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Spawn the Immortal

Spawn Series 33: The Age of Pharaohs
by yo go re

Spawn exists in a world of alternate histories, where anything that could possibly be, is. Spawn fans also live in an alternate world, where Todd McFarlane cares about them and what they want. Back when McFarlane Toys was still relevant and its message board was the cradle of (toy collector) civilization, the fans often bandied about ideas of what kinds of toys they'd like to see. Gunslinger Spawn, for instance. The release of The Viking Age was a huge victory for the fans, and we immediately began asking for an Egyptian equivalent. Well, six years and 11 series later, we finally (kind of) got what we wanted.

A warrior reborn. Osiris, the onetime ruler of Egypt, returns from the underworld with newfound powers and a desire for vengeance against those who betrayed him and took his throne.

As far as transposing the Spawn mythology onto a real legend goes, using the story of Osiris is a good choice - he was betrayed and murdered by his brother, went to the afterlife, but was called back by the love of his wife. Hell, that already describes Spawn's origins, without any changes at all. Of course, in the original myths, Osiris immediately goes back to the underworld, lingering only long enough to, ah, "tickle the cat" with Isis, if you will? To spear the fish? To flood her Nile delta? You get the idea. In McToys' slightly reworked version, however, he hangs around to kick some ass; but that's an understandable change, right? The basics are all still there.

You'll recall that the last time McToys brushed up against ancient Egypt, we got one of the best toys the company ever made. Sadly, don't expect that level of wonderfulness again: Spawn the Immortal is just as much of a relic in toy form as Osiris is in terms of history.

Egyptian Spawn's design is much more "Spawn" than "Egyptian"; he's got the black bodysuit with the bit white M logo on the chest, and pointless bits of (sculpted) twine wrapped around his limbs. He's wearing a skirt and a shawl of some sort, but that's not his cape - this time, that particular garment takes the form of wrapped bandages on his legs and right arm. He's wearing One Giant Boot™©, and is adorned with all sorts of dumb skulls and bony bits hanging around - including one on the tip of his left foot.

Spawn's head is somewhat more desiccated than average, but it's still unambiguously a typical Spawn, complete with the big Spider-Man eyes. Although to be fair, the fact that he has visible and fully detailed ears suggests that perhaps it's his skin which is black, not a suit worn over it. That's one difference, at least. He has a horned skull that he wears as a hat, but it's held on by nothing but friction - so don't be surprised if it slips off. Poor guy also has a comical collar rising up a few inches higher than his head. Wow, lame. Measuring to the top of Spawn the Immortal's head, the toy is 6½" tall; his hand is 7¾"; and the tips of the collar reach 8¾".

Sadly, the thing that led to McToys' recent collapse is in full effect here: a lack of articulation. Despite the fact that The Viking Age went through a 100% sell-out, an R3 redesign and a second complete sell-out, Todd never seemed to figure out it was the articulation that made the series a success. Spawn the Immortal has one pose, and that's it: resting one foot on a raised block, body twisted somewhat to the side, with his shield held out to one side and his spear raised over his head. It's not particularly dynamic or visually interesting, and thus fails the ultimate test of any "McStatue": it has to look good enough that you don't mind the fact that it's immobile. Warrior Isis succeeds, Spawn the Immortal fails.

As mentioned, Spawn the Immortal (aren't they all immortal? isn't that the point?) has a shield and a spear. The shield plugs onto his arm - but don't assume that means it's removable, because it's clearly not designed to be used separately - and the absurdly complex spear splits inhalf to fit into his hand. The interior of the shield is pitted, while the front looks like fine leather. There's a metal ankh dominating the surface, with spikes and a golden bird motif. The thing he's standing on looks like riveted metal - not something you would see in ancient Egypt, so what the hell is it supposed to be? Spawny also gets a little pet cobra to drape over his neck.

In an effort to recapture some of that "Viking Age" glory, the logo for this series is pretty much a direct copy of S22's, just with the clever viking head A replaced by a less imaginative skull. There are also hieroglyphics on the packaging - the traditional spelling of Osiris next to an oval Spawn logo. A little research is better than none, after all.

The concept of "Ancient Egyptian Spawn" should have been a total win. Take a cipherous character who already has mystical afterlife undertones and graft him onto a culture that was rife with the same. But instead of repeating their past successes, McToys chose to perpetuate their current failures, and what we got was a bad design, an absurd lack of articulation, useless accessories and lackluster, indistinct colors. "Spawn: The Viking Age" sold out twice; even with substantial markdowns, "Spawn: Age of Pharaohs" was one of the last things still on the shelves when KB Toys finally shut down. Is it any wonder Todd had to pull the plug on most of his toys? I don't hate Spawn the Immortal, but I sure wish I'd held out for clearance prices.

-- 04/09/09

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