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Spider-Man Classic
by yo go re

Spider-Hulk, Spider-Hulk, does whatever a spider... bulk?

When we first saw the line-up for Spider-Man Series 17, one figure was the immediate target of much fanboy derision: Spider-Hulk. It was a stupid design, they said; another pointless variant dreamt up by ToyBiz. Well, okay, it may be a dumb design, but this time the fault lies with Gerry Conway and Alex Saviuk. See, Spider-Hulk isn't just another silly variant - he actually appeared in the comics, in 1990's Web of Spider-Man #70.


Through a complicated series of events, Peter got the Hulk's powers. That a simple enough explanation for you? What, you want more? Years ago, a scientist named Ricardo Jones used a device to duplicate the powers of the Thing (Fantastic Four #51) because he was jealous of Reed Richards and wanted to destroy the team. However, he was impressed by the family, and gave his life to save them. Problem was, he forgot his own family: his brother Armand got a letter saying he was going to face the FF, then never heard from him again. Assuming the FF killed his brother, Armand duplicates the machine in order to get his revenge.

When the Hulk shows up in Connecticut, Armand tracks him down and tries to absorb his power. Hulk wakes up, kills him (yes, writers go back and forth about this all the time, but the Hulk is a killer) and Spider-Man, who had been following reports of a wild beast in the New England wilderness (what?), gets stuck with the guy's energy-packed device. Hulk nearly drowns him, then leaves, and Peter heads back to New York feeling woozy and uncomfortable. Confronted on a rooftop by a pair of security guards, Spidey gets angry and bam! He's a big green guy in a little red suit. Spider is the strongest one there is! When Spider gets angry, Spider gets strong! Spider SMASH! Obviously he eventually gets the excess energy drained from him, since he's still not hulking out when he gets mad, but for one issue, yes, this exact Spider-Man existed.

The figure looks great. It's possible that this figure was on-deck for the quickly-cancelled Hulk Classics line, because he's got the same general hugeness as those figures: 7¼" tall and 4" across the shoulders. Mighty! The muscles are really bugling beneath the costume, even more than most Spidey figures' - it makes sense, since he's now wearing clothes that are too small for him. Spider-Man is usually a thin, wiry guy, but he's now sporting Hulk's muscles, so the sculpt really plays that up.

There are rips and tears in the costume, where Spider-Hulk's body was just too big for the fabric to contain - most obviously the fingers and toes, but also his biceps and shoulders - basically, places where muscles flex. People joke about Hulk's pants never tearing, but in all honesty there isn't a lot of movement there at most times. Spidey's webs are etched in, and the holes are nice, but what's really impressive are the stretch marks - you look at the areas around the tears in the costume, and there's soft crosshatching that implies the stresses this suit has been under. It looks worn and threadbare from trying to contain Gamma-fueled fury. Excellent!

The head isn't quite right. He's got the huge, Hulky jawline (which the original art didn't have, but it really suits the design), but he doesn't seem to have a nose. If you're not going to give him any facial features under the mask, then we can accept that, but when we've got one blatant feature and the others are missing, it stand out. Even the real Hulk has a nose, and if he wore a mask it would make the cloth bulge.

Spider-Hulk has an action feature - flip a switch on his back and he throws the included collapsible girder - but it obeys the first rule of action features: don't get in the way of the articulation. Yes he's got an action feature that controls his shoulders, but he also has balljoints there with a full range of motion. Add to that a balljointed neck, biceps, elbows and wrists, a torso and a waist, balljointed hips, swivels at the top of the thighs, hinged knees and ankles, plus a mid-foot hinge, and you've got a great figure. But we didn't even mention the hands and their 18 points of articulation. No, that is in no way a typo: eighteen points of articulation, which means Spider-Hulk has more movement in one hand than some companies can manage in an entire series of figures.

So how do you get that much articulation in a hand? One joint for each thumb and two in each finger. Finally, a figure that can look absoultely correct with his hand open or balled into a fist. Just when super-articulation was starting to get stale, ToyBiz found a new direction to shove it. All together, Spider-Hulk has 41 points of articulation, and that's without doubling up on the elbows or knees and without even swivels at the tops of his boots. We're getting close to the 50-PoA mark on a 6" figure, and that's a crazy thing to imagine.

As mentioned above, Spider-Hulk has one accessory: a 4⅝" I-beam that he can throw. The beam splits in two to display his mighty... might. It's molded in orange, with darker shadows painted on. There are also really nice shadows on the reds of the costume, and the green of his skin contrasts nicely. Heck, there are even two-tone paint apps on his finger- and toenails.

Spider-Hulk may seem like just another silly, made-up variation of the line's main character, but he's more than that. Not only is he comic-accurate, but it turns out he's a really fun toy with a lot of attention paid. Best to give Spider-Hulk a chance, because you wouldn't want to make him angry. You wouldn't like Spider when he's angry.

-- 05/23/06

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