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Spider-Man (Black Costume)

Spider-Man Classics
by Shocka

For a long time, the comic fans have yearned for a nice Spider-Man figure. The immortal comic where Peter Parker was once bitten by a radioactive spider and became a hero has been the fodder for many awful action figure lines, including some of the worst figures ever made (Beach Spider-Man, anyone? How about Fireman Spider-Man? who ordered the cyanide?). It ponders the question "Why can't they get a simple character right?" And also "Where did my ham sandwich go?" Luckily, the increasing-quality of company ToyBiz, the makers of the popular, recent Lord of the Rings toys, came through early last year with the introduction of Spider-Man Classics. (and I found my ham sandwich)

The idea was to create high quality, high detailed figures of major characters from the comic, including lots of articulation and a base, and any needed accessories. As well as this, the original comic featuring the character was reprinted to come with the figure. Did it all work out? Yes!! ToyBiz has come through to create one of the most popular lines of 2001, continuing with its second series into 2002. The first series includes original red costume Spider-Man, with web base; black costume Spider-Man, with brick base; Venom, with enormous smashed-up guard base; and Man-Spider, with mutated land base. Each comes with its own comic, and is well articulated. I've got the entire line, and each figure is great, but the different Spider-Man figures are what really stand out.

Spider-Man found a wondrous new black costume while fighting an epic battle called the Secret Wars. The costume could respond to his thoughts, take on the appearance of any type of clothing and even produce its own webbing. The web slinger wore this sleek black costume until he discovered that it was really an alien symbiote that was trying to permanently bond with him. Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four used a sonic blaster to sever the symbiote's connection with the web slinger and trapped it in a special container. Spidey wore a regular fabric version of this black costume until he had a confrontation with the escaped symbiote and its new host, Eddie Brock. Together they called themselves Venom. After narrowly defeating Venom, Spider-Man went back to wearing his traditional red and blue costume, so he wouldn't be reminded of his greatest enemy.

The figure I'm looking at today is the black costume Spider-Man. This fine fellow stands 5⅞" tall and is adorned with a perfect duplication of his black costumed self from the comic; the entire figure is smoothly black, with the white spider logo on the top of his midsection. His eyes are emblazoned white, though perhaps too high on his head.

The sculpt is exactly the same as the original red costume Spider-Man, but without the sculpted lines. Since the symbiote is just a liquid mimicking different colors, it makes sense that they're just painted on. The paint apps are slightly better on the black costume Spidey, where some of the red is sloppy on the original. This prompts the question as to if the figures are variants of each other - I think they are, as they both figures are the same sculpts with different paint; although they are marketed as different figures. You probably won't want both of them if you've got the one, and I'm sure kids will only want one unless they're real completists. So, in my humble opinion, they are variants.

The packaging for the figure is quite nice - presented inside a plastic clamshell, the figure and base are clearly visible above the large Spider-Man Classics logo. Behind the figure is the comic, which is a marvelous addition to the figure - as well as giving you a background to the figure, it's also a good read. A card is placed in the back with a brief description and info on the other figures, with pictures. Top marks for ToyBiz, this is a fine card for both MOC collectors and people who open their toys - except that the package must be disemboweled to get the toy out, but since it's a clamshell, that's not a worry.

Articulation is where Spidey from Spider-Man Classics stands out. All of the figures are nicely articulated, but the Spider-Men stand out with 30 places of movement: balljointed arms, neck, midsection, legs; peg jointed elbows (x2), wrists, knees (x2), feet, toes; swivel jointed wrists, neck, midsection, legs, feet. He also has two fingres articulated in each hand, so that his hands can be open (for climbing), or shut in the "web shooting" pose. Talk about impressive! Even Monev has to bow down to this guy - Spidey can do almost everything a human can and more. Not limited by our pitiful structures of muscle and bone, Spidey can dance, kick, fly, bounce, limbo to the floor, bend over and do all a manner of other unmentionable things.

Normally with such a well articulated figure, you'd have a problem getting him to stand; not so with Spidey. He's relatively easy to get him to stay standing, but just in case, he also comes with a base with two pegs to allow him to stand in any position and stay there. He can even do those Matrix-esque moves and defy gravity. The base itself is a brick wall with the black Spider-Man costume-thingy above; it's a good base, and can be placed on the ground or attached to the wall to support Spidey. This base is different from the normal red costume Spider-Man's base, which is a red brick wall type thing, but the black Spidey's base is far better.

Although Spidey doesn't come with any accessories apart from the base, he doesn't need any. Now, the really kewl thing about our Spider-Man Classics; while figures with this much detail and articulation normally cost between $10 and $30, each Classic figure will only set you back $5, or even cheaper on sale. This is awesome! Especially for the figure you get. The figure itself, while being a little thin, is very durable and not likely to break, even under excessive stress/play. Excellent.

Overall, this figure is great, and one of the best in the Classics line. I'm undecided as to which Spidey I like better; probably the red, as it's more traditional, even though I don't read the comics. A slight problem with the figures is that where I live, in Australia, the figures do not come with their comics but rather with a glossy mini-poster. That's a shame, but on the upside, the amount of money I've made scalping these "rare variants" to US collectors over eBay is quite good - enough to get me a comic version imported from the US, and another few action figures series with it. The second Spider-Man Classics series is out, including another two variants of Spider-Man in different costumes, as well as Daredevil with stained glass window base, and Rhino, with wreckage base. While I've yet to buy these, I have it on good authority that they're just a good as the original line - particularly Daredevil, who has a similar body sculpt to Spider-Man, with 30 points of articulation. My only complaint with these series' is "why so many Spidey figures?" Sure, McFarlane Toys has churned out 231,641,324 different Spawn figures, but many of them are pegwarmers, so why take the same path? Either way, it saves me money not to buy the other Spideys and just get the rest of the line.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to flog a "rare edition" Red Costume Spider-Man on eBay...

-- 02/22/02

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