The summer drought in the action figure market is slowly coming to an end. The first of the fall resets are taking place.
And with them, new lines and fresh waves of existing lines are showing up on the pegs. Among them is the latest wave of Toy
Biz's Spider-man Classic line. There are five figures in the new wave, three Spidey variants and two villains. Web-cannon
Spider-man is the ubiquitous spidey with a big gun figure of the line. Spin 'N Trap Spider-man seems to be based on the
Spider-man Unlimited cartoon design. Then there is Web-Trap Spider-man which features the wall crawler's silver armor. The
two villains are repaint of the Tail-Strike Scorpion figure with a new shiny metallic paint job and a new villain, Buzzing
Beetle. I only picked up two of the new figures, Web-Trap Spider-man and Buzzing Beetle. But since I never got around to
reviewing the Magic Change Mysterio figure from the last wave, I'll toss him into the fray as well.
Packaging - 7/10The packaging for this line has remained largely unchanged over the last few series, which in this case, isn't a bad thing. The figures are displayed in a standard bubble with the accessories displayed around them as space permits. The cards have a large image of wall crawler himself on the top with a red border with spider symbols along each side. The line logo, character and photo showing the figures' action features are all provided on a sticker on the bottom of the bubble. The card backs are packed with info including a larger version of the photo from the front, a blurb about Spider-man, instructions for the figure, photos of all of the figures in the series and all the usual legalese and UPC. All of that information makes the cards appear fairly cluttered, especially when contrasted with the front. It is also a bit of a disappointment that Toy Biz goes through the expense of unique cards for each figure, but doesn't bother to write individual histories for each figure instead of recycling the same synopsis of the Spider-man mythos. I suppose it is unavoidable since most of the figures for the line are Spidey variants that don't have a back story. But since so many of these figure do have a basis in the comics, it would be nice if Toy Biz highlighted that. It might even get more kids interested in the comics.
Sculpting - Web-Trap Spider-man 4/10, Mysterio 5/10, Buzzing Beetle 8/10I was really excited to pick up Web-Trap Spider-man and get Spidey in his silver armor. Perhaps I was too excited because had I taken some time to look at the figure before I bought it, it would still be on the peg. Toy Biz did a great job on all of the details, but the overall look just doesn't come off well. The armor above the left shoulder is sculpted onto the arm as well, which means that unless the arm is left in one position, it doesn't line up. Then on the right arm they just skipped the armor on the top of the arm entirely. The back of the head lacks any detail. It is possible that this is supposed to be a helmet, but the design leads me to believe that it should have the same chain mail texture as the rest of the black areas of the costume. The final drawback to Web-Trap Spider-man is the awkward pose. It is permanently sculpted in a slightly askew pose for firing the web shooter on the left wrist. The figure doesn't look bad in this pose, but it is a one trick pony.
Mysterio comes very close to being an excellent sculpt. But there is one big problem, the oversized aquarium on his head. The rest of the figure is a reasonably faithful rendition of a pretty dull costume. The body, legs and arms are covered in a body suit with a square quilted texture. Throw in some boots and some square wrist glove that look more like lanterns and a cape and the outfit is all but complete. It's what's above the shoulders that causes problems. To begin with, it is worth noting that the figure does have a head inside the dome. The head is sculpted with three faces (human, monster and an alien /mutant mix) But having three faces means the head is twice the size of a comparable figure. That plus some additional room for the light up feature means the dome is at least twice the size it should be. The funny thing is that Toy Biz could have compensated for that by giving the figure a bulkier body and it would have looked fine. As it is, it isn't a bad figure, but reworking the dome does seem like a common project for customizers.
Buzzing Beetle is a great effort on Toy Biz's part. It is a completely new figure which from the reactions of people more knowledgeable in the history of the Marvel Universe than I, it seems to be a decent representation of a modern version of the character with which I'm not familiar. The detail work is very nice. The combination of textures works well too. There are a couple of short comings. It would be nice if the long blue wings could be retracted or at least closed completely. Without that option, they look odd when the thicker purple wings are closed and they stick out to the sides. The fingers are hinged so that the hand can be closed into a fist. But since they are sculpted in the fully open position, they look unnatural when bent. But those are fairly minor problems.
Paint - 7/10The paint work on all three figures came out quite well. WT Spidey has the simplest paint scheme of the three. There is a nice silver/gray wash over the chain mail sections like the legs. There are a few very small spots where the silver of the armor ran onto the chain mail sections, but they aren't really noticeable. Mysterio has another simple design for the paint work. In fact, the only area with much in terms of paint application is what's under the fishbowl, the three faced head. I would suggest using a bit of caution though. Toy Biz used a black paint wash to bring out the sculpted texture of the body. It turned out well on my figure, but they have been known to have problems with such washes on previous figures. Buzzing Beetle may appear to have a simple paint scheme, but Toy Biz did a nice job adding depth with some more elaborate techniques. The purple has a slight metallic silver sheen to it. It combines very well with the texturing of the sculpt. The green areas make excellent use of a black paint wash to add depth to what are otherwise smooth surfaces. But once again, it is a good idea to take a close look at the wash before purchase just to be on the safe side. The paint on the top of the head is too thin on my figure as well, but I will cover that in the special features section.
Articulation - Web-Trap Spider-man 4/10, Mysterio & Beetle 7/10Like its sister line, Marvel Legends, the Spider-man Classics line has been known for extremely articulated figures. Mysterio and Beetle do a good job of living up to that reputation with thirty six and thirty nine points of articulation. Web-Trap Spidey however, is a disappointment at just sixteen points of articulation. Mysterio is a fairly typical Toy Biz figure with the following articulation:
Buzzing Beetle follows the usual pattern for most of the articulation, but there are a few notable changes. To start with, each toe and finger is individually jointed. The legs lack the calf joints or the ankle swivels. The thick arms only have room for single jointed elbows. The rotating joint for the forearms has been moved down to the wrists which both rotate and have a hinge. There is no torso joint once again to make room for the action features. The neck is double jointed, both hinged and rotating. The purple wing covers rotate to open or close. It works, but it would be nice if they were hinged to move away from the body a bit.
Web-Trap Spider-man is quite lacking in articulation for a modern Marvel figure. To start with, the legs have a measly three joints each, hinged ankles and knees and rotating hips. There is a rotating waist and double jointed neck but no torso joint. The right arm has most of the usual joints: double jointed shoulder, rotating biceps, double jointed elbow and hinged wrist. But the left arm has just one joint, a rotating shoulder. The result is a figure that has a very limited range of motion except for one arm.
Accessories - Buzzing Beetle & WT Spidey 4/10, Mysterio 6/10,A lot of the figures in the Spider-man classic line have suffered from stupid, oversized accessories. Web-Trap Spider-man is just such a figure. But the others did all right. Buzzing Beetle has two projectiles to load into his wrist launchers. They aren't anything special and safety standards mean that they are too long to fit all the way into the launchers. But since they can just be set aside, it's not a real drawback. Mysterio comes with a rolling cloud base with two odd projectiles. The base is nice except for the trigger button sticking out right in the front. But you can always just turn the base around as long as you don't care about the projectiles. Speaking of which, rather than the usual missile, Mysterio seems to be shooting some sort of genetics experiment gone wrong. It looks like a cross between a fish and bird with a side of squid for good measure. Web-Trap Spider-man comes with a street light trap and four impact webbing projectiles. Since the street light is part of his action features, I'll cover it in more detail later. But as an accessory, the street light is way too large. It's more in scale with an eight inch figure than the six inch Spider-man Classics figures.
Action Feature - Web-Trap Spider-man 2/10, Mysterio 4/10, Buzzing Beetle 9/10Web-Trap Spider-man is a fine example of how not to do action features. He has two distinct features: the spring loaded web shooter in the figure's left arm and the light post web trap. The web shooter is powerful. It can easily shoot several feet. But its implementation really limits the figure in terms of the sculpted pose and articulation. The lamp post trap has a 2.5 D thug dummy that stands on the lamp's base. (The dummy has a fully sculpted and painted front but is flat in the back.) When placed on the base, the dummy's leg rests against a button. When the dummy is hit, the button is depressed which releases the webbing hanging at the top of the post. Aside for the scale issues, (If Spidey is supposed to be a teen or even just a slender adult, the dummy must be a twelve year old. I guess Spidey must think he needs to practice in case he runs into some really mean 'tweens.) the umbrella shaped webbing doesn't look like it could trap anything.
Magic Change Mysterio has two action features as well. But they are much better than WB Spidey's. The obvious feature are the spring loaded, firing calamari/parakeet/tuna things. The feature is a bit weak on mine. One side barely manages to launch six inches while the other is hit or miss. It can fire anywhere from two inches to two feet depending on the flapping of butterflies in Australia. Actually it is just a matter of pressing the trigger button fast enough to get a clean release. His other feature is his light up magic change feature. When the large button on his back is pressed, the head spins 1/3 of a rotation to the next face and an LED lights up inside the helmet. The feature works, but aside from having an alien face instead of a robot, it seems like a rip off of Man-E-Faces from Masters of the Universe. Plus, Mysterio is supposed to be a special effects master. Why would he resort to the childish flashlight under the chin trick. Spider-man must scare easily. The feature does have two drawbacks. I've already mentioned the need for an excessively large helmet, but the button to activate the feature on the figure's back is ridiculously large as well. I think Toy Biz would have been better off skipping this feature and going for a more accurate clouded helmet.
Buzzing Beetle manages to pack three action features onto the figure with only limited impact on the final product. The first feature are the spring loaded launchers on the figure's wrists. They're only average in terms of range, about a foot and a half when fired at a level trajectory. That's still better than Mysterio's barely flying calamari. Beetle's second feature is the source of his name, his flapping wings. There is a knob sticking out of the figure's back that can be wound up. Then when the button under the right arm is pressed, the blue wings flap side to side. It works well, but it would be nice if the wings could be tucked away. The final feature is a light up face. There is a switch under the left arm which turns on an LED in the neck or head. When lit, the light shines through the front of the helmet. But what is unique about the feature is that Toy Biz sculpted the inside surface of the helmet with a face. When the light is on, the face becomes visible through the helmet. A very cool idea and well done. But not perfect. To start with, the paint on the top of the head is too thin and allows the light to shine through there as well. (It doesn't seem to be a problem on the sides or back of the helmet.) The switch also seems prone to problems. When I opened my figure it worked fine. Then it stopped working. After a few taps and jostling of the switch it now works again, but I have heard others report theirs was DOA. Toy Biz did a terrific job to incorporate all three features into the figure. But that does result in a lot of buttons sticking out on the figure.
Value - Buzzing Beetle 8/10, Mysterio 7/10, WT Spidey 3/10The Spider-man Classics line retails for $7 to $8 in most stores. Buzzing Beetle is going to be a must have for most Spidey fans even if it isn't the preferred version of the character. The oversized fishbowl hurts Mysterio a bit. But it is still a decent figure and the first Mysterio since Toy Biz dropped the five inch scale. Web-Trap Spider-man is another cool Spidey variant that is actually based on the comics, but it just doesn't hold up well as a figure. There are just too many short comings with the sculpting and articulation for which the oversized accessory can't compensate.
Happy Hunting:Magic Change Mysterio shipped with the previous wave of Spider-man Classic figures. Like most of the non-Spider-men in this line, it isn't packed very heavily in the cases though. Web-Trap Spider-man and Buzzing Beetle are both part of the latest series of the line which is hitting stores now. I found the figures at Toys R Us. But I have also heard reports of them shipping to Wal-mart and Target stores.