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Spider-Man Classic
by yo go re

When fans talk about which villains they want to see in the next Spider-Man movies, one of the top contenders is always Mysterio. And why not? With Mysterio, you could make literally anything happen - giant dinosaurs, alien invasion, massive destruction on an unbelievable scale... it would be a special effects extravaganza!

A cloud of smoke heralds the sudden appearance of one of Spider-Man's arch-foes - Mysterio! A former stuntman and special effects wizard who turned his knowledge of the art of creating illusion to the service of crime, this villainous mastermind employs an arsenal of ingenious devices against Spider-Man. Surely, the domed helmet of Mysterio must conceal the true face of evil!

Though he was possibly the best effects man in the business, Quentin Beck was frustrated by the fact that his work was all behind the scenes - he wanted credit and recognition. When one of his friends joked that he should fight a superhero, Beck took the idea seriously, using his skills to become Mysterio, the master of illusion.

Spidey's foes just keep getting bigger. While it made sense for guys like Sandman and Scorpion, Mysterio is un-enhanced. As is, though, the figure is 6¾" tall, even if part of that is his large dome. He moves at the toes, ankles, boots, knees, hips, waist, shoulders, elbows, gloves, wrists and hands. There's no real neck and no torso joint, as a result of Mysterio's "Magic Change" action feature.

Press the giant button on Mysterio's back, and a tiny bulb at the front of his helmet lights, illuminating the face within. The head has three faces sculpted around its surface - one human, one alien and one demon - and it turns as the button is pushed. The action feature could be a lot better. The light is nice, throwing some nice contrast and shadows on the faces. However, there's no set distance of rotation with each button push, so most of the time the light will be shining on the side of a face or the seam between two of them. It would have been better if ToyBiz had made the helmet removable and included multiple heads that you could change for yourself.

Or screw that, why have a button rotate the heads at all? He wears a perfect sphere on his head - make it and the faces rotate together, like the knob on top of Man-E-Faces' head. Put a slot in the bottom of the thing to allow for the bulb we have now, and have the button just light that.

Because of the design of this action feature, Mysterio's fishbowl helmet isn't quite the shape it should be. Instead of a spherical dome, it has parallel sides. The plastic is a smokey grey, rather than the usual white. Overall, the helmet is too tall and too wide, throwing off the look. ToyBiz should have taken the same approach as Bowen Designs did for their Mysterio bust: a semi-translucent white dome with a darker, featureless "head" inside. That's what the character looks like in the comics, and that's what he should look like here.

The sculpt on the whole figure is good. The intersecting lines of his costume are all sculpted in, and his crazy, Steve Ditko-designed gloves have a definite intricate pattern covering the sides. Each of the three faces is detailed well, even if that detail might never be seen. They even got the big eye-shaped clasps on his cape. Very good stuff. The sculpt is by Phil Ramirez, one of ToyBiz's go-to guys, and with work of this caliber, it's easy to see why he is.

Mysterio does have one large accessory, a missile-firing display base. It's designed to make Mysterio look like he's riding on a floating cloud. Though intended to resemble tendrils of smoke, the base doesn't quite succeed; the wisps are too thick and too perfectly spiralled to pass as real. Adding to the "special effect" look of the base, the missiles it launches are little orange monsters, a mess of beaks, tentacles and squinty red eyes. The base is a good effort, but doesn't really add much to the figure.

What could they have given him that would have been better? Not much, really. His illusions are large-scale affairs, and while he does use gas guns, they're built into his costume, not something he carries with him. The only thing that comes to mind is, again, removable heads.

Mysterio has actually managed to give Spidey quite a lot of trouble over the years, primarily because his involvement in a plot isn't immediately obvious. Someone blows up a bank with a pumpkin? Pete puts on his Green Goblin-proof underoos and swings off to fight. Mysterio doesn't telegraph himself that way. It's always a different tack, always a different plan. Add to that the fact that he's not interested in killing Spider-Man, just humiliating him, so his schemes aren't always threatening enough to tip his hand. This is one classic Spidey villain that we can cross off the wishlists, because ToyBiz has done a good job here.

-- 09/21/05

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