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Ultimate Spider-Men

Spider-Man Legends
by yo go re

First Hasbro created a teen girl body - now they've got a teen boy.

With amazing agility and wall-crawling skills, these young web-slingers take down the bad guys!

In the late '90s, Marvel decided to create the "Ultimate Marvel" imprint, a chance to streamline its complicated continuity for a new generation of readers. (Or, let's be honest, for the same generation of readers, but in order to sell them a second set of books.) So instead of Peter Parker being an adult with a wife and a job, he was a teenager in high school; instead of radiation, the spider that bit him had been changed by genetic modification; and instead of his origin being over and done with in 11 pages, it was stretched out over seven full issues. Because that way, instead of ending up being included as a reprint in the back of extra-sized comics during anniversary years, it can be collected in a trade paperback and sold in real bookstores.

The Ultimate Spider-suit was no different from its mainstream counterpart - red and blue body, black webs on it, you know the drill. Following recent trends, the eyes on his mask are sculpted, but the rest of the webs are just painted on (so the body can be reused). The eyes are large, just like Mark Bagley drew them during his historic 111-issue run.

Since Ultimate Spidey was just a teenager, he hadn't yet built up the muscle mass that comes from swinging yourself around the city on a thread, so a skinny little body works great for him. According to Bagley's original character designs, Spidey was 5'7" and weighed about 135 lbs, and this toy looks like that. It's definitely muscular, with defined pecs and abs even through the cloth of his costume, but it's also got smooth, slender limbs, and hands and feet that are perhaps just slightly too large, to suggest he's still got some growing to do.

Hasbro doesn't skimp on articulation - they've found a layout scheme that works for them (and for us), and they stick with it. Ultimate Spider-Man has a balljointed head, hinged neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, double-hinged elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, hinged torso, swivel waist, balljointed hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, swivel shins and swivel/hinge ankles. It may not be quite as flexible as you might want a Spider-Man to be (no lateral pec hinges like the adult Spider-body, for instance), but A) he's just starting out, not yet in full fighting shape, and B) this body has to work for future characters, too. The pins in the elbow joints are molded in red, meaning we get dots on the inside of his arms, but that could probably be fixed at home with a little paint.

When ToyBiz made an Ultimate Spider-Man figure, it included a Peter Parker head. Well, it included a Peter Parker everything, since the point was you could turn the toy into a civilian. Anyway, this release also includes a Peter head - it's young and has messy hair and is flashing a big smile. It looks perfectly like you'd imagine Peter Parker would look.

Because this is the first use of a new mold, it also comes with a bunch of hands: two web-shooting, two wall-crawling, and two fists. Getting them out of the arms to switch is tougher than usual, but not impossible.

The Build-A-Figure for this series of Spider-Man Legends is another Venom, and Ultimate Spider-Man comes with the arm. The left arm.

It's cool that Hasbro has followed Mattel's lead by creating a mold specifically for teenage heroes, and cooler still that they gave us both Ultimate Spider-Men as a way to introduce it.

-- 11/14/16

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