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Spawn Series 1
by Shocka

Late last month saw the release of the best Spawn toy ever - the extraordinary Image 10th Anniversary Spawn, the incredibly articulated, detailed, realistic, magical action figure which has been selling like wildfire. It's been said (by me) that the only way that McFarlane Toys could possibly beat this toy is to make a Spawn figure that is actually alive and able to beat up your other toys, and then proceed to attack your pets while you watch in amusement. But since Mr. McFarlane isn't returning my calls, I'm instead going all the way back to the beginning and review the first-ever Spawn figure from the first line of toys McFarlane ever made.

The original Spawn looks like a toy compared to the new Image 10 Spawn; yet for myself, like so many other collectors, this is still a figure deserving a special place in the collection. Standing less than 6" tall, he's a midget compared to all of the newer Spawn toys - but as the first-ever toy from the revolutionary company known then as "Todd Toys," this simple, small figure led McFarlane to redefine what collectors buy on shelves today.

Originally when Todd McFarlane wanted to bring his popular comicbook character to action figure form, he went to the toymakers at Mattel to see what they could come up with. Disappointed with the results, he started his own toy company, developing detailed and articulated figures the likes of which had not been seen before. Some 20-odd series of Spawn down the line, McFarlane Toys now creates and sells some of the most beautiful, imaginative toys on the market, and it all started here.

Spawn is a simple figure, articulated at the shoulders, legs, knees and neck, with a simple paint scheme that is somehow all the more effective. A simple yet effectual replication of the Spawn character from the comics, Spawn is decorated with reds, whites and blacks, with metallic spikes and green eyes that look as if they glow.

The figure is a work of art, full of creativity - the cape is my favourite aspect, which fits onto Spawn's back and folds in two places, allowing Spawn to be posed hidden behind the cape, dark and withdrawn (ala the popular comic image) or in full menacing view. The cape is detachable, meaning Spawn can be posed with or without it, a nifty feature for the figure. Spawn also has three short rubber chains, which connect to his belt-buckle-skull-thingy and to his back, and also hold his cape around his neck (really, it's just for decoration - the cape is held up by a large plastic tab that plugs into Spawn's back). Nowadays these chains are re-created with real metal, so these rubber impersonations give the toy more of a nostalgic look, which I like. They fit the era that the toy was created in, and they look nifty.

Excluding the cape, Spawn has only one accessory, which is really lame compared to the rest of the figure - it's a board with a nail in it. Comparing this to Spawn IV's arsenal is like comparing George W. Bush to a retarded monkey. It's a small boring accessory, and it sucks - though Spawn holds it fine and doesn't look too bad with it.

(I'm exaggerating because I like the figure so much - the accessory really does suck. Though it's worth noting that, aside from Medieval Spawn and Overtkill with the great pop-off head, all of the figures from this initial Spawn series had witless accessories. Clown has a chicken drumstick, for chrissakes!)

Like the previous Spider-Man Classics and the recent Marvel Legends, the original Spawn series came packaged in a clamshell with a reprint of a comic - in Spawn's case, it's a reprint of Spawn #1 - or, at least I think it is. I've never read the original comic, so I don't know, but it seems to be valid and it's a nifty addition to the toy anyway. The comic is full color with the backstory of the character, with some very nice art and a preview for the comicbook included with the Violator figure from this series. The back of the comic has pictures of the other figures in this line.

For us collectors, this is true nostalgia - not a great figure by today's standards; if companies were making toys like this they'd soon go out of business (see N2 Toys). Back in its time, this was a great figure and it's definitely worthy of a place in my collection. We have to admire the empire that Todd McFarlane has built - if not for his toys, I'd never have heard of his comic, yet I and thousands of other collectors have shelves full of Spawn toys and more shelves of his other popular toylines.

-- 02/11/03

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