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Ultimate Vulture

Spider-Man: Homecoming
by yo go re

Nothing like walking into Walmart, turning down the toy aisle, and finding a single sample of a new exclusive you didn't even know was being made!

This set, obviously, is meant to cash in on the sure-to-be-popularity of Spider-Man: Homecoming - why on earth would anyone release a Vulture action figure otherwise? But while this is based on the comics, it's not the classic Vulture (sorry, everybody hoping for a re-release of the Fearsome Foes mold, or even his short-lived black and red "Marvel Knights" costume) - rather, this is the first-ever toy of Ultimate Vulture!

Ultimate Vulture is not Adrian Toomes, geriatric magnet enthusiast; rather, he's Raniero "Blackie" Drago, the Earth-1610 counterpart of the second man to use the villainous identity. In the 616 reality, Blackie Drago was Toomes' cellmate, who got out of prison and took the wings; in the Ultimate universe, he was an ex-SHIELD agent who was hired (and given his flight suit) by The Tinkerer to kill Roxxon's CEO.

Ultimate Vulture was designed by Mark Bagley, because of course he was. Since the idea was to make him look basically similar to the existing character, but not be elderly, he's now a young bald guy. Specifically, he was based on Jason Statham, which was probably the same kind of wishful thinking/fantasy casting that got us Samuel L. Jackson. Though the toy's head is definitely based on Bagley's artwork, you'd never guess Statham if you didn't know it.

The set also includes an alternate head for him, a bird-shaped helmet. That didn't appear in the comics, coming instead from Season 4 of the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon. It's a neat piece, with big red eyes, a hooked beak, and silver "feathers" on the forehead, and makes this toy a hybrid, kind of like the White Tiger figure from a few series back.

Vulture gets a lot of new molds, but the ones that aren't all come from the Spidey body! There are metal "feathers" on his forearms, allwing him to slash his enemies (think Batman's gloves), and he has clawed hands. There's a big collar/yoke thing over his shoulders, mimicking the original Ditko design, and his chest is covered in banded armor. He has a belt that's so big it has to be molded on the lower abdomen and the pelvis alike. While his flight pack still gives him a hunch Mr. Burns would approve of, there's a bit of material extending down his back, making it look more supported and secure than usual.

A piece of the backpack pulls off, allowing you to plug in his large wings - yes, Ultimate Vulture just had wings on his back, rather than on his arms like Adrian did. So that you don't make the same mistake that I did with Falcon and plug them in backwards, each of the tabs has a unique shape. Assembled, they have a 13½" wingspan.

Being made from an existing mold, Vulture has the existing articulation: feet/ankles, knees, thighs, hips, waist, torso, wrists, elbows, biceps, shoulders/chest, and neck/head. The width of his torso means he can't put his arms down to his sides very well, but the toy retains the pectoral swivels. The chest hinge isn't very dynamic, sadly - the backpack pad keeps it from leaning back very far, and it just refuses to go very much forward in general. On the plus side, the combo of a balljointed head and a hinged neck mean he can look up while flying, proving again why that combo should be standard issue.

His suit is a dark metallic green, with a lighter green - still shiny - for the collar/flightpack, belt and forearm ruffles. Six small golden balls bump out of his belt. The feather-dealies on his wings are silver, while the frame is the same dark color as his suit. His skin is bright pink, because he's a healthy adult, not a decrepit old man.

Sadly, Vulture is not sold by himself. This is a two-pack that pairs him with Ultimate Spider-Man. That would be fine, if we hadn't just gotten the same basic figure a few months ago. This honestly is that, just with brighter blue paint apps, no webs down the outside of the arms (because it's based on the cartoon models, not the comics), and fewer hands. It doesn't even come with the Peter Parker head! If you got that figure (and you had to, if you wanted to build the BAF), then there is absolutely no value offered by this release, making it a supremely overpriced accessory.

Hey, it could always be worse, right? At least you're only being forced to buy one unwanted figure this time, and not two.

It's cool to get an action figure of Ultimate Vulture, a character who's never had a toy before. But man, being saddled with an uninspired re-released Spidey does not a fun exclusive make!

-- 05/15/17

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