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