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Spider-Man Classics
by yo go re

Series 1 of Spider-Man Classics offered two normal figures, and two that were a bit crazier. See if you can guess which half this one is.

Eddie Brock bonded with the alien symbiotic costume that Spider-Man once wore to form the evil entity known only as Venom. The symbiote and Eddie Brock are united in their hatred of Spider-Man. The alien costume hates Peter Parker for rejecting it, while Brock blames Spider-Man for ruining his career as a journalist. Together, they are Spider-Man's deadliest foe. Venom has all of Spider-Man's powers plus abilities he doesn't possess. Venom always has the element of surprise because it doesn't trigger Spider-Man's "spider sense" and can blend into backgrounds to virtually disappear like a chameleon. Its only weaknesses are to sonics and fire. After coming to a temporary truce with his archenemy, Venom became a self-styled lethal protector of the innocent.

Venom is, like the rest of the Spider-Man Classics, 100% new sculpt - but an utterly mental sculpt it is. We're really left to wonder if this was a design ToyBiz originated, or if (sculptor) Phil Ramirez came up with it on his own as a break from doing just another plain Venom. This is a sculpt that tells a story: the symbiote is flowing up Eddie's body, and hasn't quite finished covering him yet; there are still bare patches on his arms and legs, and random tendrils dripping off him at all angles. His left leg is bare from the thigh down - his right foot is smooth and rounded, but his left still has individual toes. His right hand is distended into a weird, giant claw (perfect for grabbing Spidey around the chest), while his left is much more normal. And then there's the head.

Despite coming out in 2001, three years before Facebook would be founded, Venom is throwing some pretty epic duck-face at us. His tongue - which is sculpted with tastebuds, eww! - is sticking straight out of the mouth, and the fangs are irregular and jagged. And all that would be fine, if not for the way the upper lip sticks out, rather that being right up against the face.

Now, to be fair, there's a reason the mouth was done that way. Remember, Eddie Brock doesn't simply transform into Venom through magical means, the symbiote wraps around him like a sleeve. So if you look over the teeth and past the gums, look out Spidey, here it comes! "It" in this case being "a fully sculpted Eddie Brock face." Almost worth the tradeoff!

The articulation on Spider-Man Classics wasn't quite as good as it would eventually be on Marvel Legends, so there's a little bit of weirdness in the way Venom moves. He has hinged ankles, hinged knees, swivel/hinge hips, swivel waist, wrists and elbows, swivel/hinge shoulders, and a balljointed head. Isn't that all just a bit odd? Swivel elbows, instead of hinges? No kind of thigh joints? The toy may have a modern sculpt, but this was some very '90s articulation.

Venom does get an accessory, which is more than can be said for his casemates: it's an ~5" long strand of webbing that plugs into the back of his left hand. It's sculpted in a very McFarlane style, with lines wrapped around a central core, but there are also random globs spraying off in every direction.

All the Spider-Man Classics came with an ornate display base. Venom is unique among Series 1, in that his base provides us with a second character. He gets a pile of brick wall rubble, and half-buried in that rubble is a Vault Guardsman! It's not removable, and in any case is missing its left arm and leg (buried in rubble/covered in webs), and if it could stand up on its own it would be closer to Marvel Select scale than Marvel Legends, but it's still a cool thing to get. It has three "keyhole" hangers in the back that allow you to wall-mount it in different directions, and there's a clear arm that fits around Venom's waist to allow him to cling to the wall if you desire.

Like we said, this figure tells a story. The base suggests it takes place in the Vault (one of Marvel's various superhuman-ready jails), and the broken walls and defeated guard say it's during a prison break. The way the symbiote is engulfing Brock says he just got it back, and offers a clear progression: it started at his right hand (which is why that's so monstrous already) and is flowing down and to the left (thus explaining why he still has a bare foot); two more seconds and he'll be the black mass you expect. The webs on the Guardsman say Venom is the one who took him out, so that must have been the first thing he did. It's up to you to decide how he got his symbiote back, but it's nice to know this weird-ass design has a purpose behind it.

-- 02/01/16

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